My Grandmama

My thoughts, from my Grandma’s funeral service.  Years ago, now, but still true.


Did you see the slideshow earlier?  Pictures of my Grandmama’s life, and the lives of her loved ones, flashing by, one by one, to remind us why we’re together today.

The memories I have of my Grandmama have been flashing through my mind these last few weeks.  But the slideshow playing in my memory is not quite like the one on the wall here.  You’ve got to wear the secret decoder glasses to see my slideshow just right.  Remember those old ViewMaster picture viewers?  When you looked through the secret decoder, teeny-tiny pairs of pictures would just blast into life in super-3D.  Bam!  The pyramids!  A Swiss castle!  Pinocchio!  You had to look at it just right, through the secret decoder, held up to the light.

See, my Grandma had her own way of seeing the world, her own way of seeing me.  I remember her as an unassuming woman—not someone you’d call a philosopher—but she carried inside her a powerful, persistent, and positive way of looking at the people around her; and when I was with her, I couldn’t help but see things—see myself—in the same way, through the secret decoder, held up to the light.

When I was a kid, I had a time of it.  Most kids do, when they’re figuring out the world, get bumped and bruised a little.  Too little for one thing, too big for the next.  Picked on, or left out, or maybe just plain lonely.  But when I was with my Grandmama, none of the other stuff mattered.  Her way of seeing the world, her way of seeing me, and my brother, and my parents, and all of us was so loving –so alluring—that it drew me in.  So when I was with her I saw things the way she saw them, through her secret glasses.  No matter what was going on in the rest of the world, no matter how crazy things got out there, I was just right.  Perfect.  Cherished.  I always knew she believed that, and so I believed it, too.

So whether we were picking squash in the garden;
sticking our cookies together with peanut butter;
beating the heat, in the shade, under the dogwood trees;
swinging on the porch swing;
going to the grocery store;
whatever was going on that day….

It was all okay.  I was all okay.  It was all seen through the secret glasses, held up to the light, bright and shining is super-3D.  Perfect and cherished.

Author and poet Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  I never heard my Grandmama say anything like that.  I somehow doubt she’d spend much time on thoughts like that….  But she knew it in her heart and she lived it day by day.  And I am grateful for that, for her secret decoder and for how she made us feel.


Edith Natalie Jones Erwin, Mar. 5, 1917 – Oct. 25, 2010