Goodbye Grandma… Eulogy given 24 March 2013 in Lacey, WA
I am so happy and so lucky to be able to stand here and give thanks for the life of our grandma, Caroline Meisel Hall. For nearly 95 years she graced this planet, mothering, loving, befriending, care taking, and grousing, griping, grumbling sometimes about, and sometimes over, everyone here…
Quick to smile and quicker to laugh she made the world a better place.
Her life before my birth in 1967 is in many ways a mystery. She never really spoke of it much to me, except with passing references to a farm, the lake, her brothers Bob and George, and the beach. Luckily she took up writing in the 1990’s and left behind numerous stories providing glimpses into her youth in Pennsylvania and the Jersey shore.
I’ve never been to where grandma was born. Never saw the place where she grew up, went to school, got married, and subsequently left behind for her big adventure out West.
She was 37 years in California. Followed by 25 years right here in Lacey. Yet she was able to spend a considerable amount of time traveling to balance out the domestic routine of her days. And oh how she loved to travel.
When she wasn’t floating, flying or driving about, her home was her domain, and sometimes the backyard pool on Kendall Drive. Through my eyes Grandma lived in the kitchen, or at the dining table, and occasionally on the back patio.
The fridge and cupboards were always full. Peanuts and pretzels at hand. Something to drink? Ginger Ale? 7-Up? Coors? Unless it was Budweiser this month. Come to think of it, I don’t recall being offered anything from the top shelf. I guess some things are sacred even for grandmas.
She read newspapers, magazines, books, and junk mail, brochures, flyers, and of course the weekly Catholic missalettes. She read everything cover-to-cover, always trying to satisfy her ever-inquisitive mind.
She’d whip through a crossword puzzle like nobody’s business. Her mind was sharp and lucid to the very end. We’ve all heard of that correlation, and she was proof. And since 99% of those puzzles were solved while ensconced on the toilet… We can only deduce that a clean colon is equally beneficial to a long life. And probably to completing crossword puzzles as well.
I asked the other grandkids for a favorite memory to share with you today…
Naturally, my brother Kenny and I have many of the same memories, and he recalls that even though he’s been a vegetarian for the last 22 years, he can still taste Grandma’s pan-fried lamb chops, meatballs and red gravy, and the made-from-scratch gravy that topped those yummy turkey dinners. In the kitchen from dawn til long after dark, she was the slowest cook and kitchen cleaner-upper, but she sure made delicious meals! And she enjoyed every bite she took…
And the road trips… our driving vacations. Staying at Red Lion Motels, playing shuffleboard, the ferry to Catalina, jigsaw puzzles, so many great memories!
Shannon gets weepy when she tries to explain how Grandma made her feel totally accepted and included in the family — a grandkid like all the others, nothing “step” about it. Like the rest of us, she could track her growth by the tick marks in the kitchen doorway; and her likeness was woven into the macramé grandkids portrait adorning the living room wall. She knew she belonged in Grandma’s house.
Jennifer remembers her days revolving around swimming in the pool. But the highlight was Grandma calling her in for lunch where she would be greeted by hotdogs with cheese inside, or bologna & pickle sandwiches, and don’t forget the cookie drawer! She would get to sit and eat while watching Little House on the Prairie or Wonder Woman. Food and television that she definitely did not get at home, made with love and held fast in her memory throughout the years.
Steph has never heard anyone else say “Goodnight!” as another way to say “Good Grief!” when exasperated. She knows why Grandma didn’t throw things away. Each object had a story attached to it and she would tell those stories happily, since she enjoyed her life. Everything was “pretty neat” according to Grandma. Steph’s so glad to have some of Grandma’s objects so family can come and keep building on her stories.
Rene fondly remembers Grandma sitting in the shade with a drink in her hand, a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Her vivacious spirit was on display even on her 90th birthday by dancing to pretty woman in the middle of the restaurant. She feels extremely honored to have been a part of Grandma’s family.
Bryce remembers the Sunday morning Bloody Mary’s. Virgin Bloodies of course.
I’ve been told that Grandma was a bit of an imp as a child.
This mischievousness of hers resurfaced as Jennifae remembers when Grandma Hall was at Fae’s Uncle Doug’s house. Dylan (Fae’s cousin on her mom’s side) climbed all the way to the top of a tree and got stuck because he was scared of the height, and refused to climb down. Everybody was freaking out, the fire department was called to get Dylan down. While all of this is going on, Grandma Hall grabbed her camera and started taking pictures of the whole thing.
Chris always looked forward to visiting grandma’s house and the crystal candy dish with the multi-colored pastel candies that he and Fae fancied. They were special candies, not hard, not soft, not individually wrapped. You could crunch them into a semi-sweet powder, or wait patiently for them to dissolve in your mouth. They were the only type of candy ever put in that dish, neglected by almost everyone after Grandpa died, everyone except for Chris that is. It’s only appropriate that he inherited the candy dish.
Personally, I’ll always remember her sweet little “ooooh, look how lucky I am” giggle that winning in Gin, or Poker, or Yahtzee, or any other game would elicit.
She played to win, but she also played by the Grandma rulebook meaning that when she won us grandkids felt like we also won because she never kept the pot to herself at the end of the game.
Genetically speaking, I hope I got Grandma’s teeth. They were with her to the very end. I’m pretty sure I got her sense of adventure, her artistic eye, and maybe a tenth of her intellect.
Regardless, she lives on through us. Her children’s children. The lucky recipients of her kindness and generosity; her patience and caring and understanding.
The best kind of role model a generation twice removed has to offer.
We love you Grandma.
Clever… Probably useful if I ever re-join Toastmasters.
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