This afternoon, we said goodbye to my grandmother. I spoke at the service, and I wanted to share those words (more or less) here.
Less than five years ago, I wrote about Jane. This is what I said then:
My grandmother is 85. She has all her own teeth, and does not use Miss Clairol to keep her hair brown. She wears a hearing aid, but no glasses. She is definitely all there mentally. She has Parkinson’s, and is now confined to a wheelchair. She lives in a private room in a nursing home. When she needs to pee, she has to ring her bell for help. Geographically, I am her closest relative and I live more than an hour away by car.
Since then, things changed. In recent months, visiting with Jane was a fascinating and often amusing trip through her past. She told me about her life as a child, a teenager, a new bride, a mother, a mother with teenagers... she told me these things not as memories, but as moments that she was reliving. It would be easy to shake our heads and say “how sad”, that she was no longer “all there.” But listening to those moments from her long life, I learned that it was a good, happy life. The moments she relived were bright spots, and those are the kinds of moments we should all relive once in a while, to remind ourselves how blessed we are.
My sister, my brother, our cousins and I were blessed with the quintessential grandma. Grandma Jane was short and round and bustling, with rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes. Christmas meant Grandma Jane’s crescent cookies, and summer meant her Jell-O salad. She was so proud of all of us, too.
I am sad that we have to say goodbye. But I am so glad that we had her for as long as we did, and that we have so many bright spots of our own, thanks to her. I still remember just how orange that Jell-O salad was, and the way those almond cookies melted in my mouth. I remember Christmas mornings waking up in the bunk beds. I remember the ladies dancing across the mantelpiece. I remember the blue candy dish that never ran out of pink peppermints. We all have our special memories of Jane, which means that she will always be with us.