This past weekend was a rough one. I flew to Indiana for my grandmother’s funeral. Today I’m sharing a video and printed memorial card from her service, as well as the eulogy I gave. She was 94 years old and suffering greatly, so it should have been a happy occasion when we celebrated her entry into heaven. But it was still very sad.
Family came and we all stayed at my parents house. We went to a visitation on Friday and greeted friends who came to pay their respects. Saturday we went to her funeral and her children had everyone go over to grandma’s house to select any mementoes they wanted to keep to remember her by, which was extremely generous and thoughtful. There was one needed bright spot — playing Twister and Pictionary as a big group! It was silly and felt very good to laugh.
I still can’t believe that my aunt Kim and mom decided to give me grandma’s wedding ring. To me it’s doubly special. One, that it was my grandmother’s and, two, that my aunt suggested I have it. The wedding ring I picked out for myself ten years ago was modeled after hers, a wide band with a floral motif and no rock. Flying home with one on each hand was emotional.
I’m sharing all of this with you for a few reasons, one of them is to be transparent. Another would be to encourage you to send your grandmother a card or give her a call on a more regular basis if she’s still living. And one more would be to video those stories of your older loved ones so their memories can live on. It was very comforting for us to see her talking and laughing on video.
Here is a shortened video that we showed at the funeral. My cousin, Liz, and I decided to record our living grandparents seven or eight years ago and boy I am I glad we did!
And these are the cards we left for people to take, front and back. I’m sharing it because a couple people, including the funeral home director, mentioned that they would like to do something similar. Maybe it would inspire you as well at some point in the future. I have edited them for privacy.
This was the eulogy I gave, if you care to read it:
Katherine was many things to many people. To me, she was a grandmother, and a very good one. I called her Mammo.
I felt wanted in her house growing up, that she wanted to spend time with me — and she, Chris, and I did spend a lot of time together. She spent hours playing concentration with my little brother, watched Little House on the Prairie with me, let me borrow her beautiful old books by Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen. She lent me her book “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom, which changed my life and remains my favorite book of all time. She made hot chocolate on the stove from scratch and put it in mugs with strawberries on them. She and I were the only ones who like sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving (and she put marshmallows in hers which was a big plus for a kid).
She was a gardener, decorator, bridge player, best enchilada maker, hard worker, avid reader, wife, mother, grandmother, child of God.
She was a true lady, proper and educated. Have you ever seen Downton Abbey? The grandmother, Violet Crawley, always reminded me of her. When I watched that show I would always just laugh out loud thinking of Mammo, but I don’t think she ever took that as a compliment! But I really meant it as one! Who doesn’t love the grandma on Downton Abbey?! And she loved that show by the way.
Mammo corrected our grammar. Told us to sit up straight. She had a dry sense of humor that would leave us in a fit of laughter. She had a large vocabulary and used unusual words like “vile” or “revolting.” If you teased her, she’d say “well, it is.” She had more sayings than I can count or remember. And she didn’t just use the same ones over and over again, no. She would come up with new ones that even Kim and Mom had never even heard before! Things like “I’m busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger” or “those things are scarcer than hen’s teeth around here” or “it’s ok, wouldn’t be noticed on a trottin’ horse.” That means it’s not perfect (how she would prefer it) but no one will notice.
She told amazing stories. Sometimes you had to dig them out of her, but her life spanned almost a century. She could recount the Dust Bowl and how she ended up in the hospital with wet gauze laid over her so she didn’t inhale too much dust. She recounted working at the USO during World War II. She remembered that her Dad was the first one in the neighborhood to have a radio in his car. How she met her future husband, Fred, and was already engaged. She spoke of her three children — Kim, Anne and Doug — as babies and funny stories as children.
What we do during our time here matters. For Katherine, she affected future generations she will never know about. She took her kids to church and taught them about the Lord. So her children taught their children about the Lord, and now we will teach our children about him and his wonders. What more beautiful and important gift and foundation can a mother give?
When it comes to her home now, in heaven — I don’t think she knew what awaited her. I don’t think any of us know what awaits us. It seems most of us think we will spend eternity floating on clouds and playing harps. It sounds boring! But this is a lie. With faith in Jesus, the life that awaits us is exciting, fulfilling, even adventurous. We won’t stop exploring or learning. In fact, the gifts God gave us will explode into their full splendor in heaven.
Katherine gets to experience this now. She stands face to face with Jesus and is reuniting with loved ones. She is seeing her husband, Fred, for the first time in almost 40 years! What a moment that reunion must have been! Her body doesn’t ache. Her glasses are gone. There are no walkers or wheelchairs in heaven. She is seeing colors she never knew existed, laughing with deep joy, tasting fruit with flavors unknown here. She is in the place she was made to be, where she now knows what it feels like to have the unfiltered love of God settle down deep in her soul.
Will you pray with me?
Lord, today we thank you for Katherine, her life, what she taught us, the investments she made in us and the heart you gave her. We thank you for her long life and the gift, the prize, the unmerited reward of spending eternity with you, if we accept it.
For those of us still here on this earth, we don’t know when our our time will be up, but we know our days are numbered and that you have known that day from our birth. Lord, may we come to you with sincere regret for missing the mark many, many times. We have sinned against you, and you have said in your word more than once to “repent for the kingdom of HEAVEN is near.” Jesus, we believe in you and that you can cover our sins. Without you, we have no joy or future.
Show us each, as individuals, what we need to do in our lives to make our life on Earth count for your kingdom. You are all that matters and we praise you in this moment together, thanking you for our time here as well as Katherine’s.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.