Monday June 22nd – 2020 – is the day of my Grandma’s Funeral. She passed away in the morning on June 17th. I am making the decision to not join my family at the funeral in light of the current COVID19 pandemic. I do not have COVID19, or I at least am not showing symptoms, but due to my heightened vulnerability and potentially spreading it across many state lines that I would need to travel across either by car or in a plane from Seattle; figured it best for everyone to stay home. I will be making a separate trip to visit her resting place once things get a bit safer.
Yet I still wanted to grieve and pay tribute to Grandma along with my family. This is my way of trying to connect to everyone specifically. I feel a loss with Grandma gone, but I feel lucky to have been able to share some time with her just two summers ago, and then followed by sharing a video and a speech over Christmas weekend of that same year (the highlight of this original post). So my sense of closure feels more complete.
However, I am left with a feeling of longing to be there to support my family. So tomorrow I will be observing a minute of silence for each year of Grandma’s life, 92 minutes staring at the 11am Central Time, 8am Pacific Time. All of today, Sunday, I have spent listening to music, collecting my thoughts, writing them down, and then sharing them with each of her kids (dad, aunts, and uncles) separately to respect my relationship with them as well as my condolences.
Music is a very important part of my life, and I process my emotions best along with music. So I chose ten songs to help me sit with my Grandma’s passing, one for each of her kids. Maybe this will help shed light on my Grandma’s life, shed light on each of her kids, and guide me through this to shed light onto my emotions as well.
- Uncle Chuck – When The Roll is Called up Yonder – Johnny Cash
- Aunt Sally – Precious Lord, Take My Hand – Mavis Staples
- Uncle Larry – When The Saints Go Marching In – Fats Domino
- Uncle Greg – (There’ll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me) – Elvis Presley
- Uncle Denny – Swing Low Sweet Chariot – Merle Haggard
- My Dad John – I’ll Fly Away – Charley Pride
- Aunt Diane – If I Could Hear My Mother Pray – The Staples Singers
- Uncle Doug – Nearer To Thee – Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers
- Uncle Dan – In The Sweet By and By – Johnny Cash
- Uncle Tom – Will The Circle Be Unbroken – The Staples Singers or The Stanley Brothers
Today in the 12th month of 2018, twenty-two years ago, on December 30th my Grandpa Bennett passed away from lung cancer. I was only 14 and couldn’t fully grasp the meaning and impact that an event like this can have on a family, particularly my Dad’s. That following Christmas the eldest son, Uncle Chuck, gave a speech commemorating his father. Each year following that weekend, at the Bennett family Christmas, the next in line has shared their thoughts on Grandpa and the Bennett family.
This year it fell to me to share, and I had the feeling and intuition to take a risk. I wanted to shift the focus from Grandpa to the quiet matriarch of the family, Daghmar, my Grandma. I also didn’t always understand Grandpa Bennett and at times found it difficult to connect with him. Grandma is much more embedded in my memory and I felt particularly connected to her energy and personality throughout my younger years and even now. Although, at gatherings, it isn’t the easiest thing to be able to witness that with Grandma.
I wanted to give her voice life and power, as well as the stage to speak to her whole family. A family that is so far-reaching she seldom, if ever, has had the opportunity to embrace them all. So this summer I paid a visit to Michigan to ask a lot of questions and just sit with her, this video is the result.
That weekend this summer was very special and I captured so much more than I could really fit into this format and purpose. My hope was to distill her voice and wisdom into something that makes sense and deepens our understanding, connection, and reverence for Mom / Grandma.
I want her to continue to touch all our lives not just in the ways we expect, but in ways we allow her to rightly fill as the quiet but influential matriarch she has become.
Blood Orange – Family
Hiss Golden Messenger – Caledonia, My Love
Bon Iver – 00000 Million
Ryan Adams – How Much Light