Vickie created a Tri-bond game to play with everyone in attendance. Participants had to guess what the three things have in common.
• A dining room table, a wooden rocking chair, and a green couch
--Furniture at Grandma’s
• Phase 10, Pass the Pigs, and Crow’s Feet Dominoes
--Games played on the dining room table
I was surprised I hadn’t cried yet. Yesterday at the viewing I was alone with my dad and I casually asked, “How you holdin’ up?” He almost instantly began to cry at the question and threw his arms around me in strong embrace. He was thinking of his own mom who passed several years ago. Dad probably was holding it in to be strong for mom; he is always doing everything for Mom.
• Crocheted afghans, kitchen hand towels, and clothes for every doll I ever loved
--Things Grandma sewed by hand
• Coming in the back door instead of the front, staying up until 2am watching I Love Lucy re-runs, and Arby’s after church
--(My guess was 1987) But Vickie’s answer was regular occurrences at Grandma’s
My parents flew out to St. Louis earlier in the month. Almost immediately upon their arrival they took grandma into the hospital again. She sensed the end and told my dad with extreme disappointment, “I really wanted to die at home.” She made it out of the hospital and was doing better. She didn’t live much longer, but she did get to die at home.
• A variety of candy, a huge selection of Hostess products, and a bucket of Doublemint gum
-- Grandma’s pantry
• Molasses cookies, gooey butter, and rum cake
--Things Grandma had made that were sitting on the kitchen counter (Double points if you added that they were also acceptable breakfast foods)
Knowing her time was near I went to the store to find a card for Grandma. She was just months from her 95th birthday. How do I pick out a card for someone this special that has lived this long? Grandma always welcomed everyone into the home. She made huge grocery store trips even though technically only two people lived at the house. All growing up she sent us a card for every holiday with a 2-dollar bill for each of us. She lived selflessly.
I always told Grandma and Grandpa, “Thanks for raising my mom well, so she could raise me well, so I could grow up with good values and such.”
I didn’t even know which section to get the card. Certainly I wasn’t going to choose “get well soon.” And “congratulations” was somehow appropriate and inappropriate at the same time. After a little looking I read a card from the “thank you” section;
“Most folks don’t go out of their way for others. Thank goodness you aren’t most folks.”
Perfect. All I added was, “Thanks for always going out of your way for us.”
I can’t sum it up better than that.
I walked over the mailbox around midnight that night so it would go out in the morning.
• A generous spirit, a huge heart, and an incredible memory
• A woman who loved God, loved her husband, and loved her family
Wednesday while wearing a suit and tie on the way to my students’ graduation ceremony I checked my voice mail. Grandma died. I drove the rest of the way to work in silence, but then changed gears to celebrate with my kids the rest of the morning.
• $2 bills, the envelopes, a lifetime of memories the size of Christmas ornaments
When Vickie said, “two-dollar bills” for the first time I cried. Seeing my aunt crying, hugging my dad, looking at Grandma in the casket the day before, and it was my sister mentioning two-dollar bills that made me cry.
Vickie finished speaking and I was up next. My cousin Bruce joked, “Kevin, pull it together.” I took the box of tissues up with me.
Five of the grandchildren, one great-grandchild, two children, and one daughter-in-law spoke at the funeral. They each said great things about Grandma. Then the pastor, who was a long-time family friend (and almost relative) shared too. He mentioned that if Grandma was here she would be telling us not to make such a fuss about her and would try to deflect the attention elsewhere. That is so true.
It was a beautiful service, a service that honored Grandma.
The card I bought for Grandma I mailed just days before her death. I didn’t know her state of mind at the end. I told myself it didn’t really matter if she had received it or not, for Grandma knew how I felt about her.
After I wiped away the tears I spoke of fond memories, good genes, my grandma’s great sense of humor, and a woman that in her last years, months and days knew exactly where she was in life, and could look back on her life and smile.
I even shared the card that I bought for grandma. As I read it I even thought to myself, “Wow, I’m going to make it through my own words without crying. Then I said, “I don’t even know if Grandma got my card.” And my aunt and uncle sitting in the front row said, “She did.”
Good thing the box of tissues was still up there.
Frannie later told me they read the card to Grandma, and she held it in her own hands, and understood what it said.
I guess it really did matter to me. I’m glad I didn’t wait another day to send it.