Today would’ve been my Grandma’s 90th birthday. As much as I miss her, I’m glad she’s at peace today instead of suffering any longer. In honor of her birthday, I thought I’d share the eulogy I wrote for her funeral. She was an amazing woman and I miss her dearly; she will keep us laughing long after she is gone.
September 16, 1923 – September 1, 2013
|Grandma’s Christmas card 2005
(with her dog Dallas)
|Vickery family 2010|
She took us to Vegas when we were 21 and my sister fondly remembers my Grandma arriving at the hotel in Vegas, opening up her purse, digging out two mini bottles of vodka, pouring them in a glass, adding one ice cube, stirring it with her finger, and saying, “Wow, was that a long flight.” The woman hit the ground running.
|Her GIANT tin of popcorn she insisted
on buying, Christmas 2012
But no matter where she had traveled, one of the first things she would tell us after her return, was about the food. I’m pretty convinced the reason she enjoyed cruises so much was because of all the buffets. The first time I ever went out of the country was on a cruise with her and my sister when I was 13 years old. I really had no idea what to expect on a cruise – but I knew one thing, there would be a midnight buffet! Wow had she talked up that midnight buffet!
Yup, she wants your biscuits, and salad, and baked potato, and shrimp scampi, and crab legs, and popcorn shrimp, and butterfly shrimp, and shrimp linguine, and broccoli, oh and a couple lobster tails thrown in there too. No she’s not going to take but a bite of each because she long ago filled up on your biscuits and salad, but by golly you better bring it all to her and it better be fresh cuz you know she’ll complain and send it back if it’s not. Oh, and don’t forget the lobster bib. Oh, and her hands are weak so do you mind cracking those crab claws for her, and bring us a tiny fork and help her get the lobster meat out of the tail. While you’re at it, just bring us a doggy bag (she always called it a doggy bag and frequently did share with the dog). Oh, and I know we have this giant plate of barely touched food sitting here in front of us, but go ahead and bring us a fresh basket of those garlic cheddar biscuits while you’re at it. Why you might ask? Well, Grandma liked to order a fresh basket, which she’d wrap up in those thin paper napkins which would absorb all that butter and fat, no matter, she’d take them home with her. The next morning, yes morning, she’d pop those bad boys into her toaster oven (one of her absolute favorite kitchen appliances), she’d toast them up nice and warm and then, to top it all off, she’d spread grape jelly all over them. To this day I’ve never tried it, but she assures me it was delicious – day old garlic butter cheddar grape biscuits…well ok then.
|Celebrating 4th of July 2012|
I could go on and on about memories of my Grandma involving food, the time she smoked ribs with the old oak tree from her yard and our whole fridge smelled like a forest for a week, her famous potato soup and cinnamon rolls, how she used to make French Toast for Jen and me when we’d spend the night at her house, how she would make us popcorn and let us drink sparkling grape juice on New Year’s Eve when my parents would go out, and she was the only one who would ever take us out for fast food (such deprived children) and we’d choose the restaurant based on the latest toy that came with the meal. And she always, always, had her candy jar sitting on the living room table filled with stale gumdrops and seasonal chocolates. She wrote me a lot of letters throughout my life and she would often send me recipes cut out from the Sunday paper. When I was living in Belgium in 2004 and didn’t have an oven, she even mailed me a microwave cookbook circa 1983. My Grandma loved food; she loved to cook for her family. One of the hardest parts of moving her out of her home was that she no longer got to cook, but her recipes and her love of food has lived on through her family; we even ate potato soup last Christmas Eve in her honor.
She’d call our house and leave a voicemail, “Debbie, are you there? Debbie if you’re there pick up.” Never mind we’d explained the concept for voicemail to her for years.
Or she’d forget that she was leaving a message and not actually talking to you.
“So will you be coming home for OU/TX weekend this year? *pause* Sweetheart? *pause* Oh that’s right,” and then she’d just keep on going until the system finally just cut her off (and God only knows how long she’d keep talking ‘til she realized it had ended).
