What I Should Have Said at My Grandmother's Funeral

Cora Spence Carrick, 1938

Cora Spence Carrick, 1938

I had the honor of eulogizing my grandmommy last week. She was an amazing woman. Trying to sum up her incredibly full 97 years in a five minute speech was a little daunting.

I told stories about her courage, her legendary frugality, and especially about her love for life. I talked about how important she was to me and how treasured her memory is to so many people.

I feel good about her eulogy, and I'm sure she would have liked it. Of course, there were a handful of stories I've remembered since and wish I'd included, but I believe I served her memory well.

Then I realized I missed the most important part.

My grandmommy was born into wealth and privilege in the Jim Crow south, grew up in a town where her family was well-known, and was given an Ivy League education. Yet, my grandmommy was the most down-to-earth person I've ever known.

She didn't care what you looked like, sounded like, or did for a living. In fact, she generally respected you more if you had some dirt under your fingernails. She didn't judge you by what color you were or where you came from. She judged you by how hard you worked and how well you treated others. You got bonus points if you had a good dog.

She never told me any of this. She taught it to me by living it. Every day.

It's the most important lesson I learned from her. It's the most important lesson I need to teach my kids. I'll be sure they know who I learned it from.