A voice of hope and faith: In Memoriam

I spoke at the funeral for Virginia Tennant – my grandmother – today. This is what I said. Thank you to Betina, Jen, Anton, Cynthia, Tracy, and Donna for helping me write it.

I don’t know who Virginia was.

My grandmother and grandfather standing in front of a Christmas tree.

I knew her. Yes.That’s true.

But I didn’t know Virginia. Not like some – or even many – of you here did.

I have been toldstories, yes. In over a hundred years, through the Depression, WorldWar, and so much more, yes, there are stories. Stories that the restof you also know. Stories that you lived with her.

But for me, she was never Virginia.

She was Grandma.

Virginia Tennant, sitting under a wreath.

It is not my place totell stories of her life, of her hopes, her fears, her dreams.

Because for me, shewas a gentle force of nature.

She was not the greatwind, nor was she the earthquake or the fire.

To me, she was thehopeful, ever present sound of a quiet whispering breeze. The soundof a loved one’s breathing. The light rustle of a beautiful summerevening. The soft silence of snow falling on the ground, makingeverything wonderful.

She is the woman whocared for others more than herself. Who, in my every memory of her,worked to take care of others. To ease their pain. To take away theirsuffering. To make their lives a little better.

My grandmother standing with my son in front of a refrigerator.

She was a constant.Her voice, when I last spoke to her, sounded nearly identical to myfirst memory of it. Pictures I have of her from throughout my lifeare remarkably similar. As my life was upended again and again, aschange and disruption twisted through every aspect of what I knew,she was there, with words of hope and faith.

Like the wind. Like asoothing breeze.

That is the Grandma Iknew.

And that is who shewould want each and every one of us to be.

My grandmother sitting on a porch swing with my son.

When my uncle calledme, he said “Well, try to have a Merry Christmas. That’s whatshe would have wanted us to do.”

And he is right.

She passed away onthe solstice; the darkest night of the year.

But she would remindus that it is also the day that the light begins to come back intothe world.

After these fewhours, we will leave here and go back to our far-flung lives.

And I can think of nobetter memorial to this woman, to my Grandma, than for us to takethat quiet light of hers home.

That as we rememberher, as we tell our stories of her, as we share our grief, that weare those still voices of comfort and love in the world.

That our memories ofher serve to help us be better in our lives.

Just as she would.

I love you, Grandma.

Merry Christmas.

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