A week ago today my family and I celebrated the life of my Grandmother. I think I've finally come to terms with everything....
I was asked to speak there and I did. In dreams I was overcome by the spirits of first my grandmother and then my grandfather. In fact, I wrote it quickly after the first dream....but the dream I had the next night made it clear that it wasn't quite finished. Grandpa always said if you are going to do a thing....do it right. He loved my Grandma too much to allow me to neglect certain aspects of her personality...most notably her damnable determination. Both frustrating and admirable while she lived, I completely left it out until the second dream.
Below is the memorial speech I gave in honor of my Grandma...I'm not really sure if I wrote it. It is pretty much exactly as I recited it with one small exception...the minister who spoke before me also stated he felt touched by my (very very determined) Grandmother and felt that she wanted him to include the same poem she directed me to say...so I didn't repeat in my speech it but I left it in the version below. LOL....guess I should have tried to go first....
Grandma always said I had a habit of using $20.00 words for a $5.00 message. I'll try to keep this on the cheap side. There aren't enough days in the year to share all the stories I would like to share or for you to share back anyway. I just want to give your memories a nudge and your heart a smile. I think that is all Grandma wants me to do anyway.
Some would say she had her ups and downs and no doubt she would say that too. I'm not here to talk so much about that. We've all had them. She handled them better than most.
As far as I've ever been concerned, she and Grandpa were the greatest influences in my life and the people that I want most to be like. They may not have been rich in dollars, but their lives were more valuable than all the gold in the world. They were plain people who could have had more for themselves if they had been willing to do less for others. They chose to enrich others instead. In the end, thier legacies to us are far more valuable than any money they could have left us. They were good people. We were truly blessed.
We are here to remember Grandma today and I guess what I'd like for us all to remember most is not that she died but that she really live, not quietly, not sorrowfully but loudly and boldly. Some would even say she was a bit of an eccentric. She'd like to hear them saying it too!.
She lived life on her terms and to her own satisfaction as much as I think any of us really can. In that way I like to think I'm a little bit like her. I think most of you are a bit like that too. As a matter of fact, I'd go so far as to say we are kind of known as that kind of family around these parts.
Waneta Rogers was an amazing woman. She was not much bigger than the leprachauns she tried to convince me still lived in Ireland. She dyed her hair bright red to give the world warning that she was a firebrand. She worked and played harder than men 4 times (not just twice) her size. Even so, she was completely feminine. She kept up her appearances and never let the world see her down. Grandma even dressed up and put make-up on before she went to the Salvation Army store (which she called the Sally-Shop). She mended and restyled her purchases so well that people would often comment on her fashion style and try to get her to reveal where she found such lovely pieces. She told the truth, but was seldom believed about it.
Grandma was a capable woman. There wasn't any person or any situation that she couldn't handle effectively. She could manage my siblings, my cousins and me all at the same time with a single look and she could make everything right in the world with one sweet smile. Heaven help the poor soul that would try to harm one of us. She could handle them too!
Let us remember, with a glad heart, the woman who defied convention and married an Indian when that just wasn't done. Let us remember the woman who tamed that wild giant of a man too. She never judged people on something so minor as the color of their skin, she made friends based on the content of their hearts. She was a supportive wife, a loving mother, a thoughtful sister, a wonderful friend, and the kind of grandmother that all children wish for. She was known as quite the character too! You never knew for sure what she would say or do next but it was pretty hard to be bored around her. She was interesting all the time. I don't think I ever heard her use the word *bored*. I don't think she knew it. I'm pretty sure she never was.
I'm also sure she wouldn't be pleased if she were to look down on us and see us crying or whining about our loss today. You all know that she didn't like cry babies or complainers much. I should know, when I was a child I was one. She had a few colorful sayings for that type of behavior. *Youknowwhat or get off the pot!*. If you don't like it then change it. Seriously, Grandma could have written Nike ads. Just do it! It was impossible to be wishy-washy around her. She simply would not stand for it.
Lord help you if you ever said the word *can't* in her presence. Actually to this, I can almost hear her reminding me that *the Lord helps them that helps themselves!*
I can honestly say that without this not-so-gentle wisdom from Grandma, I would not be who I am today. Chances are neither would any of you.
So lets not cry today. If you must shed a tear let it be a tear of joy for being so lucky to have been a part of her life. Lets celebrate her! Lets be grateful we have such a wonderful legacy in her memory. Grandma was a fireball! She was an oddity! She was freakin hilarious most of the time! She was also courageous and kind. She was smart, especially in politics and current events and plain spoken. She never pretended to be anyone she wasn't. Of all the people I've ever known, she was the most comfortable in her own skin. She was true to herself. We should all aspire to be more like her in that way. She was a practical woman. She never wasted a thing and was recycling items long before it became the *thing to do*. Waste not. Want not. She had her priorities and she lived by them. Family came first, then friends, then strangers. She never cared about any material thing. She only cared about people. Especially her people. Especially us.
She was the first one I ever heard say *Dynamite comes in small packages*. Truer words were never spoken.
We don't want to forget her people watchers because it was a really warped sense of humor that came up with that one. I swear I was afraid to misbehave because I just knew that Grandma could see us through all those magical (as she told me) eyes.
Remember the unusual knick-knacks and collectors items she called dust catchers, but couldn't part with. That's because we kept giving them to her. It was never the decorations she liked, it was having little pieces of us around that she couldn't give up.
We don't want to forget that she would help out her neighbors and welcome strangers either. She defended her family against any danger that came and never backed down from evil. She was something special. When she had a word or two to say, EF Hutton listened.
Let us remember those gentle hands that could give us a man size whoopin or an angel's hug depending upon our needs at the time. Let us remember her eyes crinkled in laughter or touching our soul in the few tears she shed. Don't you forget that stubborn chin either! When she was right she was right.
I won't forget her determination. When she couldn't drive any longer, she took up riding that adult size tricycle, despite the fact that it really was way too big for her. She was something else! If one solution didn't work, she always found another. Long before people ever said the words *failure is not an option* she was living them.
Some would say our life is less now that she is gone....not me. My life is *more* because she lived. My life is more because every lesson she ever taught me comes up again and again. She made sure I had the right answers. How can I cry about her death when I still feel her life in me? I still see evidence of her in my children. I can look around and see evidence of her existence in each of us here. When I look at my daughter, Grandma's eyes smile back at me. I still see her. I still feel the love she gave us. Its that voice in my head that tells me in very colorful ways to not give up when things get tough. When I fall I can hear Grandma snickering and telling me that my backside isn't going to do me much good sitting on the ground like that. Her invisible arms still comfort me in my sadness. Her wisdom keeps me from being too hypocritical. I hear her laughter everytime I see some really bizarre knick knack. I think of her and she lives. Actually I don't even need to think of her first, not when I can see her so plainly in your faces.
I know she lives for you too..
So I don't want to see any of you shedding too many tears.
You know Grandma didn't like crybabies.
Someone once wrote these words, I'm not sure who.....but I think Grandma felt this way....
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free
Miss me a little - but not too long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me - but let me go
For this is a journey that we must all take
And each must go alone
It's all a part of the Master's plan
A step on the road to home
When you are lonely, and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds
Miss me - but let me go