My grandmother died this morning.
She went peacefully, holding my aunt’s hand. I’m sad, of course, but relieved she’s not suffering, and glad I went down to Nashville for the weekend. I think she understood most of the things I told her.
I fly back to Tennessee tomorrow. Unfortunately, the handbook I’ll need for the funeral — Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral, co-written by a woman from Greenville, Mississippi — isn’t published until the day of the event. So I won’t know exactly how improper my Texan-Floridian-Brooklynite ass will seem until everything is over and done with. Which is probably for the best.
I spent the evening trolling Manhattan stores, looking for a petite dress or suit that would be appropriate to wear to a Southern funeral. I found a pile of black suits but couldn’t bring myself to plunk down $300 on some rayon piece of shit that hung on me like a short-person-sized potato sack with buttons.
So I’ll be going with a classy Brooklyn thrift store ensemble. I’ve washed my best polyester turtleneck in the sink, scrubbed a spot out of my flapper skirt, and pulled 1/3 of the pills off of my favorite black sweater (I’ll try to get to the rest the morning of the funeral).
I’m hoping the family can pass me off as the eccentric New York City granddaughter who grew up in Miami. Everybody knows you can’t expect a Yankee to know how to dress properly, after all. I’ll get points just for not wearing white shoes.
On the bright side, thanks to an emergency trip to my therapist — yes, that’s right, I’m a walking New Yawker cliché — I’m armed with some strategies for avoiding my father.
If my dad tries to initiate a discussion about anything other than the weather, the funeral, or how great my grandmother was, I’ll say, “I really don’t think this is the time,” and smile my sweetest Southern daughter smile. If that doesn’t work, I’ll say I have to go to the bathroom (a Delta woman, for the record, never seems to use the toilet. She only goes “to powder her nose.” Her husband goes “to freshen up”).
And if that doesn’t work I’ll kick him in the groin, fall to the floor, rock back and forth, and emit a high-pitched keening sound until he backs away.
Bet you can’t guess which one of those strategies my therapist didn’t recommend.
Anyhow, thanks for your patience. I appreciate all the sweet notes you’ve sent. And if you’re still waiting for me to respond to your email, you’re in good company: I’ve fallen several weeks behind. I’ll be back next week, but it’s gonna take some time for me to catch up.
Annie Reid will step in on Friday. In the meantime, please read Jonathan Ames’ hilarious review of Julian Fellowes’ Snobs. Here’s the first sentence: “This is what the world has come to: Now even the English are Anglophiles.”