When Grandma died, my uncle asked me to deliver the eulogy at Grandma’s funeral. I was so touched. I want to share what I said, because I want people to know how important Grandma was to me. And this is probably one of the most heartfelt things I will ever write.
When I was asked to speak today, I was humbled and touched that I would get to honour my Grandma one last time. And then I worried that my words wouldn’t be enough. That I would not be able to properly express to you what an amazing woman Norma was, and just how incredibly special she was to me. You see, Norma wasn’t just my Grandma. She was also one of my best friends.
With her unwavering support and unconditional love, she was my rock. Grandma was my cheerleader and it didn’t matter what crazy thing I was trying to do, she supported me whole-heartedly. Whether it was going back to university to finish my B.A., or going to college to get my Chef Training, or running away to Barbados for 6 months, Grandma only ever wanted to see me happy. In fact, she made that comment in our weekly Skype calls while I was in Barbados: “Kathleen, it makes me so happy to see you so happy.”
From a very young age, I remember Grandma being a very important part of my life. I loved when my parents said we were going to visit Grandma and Grandpa “across the water”. (My sisters and I called them that because we had to cross the Ottawa River to get to their house). I knew that visit meant Grandma would spend time with me, teaching me how to read music and sing “The Yellow Rose of Texas”. I can vividly remember the day I lifted the lid on the electric organ only to find that Grandma had labeled all the keys and written the note names in all the music books so I could play my favourite pieces for her.
It never really mattered WHAT we were doing, just that we were doing something together. We would watch episodes of Young and the Restless, laughing at how dumb the characters were. And then we’d laugh at ourselves, because we continued watching.
We could sit in silence for hours, Grandma with her word searches, me with my crossword puzzles. Sometimes we’d both be knitting. We didn’t have to say a word. Just being in Grandma’s presence was enough to let me know that everything was going to be OK.
Grandma spent her life putting her family first and she always worried about others. Even in the last few weeks of her life, she was concerned that I was taking on too much, that her family was spending too much time worrying about her, that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Grandma even worried that she wouldn’t be able to repay me for looking after her. I told her she was being silly and that it was an honour to be with her at this time. This was my small way of trying to repay her for all the love and unconditional support she had given me all my life. And I would do it again in a heartbeat, because she was that important to me.
Grandma taught me how to be an optimist and always look at the bright side of things. She always used to say, “It could always be worse.” And while there were days that things were downright awful, I know Grandma truly believed things could be worse. She had a wonderful way of appreciating everything she had, no matter how big or small. “Kathleen,” she’d say, “I may need a walker, but I am so grateful that I can still walk.” Grandma really knew how to put things into perspective.
On the day that Grandma passed away, I was struck by the following phrase. In fact, I saw in 2 different places that day. “You may be gone from my sight, but you are always in my heart.” I hold in my heart a lifetime of memories, as I’m sure all of you do too. I will always remember Grandma’s smile, her laugh, her rather naughty sense of humour. And while I may not be able to see her anymore, I know that she is still with me. Grandma, I will never forget you. I will love you always and forever.