My grandmother, Amelia Kroll Solomon died on March 24, 2002 at the age of 93. The entire family including her children (aka the Siblings) and their children (aka the Cousins - my generation) had been attending her for some months during the hospice, at home. I don't think that there was ever a time that we were all together like this, even during the many weddings that had taken place here in this house. Toward the end, all of us were there, tending to her, to each other, eating dinner together at a table set for 24.
The period of her dying at home was well-planned. The siblings took care of that. But at some point my cousins and I started becoming more integral in Gram's care and possibly due to our influence, after her death, the days leading up to her memorial celebration unfolded organically.
Grams was an artist, had a warm personality and was extremely well-loved. And she had an amazing collection of exuberant flowing hippy clothes. All of us girls; Grams, my cousins Robin & Wendy, Rebecca, Aunties Suzon or Sheba, we all used to play dress up with her fascinating wardrobe. Somehow rifling through her many closets and drawers and putting on her clothing was a way of getting even more of this generous woman. She always played along with us, also dressing up and twirling in front of each other and the many mirrors... even when we were adults.
The post-funeral fashion show, started accidentally. We'd been ordering the piles of her possessions obsessively for days and the clothes were in her bedroom stacked in piles on the floor, awaiting a destination. Escaping the throngs of family and friends at the memorial, my cousins and I started rummaging through the piles, putting on her clothes and joking around. One thing led to the next and suddenly our little dress-up party poured out into the garden. We were trying to replicate the outfits we remembered Grams wearing when she was alive, and although we may have offended the East Coast side of the family, our little show most certainly lifted the spirits of the Siblings. Darting between friends in family on the lawn still out there chatting reminiscing, mourning and laughing, it was an hilarious way to end a period of mourning, but no less a collective family expression of love.