I remember driving around in her white Oldsmobile with the tan cloth top, which Jen and I lovingly dubbed the Grannymobile. For some inexplicable reason, she didn’t like us to roll down the windows. We’d be back there and hear, “Oh excuse me, I had a blowout” and I tell ya we’d need to roll down those windows. Just as she inexplicably refused to let us roll them down, we seemed to inexplicably break out into song in the backseat. As we belted out some silly Sunday School song , we’d secretly roll those windows down. Our singing drowned out the sound of the window going down, until we broke out laughing so hard she’d look back to see what we were doing and she’d holler, “Girls, roll those windows back up.”
Grandma, I’d like a pair of boots.
Huh, you need a new suit?
No, boots, like what you wear on your feet.
Yes, I heard you, a new suit, is this for work?
No Grandma, boots!
Spell it for me.
P-O-O-D-S, I don’t know what you’re saying.
Boots, you know, like cowboys wear.
You mean a holster, well what do you need a holster for? Is this Jennifer, I thought this was Jacqueline, do you need a holster for work? I don’t know where to even get that.
|Meeting her great-granddaughter
for the first time – Dec. 2012
I gave up at this point. No matter anyway, we’d all get some crazy presents from her regardless. While she did always, always, make sure we got what we wanted, it was always accompanied by some strange gifts we just couldn’t explain. There was the year we all got Swarovski crystal…everything. It was strange, but also thoughtful. She gave me a rabbit because I was going through my bunny phase. She gave us all electric griddles, 4 of them, one for everyone. We all knew if one person opened a strange gift, there were 3 more sitting under the tree, one for each of us. There were the as-see-on-TV egg cookers, the one touch can openers that never worked, the key chains from every city she had visited that year, the multiple pairs of earmuffs for everyone, the tripod flashlights that I admit I still use. My first year at OU she gave me about 10 ponchos, you know, in case it rained at the football games.
|Easter 1987 (?)|
Well, Jen and I go running out there to help her bring in Christmas presents, and there would be bags and bags of them. Of course, like all kids, we’d check the names on the packages as we put them under the tree. To Debbie and Mike (she was the only one who called either of them that), we’d toss it under without much thought. But if it said to Jacqueline or Jennifer or to the Girls, we’d get excited, shake it, feel it, try to guess what could be inside. Well, for some reason, this absolutely drove Grandma crazy. She didn’t want us reading the tags, she didn’t want us feeling the gift, shaking it, trying to guess what it could be.
Well, as you can well imagine, Grandma had a way of getting things mixed up and confused even on a good day. So, come Christmas morning my Dad, who played the role of Santa in our family, would pick up a package, read the tag,
“To #39” and my Grandma, wearing her sweat suit with P’Triece’s face on it, would put on her glasses and begin to decipher the secret code from her list.
What, to # who?
Ok, um let me see here…no, I don’t think there’s a 39, are you sure that’s what it says?
Well yes, I think so.
Let me see that. Ok yea, that’s 39 well hmmmmm.
Meanwhile, Jen and I can barely stand the anticipation. I mean it’s Christmas morning, we finally get to open presents, and we can’t even figure out who they belong to.
Oh here I see, I can’t read my own handwriting, I thought it was 59 on my list, but yes, that must be 39. Yes, that’s to Jacqueline.
I excitedly open the paper with anticipation, only to unveil a package of white tube socks for my Dad.
And on and on it went the rest of the day. Mom opening Disney movies, Dad opening cooking utensils, Jen opening dog toys, I’m not sure any of us actually opened any of our own gifts that year. Needless to say, she never labeled our gifts with numbers again.
|At our wedding, June 8, 2013|
She was in physical rehab the summer Josh and I started dating. I remember telling her I was dating someone new and I really liked him. I brought a picture of us to show her and told her his name was Josh. Her first response was, “Well, this isn’t the same Josh as your sister is it?” I’m so, so grateful she made it to our wedding this summer.