Grandma's Legacy

The following is the first part of the eulogy that I gave at my grandma’s funeral.  I hope you enjoy reading it and that it will serve as a testament to the life my grandma lived and the relationship that she and I had.

Grandma's Legacy

To say that Grandma’s life was easy would be false.  She battled poverty, she fought cancer three times, she endured numerous surgeries, she suffered profound loss, and she dealt with the aging process, but through it all she maintained her faith in God, her trust that He always had a plan, her happiness, and most of all her sense of humor.  Life truly could never get her down for long.  She always saw the bright side of life, and she had the ability to laugh at life. She brought that out in everyone she came into contact with, especially me.  I always said, “My grandma is the funniest person I have ever known” and she truly was.  No one has ever made me laugh as hard or loud as she has, and I don’t believe anyone ever will again.  

When I think of grandma, my mind is filled with so many things, but the laughter is what has taken the strongest hold.  I always believed with her beauty, sense of humor, and comedic timing that she could have done anything with her life, but she chose to me a mother and a grandmother, and I sure am thankful that that is what she chose to do.  I think the thing that kept grandma going was her ability to laugh at herself.  When she did this, she put everyone at ease.  The world could be crashing down around you, but she had the ability to find the humor in something that happened and everything seemed better, if only for a moment.  She always knew when a witty remark was needed the most, and she used this gift to defuse many difficult situations.  

I remember once when I was with grandma at a church function and people were talking about the hardships of growing old and all the things that came with that.  They were talking about all the things that people had to endure and all the ways to hide their age.  I guess the conversation was getting a little too serious for her so she dryly said, “Well, if I took off everything that was fake on me, you wouldn’t recognize me.”  She then looked at me, and we both burst out laughing.  Her statement was very true, but she made it seem like it was not a very big deal.  

Grandma always said that she was a change of life baby.  I am not a 100% sure that she really was, but I was thinking about her saying that the other day and then decided that she truly was a change of life baby, because she changed the lives of so many people.  Many of those people are in this room today, some of them are with her in heaven, and many of them she never really knew.  She certainly changed my life.  She gave me a foundation and a belief that everything is part of the great plan of life, and I will carry that with me all the days of my life.  Grandma’s life and her story have touched numerous people.  All of you have been touch by her life.  Maybe you knew her all of your life or perhaps you only met her once or twice.  The amount of time you spent with her does not diminish the effect that she had on your life.  Her story will not end today because it lives on in all of us.  It lives on every single time we talk about her or share a memory we have of her with someone else.  The strength and goodness of someone’s life never dies.  It lives on and on.  So, never stop yourself from remembering or telling someone the story of her life.  She is a part of your story, and like all good stories they are best when reread and repeated.  

Grandma spent the better part of her life telling her story and the stories of everyone she knew.  Many times she did repeat them over and over, but they were worth repeating.  Every time she would tell the stories of all the miracles that God had performed in her life, you could literally see the amazement in her eyes.  The stories never grew old to her and anyone new to her life would eventually be told the stories.  From the time we found out the grandma was sick, I would wake up almost every morning and I would be signing a portion of the song “Blessed Assurance” to myself.  I would sing it over and over.  The part I sang was, “This is my story. This is my song.  Praising my savior all the day long.”  That is what grandma spent her life doing.  She never failed to give God the credit for all the blessings she had in life.  She never took anything she had for granted, and she never took credit for anything she had done.  She gave God the credit, and she encouraged others to do the same.  She continually talked about how blessed she was.  She could be in the depths of the valley, but she still remembered to be thankful for all that God had done for her.  I truly believe that it was her thankful attitude that sustained her, and it is what kept her going through the trials of her life.  

Grandma taught me that I should always be thankful for the valleys in life.  I learned that from watching her experience valleys, and her words have echoed in my mind every time that I experienced a valley in my life.  She loved to tell the story about the time that she and grandpa drove out to Colorado.  She said that they were driving through the mountains and God told her to look down below.  When she did she saw the most beautiful and lush valley that she had ever seen.  Then God told her to look up at the mountaintop.  When she did she said all she saw was rock and a little snow.  Then God told her that the valley is where we grow and where we become stronger and the people that we are meant to be.  She told me that once she realized that, she never saw another valley in her life the same way.  She knew that every time she experienced a valley it was making her stronger.  The last time she told me this story she said, “I am so thankful for every step of my journey, the good and the bad.”  When she said that to me I thought, “Now that is a life well-lived.”  When we can truly be thankful for everything that happened to us during our lives and we can truly believe that they happened for a reason, we can face anything.  Grandma is proof of that, and all of us can be too.  

