My nana went out in a pink casket.
She lived the rest of her life in primary colors, mainly. She wore white orthopedic shoes, drably-colored coats and navy cardigan sweaters. She drove a powder blue Buick Skylark. She preferred sturdy things, and, having soldiered through the Great Depression, she covered everything in several layers of plastic–to preserve the already sturdy condition, of course.
But every so often she would betray the practical farm girl from New Castle, Pennsylvania that she was and indulge in the pink Cadillac of lipsticks. She cherished several pastel floral dishes. She loved an old fancy songstress like Edyie Gourme. She stopped to gawk at a poinsettia plant in a retail store window–so big and robust was the plant that it distracted Nana from the smartly-outfitted mannequins.
I was closest to my nana, much more than maybe anybody I’ve been closest to since she went out in a pink casket. In retrospect, I didn’t spend very much time with her, hours logged and years counted. But I was known and adored by her in a way that was more overwhelming than any child could or should ever be loved by anyone other than their nana.
I have not felt the loss of my nana as acutely as I have felt other losses in life. Her mind unspooled and then went cascading off at the end of her 90+ years. She suffered and caused belabored suffering and I did not talk to her much after I got married, because I couldn’t. She didn’t remember me.
Still, I have since felt the ways that she has enriched my life and they reach me and affirm me in my blue station wagon, which she financed and of which she would have approved, reliable vehicle that I bought. My nana reaches me when I am singing off-key with my children, of which she would not have approved, gifted singer that she was.
She had taken care of all the business of her own funeral and burial, ten years prior to her death. She left notes, signed documents, filed them with the appropriate parties. She had chosen that particular vessel into which she would spend her time in rest eternal. She went out in a box with little roset accents and pearly touches.
I want to tell my Nana right now: I am fighting the battles she fought for all over again. I am slugging toward the finish line of this semester. I am pushing my Tempera-paint covered babies into the parts of their childhoods that they will remember vividly. I am entering another decade of marriage with a man she met before her memories faded. I am trying so mightily to do the practical, helpful thing and to wear the navy cardigan like a good soldier, but I know the fight that is in me. I am, after all, cut from the same cloth as my nana. I don’t want to go out now. I just want the things that I undertake to finish with a flourish. I want to go out, always, in everything I do, in a pink casket.