FUNERAL SPEECH

I had the greatest honor of speaking at my grandma’s funeral. I was so worried leading up to it, I thought I was going to throw up or faint or just be too distraught to even get through it. But by some miracle (or the strength of my grammy), I made it through my speech.

I wanted to share her obituary, and the also what I had said to at her funeral.



OBITUARY


Ethel Maude Bowling, age 88, of Pickerington, Ohio died on October 2, 2014. She was born on June 30, 1926, to the late Lonnie and Maude Price in Beckley, West Virginia. She worked as an Executive Department Supervisor for Lazarus and as a Real Estate Agent for Spooner-Kocher. Ethel was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary VFW. She loved to travel, complete crossword puzzles, read, and most of all, spend time with her family. 

In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her first husband, Floyd Jones; second husband, Bernard Bowling; third husband, Norman Boling; six brothers and four sisters. She is survived by three children, Linda (Jim) Jarzabek, Tom (Sue) Jones, and Karen Mills; step-son, Richard (Aleta) Bowling; nine grandchildren, Michele (Joe) LaVilla, Amy Vollkommer, Justin (Elizabeth) Rohm, Jennifer Danforth, Megan Bennett, Brandon Mills, Erika (Camden) Meyer, Robb (Shannon) Bowling and Jaime (Josh) Patterson; nine great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. 

Friends and family may visit the Dwayne R. Spence Funeral Home, on Monday, October 6, from 5PM - 8PM. A funeral service officiated by Gary Rohm will be held at the funeral home on Tuesday, October 7 at 10AM. Burial will follow at Glen Rest Memorial Estate.




SPEECH

My grandma was my best friend. She was my hero. She taught me how to write my name and how to tie my shoes. She babied me, even after I grew up...but at the same time always pushed me just past my comfort zone. She is the strongest woman I have ever met in my life. And if you ever got a chance to hear her life story, then you know what I'm talking about. It’s like she’s lived a million lives in her 88 years.

Growing up, I never realized just how dear my grandma was. I know I am speaking for others as well when I say that there was something truly unique about Ethel Maude Bowling. I have always tried to live my life in a way that would make her proud. All of the lessons she’s taught me, from how to remain strong when you are weak, to always keeping your elbows clean, are things that I have carried and will carry with me for the rest of my life.

My favorite memories of my grandma almost entirely involve all of the times that I spent the night with her. I wasn’t one of those kids that grew out of spending the night at my grandma’s house…I did it all the way up until she had her stroke when she was 84, and I was 20. The times when we’d stay up in bed all night, her telling me bedtime stories that she’d always change the words to and we’d laugh until we cry but never actually finish the story. The times when we played never ending card games and winding up having to quit because no one was ever actually winning. The time when I got my wisdom teeth out, and she made me - not asked me - to stay with her for a few nights so she could take care of me…

She always knew how to make the perfect sandwich. She taught me the words to the song, “The Mockingbird Trill,” so I could sing it and annoy my brother until he’d run out of the room. When I'd be at home and sick, we’d spend all day watching The Price Is Right and, even when I wasn’t sick, she’d always know how to rub my back just right. It didn’t matter what we were doing, from our Wednesday night pizza dinners her, my mom, and I would have together almost every single week when I was in college…to the phone calls, we’d share when there wasn’t anyone else in the world I wanted to talk to but her. No one else in the world could solve my problems the same way she could.

I just simply loved and adored her.



I can remember when I was younger and she’d go to Florida for the winters, and I would cry and cry and cry my eyes out thinking I'd never see her again. I couldn’t imagine living a life where I didn’t have my grandma. I was already at the great disadvantage of not having been able to know my grandfather, who passed away before I was born. My grandma was my whole world. She was the one absolute constant thing when everything else felt like it was spinning out of control. She was one of the only people in my whole life who always loved me without ever hurting me, and who always held me tight without ever letting me down.

When my grandma had her life-altering stroke a few years ago, I made it my goal to reach out to as many family members as possible to compile a book that contained everyone's best memories with her. It was something I felt had to be done. I never wanted my grandma to ever question or wonder the amount of love that her family had for her. She was the head of our family. She is what brought us, and kept us, together. And the love she had for me, and the rest of her family, always endured...even after the time I asked her if she was old enough to have ridden dinosaurs to school.

She told me yes, in case you’re wondering.

She loved her family fiercely, and I believe it was her greatest pride in life. And she enjoyed watching her family grow. She never once questioned my husband and me, when we first started dating as teenagers, that we wouldn’t wind up getting married when we grew up. She loved him the second she met him, and that meant the world to me. It breaks my heart that she’ll never know the children we will have someday, but I like to believe she will be holding them in Heaven before they are given to us here on earth. The great-grandchildren she did get to know on earth are so so so lucky. I hope they will someday understand that.

There were two promises in my lifetime that my grandma and I had made to each other. Her's was that she would see me on my wedding day, and mine was that I would build her a pink castle. She was able to uphold her end. Although the stroke was ultimately detrimental to her life, and she wasn’t able to be at the church while we said our vows, we had amazing people with us on our wedding day a little more than a year ago that made sure we were able to be with her. She promised she’d see me in my wedding dress and she did. I couldn’t be more grateful for the blessing that we are left with from that moment. Or the pictures we have from it too. 

I, unfortunately, have yet to be able to uphold my end. But I promise, someday, I will build her that pink castle. 

My most cherished moment with my grandma was when I turned 16 years old and when my life couldn’t have felt any more insane and confusing. She came over to my house with a present for me. I had no idea what it was because I hadn’t asked for anything in particular. But I had grown up being in love with this music box she always had sitting on her dresser that played the tune “Unchained Melody.” She knew I had my eye on it but I never knew if I would actually wind up with it. On my 16th birthday, she gave me that music box. She said she wanted to give it to me while she was still here so that she’d be able to see my reaction. I broke down in tears, and so did she. To this day, I cannot hear the song “Unchained Melody” without absolutely crying my heart out. It is the greatest part of my grandma that I will ever own.

I have always imagined my Grandpa Bowling as my guardian angel. On October 2nd, at 4:32 in the afternoon, I gained another one in my Grandma Bowling. There is so much more left that I want to say about her. So many memories I want to the whole wide world to hear. But I could talk for years about her and would still never be able to fully capture or explain the magic that was my grandma, Ethel Maude Bowling. She was a shooting star, shining so brightly in the sky, in a moment that seemed to last forever…and then, just as quickly, she was gone.

But she will never, ever be forgotten.


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