Archive for April 11th, 2009
Today it has been exactly one year since my grandma passed away. She would have been 97 years old this year. Here is a copy of the eulogy I wrote and read at the funeral in Wisconsin.
This is the eulogy I read at my Grandmother’s funeral:
I am here today to tell you about my Grandma, Rowene. Rowene…. What a beautiful and unique name. My Grandma was a beautiful and unique woman. There is a poem by an author named Jenny Joseph’s that starts, “When I am old I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn’t go….” My grandma was never much for purple, but her personality was definitely purple.
Some of my earliest memories of my grandmother are of her sitting at the sewing machine at my parent’s home sewing clothes for my sister and me. She was very much the quintessential grandma who sewed clothes, baked bread and sweets, canned fruit and pickles, and the meals she cooked were legendary. She had white hair and glasses and everyone called her grandma as long as I can remember, no matter who they were, because she was everyone’s grandma and mother.
When I was just a preschooler she came to visit us in Arizona with my Grandpa Orvan. My sister Tammy was in the first grade and my grandparents and I would walk to school every day in the afternoon to pick her up. Each of them would hold one of my hands as we walked. They would pull up with their arms and raise me up in the air and swing me back and forth and back and forth. I just giggled with joy. Every time I look at my daughter with her Nana and Papa, I am reminded of those special times with my grandparents.
Grandparents occupy a very unique position in our lives. They love us unconditionally. They don’t have to take care of us, and it’s not their job to raise us, so they are in a special position of being able to just appreciate us for who we are.
Unfortunately, we lost my grandfather when I was just 5 or 6 years old. He suffered with bone cancer and went home to be with his heavenly father in 1973. I would have liked to have known him longer, but I still feel I knew him even as small as I was. I still have many memories of him. Playing cards with him in his big chair. Taking a walk together as he strode along with his cane. Talking into his hearing aid while we sat in his lap. Every once in awhile I talk to him in my prayers.
My grandma loved to tell stories about us when we were small. She often told a story about me when I was just 5 or 6 years old. She was sitting at the sewing machine sewing clothes at my parents home in Arizona. I was sitting there with her talking her ear off as I often did when I was small. As most of you know, Phoenix is traditionally warm and sunny most of the year. Grandma used to come down to Phoenix with the rest of the Snowbirds to escape the wicked winters in Wisconsin and spend time with us, her grandchildren. Apparently, it had been raining for a few days in Phoenix, which is unusual, and grandma made the comment that she was going to go home if the rain didn’t clear up soon. Being a child, I of course took her literally and was very concerned. She said I got very serious, closed my big eyes and put my little hands together, and prayed hard to God, “Dear God, please make the rain go away so my grandma won’t go home.” Every time she told that story she would laugh and smile at me. The joy of a child’s innocent and pure belief in the power of prayer and a benevolent God.
Once when my grandma was still living in her little house on 5th street, Tammy and I were there to visit. My Uncle was still living there and he had an extra bed in his room that used to be my Dad’s bed. Since she had limited room, that is where we slept. We were still little kids, so we each slept with our head at opposite ends of the bed like you do with little kids. That night as we were going to bed my grandma sat and prayed with us. That night she taught me this prayer. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.” To this day I still say that prayer in my head every night before I go to sleep. When I was pregnant with each of my 3 children I said the prayer for them too. My grandma was one of the first people to teach me about faith in God by her example. She was a good Christian woman and held a deep belief in Our Holy Father. She went to church faithfully on Sunday and was always there to volunteer when they needed help. She was an incredible example of what a Christian woman should be.
Grandma had a great sense of humor and was happy being the butt of many jokes. She was always ready for fun. My sister and I took dancing lessons when we were kids and we had yearly recitals. One year, we were riding in my Dad’s big cargo van, Old Yeller, on our way to one of our recitals. There was a bench seat in the back for us kids, and grandma used to sit in a lawn chair, smack dab in the middle of the van. This was in the days before people worried about seat belts, obviously. We were on our way to a friends house to pick him up to take him to our recital, and as we pulled in front of his house my Dad made a bit of a hard stop. We all watched as grandma’s lawn chair tipped over in slow motion with her in it. Every one of us gasped in fear, afraid that she would hit her head or hurt herself. She had to be at least 60 years old at the time. As we held our breath, she was quiet for a minute, then suddenly she just burst out laughing and we all joined in. She was always willing to see the funny side of things.
Grandma was feisty and tough. There was a story she used to tell us when we had trouble with other kids in school about her when she was a little girl in Wisconsin. In those days there were several grades all together in the same little school house with one teacher. Apparently, one of the large farm boys used to enjoy picking on grandma. She was a petite little thing, so I am sure he thought she was an easy target. Little did he know. One day she had apparently had it with this kid, when she went to walk past him and he tried to trip her. She got up and took her pencil and just started poking him in the arm with it over and over. Apparently, that was the last time he bothered her. Grandma always could take care of herself.
Grandma was smart and compassionate. Grandma had to quit school when she was just 14 because she became very ill with yellow jaundice and she never went back. Grandma was always there for other people when they were sick, giving birth, or dying to offer comfort and compassion. If things had been different she may have been a nurse. It was a profession that would have suited her well. Instead, she worked in the post office for 30 years. She knew everyone in town and they knew her. She was friendly and a hard worker.
Grandma even influenced the profession I chose to go into. I have a psychology degree and I am a certified teacher. I fully intended to get a teaching job one day. After I had children I just wasn’t comfortable leaving them to be raised by strangers, so I decided to start my own business out of my home. When I was about 20 years old my grandma bought me my very first cross stitch kit and she taught me how to cross stitch. Cross stitching is something I have enjoyed doing in my spare time for years. About two years ago, I decided to open a cross stitch supply store out of my home. We have been in business for two years now and we are going strong. I really love it. Thanks to grandma, I found something I really enjoy doing.
Here are just a few things I will remember about my grandma:
-her sense of humor-her old fashioned sayings-the smell of Dove soap-spending summers at her house when we were kids-playing Frisbee in front of her apartment with our cousins- playing post office on her stairs in her house when we were kids-walking to church on Sunday morning-learning how to sew and cross stitch with her-making fresh bread and jam in her apartment-her white hair-her laugh- and what a great grandma she really was.
My Grandma Rowene will be missed by every one. She obviously touched many lives by the size of this crowd. She lived a long, happy, mostly healthy life. In the last few years she grew frail and tired and she was ready to go home to be with her Heavenly Father. I am glad that she is happy, comfortable, with Grandpa, and at peace in heaven with God. This January I was diagnosed with stage III a breast cancer. Knowing that she is in heaven waiting for me makes the possibility of losing my battle with cancer some day less frightening. I know when my time comes she and my Grandpa will meet me hand in hand to take me home.
God’s Grace to you all!
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