Friday, July 13, 2007

The Lemonade on the Terrace

I am in my late twenties, on a business trip in the southeastern part of the state. Finished by midafternoon, I call my grandmother, in the southwestern part of the state, and ask whether I can come for the night. As if I had to ask! I arrive a couple of hours later and we sit out on the brick terrace that spreads itself beneath the maple tree, drinking lemonade and eating chocolate chip cookies. My grandmother, as I realize 25 years later, is interested in everything about my life, the life that has produced this young woman who has just come from a corporate meeting to sit on the terrace in a silk blouse, a linen skirt, and heels.

We spent many summer afternoons sitting on that terrace and drinking lemonade. I was a little girl in shorts and t-shirts, a student on vacation in jeans and turtlenecks, a lawyer taking a quick break, a young mother welcomed chiefly because of the accompanying three little towheads. Always the grandmother in the housedress and apron, always completely absorbed in everything I had to tell her. Always the brick terrace, always the lemonade.

If you aren't following Funky Winkerbeam in the comics these days, you should be. I had never read it until this week, after someone mentioned that one of the characters has cancer and, in a storyline that began on July 2, has elected to give up medical treatment and focus on the life she has left. She has had to explain herself repeatedly to those who love her. We discussed it last night, me reiterating the questions I had raised about choices as chemo robbed my stepmother of life as surely as her stage four cancer did, and my daughter commenting on our culture's terror of death. The comic strip character's name is Lisa, which is pretty much all I know about her, except that her choices reflect a courage seldom honored in our capitulation to the science of modern medicine.

her choice is about lemonade.


Diane said...

thank you for sharing this unusual and inspiring comic strip... lately I haven't been reading the commics, but I need to get back to it.

p.s. you were a good granddaughter. I get a mental picture when I read about you two together.

Abbey of the Arts said...

Gannet Girl, thanks for sharing this moving story thread in the comics and asking great questions about our culture's relationship (or rather lack of) to death.I couldn't agree more.

mompriest said...

What a lovely story and image, you and your grandmother. You were (are?)both blessed by the other. We are a culture focused on youth and fearful of old age and dying. Many other cultures (but not all) honor their elderly, not us. Thin, young, beautiful, white white teeth...

I have always found though, that dying is where life is the most real. As I spend time with the dying I know that I am standing in the most holy and sacred ground one can know on earth. Being with the dying is being in that thin place between this world and the next. If only we really understood that, death would be less frightening for so many. We would see death as a place of relief for the dying and grace for those of us who continue to live. Grace because we are given a hint of what is to come, a glimpse of God, a taste of real peace.

Thank you GG for sharing your story. It is poignant and grace-filled.

Jan said...

Gannet Girl, thank you for describing visits with your grandmother. What a blessing to have those moments to remember, especially with the lemonade.

Though I've seen this cartoon strip before, it doesn't appear in our local newspaper. I've been thinking of death and isolation or connection lately, as the anniversary of my mother's death is tomorrow.

Presbyterian Gal said...

" My grandmother, as I realize 25 years later, is interested in everything about my life,"

What sweet memories you have. Thanks for sharing them. They help me remember my grandmother.

Haven't heard of the comic. I'll have to look for it.

Grace thing said...

Thanks for that. Very beautiful.

emmapeelDallas said...

I love Funky Winkerbean, but I haven't read the comics since I stopped having a paper delivered, several years ago, so I knew nothing of this storyline. As always, that strip is an accurate reflection of much of life today. I'm going to start reading the comics again.

I love your reflections about your grandmother, and the relationship the two of you had. You could write a book and it would be wonderful.

zorra said...

I admire the honesty of this comic strip too. Incidentally, Lisa is a lawyer.