Grandma was a giver by nature.  I don’t think anyone who ever truly knew her could deny that fact.  She gave in so many ways.  She gave financially to her church, to worthy causes, and to her family.  She gave advice, humor, and love.  She was generous in so many ways.  She told me once that she had to be generous.  She said that the Lord had been so good to her and He had given her so much that she had no choice but to be generous to others.  It was her way of giving back all of the blessings that she had been given.  The one thing that she was always generous with was her time.  I think we all were recipients of that gift.  I know that I was.  She always had time for me, and she never made me feel like I was a burden.  She would always come up with ways for us to spend time together.  

One of her ideas resulted in a thirty year tradition.  That tradition was for her and me to make bon-bons together every Christmas.  I remember when she asked me to help her make bon-bons for the first time.  I was twelve years old, and she was fifty-nine.  She told me she was getting old and needed help with the work.  Thinking about it now, I believe that was just an excuse.  She felt like we needed to spend time together, and I am so thankful that she chose me.  I am not sure why she asked me when she could have asked anyone, but she asked me and I will be grateful for that for as long as I live.  It was during those times that we made bon-bons together that she would tell me all the stories that I now hold onto.  It was during those times that we would laugh and share our lives with each other.  It was during those times that we would talk about the good times and the hard times.  It was during those times that we formed a bond that even death can never come between. 

Grandma and I always had a special bond.  We were kindred spirits.  I know people use that phrase a lot, but we truly were. Actually we still are.  Because we share the same spirit, and no one can ever be separated from their spirit.  For years, when we would have a family function, you could always find grandma and me sitting off to the side talking and laughing.  We always gravitated toward each other.  I truly believe it was part of God’s plan for our lives.  I am not completely sure why, but it was His plan.  She would always try to explain our bond, and she found it difficult to put into words.  She would say, “It is like you are another female.”  She would always say, “Dan is Dar’s girl.”  That used to bother me a little.  I know she didn’t mean anything negative by it. She was just trying to explain it.  All I know for sure is that I sure am thankful that I was Dar’s girl.  

On one of the last visits I had with Grandma I overheard her trying to explain our relationship to Jeff.  She said, “I always felt like Dan needed me and I needed him.”  She continued and said, “I always felt like I should spend time with him.  It was like a part of him was inside me and a part of me was inside him.”  Then in true grandma fashion she said, “I know that sounds crazy, but that is just the way it was.”  When I heard her trying to explain our relationship to Jeff, I understood her completely because it was exactly how I always felt, and what a blessing that was!  To have a powerful connection and bond with another person is truly a gift from God and one that does not come along very often.  

When I realized that Grandma’s life was coming to an end I kept thinking that a part of me would die right along with her because we had been so close, and then I decided that a part of me was not dying because a part of her would live on in me.  When I thought about it like that, I was able to make peace with what was going to happen, and the thing that all of you need to remember is that a part of her will live on in you.  Your experiences with her are just as important as the ones I had with Grandma, and she lives within you too.  Never forget that.   

Grandma always said, “It is like the good book says, ‘Life is a vapor.’”  She would always follow that up by saying, “It is over in a blink of an eye.”  I was thinking about her saying that several months ago, and I began to see it a little differently.  Life is over in a blink of an eye, and it does pass quickly, but when it is said that life is a vapor, I think it means a little bit more than that.  Think about a vapor for a minute.  When we spray a vapor into the air it comes out in a million different particles, and we can never really tell where all of those particles land and the effect they have on the surfaces that they touch.  All of our lives are a vapor and we spray that vapor in many different ways.  It is up to each of us to make sure that the vapor that we pollinate the world with is that of love, joy, encouragement, and peace.  We never truly know where the vapor of our lives will land and what it does for the people we touch.  We will all know one day, but while we are still living on this earth we never know for sure.  The vapor of grandma’s life touched so many, and it continues to touch lives today.  Her vapor was one of love, compassion, generosity, acceptance, and laughter.  It certainly touched me many times, and I know that it touched all of you too.  Her vapor has now become part of our vapor.  It will live on in us, and we will pass it on to others.  The cycle of love, goodness, and faith can never be broken and can never die.  

