Evelyn Julia Brumm, Rest in Peace

evelyn.jpg My grandmother died early this morning after a short battle with cancer. She was 85.

This is not a proper eulogy; those are hard to write.

However. Grandma voted by absentee ballot early last week, before the morphine took over. If she managed to vote, so can all y’alls (at least, assuming I finish writing this before the polls close).

I’m registered as a permanent absentee voter, and I mailed my ballot in two weeks ago. That worked out well – I was glad not to worry about it while flying back to the craton to spend this time with family. Today, though, I’m a bit sad not to be participating in the civic ritual of actually going to the polling place to stand in line with my neighbors.

Death has its own rituals, in wakes and funerals and also in the things people say to one another. They’re almost canned sentiments, but really they’re invocations, designed to help us feel connected to something larger than ourselves. As an atheist among grieving Catholics, I find that much of it falls flat.

I am sometimes agnostic about the promise of America, but I am never so conspiracy-minded as to actually doubt the existence of the United States. Voting is therefore much better than church. I think I’m going to switch back to an at-the-polls registration.

As an aside: I just got a GOTV call from the Obama campaign and Dad reports that he saw my name on the voter rolls while he was voting. Iowa City has a large transient student population; if they’re not purging their records properly I wonder if that’s enough to significantly affect the reported turnout numbers.


  1. Lockwood wrote:

    My condolences for your loss.

  2. DrugMonkey wrote:

    Condolences for your loss and a virtual glass raised for the part of her legacy that touches our lives. You and your blog are part of that greater something

  3. Kim wrote:

    I’m so sorry about the loss of your grandmother.

    I voted by mail, as well. (When there are a gazillion proposed amendments to the state constitution, it’s nice to be able to read through them, then read the information about them, and then vote.) I didn’t get to wear a sticker, though.

    It’s nice to see so many stickers today.

  4. Abel Pharmboy wrote:

    The entire Pharmboy family and I send you and your family our deepest condolences.

    I certainly understand the Catholic rituals and invocations and how they evolved :-) to aid in the grief process for believers. But I’ve always felt that atheists can view their elders as continuing to live on in a different sense – in you, my friend: in your dedication and work ethic, in your devotion to others, in your kindness and sharp wit that I have had the pleasure of experiencing, and so many other aspects of Grandma Brumm that all of you know that may not be apparent to those of us who didn’t know her personally.

    There will be enough time for eulogies but you have already done your Grandma proud by sharing your loss with us. Hang in there, Maria, and be well.

  5. Hypatia wrote:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.
    Political grandmas make the world go ’round.

  6. Silver Fox wrote:

    Sorry to hear about your grandmother. All Grandmas are special people. I think eulogies are hard to write, too. I think Abel Pharmboy made a good start. And poems work, sometimes.

  7. Lab Lemming wrote:

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss.

  8. Alice wrote:

    So so sorry, Maria… big hug.

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