Saturday, August 18, 2007

Eulogy for Lula: Sunday Scribblings (Dear Diary)

Lula Woolum, my father's mother, died in November of 1991 in Spokane, Washington.

I can't remember if I volunteered or if family members asked me to give a eulogy for her. It's a blur to me.

I had taught at Whitworth College (now University) from 1982-84. I didn't own a car. I walked, biked, and bussed most of the time. I was freshly divorced in 1982 and some nights I walked from downtown Spokane to the far north end of the city, back to Whitworth, trying to sort out my thoughts. I didn't understand this divorce at all. The walks didn't help me understand, but they calmed me, probably with fatigue.

In November of 1991, knowing I had this eulogy to write, I excused myself from my family, and walked from Grandma's house, on east Bridgeport, to downtown Spokane.

I walked the route Grandma always insisted we take to go downtown from her house. She hated going downtown on Division Street, so we would turn west on Buckeye (or Indiana) and then south on Washington and go on into town.

I walked Grandma's route to shake loose memories and thoughts about her life: she listened religiously to Spokane Indian baseball games; she took a radio to bed and listened to Larry King Live; she always had recommendations for me about books she'd heard about on Larry King (and I was a dope and never took her up on her suggestions); as I walked through the neighborhood of modest brick houses on Indiana and Washington, I thought about her snowball bush and her industry in her small garden: her tomatoes, sitting on the window sill in her enclosed back porch to ripen, her green beans, which she always prepared with bacon and served with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy; I thought about her Bible, wondering what verses would be best to eulogize her; I thought about the talks we'd had about heaven and how she saw it as a place without the divisions of people like we knew here on earth; I thought about her being a Gold Star Mother and her misery, a misery she never stopped feeling, at the loss of her oldest son in WWII.

Spokane's landscape is on fire with fall colors in November. I absorbed the flashes of orange and red, maples aflame and walked through Riverfront Park, empty, except for city workers in golf carts tending to tasks to ready the park for winter.

The only way to keep my thoughts straight was to walk to Auntie's Bookstore, it its former and smaller location, and buy a dear diary, and compose the eulogy for Grandma.

My legs tingled. My lungs had expanded. My new dear diary gave me a place to expand my thoughts, to write about eternity, how in eternity no past, present, and future exists. In her death, Grandma would help us taste eternity as her love for gardening and baseball and Larry King and her saches and thoughts about heaven and great meals would live with us, even thought they seemed in the past, we would always carry them into our future.

I was right in 1992. Grandma lives. She helps us taste eternity. She is gone in body, but in my dear diary from that day and in all that we remember her for, she is alive in the present and will continue to live in our future. That's the promise of eternal time.

A dear diary also helps us taste eternity. Observations, scraps of thoughts, memories jotted down, self-examination, longings, self-recrimination, dreams, stories, starts to poems, all of these, scratched out in a dear diary, never die. Writing them sharpens their presence in our minds as we move into he future. Referring back to them brings the past into the present and moves us into the future. When we die, others will find a dear diary we kept, and we are alive again.

Thanks to the purchase of this dear diary, thanks to a long walk into my past, thanks to tasting eternity in remembering Grandma and musing on how her life would be vital to what moved us all forward, I wrote the eulogy.

It went well. In her passing from this mortal life, Grandma was alive for us in a world of time which knows no death.

Read more Dear Diary entries at Sunday Scribblings.


Rob Kistner said...

This is very touching Ray. I appreciate you sharing this post today.

paisley said...

that was beautiful.. what a glorious tribute not only to your grandmother,, but to the grand way in which you choose to remember her...

Hope said...

Now I miss my grandma too.

gautami tripathy said...

One beautiful tribute and acceptance of her death.

colleen said...

Ah! I've got last Sunday's goosebumps now. This was very richly moving and real to me. Thank you.

I answered your question on Loose Leaf.

sister AE said...

I liked how the sense of place anchored your memories of your grandmother.

I would never show anyone my journals now, but I guess I do nurse a secret hope that after I'm gone, someone will find my journals and come to know more about what made me who I was.

Shelby said...

Oh my goodness, thanks for the comment a few minutes ago.. I hadn't scrolled down yet here to see your diary post on your memories of your grandmother.

This is quite beautiful. Very moving. Wonderful words of expression. Your feelings are made understood so eloquently. I think your grandmother and mine would've like each other very much.

Robin said...

What a beautiful tribute to a woman who was obviously much loved, and what a wonderful way of sharing it.

I'll bet she was very proud of you.

Fledgling Poet said...

You've done your grandma very proud with the loving way you wrote about her...this post does make me miss my own grandmothers very much. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of moments spent with the both of them.

sundaycynce said...

Your explanation of the purpose and value of diaries was not only extraordinarily well said, but right on point!! I have never heard a better justification for why diaries have always been and have continued to live.

Your tribute to your Grandmother was indeed eloquent, as, I feel sure, was your eulogy for her.

Herb Urban said...

A very moving tribute to your grandmother. I enjoyed your very descriptive accounts of Spokane, a city I still getting to know a little more with each passing day.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Maybe that's where the phrase "a walk down memory lane" came from. I, too like to visit the place where my Dad's parents lived and are interred. It helps me to feel the connection I felt when they were a living part of my life. Now they are still a part of my life. . .the humor, the love of puzzles and card games, the kindness toward others, and more. Someday, I want to be the kind of grandparent that they were to me, and I hope to pass that desire on to future generations.