15 September, 2010

Eulogy for Bev...

My grandmother passed away Monday afternoon. She was a very wonderful woman. 

Bev was my step-grandma. My first - Marion - died of Alzeimer's when I was twelve. It was hard to watch her slowly deteriorate. How do you watch someone who is vibrant, intelligent, loving, giving, a wonderful servant, who would go on adventures with me and encouraged me completely when I was a little kid, slowly become someone who doesn't know who her husband of fifty years (much less who she was) pass away with the light that marked her gone and replaced with a dull stare? It was painful. 

Bev was, in a lot of ways, the opposite of Marion. Where Marion was quiet and more appeasing to my grandfather's tangents and moments of small indulgence (and entire stick of butter at dinner, sticking his finger in someone else's food because he could!), Bev would call him out. And my grandfather provoked her. It was never hard for me for my grandfather to remarry - he deserved to be happy! He and Bev got ten years together - ten years of joy, love, laughter (they laughed all the time), someone to playfully agitate and care for/about. They would sing hymns together and quote scripture - one would start, the other would finish.

It broke my heart when they had to move back to CA so Bev could live without a breathing tube. She was a classic lady - always put together, who moved with dignity, and strived to make me more confident in who I am - this amazing person she always saw and I could never quite believe in. 

I think what I miss is the things Bev won't be there for - I really wanted her to help me plan my wedding, I wanted to take her a pre-copy of my first book... She called me every Sunday night was I in DC. Like clockwork. It would be a fifteen minute phone call, we would run through the aspects of my life, my family, her and my grandpa, and she would hang up.

She was direct, fiery, sassy, classic, elegant, fun, easy going, loving, giving... I think I saw a lot of me in Bev. I can see her as a spunky, no nonsense girl at Wheaton in the mid-40's, not accepting gender lines or being told what to do. She could come off brisk, and over-opinionated - but it always came from a heart of love. She didn't mince words. I can't tell you the number of times I was in CA and would pull my hair back only to be told it looked better down. Or that I shouldn't slouch in pictures, or one time my grandpa took some photos of me in a dress they bought me for Easter - and a week later I got copies of the pictures, along with a post-it on the back of each explaining what I could have done better. I laughed so hard when I got that! It all came from a heart of love.

Maybe because I see myself in her is why we got along. When nothing in my family made sense I could go to Bev. She was in a lot of ways a healer to me for things that happened right after she came into our family. I saw my grandpa change for the better the ten years they were together. Almost any long weekend I could take from DC I went to CA to sit in their backyard and be with them. 

I loved Bev and while we knew this was coming, while we were told in January the tumor in her brain would probably take her by Christmas, it's still hard. It was hard to listen to her deteriorate, to go from being so self-sufficent and active and feisty at 86, to unable to do anything for herself, and slurring her words, and knowing she slept almost all the time. But she is home now. Home and whole. Someday I will sit with her - and Grandma Marion, and Jean - and that is something I cling to. That and the legacy all three of those women left in my life, and how I can ensure my nieces understand the amazing women who went before them.

I leave you with the words of my grandfather

"Pour out your heart before Him;
 God is a refuge for us."  SELAH!  Psalm 62:8
With the Home-going of my beloved wife, Bev (87), this past Monday, the verse for today is very real to me! I have, in the tough days just ahead, two options: 

ONE---Underneath the glitzy casinos of  LasVegas is a 200 mile refuge (underground storm system) for about 300 men that have found a haven in the labyrinth of concrete tunnels. Men in despair call these subways - home!
TWO---The Hiding Place where Corrie ten Boom's family secreted Jews from the Nazis during WWII. A place of Christian love, security and hospitality by the Dutch underground. Psalm 119:114. "Thou art my hiding place."   

          #1 and #2 are both underground. One negative and the other positive.
During the last few days, I have searched the Word of God and found over 90 references about the Biblical "refuge". Listen to some of the situations listed:
       Death, affliction, ashamed, distress, storms, wind, disaster, enemies.
How the Lord has settled my heart from the Psalm 91:1, 2  as I see Him as my hiding place, a safe place, a resting place. Not a physical PLACE, but a PERSON!
                  "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High(El-yon)                   will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.(Shaddai)                   I will say of the Lord,(Jehovah) "HE is my refuge and
                   fortress, my God,(Elohim) in Whom I trust."

Notice the four beautiful names for God. Then, notice with me the three things that are to be my response: DWELL---REST---TRUST.                Calm down emotionally. I Peter 5:7.
                Slow down physically. Matthew 6:33.
                Settle down mentally. Isaiah 26:3.
  *  The Hebrew word for 'Shelter" means a place to hide for STRENGTH.  *  The Hebrew word for "refuge" means a place of safety for REST.  *  The Hebrew word for "fortress" means a place of security for PEACE. 
May I be found "hiding in Thee" and not under the "Las Vegas Strip" of the flesh.

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© Amanda Lunday