On May 15, 2008, I met my cousin Sue at LAX to fly out to MCI to see our grandmother. She had been ill, and we all had received a phone call about how her last days were very near… so that Thursday morning, we both grabbed a morning flight to Kansas to see her. It was a long day of flying, but we were excited to see her. We arrived around 7:20 pm, and as we walked out of the plane, we saw our Aunt Hannah waiting for us. Soon we saw tears in her eyes. When we came out to meet her, she informed us that she just received a phone call about our grandma’s passing 10 minutes ago. I, for one, felt numb… We flew out to see her, and she passed away 10 minutes before we landed? We waited for Aunt Janet’s plane to arrive, and we went to my grandma’s apartment. I was initially in disbelief as I had just talked to her on the phone couple days ago… why couldn’t she wait just few more hours??? That weekend, rest of the family flew in for the funeral… and I had the honor, the privilege, and the pressure of delivering the eulogy.
Today, I am reminded of that day. So I re-read my old eulogy… and thought I’d share!
As the oldest grandchild, I was given the privilege of delivering the eulogy for our beloved grandmother today. I struggled with thinking about what I should say… and I realize that the best way to remember and to share with you about her is through stories. I know that we all have so many stories to share… so I thought I’d ask my cousins their memories and thoughts of our grandmother. Few that I would love to share with you are some of the stories that we have been sharing this week. We realized that our grandmother really raised many of us. In fact, half of us lived with our grandparents at one time or another. Couple of us even slept with her every night. In fact, one of my cousins shared about how our grandma was a total security for her. And when she would get up at 5 am to go downstairs to make breakfast, my cousin Jessie would follow her down to the kitchen, and fall asleep on the cold kitchen floor next to where grandma was cooking. My cousin Jonathan talked about a time few months back where he was struggling and when he had decided to come to Kansas for a visit, he felt so comforted knowing that she would love him unconditionally and wholeheartedly. We especially remember how she was really concerned about what we were eating. Every phone conversation consisted of what we were eating, and she would get very sad if she thought we weren’t eating well. My cousin Jennifer shared how our grandma made her nang-myun even when she was ill last year because she knew how much Jen loved nang-myun. We all agree that we LOVE our grandma’s cooking. Our grandmother really became our second mom. She was also our friend in that she conversed with us about school, work, and life. She was very logical, and we could actually talk with her. She was the type of person who could admit that she was wrong and also apologize. She was really a big part of our lives… so much that she even got invited to one of our cousin Susanna’s 16th surprise birthday party thrown by her friends. She really had a lot of love to go around for all of us.
I also have many memories of my grandma. I do feel a very special bond to her not only because I’m the oldest of 12 grandchildren, but also because my grandmother was also my “mom.” After my mother passed away, she took care of me as a mom would care for her child for four years. The biggest comfort was knowing that at nights when I would miss my mom the most, I could crawl into bed with my grandma and sleep next to her. My grandmother was also my security blanket, so Jessie—you’re not the only one who had the privilege to sleeping next to her for many years.
And how could I forget her sitting next to me while I practiced piano. She wanted to make sure that I wasn’t messing around on the piano, but that I was really practicing… so she would sit on the couch next to the piano for the whole hour I practiced. And whenever I switched books and started playing something else, she would ask “is that what your teacher told you to practice?” I found it annoying at the time, but in hindsight I know that it’s because she cared so much.
I also remember my sophomore year in college, I called my grandma because it felt as if nothing in my life worked out. I was miserable, and I just needed to talk to someone who would understand and care. Without hesitation, I called my grandma and asked her “why doesn’t anything work out in my life? Why is God letting my life become such a mess?” My grandmother fell silent… and instead of lecturing to me or telling me that I’m talking non-sense, she just cried with me. That’s exactly what I needed… someone to empathize with me, and that’s exactly what she did.
Two Thanksgivings ago, I spent 5 days with her… and I vividly remember staying up with her ‘til 3 am just talking. This time, she did a lot of the talking… and talked about how she’s been learning how hard forgiveness is, and how grateful she is that God had forgiven her. She also told me how she really wanted to witness to her neighbors but how difficult it was. She told me about a young couple that had moved into her apartment complex. She really wanted to share Jesus with them… she befriended them, invited them over for nang-myun on a hot day, and eventually brought them to her church. She was deeply disappointed and saddened when they stopped coming out to her church… but later on, she found out that they were attending another church. She thought she had done something wrong and that’s why they had left to another church. I think she planted the seed and really shared the love of Jesus with them as best as she could. This story rebuked me so much because she was a witness of Jesus’ abundant love in her 80’s with limited physical mobility and I was just living my comfortable life, reading books about being a witness for Jesus. What an amazing example my grandmother was to me that night… My grandmother truly exemplified what it meant to love and follow her Savior ‘til her last days.
On Thursday night after my grandmother passed away, I lay wide-awake, and I started to journal. My final thoughts on my journal reads: “I think about my mom joined by both of my grandmothers… and how they are basking in the glory of God… they’re rejoicing, dancing, singing praises… and that brings me much comfort. It hurts that I’m here without them…. But I can smile when I think of the three women I love the best dancing in Heaven… how beautiful that must be! God’s plans are mysterious… but I trust in his perfect plans…”