She wiped the dust off of her, but to dust she returned.

Today was the day we remembered my grandmother, Helen Thorson. Grandma.

It was one of the more surreal moments of my life and I stayed on the surface of it all as much as I could. I laughed, I joked, I remembered, I spoke, I cried (briefly.) The things we do. The experiences that bind us. Today we gathered for a death, but talked of new life, new jobs, new engagements, moves, and more. Many of us had not been in the same place for years, by choice or by circumstance.

Over ten years ago we stopped gathering together for Christmas Eve. My family’s story is…. complicated. It was always with mourning that my grandma traveled each year to different houses at different points to drop off her famous Norwegian lefse, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and more. Today I laughed with her… She finally got us altogether. She won, in the end. She kind of always did.

The past few years of her life were very difficult. Through credit cards and social security she supported a son of hers and a grandson, whom none of us particularly care for. The son is… borderline destructive and very intimidating. Always up for a fight. Thus, visits to grandma/mom slowed and dwindled almost to a stop. She was lonely, mentally unstable, physically declining. The great and terrible things of old age. It’s hard to remember that. It’s hard to realize that.

Today though, we came together and celebrated the absolutely amazing woman that my grandmother was. We laughed about her ornery tricks… scaring my long deceased grandpa by pretending he shot her while ketchup blood ran down her thighs, decorating the town’s statues with Santa hats at the ripe age of 80. At midnight. We laughed about yard sales, long road trips, family gatherings. My grandma raised her children from the time of 1968 on, alone. She was a matriarch in the fullest sense of the word.

There are three words I used to describe my grandma today as I spoke before the gathered. She was stubborn, encouraging, and adventurous. These are three attributes I will expand on in coming posts. A woman who lived nearly 91 years deserves many words about her. This is only the beginning.

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