Eulogy For Grandma Hammond

Since I’ve got a bit of a morbid theme going on this blog lately, I thought I’d post another eulogy I did – this one was for my Grandma Hammond who passed away a few years ago. 

Sorry it’s such a crappy picture – it was one of the few I had of her in digital format and I didn’t think to scan one this weekend when we were in Regina.  I might replace it next weekend if I think of it.

I didn’t re-read this one before I wrote the one for my Grandpa Peet that I posted yesterday but it’s interesting to realise that I revisit the same theme – how the deceased live on through the family that comes after them.  I’m sure I’ll do a post on religion someday when I’m feeling brave but as someone who’s not religious at all, I like the idea that there is another way to think that people can “live on” without the need for the concept of heaven.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the other eulogy I’ve given in my life which was for my Grandma Peet and you’ll see that idea of “heaven” being a place in the minds of people you’ve left behind presented in an even more blatant fashion. (And then we can have a big discussion about what is appropriate to even discuss as part of an eulogy?  Does it depend on the beliefs of the person you’re eulogizing?  The audience you’re in front of?  The belief set of the majority of the immediate family members? The community you’re in?  Some combination of all of the above?  Or does being asked to give the eulogy give you a great deal of freedom to decide how you want to approach the topic, of course, while trying to be at least somewhat respectful of all of those various elements I listed.) 😉

Oh, and if eulogies aren’t your thing (really?) and you want something a bit happier, Shea’s done a big update of digital pics over on Flickr.  Cuteness abounds

Eulogy for Grandma Hammond

We all know that Grandma loved sweets but with her diabetes, she wasn’t able to have them as much as she would’ve liked.  So I’ve passed around a couple bags of candies on my way up here and would ask you to each take one and enjoy it on her behalf while you think about her and I share a few stories about her life.  Oh, and I know what the penalty for littering is and I know what happens when you do something bad in church.  But I don’t know what the penalty is for littering in church so if you got one of the candies with a wrapper, please make sure you put it in your pocket!

When I knew I would be doing this eulogy, I decided to look up a statistic.  I found out that the average lifespan for a Canadian woman is 84 years. 

I don’t share her ability to multiply two and even three digit numbers in my head like she could but I can do enough subtraction to know that Grandma Hammond, who turned 97 just a month ago, had the equivalent of an extra 13 years of life compared to what most women can expect. 

I know it’s a sad day for all of us but if there are thoughts that will make us a bit happier today, that’s one of them.

And I think that those extra 13 years are appropriate number in another way as well.  Because if you think about it, Grandma had many of the qualities of a teenager, throughout her life and right up until the end. 

Although I don’t think she ever owned a cell phone or surfed the Internet, she did have a boundless energy, a willingness to try anything and a razor-sharp, mischievous sense of humour that many people – young, and young-at-heart – exhibit.

Right from the time that Aunt Greta brought a recipe home to the farm after a trip to the States for an exotic new food called pizza, Grandma’s willingness to try anything once was well-known to her family.  (And as an aside, knowing Grandma, you can bet that when that first pizza was served, she also made sure that everybody cleaned up their plates!)

Her daredevil nature never changed, even as she aged.  Perhaps you have seen the pictures of her riding a snowmobile on a frozen Katepwa Lake in her 70’s or riding a motorbike at Uncle Ken’s farm in her 80’s.  When our family rented a hot tub for the cottage, she even tried to hop in over the edge of the tub for a soak even though she was now in her 90’s!

Even more than her willingness to try anything, her sense of humour was the thing that, for me and probably for many of us, best defined Grandma Hammond.  She was always witty, funny and playful and there are many humourous stories about her. 

I’d like to share a couple with you now.

When she first met my wife’s father a few years ago, they shook hands and as older people sometimes do, she held on a bit longer than was normal.  My father-in-law, Dennis, knew this so he simply stood there, holding her hand back.  Grandma sat there for a minute then looked up at him and said “I think you should either let go of my hand or ask me to marry you!”

Grandma was the master of the one-liner.  Another one I  remember is when a batch of wine was made for her 90th birthday with a personalized wine label featuring a picture of her as a young woman.  Someone observed that she was lucky to have her own brand of wine.  She replied “well, just as long as it doesn’t give me a name around town.”  Then she thought about it some more and said “on second thought, I guess it’s okay as long as I don’t drink the whole bottle!”

She didn’t mind the odd risque joke either.  When Elaine Pearce was her live-in caregiver, Elaine was helping Grandma change her clothes one day.  When Elaine pulled down Grandma’s slacks, Grandma observed: “Well, that’s the quickest I’ve had my pants off in a long time!”

Even in her final days, the sense of playfulness didn’t leave her.  Shea and I happened to be back in Saskatchewan when we got the call that she was in the hospital.  We were able to swing by for a final visit and it is one I will always treasure.  As I sat by the bed, Grandma indicated that she was thirsty.  I held a glass of water to her lips but instead of taking a drink through the straw, she proceeded to blow bubbles.  Then she looked at me and I could swear she gave me that little grin she had, tongue poking out of her mouth, just like she always did as a punch line to any of her jokes.

We all have our own special memories of Grandma Hammond – some of them shared, some of them private, some of them just a bit silly.  But all of them are equally important and in the past few days, we’ve had a chance to share those memories and think of the amazing woman who provided a common bond for all of us. 

We’ll miss her greatly but we’ll also recognize that she’s had a full life, that she raised an amazing family and that she’s only left us in body, not in spirit.  Because, as you look around this room at the family members here today, you’ll see many of those same characteristics that defined her, have been passed on to her children. 

I asked my cousins to help me by sharing which of Grandma’s characteristics they saw in their own parents and the following is what they told me.

They saw Grandma in Adele’s intelligence and Betty’s unpretentious manner.  In Ken’s generosity and Ray’s sensitivity.  In Verna’s patience and Greta’s compassion. In Lynda’s easy-going nature and in Mavis’s playful spirit.  And in the quality that all of her children have in abundance but which has been shown especially strongly by Gwen and Joan over the years – devotion to family. 

Good-bye Grandma.  We love you, we miss you, you’ll always be in our hearts. 

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 3

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