Friends and Family,
It is an honor to be able to speak about a woman that I have loved and admired for so long. I don’t expect this task to be easy to do, but all of us here wish to honor our memories of a person that, for many of us, shaped who we are and how we think about family and faith. To try to say everything there is to say is impossible – if you have a few minutes, I have some stories collected on facebook that I’m sure you’d enjoy. Grandma lived a wonderful, rich, full 92 years and I could easily sit and talk about her for hours.
There are themes, however, that ran through Grandma’s life that also run through our family life and these are the memories that bring us comfort and joy even in the midst of our sorrow. Music, singing, camping, nature, the joy of being together … playing cards, laughing, sharing meals, praying together, these are the rhythms that shaped the lives of the Rodenhausen family. Many of you probably know that one of Grandma’s deepest desires recently was to spend her last days in her own home, and I am fairly certain it is because there she felt all the memories and emotions of shared time. The focus of Grandma’s life wasn’t a thing or a place so much as it was time that she spent with her family and friends.
A lot of Grandma’s time was spent in song, whether it was singing children’s songs, sharing hymns, or whistling under her breath as she went about her activities. Much of grandma’s family, growing up, played instruments and Grandma must have sung in just about every choir in every church that she attended or served. A lovely alto, Grandma sang alto whether the parts were written out or not. She sang with her daughters, she sang for her grandchildren. I can remember every time we would visit when I was little, she would ask me to play piano for her … and it never seemed to bother her when I messed up, she just enjoyed music that was joyful. Many of her children and grandchildren have now also grown up singing, and I pray that our songs may be joyful and that they remind us of a mother and grandmother who sang to praise God and enjoyed the singing.
As I’ve talked with my cousins, many of our memories with grandma and grandpa was time spent outside, camping. Grandma and Grandpa seemed to relish being outside in God’s creation. Several of my cousins remember camping with our grandparent and how Grandma would clean and cook every tiny fish that was caught and eat them as though they were the best she had ever eaten. Another cousin remembers how they would bring practically everything with them when camping – even big brooms and shovels. After grandpa passed away, some of us started getting together to care for her yard every year on Memorial Day. And I remember Grandma getting more than a little upset one fall when Dad chopped down the old, dead parts of her clematis vine. She was so afraid it wouldn’t come back in the spring. Grandma was not a green thumb, but she loved being reminded of her dad, her husband, and God through nature – especially through the flowers that Grandpa specifically tended. I know, personally, that I will remember both of them when I look at roses blooming and when I see sweet alyssum or clematis vines in full glory.
Almost every family gathering that I remember involved playing games of some sort – most often, a game of cards and to be very specific, Rook. As my husband found out, to become a part of the Rodenhausen family, playing Rook is a prerequisite. And grandma was the queen of Rook. I can remember learning to play the game with her and my older brother … and having to hold the ‘dummy’ hand until I learned the rules. As we got older, being able to play your own hand with the adults was a rite of passage. We teased Grandma a lot about table talking, dropping cards, or conveniently ‘forgetting’ that she held the Rook or some other important trump card. She took all our teasing in stride, and I could never figure out if she truly was forgetful or if she was just very crafty. Grandma had a playful, mischievous side that came out in games, and it made playing with her incredibly fun.
These are only a few of the memories that I have set to paper. Often, Grandma talked about writing a memoir of her life and she never quite got around to it – I think, mostly, because there was so much to tell that it was overwhelming. All of us have different memories and experiences to cherish and remember, and it is in the telling of these stories that we honor Grandma’s life and that we honor what she taught us about life. As we leave today, let us remember and share what she taught us all about making time for one another and really enjoying the time that we have with one another, for that time is special and irreplaceable.
The themes of these memories and what they tell me about Grandma lead me to one conclusion: Grandma loved life, she loved God, and she loved her family. What was important to her was not a thing … her joy came truly in sharing her time with the people she loved. I have come to count grandma as a friend and a role model, someone who shared her life generously and loved unconditionally. It will be an honor to continue to sing praises to God for the gift of having known and loved Edith Rodenhausen.