Georgie Mae Young
February 29, 1940 – October 8, 2007
Tuesday, I and my siblings laid Mom to rest at Riverside National Cemetery. Mom was a lovely woman, inside and out. Like everyone else she had her good and bad days when the irritations of daily life rubbed her patience thin. She had an honest heart and a clean spirit. She was vibrant, straightforward, good-humored, and undeceiving. She took great care of us in life, and even in death, she still managed to take care of us.
A couple years ago she planned her funeral–even though she had no idea what would happen. She choose her coffin, decided she wanted red and white flowers (we chose a floral piece of red and white roses, lilies, and ivy); she included a limo for the family, and even wrote out the menu for the meal afterward–spaghetti, sweet cornbread, green salad, and a sheet cake. She left me in charge of carrying out her wishes; I gotta say the details of arranging a funeral are mind-boggling, but we gave Mom the dignified funeral she wanted.
I asked my niece to write her memories of her grandmother to present at Mom’s funeral, and below is what she wrote. She captured Mom’s essence.
Whitney’s Eulogy to her Grandmother
When I think about my grandmother, it’s hard not to think about the sick person that she was for the past few months. Seeing her that ill was upsetting and unsettling, not just because I loved her and cared about her and didn’t want to see her sick; more so, because of the vibrant and healthy person that she normally was.
The grandmother that I remember got up and made her bed every morning. She drank her coffee, or sometimes heated up water but left it in the microwave and forgot to make coffee. And she took her blood pressure medication, or sometimes took the bottle out and left it on top of the microwave and forgot to take her blood pressure medication. She would start soaking beans or chopping vegetables for that night’s dinner at 8 o’clock in the morning, after making breakfast, and getting my sister off to school. Sometimes, she would clear off the kitchen counter, or go online and work on her Internet business, or call friends and family to see how they were doing. She cleaned, and cooked, and fed, and washed, and talked everyday, from 6am to 10pm.
The grandmother I remember rode the bus with me everywhere- to the Tyler mall, before it became the Galleria, to the grocery store for Stater Brother’s sandwiches, to the movies, and the library, and Brockton arcade, and the dentist’s office, and finally back home. She walked me to school, even when I didn’t want her to, and brushed my hair in the mornings.
The grandmother I remember loved to laugh, loud, throaty, contagious laughs; and sneeze loud, contagious sneezes that could be heard throughout the entire house and scare you if you weren’t expecting them. If she saw you in a store she would stop you and say hi and talk to you about the past five years of her life, or what she’s done since the last time she saw you, whichever period of time was longer. She would listen to gospel songs every Sunday because her church was in her heart, she would say.
The grandmother I remember cooked pecan candies, and Cornish hens, and jambalaya, and gumbo, and cornbread, and potato salad, and stewed osh potatoes, and oyster dressing, and greens, and she could do it all from scratch if she wanted to.
She wore fuchsia lipstick, and costume jewelry, and velvet boots or heels, and shirts with crazy prints. Not hospital gowns or sick pajamas. I don’t remember seeing her cry, ever. So that’s why it was so surprising and upsetting to see a sick person where my grandmother once was. It was hard to think about all the things she wouldn’t get to do and even harder to accept the fact that she could never go back to the grandmother I used to ride the bus with.
However, I realize now that in my memories of my grandmother, she will always wear fuchsia lipstick, and cook stewed osh potatoes, make her bed in the mornings, ride the bus with me, and pursue her dreams- because all these things about her are a part of my life experience. The things that she taught me: how to work hard, care for your family, how to be selfless, and not to be afraid of failure or success, or even to be myself- will live on in me. She showed her love by sharing her life and I’m grateful that I got to share mine with her.
Thank you, Whitney. I’m going to miss Mom greatly. She was the rock of the family. I know she’s gone, but a part of me still doesn’t believe it. I’m going to look for her in my dreams.
On behalf of my family, thank you all for your kind notes and condolences. Your thoughtfulness softened the sharp edges of Mom’s passing.