Tuesday, September 9, 2008

snot blocks and old ladies with whiskery chins

i went to a funeral today. i cried. like you’re supposed to… allowed to... like you do. sometimes i forget what crying feels like but times like these remind me that i’m not a cyborg like the t-1000.

actually i take that back. i do cry a lot. but only when i laugh. when i laugh my eyes piss out water. so much so that the front of my t-shirt gets wet. it’s like i got wired back to front when they built me.

i didn’t really know the old lady who died. it was my nanna ina’s 92 year-old sister, jessie, who i’ve only met about 4 times. but i cried for my nan. i cried cos nan is one of 5 sisters and jessie was the first of them to go. nan is in her 80s and now lives in a nursing home. while she’s still all smiles she’s quickly fading and i’m missing her already.

the morning was beautiful. the funeral was very typical. there were prayers and stuff which didn’t mean anything… and they kept making everyone stand up for these bits which wasn’t fun for my nan and her sisters with their walking frames.

but the photo montage of nan and her sisters growing up… looking pretty and happy and lively and cheeky made me cry… sad and happy tears. happy for the silly times that mean so much… and sad that time is running out for this gang of 5 golden girls from the western suburbs. sad that occasions like these have become the only times they all get to see each other.

i sat behind nan... watching her shake from parkinsons. watching her share crumpled tissues with her sister nancy. watching her embroidered jacket that my auntie dressed her in for the occasion. watching her slowly turn to her sisters when a particular photo brought back a good memory.

i sat next to dad. he knew the words to some of the prayers off by heart which surprised me. must have been the sunday school he got sent to when he was little… which the rest of my uncles wagged (dad was the good kid). and a few of my uncles sat to dad’s right in their jeans and polar fleece tracksuit tops. and when nat king cole’s ‘unforgettable’ played their eyes welled up.

after the service we all went to jessie’s daughter’s house around the corner for morning tea… an elaborate spread of home made snot blocks (vanilla slices if you're uncouth) and curried egg sandwiches and bottomless cups of tea.

i found nan in the sun room with all the other old ladies. i told her about work (cos she likes to know what’s coming up on neighbours) and she squinted at me cos the sun was too bright.

it was here that i met my new friend, mrs charles.

sitting directly opposite nan, mrs charles had long whiskers and hardly any teeth. i said hello and she smiled brightly and said ‘who are you?’ spitting chunks of cake through the gaps in her teeth. i explained that i was ina’s granddaughter and she said she was mrs charles. she’d nearly finished her cake so i asked her if she’d like some more. she thrust her ear in my direction and told me she was deaf so i bent down closer and repeated my offer. she said ‘yes please… but not one of the gooey ones’ so i went to the kitchen and chose 4 cakes for her to choose from… brushing the cake off my face once i was out of the sun room.

she was happy with the cakes i brought back and insisted that i help her eat them… but i was already full and said they were to share with the other ladies. but i don’t think this got through as she ended up eating them all herself.

she asked again who i was and what i did, smiled widely, and said sorry for spitting cake on me again. then she pulled a tissue out of her sleeve to wipe my face. she had a good wipe and finally stopped when she realised my piercing wasn’t another crumb.

i said goodbye to nan and the ladies and left them with their cakes. i had to get back to work to get more neighbours goss for nan. unfortunately this didn’t impress mrs charles. she preferred home and away.