Last Friday, September 26, my grandmother Fern Violette passed away 10 days short of her 101st birthday. We will celebrate her 101st birthday with a memorial service on Monday, October 6th, and I have been asked to give the eulogy, which is quite an honor and one I’m grateful to have. This is an excerpt from the eulogy, and these words were actually written two years ago right around Easter Sunday in 2012:
Last Sunday I went to see my 98-year-old grandmother (I’ve always called her Nana) at Catholic Eldercare in northeast Minneapolis. She’d had a tough week with another upper respiratory infection and a bad case of gout in both feet. I have made several trips this past year to spend time with her…I rarely call her ahead of time when I go to visit, and when I walked into her room it took her a second to process my arrival—her mind is still good, but she was noticeably tired and, obviously, not expecting me. Her eyes lit up, and she sat up a little straighter in her chair. I asked her if she was contagious—before I bent over and kissed her—and she said, “I hope so!”
And she was. I spent two hours with her, and when I left I know that we both felt better. She has been an important part of my life for almost 55 years, and it has been a special relationship. We both know that she is nearing the end of her life, and it has been a very good life, a life well lived with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, and countless friends. I’ve played it out in my mind in order to prepare for that time, and in my mind it’s fairly easy to do. After all, she’s lived 98 years. But in my heart, I feel the tugs and remember what it was like to lose my grandfather way back in 1976.
The picture I’ve shared is the last one I took of her. It is the matriarch of our family holding the youngest member of our immediate family, my second cousin, Evelyn.
I am thankful for her long life and hope that others in our community will take the time to remember their grandparents this coming week with the same warm feelings I will always have for Nana.