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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grandma's Eulogy

My Grandma's (Elsie Rose King)Eulogy

Several of you asked to see a copy of the eulogy I gave at Grandma's funeral yesterday. 

I have the distinct honor of being Elsie’s first grandchild.
When I think of Grandma, I think of coffee at the kitchen table, well, actually it was a little coffee with her milk and sugar,  chocolate kisses, basketball, you sure wanted to plan your birthday parties or family “get togethers” around the Pacer and IU basketball schedule if you wanted Grandma to attend.
 I think of the special friendship she had with my mom and how grateful she was to her.
I think of watching her and Pop dance,
and Friday coffee with “the sisters” –  Jeanne and Nellie.
I’ve learned a lot from my grandmother.
How to cut out a pattern, make a meatloaf, and how to cut homemade noodles, and many other day to day things that I will always remember.
What I will be forever grateful for is that she taught us all how to love.  I overheard Mike say one time this week, Mom is mom – It has stuck in my head – if you think about the ideal mom, she is kind, compassionate, forgiving, non-judgmental, and a little tough when she needs to be, she’s a fan of all things sweet, and flowers and cards from the kids – That completely and accurately describes her.
 God made Elsie King to be a wife, a mom and grandma, she excelled in all.
She taught us all that love should be unconditional, without judgment. She loved us even sometimes when we didn’t appear to deserve it.
Grandma knew how to feel your heart, to meet you where you are and give you the love that you needed.  The word compassion comes up time and time again when talking about my Grandma from everyone.  I found this quote on compassion last night by S.R. Smalley – “We cannot heal the wounds we do not feel.”
 Grandma could feel our wounds no matter how big or how small and was bound and determined to heal them any way she could even when it didn’t always appear to be practical or logical. And if she found one she couldn’t heal completely, she made sure to stick by you and love you through it.
I’ve obviously been thinking back on my childhood and my relationship with my grandma and I can honestly say my childhood was idyllic. Acres of room to roam, every animal imaginable, including baby lambs bottle fed in the living room when it was required, and more love than you could absorb at any given time. Grandma set that tone.  I can remember being mad at my mom and packing my Barbie suit case and running away across the pasture field to Grandma’s house.  Grandma was always there to open her heart and welcome you in.
Sure you might say, what grandma doesn’t love on their grandchildren.  When you know Elsie King, you know that the same kind of love was extended to many over and over – she didn’t reserve that love for just family.
I was around 6 or 7 when I said something about Uncle Dinky or Uncle Jarbo – My mom laughed and said, he’s not your uncle!  I had no idea. My grandparents had taken these other boys in and raised them as her own with unconditional love. I had grown up thinking they were my uncles too – There certainly wasn’t any difference in my experience in those that were her own and those that she took in and treated as her own.
When she wasn’t with family, she was treating others like family
Love, kindness and compassion were all something that came naturally to Elsie King. That’s her true legacy.
Grandma made her kindness and compassion an occupation when she worked at the hospital as a nurse’s aid for over 25 years. She continued to volunteer there for 3 more years after she retired.
When grandma was a patient, recently in the hospital, I had countless nurses and aids come to me with stories about grandma and how great she was. She had taken many under her wing there too.  One story that stands out was about someone that had been admitted to the hospital with nothing. No family, no possessions, completely alone. After her shift, Grandma went to the drug store and purchased some small toiletries for the new patient and placed them in her room. Grandma believed that everyone deserves some things of their own.
While I had always personally known of Grandma’s love, it was heartwarming to hear their stories and know that Grandma really was love to everyone she came in contact with. What a special gift.  I was honored to go home and tell my kids the stories that these nurses told about grandma. It was a great lesson for them to hear that how you treat people will be a lasting impression for years and years to come.

We can’t remember Grandma without talking about Christmas.  Grandma told me time and again the story of the church sending over Christmas presents for their family when she was a girl and the doll she received. Without the church, there would have been no Christmas presents in her house.  There’s just wasn’t enough to go around.
Grandma spent a lifetime making up for that with us all each Christmas. I remember sitting down with the Sears Catalog and circling all the things I wanted each year and Grandma made darned sure I got the lion’s share of what I had marked. Pop has commented that she’d pay off Christmas in November, just in time to start it all again!
This generosity wasn’t just reserved for family once again. All through my childhood we all stayed all night Christmas Eve at the farm house. Grandma always made sure to buy a few extra presents and have them wrapped, “just in case”.  Just in case meant that whoever Mike and Joe found that didn’t have a place to go for Christmas, they’d bring home with them. You’d wake up on Christmas morning sometimes with a few extra folks around the Christmas tree. She had passed on her kindness and compassion to Mike & Joe and they would always invite anyone that didn’t have a place to go for Christmas home to spend the night. She wanted to make sure there was a present for everyone on Christmas morning.  I remember those moments far more than what I received from the Sears catalog.
She had been known to join forces with my mom and buy for families that she knew at the hospital that were struggling, even though there wasn’t much surplus at their place. She couldn’t bear anyone going without a Christmas.
A Little Coffee with her Milk and Sugar
I comfort myself knowing that somewhere in heaven Grandma, and her mom, Grandma Dotson are sitting at a kitchen table sharing a cup of coffee with too much milk and sugar and maybe a donut or a Snickerdoodle to go with it, catching up about all of us and laughing and loving us all. She’ll watch over us, she always has. Now she just has a different vantage point and a little more clout with the Big Guy upstairs to help us along.
Much love was shared in our family around a kitchen table with a full sugar bowl and a coffee pot always on.  For as long as I can remember Grandma, Aunt Jeanne and Aunt Nellie or “the sisters” as they’ve been called have gathered for coffee and treats each week.  This is a sisterly love and bond bigger than most families enjoy.
1st Corinthians says: Love is patient, love is kind – this wasn’t just a Bible verse to quote for grandma, this was how she lived – it was a part of who she was.
 I know I speak for us all when I say, I am immensely grateful for my time with her and the lessons learned and I will work hard to continue to make her proud and I will never ever get in my car to drive even 20 feet without hearing her say, “You be awful careful driving home, okay?”  So, leave today with your hearts full of gratitude for the memories and the time we had with her.
1st Corinthians always says, there are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of all these is love.
So while we sit here today with a hole in our hearts, missing her and trying to figure out what our lives will be without her to sit and share a cup of coffee with us and love us, I ask that we fill that hole with the kind of love she always extended to us. And to go out of our way to honor her by extending that love to others, even those that don’t always appear to deserve it, because that’s what she did best and that’s the way we can honor her best.
I thank you for coming today and sharing memories with us and loving us. And … you be awful careful driving home, okay?