Monday, August 10, 2015

Grandma's eulogy

I had a few people who weren't able to make it to mygrandma's rosary to hear my eulogy and wanted me to post it. So here it is. 

On behalf of the Schuette family, I'd like to thank everyone for being here today. The amount of people present shows just how much of an impact grandma had on everyone she met.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Ashlee and I'm Roger and Marilyn's oldest grandchild. 

I know she meant something different to everyone here. She was a wife, mom, great grandma, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. To me and her eight other grandchildren, she was simply grandma. To us, she was just sweet, kind, funny and adorable grandma.

While I was preparing to write this, I reached out to my cousins and asked them to describe grandma in three words. They are: Loving, selfless, faithful, beautiful, gentle, motherly, sweet, perceptive, happy, delightful, respected, ornery, wise, strong, nurturing, patient and an amazing listener. She really was all of these things and more.

I had the privilege to sit down with grandma at the end of June and talk to her about her life – her parents, her sister, her marriage to grandpa, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

She talked a lot about her childhood, including the fun she'd having taking the train to California to visit Aunt Lucille and Uncle Cye and their boys with her sister, Lois, and their Aunt Tootsie, who grandma said was "like a kid anyway." She talked about going to Peony Park as a teenager where she and her friends would sunbathe, swim and look at boys. She loved Peony Park – even though it was "miles and miles" from her house. She remembered taking the bus and having to wait for the dilapidated Peony Park bus at the intersection of 72nd and Dodge, which back then was just farmland. She mentioned having to walk by the haunted house that sat on that land. She and her best friends – Betty and Fran – explored it once. 

And speaking of best friends, grandma went on about all the trouble she, Betty, Fran and Rosie used to get into while they were at Mercy High School (like the time they hid in the basement smoking cigarettes while the nuns were just right above them or the time they didn't want to go to an all-school assembly so the four of them skipped out and walked from Mercy all the way to Betty's house near Creighton University. Grandma said Betty got frostbite on her fingers because she didn't wear the proper gloves that day).

She told me about how she met grandpa. Betty called her about going on a blind date to meet this guy – a friend of her brother's – and grandma automatically said "No, I'm not going on any blind date." But Betty begged her, telling her how good looking he was and how she'd really like him. Thankfully, grandma gave in and decided to talk to him over the phone. She remembered sitting on the floor of her mother's kitchen with her feet stretched out and the kitchen door closed so her mom and dad couldn't listen and talking to grandpa over the phone for more than an hour. There was a spark on the phone, grandma told me. They had so much in common. She was very excited to meet him and when they saw each other for the first time, she thought he was so cute. But he had long hair, which grandma didn't like. She liked crew cuts and she told him so. And guess what? The next time she saw him, he had a crew cut. "He turned into the most adorable guy I had ever seen," she told me. "He was so handsome."

A month after they'd met, they knew they wanted to get married. "You just know automatically. Your heart tells you something," she said. Grandpa gave her a ring for Christmas and they were married exactly one year later from the day they met – May 10, 1958. 

Fifty-seven years of marriage later, they have four children – Lori Ann, Jeanne Marie, Raymond John and Mark William; 9 grandchildren, including myself, Jacob, Jessica, Laura, Jennifer, Rachel, Ashley, Grace and Wyatt; and 7 great grandchildren: Lucas, Blake, Vera, Calvin, Sam, Henry and Maya.

She loved being a mother, a grandma and, especially, a great grandma. I asked her what some of her favorite things were and her answer was simple and quick: Her great grandchildren. "They bring true joy to me, Ashlee," she told me that day. "I just get thrilled every time I look at one of those babies. Right now, they really bring me to life." She also loved her garden, which always had some daisies, her favorite flower; and going to Lakeland to go camping. 

Everyone loved grandma. And grandma loved everyone. Even my friends growing up considered her "Grandma Schuette."

The moment you walked in the door, everything was about you. She'd want to make you something to eat – pineapples and bananas mixed together was a personal favorite of mine; she wanted to know about what was going on with your life. When I was little, I'd lay across her lap while she tickled my back and sang to me. 

She was the epitome of grace, faith and strength. She lived every day with all three – especially through her illness. But none more so than faith. I asked her what she thought would come after death and she told me, "Heaven." She told me about how excited she was to be able to see her mom and dad again, as well as other family members and friends who went on before her. "They can't wait for me to get there. It's really joyous," she said. She wasn't scared, either. 

But I was scared – and I told her so. I didn't know what I was going to do without her – never seeing her pull up in my driveway with grandpa, excited to see Sam; never sitting down and just talking for hours with her; never hearing her laugh again. I wasn't ready, I told her. "You never are," she said. She recounted the story of when her mother died and how it was so hard.

"It's going to be so sad, but then you just go on with life. You have to go on with life and get happy again. You have Sam, who will keep you happy – and you have to have more babies," she told me.

Well, grandma ... we're trying. It's going to be hard ... but you've left us all with such amazing memories to hold on to. Thank you for all of them – teaching me to bark like a dog and dance like a butterfly; spreading out our Halloween candy on your kitchen floor so we could count each one and see who got the most; roller skating in the basement at your old house at 1708 Second Ave.; dancing to "Here Comes Suzy Snowflake" while setting up Christmas decorations at your house; and sitting in your living room talking while you tried to teach me how to crochet. These are just a few out of hundreds upon hundreds. 

Grandma, I know you're up there. I know you see us and love us and that you helped dad through his surgery. Thank you. Every time we left your house, you'd give us these giant hugs and tell us to "be good." Don't worry. We will be. We will continue to make you proud. We'll get happy again. We'll keep living and have more babies. I love you. 

Grandma and I.