since I can’t think of anything else to write due to my writing blockage, I’m sharing the eulogy that I wrote and read for my sweet Grandma.on 1/31/13. she passed away four weeks ago yesterday. (wow!) copy below.
Thank you for joining us today; I know my family sincerely appreciates you being here to honor and remember Muriel H. For those of you that don’t me, I’m Erin, Muriel’s only granddaughter….and what an honor it is for me to speak for her today – so thank you!
Oooph! Not a professional at this – first time out, but Saturday morning I knew I had to share a few words to honor my sweet Grandma. and as one of my friends reminded me, I don’t have to run this like an organized PowerPoint presentation at work…because this is not work…it is coming from my heart. those never go hand in hand, do they –
January sure has been a long month. Tough times for the H family, no doubt, after losing Grandma so soon after Damian.
Once things weren’t looking good for Grandma, I shared my breaking heart with my friends….
Thank goodness for good friends!
One of my girlfriends gave me the poem When I Die; she said it was read at the funeral for one of her close friends – and it helped her look at things a little differently – she knew it would serve me well.
Though, after the first read through, I wasn’t sure I liked it!
In fact, I literally wanted to throw it away. But the poem had already started rolling around in my head; the magic was underway.
it did not want to be thrown away.
the words kept showing up. and wiggling their way into my thoughts. so I decided to give it another go, and gave it a good read, the second Sunday Grandma was back in the hospital. and then it hit me…and everything fell into place…making perfect sense. I read it out loud to my husband, Tim, and he agreed – that’s good.
I knew that this was the poem I had to read for Muriel.
This is for you, Grandma.
When I Die, by Merrit Malloy.
When I die
Give what’s left of me away
And old(er generations) that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your sister
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
And give them
What you need to give to me.
I want to leave you something,
Look for me
In the people I’ve known
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes
And not on your mind.
You can love me most
Hands touch hands,
Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
That need to be free.
Love doesn’t die,
So, when all that’s left of me
Give me away.
The poem really struck a chord, and strikes one harder every time I read it. (as reflected right now!)
It makes me think of the words, what is gone lives on, as that is how I am choosing to honor Grandma!
What can I carry forward for and from her?
I would like to share just a few fond memories of Grandma – I know she touched many, and in so many facets of life…but this is what I will remember.
Her inner beauty.
her stoic presence – thanks Jenny for that reminder!
her smiling face. and twinkling eyes.
When I was little, I used to stare up at the old photograph of Grandma hanging in the hallway in our house in England. I couldn’t believe that woman was my Grandma – she was so beautiful – how could I possibly be related to her I thought!!
She became even more beautiful as the years passed. She was always smiling, gracious, and good-humored. Yet there was more to her I could tell just by looking at her eyes – there was a depth of seeing the things in life that only she experienced. The things that were hers.
When I was still young, and learned that Grandma was alone after Granddad had been shipped overseas for WWII – I was floored! Granddad was gone for three years…and one of them being a year in a POW camp – I could not believe it! Was she scared? I wanted to know. How did she end up being the happy Grandma I know now? How could she be alone for so long? Now I understand why she worried so much. It was then, that my little self began to recognize how strong she was.
I would worry too after living through that experience – not knowing if and when my husband was coming home. if you knew my Grandma, you knew she worried about lots of things, because she loved so much.
Now I know where I picked up this unique talent.
It was only after I became older that I recognized her resilience and perseverance to keep moving forward despite the external circumstances beyond her control.
So what did she do – she enrolled at Occidental College and earned her degree – that is so cool! how many women did that in the 40s?
That always made me proud – that my Grandma had a college degree, and in psychology too – I love that!
Grandma always surprised me.
I remember her eyes twinkling when she told me she could shoot a bow and arrow, and liked to ride a boys’ bike down Hill Drive. She wowed the boys with her fearlessness.
While is seems that Grandma had a sassy side, she was reserved in her adult life. Yet she still did everything on her own time – and in her own way. All the way until the end. She didn’t even want to use a cane! She hated that cane and would carry said cane three inches off the ground holding it like a picnic basket! Her stubbornness – I have that down. I think stubbornness runs in the H family!
The only exception I don’t have down is her persistent cleaning habit and keeping things orderly – all the time – that is something I will never be able to emulate – sorry honey!
Once Granddad came home from the war, Grandma and Granddad restarted what was to be a very long life together. Kicking off the baby boom generation with their two kids – my mom and uncle – Jean and Jim. Followed by three grandkids – Damian, Brent and me – not in that order though – they were so proud of their family.
Outside of square dancing, attending swim meets, track meets, church on Sundays, G&G loved to travel. So many trips to Hawaii. Europe. all the cruises. even back to Italy, where Granddad had been taken after his plane was shot down. I remember Grandma telling me, how Granddad took pause at the door to the castle where he had been temporarily taken before being moved to Germany. Tahiti. and lots of trips to visit us in England.
My mother and I would return to California for long summer visits – basking in the long warm summer nights, sitting out on the patio with the scent of BBQ warming the air. And so many holidays once we moved back! with Damian, Brent and I relegated to the kid’s table for dinners, feeling so grown up with our virgin pina coladas and egg nog. though who knows what Granddad might have added to the blender…only he does…he certainly liked the nog!
Midnight snacks at ten PM. staying up late watching movies. debating the merits of a brown cow vs. a black cow. a black cow was always the consensus favorite. and what earrings could I borrow the next day – preferably ones that didn’t pinch. How I loved Grandma’s costume jewelry! I still do.
and breakfasts on New Year’s Day with the tv trays set up in the living room so we could watch the rose parade while eating Granddad’s hotcakes. or hawaiian bread french toast. still laughing every time about Charlie Olsen eating some of the pot pourrie from a bowl on Grandma and Granddad’s coffee table, thinking it was a snack one New Year’s Eve many years ago.
Like grandma, like granddaughter, I studied Psychology. so many conversations I will miss having. and dinners out. holidays. the phone calls. hugs. and I love you’s.
the joy of sharing the news that Tim had just proposed to me! G&G were both so happy and eager to welcome Tim into the family. me too.
the number of years of service she devoted to this church – wow – 66 years – is that right?! it was here that her desire to have everything clean, honored the Altar Guild! as Fran said last weekend, Muriel would be horrified by the Friday night Taize service clean up.
How interested Grandma was in what I do for work. she was so proud. and equally interested in all the classes that I take now as an adult. She even opened herself up to let me use some of my life coaching tools with her a couple years ago – and said how good I was – and how good our talks made her feel.
Grandma, so many happy happy memories I have of you, I could go on…but I won’t. But the one thing that brings me peace is that you are now in heaven with two of your loves Granddad. and Damian.
the last time I saw Grandma was the Wednesday before she passed, and I said everything I needed to say to her. How much she was an inspiration for me in life. What a good job she did being Grandma. How amazing she was. and how much I loved her. which I kept whispering to her over and over again. But I know you are at peace now. and while rough in the end, our arms intertwined that last day. I’m keeping that one. I will miss you Grandma but, I get to carry a lot forward – so thank you.