[cw: death of a loved one, grieving, mentions of cancer/serious illness narrative]
My Gramma passed away in January after a long battle with cancer.
I was always close with both of my grandparents. Most of my weekends growing up were spent having sleepovers at their house, and many of my Summers were spent on roadtrips to various family golf tournaments and reunions. I don’t often attribute a “childhood” to myself, but the instances where believe I was closest were spent in my Gramma and Grampa’s company.
This past Summer I was lucky enough to get a job working at a local university, and during my afternoon breaks I’d sit just off of the quad and call my Gramma. Most of our talks were just kind of chitchat (she really liked to keep me up-to-date on her Dancing With the Stars obsession), but she also liked to keep up on current affairs and more than once (despite her being a staunch conservative) we talked about our mutual worries about the possibility of Trump being elected.
It’s not often I remember my dreams (as opposed to my nightmares, which I often remember), but last night I remember dreaming that my Gramma and I were sitting at “my” spot off the quad.
The physical effects of cancer are devastating, and near the end of her life my Gramma was incredibly self-conscious about how she looked (I say as if she wasn’t always 100% aware of her looks). This being said, she never stopped being beautiful to me. The Gramma from my dream had the strength and vitality I knew her for from our road tripping days. And despite being in the body she inhabited near the end of her life she didn’t require the walker and portable oxygen machine she had become accustomed to over the past few years. As is common with many of my dreams the thing that made my dream-experience from last night so positive is that we were doing… nothing really, except sharing one another’s company (and, to give a hat tip to Alberta’s weather right now: enjoying the warmth of the Summer Sun). Sharing space is one of my favourite things to do with people, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to share space with her for as long as I did in life (and then to have shared that space again in my dream).
Writing is one of the ways I feel most successful in expressing myself to others, and I’m thankful to have been given the opportunity to give my Gramma’s eulogy. In loving memory of not only my Gramma’s life (but also in hope for many more opportunities to have her in my dreams) I’d like to share it here:
I’d like to begin with a short paraphrased quote from Lemony Snicket: “It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and [yet] it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know.” Although Gramma’s passing was not necessarily unexpected, I know that her passing indeed marks a loss for everyone here.
Gramma was a loving, strong, (and perhaps occasionally stubborn at the crux of the two) soul. She routinely spoke of how proud she was of not only her children, but grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well. As a mother to 3, grandmother to 5 (or 8, if you want to count pups), and GG to 2, Gramma was routinely surrounded by family. In fact, most of us have the shared experience of swiping butter tarts, cookies, and lemon squares from her freezer whenever she completed her Christmas baking. Although some of us feel as though we got away with it, it’s likely that every time she went to retrieve her goodies and saw entire containers missing Gramma knew what had happened.
One of my personal favourite memories of Gramma is also rooted in her great cooking. Although I spent the night with my Gramma and Grampa almost every weekend as a child, there is one night that sticks out especially in my mind: we all worked to make a grasshopper pie, and I was given the privilege and joy of being able to lick the filling spoon. Afterwards the three of us watched the Golden Girls, M*A*S*H, and then Emeril while eating our pie. Although it’s a simple memory, the love I felt in even just being able to share time and space with Gramma is what made nights like that special.
Any time Gramma was with her extended family was enjoyable for all. Many holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries have been spent together as a family, and Gramma never missed a one. One of our more memorable get-togethers was for one of Gramma and Grandpa’s anniversaries. In order to celebrate something so auspicious it was decided that we would go to Jubilations for the evening, and take in dinner and a show. As we were there to celebrate their anniversary Gramma and Grampa were invited to the stage to partake in a short improv moment with the cast, and dance for the crowd. Gramma, being the show woman she was, beamed the entire time.
I don’t believe that Gramma’s impact upon our lives can adequately be described in words. As one of the closest people to me in my own life she has affected me in countless unknown ways, at countless unknown times, simply with her presence. The moments I know I’ll continue to feel her in, however, are those times where I need to stand up for myself and demand what I need. Gramma was always willing to tell you her thoughts, and even though on more than one occasion I perhaps didn’t want to hear it, I’ve always appreciated her strength of expression in all things. The last time I saw her, Gramma said to me: “There are never too many kisses.” I can only hope that I keep her strength with me, and always take the opportunities to ask for more kisses.
I want to thank you all for being here today. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to write this eulogy in order to express some of the grief we feel in Gramma’s passing.
Most of all, though, I’d like to thank Gramma. Thank you from all of us for all the love and strength you brought into the world.
May God Bless you always.
We love you.