Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Life and Death of Frances Barton

Unfortunately this February I joined the ranks of those who are 'grandparent less' as my family lost my 86 year old paternal grandmother- Frances Barton. She had been doing poorly for years, first with her memory, then her eyesight, and lastly most physical abilities. This slow deterioration made it a bit easier to take the news of her death, since it had been gradually expected and I'd taken many opportunities on my trips home to see her and show her my two children-her great grandchildren.

Her funeral did pose some questions for me as to how to explain to my children- specifically 5 year old Sophie about death. Luckily she took my answers with good grace:

Mom: Sophie, you remember your great grandmother when we went to her house and saw her?
Sophie: You mean old grammy?
M: Yes.
S: Yes.
M: Well she decided to join Jesus and go visit his home in Heaven.
S: How did she get there/
M: I'm not sure exactly.
S: I bet she flew cause Heaven is in the sky.
M: You know what I bet you are right. And Heaven is a wonderful place and you have so much fun, you can't come back because Jesus wants you to be with Him.
S: Oh, I was wanting her to come to my house.

Then at the funeral, my Dad helped explain why Great Grandma (or Old Grammy as she calls her) body was lying so still. I didn't hear the conversation, but Sophie's returning comments were:

"Her nails are so pretty" and "you can't touch her that's right Mom?"

I breathed a sigh of relief that she took things so well. Connor obviously was clueless at the age of 1 so he did well... except at the funeral mass where he ended up hanging out in the back of the church with Daddy till he fell asleep.

During the service I was again exposed to some of the stories of my grandmother's life. She seemed to keep most of it a secret, only focusing on the 'here and now' rather than recall and tell stories of the past. She had a difficult life, which might have been the reason. A school life spent in a boarding school out of state and away from home. A young marriage to a man that was unfaithful, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and most of her life spent raising 4 children on her own while husband was in jail. Then a divorce, working through poverty to raise her family and get them a Catholic education. Sacrifice after sacrifice. Not necessarily something someone probably would wish to recall all that hardship. However, throughout all that hardship she kept strong in her faith... something we could all use as an example throughout life.

However, through it all she did leave behind a strong Catholic background faith, 3 surviving children, 18 grandchildren, and 17 great grandchildren. And while I'm sure she's earned a spot in heaven, I'm sure she'd appreciate any additional prayers you'd offer up her way.

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