I’ve written many posts about my Mother…dozens of posts over the last four years. Some of those mom- posts had the highest number of readers all over the world. People in 131 countries have read about my Mom. She was a kick.
Her funeral, a celebration of her 99.9 years of life was April 7th. I will probably always have more memories to share, but with her passing still raw in my heart and mind I wanted to share my daughter’s eulogy.
Most of my family, like many, have spread out all over the USA. My oldest daughter, Joy, remained in the home Indiana area. It was usually a thirty minute trip to the nursing home, but she and my Mom were buddies. She knew Mom as well as anyone. She saw her more than anyone in the family.
Here are Joy’s words from the funeral:
Grandma had a little red book she kept by her recliner at home, and later by her bed at the nursing home. It contained a list of her friends and family’s phone numbers – her life line to the world. She loved keeping in touch with everyone she knew and she would work her way through the list, checking in on friends, until finally her eyesight prevented her from reading the list and making those phone calls. When I opened the book on Sunday to begin calling people to inform them of her passing, I noticed a note written in her little scratchy scrawl – “when I’m gone, call my friends.” It was so Grandma. Friends and family were her life. And Grandma would never have missed the chance to make sure people were thinking of her!
I sometimes think Grandma measured her own worth by the number of friends she had – and how many people attended her funeral. Obviously, looking out at this crowd, she was worth a lot. She spent the last 14 years planning her funeral. You see, Grandma didn’t exactly follow Grandpa’s wishes when he died. Shortly after Grandpa died, fourteen years ago, Grandma went to the funeral home to plan her own funeral. I have a feeling she wanted to make sure we followed HER last wishes. Grandma definitely knew what she wanted! Recently when she was last in the hospital, she made me promise I would ask the funeral director to brush her teeth – I did, but I’m sure Rich, the director, must have been laughing inside. She also wanted to know what I planned to write in her obituary to let people know she almost made it to 100. You see, Grandma knew she wasn’t going to make it to 100, but she wanted to be sure everyone knew how close she had come!
Grandma & I spent a lot of time together. My favorite times were over a meal or snack. One day Grandma said, “Kid, I just don’t have an appetite.” Grandma really ALWAYS had an appetite – just not necessarily for the food at the nursing home. I said, “well Grandma, we’re very close to Burger King. Why don’t I get you one of those Whopper Jr’s you love?” Grandma paused and then said, “maybe I could eat a hamburger with ketchup, pickles, and onion.” Then, without missing a beat, “and maybe some fries, and how about a root beer?” She devoured it all when I returned. Watching grandma eat a hamburger or drink a milk shake was like watching a child open a Christmas present. She would close her eyes and savour it. It always reminded me that it’s the small things that matter in life.
A few months ago I had the privilege of videotaping Grandma. Our school was celebrating the 100th day of school and a teacher friend thought it might be fun to show the students a person who had lived almost 100 years. Grandma shared stories of her youth, telling me about her one doll, little money, and pet chicken, but her final words are what will stay with me and I hope stay with you. When I asked her if she had advice for the students, she looked at the camera and said, “Kids, treat each other good.” My grandma was wiser than her 8th grade education. She knew what was important. So to honor Grandma, I leave you with her message – treat each other good.
I will miss you forever Grandma, but I’m so grateful to have had all the wonderful times we had together.