Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dynamite Revisited

*Warning: This blog is way longer than usual, but on this day I'm pausing to remember.  There are no words to suffice, but a glimpse at her through our eyes may help.  Today I'm sharing with you the eulogy I gave at Grandma Na's funeral.  May it make you smile and get just a small picture of just how important she was.  Some of it may sound familiar, because it is pulled from a previous blog entry, but all of the grandkids/great-grandkids contributed. 

Thanks, Grandma, for all of the memories... for the foundation of love and family that you ensured we were raised on.  I can't wait for Heaven.  I know it's going to be worth it. 

"Dynamite comes in small packages has never been a more truer statement than when used to describe my Mamaw Na.  Sassy and classy, she never failed to tell you what she thought, even when you didn’t want to hear it.  However, her opinions usually came straight from love. Though not even 5 foot tall, our Mamaw made up for her stature through her larger than life personality.  I’m sure many of you have fond memories of some way which she impacted your life.  As her grandchildren, I’d like to thank that we held a special place in her heart. I think that was evident within her home. 

The day she died, Dana took Papaw Jr. to the house to pick up some clothes and stuff.  I imagine that it was hard to walk in the house, but Dana paused long enough to take a look at the fridge and snap a few pictures.  You might have seen them on facebook.  On that fridge, there are multiple pictures of her grandkids, from oldest to youngest.  She’s got notes from Glenn, Landry, Dylan, Brayton, and Caleb, all full of love… and maybe telling her how the favorite grandchild stole her apple pie. 

Look around the walls of the house and you’ll see pictures of all of us… some which we’d like to throw away, like the family portrait with my asymetrical hair.  Grandma found places for pictures of her loved ones everywhere… I think there are even a couple stuck to the mirror in the bathroom. 

Grandma’s house meant many things.  I’m pretty sure that all of us grandkids fondly remember Grandma sitting at her piano, playing hymnals.  She’d even encourage us to try our hand out at the piano, causing Pugsley to howl.  Her house was a refuge for many neighborhood kids from the time our parents were a young age.  Many a ping- pong ball was hit in her basement.  Many a basketball game played on the goal in her driveway.  I don’t know how many “cousins” I have out there who were raised in her backyard, and who felt her influence. 

Grandma’s house meant, “Don’t take your shoes off, because there’s too much dog hair on the carpet.”.  Grandma’s house meant fried bologna for her canine grandkids.  Aunt Sheila said if they were missing their dogs, she’d bet they had made their way up to grandma’s. 

Swinging back and forth on the front porch, counting the cars that went by.   Climbing the tree at the corner of the house.  One of my favorite memories is of Glenn, climbing that tree. Me and Jen couldn’t wait to go in and tell on him, because he liked to step over on the roof.  Grandma just told us there were fireants and not to worry, Five minutes later, here came Glenn, crying because he’d been ate up.  Grandma just said, “I told you girls.”  Gentry and Landry shared memories of Brayton crawling over on the roof.  It was a sad day when that tree was cut down. Homemade biscuits and gravy and pancakes in what might have seemed like a too small kitchen to some.  She always had goodies like peanut butter roll or fudge or sugar tits, which Jennifer said only her favorite grandchild got… because I don’t remember them. 

 Christmases where you just found a place to plop and hope no one stepped on you.  Christmas was always a special time at Grandma’s house.  Grandma Na loved shopping for all of the grandkids and decorating. Caleb always loved to play with  her nativity scene.  Jennifer remembered the bells that hung in her hallway.  They were electronic, would light up green and red, and played Christmas carols like Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls, and we would turn them on and drive the adults crazy.   Grandma also sprayed fake snow everywhere… on the doors, on the windows, on the nativity scene, on the Christmas tree.  Cans and cans of fake snow. 

Switches cut and threats made… more switches for us older grandkids, I think.  She used to line me, Jen, and Glenn up on the couch, and as soon as she would head into the kitchen, me and Jen would sneak out to her house leaving Glenn behind to take the blame.  I always laugh at how the younger grandkids got by with so much more.  Not saying she didn’t love us, but it was almost like she was overwhelmed in 1993.  There’s a picture of her with one of the girls on each knee in the hospital. Papaw told us that she called him a the garage and said, “Well, you’ve got another granddaughter.” A couple of hours later, she called back. “Well, it’s another granddaughter.”  He said he told her not to call back that day.  The next year, one of the walls were knocked out to make room for the three new grandbabies that had made life more interesting!

