It’s been a long time. So much has happened and been happening in my life. I was all geared up to come back to blogging with a vengeance last week and update you all with all my exciting news, career moves and so on and so forth when I got word that my beloved Grandmom had passed away. Obviously, my completing any sort of blog post became the furthest thing from my mind. The world is such a strange place. Just yesterday, I placed a rose on my Grandmother’s casket and held my mother up as we watched her be lowered into the ground, and today I’m thousands of miles away, on stage singing and dancing in front of an audience who are all expecting me to deliver their moneys worth.
I’m holding it together but I want to scream, kick and cry. My costume feels like it’s suffocating me, the lights are hot and blinding, and the music is so labored and lifeless. I just want to go home and be with my mother.I just want to take care of her and ease any pain I can. I had to leave her the very day her mother was buried. I regret that already. But career, contracts and responsibilities all have a way of forcing life to go on. I guess I should just be glad they released me long enough to get to the funeral.
But more importantly, I want to share with you all some things about my Grandmother and her life, some of which I knew and some of which I recently learned. My Grandmother, Janet Lee Raitano was not a fancy woman. She didn’t travel the world, she didn’t like fine jewelry, and she didn’t have a lot of money. She was 16 years old when she got married and completed her schooling up to the 7th grade. She lived in a small home with her two cats, Pumpkin and Midnight. She loved any kind of trivia or card game especially poker and would take even the kids’ money. She loved old movies and anything and everything that had to do with Elizabeth Taylor. And she welcomed everyone into her angel figurine filled home, with a smile, hug and kiss, warm meal and a delicious dessert. She never seemed to worry or stress or at least she didn’t let her grand children know about it. She had a very easy way of being about her. In fact, it was summed up in the opening sentence of her instructions in the case of her death, “Once I die, wait two days before doing anything so you kids can get your shit together”.
She gave birth to, nurtured and raised 9 children… 6 girls and 3 boys… who then gave her 17 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren with one on the way. Her husband, my Grandfather died when she was only 46 years old. At that time she still had 2 children in middle school, 1 child in high school and 2 children in college. She was a strong yet warm women. A woman who would stop at nothing to keep her family tight knit and together. Till the day she died she was center of every family function for all 31 of us- every birthday, christening, communion, wedding, holiday (even valentine’s day) and baby shower, graduation, dance recital, play and summer picnic. Her entire life was dedicated to her family.
It would be impossible to count the number of tears she wiped, scrapes she cleaned, bruises she kissed, hearts she healed, babies she rocked, teeth she pulled, minds she comforted and memories she gave.
She would always ask me to sing and for whatever reason I never would. I regret that now. I should have sung for her every day. I should have called her more. I should have realized earlier how short life is, so that we could have had more moments. Lesson learned. But at the very least, I recorded some music earlier this month and I sent her some of the songs. From what my family tells me listened to them quite often. Her last words to me were in a Facebook message where she wrote:
She passed 12 days later.
Cherish the day y’all. With the heaviest of hearts-