Tag Archives: funeral

Grandma

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.

Advertisements

Eulogy

When I heard the news Friday that Grandpa had died, I just had to write. I couldn’t not. We were in the car, en route to Nashville for Hutchmoot, and I cried and wrote. What I wrote, I shared at the funeral yesterday and am posting here also.


One might look at Grandpa’s life and declare it narrow. He lived on the same (small, by today’s standards) piece of land nearly all his life. Many of the things we may consider normal aspects of daily life he never experienced. But I will not define his life by what he lacked.

His love was huge. He kept up with the world’s happenings and could talk easily with anyone. He placed others before himself. Life didn’t end up exactly how he’d planned and dreamed. But still he saw the silver lining.

He served his country, but like most of his generation he didn’t talk much about the gruesome things he doubtless saw. He did like to share about the places he went, though. He saw the world in World War II.

Whether based in actual events or fictional, long or short, tall tales or more realistic. Serious or just for fun. He loved a good yarn.

He told stories. He read to us. He read books himself. He watched old movies and the news.

On Friday when I heard the news about Grandpa I was reminded about a beloved book character. I don’t know if you all know Mitford’s Uncle Billy from the books by Jan Karon, but he’s dear to me. I’ll just tell you a little about him:

Uncle Billy is always ready with a joke. He treats his telling of jokes like a job of sorts, placing all kinds of pressure on himself to find and deliver the best of jokes. Uncle Billy isn’t actually anyone’s uncle, but in a way the whole community leans on him. Besides his jokes, Billy is known for loving his wife fiercely. It’s perhaps what he’s not known for that’s the most extraordinary, though. He drew. Exquisite drawings that when they came to light lessened the financial burden tremendously. He caned chairs, he carved. And he did all this quietly, without presumption. With no expectation.

Uncle Billy reminds me of Grandpa. Life may not be easy, but he brings the smiles.

I heard a new story just a couple weeks ago, when Grandpa’s brother was visiting:

When he was young, and they’d had a dry year and thus didn’t have enough hay to feed the cows, they drove ’em, in trucks, to the Sandhills (by Purdum, he said) so they could graze. On the way home, they stopped at every place and had a bullfight. “Our bull was a good fighter,” he said. “It didn’t ever take long to win.”

He enjoyed stories both as a recipient and as a purveyor. More than either of those, though, I remember how he created stories — memories — for me. For us.

When I was little Grandpa took Luke and I out to a hill and handed us a gun. He’d previously set up cans across the way for us to aim at. When I hit a can with my first shot, he called me Annie Oakley.

He took us sledding. He made us toys. He played the squeezebox and sang. He let us into his story, showing us around the farm.

Grandpa loved the land. He delighted in his family. His life was large.