My grandmother, Ann, passed away on Thursday September 19th. In her honor, and as part of my healing, I share with you the eulogy of sorts that I read, through massive tears, at her funeral this past weekend. My family will miss her each and every day.
This incredible, kind-hearted, thoughtful woman…generous, interested, welcoming woman…loving, happy, gentle woman…was simply one of the best – most genuine – people I’ve ever known. I am lucky to have been born with her as my grandmother; my Bama.
She has shaped my entire life…touched my heart and mind…and been a part of every milestone in my life. She cared for me as a baby, played with me and entertained me as a child, provided structure, love, and a listening ear as I made my way through my teen years…she even drove me every day to driver’s ed the summer before I turned 16.
As an adult, our relationship blossomed as I realized that I could not take her love and hugs and kind words for granted. I enjoyed being around her; joking and laughing – sometimes at things no one would expect her to think or say – talking on the phone when I lived out of state, spending true quality time together when I was home – visiting the DIA and cider mills; making countless trips up north together with dogs and cats in tow, celebrating milestones like high school and college graduations, new homes and new jobs, new relationships, and then my engagement and marriage to Kyle. Even during the saddest times, like losing my step-father, Randy, she was always there. She never missed an opportunity to be by my side – quietly and lovingly – involved.
The past few years were not easy for her or our family. We struggled with her diagnosis and wandered through unfamiliar territory with ALS. Just over a year ago, I made the decision to spend more time with Bama and do whatever I could to make her life with ALS easier. Though many have said that I was the one giving a gift to her, I know that the gift was received on my end. She taught me so much in the intimate, quiet moments we shared as I helped her bathe and dress. We laughed and danced – each in our own way – with Johnny Cash in the background, and talked about some of the most important and some of the silliest things in life. I learned so much about her and myself during this time…
When she took her last breaths, I felt like a piece of me had faded; left the room. With the enormous sadness, I also felt a sense of relief and calm…relief that this leg of her journey was over and that my amazing Bama would be reunited with the people she had missed; she would walk and talk again and share her thoughts, secrets, and recipes unhindered.
Bama shared with me, a long time ago, that one of her favorite songs and childhood memories is her father singing “You Are My Sunshine.” I think it’s so fitting because SHE was our sunshine…she made us happy when skies were grey. But, unlike the song lyrics, I know that she knows how very much I – we – loved her and will continue to love her each day.
Bama, you have been our sunshine for our whole lives. Though we will miss you each day, I know that you will continue to bring light and love into our lives and be with us through each of life’s important moments. Thank you for being my Bama. I love you.
**And, Bama, thank you for loving my fur babies; for caring about them, always asking how they were doing, and treating them as important members of our family.