My grandmother was the best. Everyone in our small town called her Gramma. Well, everyone except her grandkids. She was Buzzy to all of us. I was her first grandchild, and like all firsts, I was special. For reasons that are now cloudy, I called her “Buzzy.” She loved it, and as the other grandkids came along, they too, called her Buzzy. Nobody else could though. Nobody.
“There are Grammas, Memaws, Nannas, you name it, all over town. I’m the only Buzzy. That makes me and my grands remarkable.”
We heard her say it hundreds of times. And Buzzy made us all feel like we were the most important people on earth when we were with her.
She always wore shades of peacock blue, and her long gray hair flowed behind her, like waves in the sea. She canned all sorts of vegetables, pickles, and the like, as well as being the local herbalist. She rode a motorcycle—a big Harley Super Glide. Her hair out straight, following her, helmet free.
She kept a hog in back and traded for many of her needs. A neighbor butchered her hog for a portion of the meat and gave her a suckling pig every spring. Her big garden on the old farmstead fed her and any family in need in the area.
Buzzy was a force unto herself. “I love to sing, and I love breakfast,” she would say, “so why not combine them?”
So she did. Of all the spontaneous things she did, breakfast was not one of them.
“Bruschetta, wine, and no shame,” she would say over breakfast, then break out into a song. In all my years, I never knew her to have anything other than bruschetta and red wine for breakfast.
Her herb garden was a big part of her life. She spent much of her day in it. I had no idea what all was in there, but she did. Tied and hanging in the warm, dry barn were rows upon rows of bundles looking like miniature sheaves of grain. Labeled jars lined the shelves in her house. She grew and smoked her own weed. Never sold it, might have traded it, hard to tell.
I’d been gone for too long, all us grands had. But we were convening up there. It was going to be the biggest shindig the town had ever seen. Going to go from dawn to dusk.
The morning sun rose early that time of year, and there was a promise of a beautiful day. As I approached the farm, traffic was picking up. A neighbor mowed the field, and it became a large parking lot, country style. The other grands were right behind me, and we all walked toward the house. We exchanged hugs with dozens of people as we slowly made our way. String musicians, singers, keyboards, brass, woodwinds, and even a bagpiper were on the grounds. No less than twenty barbeque grills were being tended. Yes, it was going to be the biggest shindig anyone had ever seen.
Over the past month, Buzzy arranged everything, and made sure she invited everyone in town. Anyone who wanted to play an instrument or sing would have their chance. “People are people. Not rich people and poor people, but just people.” She would say. And she lived it. Everyone received equal treatment from her.
When I approached the barbeque grills, the mayor, the grocery store owner, and a neighbor that bought, fixed up, and sold cars from his barn, all turned and gave me a group hug.
“Been too long, since you were here.”
“I know,” was all I could say.
The grills provided bruschetta all day and never-ending jugs of red wine were on the picnic table. The music continued until sunset. There was no need to organize who played when, it all just came together. The party proved to be the biggest and best ever, just as Buzzy intended. She said goodbye in the way she lived, larger than life and in her own style.
We buried Buzzy the next day, in front of an even bigger crowd. Pancreatic cancer took her quickly and too soon. She will be remembered, but never replaced.