Goodbye Hello

The front row of the tiny kirk holds her children and their spouses: two sons and a daughter, all married, with children of their own. In the case of her daughter, who is also my mother, there are also grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. The minister lists us all — not by name, just a count: 3 children, 7 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren, 1 great great grandchild. I’m in the second row, which contains all the grandchildren and two of the great grands. I don’t have to look back to know that at least a few people are counting it off on their fingers. And at least a few brows are wrinkling at the mention of the one great-great grandchild. The church is packed. So they likely mark it as the minister’s mistake, what with him being a stand-in and funerals happening in such a short span of time, as they do, with a death that hasn’t had a long lead-up illness.
Things are a wee bit more obvious graveside. I stand with the other grandchildren, grateful for a rare spring Scottish sun, glaring enough to cause sunglasses to be produced. Perhaps we’re all looking for an excuse to cover our eyes. Everything seems to be so brightly illuminated. I can see in my peripheral vision, at least one man turn to the person beside. I don’t have to hear to know what he’s asking: “Who’s that?” He nods in my direction.
“Oh? You haven’t heard?”
“Heard what?”
And then the talk and the knowing nods and glances in my direction and in my mother’s.
So it is that Nana’s funeral turns out to also be my coming out party. By the end of the wake, everyone has sorted out that I’m the bastard daughter, come home.
It seems fitting to me that the same woman who welcomed me into her arms, telling me on the day that I met her, “this is the happiest day of my life,” would also offer me a completion of my entry to the family. In celebration of her life, I finally take my seat with her other grandchildren; I take my legitimate place in her family.


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