Thursday, April 8, 2010


Beverly L. Dow
January 1, 1931 - April 1, 2010

Is that all there is? Is that all there is?
If that's all there is, my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is.

- Peggy Lee

This week, I said goodbye to my grandmother. Her illness consumed her life over the last two years, and although it devastated our family, there is a profound sense of relief that she's no longer in pain.

I am still in Ebensburg - the tiny Western Pennsylvania mountain town where my father grew up. We were planning to leave yesterday, but on the way to the funeral on Tuesday we discovered my 2009 Honda Fit had a weird transmission problem (which turned out to be a busted throttle) that has kept my sister and I here for two extra days. I just got the word that my car will be fixed this afternoon, and we can be on our way.

And although staying here longer than we planned proved to be a bit inconvenient for our regular Harrisburg lives, it has been so nice to spend some more time with our dad and aunts and cousins... and my Pap-Pap, who's walking a little slower and is a little more quiet these last few days (except when the Pirates won against the Dodgers last night - he was jubilant). We helped write thank-you cards to the dozens of old friends who stopped by with lasagnas and pies and sandwiches, and those who donated money to the Hospice group that helped keep Gammy comfortable these last few months, and those who sent beautiful flowers to the funeral home. It was nice to be part of that.

At the funeral, I read a letter from my great aunt Pam who now lives in Australia. It spoke of all the things that she learned from Gammy, who was a good bit older than her. There were lots of beautiful sentiments, but what stuck with me the most was how Gammy taught her to let loose and love life. Almost everyone I talked with had a funny story about how much fun Gammy was - everyone had so many memories of great times with her. So do I.

A few weeks ago, when my aunts and dad were asking her what music she wanted at the funeral, she didn't really have any preferences, except for the Peggy Lee song "Is That All There Is," which is the excerpt I have listed at the top of this entry. They played it at the end of the service, when the family members were saying their last goodbyes before we took her to the cemetery. It was the most perfect, beautiful song for a woman who loved her beer and her cigarettes and her family more than anything in the world.

I will miss her so much, but it comforts me to imagine her in my fondest memories - with a salted I.C. Light from the kitchen BeerMeister and a cigarette, lounging on her brightly lit sunporch with her hair curled and her lipstick fresh, laughing.


  1. After reading your beautiful tribute, I wish I could have met her.

  2. she sounds like a lady I would have loved to sit around the kitchen table with!! Love you to pieces!