It is at this point that I am going to diverge from the genealogical facts of my grandmother’s life and to really try to share with you the heart of who she really was, as well as share a few of our favorite stories of her along the way.
My Granny, Norma, she loved deeply and with a rare loyalty. She loved her husband, David, first and foremost. In the middle of raising a family, caring for her home and garden, traveling extensively and fulfilling her church callings, Granny always looked to my Grampa David, always checked in with him in the midst of a busy life, always holding his hand, always looking over to him with a smile on her face. And even after seventy years of marriage and a life of blessings and burdens shared throughout, he was still her best friend, her companion and her comforter. In fact, while I was preparing this eulogy, it became apparent that it is hard to find many stories or memories of Norma that do not include David as well. They were and are and forever will be - a team, the best of friends and eternal companions.
And Granny loved her daughters just as deeply, instilling in them her love of life, her deep attachments to family and her dutiful service to those around her. As her mother taught her, Granny taught her girls to cook and sew as well. And while Cathy, my mom, remembers sewing most of her clothes in high school, what she really remembers is that her mother made everything for the girls, from their underwear to their winter coats. My mom remembers not having store bought clothes ever - until she was sixteen. And if you were to go into their home back then and slip into the sewing room, you would have seen two sewing machines set side by side, Cathy’s and Granny’s. Her legacy to all of us is not only the service she rendered in this life, but the lessons she taught us as well.
With equal devotion, Granny turned her attention towards her growing family and helped to raise her three grandsons and eventually her seven great grandchildren. She fed, diapered, hugged, kissed, spoiled and loved her growing family with a fierce and quiet loyalty. She was never too tired to get on the ground and play blocks, or to hold onto chubby little fingers as toddler legs careened wildly across her backyard.
She would read storybooks for hours or hold a small baby by the warmth of the fire while they napped. If she went missing at any time, one was sure to find her sitting across from a grandbaby or great grandbaby, lost in a world of imagination, giving herself over freely to whatever game was conjured up for her to play a part in. My brothers and I share countless memories of swinging in her back yard, playing tetherball and riding bikes with her. She was always ready to join in the fun, to do whatever we wanted to do, to support us in any way we needed.
She was also known for turning a blind eye when it came to us boys, letting us get away with all sorts of things, and generally spoiling us. We always loved how she would cook our favorite food on Sunday afternoons after church, how she would let us slip away from the table without a word to go nap - well, actually this was mostly Cody’s game. At some point during the meal, when he was finally full of mashed potatoes and cheese sauce, he would sort of slither to the floor and climb out from under the table onto the living room side and escape to his favorite recliner for a nap. He did this up until he was 18. Granny would just chuckle. (I have to pause and say that I don’t blame Cody for wanting to curl up and fall asleep, most of us did - especially since Granny kept her house at a cozy 84 degrees with a fire raging in the winter...and even then, sitting two feet from the woodstove with her sweaters piled on - she was still cold)
So, Granny loved all our quirks - from her daughters’ to ours’. And she loved to include us in everything. Every Christmas she would invite us over to decorate her house and put up her tree and every year she threatened that this was the last year she was going to do it, but the tradition continued on.