(My last living grandparent passed away just over a week ago. My sisters and I all wrote up this eulogy that was given at her funeral and my oldest sister read it)
Where will you be in a 100 years?
We hope and pray that we will all be in heaven with Jesus and Mary, Grandma and Grandpa and all our other loved ones who have gone before us.
Growing up, our parents instilled in us girls a beautiful sense of life and death. For those who don't know, our parents lost their first two children...
Matthew died when he was 5 days old of a heart defect.
Then, their second son, Tony came down with non- lymphoma and lost his battle of cancer when he was 2-1/2 years old.
Our parents kept their memories alive by sharing with us girls how they are still very much present to us by watching over us from heaven. We would remember their birthdays, their feast days (which is the day they entered heaven). Cemetery visits happened often and we always had a new pinwheel or flowers or something to place there.
Through the hard times of losing their first two children, both Grandma and Grandpa were both very involved and helped Mom and Dad stay strong. They were Mom and Dad's backbone for strength when the world around them was crumbling. When Matthew was brought to the hospital and things weren't looking good, Grandpa Bill stepped in and performed his baptism. And, when Tony got sick, Grandma raised my oldest sister at 9 months old for three months as Mom and Dad had to be with Tony out in IA City.
So as you can see, Grandma and Grandpa were both very involved in our lives from the beginning, and the closeness only continued.
Here are some of our memories about them...
*my sister, Carie, walking to Grandma's in a little red wagon with her twins.
*walking in the parade with them since they were King and Queen during their first year at Hillcrest
*riding our bikes to their house and spending time with them in the summer when we were kids
*Getting Fig Newton's, ginger snap, and iced oatmeal cookies for snacks.
*Grandma's dishtowels and scrubbies
*Playing cards for hours and hours and learning how to from them (and an amazing side note - they had 52 great-grandkids at the time of Grandma's death - a deck of cards!!)
*all her special baked goods and candies - especially peanut brittle, banana bread (no nuts for Laura and myself), and pumpkin bars
*taking Amanda, my youngest sister, to the hospital to have her appendix taken out
*Root beer float celebration on 12/12/12
*missing their presence in the winter when they would travel to AZ
*Selling sweet corn and freezing sweet corn
*watching MTV (because we never had cable)
*painting her fingernails while visiting at the nursing home (and Rose getting her piggies painted for the first time at one of the picnics at the nursing home)
*Trick or treating up and down the nice warm halls of Hillcrest Nursing home
Grandma and Grandpa led a beautiful example for all of us in making faith and family #1 in their lives. Grandpa was part of the committee who went out and started funding to build this very church. They taught their kids how it was important to take that one day each week and set it aside to attend Mass together. They cleaned the church as a family and also spent time in Eucharistic Adoration especially during the season of Lent. Every single holiday, there was a celebration up at Grandma and Grandpa's with all the cousins.... Easter egg hunt at Easter, stockings with apples, oranges, undies and socks at Christmastime, and bobbing for apples and Goblin Stew at Halloween. As part of a close-knit family, their doors were always open for anyone to visit. And, you can bet, that if you did step your feet in their doors, Grandma would make sure you left with a full tummy.
When we all were married and started our own families, it was only natural to continue the value of family that Grandma and Grandpa instilled in us. Grandma and Grandpa were one of the first ones to visit our new babies in the hospital when they were born. We all know that 9 years ago, Grandma and Grandpa moved to their new home - the nursing home. There was never a doubt in our mind that the involvement with them in our lives would most definitely continue. Shortly after they arrived to the nursing home, Amanda and Brent were married. Due to weather and Grandma's recent back surgery, they were unable to attend the wedding. So what do you do? You bring the celebration to them.... between the wedding and reception, there was an essential stop at the nursing home to visit and celebrate with Grandma and Grandpa. No longer were they able to visit us in the hospital when God sent babies our way, but you can bet each of us girls couldn’t' wait to bring them to the nursing home to show them off to Grandma and Grandpa. My little Yoda this past Halloween, just a few weeks old, actually made his "first grandma visit" not to my mom or Neil's mom, but to Grandma. So, the grandma sticker on his baby calendar belongs to Grandma Bernice.
How blessed we were to be so close to Grandma and Grandpa growing up, and we are so thankful that our own children knew their great-grandparents well through our frequent visits to the nursing home. We will miss our BINGO games, Easter Egg hunts, picnics, the best trick-or-treating around, but mostly we will miss her smile and love that she had for us all. We will think of you with every first Robin in spring and we will see you again someday with all the castles!!!
"Our home is - heaven. On earth we're like travelers staying in a hotel. When you're away, you're always thinking of going home."
-St. John Vianney