This is my eulogy from my grandma’s funeral yesterday. My dad said I should put it up here.
When all of us grandchildren were growing up my sister and I lived in Cincinnati, which meant that we only got to see grandma and grandpa at Christmas and during the summer. This made for an easy connection between seeing grandma and certain traditions. Every Christmas holiday would include grandma’s homemade fudge and having the whole extended family over for pizza on New Year’s Eve. Every summer vacation, Jennie and I would run through the sprinkler in her backyard.
When my family moved here fourteen years ago, both sets of grandparents moved here soon after. This meant that Jennie and I weren’t the grandchildren who saw them twice a year anymore; we were the ones who were lucky enough to have them live across town. As we were able to spend more time with grandma, I began to understand her as more than just a person who provided candy, pizza, and a sprinkler. I got to eat lunch with her, see her at my sports games, lose to her every single time we played cards, and have conversations with her about her life now and her life as first a young girl in Iowa and then a young bride and mother. One conversation I remember in particular: She and I were at her house by ourselves and we were looking at one of her old high school yearbooks, and I knew that she had played high school basketball in Iowa. This was back when girls basketball was six-on-six and you had three players on each team who were allowed to shoot the ball. Grandma was one of those three, and her team’s page in the yearbook included player stats. As I was reading them I noticed that she had averaged more than 20 points a game. “Grandma!,” I said. “You scored 20 points a game in high school?” “Is that good?,” she asked with her usual smile and shrug. I think Jennie and I might have gotten our basketball ability from her more than from our dad.
The most special part about being able to see her whenever I wanted to was that I got to watch her interact with other people. It didn’t matter if grandma knew a person or not, she was always quick with her little wink and shrug and a kind word. She cared about people so deeply, and she set that example for all of her grandkids. She was incredibly loving and was always concerned about a person’s relationship with Jesus and about their romantic status. For the past couple years, every single time she saw me she told me very seriously that she had a girl picked out for me from the staff at her nursing home, and always asked if I had a girlfriend yet. When the hospice chaplain came to meet her a few weeks ago, one of the first things she asked him was if he was married. And she always asked Jennie if she was dating anyone; when Jennie was here a couple weeks ago and she told her she was dating someone, grandma’s face lit up and she said “REALLY? OH, THAT’S WONDERFUL!” And she told Jennie to have a good marriage.
She was a caring woman who dealt with her husband away at war, raised three daughters, painted beautiful china, played basketball very well, taught me to play marbles on her living room rug, never lost a card game or board game, kept a dish full of candy for visitors, saw her grandchildren as completely perfect people who never did anything wrong, was incredibly proud of her full name, Wilma Winifred Lazear Parkis, was overjoyed by life and the people she came into contact with every day, and was deeply in love with Jesus. Jennie and I will miss her so much. And grandma, I talked to Jennie two days ago and she said to tell you she’ll have a good marriage.