My grandma died this week, after two weeks in the hospital. She was 85. At her funeral, I gave the eulogy:
Whenever we were at Grandma’s house, I always woke to the smell of bacon. Was there ever a better scent to wake up to? (Especially when you’re too young to appreciate coffee — which she also had, but I didn’t yet drink.) She always fried up bacon (cooked to a crisp), and she always had Cocoa Puffs, which was a huge treat, particularly when you consider that Cheerios was considered a sugar cereal at home. Breakfast at Grandma’s was an event, and an elaborate one at that.
Mornings of bacon, eggs, and chocolate cereal morphed into afternoons around the big circular kitchen table, playing Mouse Trap or drawing. Maybe a nap by a sun-warmed window. Sometimes we went to count cows, traipsing through pastures in the Jeep, stopping to dig thistles whenever we saw one. Going out to the little house for this or that.
Amy Kramer was strong. Fiercely independent, forceful, protective.
She loved. We were greeted and bid farewell with a giant hug and a kiss. She cried as we drove away, through the gates. She gave of what she had. She often sent us home with multiple cottage cheese containers full of homemade butter.
She cared about documenting memories and marking occasions. Her camera was never far out of reach, even when cameras weren’t ubiquitous. And were expensive to operate. She sent cards for every holiday and non-holiday.
We didn’t live nearby. But when we were at the farm, she shared her life with us. She involved us in her life. We milked the cows. Used the separator. Washed the separator. We helped gather the eggs and feed the pigs. We worked in the garden (or played on the swing set), and she always showed us her flowers. We cooked all together, at the table and the large wood stove.
In some ways, she modeled a life many aspire to these days, reusing and repurposing anything that could be, living off what she had or what she could scratch from the earth. Hard work, but also rewarding.
Experts say smell is the most evocative of the five senses. While I don’t always agree, I think they might be right in this case. The soap in the bathroom. The wood stove. Coffee always percolating on said stove. Bacon every morning. The earth. Fresh milk. Well water drunk from metal tumblers.
We love you, Grandma. You will be missed.