Feeling tired but accomplished, Tyler and I hit the road to Illinois for the funeral, arriving at 5:00AM the morning of the visitation. When we rolled out of the hotel bed around lunchtime, we greeted everyone with hugs, and slipped into the comfortable, loving embrace of family. Together with my aunt, uncle, and cousin, we drove to one of my grandparents' favorite spots along the Mississippi river, Beasley's Fish Market. We feasted on fried buffalo fish and white bread, coleslaw, and all manner of fried side dishes, while telling family stories old and new.
And then, once we were all stuffed, we headed to the funeral home for the visitation. My family and I stood in a line by my grandmother's body (which was so obviously an empty, abandoned shell) and shook hands and gave hugs as countless members of family and community came to pay their respects. I was moved to tears by the dozens of stories that were told about my grandma, and how pretty much every person who passed agreed wholeheartedly that "she was the nicest lady."
When one woman came up to us and told us proudly that she'd been named after my grandmother, I felt my heart swell with love and pride. When the second woman came up to us to let us know the same, I was delighted and surprised. By the time the third woman came along to pay her respects to her namesake, my jaw dropped. Three different babies had been named after my grandma!