JewBu Quest: From Abuse to Happiness

JewBu: a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation & spirituality. This blog documents my quest to 1) heal from sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, 2) come to terms with losing Mom and Grandma to Alzheimers, 3) find balance, explore the spiritual, stay present. Bascially, I've experienced some pretty crappy shit in my life and want to find a way to move past it and find happiness.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Grandma's Eulogy

The last time that I saw Grandma, which was a few hours before she died, I told her this:

I know that you’re dying, and I’m going to miss you very much, but you don’t have to worry. –See my grandmother was very much a worrier, especially about her family, so I thought this part was important. – I told her: You’ve done so much for us over the years that we’re going to be okay. And you will live on inside of us.

And I don’t just mean this in that none of us will forget Grandma’s voice calling out “Loouuu.” That last night with Grandma, my sister, my neice and I sang to her the song Papa always sang to us: “I love you oh so much.” I ended with Papa's traditional "Oh Cockeyed Jennie" hoping that Grandma would sit up and say "Loouu not in front of the children Loouu."

I see Grandma in my niece. She inherited the sparkle, the glow in Grandma’s eyes, her warm, joyful smile, her laugh, and her beauty. Like Grandma, my niece loves organizing parties, especially for her family. They both like to take care of every detail and will get very angry with me if I don’t help them clean up the house and make something special to eat. Most obviously, I see Grandma in my neice because she looks just like her mother, who looks just like her mother, who looks just like her mother.

I see Grandma in my sister in the way that she cares for her children. One of my Mom’s favorite memories of her mother is when they went on a road trip to
California to go to Disneyland and visit Mom's, who lived next to John Wayne at the time. I think of this story when Julie tells me about taking her kids to Disneyworld and my neice tells me how much fun they have on their road trips. And, Jewish guilt Jewish guilt, my sister should consider reenacting the trip to honor Grandma by taking her kids to California to visit Disneyland and their Aunt.

I see Grandma Dora in my mom. Growing up, my mom would often explain that we do such as such this way because this is the way that her mother did things. Like Grandma adored and tried to emulate her mother Bubbe, my mom followed in the footsteps of her mother by putting everything she had into taking care of others, especially her family, but also volunteering all over the community. See Grandma volunteered at the synagogue, at Menorah Hospital, and even showed me a picture of herself in a newspaper from what must have been around the 1950s; she was wearing what looked like a nurses uniform, and Grandma explained that she liked to go to the hospital to volunteer with the children. When, my mom had children, Grandma was there for extended periods of time to help out however she could. She even flew with me by herself from Houston to Kansas City when I was barely a year old so that my parents could drive their cars and the dog. I see Grandma Dora in the unconditional, abundant love that I feel from my mother. I asked Mom about her favorite thing about her mother. She responded: “that she was always there for me.” I would say the same about Grandma and my mom.

My most vivid memories of Grandma, outside of my childhood memories of Grandma cooking in the kitchen, are of the time that I moved into Grandma’s to take care of her shortly after she was diagnosed. We had a great time playing Rummy Q, going shopping (especially grocery shopping because it reminds us of Papa), and splitting dinner when we’d go out to eat. Like Grandma, I’m opinionated about everything, I have a tendency to be a worrier, I volunteer, I am firmly rooted in my Jewish heritage and culture, and I now never go anywhere without a sweater and kleenex. I strive to have her dignity, elegance, and sophistication.

Grandma’s house symbolizes for me a place of ultimate safety and comfort. There were always cookies and candy, family, and friends of the family. There was often the tastiest and most comforting steak soup or chicken noodle soup. And while some of the comfort of that house was the big half naked man in front of the television offering half a piece of trident in exchange for an “I love you Papa,” much of the comfort of that house came from all of the hard work that Grandma did to make it a home for everyone in the family.

More than anything in the world, Grandma loved her family – her parents, her brothers and sisters, their children, Papa, her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren. Grandma tried to teach us to be there for each other, and I think that one of the greatest ways that we can honor her is to do the same. I want to thank Mom's cousin for becoming my new role model in this regard. She’s spent so much time helping out, visiting Grandma, and keeping me and other family informed of the situation. She’s also done so much for my Mom. She was with Grandma when she died. When I see mom's cousin doing so much to take care of us, I see Grandma inside of her.

We’re here today because Grandma touched us all. She will live inside of us – in our memories, in our personalities, as an inspiration, as a guiding force, and in the love that she felt for us that will never die.


Blogger Gail Rae said...

I am grinning, shaking my head. Although I'm a stranger in the strange land of your family, Karma, I feel, from your eulogy, like I know this woman. Pleasure shivers!
Can't even imagine that anyone in your family could have taken offense at this...they must not have been listening, with their ears or their hearts!
It also reminded me of my maternal grandmother (sweaters and Kleenexes, usually tucked in the sleeve of the sweater).
Know this, Karma: It is a glorious eulogy! Leave your relatives to their griping and be on your way with your grandmother in your genes, on your ears, around your neck and in your soul!

Friday, December 15, 2006 6:20:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

Thank you Gail! And yes, Grandma did always have the kleenex tucked up the sleeve of her sweaters. My cousin told my sister that he was angry that I didn't talk about my aunt taking care of Grandma. But, I didn't want to talk about Grandma as someone who needed taking care of BUT as she really was most of her life, someone who was taking care of everybody else. I know that my cousin hadn't really been listening. But it still hurts. Less though hearing your words and the words of some kind attendees.

Friday, December 15, 2006 8:52:00 PM  
Blogger Jerusalem Joe said...

what a beautiful eulogy!
and how mean-spirited to mix family politics into this!

Saturday, December 16, 2006 5:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm grinning thinking about you with your sweater stuffed with kleenex. :) I only wish I knew so many beautiful details about my grandmother. What a beautiful, meaningful eulogy. So sorry some parts of your family could not appreciate it. Hell if they have so much to say, one of them could have gotten up to add a few other words. Good for you to so clearly state how her memory will live on!! Love, S.

Monday, December 18, 2006 1:44:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

Thanks Joe and Sanchi. Despite all of these bad family dynamics, I do remember all of the beautiful things about my grandmother.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 12:04:00 PM  

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