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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