At the memorial service on Wednesday, my father did an amazing job speaking about his beloved mother and leading the service. My mother, sister, and I also got up to the podium and tearfully spoke about my wonderful grandmother, Alma Mae Wood Fraser. Here is what I said (edited slightly for Internet consumption):
"I’ve struggled with what I wanted to say today. On one hand, what do you say about someone who seems to have been taken from us too quickly? On the other hand, what do you say about a woman who faced an approaching end and calmly came to terms with it?
But I’m an historian and so, I did what historians do – I did some research. And I stumbled across a quote by a French Jesuit priest and paleontologist named Teilhard de Chardin. He said, “We struggle against death with all our force, for it is our fundamental duty as living creatures to do so. But when, by virtue of the state of things, death comes, we experience that paradox of faith that causes us to abandon the struggle and affirm death as part of a greater plan for the universe as a whole. To love life so much, and to trust it so completely that we can affirm it even in its final act....this is [an] attitude that can calm and fortify us. The end is to love extravagantly the life that is greater than any one of us, seeing our own death as a physically necessary passage toward union with a greater wholeness.”
In the end, Gramma did just that. She bravely acknowledged that her life had been full and wonderful and that the next step was to move on to life's final act. And so she did - peacefully and with a grace all her own. She courageously drew aside the curtain and took her leave of us. And her serenity in doing so granted her family a great deal of peace.
I miss her. I love her. I wish that every day of my life, I had told her how important she was to me. But in the end? She knew all of that. [Sister] and I were lucky enough to share with her “a lifetime of interaction,” as Dad called it the other night. There were a thousand “I love you’s,” a thousand hugs and kisses and holidays. [Brother-in-law, The Boy, Thing 1, and Thing 2] knew her for fewer years, but they, too, got to bask in the glow of the love she had for her family. And so we walk on, never the same without her, but always sustained and quieted by her love."