My Eulogy for Grandma C

Grandma C in her younger years.

Grandma C in her younger years.

Good afternoon. My name is AG—some of you know me as D. I am J’s eldest granddaughter. I speak on behalf of my father, brother, and sister. They wanted to be here as well, but were unable to make the trip.

JHC was born here in Grenada on Tuesday, August 8, 1922, to JC and TC. She was one of six siblings. J had one daughter, SFra (born SFri), who, sadly, predeceased her in September of 2001.

Some of you here knew JHC as Tante Mammitz, but to me she was Grandma C, or just Grandma. For most of my childhood, she lived next door to us in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to my parents, she helped lay the foundation for my faith in God. She is the first person I remember bringing me to church. Every Saturday morning we would put on our best clothes and attend service at Hanson Place Seventh-day Adventist Church, where she was a devoted member and deaconess.

I have many fond memories of sleeping over in her apartment on weekends; staying up late with her to watch television; and eating the Rice Krispies treats she was always willing to make for me. Every night before we went to bed she’d read a Bible story to me, we’d sing a song together like “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” say a prayer, and then go to sleep. In the morning, she’d open her great, big Bible and read a passage with me.

A number of years later, she moved in to live with us. Our bedrooms were next door to each other, and so we shared a lot of quality time together. Every weeknight other than Friday we’d watch Jeopardy. It was one of her favorite shows. We’d also play a lot of Scrabble. She could play that game for hours, and she was very good at it. Of all the things Grandma and I did together, it was playing Scrabble with her that I enjoyed most.

While my mother (her daughter), S, was alive, she and Grandma C were very close. They were more than mother and daughter; they were best friends—giving each other deep emotional and spiritual support. Two women who loved God above all else. Two women whose great faith I admired and respected.

Grandma C was a loving and tender grandmother. It was her pleasure to lavish love upon C, A, and me. She was always there for us, taking an active interest in our lives and attending school functions and dance recitals. She was always ready to listen, gave sage advice, and was full of affection for us—always offering up warm kisses and hugs.

Grandma C was a humble woman of faith. Even though she’d travelled to the farthest corners of the world, she was content to live a very simple and modest life. She could make her home anywhere comfortably. She was a woman of great intelligence and integrity, kind, and completely devoid of vanity. She also loved animals, and spoiled our pets as much as (if not more than) she spoiled us.

In her later years, Grandma C returned to Grenada and her little blue house in Springs. She had originally planned to stay for three months, but once here, she couldn’t bring herself to leave again. Unfortunately, her health began to decline. She had to depend on the kindness and generosity of others for her well-being. Some of those who selflessly cared for her are here today, and I would like to thank each of them for their compassionate actions towards my grandmother.

On the morning of Monday, September 23, 2013, JHC died in the country of her birth. It is the very same date on which her daughter passed away exactly twelve years earlier—and remarkably close to the same time of day. It comforts me to know that they are reunited for eternity, basking in the presence of the Lord.

In her death, J leaves behind her three grandchildren, her son-in-law, her nieces and nephews, extended family, and good friends. She was greatly loved, and she will be greatly missed as well.

Grandma C at my high school graduation

Grandma C at my high school graduation

The little blue house in Springs. (It's about the size of a small studio apartment in New York City.)

The little blue house in Springs. (It’s about the size of a small studio apartment in New York City.)

The Sun Will Rise

My internal clock is broken. It keeps prematurely sounding the alarm. I would accept waking up at five or six, but it wakes me up at four or three—today, at two in the morning.

Anxiety inflames my chest like heartburn. I’m nervous like a novice about to perform. I am hyper-conscious of each concern and every worry, of each doubt, each unanswered question, each task that’s still left to be done.

I have been here before. I couldn’t sleep the whole week before my wedding. After the fire in our apartment, I had insomnia for half a month. And now, with this funeral that I’m co-planning, wakefulness is upon me nightly once more.

My thoughts and emotions are too over-stimulated. I can’t shut down. There’s nothing I can do at two or four in the morning, but that’s something my brain doesn’t seem to know. My mind is racing towards an unreachable destination. Perpetually planning, I keep adding to my list of things to do.

There’s a eulogy to write, lawyers and government entities to engage, bills to pay, decisions to make, all added to so many unanswered questions, and the biggest—ever-present and looming like Jack’s giant—whom can I trust?

All this and I’m still mourning—tears at the ready, waiting for orders to fall. All this and there’s a weight I’m carrying—the weight of a loved one who’s passed on.

I’ve been here before. In three days I will read my third eulogy: mother, paternal grandfather, and soon maternal grandma. The third eulogy I’ve read since September of 2011, but the first I’m writing on my own.

And where do I begin? How do I, a writer, write this? There’s so much I don’t know. Who were my grandmother’s parents? Where did she go to school? What was her year of emigration? I don’t have a clue. I can talk about what I do remember, the Saturday nights watching Golden Girls, Amen!, Nurses, and 227. The Rice Krispies treats she’d make for me each week. The Scrabble games at which she’d cheat (usually, though not always—case in point, qi and jo are in the dictionary).

I remember her making porridge from scratch in the mornings. How tenderly she braided my hair. I remember how good her cooking was—before she stopped using salt after her high blood pressure scare. I remember her taking piano lessons later in life than most—butchering the simplest songs. At the time, I just wanted her to find the right notes and end my auditory suffering, but now I respect her effort.

She was patient and humble, well travelled, and empty of vanity. Her teeth may have been false, but her smile was genuine. She had the softest hands—well worn with age. And even though I was a bed-wetter, she never refused to sleep with me. And therein lays what I’ll remember most of all—reliably wrapped around us like a benevolent blanket, her affection—her sweet, soft love.

But right now, my internal clock is rebelling against me. I’m sleepy when I need to be awake, and awake when I desperately want to sleep. I’m under rested and over-thinking. But I’m too tired to write anything meaningful, too frazzled of mind to undertake the eulogy.

I’ve been here before. As are most things, this, too, I know is temporary. I will sleep soundly again. Maybe tonight. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, the sun will rise to find me waiting for it to get up in the morning.