On the weekend of July 4th, we celebrated my amazing, life-loving, kickass grandma’s 95 birthday. We all knew it would be her last, which made it a bittersweet day for all of us. We took a few photos, but she simply hadn’t looked like herself for a while, and i decided that instead of traditional photos, I would take hand photos of her with her daughters and granddaughters, and am so glad I did. Instead of seeing my once beautiful grandma looking sick and pained, we each have a beautiful keepsake to remember her by. Ten days after the party, she left this world, with the majority of her family being lucky enough to be at her side when he went. She left us with a smile on her face.
As we planned her funeral, I knew that I didn’t want the only words to be said by a clergyman who didn’t know her all that well. So I decided to write my own goodbye and share it at the services. It was hard to do, but my grandma was worth it. This is what I said:
When I was little, I had no idea that I was lucky. I thought everyone had what I had: a big, close, loving family, cousins who were more like siblings, and loads of grandparents. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized just how special my family was. And when it came to grandmas, I had the best of both worlds. One of my grandmas was the stereotypical milk and cookies grandma. And then there was Connie.
She was my life-of-the-party grandma.
That’s not an exaggeration – she was the kind of person people were drawn to. Her personality, her acceptance, her generosity, her beauty – everything about her guaranteed that she was SOMETHING to everyone who knew her. A mother figure, a defender, a supporter, a cook, a nurse, a fashion icon, a sounding board, and often – a poker buddy.
But she wasn’t soft – my gram. She was fair, she was honest, she was kind, she was loving, but just TRY to put one over on her, and prepare to face the wrath. Quite honestly – she was a badass.
She was a women ahead of her time. She was independent in a time when women were subservient. She was strong when they were meek. She was outspoken – oh boy, was she outspoken – when they were timid. She raised her daughters to be strong like her – strong of mind, strong of spirit, and strong of heart. They raised our generation to be the same. Now we’re raising our children in the example that she set for 95 years.
She was a study in contrasts. She’d give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. She’d also kick your butt if you needed it. She’d listen to you when you really needed someone to talk to. She’d also shut you up with a mere look (or wave of the hand) if you were being unfair, unkind, or simply annoying her. She’d defend you to the death, even if she knew you were wrong, but oh boy – if you WERE wrong – just wait until she got you alone.
She was a people person. Everyone who knew her loved her – she was irresistible that way. She could fry an egg like nobody’s business, mix a mean drink, dance circles around everyone in this room, and of course – take every last cent you had in a poker game.
If anyone ever lived – truly and fully LIVED their life, it was Corrine Adele.
And while we are all brokenhearted to see her go, she lives on in each of us.
She lives on in Myrna in her devotion to her family.
She lives on in Marlene in her generosity.
She lives on in Claudia in her determination.
She lives on in Cindy in her resourcefulness.
She lives on in Cheryl in her nurturing.
She lives on in Lauren in her sense of humor.
She lives on in Audra in her intelligence.
She lives on in Nicholas in his acceptance.
And me? She lives on in me in my great big mouth.
And I think we ALL might have gotten a little bit of her lead foot.
So, as long as we have each other, she’ll never truly be gone.
I’ll miss you, Grandma. You can’t hold my hand anymore, but you’ll hold my heart forever.