Why do they wait?’ she asked me as we sat over afternoon coffee. ‘I wanna know before I go. If you have something to say about me, you can say it to me. When I’m dead, I’m gone. It’s just a body. I’ll be in heaven, go on with your day.’
Does that paint an image of the strength behind this woman I now have the privilege to call Granny and the blessing to call friend? Not soft but gentle. Not appeasing but kind. Not hysterical but quick-witted. All I ever see is a woman that I admire. This conversation took place years ago now, after the passing of a woman in their church. It has never left me.
Death has a funny way of getting us talking about life.
Thankfully for me, 75 years young isn’t too late. But time does not stand still.
Granny, this is your eulogy before you go.
I will never forget our first meeting. Not quite my boyfriend, not exactly my friend, your proud grandson drove me to your home to have a visit over lunch. I was told with great enthusiasm that no one has lunches quite as good as yours. Seven years later and that statement is as true as ever. How can a cold cut sandwich and some homemade cabbage soup taste so delicious and instantly make you feel at home all at once and every single time? I remember that glimmer in your eyes as they shone with pride as your eldest grandson doted on you in front of me. He loves you so. You looked at me with a knowing and assuredness of something he and I had not yet admitted to each other as you rested your hands on both my shoulders and smiled wide, looking straight into my eyes, ‘You come back anytime you hear?’ before pulling me into a hug that made me believe in acceptance and security.
I was so nervous that day. I was completely smitten with your grandson and completely uncomfortable meeting his grandparents. I remember thinking how odd it was that a grown man would want to drive an hour just to have lunch. I never had a relationship with my grandparents. Brokenness, distance, language barrier, and death all robbed me of the privilege. Since that first day you have brought so much to my life. A daily testament of the power of leading by example, both you and Grandpa are the epitome of hospitality, kindness and grace. Through the life that you have built together, hundreds of lives have been impacted. There is not a person not welcome to your table. There is not a struggle that can’t be met with prayer. There is not a need not met with kindness. There is no room for complaining, just space for the gratitude in your heart. Our youngest, our little girl now proudly carries on your name. Our tribute to you because of your gift to us.
I should be saying this to you, looking into your face. I can’t. I won’t. Some love, some respect, it cuts too deep. Even here now, with all of these words I am not sure they convey the richness your relationship has brought into my life.
But now you know, before you go.
We wait. We hold on. We fail to forgive, look past or move on. We get busy. We get consumed. We are inundated with a gamut of excuse. But at the end of our lives do we want to go out not knowing? Do we want to pass on and through having never let those who matter most be unsure of where we stand? Whether by word or deed I encourage us all to take action. Who now will you share a eulogy with before they go?