I only have two memories of my paternal grandmother:
1) when I was very little, I was sitting in the van with Gramma Hancher and my mother. Mom was driving, Gramma Hancher was in the front passenger seat, and I was in the middle back. Mom and Gramma Hancher were talking. Actually specifically Gramma Hancher was saying something, and I interrupted to say whatever thought had come into my little head. Gramma Hancher stopped talking and instead listened to whatever it was that I had to say.
Even then, as an early-elementary-schooler, I thought that it was weird that an adult, a grandmother no less, had stopped talking to allow a little kid to speak. She had deferred to me. Neither Mom nor Gramma Hancher commented on my interrupting. That was the first time I had ever noticed my interrupting habit and swore to stop it. (I still interrupt people, but at least I try not to)
2) When Lion King came out in 1994, I was seven and it completely rocked my world. So when we went and visited Gramma Hancher at the nursing home, I took along some of my Lion King stuffed animals to show her. I remember showing them to her. She took the time to listen to everything I had to say and commented on the Simba and Nala toys that had magnets in their noses so they kissed.
I have other memories, like Dad talking with Gramma Hancher about doing physical therapy and getting enough movement, or the time we were visiting and I pressed a button out of curiosity and a nurse came running (turned out the button was a nurse call button). And of course I remember her funeral. It was the first funeral I ever attended. I remember looking at her body in the casket and thinking that it looked nothing like her. I had to make myself cry over it, and I only cried because I had been taught that that was what you were supposed to do at funerals. But I couldn’t mourn this body. It didn’t look like the woman I knew, who made two toy lions kiss and listened to whatever it was that I had to say.
Gramma Hancher died before I was ten. I never knew Grampa Joe, her husband. He died before I was born. Dad says that I would have loved him and that he would have loved me. He would have taught me checkers, Dad says. But because they died when I was so young/not around, I hardly think of them as my grandparents. My grandparents have always been Mom’s parents. Gramma died when I was in my 20s, and Grampa is still around. I don’t call them Gramma Sherman and Grampa Ron, I just call them Gramma and Grampa, because that’s who they are to me.
Still, I think Gramma Hancher had an affect on me. Especially her funeral, when I looked at her face and felt nothing. I don’t want an open-casket funeral. I don’t want my body preserved, I don’t want people to see my face and think how strange and artificial it looks.
Today is the first of the three memorials for Deb. We’re doing the memorial for her North Carolina friends today. In two weeks, we’ll have the memorial in Indianapolis, and we’ll distribute the ashes on the Appalachian Trail in the same spot as his dad.
That makes me happy, that her final resting place is in the same space as her husband. Gramma Hancher and Grampa Joe are buried in the same space. My maternal grandmother is buried under a tombstone that she and Grampa bought together. But Grampa wants to have his ashes distributed in space, leaving my grandmother alone for eternity.
I was thinking today about what I want for my final resting space. Well, our final resting space.
One of my favorite stories from Greco-Roman mythology is the story of Baucis and Philemen. Apollo and Jupiter visited a town dressed as bums. No one let them stay the night except for an old couple, who were very poor, but shared everything they had with them. In the morning, Apollo and Jupiter revealed themselves, and said that they would grant Baucis and Philemen a gift for their kindness. The couple said that they were so old and that they had everything they needed, so all they wanted was to be together forever. So Apollo and Jupiter turned them into trees that were right next to each other, whose trunks were intertwined. Together forever.
I’ve heard of these tree pod urns, where you turn your ashes into a planter for a tree.
So I want James and I to be turned into trees, with a plaque (or two?). I want my plaque to read:
KELSEY HANCHER MEYERS
FEBRUARY 1987-(whatever the date of my death is)
WIFE, MOTHER, AND FRIEND
SHE WAS SMARTER THAN SHE WAS WISE
(Okay, I assume that I’m going to be a mother, and a friend, and that my family would want to put something self-deprecating on my plaque, who knows, maybe they’ll want to put something nice about me like “she will be missed” or something)
And the image will be something that reflects our mutual love of space. I love the solar system so I want something like a planetary system, a planet revolving around a sun, or two planets sharing an orbit, or something.
I don’t know what James would want?
JAMES ALAN MEYERS
JUNE 1984-(whatever the date of his death is)
HUSBAND, FATHER, AND FRIEND
A SMILE THAT BRIGHTENED THE WORLD