On December Seventh my grandmother died. She was born in Idaho, and she died in Idaho. A few days earlier I had been told that she had been found in the corn field next to the hospital looking for Orvis, her husband of sixty-six years. It was cold out and she simply wanted to give him a sweater. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease. A disease which I have found that most people are familiar with but few are comfortable with. It had been several years since I was last in Idaho, really there, and I knew I would regret it if I did not make it to the funeral. So I canceled the courses I was planning on teaching and I flew to Salt Lake City, Utah then made my way north to the Snake River Plain in southern Idaho.
Her funeral was on Monday. It was held in the Chapel she attended each Sunday and was located only a few blocks from her home on Normal Avenue. I do not know how many times she made the walk down the street to that particular meeting house, but it is safe to bet that it was at least fifty times a year, mormons have two sundays off each year where they can opt to listen to a broadcast. With her spouse, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends the chapel was filled to capacity.
After the service Orvis stopped by his Barber shop, a small building just down the street from the chapel and their house. It was their family's business. Florence had faithfully kept it going for years. It seemed fitting that Orvis would go there after the service. With all the family in town it was clear that there were people in need of some good haircuts. My brother Tyler was the first to volunteer. He sat down in the chair while Orvis pulled out the scissors. Cousins and grandchildren fussed over his ability to do what he had done for so many years. "Let's get Grandpa home" they declared. But really everyone felt more at home in the barber shop , and so we waited and watched while he worked.
While I sat watching him I decided to cancel my returning flight. It was close enough to the start of the winter holiday and I had already been planning on spending it out west. I made the arrangements to do so. I was not yet done grieving, remembering, and celebrating life with my family. I would spend the next four weeks with doing just that.