This is the letter that I wrote for my Grandmother's funeral. My Step Dad, Timothy read it in our absence. We love and miss you Gma!
Good morning all. First we would like to send our apologies for not being present today, but know that at this moment we are sending our love from Hong Kong.
Being the oldest grandson, I wanted to take time to write out some memories and stories of Grandma Barbara. As her condition started to get worse, I began to reflect on the past 26 years and how she has impacted my life.
Some of the earliest memories of Grandma were of two things: manners and gifts. First manners. I distinctly remember grandma making sure to teach me each time I was to go into a building that I needed to hold the door open for the people behind me, especially if they were a female. I remember her reminding me how to chew, how to eat, and of course, how to hug…always cheek to cheek.
Now when I came to gifts, grandma was always the best at getting the stuff that a little boy would love. This was of course a long time ago, but I am almost positive that Grandma was the one who gave me my very first nerf gun. She would also have little things for us each time she saw us including a book called “the dangerous book for boys”. Grandma was a gift giver and of course as a little child, and even an adult, I loved it.
One of the favorite events that happened when I was a boy, all the way up to around middle school was a weekend night at grandma’s house. I would like to walk through this event step by step. Grandma would come and pick me up from home in her Subaru wagon. Brown, white, blue, she loved the Subaru. After all of our stuff was loaded up we would drive, very fast, to dinner. I remember multiple times being in the passengers seat, and seeing grandma become anxious when she passed a police officer, hoping they wouldn’t pull her over. The menu for dinner was typically McDonalds, or some form of fast food. I vividly remember when I was around ten and I ordered the Mutumbo triple cheese burger and fries from McDonalds and grandma and the cashier looking at this ten year old boy in awe. What can I say, I was a chubby kid back then!
After dinner we would go to a movie, or rent a movie. If we went out, it was typically the most recent Disney release, or something similar. If we rented a movie, it was typically my choice what we got. I remember having two favorites… Earnest movies, such as Earnest goes to Jail, or Earnest Scared Stupid, or Look Whos Talking a movie starring John Travolta and Kerstin Alley centering around the birth of a baby who can talk and add commentary to the situation that it was in. As I look back on that movie now, I think, what was grandma thinking! But she did have a love for educating her family members in all areas.
I also remember how proud Grandma was of us. She was always at band concerts, plays, basketball games, tennis matches, youth Sundays, speeches, graduations, or any other major event that happened in our lives. Always positive, always encouraging, always excited to see us succeed.
Along that same thought, I think Grandma was on a covert plan to bring more culture into her grandson’s lives. Grandma was always taking us to different plays and musicals downtown, or to the country dinner play house, she loved taking us to theater events.
We all know that Grandma Barbara wasn’t much of a cook, but I have to share the epitome of stories for a meal. We were over at Grandma’s for Christmas morning just 4 years ago. Grandma comes out with wonderful fruits and jellys and for the main course breakfast burritos! I was very impressed because they were neatly wrapped in foil, not from a restaurant! As I unwrapped the burrito, I was still really confused, had Grandma learned how to cook while I was in Texas? Then I bit into the burrito, and the memories started to flow. This was not a home-made burrito, this was the same burrito that I would get around midnight at Baylor from McDonalds!! Of course being the polite one, I leaned over to Timothy and whispered very discreetly, “these aren’t homemade, they are from McDonalds.” On the other side of the table though, my brother called grandma out. “Where are these from? He asked…”are these from burger king”. Grandma then came clean that she had purchased breakfast burritos and then re-wrapped them for us. She was so thoughtful and caring, and always was able to laugh at what was going on around her.
I would like to take a moment from this letter to break to promote in honor of grandma, total toddy. Honestly I have no idea what it was supposed to do, but I do know that Grandma swore by it. Whether we were not feeling good, had a lack of energy, or we were just board, the answer would be total toddy. That beautiful brown sludge that went down so badly was the remedy to all ailments!
The reality is, is that Barbara Dalberg was a wonderful woman, and an even better grandma. She was always worried about others before herself. Always asking about girlfriends, relationships, and my feelings about stuff that was happening in my life. I knew that I could always give her a call to talk, and she would be ready to listen. I remember when I introduced Stacia to Grandma for the first time. Stacia excused herself to use the ladies room and, along with Uncle D and Aunt Cheri, grandma offered her approval of how great Stacia was, and each time after when I would talk to her, she would continue to be so excited that we had found each other Grandma approved, so I figured it would be okay.
Grandma I am going to miss the long conversations at your house about life, the stories about past clients, the breakfasts at black eyed pea and the dinners at poppies. I will miss calling you with a celebration of the day, or asking for advice about a new issue at my job. I will miss squeezing into your Subaru, getting magazine subscriptions from you, watching your super old tv, exploring your creepy basement, field trips to IMAX, the Denver Mint, and both musems and enjoying the days with you at the cabin. I will miss your encouraging words, your thoughtful cards, your world religions calendar each Christmas and the ability to know that no matter what was happening you would be there with a hug and a smile.
In closing I wanted to share a quote that grandma would send me often from mahatmas Gandhi which said “be the change you want to see in the world”. I know that my grandmother embraced that quote until the day that she left us. Stacia and my prayers are with all of you, and we look forward to re-connecting with you next summer.