Monday, June 13, 2011

In Memoriam: The End

Thanks to everyone for sticking with all of my sad and morbid posts regarding my Grandmother and her decision to discontinue the transfusion treatments that were keeping her alive. She passed away on Tuesday June 7th around 6 pm with all of her daughters and two of my cousins with her. Her memorial ceremony was emotional and I overcame the urge (somehow) to grab her urn and run out of the church and hide them somewhere so I could keep her all to myself forever and ever. I'm sure my kids and everyone else there (except for maybe Jeremiah) would have been pretty shocked to see me run headlong out of a very crowded church into the neighboring fields in my funeral garb clutching the urn against my chest.

I had the honor of speaking at the memorial service, 'honor' meaning my Grandma asked me to do while on her death bed, so how could I really say no? It went better than I thought, I didn't blubber through it and I hope she would have enjoyed it very much. I'll share it with you today and then I promise, no more depressing death posts!

Thank you everybody for joining our family today to celebrate my Grandma Bert’s life and the fact that she has a new life in heaven with God, something she’s been looking forward to and talking about all of my life. My Momma tells me that this eulogy is supposed to be more than about my own personal relationship with my Grandma, but it’s hard to see beyond that for me. She was a big part, one of the biggest parts of my life and I feel like most everything I do is contingent on something she taught me, or taught my Mother to teach me.

I have compiled a list of things that your Mother, your Wife, your Aunt, your Cousin, your Friend, your Grandmother, my Grandmother was the best at.

Painting nails. She always had this magical collection of nail polishes on her dresser, flanking the perfumes and the powder compacts, like pawns marching in a perfect colorful order.

Putting up/Taking down wall paper. If anyone in our family, extended family or hell, anyone we knew at all needed help with their wall paper, my Grandma was on hand.

Putting together the perfect outfit. My grandma was always dressed impeccably, she took such pride in her appearance she would usually change into a housecoat as soon as she came home from whatever she was doing to properly preserve her clothes. I’ve seen all of my aunts do this. I know that my grandparents didn’t have much money when their children were small, but if you see photos of my aunts, my uncle and my mother, you would have thought they were very rich. New socks and shoes, ironed smocks and dresses, coordinating church outfits. Pappy Jack’s hair was always cut right, Grandma probably spent more money on her hair and her shoes than I could ever in two or three of my lives.

Act like a lady. She might have been loud and crass with us kids or when she was mad at Pappy Jack, but she was always a lady. “Sit like a lady!” she told me so many times at church or out visiting on our weekends together. I say it at least once a day to any of my three daughters and sometimes to my baby sister.

One of the best things you can do as a person is make people feel good by waiting on them, taking care of them. My Grandma loved my Pappy with a fierceness and loyalty that was unmatched. She might have swore at him, given him a little swack, argued with him more times than I can count, but she still made his breakfast, lunch and dinner, cleaned his clothes, took care of his house and raised his children to the best of her ability so that they became the excellent people who raised their own children with the lessons she taught them. One time when I was pregnant with my youngest child, my son Elijah, Jeremiah and I went to the store and left my youngest girl Maxine Jane with Grandma and Pappy. I was nervous to do this because Max is considered a difficult or spirited child, but Grandma was insistent. We came home a short time later and Max had been bathed and perfumed and was laying in a sea of sheets in front of the TV, one arm propped up on a pile of pillows so that her hand could reach the bowl of cheese crackers next to the pillows with the smallest possible effort. (mimick the scene) The woman fed me till I was 13. She rocked me in her lap until I was too big to hold. I’m sure a lot of people in this room, especially all of my many cousins, know what it is like to be loved unconditionally because of the adoration and attention she gave us all.

Babies are God’s gift to us, take care of them. She taught us all how to swaddle a baby, how to rock a baby, how to bathe a baby. Can I see a raise of hands if Grandma has bathed your baby? She gave my two oldest daughters their first baths and even bathed Katelynn in the hospital because there was a baby boom and they were short on nurses. The doc handed Kate to Grandma and said “Do you know how to bathe a baby?” I can only imagine the brightness on her face at that moment. “Of course I know how to bathe a baby!”

So it’s obvious to anyone who knew her that she was the type of person who could make you feel so special, so unique that you felt like you had her all to yourself, that she was just yours for however long you had to spend with her. I thought this until I would go to church with her, or when we were visiting Great Aunt Lula in the nursing home and it dawned on me that she was the type of person that everyone loved, that everyone wanted in their life, that everyone remembered and set apart as someone special. I learned that I would have to share her with the world and now we all with have to share her with God.

She’s told all of us here that God has been building a giant beautiful house in heaven for her with rooms enough for Pappy Jack all of her children and grandchildren to share someday. I’m thinking of her right now in heaven hanging out with God in the giant kitchen she always wanted, drinking coffee at the kitchen table, making pecan tasseys for me, halupki for everyone and liver and onions for Pappy Jack. It will be a wonderful day when we can all share that house together and get to be with her forever.

Thank you for coming and before you leave, give my Mom, my Aunt Pam, my Aunt Lori, my Aunt Robin, my Uncle Dubby and my Pappy a big hug. My grandma was a loving, hugging person and would greatly appreciate this gesture. Just go up to one of them and squeeze the crap out of them, it be well worth it, considering she taught each one of them how to hug just right.


Steam Me Up, Kid said...

This is beautiful, the tone just perfect. I bet the room was a puddle of both happy and sad tears by the time you were finished. She would have been proud.

Ally said...

Your grandma reminds me so much of my own grandma. Though because of her Alzheimer's she hasn't been able to do much of anything other than sit and watch TV for the past three years. I am so sorry for your loss. I'm sure she would have loved everything you said about her. I have no idea how you didn't break down while reading that. I wouldn't have been able to handle it :(

MJ said...

That was a great speech! RIP Grandma Bert - she sounded like a special lady indeed.

Logical Libby said...

Brava. Well said with love and humor.

You aren't wearing a housecoat right now though, are you?

erin said...

Beckerino: Thanks. Every one was crying and Olivia just kept bawling. I'm crying now even though I didn't cry at the time. I just wanted to be a performer, like she always wanted me to be.

Ally: Thanks for your kind words. I keep looking at photos and thinking how did this happen? I miss her so much.

MJ: Thank you. She was incredibly special.

Libster: Thank you. I am not wearing a housecoat, but I do have three of her oversized cardigans with the giant pockets she would keep all her stuff in and I've been wearing them for days!

hapi said...

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Jody said...

Your Grandmother would have been so proud of you for that lovely Euology.

Big hugs sent to you from across the ocean. (I'm sure you will accept them from a virtual stranger as well - I read you often but don't always comment) xo

Enid said...

a lovely eulogy
sleep well Grandma Bert
hugs to all

Erin said...

This is so sweet, Erin. She would have loved it.

Scribe said...

What a great way to honour your grandmother. As a person who believes in the need for a great, all-encompassing hug, I send one to you and your entire family.

latada2003 said...

Sooo sorry for your loss...but so glad you were able to have and share those memories!! She would be proud & I'm sure you'll hear about it when you get to see her again!! :) Grandma's are such amazing people! With mine approaching her 75th birthday with declining health...but definitely not spirit!...I know now, that it's going to be one of the hardest days of my life to hear that she has moved into His house (no matter how happy I know she'll be there)! Thank you, for sharing this!!