Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Grandma Eula Belle

I lost my grandmother this week. To say that the week's been difficult would be a major understatement.

She was an incredible lady, and a major influence on my life. My mom asked me to give her eulogy. It was about the hardest thing I've ever done...but Belle was worth it!

I share my words here in hopes that it can give you a snapshot of my grandmother, Eula Belle Faulkner Caudle.

This is a season of Thanksgiving, and I speak for our whole family when I say that we are most thankful to all of you for your kindness and support at this time. We appreciate the cards, the calls, the visits, the food, and most of all the prayers that you all have raised on our behalf as Belle passed from this world to her Eternal Life with the Lord. You’ve helped, more than you know. And I want to take a moment right now to especially give thanks to Betty Stegall and Judy Evans. You ladies made it possible for Belle to stay at her own home, eat at her own table, and sleep in her own bed right up to her last week. I don’t know where you two keep your wings and halo, but I am absolutely SURE you are angels on this earth. And your crowns are going be too heavy for your head when you get to heaven!.

I miss my grandmother. I’m not happy she’s gone, but I am overjoyed she no longer suffers. Can you imagine the reunion in heaven? Pop, Buck, her sisters and brothers, her friends? All talking at once! No…I don’t think Pop would be talking. He’d just be standing beside her, one arm draped around her shoulders, beaming that smile of his.

I am 52 years old, and this is the first time in my life I’ve had to face this world without a grandparent. That in and of itself is pretty amazing, And Belle – she was amazing!

My favorite bible verses have always been 1 Thess. 5: 16-18. My translation is “Always be joyful, keep on praying, and give thanks for EVERYTHING, for this is God’s will in Christ Jesus for you.” I realized just this morning that those verses pretty much describe Belle. She was always joyful and smiling. She prayed for her family, her church, and her community, and she was thankful for everything. She didn’t complain or grumble when things didn’t go her way. She enjoyed life, and thanked God for every single blessing, every single day.

I grew up in the house next door to Pop &Belle. Some of my earliest memories involve walking through the pasture to their place. Becky & I thought we were all grown up when we made the trip by ourselves! And if it started to snow –I’d be out the door like a shot, Becky in tow, just knowing Belle would be outside waiting for us to come play! When I grew up, and was ready to move out and start a family, I moved all the way across that pasture, to the house on the OTHER side of Belle!

I’m thankful for all I’ve learned from my family. Some of those lessons came from Belle. She taught Sunday School in the Children’s Department for many years, and was a retired teacher’s aide with the school system; education was important to her.

Belle definitely did not eat the bread of idleness. One of the things I learned from Belle is to stay active! She was always busy doing something for someone. I can remember walking into her kitchen many times, and she’d have spent all day making peanut brittle. Now she grew the peanuts on the farm, shelled them when they were ready, parched them in the oven, and THEN made the world’s BEST peanut brittle! She’d have tin pie pans scattered on every available surface in the kitchen, and she’d pour that hot candy into those pans to cool. Becky & I’d help her wrap the hardened patties in foil and then she’d proceed to give most of it away to folks! She’d do the same thing with sweet potato pies, or chicken salad, or fruitcakes – she was a great cook – but her generosity was greater.

I continued to learn as did Belle. When I was a child, I remember sitting in her lap as she read to me about Ebeneezer Scrooge, and Big Road Walker. She’d read, and let me turn the pages. Her house is full of books and magazines.

As an adult, she and her sister Georgia took up painting. She loved going to the art classes, and there were always a work in progress around her house. Now many of those finished pieces hang on the walls of our homes, very much cherished. Even when she became unable to cook or paint any more, up until the very last week of her life, she continued to read her Charlotte Observer every single day and learn.

She taught me to not to take myself so seriously. Now there were things she was serious about, for sure. She was serious about sharing her gifts and talents with others, serious about living as a good example for my mom & uncle, then her grandchildren and later her great-grandchildren, and serious about enjoying life. But she had little use for “drama.” I remember her talking about her childhood, and how difficult it was for Grandma Emma to survive with 7 kids after Grandpa George was killed. She’d say, “I guess we were poor, but we didn’t KNOW we were, so it didn’t matter!” In other words, don’t dwell on the misfortunes of life. She taught us to look at life’s curveballs with scrutiny. If there was something positive we could do to change the situation, then we should do it. If not, then learn to be positive ABOUT the situation. Put a smile on your face and become part of the solution by adapting your own perceptions.

She taught me how to grow old gracefully, and with humor. I hope when I’m 95, I’m just like her! (Look out, yall!)

She always said she wanted it to snow at her funeral. I think she envisioned a few flakes swirling softly to the ground as all her loved ones walked away. Kitty and I were remembering when she told Aunt Georgia about her wish for a snowy funeral.
Aunt Georgia said, “But I don’t have a coat.”
Belle popped back, “Oh you can have mine. I wont be needing it!”
Then – in typical Faulkner fashion, Georgia says, “But what if it’s in JULY?” I’m here to tell you – with this family, you’d better learn to be quick-witted. You’re kept on your toes!

When I think of my grandma Eula Belle, I recall more smiles than tears, more adventure than fears, and way more optimism than negativity. I think about sharing ice cream, riding to the beach in the big car with the windows rolled down, trying to tie bows like her for Christmas, Luzier face cream. I think of sitting with her at church and she’d touch my knee when I was squirming too much. I think I was 37 at the time.
I remember climbing in her lap as a kid to ask if I could spend the night at her house. She always said yes! And the very last night she spent at her house, I was honored to be spending the night with her again. I wish I could ask her for one more night.
I think of sand in my shoes, looking for sharks teeth while we walked to the pier, picking blackberries in the woods, and eating warm sweet potato pie. I think of Russell Stover chocolate, silk flowers arranged in ceramic containers, hunting for ferns down on Swan’s Branch, and stomping in mud puddles wearing my little red boots.

When I think of my grandma, there are thousands of things that flood my mind. But mostly…. I remember laughter and love.

I love you and I miss you, Belle. Our world is just a little colder, just a little darker than it was just a few days ago. Your life made a big difference for all of us.

Love & blessings to you all.
And if you still have a grandma or grandpa living (or a mom or dad) ....give them a big hug and tell them that you love them.

Anita <><

1 comment:

Basement Stamper said...

Anita: I'm sorry to hear of your loss and this is something that I can say I know how you feel. Spending Thanksgiving Day with my Grandma in the nursing home and watching her glow was glorious. She was so happy and in such a good mood and I'm happy the kids saw her that way and she saw them. My thoughts are with you!