My grandmother’s funeral service was today at 11am in Los Angeles. I found out about it last night from my Aunt. She had to call my mom last night to get the directions and the time for the funeral. My parents live about 10 minutes from my Aunt’s. We are currently not on speaking terms. I’ve been staying at my Aunt and Uncles’s place since the 23rd. They live about an hour and 40 minutes away from me. I went home (San Diego) for a couple days towards the end of the year but came back for the weekend of New Year’s and am still here. I leave tomorrow. It’s been good being here.
My grandmother. Her name was Pearl Taylor. She was 88 years old. She was a Sagittarius. She and her husband had birthdays 4 days apart, toward the beginning of December. My Grandpa passed away years ago. Early 90’s if I recall correctly. And his funeral was the last I attended. We called my grandmother, Grandma. And she called us punkin bunkins (Pumpkin Bumpkins). She had 3 sons. Her middle son is my dad. I met him when I was two years old and I’m better for it. I grew up with a dad who loved me and loves me still. I have one cousin from the youngest brother and 3 cousins from the oldest. All girls. The oldest girl is a mother of 3 boys, like Grandma. I have a brother who was named after his father, my grandmother’s middle son, and an awesome 4 year old nephew who was named after them both. We are her descendants. We are all touched by her love. She was a good grandma. We all spent loads of time with her when we were younger.
Her mental health started to decline after my grandpa passed. She died from complications with her brain. She had dementia but in the last month of her life it was discovered that she had bleeding on both sides of her brain. I visited her in the hospital the Monday following Thanksgiving to say goodbye to her and be there with my dad. A few days later she was moved to an assisted care facility to live out the end of her days. There was nothing the doctors could do. She passed away in her sleep on the 29th of December. My Aunt texted me that I should call my parents..so that’s how I found out. I didn’t get in touch with my parents and they didn’t call me. My brother called me about 45 minutes later to tell me the news. The next morning I left a message on my dad’s voicemail offering my condolences and mailed him a sympathy card.
One of the stories I like of my grandmother was when she was 8 and my grandpa was 9 she would chase him around the playground. She really liked him and told him that she was going to marry him and he would say, “Get away from me girl.” ha ha. That always makes me laugh. She was right. She knew then and eventually they got married and raised a family. He worked at the Post Office and retired from there. He was a Deacon in the church. My grandma was also active in the church and active in life. Always on the go. She knew loads of people. When she was younger she sang and danced. She sang all her life.
Last year at Thanksgiving she sang a little bit and danced at our talent show. Someone has the video of that. I saw it in person. My brother was out giving my cousin a ride home and my parents had gone home because they didn’t want to stick around for the talent show. Maybe my dad was there but I don’t think so. It was a delight to see my grandmother get up and dance. My cousin and her boyfriend do swing dancing and I think my grandmother recognized the music and it brought back memories. She usually sits on the couch and is pretty quiet. People would try to engage in conversation with her but I would notice that it would be a lot of “do you remember?” “This is so and so..” and a lot of repetition and sadness on some of my family members part. She never really knew her great-grandchildren. They were babies and toddlers and she was friendly and held them and we have pictures but I don’t know if she really made the connection that they were from her line.
She always took us to church when we were kids. Her church was called Miracle Baptist. I still dream about that church and the stainless glass windows. I went to private school there for a couple years. Kindergarten-2nd grade. On Sundays when we went to church she’d always have a pen and paper for us to draw with or write with, and gum or butterscotch candy. Sometimes peppermint candy or life savers or tic tacs. She always gave us a coin or a dollar to put in the collection plate as it went around. Sometimes we went to Sunday school which was before service. My grandpa would leave without us because we (my grandma) was always running a little behind. I admit, when we were older we tried to slow down on purpose and distract her so we’d only have to go to Sunday service. After church she liked to talk. Lots! She knew a lot of people. We’d usually be there for an hour or more after and we’d be like, Grandma..grandma..and she’d say just a minute. I brought pants to change into after service. I would ask for the keys to the car and change real quick in the backseat. I really hated wearing dresses and stockings. But I had to for church. At least she was cool enough to let me change right after.
She worked as a saleswoman. She sold World Book Encyclopedias. We’d go with her to the mall where she had a stand. We’d help her set up and we’d hang around and then get bored and ask her when we were going to leave. She’d take us to her office sometimes. She’d have meetings. We’d be in the break room. Making coffee (and trying not to get caught!)and eating pasties. We were supposed to only have water of tea.
She would take us to the swap meet often to sell things. We’d help set up and clean up. We’d have our choice of things to sell and set up our sections on one of the blankets. It was mostly, me and my brother, and my cousin who was a few months older than my brother. I liked to earn money. I think those experiences with her helped me and my brother be good sales people. He’s very talented. I can easily sell what I believe in or what I think has value but my brother can sell anything. Very gifted. At one point in our early twenties we both sold shoes. And when my brother was a teenager and I was just turning 21 we both worked as delivery drivers. Remember my Grandpa worked for the Post Office as a mail carrier. I worked at Fed Ex and delivered Domino’s pizza. My brother worked for KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) as a delivery driver.
Selling stuff at the swap meet enabled me to have some spending money. I spent most of my money on music and music related things. The first two cassettes I ever bought were Dr. Dre’s Chronic and SWV’s It’s About Time. I bought my walkmans with that money. I remember how excited I was when autoreverse walkmans came out. I spent a lot of money on batteries because I listened all the time. I still listen to music all the time but now it’s on my 120 GB ipod. I bought my first skateboard with money I earned selling stuff. It was hot pink (Woot!) with a blue monster on the top and I remember being obsessed with finding good wheels and changing them out with my skate tool, loosening the front bracket part so the wheels would turn easier.
My grandma used to make me butter and bread. And later butter and cinnamon and bread. My grandma would fall asleep with her glasses and shoes on because she was only taking a little nap. She would snore and we would tease her and keep waking her up to tell her she was snoring. She would forget where she parked. She would look for her glasses and they would be perched on the top of her head. She would look for her keys and they’d be on the key ring around her wrists. She brought me my first fanny pack. It was an adidas one with black and white checks. She bought me my first purse that I never used. She bought me wallets and watches and two bibles. A Children’s Living Bible that I still have and a beautiful King James Version with a white cover and gold printed letters on the front and goldent trim on the side. One Sunday I left it on the roof of the car and we drove off and it got ran over by lots of cars. She bought me and my brother our own set of World Book Encyclopedia and Children’s Literature set. I looked at them all the time. I would look something up in the Encyclopedia and get distracted by all the other things I came across. I read the stories in the Literature set over and over. She got all of us passes to Disneyland and we would go all year around. Sometimes just for an hour or two. She came to my 8th grade graduation, even though it was an hour and a half from where she lived.
She picked me up and took me to school sometimes during the year that we lived with her (Compton, California) so I wouldn’t have to take the bus. I was 11/12. Sometimes I missed the bus home. She took me to my band things. I played the alto saxophone when I lived with her and the year before I played the violin. She encouraged me with my music and my reading. During the summer she’d give a dollar a book and there was this sort of chart map poster thing that I would mark off. That’s when I think I developed the book a day reading habit that carried on til I was about 15/16.
She was a terrific Grandma. I love her always. I am glad that she isn’t suffering anymore.
Rest in peace, Pearl B. Taylor.
You will always be remembered for your generous spirit and social nature.
See you on the otherside.