Recently, I just experienced the hardest day of my life. I said goodbye to my beloved grandmother. We laid to rest an amazing woman, one that we will miss dearly and will attempt to live up to her name the rest of our lives.
I had the opportunity to speak at her funeral, or celebration as my 5 -year old so eloquently called it, last week and wanted to share those words with you.
My Grandmother – Helen Louise Lassman McBeth
I am Helen’s oldest grandchild, daughter of Ron. But she was never Helen to me. She was simply Grandma. So that’s how I am going to refer to her today.
I feel so honored to be able to tell you more about the woman I knew as my Grandma. She was such an amazing woman. As you have heard already today, she was a Christian, a giving woman, a loving friend, and a devoted mother & grandmother. I wanted to take the time today to tell you more about her life and how she has impacted so many people along the way.
She was a Devoted Daughter
Grandma was born in1926 in Atlanta, Georgia to Oscar William & Winnie Lassman. She described her childhood years as “Happy, even though they did not have a lot, they always had love.” She was a devoted daughter & sister. She had 2 sisters, Annie & Betty and 1 brother, Oscar William Jr., or whom we fondly call: Sonny. She lost her parents early and grew up fast, helping to take care of her siblings and eventually taking in Sonny when she & Grandpa got married.
She was a Loving Wife
I used to love to ask Grandpa how he had met Grandma. He was happy to talk about her – he would tell me about that “nice tour he had in Miami Beach because he had met his Gal.” They were set up on a blind date & they went dancing at the USO club – how romantic! She said she liked him, because he was “good looking, kind, & considerate”. They were married during WWII and Grandpa had to leave to go overseas soon after the wedding – can you imagine? They were the ultimate example of what a strong and loving marriage & almost celebrated 70 years! Grandpa still had a twinkle in his eye when he talked about “mother” and I know it broke her heart to lose him 2 years ago.
She was a Cherished Mother
Grandma had 3 sons, Ron, Randy, & David and one daughter, Nancy. Her children were her everything. I loved hearing some of the memories her children have. She left lipstick kisses on the napkins in their school lunches. She was a Den mother in Cub Scouts. She would drive her youngest, David, in the car to deliver newspapers a 6 in the morning when it was raining.
She made a checkered taffeta dress when Nancy was 5. Apparently, Nancy loved that dress so much she would tease Grandma about getting rid of it. And you know what Grandma did? She sewed her another one for Christmas! Of course Nancy was an adult, but she had her taffeta dress back.
She went to work to put them all through college and was so proud of each of them when they graduated. And she was there for every special event in their lives (birthdays, graduations, weddings, children’s births, plays, soccer games) – even to this day, she would be at every event she could…..no matter how many states away you lived.
Grandma endured a hardship that no mother should have to go through when she lost her oldest son, Ron in 1988. She was heart-broken, but she had to endure and keep going for the love of her family. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for her to lose a child, yet she put her families’ pain and healing before her own.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit”
Jeremiah 17: 7-8
My mom was well rooted in faith and it showed throughout her life. She had amazingly abundant strength that sustained not only herself, but her family during her lifetime. During the tough times and the times of joy, her roots kept us firmly planted and provide a testament of her faith in God and her love for her family. As she was truly blessed, so also are we. Thank you Mom for your example of sacrifice and the never-ending love for all of us.
Your son David
She was a Beloved Grandmother
Grandma learned she was going to be a grandmother from a Mother’s Day Card in 1973. She said it was one of the happiest days of her life. And her happiness would continue to increase as other grandchildren were added to the family after me – Macy, Ryan, Colin & Spencer.
She was the kindest, most gentlest grandma you would ever meet. As a child, she spoiled me with homemade clothes for me & my dolls. She’d play endless games of solitaire with me – and always let me win. She tried to teach me how to sew, but I was hopeless. I was dead-set on making a blanket this one time and even though she knew I’d be terrible at it, said ok. So she took me to the fabric store to pick out material. She patiently taught me how to cut and pin. I mean it was a square y’all, how hard could that be? But after having to take out one too many stitches, seriously, it was bad, she quietly finished up my blanket. Then proudly told everyone what a “beautiful blanket I had made.”
My grandma was the best cook I have ever known. She cooked directly from a recipe, even if she knew it by heart. She never took short-cuts in her cooking and everything tasted exquisite. She taught me how to make her signature dish, lasagna, a dish my husband says is his favorite. I can never cook it without thinking of her.
She endured my teenage years with a firmness that was still kind. And when I lost my father, she & Grandpa were there for me. Never, ever did they lose touch. I am so blessed to have gotten to know her as an adult.
She was a Awesome Great-Grandmother
In 2001, Grandma took on a new title. Great-Grandmother. My Daughter Morganne was born and I got to see my grandmother in a different light with my own children. All together, she has 6 great-grandchildren – Morganne, Jack, Ian, Elle, Quinn, & Walker.
We all saw the joy she had holding her great-grandbabies – she spoiled them even more than she did us grandkids! She baked cookies for them, made special meals just to please my kids – she even made mint, chocolate chip ice cream for my daughter once when she found out it was her favorite. She just had a back for making everyone feel so special by her love.
We can all learn so much from this incredible woman. One of the most important things that she taught me was how to love. Every time I saw my grandma, I got a hug & kiss hello and a hug & kiss goodbye. She never, ever ended a phone call without an “I love you Becca”. She & Grandpa both told me how proud they were of me – from my grades in school, to getting married to the right guy, to a big promotion to work, to making the decision to stay home with my children, her pride never wavered.
Grandma taught me how to love.
I can’t begin to tell you how important it is to tell your kids how much you love them over and over and over. Hug them, kiss, them, & ell your kids how proud you are of them no matter how big or little the accomplishment (or lack of) is. It gives them an unbelievable sense of pride and teaches you how to look for that in others.
Two nights ago, when looking for photos of Grandma, I came across this book. Grandmother Remembers. I gave this to her over 25 years ago & I had completely forgotten about it. Yet another example of her love for me. How many of you would take the time to fill this book out? I am SO GLAD that she did. Her words practically leapt off the pages at me.
And I want to close with something she wrote:
“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be “happy”. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you have lived at all.”
Grandma made a difference in all of our lives. As a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and great grandmother, she was useful and compassionate. Her actions showed us that we mattered in her life. She gave us everything because she loved us so. And our hearts are hurting now. And we will miss her. But we have all been changed by the difference she has made in our lives.
She will live on in each of us – in her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and those to come. She left a mark on each of us that will never fade. It’s up to us to carry on this long-standing legacy of love and family. We will do it for you Grandma.