Eulogy For Grandma Peet

I’m sort of working in reverse here.  The following is the first eulogy I ever did.  I had little idea what I was doing at the time but I knew that I wanted to do something unique and different to capture my grandma (who was both of those things) rather than the traditional “this person was born here, married him/her, did this for a living, died here, is survived by” paint-by-numbers type eulogy.It worked too – the similarly- toned obituary I wrote for the local paper caught the eye of somebody at the National Post and they called the funeral home looking for more details so they could make Grandma into their “Common Man Obituary of the Day” (not the real name for it although I bet the journalists call it that behind the scenes.)

Of course, they somehow got out of the obituary that Grandpa Peet was a feminist pioneer which wasn’t the case at all and they were quite disappointed that there weren’t more wacky details from her life to be shared with the world.

Here’s the obituary I wrote.  It was amazing at Grandpa’s funeral, eight years later, how many people came up to me and said they remembered this obituary.  The eulogy is below the photo:

PEET–Grandma Ina was born a long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away (at least that’s what she told us so we’d behave). After coming to Canada from Scotland as a child, she settled with her family in Victoria. While working for CP-Victoria, she met a witty handsome, charming (he’s paying for this!) young soldier named Wally Peet. They courted and were married in 1943. After the war, they settled on a farm in Alida, Saskatchewan where they raised two brats, Janet and Sandi. They lived in Weyburn from 1963-73, then moved to Kelowna where they eventually retired. Ina passed away peacefully on February 3, 1999. During her life, Ina enjoyed many hobbies; square dancing, camping, singing with the Water Street Warblers, traveling and “making pancakes out of her head”. She is survived by her husband Wally; her daughters Sandi and Janet; her son-in-law Ray; and her two favorite grandchildren Jason and Janna. Gifts to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, 201-1456 St. Paul Street, Kelowna, BC. V1Y 2E6 in Ina’s memory would be gratefully appreciated. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, February 6th, 1999 at 10:30 A.M. in the Chapel of First Memorial Funeral Service, 1211 Sutherland Avenue, Kelowna with Rev. Wayne Laurie officiating. Cremation. Arrangements have been entrusted to FIRST MEMORIAL FUNERAL SERVICE, 250-762-2299.

 

Eulogy for Grandma Peet

It’s hard to believe but sometimes, my sister and I used to misbehave when we were little!  When Grandma was watching us and we were bad, Gram would say she was an alien from a distant planet with strange and mystical powers.  Janna and I never knew whether to believe her or not!  But we always stopped misbehaving.  Just in case it was true.Grandma was born in Campbellton, Scotland in nineteen <mumble>.  She never liked to tell her age so I guess I won’t start now.  The funeral home didn’t know this and her birth date got printed in the program for today.  But for Gram’s sake, I ask you to please ignore those last two digits.  That way, she’ll keep her age a secret and I won’t have told it.  (I still don’t know about those powers!)

Grandma Peet was a beautiful lady who epitomized all the best qualities in life – she was always laughing, singing, dancing.  She had a great sense of humour and a definite love of life.  When I read my family this eulogy last night, they thought the next part was a joke.  It’s not – I’m very serious.  I’m proud to say she passed many of those qualities on to me.

In the same vein, it’s those special little perfect moments that are going to remind me of Grandma the most in the months and years to come more than any one overriding “sense” of grandma.  Little things that all grandmas do for grandkids that make them think their grandparents are the best.  Just in this case, it happens to be true…

Singing “old-time” songs with her and grandpa on  the last time they came out to Saskatchewan to visit, walks to the Kelowna library, how she used to sneak Jan and I candies before supper, her teaching me how to play crib without charging a quarter a game like grandpa did, hearing her sneak in my room when she thought I was asleep and tucking me in while singing Irish lullabyes even when I thought I was “too old” for that stuff.

If you read our rather “unique” obituary, you probably noticed that there’s one special little memory above all the others that defines Grandma for our family.  It’s silly and insignificant and that’s what makes it special.  Her and Grandpa had been put in charge of me and Jan while our parents escaped for a holiday.  One morning, Grandma proudly presented us with pancakes.  I took one bite and said “these don’t taste like my mom’s!”  Well, that’s because they’re Grandma’s, she said.  “Did you use mom’s recipe?”  No, I made them out of my head.  “What?  Out of your head?  I can’t eat these! ”  This little story says a bit about me (probably too much) but a lot about grandma as well.  She was always an adventurous lady who had a strong sense of independence and a great sense of humour.  Now the phrase “I made it out of my head” has become a running family joke that always comes up whenever we’re together.

Here’s the part of the eulogy where I’m going to need some Kleenexes.  Everyone who came into Grandma’s life and who is here today is special in some way.  But I’d like to salute two people in particular – Phyllis Pederson who was an absolute angel for Grandma, her best friend and a constant companion especially after Grandma had her first stroke a few years ago.  I also want to salute Grandpa Peet who is truly one of the good guys beneath his gruff exterior.  He was a rock for Grandma, especially in the last year as she became more and more fragile.  It got to the point where she was afraid to be without him so, foregoing his favourite chair, he’d sit side-by-side on the couch with her at night and hold her hand while they watched the news together.  Thanks for showing me what true love really is, Grandpa!

When I got the call that Grandma had a massive stroke, I did some thinking coming out here.  I’ve been to college and I read some books and I’ve become somewhat cynical about religion and Heaven and the Bible.  My belief about what happens after you die isn’t as pleasant as thinking I won’t spend eternity floating on fluffy clouds but I’d never had to confront it in such a direct manner before.  So I was very worried what would happen to Grandma’s spirit or soul or whatever you want to call that little extra something that we have inside us that makes us special.  I got to the hospital and though Grandma couldn’t talk, we still had some conversations.  It was in these talks that she made me realise that Heaven doesn’t have to be some obscure place in the sky.  Instead, she told me that, for me, Heaven could be a place in my heart.  She was already there in the values and the qualities she’s passed on to me since I was a child.  And now she’d live on in the form of a lifetime of memories.

I’m going to tell my kids about her and they’re going to tell their kids about her and she’s going to live forever, just like she would in anybody’s conventional view of Heaven.  And maybe someday I’ll be a silly old fool like her and I’ll meet up with her again in the Heavens of other people’s hearts.

You never say it enough when you’re alive.  But I’d like to say it once more time cause I know she’ll hear me, deep in the Heaven inside my own heart.

I LOVE YOU GRANDMA!

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    […] family to help me write it.  (This was useful as I didn’t know him nearly as well as the three other family members I’ve been able to eulogize in the […]

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