Saturday, January 3, 2009

Eulogy for Grandpa No-legs, January 3, 2008

I gave a eulogy for Grandpa No-legs at the Church of Saint Matthew in Forestville, Connecticut today. I am extremely grateful I had the good sense to write it all out before hand. At first I thought I would write down the salient points and remember all the other parts, but when I got up there and started crying out loud, I was relieved to be able to read it off the paper. Here's the text of what I wrote, which I may not have read word for word since my eyes blurred with tears and I had to free-style it a few times:

Shortly after my grandfather died, the family gathered in his room at the nursing home and my aunt Carol said to him, “Curt, you lived life on your own terms.” And I thought, “This is the most incredible understatement I’ve ever heard, indeed the most incredible understatement of all time!”

He was difficult to get along with, no doubt, and he was sometimes a real jerk. But when I was a little kid, I had no idea. He was just my Grandpa.

He was an exuberant grandparent. He took great delight in our events and performances, arriving with camera in hand, ready to capture every moment. At one of my first piano recitals, flash photography wasn’t permitted, so he took dark and grainy photos without the flash, then afterwards set me up at the piano to look like I was playing in the real recital. The only thing that gives the photo away is that you can see the chairs are empty and people are sort of just milling around with snacks and beverages in the background.

He’d entertain us for hours taking out his teeth and putting them back in. He lost his pinky finger in a printing accident, so he would put his pinky stump into his nose and pretend his finger was stuck there - this was high comedy for us kids. He would take off his prosthetic leg and let us draw all over it – with pencil of course, so it could be erased and we could start all over again. He taught us how to play checkers and would tell us how to make moves so we could beat him. He took us to every kid-friendly museum in the area, and then – joy of joys – out for pizza after. And in true grandparent spirit, he let us drink soda and eat sugary snacks before he sent us back home with our parents.

I regret that Maya and Jacob didn’t get an opportunity to know him as this Grandpa and only knew him as a sick and cranky old man.

I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I know he did, and I'm going to think of him now in heaven, reunited with his parents and his brother – and also his teeth, pinky and legs - and I'm going to hope that he can feel how much we love him.

My uncle also gave a eulogy about Grandpa growing up in the Depression and how it turned him into the guy he was, how no matter what a pain he was, he was always there, etc. There was lots of crying.

People have been asking me if I'm still going to do my Grandpa No-legs jokes and I think I will. I'm going to try tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Nancy Little said...

That's really sweet, Jennifer.

January 4, 2009 at 11:55 AM  

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