“Love is the greatest gift that one generation can leave to another.”
— Richard Garnett
It was an excellent turnout. Everyone agreed. That comment was made again and again. “She had a nice turnout.” No one wants to be forgotten.
The flowers were plentiful as were the guests. The people who take leave of their busy schedules to show up, sit down, break bread and share their remembrance of a lost loved one at a funeral are surely doing God’s work. Showing up is a comfort.
The church had four funerals that day. They ran things with a coolly seamless precision that was somehow comforting. Hushed tones and soft hands on shoulders to keep things moving smoothly along are sometimes very welcome indeed. Without them, I might still be standing there wringing my handkerchief — utterly lost.
If you have ever been asked to write a eulogy, you have my sympathy and congratulations. Writing eulogies is equal parts honor and terror. How can you possibly encapsulate the entire essence of someone you love into words?
I worked on it for a week. I got it down to my usual 800 words. I don’t know that I can write in anything but standard column essay lengths. I had promised her I would not cry. I lied. I cried. She will have to forgive me. Pain is a testament to how much we meant to each other.
I lost all three of my grandparents in the space of seven years. I realize I was blessed to have them earthside as long as I did. Many are not so blessed. Still, I wanted — and still do want — more time.
My grandparents were all amazing. Truly. Each with their own gifts and special ways and unique lives. They also, each and every one, made me — and all of us they loved — feel absolutely adored, loved, safe, supported and above all — special.
I have spent the last seven years unhealthily coping by pretending my Gram is just down in the barn. My grandpa is at his respective farm, and now my Gran, well, I just don’t know that I believe that she is gone yet. It still does not seem real. I’m just sure I can call her up for a chat. Look for a card or note in the mail. Perhaps drop by for lunch?
My Gran left us two weeks to the day of entering palliative care — just like she planned. At the moment of passing, the sky opened up with a crack of thunder. We like to think it was her storming Heaven’s gates to reunite with our grandfather — her soulmate.
Strong in her faith, she wanted the very best for her family and friends, and I am certain her prayer on our behalf buoyed each of us throughout the years. I guess I’m going to need to up my prayers to cover the loss. For all I know, her interception with the Lord on my behalf is all that has kept me from ruin thus far.
Like so many grandparents, she loved unconditionally, beyond any fault or mistake. When we celebrated a milestone, she was the proudest.
I also know that on the practical front, if you and your teenage cousin happen to get grounded by your respective parents at the same time, you should absolutely ask to go spend the weekend at Granny’s. She wouldn’t undermine your parents — exactly — but she would definitely let you know that you were absolutely a delight and those other grown-ups were probably overreacting.
When I was very young, I would visit my grandparent’s store, King’s Central Market in Chardon, Ohio. There Granny would hand me a brown paper bag and encourage me to fill it with candy. You’ve heard the saying “a kid in a candy store?” Yeah, it was like that — only I was offered popsicles, too, just in case the candy wasn’t enough. That, in a nutshell, encapsulates the level of adoring indulgence and general mayhem my Gran heartily supported. Every child should be so blessed.
Even in her final days, in her subtle way, her bravery, her grace and her unwavering love for us, for her husband and for the Lord — serve as the ultimate lesson. Our world feels a bit dimmer without her light. But the beautiful thing about the sun is even when it is out of sight, it is never truly gone. She leaves behind the glow of her love, the memories, her stories, her values, her lessons and the lasting imprints of her kindness.
The best people in our lives don’t just make us feel loved, they show us how to love and the best grandparents — including my own — certainly did just that.
I think my dear cousin summed it up best: “I’m going to miss having a grandparent.”
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