Monday, May 30, 2011

A Tribute to Nona

My dear grandmother, Nona, passed away a couple of weeks ago. I had the privilege of making some remarks at her funeral, which was actually very cathartic. I always look at people who speak at the funeral of a loved one and think, How is he/she getting through that without breaking down? Well, one way I got through it was keeping it light and remembering some of the funny things. But all said and done, it actually felt good to tell everyone some things that I knew about her that perhaps they didn't. It was helpful to me to be able to show them a bit of the lady I knew as grandmother and friend.

"Lady" is the key word. She was fun, a good Christian, had a good sense of humor, and so sweet. She always made others feel at ease in her presence, no matter what. She was very generous and kind, and was always interested in other people's lives and experiences. She had a degree in social work from USC, and went right to work as a social worker out of college. After marrying my grandfather, she became a full-time housewife (and eventually, mother to 3). She spent a lot of time doing charity work, though, as I remember from my childhood.

But above all, she was always a lady. I try to be more like her, and I fall flat on my face most days. During the summer I was studying for the Bar and taking the Bar review class in Columbia, I stayed with my grandparents so I could be closer to USC and cut down my drive by at least half. In late afternoons, I would take a break from studying and sit with Nona in the library. We would have sandwiches and tea, and watch re-runs of "Murder, She Wrote" and "M.A.S.H." My grandfather would usually come in as well, and join us for a light, early dinner. Having the comfort and stability of my grandparents' support was most certainly one of the reasons I managed to pass that wretched three-day exam.

I miss her so, so much. I know I always will. But I think of my young son , my cousin's young daughter (and the new baby brother she will have in a few months), and I realize that the circle of life goes on. I have no regrets. I am thankful that I took full advantage of the 38 years I had her in my life. I have thousands of wonderful memories that warm my heart. And I have the blessed assurance of knowing that Nona is Heaven, and I will see her again.

If your grandparents are still living, I urge to take full advantage of being with them. Ask their opinion on your life decisions, or on what to wear to an event, or where to plant your roses. Ask them to tell you stories from their childhood. You'll be glad you did.

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