Eulogy for Grandmother


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Eulogy for Grandmother


I looked at myself in the mirror. I noticed the lines of my face and the curve of my neck. I looked down at my hands remembering the moment I first realized that they looked like hers. Long, thin, delicate hands perfect for playing the piano or braiding cornrows. All my life I had not noticed until the day I sat at her bedside holding her hand in mine. She had told me that she was not afraid to die. We sat in silence for a long time, sometimes sharing a stare and a smile. I don't know how long I sat there, looking at her, realizing for the first time who I looked so much like. As I stood in front of the mirror, I remembered that day as I prepared for her funeral. Sarah Smith, my grandmother's going home day. My father asked me to do her eulogy. I had thought and thought of what to say. The words didn't come until the morning of her funeral. That morning I went to the lake where me, my brothers, and my sister would go swimming in the summer on weekend visits to my grandmother's. As I soaked in the sun and watched its rays dance on the waters a memory came.

As a child there were only two people that I would let touch my hair, my mother and my grandmother. Cornrowing my hair was an event when my grandmother did it. She would take me out on the stoop, bringing a chair for herself, and I would sit in front of her with my head between her knees. Moving my head in reaction to the slightest direction from her hands became natural. Other women and children would come and sit while she picked out my hair and greased my scalp. I would listen to the women talk. I don't remember anything that was said but I do remember the comfort of the stoop and my grandmother's fingers doing magic in my hair.

Sitting on the dock I realized that I had never known my grandmother's life story. I don't know the struggles she must have had as a black woman in the South raising two sons alone because her husband beat her, and she had told him enough was enough. I don't know what it was that kept her going through poverty. I do know that her trust and love in God was deeply rooted in her heart.

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I do know that she was a strong, dignified woman. I do know she had no problem telling a person off when they overstepped their bounds. She was by no means a conventional grandmother. She always seemed young to me; maybe that's why I never really asked her questions about her life. I thought I had time. The day I sat at her bedside I didn't realize it would be the last day I'd see her alive. The very next day she passed on into the "land of milk and honey."

God gave me a priceless gift that day, one that I will carry until I meet her in eternity. It was in those moments of silence that I came to know her. I saw in her eyes the things that she had never done or said, the dreams she may have had that didn't come to fruition, the joy that seeing her grandchildren gave her, and the energy behind her dance.

It is enough for me now that I knew what her house smelled like, the broadness of her smile, the light in her eyes, her love of dancing, the sound of her laugh, the firmness of her voice, and the fact that she loves me.


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