She’s leaned into grandsons taller than her… it was always a big deal to us when one grew taller than Mamaw.  We’d bend down to hug her… all of us remember those tight hugs. Allie said she’d often tell her she needed to loosen up so she could breathe.  One of my favorite pictures that I’ve seen posted in the last couple of days was from last year’s Relay.  She’s bent down, hugging Mason, who isn’t too much shorter than her. The look on  her face is priceless.. full of joy. She loved all of us, but I’m pretty sure her great-grandkids were the most special, after Landry, of course.  I’m  also willing to bet that no matter how big us grandkids got, she would still have taken  a switch or pecked our  heads if she thought  needed it.  

Picnics at Natural Bridge, and trips to Cherokee, North Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee with youth groups... lunches at Pizza Hut with the whole crew or breakfast at McDonalds. Dylan said she always got the same thing, gravy and biscuits with grape jelly, and a small coffee, which she added an ice cube or two to cool it down.  She was known for her breakfast runs to Landry, too.   While visiting the cemetery the other day , we couldn’t help but smile and think of how Grandma would be looking over the ball courts where those grandsons spent so much time, and  how it was so close to McDonalds. Grandma loved cemeteries.  She would load us all up in the van, take us to McDonalds, and then drive through the cemetery.  Sometimes we’d get out and walk to look at the graves.   Most of us have slept on her couch and drank Sprite or 7-Up when we’ve been too sick to go to school.. and sometimes when maybe we could have gone to school but just needed a little extra love.  Us girls have worn her high heels and played dress up, hiding in her closet where you could crawl between the bedrooms. Alaxandra talked about wearing her houseshoes and gowns around, and how Grandma would always let them play with her purses.  We’ve played too many games of Sorry to count, and as Al said, Grandma sure didn’t care to beat you!  Kami talked about how Grandma always had a ready supply of hairspray and bobby pins for when she needed to fix her hair before ballgames.  We were all fascinated by that hair, and us girls loved to watch her twist it up in her unique bun.   Each of her grandkids have helped eat fried apple pies, and I think we’ve all taken our turn at rolling them out, and been slightly jealous that Glenn made the best pies.  I can remember being stressed out in nursing school.  I’d call grandma up and she’d get that dough out, letting me work out my frustrations in the kitchen… about the only kitchen experience I have.  

How many prayers she's offered up. Jordan talked about how one time Grandma called him up and gave him a verse. She was good for doing that, writing them out on little slips of paper.  Jordan said she said, “I’d like to pray for you.” Jordan expected a brief prayer… but not from our Grandma.  Twenty minutes later, he hung up the phone. Her lengthy prayers are well known, which is why we would usually let someone else say grace at Thanksgiving. Al talked about staying at Grandma’s with Kami, and the bedtime prayers she would say.  Alaxandra said, “ I never remember her leaving the room.”  She’s been known to call out of the blue, like the time she called me and told me she was praying for Wallace’s self-esteem.  I think maybe she prayed a little too hard about that one! I’m sure many of you have been the recipients of her prayers. As we looked through her Bible, we found a picture of John Calipari.  I’m sure Mike Fugate was grateful for any prayers she might have sent up for Calipari and the Wildcats.  Mike Clemons probably doesn’t appreciate it, though.  There was a spelling test of Gentry’s, and a math paper of Dylan’s.  I’m convinced she had those in there because she was praying for us grandkids. There was also a note for ‘structure for Kentucky Monthly Magazine.” As many of you may know, Grandma was featured in there a few months ago for her fried apple pies.  The theme for the majority of that issue, though, was the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  Papaw Jr. told us she didn’t much care for being featured in that magazine about all that bourbon, so I guess she was praying for the readers to look past that information.  My Dad said that if there was such a thing as a Holiness Woman Magazine, Mamaw Na would have made a good cover model.  

I could go on and on, because 34 years is a long time for memories.  And I’m sure Grandma would say that would be fine, because we’ve got you in a church, which is right where you’re supposed to be.  I’ll just close with Proverbs 31:28.  “Her children arise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her.”.  King Lamuel may have said that it was hard to find a virtuous woman, but all of the Clemons Clan were more than blessed to have been raised by one."

I'll not lie and say this past year has been easy. Grief is strange... it creeps up when you least expect it... sitting in the church practicing a Christmas play or around the family table at the holidays or just driving down the road.  One thing I am sure of, though, and that I've learned even more so in the past year.. there is hope.  Christ came so we could live more abundantly... and so we can be promised a future with Him.  Through the ups and downs of life, He is here.  I'm pretty sure Grandma is up there nodding her head right now...

Love you, Na!!! Thanks doesn't say enough.  Miss you more than words can say... and I'm looking forward to one of those hugs!!!

1 comment:

  1. This post is perfect! I truly feel like I knew your grandma from reading these words. You painted the picture well, and it all sounds beautiful!