Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We Held My Sister's Memorial Service Today


Isn't she lovely? Yes! That's her alright, and I really don't care who knows it. I posted this picture of my beautiful sister, to share with the people who read my blog, and who care about me. Anyone else, who doesn't share that love, and who thinks they can make trouble for me, by exploiting her picture, can take a hike! I don't care!

We held a memorial service for my beautiful twin sister today. I had no idea how beloved she was! The service was held at her church. It is a large urban church, with upwards of 1,000 congregants. I have no idea how many attended the service, but the nave of the church was nearly filled to capacity! I didn't realize it as the service was taking place, because I was seated in the front pew with my mother and family members, but as I walked my ailing 89 year old mother up the center aisle and out of the nave, I was nearly gobsmacked! I couldn't believe it! It looked like an Easter Sunday service!

I held my composure pretty good through most of the service. But being the only boy, and surviving "male" in the family, it fell to me to be the supporting son to my mother. I don't mind that. She is my mother after all. As hard a time as my mother gave me growing up, and as indifferent as she was to my transgender sufferings, I still love the old woman. She came from a generation that just couldn't fathom the idea of gender variance, and God forbid, sex changes! Today Mom is very frail, and requires a four footed walking cane at all times, because she is loosing her balance, so I walked her into the front pew, and sat next to her, supporting her with my left arm, and holding the hymnal in front of her with my right, as we stood to sing hymns. As I said, I held my composure through the first three hymns, but when it came to the last verse of "Just As I Am, I Come", Mom was sobbing so much, that I couldn't sing anymore, and it was all I could do to keep from bursting out into tears myself. I know that my very good friend Caroline, advised me to forget about trying to be manly, and just let the tears flow, but how can you do that, when your 89 year old widowed mother is relying on you to be her strength? This is something that only those of us caught in gender limbo, can fully understand. I wanted to sob away with her, and yet there I was in a black suit and tie, with the entire congregation thinking, "Oh how sweet! Jane's brother is is comforting their mom in her grief!" And yet, I did want to comfort her. How could I not want too? I love her and I share her pain!

Last night , while visiting relatives were discussing Halloween in her high rise apartment, Mom gave us all a really good scare, when in a sudden fit of rambunctious indifference, she leapt from the sofa, and immediately tried to squeeze herself through a narrow opening, between the arm chair I was sitting in, and the end table; all in a compulsive attempt to retrieve a silly little stuffed vampire bear, that was sitting on a shelf in the dining room. I attempted to move my chair to accommodate her, but she was too impatient and said. "That's OK. I'm fine!" she managed to hurriedly squeeze through, but no sooner had she done that, then this frail 89 year old woman, who truly needs a cane to walk more than two feet, lost her balance, and did a u-turn around the back of the sofa, taking a serious tumble to the floor, next to the dining room table! Now Mom has already fallen and broken her hips twice! A soon as I saw her go down, I thought, "Oh God, no! Not again!" I rushed to her side to help her. Fortunately, she rolled like a paratrooper when she hit the floor, and sustained no heavy impact to her frail porous ostioporitic bones. She did however, receve a beautiful strawberry to her left elbow, as it brushed the carpet, breaking her fall. Today, she wore it like a medal, for bravery under fire! She's beginning to scare me! She still has a driver's license, an often takes off in her Mercury Marquee, to take care of business, without consulting any of us. I'm afraid on day she will become a statistic.

At the reception after my sister's memorial service, I still couldn't believe all of the people who came to honor her. One guy, who I didn't recognize, came up to me and said "Hi........, I'm so sorry about Jane." I shook his hand and said, thank you, but who are you? He told me his name, and shamefully, I realized that this graying old guy with a mustache, was my departed sister's first husband, whom I hadn't seen in over 30 years! I immediately grabbed him, and drew him into me for a great hug! During their marriage, in a futile attempt to pretend I was a man, I used to go fishing with him. Their separation ages ago, was anything but friendly, yet there he was! I think I may have severely underestimated his character!

