Today, my family said final goodbyes to my Grannie, or Mollie as her parents named her.
A longtime family friend spoke at her funeral. He promised her that he would and he makes good on his promises. Sunday, I sat down and just wrote. I poured out my words onto my computer and decided when I hit save, that I wanted to read this at her service.
When Mr. Bruce Goddard was talking to us about the service, I told him I wanted to speak. He thought it was a good idea so we set it in stone. My only real anxiety was knowing that he was going to introduce me AND follow up my words with his own. I mean, he’s a former undertaker motivational speaker and super duper author.
But I did it.
Here are the words I chose to honor my Grannie. For those who didn’t know her, I hope this sheds light on what an amazing woman she was.
How do you put 83 years into words? Well, since I can’t because I didn’t know her that long, how do you even put 37 years into words? I’m not sure I can do that either.
Some things like this leave you almost speechless.
I only knew my Grannie as Grannie. Others have been blessed to know her in different ways: Daughter, Sister, Friend, Mama, Great-Grannie, Miss Mollie, Aunt Mollie, Mr. Elmer’s wife, and hosts of other variations.
I can only speak as a grandchild, but I can tell you, she was one of the best!
As kids, we spent what seems like a lot of time with Grannie and Grandaddy. We spent nights on pallets, we spent mornings on pallets that had been moved to the living room for cartoons and Scooby Doo Coffee.
We were taken on the most wonderful adventures to places like Christmas Lane and putt putt in Warner Robins. Both are close, now that we’re adults, but then, in the big red Cadillac, they seemed like they were in Colorado.
They couldn’t take us on fancy vacations, and even if they could, I’m not sure they would have been any better. We went far, far away – usually to what is now the Eisenhower exit on 475 – to a hotel with a pool for the weekend. We ate dinner out and swam all day. We played putt putt (see a trend here?) and went bowling. And then piled back in the big red Cadillac and drove ALL THE WAY back to Reynolds.
Every time Grannie worked, it was “Take your grandchild to work day.” We spent countless hours on pallets in the Flint Electric dispatch office. We knew where she kept her change for the vending machines, we spent hours running and rolling chairs up and down the halls, we slept there during her overnight shifts, we learned to end our conversations with her mobile radio call sign.
In fact, that was burned in all of our memories so much, we have joked with her for years about signing off at her funeral by saying that. She always laughed!
There are so many things, really, about Grannie that we will remember her for: scratching our heads, making us hot water bottles when our tummies hurt or just because, Big Red Gum and Certs always being available, a fridge full of Cokes and cold candy bars, fussing at Grandaddy for this, that or the other thing he did that wasn’t her way. The ice cream and hamburger money that was sure to be slipped your way whenever you visited. The birthday cards, the anniversary cards, the Halloween and Valentine and St Patricks Day and every other holiday you can imagine cards that were always in the mail on the exact day they were supposed to be.
And come on. How many of YOUR grandmothers had a Christmas room?
Grannie taught us a lot, though. Whether she meant to or not, she taught us that being born to a family that struggled didn’t mean you were destined to a life of struggle. If you work hard, love big, and live simply, you can do almost anything you want.
She also taught us that if you wink at the judge who asks if you’re “really 17” you can get married at 16. But that’s a story for another day!
Grannie lived her life her way. She was brilliant at keeping score – whether it was at gin rummy, poker, or figuring out which grandchild had been to see her this quarter. She went to bed at midnight and slept until 11 just because she could. In spite of her aches and pains over the last however many years, she still loyally went to dinners with family and friends and kept her flowers and shrubs as tidy as any professional gardener would.
Three weeks ago, Grannie had a stroke that did more damage than her body could handle. But her mind was still sharp enough to get onto me when I said I kinda liked Steve Spurrier now that he was at South Carolina. She also pulled her hand away when asked to confirm that me and Chad were her favorite grandkids. She’s no dummy.
I could go on for hours. I know my other cousins could, too. We cherish memories of her that my mom and aunt don’t know about. We cherish memories of a different Grannie than our children ever knew. We have secrets that are different than the secrets she shared with Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Ruth or Aunt Rosa.
But now I choose to think of her happy and healed, watching us all from the most gorgeous place she could be. Heaven. Sitting atop a cloud, holding hands with Grandaddy and rocking our son, her great grandchild Charlie for me until I get there. If I had to guess, I will have a hard time getting him away from her loving arms even then.
We all love you, Grannie. And until we see you again… KIA341 Clear!
And if you want to see the video Mr. Bruce was talking about – Jimmy Valvano’s 1993 ESPY speech – here you go.