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.
I knew her. Yes.
But I didn’t know Virginia. Not like some – or even many – of you here did.
I have been told
stories, yes. In over a hundred years, through the Depression, World
War, and so much more, yes, there are stories. Stories that the rest
of you also know. Stories that you lived with her.
But for me, she was never Virginia.
She was Grandma.
It is not my place to
tell stories of her life, of her hopes, her fears, her dreams.
Because for me, she
was a gentle force of nature.
She was not the great
wind, nor was she the earthquake or the fire.
To me, she was the
hopeful, ever present sound of a quiet whispering breeze. The sound
of a loved one’s breathing. The light rustle of a beautiful summer
evening. The soft silence of snow falling on the ground, making
She is the woman who
cared 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 their
suffering. To make their lives a little better.
She was a constant.
Her voice, when I last spoke to her, sounded nearly identical to my
first memory of it. Pictures I have of her from throughout my life
are remarkably similar. As my life was upended again and again, as
change and disruption twisted through every aspect of what I knew,
she was there, with words of hope and faith.
Like the wind. Like a
That is the Grandma I
And that is who she
would want each and every one of us to be.
When my uncle called
me, he said “Well, try to have a Merry Christmas. That’s what
she would have wanted us to do.”
And he is right.
She passed away on
the solstice; the darkest night of the year.
But she would remind
us that it is also the day that the light begins to come back into
After these few
hours, we will leave here and go back to our far-flung lives.
And I can think of no
better memorial to this woman, to my Grandma, than for us to take
that quiet light of hers home.
That as we remember
her, as we tell our stories of her, as we share our grief, that we
are those still voices of comfort and love in the world.
That our memories of
her serve to help us be better in our lives.
Just as she would.
I love you, Grandma.