Death by email

My Nannie, my father’s mother, died today. I got an email from my mom, who had gotten a phone call from one of my aunts. Funeral services will be held Wednesday January 3. No one expects me to attend.

Etha Arline Shroyer* Kunst: 2/20/1915 to 12/31/2006

*Yes she was a cousin of some type to Sonny Shroyer of Dukes of Hazzard fame-the TV show not the movie.

Actually, I’m not sure if it was today. Perhaps it was yesterday. Her husband, my Pappaw, died back in 1984, soon after their 50th wedding anniversary. I remember that his funeral was on my 16th birthday. While all of my high school peers were having debutante balls (in NJ), I had a funeral in West Virginia. I remember going to some type of sporting event afterward with a cousin (basket ball maybe).

I did not know my Nannie well. My parent divorced when I was 4. It was apparently contentious. I did see my father nor go back to the state where he lived until his death four years later.  I did spend some summers (before I discovered sleep away camp) with my father’s parents (Nannie & Pappaw) or his sisters (my aunts) and their families from ages 8 to 10 or so. I would always gain about 10 pounds in 2 weeks. My Nannie could cook. Oh my. But a summer here or there or holiday does not make for knowing well. She was kind to me. That I remember.

My Nannie has been in assisted living for the last few years. She’s had Alzheimer’s or something like it. I have not seen her since about 2000, when my husband and I (then just dating) drove from Connecticut back to Colorado. She had no idea who I was at that time. It’s an interesting disorder. Her knowledge of who people were (her daughters, other guests) was absent. But her social graces were intact. She was still so incredibly charming and gracious, in a way that only southern belles can be. “Y’all come back.” I hope that if I one day succumb to Alzheimer’s that I (and those around me) will find that I am similarly kind, gentle and simply nice inside. I fear that there may only be caustic wit and sarcasm to be found. I am working on this.

I went to college at 16 and from that point on, it was mostly a card relationship: birthdays, christmas, the occassional mother’s day (when I was being a good grand-daughter). Did you know that mother’s day started in the USA in Grafton, WV, where my Nannie lived most of her life?

Goodnight Nannie. I hope your passing was peaceful.

3 comments on “Death by email
  1. Irene says:

    Sorry to hear about your Nannie. It sounds like she was quite a sweet lady.

  2. sheldon "shug" Clawson says:

    sorry you were unable to make it to grafton to the funeral we all miss you and would like the occasional email to tell us how you are doing. remember in this world that family is the only group that forgive unconditionally and do not hold grudges. it has been hard because nana and i were close if you would like to know more about here plz e mail me and i will answer any questions you would like
    Shug c. ( Kay Kunst Clawson’s son)

  3. Heather Clawson says:

    My Nannie died two months ago. I watched her go a bit by bit sometimes every couple of weeks sometimes every couple of months.
    On Christmas Eve, I put my head in her lap and said my final goodbye. I cried but she didnt even open her eyes. I got the call on New Year’s morning and went to the top of a huge mountain in Utah
    We had the greatest grandmother. So strong. She ran a store when women didnt run stores and managed three homes and three kids and six grandchildren. She loved us all and lost some of those she loved most. My memories are of weeks of bible school and painting and hot summers by the lake. I think of her now and hate that she had alzheimers. I watched my mom lose her mom over and over and over again. Day by day. I miss you Cathy and hope you are well.
    Missin my family….miles from home…