We all know that Grandma’s life on this earth has come to an end.  I am sure if you are like me that is hard to accept.  We know it, but it still seems unreal to us.  We can all see her earthly body lying in front of us now, but that is not Grandma.  She is now living somewhere else, just on the other side.  We may not be able to see her any more, but we can still feel her, and if we sit very still we can still hear her.  The human body is just a shell.  We know nothing but that human body and we hold on to it for as long as we can, but that is not who grandma is anymore.  Someone once explained the human body to me like this. Imagine a jar of jelly.  You can take that jar and empty all the jelly out of it and throw the jar away.  Even though the jar has been discarded, the jelly that was inside still exists. It is just in a different place.  The jelly represents our souls.  The jar represents our body.  Grandma’s spirit will never die, and it will live on forever and ever in the most beautiful place that any of us can ever imagine.  She is at peace, and she is still alive.  She is happier than she has ever been, and she is reaping all the rewards of a life well-lived.  She does not cease to exist. She is just in a different place.  One day we will all be together again, and we will never know the sadness that comes from being separated.  Hold on to that fact and never forget it.   

I have thought a lot about what grandma would want me to say to all of you today and what she would want the final thoughts about her life to be.  I know that most of what she wanted to say to all of us has already been said by her, but I also believe that she would want all of us to know that she lived a good life.  She would want us to know that she was happy and that even though her life was not always easy she enjoyed every aspect of it.  She would want us to know that love is the answer to every problem that we face.  She would want us to know that when we show love and acceptance we always get that in return.  She would not want us to have any regrets about the time we spent or didn't spend with her or the things we said or didn’t say to her.  She would want us to know that she fully comprehends the meaning of life and that all of her questions have been answered.  She would want all of us to live the best life we can live, and she would want us to continue the work that she did on this earth.  That is the thing that all of us need to remember.  We all have a calling on our lives.  Grandma had a calling on her life that she took very seriously and performed up to her last breath.  I have a calling on my life, and all of you have a calling on your life.  She would want us to feverishly answer that call and not to fight what God is telling us to do.  She always told me, “If God tells you to do something, even if you think you cannot do it, you should do it.”  She wants that for me, and she wants that for all of you.  Grandma’s life had great meaning and she performed her tasks with all that she had.  She made mistakes and failed many times, but that never stopped her from moving forward.  She learned from her mistakes.  She allowed them to make her stronger, and she shared the lessons she learned with everyone she knew.  She would want all of us to do the same thing.  

If God allowed grandma to witness everything that is happening today, I know that she would be very pleased.  She would be proud of all of us, and she would be overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we all have for her.  I can almost see her standing at the back of the room next to God watching all of this.  I can see her smiling and nodding her head and saying, “Yes, that’s right.”   I can even see her smiling at God and elbowing Him and dryly saying as she looks to the front of the room, “She most of been a wonderful woman.” And then laughing, just one more witty comment to put us all at ease.  She was a wonderful woman, and I am so thankful to call her my grandma.  

I have been able to talk to a lot of people in my life, and it always seems that my grandma comes into the conversation.  Anyone who knows me knows her.  I always find myself saying to people, “You should meet my grandma.  She taught me to have faith, to trust God, and to believe He has a plan.  She taught me that even faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain.  She is the funniest person I have ever known and she is my favorite person on this planet.”  Now, I can say that she is my favorite person in heaven, and I sure will be glad to see her again.  

Most of the time when grandma and I would make bon-bons we would watch something on TV after we were finished.  Many times, it was a Gaither special, or The Waltons, or Little House on the Prairie.  Grandma always had a secret crush on Michael Landon.  She would always say, “He is so handsome, and I think he was a really good person.”  She would follow that up by saying, “I can’t believe he is dead.”  Maybe she has run into Michael Landon in Heaven.  We will have to wait and see.  There was one particular episode of Little House on the Prairie that she and I watched several times.  It was entitled “Remember Me”.  We would watch it and cry, but we loved watching it together.  At the end of the show is a quote that I think sums up how grandma would want all of us to remember her.  I believe she would say to us, “Remember me with smiles and laughter, because that is how I will remember you.  If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all.”  We should all hold on to the smiles and laughter that she brought into our lives because that is truly what life is all about, and I am going to do my best to honor her request.  

I hope you will come back on Thursday to read the second part of the eulogy that I gave at my grandma’s funeral.  When I think about my grandma and I remember all the wonderful lessons that she taught me during me life, I feel such peace and PEACE MATTERS