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    Remembering Grandma Piper

    Today we celebrated the life of my grandmother with a funeral that was planned by her. Several years ago she selected songs, poems, and people to speak. It was a pretty awesome event filled with family and friends.

    I drafted most of this post last night. As I listened to two of my cousins talk today about my grandmother, it wasn’t surprising that my thoughts and memories are very much the same as theirs.


    Lorena Hudson Piper – 1915 – 2013

    I am grandchild #8 and the father of two of her great grandsons. 

    Even though Lorena was her given name I don’t recall ever hearing her called by that name in a casual setting. When I was a child she was ‘Grandma Piper’. Others called her Aunt Teet or Teetie — which as a kid I thought was hilarious. It was only when I was a teenager that I learned that ‘teetie’ was how her younger brother pronounced ‘Sweetie’.

    While she will always be Grandma Piper to me, the name I’ve grown to love is just ‘Piper’. It’s such a contemporary name for a woman who lived almost 100 years. Simple. Understated.

    Over the last few days, I’ve thought about her role in the family. While American society is predominantly patriarchal, there is no doubt that we live in a Matriarchal family. Piper was the glue that held together the parts of the family. She was the hub and the connector.

    While growing up her house was a center of activity, especially during the summers. Cook outs and Dinners, sleep overs, play time, badminton on the lawn, riding around the block on her huge yellow 3 wheel bike.

    For some her home became their Home. She was a landlord and roommate for those that called her spare bedroom home.

    I never got that chance to live at her house eventhough I did pack my bags a few times and threaten to ‘run away to Grandma’s’.

    Over the decades our family has grown …. and grown …. and grown. And she loved us all. Whether you were born into the family or came in holding the hand of a family member. You were loved the same!

    While I have so many memories of Grandma Piper, one that has stuck with me for so many years is from 1st grade.

    A knock on the classroom door, a note telling my teacher to send me to the office because I was leaving for the day. I’m sure this had been planned and coordinated, but from the vantage point of my 6 year old eyes it was spontaneous! Grandma Piper was breaking me out of school and taking me on a trip!

    Not just any trip… I was going on a road trip to Roanoke to see Cousins.

    This wasn’t a trip in some granny mobile. She drove a 2 door Green Ford Maverick. It was the compact car of it’s day and a sporty one. This car was built for her. She had a V8 put in this car!

    I’m a 6 year old on a road trip with a lead footed granny driving a car with some serious “Get up and Go”. This is the type of road trip movies could be made about. For me, it’s a movie that gets played over and over in my mind.

    I feel this memory is one of the reasons I try to surprise my kids occasionally and pick them up early from school for fun activities. Activities they think are spontaneous.

    I’ve attended many funerals and celebrations of life over the years. I’ve always had a feeling of a life taken too soon. Today I have a feeling of A Life Well Lived!

    A song lyric from Poi Dog Pondering comes to mind:

     “If you’re ever around when someone dies, look up and wave, they’ll get a big kick out of it.”

    For our family and friends that knew and loved her, as you go through the grieving and healing, when you think about Piper, Look up, Wave, and think about her smile. I think she’ll get a kick out of it.

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