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Thursday, January 13, 2011

I have a friend who would have given Charles Dickens a run for his money.

It is kinda fitting that my last entry was about Charles Dickens and great literature. I mentioned a friend of mine passing away, a few entries ago. To be more specific, she was my House Mom while I was at UF. She was definitely more than "just" a House Mom to me and many of my friends. We were her first girls, and many of my friends kept in great touch with her over the years. Even to the point of attending her daughter's wedding. Even to the point of giving a eulogy at her funeral.

My dear friend Meg wrote the most amazing reflection on the life of Miss Ann. This is not just a eulogy, it is prose. It is absolutely beautiful, so I thought I would share. I told my friend that she may find herself with a fairly morbid job on her hands because I am pretty sure people are lining up already to secure her as their memorial speech writer. To be fair, she also had a pretty amazing client to work with. Trust me, it is that beautiful.



Writing a so-called eulogy for Miss Ann is either the hardest job in the world, or the easiest.

It's been more than a year since she first mentioned the E word and I still can't reason why, out of the scores of people who adored every blonde ounce of her Titusville-bred self, she deemed me worthy of this task. What I DO know, though, is that I can't imagine a greater honor.

It was the Sunday after a reunion disguised as a football tailgate--a tailgate orchestrated largely by Miss Ann--that she first mentioned the E word. In a tone as familiar as one fitting for "I'll take a glass of Yellow Tail chardonnay, please," Miss Ann summoned me into her suite, and with just a few words, anointed me the future author of her eulogy. She'd even told Stacy as such.

The statement was paralyzing. I was as much honored as I was horrified. Tebow had just secured us a win over LSU. Our two-day visit had been punctuated by game day endorphins, reminiscing about trouble we'd gotten into in the DZ house and her excitement over the bundle of joy growing in Stacy's tummy. At that time, 16 months ago, the thought of saying goodbye to Miss Ann for more than a football season was strictly out the question.

As she persisted about the E word, I agreed, under the pretense we'd table the conversation for 20 years, after she’d said a toast at my and Nicole’s weddings, after Brian had executed an engagement as colorful as Shaun's, after Stacy had a house full of bubbly little tinkers. God, it seems, had other plans. Maybe heaven was lacking in laughter. Maybe the angels needed someone to make them chicken noodle soup and seven layer bars. Most likely, though, I think He saw all the fun she was orchestrating on earth and wanted in on the action.

Because I'm pretty sure there aren't laws against plagiarizing oneself, here's a snippet from a letter written four years ago.

"Though us Delta Zeta sisters share varied faiths, we spiritually agree on one certainty: we know why God rested on the seventh day. He did so to create the woman whose homemade ice cream cakes and pepper roasts make Rachael Ray dishes taste like Chef Boyardee, the friend whose compassionate dialogue rivals the writers for Grey's Anatomy, the role model who stands taller than Macy Gray on stilts, the set of shoulders more supportive than Tim Tebow’s game day armor… Miss Ann Grenville.

Should the price of paper rise in the future, it'll be easy to pinpoint the culprit. It will take several forests of refined greenery to create the wedding invitations, birth announcements, thinking of you, change of address and Christmas cards directed Miss Ann's way in the future. To not include Miss Ann in the joys of life would be like not inviting the mother of the bride to her daughter's wedding. Graduation may close our days and nights with Miss Ann, but a little bit of her character is embedded in each of us as we follow in her footsteps."

These words were written in 2006, a time when I visualized addressing announcements to a Miss Ann at 903 S.W. 13th Street in Gainesville, Florida. Now that she'll know about engagements and babies long before a paper product could be stamped, she's taken "going green" to extremes. Leave it to Miss Ann to be hip and trendy from heaven.

I heard that Miss Ann was going to let us know it was her time by saying, "Well folks, the party's over."

Miss Ann, you know I'd never correct you, but I'd be remiss in not calling you out on this one. The pre-party may have run its course, but the band has just arrived.

While the next few weeks and months will leave us longing for one more hug, one more wild hair to leave her a voicemail to the tune of "You Are My Sunshine," one more notification that "Ann Grenville likes this," let us find comfort in the thought that we no longer have to share our Miss Ann.

From here on out, on any given fall Saturday, the DZ tailgate will boast one more attendee, no more panhellenic or fraternal laws to mind. Tables on the Front Lawn will sport an extra guest, one silently encouraging rounds of upside down pineapple cake shots. Sidelines throughout the SEC will staff an extra blonde cheerleader... when said cheerleader is not distracted by unannounced visits to the locker room. And when his mom and dad are distracted with singing "We are the Boys," Parker will have a built-in playdate, one that will continue to rival his youth.

There was nothing ordinary about Miss Ann during our precious time together. And there will be nothing ordinary about this Anngel - that's angel with two Ns. As much as this Anngel will be on hand to blanket us in her protective arms, she'll be just as much a silent antagonist encouraging us to follow her tireless pursuit of adventure.

So... Miss Ann, our Anngel, you're officially on the clock. I hope you're ready. Because, well folks, this party has just begun.


2 comments:

Flynnsight said...

I love you. Period.

Puttin' On The GRITS said...

That is beautiful! I didnt know her personally buy I grew up with her son Brian and I know she was loved by so many. Your friend did a beautiful job capturing that!

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