Eulogy for Frances Sue Berkshire

My grand­ma died last Sun­day night. Her obit­u­ary can be found here. I no longer have any grand­par­ents. Grand­ma Berk­shire was a strong woman. She grew up in the Great Depres­sion, but she liked to point out that she grew up on a farm, so while they were poor, they had plen­ty to eat. She was born in Koko­mo, IN, but grew up in Flo­ra, a place I’ve nev­er been, but one I’ve passed by a few times on my way to West Lafayette. She lived for years just down the road in Logans­port, IN, where she raised 4 chil­dren, includ­ing my mom. I’ve writ­ten about her once before, so this post is like­ly to have some repeats.

She loved dirty jokes and beat­ing the tar out of any­one she played at Scrab­ble. I only ever beat her once. She was a great part­ner at bid euchre, and a great grand­moth­er alto­geth­er. When she lived in Con­nersville, I used to ride the bus to their house after school and watch the after­noon Dis­ney car­toons in the kitchen. I’d sneak E.L. Fudge cook­ies from the cook­ie jar. At least I thought I did, Grand­ma was on to me, but pre­tend­ed not to hear. It was rough at the wake. There were dis­plays of Grand­ma through­out life, the book of her life with Grand­pa which they received at their 50th wed­ding anniver­sary; and a book of her poems. She wrote poems for the fam­i­ly for the big events in our lives; I received one for my high school grad­u­a­tion. When I came to that page, I final­ly let myself cry. Grand­ma had so much love for all of us.

She always asked Grand­pa to fix her half a drink, and when she’d feed me, she’d always try to get me to eat more, insist­ing “there’s only a dab left.” She saved every­thing. The bags bread came in, the wire twists that kept them shut, infi­nite plas­tic con­tain­ers, polit­i­cal para­pher­na­lia from years gone, every­thing. And I was ter­ri­fied of com­ing any­where near The Lamp.

In typ­i­cal Grand­ma fash­ion, she planned her funer­al ahead of time, down to the last details. Read­ings, songs, who she want­ed to do what, even the type of flower she want­ed, ivory ros­es, were laid out for us. My mom and Camy read the eulo­gy, and did a great job. They end­ed with a poem that Grand­ma had writ­ten for her own funer­al, which tore the flood­gates open anew. After the funer­al Mass, we learned that my cousin Chris, who was singing along with my cousin Jess, said “Shit, I have to sing now?” right after the eulo­gy, and into the micro­phone. He was wor­ried that every­one heard it. I don’t think any­one did, but if Grand­ma had, she’d’ve been, in her words, “tick­led.”

There is no way to say enough about her, but it is eas­i­er to point out the excel­lent fam­i­ly that sur­rounds me as a tes­ta­ment to her love and abil­i­ties. I miss you, Grand­ma.

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