Yesterday I had to say goodbye to Grandma. What made it even more of a challenge was that my family asked me to write the Eulogy. It’s a big responsibility and I hope I gave Grandma the send off she deserved and would be proud of. I did get a lot of complements, so I decided to share it.
Doris Ester Bentrim was my Grandma. She has always been a big part of my life and it seems impossible to believe that she’s gone. For her birthday this year I wrote something for her and I’d like to read part of that.
“When Grandma was born, women didn’t have the right to vote. There were 48 states in the Union and the Ottoman Empire was still a strong power in the world. In 1915, the first coast to coast phone call was made. She lived through WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Space Race and landing on the moon, the Cold War, the Berlin Wall coming down, and the War in the Middle East. When Grandma was born, Woodrow Wilson was the president. There was no Internet, no cell phones, no computers…it was a different world.
Grandma outlived her parents, seven siblings, and a husband. She gave birth to three kids and in turn, been responsible for ten grandchildren, and 19 ½ great-grandchildren. She has attended many weddings and many funerals. She celebrated fifty years of marriage. She has had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to her at least 99 times.
She remembers meeting Civil War veterans. She remembers talk of the Titanic when she was a child. She lived through the Great Depression. I’ve never asked her where she was when Kennedy was shot. I don’t know where she was when the twin towers came down.
She has played more games of Black Mama than anyone else I know. She has knit afghans in a variety of colors as well as numerous kitchen wash cloths. She has made more meals than anyone else I know. She has eaten a lot of cookies. She has a sweet tooth and she likes her coffee HOT. Her favorite dessert is spice cake and she would meticulously make it from scratch. It’s not a small task. My Grandma has watched the world change before her eyes. She is a wonderful person and I wish I had more time to spend with her.”
I loved arguing with Grandma. When Adam and I were staying with her the last time Mom and Dad went out of town, I argued with her whenever it was time to eat. At dinner, she shoved her plate away and I told her that she had to eat at least one more bite of meatloaf. There was only one bite left. She looked at me, picked up her fork, cut the bite in half and ate half of it. I couldn’t help but laugh. Whenever we went out to lunch or to the movies, she argued with me when I paid the check. I think she just liked to argue. God knows she did it enough with Dad.
Grandma liked to argue, but she was also a little sneaky. Apparently Grandma was not very fond of one of her sister-in-laws, Aunt Hi. Word had gotten around that Grandma had an amazing recipe for spice cake. We all know this to be true – the cake is delicious. Well, Grandma finally shared her recipe with Aunt Hi but she left out a key ingredient. Aunt Hi could never figure out why her cake was never as good as Grandmas was.
I like to think that right now she is sitting at a table, birds chirping outside of their window – maybe some cardinals – across from Grandpa. She looks at him, impatiently waiting for him to draw a card and she curses under her breath when he picks up the whole discard pile and goes out. They count their points, realize they are past 1000 and cut the deck to begin playing Black Mama again.
I think playing Black Mama is a fond memory that all of her children and grandchildren share. We’ve all played with her, we all remember her calling people ‘Jackass’ when they played particularly well, we all remember her being proud when she won, and we all remember her being a sore loser too.
Grandma was an amazing woman. She survived so much and it is hard to believe that she is gone. It’s even stranger to realize that I only knew her for a fraction of her life. For all my twenty-seven years, Grandma has been there for me. It’s impossible to comprehend that she won’t be celebrating my next birthday with me. It seems unfair that she didn’t make it to 100, but I’m so grateful that we spent as much time together as we did.
It seems fitting, almost, that she would go this close to Memorial Day. In addition to Grandpa dying right before Memorial Day, this is also the time of year that cardinals are in abundance. After I found out she had died I spend some time just sitting outside, trying to grasp the fact that she was gone. I saw cardinals everywhere. It seemed like she and Grandpa had sent them, just to put a smile on my face.
When I was asked to write the Eulogy, I felt honored and at the same time I was a little worried. I only had known Grandma as long as I was alive and I never thought to ask her so many questions. I never asked her what her favorite movie was, her favorite book, or her favorite flower. I never did find out where she was when JFK was shot or when 9/11 happened. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that those things aren’t that important. I know who Grandma was for me. I loved her and I know she loved me. There was nothing more important to Grandma than her family. I’m just glad that she was with family when she died. It makes it a little more bearable.
I miss you Grandma. I’ll think about you anytime I see a cardinal fly past, anytime I eat a piece of spice cake, anytime I play Black Mama. I love you.