Shortly after that, while standing next to my mother, who thankfully now, was seated in a comfortable arm chair, I heard a women call out my name. I looked up, and although it had been at least 35 years, I instantly recognized my sister's first roommate, from back in the early seventies. Her name is Joy, and I will always remember her as a joy to my heart. Absolutely one of the sweetest women, I have ever known! I wanted to talk to her so much, but unfortunately because I had so many other people to greet, I couldn't stop and go over to her, and before I knew it she had left. I truly regret that! She was always a genuine sweet heart. She married my first roommate, when I got out of the Army after Vietnam. Withing 15 years, he would be dead from a brain tumor. I never had the chance to talk to her again. They were followed by many people we had become acquainted with far in the past, along with countless members of her congregation that I didn't know from Adam. While Jane was a devout Christian, I have to confess that I am an agnostic. Jane, if you are out there somewhere, and I dearly hope you are, and you could see how many people loved you and came to honor to today, then surely you must feel that your life was worthwhile! And yes, your blinders have now been removed, sweet sister, and you now know who I truly am.

God love you Jane
Your sister, Melissa XXOO


Anonymous said...

My dearest condolences, Melissa. I know what you must be feeling. Some of the finest people I've ever known have been taken too early.


Lucy Melford said...

I echo that.

You absolutely do feel you must be 'strong' for your parents when a sibling dies. It was so for me when my younger brother died in a car crash back in 1995 when aged 39. The funeral at his local church, in which he was prominent, was well-attended too. I got through it because my step-daughter A--- clasped my hand tightly all through the service. I mention this only to reveal that I really have had my version of a similar bereavement. I agree it is a special pleasure to see estranged people again after so long. People are amazing.

May I say how similar you look to your sister? Not surprising of course! I shouldn't be surprised if, one day, your family at large will see her live again in the real you, and marvel at it.


Jenny.J said...

My thoughts are with you Melissa,
I know what it is to lose a sister, mine was taken from me and my my family when she was just 18years old.

Hugs Jenny xx

Lori D said...

Thank you for a heartfelt post about this memorial. My heart goes out to you.

Two Auntees said...

I say a sincere 'Amen' to Lori and the other wonderful people who have taken the time to grieve with you!

Anonymous said...

I have tears in my eyes reading this. Your sister was obviously loved by many which is a great testament to who she was.
She was also a beautiful woman. She looks great in her photograph.
I really am sorry for your loss and feel you behaved with a lot of dignity throughout.
Big Hug.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, Thanks for sharing during this difficult time. I know it helps to pour out your heart and we're all glad to be here to read those thoughts and feelings.

I've been where you are now...quite a few times actually. I too, felt that I was expected to maintain the staid, solid, male persona...free of overwhelming grief. How I regret not letting the tears flow. How I wish I could let go of the demands on my male persona, and just totally be me. I guess we do it out of love for others, but I really don't think anyone would have minded seeing you...or me, for that matter...crying at a beloved sister's funeral service.

Don't go through life as an agnostic. It just means you don't know. When I was an agnostic, I put God to the test and he lovingly answered me with undeniable answers. Now I know. I know, it's not fashionable to say that, but it's still true. Hugs, Suzi

Naukishtae said...

I thought of you all day today.. couldn't wait to get on line to see if you had posted again.. I pray the Goddess holds you very close this night, you have been very strong.. but let Malissa cry tonight.. remember Jane's true beauty, she will always be with you.. because of the beautiful memories you shared together.. .. difficult times for both your mother and you.. may the Goddess bless you both...

Naukishtae......... OXOXO

Amy K. said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful post with us. It's easy to see how much you loved your sister and your mom. And isn't it amazing the people we're reunited with at funerals and weddings?

You take good care of you now, and may Jane rest in peace.

chrissie said...

Melissa, pet.

She sounds like she was a very special person in your life.

And the funeral service was a great wat to commemorate that.

She will now Rest in Peace, and you will start to heal.


Josephine said...

Melissa, I have seen you on Chrissie's blog...my first visit.

My heart goes out to you my dear. Sending you love and prayers. Your description of the funeral, and the post about your shared childhood earlier, is moving beyond words. Your love was clearly deep, and - forgive me for not knowing the whole back story of your sister's illness - I'm sure you showed it many times.
And she to you.

It sounds like you did her great honour in the send off. You were there for your mother, strong as she needed you to be. You did youself much credit too, and I'm sure Jane was there thanking you for that.

Do write more about her, if it helps.