Stories

Miss Janice

undefinedMy Grandmother died recently; January 25, 2020. She fell at 96. My uncle believes if it weren’t for the subsequent respiratory infection she received while at the hospital she would still be here. I regret not going to her 95th birthday celebration – but, by the time I rounded up the correct documents to get the boys passports, it was too late. At the same time though, I wasn’t too concerned because I genuinely thought she would be around for another 5.

“Miss Janice.” That’s what I called her. When my dad asked me to speak at her funeral I was nervous because he asked me on the evening of February 3 and the service was on February 4. I didn’t have time to prepare. Plus, I don’t remember much about my grandma. I was here to support my dad because they were so very close. Of course, now I can think of all the things I could have said.

It was ridiculously hot in the church. I thought “Old people must get really, really cold. Do you have to keep dead people warm? Jesus it’s hot! Hell is uncomfortable.” Then I was like “What’s wrong with you? Correct your thoughts.” I proceeded to follow my Dad’s girlfriend Elyse and my little brother Phoenix as the Usher directed us to our seats.

I saw so many faces. Faces I haven’t seen in ages. And I was upset with myself for waiting until a funeral to see my extended family. I saw my ex-stepmom, first cousins, second cousins, in-laws. My dad didn’t sit with us. At first I thought he had things to do. Then I wondered if he didn’t come in because he’s an atheist (although I’ve never heard him refer to himself that way. Stories for another time).

I whispered to Elyse, “Where’s dad?” She gave me a stern look and said, not so quietly, “The devil cannot enter the Lord’s house! Satan is not welcome here!” We laughed out loud, then remembered where we were when people turned around, giving us “tsk-tsk. You should know better!” looks.

The church members were a bunch of old ladies. Over 60. All of them. They sang the hymns like they were sleepy drunk – The words seemed to escape them. Honestly, they fully mumbled through entire verses. I was annoyed. I remember thinking …

“Did they even practice?”

“Great! It’s already miserably hot, now my ears are burning. They’re ruining the experience.”

“Hmmm. Remarkably, my deodorant hasn’t failed me, but my inner thighs aren’t fine. I wonder if you can put deodorant all over your body like lotion?” “Hello Sam!!! Stay present!”

The Pastor and his wife, also a pastor, had wonderful things to say about my grandmother. (I would like to go to a funeral where people had bad things to say about their dearly departed, especially in the obituary. I think I will write one for myself). When the Pastor talked about Miss Janice being in a better place. Elyse said “How you know? You been there already?”

“You sound like dad.” I told her. We laughed again. Quieter this time.

I learned that my grandmother always had words of encouragement for everyone. She prepared food for the homeless and cared about the presentation of said food – it didn’t matter to her that they were homeless; preparation and presentation mattered as much as if you were making a meal for your own family. Miss Janice loved to dance. She valued punctuality and would rather be too early than on time.

My brother Logan remembered that even when dad grounded him, Miss Janice would let him go outside after dad left for work. She was also a great cook, catering to your favourite dish if you were stopping by for dinner. One person loved her Channa Cookup.

I couldn’t wait to get out of that church. My dad was hanging out across the street, with my sister-in-law and others I didn’t recognize, waiting to go to the repass.

To be continued …

Miss Janice’s Obit:

Janice Accra Chance was born June 25, 1923 in the town of Friendship on the east coast of British Guiana. The second of four children. She received her primary school education in Georgetown, the capital of British Guiana. Upon completion of her education, she joined the domestic profession. She was renowned as an honest, diligent, steadfast individual who speaks her mind regardless of the popular opinion.

Janice was a loyal member of the Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church. She loves working with people and and would do her utmost to assist others in need. In addition, she was an avid reader, loved sewing and knitting, but her passion was cooking – where she placed great emphasis on the presentation of the meals. Her Pastor recalled her favourite quote was, “Presentation. presentation, presentation.”

Janice visited Ontario, Canada on two separate occasions to be with her son Leonard and his family and toured the country extensively with them. During 1991, she migrated to Brooklyn, New York, USA to join her youngest son Percy and his family and subsequently became a member of the Mt. Zion Tabernacle Church. For several years she was involved in the “Feeding the Homeless” program, which the church ran on a monthly basis.

In her very late senior years, her health began to fail and she was called home by the lord on January 25, 2020 at the age of 96 years and 7 months. Janice was preceded by two of her children, Gloria, Winston; and her three siblings.

She is survived by five children: Edward, Randolph, Leonard, Percy and Sandra. 48 Grand children, 77 Great-grand children, 38 Great, great-grand children, Four daughter in-laws: Brenda, Jennifer, Juanita, and Elizabeth. One son in-law: Patrick.

With numerous extremely close relations: Carol, Barbara, Claire, Claudette, and Joycelyn, to mention a few. And her Mt. Zion Church Family, friends and loved ones left to mourn and cherish her memories.

Eternal love from everyone.

That’s my Fam yo! Miss Janice at 50. Center w/ gift. That’s my mom to the left of grandma. Dad, bottom left.

Cheers! To Miss Janice – I would like to think that your best qualities are running through my veins – exemplifying all your values. That I will have the courage to be steadfast irrespective of popular opinion, the discipline to be diligent, the compassion to care for others and the resilience to continue dancing, despite the obstacles life presents.

Note: I cannot remember where I put the printed copy of the program. Once I find it, I will make changes to the obituary.

Repping my Guyanese roots. Fitting photo of sunset in Rupununi, Guyana, South America

@kellaV21 via Twenty20 Thank you for the photo. Photo Credit

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