“I’m sorry about your grandma,” I heard a Tina (not her real name), a co-worker say to Jim (not his real name, either), a fellow co-worker.
“That’s ok. She was 93,” Jim said.
We all ate in silence for a moment before Tina said, “You know, I lost a grandparent a few months ago, and I remember saying that very thing, but really, it’s not ok. It still kind of hurts, no matter how old they may be. We’re glad they’re out of pain, but we’re not glad they’re out of our lives.”
Jim said, “Well, I suppose it will probably be more real to me after the funeral.”
“Yeah, that’s when things get real, you know? And funerals are hard, especially getting everything arranged, making sure everyone can be there.” Tina paused for a moment, looking at her lunch. “You know,” she said, “It took four of us to get Grandma into the car.”
Jim and I looked at each other, but didn’t say anything.
“She just doesn’t have any muscle tone now, so my dad had to get in on the driver’s side and sort of pull her into the seat. He kind of hurt his back in the process.”
“I can imagine,” Jim said, raising an eyebrow. I nodded.
“We were fine at the funeral home because we could just drive right up there, but then there was the trip out to the cemetery.” She shook her head at the memory. “We thought about just leaving her in the car, but it was a nice day and we didn’t want her sitting there by herself.”
“No…that would be…kind of… strange.” Jim looked at me and I shrugged. I mean, what the hell does one say about something like that?
“Afterward, we took her to lunch at her favorite restaurant.”
“Afterward? Wow. Did you leave her in the car?”
“Oh, no! Of course not. We brought her in, even though it wasn’t easy.”
“They let you do that?” Jim looked, and sounded incredulous. We exchanged long looks of total disbelief. “Doesn’t that violate some kind of code?”
“Well, no. We put her in a wheelchair,” Tina nodded as she took a bite of salad. “She had a good time.”
Jim shook his head. “How could you tell she had a good time if she’s dead?”
“WHAT?” All conversations skidded to a halt.
“Didn’t your grandma die?”
Tina started laughing, “No! I said my GRANDPA died! My grandma is still alive.”
“Well,” Jim said, “that makes me feel a lot better about going to lunch at that restaurant. At first, I was envisioning you just parking the casket in the foyer then when you said you put her in a wheelchair, I was really disturbed.”“Jim,” Tina said, “you really ARE disturbed.”