Tuesday, June 20, 2006

God Bless Grandma G

We laid Grandma G to rest today. She had a lovely mass at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Chapel, with a very cool priest who I think is Father Rosy, who is listed as the pastor on the archdiocese Web site, so I'm assuming that was him. He wore cowboy boots, and was able to very nicely relate Grandma's life to that of Jesus, with a little humor sprinkled here and there. I liked him very much, and wish I knew his name for sure so I can give the correct priest credit where credit is due. Sometimes cool priests seem few and far in between in the Catholic Church, so when I find one, I like to give him a shout-out. Many thanks to Aunt Teresa for making all the arrangements for the wake, funeral and mass. I know it was incredibly tough for her to do, given how close she was to Grandma.

Uncle Jim wrote and read an amazing eulogy. I requested that he e-mail it to me, and by golly he already has. I will post it here, after a few images. He says more in a few lines than any of us has said all weekend, and I'm so grateful I have something to post here that so aptly describes what a wonderful woman Grandma was.

I took some photographs today to document Grandma's house, because I don't know when/if I'll be back before it is sold. I'll post one of those, and one I got of some of the family. Aunt Teresa and Aunt Mary Ann graciously let me select two of Grandma's paintings for our home. I'm so thankful, and look forward to hanging them, probably in our library. I took a couple snaps of them to post here, but please keep in mind that I cannot do them justice as a.) I am not technically proficient to photograph fine art justly and b.) my eyes are hurting from crying so I'm not sure how focused these are. I will title them as art museums title works they display, because I think they are just beautiful and worthy of proper catalog.

Update on Aunt Sharon: after many valiant attempts by her doctors and nurses, the excruciatingly difficult decision was made by her immediate family this evening to let her go. They are at the hospital now, waiting for the end, which should come in a matter of hours. God bless them all. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers...please keep them coming for this entire family.

Grandma's House, at 25 S. S. Ave.
This is where Grandma lived most of her life,
and where Papa and his siblings grew up,
so it's a very special place indeed.

Some of our family after Grandma's funeral.
From left, and relationship to Grandma:
Daughter Teresa, Daughter-in-Law Pheobe, Son Tony,
Daughter Mary Ann, Son Fred, Daughter-in-Law Sandy, Great Grandson Joey

M. S. Z. G., American, 1920-2006
16x20 in.
oil on canvas

M. S. Z. G., American, 1920-2006
Mountain Beauty
16x20 in.
oil on canvas

Uncle Jim's Eulogy to Grandma
Delivered Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Grandma* was born on a Friday and left us on a Friday after 85 years, seven months and four days as daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, cousin and friend to a very large number of people. She touched many lives. She was friend to all.

If she knew you for even a short time, she knew your birthday - and she would remember it for the rest of her life. She carries with her from this life a great database of birthdays and stories about their owners. She was what is called a "people person." If she had pursued a career instead of a family, I wonder what she might have become. I can easily visualize her as a nurse. She was certainly my nurse - on many occasions - and for five others as well.

My earliest memories of her are when I was three or four years old. I remember the smell of her breath as she whistled while combing my hair. She would often whistle while doing housework. I could never recognize it; I think she was improvising, whistling her own song.

Born in 1920, she was six years old when she heard about Lucky Lindy crossing the Atlantic Ocean in his "Spirit of St. Louis." Two weeks (to the day) before her ninth birthday, the stock market crashed, making her a child of the Great Depression. She and her brother Joe had to stay home in her third grade because there was nothing to take along for lunch. They would share lunch with whatever would be prepared for the family at home.

She learned the wisdom of not spending a dime when a nickel would do, a budgetary philosophy that she carried throughout her life. Though she was a child of the Great Depression, she lived a rich life.

After living in the south part of Ferguson in her early years, the family moved to the east edge of Ferguson. She lived her teenage years in the house her father built and nearly THREE-QUARTERS OF A CENTURY in the house right next door, built by her new husband Bill and by her brother Jack. On that acre of land and in those two houses she knew her own grandparents and received visits from her own grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In those houses, numbered 23 and 25, she was nurtured by Ben and Margaret Z. and, in turn, nurtured her five younger brothers (Joe, Bernie, Jack, Jerry and Rich) - and then nurtured myself and my five brothers and sisters - and countless assorted dogs, cats, parakeets and turtles. (Did I forget the hamster?)

I believe that her happiest years were those with a house full of kids - and animals - and neighborhood kids. She also nurtured a garden full of vegetables, an arbor of grapes and an orchard of apples, apricots, cherries, pears and plums - all planted by her father, a lesson learned in that economic depression.

Her first son (Bill) was born before World War Two, her second son (Jim, myself) during the war and her third son (Fred) after the war.

That period after the war from the late 1940s through the 50s and 60s was a GOLDEN AGE for America and she experienced it in the prime years of her life. Her two daughters (Mary Ann and Teresa) were born in the 1950s and her youngest son Tony in 1961. Those were years of the greatest memories of daily life that I have.

After all of her children departed home, she still had her friends. I think she made more friends in a year than I made in a lifetime. She has outlived nearly all of them. But they are here in spirit - and there is STANDING ROOM ONLY.

After the age of 60, she took on the task of caring for our father in his declining years. It was a difficult time physically and emotionally and she was up to the task. He left us in September 1983 and she continued on with grit and with grace.

The greatest joys in her latest years must have come from her great-grandchildren. She would have loved to live nearer to them, to see them daily, ever the nurturing mother. I believe that she dearly would have loved to whistle as she combed their hair.

*Grandma's full name removed to protect her privacy.


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