A Beautiful Noise

Those of little faith, seem to contemplate death and search for understanding. I have dealt with it intimately and frequently over the last decade, and understanding eludes me.

Today I mourn and remember fondly my Grandmother. Who by anyone’s account was a woman of great faith. I know only that if there is a god, his biggest fan has just arrived at the pearly gates. I take great comfort knowing this wonderful lady had no fear of meeting her maker, or of the questions that plague me about the subject. Perhaps it is my lack of faith that leads me to believe and hope for those that have it, that faith alone grants one peace and entrance to Gods garden.

I will know little more tomorrow than I did when I awoke today regarding faith. What I do know is a fine woman who was my connection to any semblance of god, and my father’s side of the family, has gone on hopefully to a rewarding afterlife. She lived a long productive life of 94 years. Selfish perhaps, but I was not ready for her to go.

Since I am not ordained by any sanctioning body or church, I suppose it hypocritical if I were to anoint her Sainthood. Regardless she was my living example of all qualities it embodies.

My parents divorced when I were months old. I had never as much as laid eyes on my father until I was 17 years old. My Grandmother moved to California when I was just a year old. It would have been understandable given life, time, and distance had any relationship ceased to exist.

She never let that occur and went above and beyond to assure it did not. Some of my fondest memories of childhood were of Christmas and the “Granny Package” she sent religiously year after year. She did so knowing my mom were a single mother raising 3 kids alone. My step brother and sister were always included in the “Granny Package”. It made our Christmas, no doubt about it.

She also sent cards every birthday without fail; my first bible was a gift from my Granny Bea. I felt included and part of something much bigger than me, thanks to her. She encouraged my schooling, gave me a reason to work to make my mom proud as a young man.

When my grandfather Sailor passed away, I took advantage of an invitation to come to California and stay with my Grandmother while I attended school and helped her with making their property ready for sale. She lived in an old farmhouse set in a city that had grown up around the property. It was an awkward time for me at 17 and certainly for her and my extended family in California as we knew little of one another. I lived in a self-contained apartment on the first floor of the old house. While one of god’s Saints lived above and watched over this foolish young man and the sinner that I were.

Over the following year I painted things white, I was Huckleberry Finn.The old well house, fences, & the house and garage, I weeded, cleaned, organized, gardened, and tended to the old Chocolate labs in the kennel, Deaconess and Chocolate Doll. I learned the meaning of clean as my Grandmother defined it. And I developed a cleaning and organizing fetish that is with me to this day. If cleanliness were next to godliness, my grandmother was very close to the lord in this way as well.

Meanwhile I set off to discover California, and my Grandmother set off to perform an exorcism on her first born Grandchild. It was an interesting battle of Sinner versus Saint. God knows she tried, and I can only imagine the intervention’s my Father had to do on my behalf in keeping Granny Bea in check.

She never faltered, Countless attempts to get me involved in the church, youth groups, Youth pastors masquerading as hip young dudes, beautiful young California blondes wanting to share their testimony as I 17 year old male child, wanted only to spread my demon seed. Joshua may have fought the battle of Jericho, but I had more staying power as a sinner in San Francisco.

I suppose rather than slay my ass with a jaw bone; she decided I was as hard headed as she herself could be. And we found a common ground and called an uneasy truce. At some point her relentless religion became more subtle, and I came to realize California had more energy than I did. We became Grandmother and Grandson, but we also became friends.

Over the next year and a half, I learned she had a great sense of humor. She loved to laugh and smile. She loved young people and animals. Part of her California ranch included a large area of the kitchen devoted to her Birds. Like our relationship, she and the birds found common ground and she loved and enjoyed them. Alternating between the torment of their mess she constantly fought to keep clean, and their periods of beautiful song and sound’s, she found a balance.

One of my greatest memories involved a record album I didn’t want (old school record club selection I failed to respond to in a timely fashion) Neil Diamond, my grandmother & the Aviary of song birds.

One of our running battles involved the volume level on my stereo downstairs and her tolerance upstairs. One Saturday morning she asked me to bring the record I was playing, and come upstairs to join her. I was prepared for another sermon on courtesy and noise, but received quite the opposite.

She asked me to put the music on her big cabinet stereophonic player in the living room. I had only heard devotional sermons or choir music played on it prior to that day. She asked I find the song that played when she had called me upstairs’. I found the track “A Beautiful Noise” and set the needle down on the 33 rpm vinyl record album, and the speakers sprang to life. The song a compilation of noises from city life in New York mixed with beautiful horns, and Neil Diamond’s booming voice.

The Aviary erupted in sounds neither of us had heard from these birds. They loved it! My Grandmother and I watched in awe as they accompanied Neil Diamond in” A Beautiful Noise.” We laughed until we were nearly in tears. And we replayed the song many times. They enjoyed the album, but that song was clearly their favorite. I will forever remember her face and her laughter that day.

She passed quickly and peacefully. I suppose the way a benevolent god would have it. I may lack her faith and devotion to a higher power. But I now have a better understanding of her and what a wonderful person she was. Like losing loved ones before her, my world is forever changed and somehow I feel further detached from a god or understanding. But I do know, I wish I could hear her voice and laugh just one more time, for me that would indeed be” A Beautiful Noise.”

©J.K.Dark  onthedarkside.wordpress.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE0R8Kpd8f4

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~ by onthedarkside on December 31, 2010.

3 Responses to “A Beautiful Noise”

  1. Kevin – I believe, have faith and hope of a better place beyond my comprehension. I believe your grandmother is in that place. The place where the “angels of our better nature” reside. Peace to you my friend.

  2. Thank you so much for this, Kevin. What a beautiful eulogy, and insightful picture of Bea.

    John Eric.

  3. Kevin, you painted a beautiful picture of your Grandmother for all of us. So sorry for your loss. And so glad you had that connection. Such love…

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