Allen Iverson and me, not sure I would have ever thought I would mention the two of us in the same breath before but I fear as if I must. Allen Iverson is best known for an ankle breaking crossover dribble and an epic rant against the benefits of practice. Well I can’t exactly perform the crossover dribble like Iverson but boy do I feel the same way about practice.
The last three days that I went in to see Granny she asked me the same thing every time…”Have you been practicing your speech?”. Every time I answered her the same way, “of course I am Granny”. I think it might have been the only three times I ever consciously lied to my Granny, at least the only three I am prepared to publicly admit to. I mean really practice? How can you practice to eulogize your Granny? I know I couldn’t.
The night before the funeral, I did have many thoughts and ideas popping through my head as I shoveled snow from our driveway. So as far as practice, Granny I have to admit that is far as I got. Looking back on the day the reality is there is no way I could have practiced for that event anyway. Practice to me is all about trying to replicate the best you can the circumstances and situations you are about to face.
How could I practice standing before a sea of faces of family and friends preparing to talk about OUR Granny? How could I practice standing at the pulpit of the Catholic Church that I grew up in? How could I practice delivering a eulogy in the same church that was the place of my brother’s funeral oh so many years ago? I couldn’t practice that…could you?
However, every since the funeral I have thought a lot about the practice thing. Perhaps practice began many years ago. Granny prepared me for that moment my whole life. It was through the apples, quarters, and juicy peaches that I first learned about responsibility. It was sleepovers on Granny’s porch in the summer with my cousins that I learned what it meant to be part of family.
It was also watching her whip up her famous butter cookies that I learned what it meant to take time and enjoy what you are doing. It was sitting at the “kid’s table” at Thanksgiving that I learned how crazy and LOUD my family was. It was watching my Granny deal with family trouble and dissension that taught me to have faith in even the toughest days that there will be another day.
So Friday morning I stood up at the pulpit with a lifetime of practice behind me and I spoke. I have no idea what I said or didn’t say and it doesn’t matter. What I know was that Granny would have been pleased, not by my words but by the faces I saw. Her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (great greats in Spirit) and friends all gathered. We are her legacy, each promising in our own ways, to live like she taught us.
I’ve always told Ginny that some day I would write a book about the lessons that Granny taught me. The reality is I don’t think that will happen. What will happen is I will continue to tell her story and live those lessons out.
Practice? I don’t need no stinking’ practice….
Granny I love you.