A eulogy

Today I have to write a eulogy for my Grandma Irma. (I shouldn't say "have to", because it is an honor to do so.)  Although somewhere in the corner of your mind you know that such things are a reality, that someday all of our loved ones will be gone, it's not something you sit and ponder until the moment comes.

I took these pictures on my last trip to Silver Bay in June.  It was odd, then, to walk up to the house that used to be turquoise, that used to hold my Grandpa's stooped yet strong smiling form.  Grandma is too short and stooped to show her face in the small kitchen window above the sink these days.  It was always Grandpa's long arm and thick hand that reached out to the pane to greet us.

The door to his behind-the-garage workshop was stuck shut after a winter and spring with no tenant.  The rusty handle felt smooth in my palm as I walked in for a wrench and a screwdriver and stood among the spiderwebs and dust bunnies to weep over my Grandpa.  Remembering, all in a flash, the smell of the lawnmower that he never allowed me to run (ladies don't mow lawns and no self-respecting man - even at 80 - would allow one to try); the bike pump hissing as he inflated the tires on my very first bike; the chug and bubble of a boat motor as he tuned it up back there; the smell of Grandma's fat little hand-patted hamburgers sizzling over a charcoal flame; his thundering giggle that sounded so natural as his pipe hung from his lips and he nursed a single can of beer while he grilled.

The paint drips are from the time we painted his house when we were kids.  Grandma gushed over the help, and fed us sandwich cookies, cold milk, and Little Debbie treats.  Grandpa was out supervising, and I remember getting scolded for this drip.  He taught me (although I already knew - I was just being lazy) how to go from wet to dry and brush your drips out as you went.  My grandpa thundered his approval when you did something well, but was never afraid to encourage us to do better.  Where he could be a difficult taskmaster more interested in teaching than showering praise, my Grandma Irma was a soft, deep well of tenderness, affection, and blind belief.  She always thought the best of us and would have been shocked to hear anyone say we had ever failed at anything.  She thought we were good, sweet, hard-working, diligent, intelligent, and gifted.  While I often felt I was otherwise, her deep love for me watered me in ways no one else did.  In some ways, I see the good in myself because she believed good of me, even when it wasn't true.

The turquoise paint has been replaced with functional and sensible sage green siding.  I remember hunting for the perfect, matching shade of turquoise when we painted the house back in the 1990's.  I remember how the Silver Bay sun, which never felt hot any other day we visited, burned holes in your back as you stood on the ladder to reach the peak of the cape cod shingles.  I found a glimpse of the turquoise paint between the meters for gas and electric, where vinyl siding couldn't be applied.  I see there the evidence, again, of teenage "just good enough" painting - missed spots and uneven, sloppy strokes.  When I showed Grandma Irma this picture, she poo-pooed what I saw and told me, "What I see there is love.  What other couple on this block had all their grandchildren up on ladders painting for them instead of paying a fortune to have someone who didn't know them do the same messy job.  You kids were such good kids."

Her passing reminds me not to be sloppy about how I love, not to do a "just good enough" job, with messy, uneven strokes, leaving the unlove showing through.  To be hard-working as I approach relationships.  To see good in people, to love them with a tenacious, unfaltering love, like the love Grandma had for me.  She was a good example of love.  She never worried about herself, but instead pored herself out for us, even during that last trip.  Helping prepare beds, helping with dinner prep and clearing the dishes to the counter so I could wash them...she still wasn't ready, at 80-something, to give up serving those she loved.

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. II John 1:6