When my wise old grandmother died in 2003, her three living sons (my dad died in 1961) disinvited me to the funeral. Now stupid me didn’t realize that you could only go to funerals if an invitation to attend had been extended to you. Stupid, stupid me.
The funeral was to be in Kingsville, Texas, the farming and ranching community where she had lived since 1937. My three uncles, one from Kingsville, one from Houston, and one from Los Angeles (where he had lived since 1967) all thought that I would bring Jim and we would be dressed in drag and making out in the front pew of the Catholic Church. Seriously, that’s what they were afraid of….
It was more than that. Much more. You see, Jim and I had been to Kingsville many times (yearly from 1995 to 2003) to see Grandma. Jim knew all three uncles and had been out to eat with them many times. Jim had even been to the family reunion for my Grandma’s side of the family…. Twice! So it’s not like no one knew that Jim and I were an item.
Sadly, my Kingsville uncle (we will call him Rodney since that’s his name) warned me that he couldn’t guarantee that nothing would happen if Jim and I came to the funeral. Then in his next sentence he had the gall to ask me to be a pallbearer. That, of course, would mean going to the funeral without Jim, and since Rodney had more guns than the United States Army, I took him at his word and did not go the funeral. My disappointment was assuaged by a friend who told me, “Funerals are for the living, so don’t go if they don’t want you.”
Not only did I not go, but in September 2004, I legally changed my name to Russel Ray (from Russel Ray Kirk). Names are for the living, too! I wanted to change it to Bryan Lynn Austin but Jim (and others) convinced me to just drop my last name and take my middle name as my last name. So there you have it. To this day, I’m estranged from everyone on my dad’s Catholic side of the family except a gay cousin (and from everyone on my mom’s Mormon side of the family, too).
In honor of my wise old grandmother, and grandmothers everywhere, I thought that we’d listen to songs about grandmothers for today’s Music on Mondays. In order to do this, though, I have to break my rule that songs featured in Music on Mondays are songs that I have in my music collection. After listening to these songs, I understand why none of them are in my collection………..
“Look At Grandma” by Bo Diddley
“Hey, Grandma” by Moby Grape
“Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers
“Funky Granny” by Kool & The Gang
“Boomin’ Granny” by The Beastie Boys
“Let’s Go See Gran’ma” by Joy & Dave
“Look at Granny Run, Run” by Howard Tate
“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy
I leave you with this thought that my wise old grandmother told me in 1966:
“Ten percent of the people will love you because that’s the kind of people they are. Ten percent of the people will hate you because that’s the kind of people they are. Eighty percent of the people will love or hate you based on your words and actions, so speak and act lovingly.”
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