If you’ve found this blog because you’ve lost your grandma, I’m so very sorry for your loss. As you prepare for your grandmother’s funeral, I pray you’ll have strength for the day.
My tribute to Grandma is on behalf of all of her grandchildren. While I may be her oldest grandchild, there are 10 of us, and we all brought her great joy. There’s a plaque in Grandma’s trailer at Wesley Acres that reads: Grandma’s House – a place where cousins go to become friends. As a child, I took for granted just how close knit the James family is. Now, I see that Grandma’s passion for her family helped to bond our family together and has turned cousins into friends.
While we won’t deny Grandma’s apple pies being the best in this world, our Grandma was so much more to us than her great cooking. Did you know that she was funny? I mean really funny. Oh how we’ll miss her sense of humour. Her wit would often catch us by surprise, make us laugh, and leave us smiling long after the conversation was over. On countless occasions our spirits were lifted by her sense of humour and we felt pride for having such funny grandmother.
Grandma was well dressed for every occasion. She was a classy lady. Even though she’d be the first person to tell grandpa that she didn’t think that it was a good idea for him to go here or there, she’d also have an outfit picked out for him to wear. She helped us all to be presentable.
Grandma was an artist; some of her paintings hang on their walls. Grandma loved poetry and collected serious and humorous poems over the years. I wrote the following poem 3 years ago, for Grandma’s 80th birthday:
To my Grandma, a Pastor’s Wife
Our grandma is the kind that often gets overlooked
She has a very outgoing husband who always seems to be booked!
She is not the type to say, “look at me!”
Rather, she offers people a bed, a meal, and a cup of tea
At Wesley Acres when she saw construction men working on hot summer days
She would make lemonade and have her grandchildren deliver it right away
While she never has asked for the spotlight, this much is true
She has given us all an example of servanthood through and through
On her 80th birthday it’s good to reflect
That sometimes those who are the least noticed teach us best.
I’m going to miss talking to Grandma about life as a pastor’s wife. We’ll all miss Grandma’s stories.
Grandma wasn’t perfect, in-fact, she would worry. But it wasn’t the worry you typically think of. Her worries were for others rather than herself. My sister Victoria, who can’t be with us today because she’s in Uganda, shared the following with me: “Grandma was always honest. If she ever thought I had something going on that wasn’t okay, she’d be sure to tell me. On our last meeting she said, “I thought you’d be done all this travelling after high school…but you just haven’t stopped!” Even though it was hard for her to see me go to such foreign lands, she always supported me. She honestly told me her worries, but then gave me a hug, kiss, and a prayer (i.e. her blessing). I just loved that even in her fears she trusted God.”
Of all the things that we could share with you about our grandmother we want you to remember her heart; her generous and caring spirit. Grandpa and Grandma have always viewed money as something that you give away….to the Lord, to those in need, Christmas presents for 10 grandchildren even when money was tight. What is remarkable is that despite having very little, Grandma was always willing to give away what she possessed to help others. My dad, Bill, recalls a time as a young boy when Grandpa was pastoring in Whitby and money was very scarce. Grandpa came home one day and shared with Grandma that there was a family, with children, in dire need. Without hesitation, Grandma grabbed boxes and cleared out what very little they had in their pantry. My dad remembers Grandma giving all their food away, there was only enough food for one breakfast. When my dad approached Grandma to ask what they would eat, Grandma said to him, “Don’t worry, the Lord will provide.” And He did. And just this past Christmas, my dad noticed Grandma making a lot of baked goods for our James Christmas gathering. When my dad said to her that she didn’t need to make that much food for our family, Grandma replied that there were people in their building that were going to be alone for Christmas. She was baking for them as well.
Grandma was always thinking of others before herself. She never wanted us to be sad and would do anything to cheer us up. Even in the hospital she used her wit, jokes, and humour to get us smiling and laughing. For example, one time when Lindsay (a grandchild) was visiting Grandma in the hospital, Grandma took ice cubes from her cup and dropped them down a hole at the knee in Lindsay’s jeans! She knew how to cheer us up when upset or worried.
Grandpa let me know that he likes eulogies to be short; he has given me 5 minutes max. Before I close though Grandpa, Melissa wants me to mention Grandma’s love of honey garlic chicken wings 🙂
In closing, Grandma made it a priority to open up their home, as well as their trailer @ Wesley Acres to their grandchildren. As a result of her great love for us, cousins have become friends.
On Saturday June 14th, when good-byes were being spoken to little Eliza Jane at St. Mary’s hospital, I intentionally used the word “we” instead of “I”. The words that I uttered were: “We love you Grandma, we will never forget you, we’ll take care of each other, you can go in peace.” We, the grandchildren, will never forget her. We will love and miss our sweet grandmother for the rest of our lives.
The following may be helpful to read as you grieve:
Good grief: reflections on living with loss