Friends and family of Harriet Ann Hyde (aka Granny Annie) gathered today to celebrate her life.  To remember her fun-loving spirit and to comfort each other as we grieve. I read this letter to Granny at the service and I’d love to share it with you. She was quite the character and I’m so fortunate to have had her in my life.

Dear Granny,

You told me years ago that you wanted me to speak at your funeral. Way before you started telling me that you weren’t “long for this world”, you unofficially appointed me to be in charge of your eulogy. You joked that your girls probably wouldn’t have anything nice to say about you. I tried to convince you otherwise but, as with any time you made your mind up, I couldn’t. It is my honor to be able to share a snapshot of who you were and what you mean to me.

I remember the first day I met you.  I was on the 8th grade cheer team with Kris and she hosted a practice for the squad.  We started out at on the lawn of the church across the street. After we practiced for a while, we went to the house, came through the back door and I stepped into the carpeted dining room while Kris was introducing us all to you.  I will never forget that moment. I will never forget your first words to me. You said ‘Girl. I will beat you like a red-headed step-child if you don’t get those shoes off my carpet right now’. I was terrified.  I wanted to go home.  I had no idea what was happening and wasn’t sure if you were serious or joking. At my house we wore our shoes inside and never really HAD to take them off inside, unless they were muddy or wet.  But apparently that was the rule in your house and you were pretty serious about it.

It would be several years later by the time I really got to know you.  Kris and I moved in together the summer after Freshman year of college and you became a regular part of my life. You were always so much fun…always the life of the party. Your quick wit…your spunk….and your sass. All of Kris’s friends loved being around you…and Kim’s too, I’m sure. You had just become a grandma and were loving the time with Lacey and your new name, ‘Granny Annie’….which my kids would eventually come  to know you as, a few years later.

Kris and I lived at several different places over the next few years, and we eventually landed at your house. It took a bit of time to adjust to living with you. There were more rules in your house than I had had growing up, or certainly ever had living with Krissie Jo.  You liked things neat and tidy at your house…super neat and super tidy. And once I figured that out, we actually had a lot of fun under that roof. And you became a mom to me…we became family.

I’m grateful for the many great memories I have of that time in my life. Memories~~like a pile of unorganized pictures within my heart. Snapshots and snippets…..we all have those of each other. Snapshots that offer a glimpse of what it was like to know you:

One of those snapshots shows a hard-working single mom… of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. Often working multiple jobs, physical jobs, to make sure the bills were paid and that your family had everything they needed and even wanted. Kris says she didn’t even know you were poor until she got to jr. high school. Paying your bills and keeping your high credit score was always important to you. It said to the world that you could be trusted…that you would pay your debts and fulfill your obligations. It said to the world that you knew how to take care of business. I took that with me into my own life and I carry that snapshot of you with me still today.

One of those snapshots shows an amazing cook and baker. You were someone who only believed in cooking from scratch and you loved to feed people. You taught me how to make chicken and noodles, apple pie, green beans and new potatoes (when I had never even heard of jowl bacon before). You taught me how to make deviled eggs (with just a BAM of sugar), potato salad, and biscuits and gravy (Bs&Gs). Your Bs&Gs were the best. You used a lot of pepper in your Bs&Gs and my kids actually refused to eat them…..not because they didn’t like pepper, though. They were convinced there were cigarette ashes in your Bs&Gs. More for the rest of us! I carry your love of cooking real food with me…and finding pleasure in feeding my ‘loved ones’. When I make your dishes for the holidays, everyone gets to enjoy a little piece of you.

Another snapshot…..maybe this one is actually several…..shows someone who loved to have fun, wherever you were.  You had fun at work, at home doing chores, or hanging out with friends and family. A snapshot of our fishing ‘tournaments’ where we bet a dollar to see who would catch the most fish….when you made homemade catfish stink bait that was apparently even too stinky for the fish! A snapshot of playing cards, when you’d lick the back of your Ace-in-the-hole, your right bower, and stick it to your forehead, right after you had warned us that it was ‘roaches last meal’…the way you would encourage your partner to call trump by saying ‘hey, Columbus took a chance’. Snapshots of birthday parties, weddings….trips to various taverns around town. Our trip to Vegas…where you had “saved your lunch money” for months so you could lose it all (and maybe even some more) in just a few days.  You had the time of your life and no regrets as you came home with empty pockets.

Mooning people was a favorite pastime for you…even teaching your granddaughter to ‘moom’ people. The students at ISU even got to see your moon from time to time (your boss had to explain why that wasn’t appropriate in that setting).

There were times when you drank too much and that wasn’t always fun for the rest of us. We would call you “Pete and Repeat” when you had too much and would tell us the same stories over and over. I remember the ketchup fight….that lead to the bleach fight…how one of us didn’t end up blind that day, I have no idea. I remember the time you dropped the cherry from your cigarette into your purse and started to yell ‘fire in the hole….fire in the hole”. I learned that drinking Regular Coke (not Diet Coke, not Sprite, not Root Beer) was the best defense against a hangover.

As you got older and less mobile, you found your enjoyment watching fishing shows and westerns on TV, speculating who would win the Voice this season, working puzzles for hours on end, and most recently, playing games on your 2 tablets….one always charging and at the ready for when the other one ran out of juice. I learned that through it all, that regardless of what’s going on, we can have a lot of fun in this life….and I take that snapshot with me.

Another snapshot shows a strong woman; a woman made out of steel. A woman who didn’t take sh*t from anybody (pardon my French). You wouldn’t let your kids, your friends or family, co-workers, or even at times your boss, give you any crap if you knew you didn’t deserve it. You knew how to stand up for yourself. You weren’t shy about letting us know when you disagreed with us or thought we shouldn’t have done what we did. “UUUUUTTTTTT”, you would say. And when you were really mad, we all knew to get the hell out of your way. Your life story contains tragedies that would impact you greatly…your strength allowed you to keep going, even as you carried the weight of heavy sadness with you. The heartbreak of some of those tragedies would never leave you.

A snapshot of a woman who loved your daughters and your grandkids dearly (although I’m not sure the same could be said about your grand-dogs). You wanted the best for your Kim, Kris, Lacey, and Deven. And you tried to instill in them the things you found important. You didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but I always knew there was an underlying deep love. I carry that snapshot of unconditional love with me.

For me, I find solace in the trees. I came across a bench in the woods the day you died. The first line of the plaque on the bench read “Peace shall fall upon you today”….so it was for you that day….and so I pray it is for all those who loved you. On more than one occasion, we talked about your faith…we talked about heaven and hell. We talked about Jesus and God…we talked about forgiving others and being forgiven. You were at peace. You were ready to leave this world behind and meet your maker. That helps us all be at peace.

I can see you mooning us all as you go.  I can see you moonwalking your way right through those pearly gates….dancing your way into eternal life, without the burden of this earthly body. I celebrate that today…I’m so glad you’re no longer suffering. Ram Dass, a spiritual teacher and author, is quoted as saying “we are all just walking each other home”. I’m so grateful I got to walk (and sometimes even moonwalk) with you, for a time.

Much love to you, Granny…you will be missed.

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