To set this up: This was written in early October of 2013. I was asked to write something and read it at her funeral. Below is what I wrote and read. I hadn’t had time to mourn her loss at this time. My emotions were swirling and I hadn’t fully comprehended what had happened. This is my way of keeping her memory alive to her friends, family, and myself.
Very few times in life is one person luck enough in life to be completely affected by 1 person. I’m talking life changing impact. I’ve been lucky enough to have been that impacted by 2 people. One being my bride of 13 years, and the other being my grandma, Paula Briggs. With the exception of my wife, she was the most influential person in my life.
Today I stand here in front of you and call her “grandma”. It wasn’t that long ago she was just “Paula” to me. For those of you blessed enough to be part of her life know that she wasn’t afraid to let her opinion known. If she didn’t like you, she would let you know. Grandma didn’t like me for a very long time. Rightfully so I may add. She said little to me. What she lacked in words, she more then made up for in looks, or daggers. That woman can shoot a glare across the room better than anyone I’ve ever meant. I’ve been the recipient of that glare more times then I’d like to admit.
Lucky for me, grandma is a patient, forgiving woman. A trait that she passed along to her daughter, my mother in law, and her granddaughter, my wife. Once I changed my life around, she was one of the first to be there with open arms. Those daggers she used to shoot me turned into a beam. Those glares were now smiles. After she shot me that first smile, I swore I’d never get that glare again. One of the proudest moments in my life is when she hugged me, let me kiss her on the head, and she looked up at me and told me she loved me. That’s the impact she has on me.
Grandma’s family is a complicated one. It’s full of big, vibrant characters as well as kind, soft spoken individuals. That’s quite the polar opposite of personalities. Now throw in 15 grandchildren, a gaggle of great grandchildren, and now, well you’ve got a mess. The rock that keeps that all together is grandma. There was never chaos around her. She commanded a room like no other I’ve been around before. Little kids would amazingly transform into beautiful little children that listened the first time. Adults would take their hats off at the table and use words like “please” and “thank you”. Everyone wanted grandma to like them. She’s a leader. She’s amazing. She’s my grandmother.
It’s very difficult for me to write about my grandma. She was so influential to so many of us. The same adjectives that you so often here such as kind, caring, forgiving, loving, and beautiful all come to mind to describe her. She’s better than that though. She made you want to be a better person. You want that A+ so you can show grandma. You knew once she saw that, she would flash you that smile. You would see that gleam in her eye giving you approval. Personally, I’ll miss that the most.
Finally I leave you with this: When is the last time you talked to your mom, sister, aunt, grandma, or male counterpart? I know this for certain. My grandmas children talked to her daily. They talked to her via Facebook, phone calls, visits, and yes sometimes texts. My grandma was a hip lady. She was a tough lady who raised her kids right and fair. Through those years she developed a special kind of relationship that we should all be so lucky to have. Each one loved her because she loved them more than anything.
I’m incredibly honored and blessed to be standing in front of you all today talking about a woman so near and dear to us all. It breaks my heart knowing that she won’t be at our family gatherings in person. I can promise you this though: she will be there in spirit. She’ll still be watching for those manners and smiling at us all. She’ll continue to teach us that family is important. That religion and your relationship with your higher power is essential in happiness. She’ll continue to make us smile by giving us that gleam that only she could.
I love you grandma. I thank you for changing all of our lives. May you rest in peace and enjoy your coffee with your grandson, daughter, and all of our loved ones. God bless you grandma