The choir sang words that echoed those that my grandmother often shared, "My body got tired. I got to find a resting place. Every day is going to be Sunday, no more tears."
I viewed my grandmother’s body from the back of the church. The bind that held our family together was undone and laid to rest in a casket. What did that mean for my family?
Her sister, my Aunt May, sat in front of the Jewish family that caused my Aunt May and my grandmother to separate for over thirty years. Aunt May didn’t like that my grandmother was a domestic worker for a white family.
When my grandmother would tell me the story of why she and her younger sister didn’t speak, she’d explain, "A white family killed our mother at the age of forty – they worked her to death." I wondered what Aunt May was thinking as she stood over the casket, weeping, and patting my grandmother’s hand. Perhaps, "I wish I would have said..."
The Jewish family’s youngest daughter spoke, "I’ve know Alice since I was a year old." Her voice was full of emotion. "Alice was a woman of valor, full of love; she extended her heart to everyone. Alice always said two things to me, 'What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I’m gonna put it in God’s hand.'"
My grandmother’s death revealed to me who she really was.