Grandma Judy’s Eulogy
You know something Grandma would say, “What a great looking bunch.” She was always quick to tell us how handsome the men were, or how beautiful us ladies looked, or how big the kids were getting. What a beautiful way we honor her today.
In the grand scheme of Grandma’s life, I experienced only a brief part. There are so many pieces to her life that make her the woman we know and love.
Most of us know Grandma as a safe place. Someone who was always interested in what was going on in our lives and wanted to be an accomplice to our success. She invested in each of us. Never judgemental, but always opinionated. Our lives were worth her time. While most of the family was just happy that Alex started dating, I remember being interviewed by Grandma and Grandpa when we first started dating to determine if I was the right fit for this family. I’m not sure if it was my self-sufficiency or my car that won her over. Grandma valued family. As I understand it, Grandpa had to pass a similar test when he and Grandma started seeing each other. As a mom, she opened her home and expanded her family by taking in all of David’s, Jill’s, Jane’s, and Freddy’s friends. The Martin house was the place to be. Ask your parents about the time that the whole McDonald’s opening shift crew were stranded at Grandma and Grandpa’s house due to a snow storm because they couldn’t miss a Martin party. A party that they didn’t have permission to attend. As a grandma, she’d text, call, or even send a Facebook post to let us know when her and Grandpa were back in town demanding to know when we were available to see them. Who doesn’t have a memory of Grandma Christmas or Thanksgiving? Maybe from the early days in Wisconsin or hosted at their Marco Island or Naples house? Grandma was present at our graduations and weddings. And she never missed a chance to meet a new addition to the family. Grandma was our matriarch bringing us all together and instilling in us values that she lived by.
Judith Martin was ahead of her time in so many ways. Today, one might describe her as a feminist, or she might be seen as a social influencer or diversity and inclusion board member. Grandma was a woman who was unapologetically herself. She had passions and she went after what she wanted. She loved fast, beautiful cars, picking up her kids in a bright yellow camaro. She designed the home she wanted and she had a hot tub in her living room. Grandma graduated college on the Dean’s List while raising 4 four kids and she did it in only 3 ½ years. No wonder she never doubted those of us who had obstacles to overcome to finish our education. She believed in the power of education and that a woman could do anything that a man could do.
Grandma loved the arts. She took her kids to museums and cultural fairs. In fact, she took David, Jill, and Jane to the World’s Fair in 1967, something that I thought only happened in Marvel movies. She was an artist expressing herself through drawing, coloring, painting, and clay. As we celebrate her life today, I hope everyone stops in to see Grandma’s Gallery in the front room of Elvin and Jane’s home. There you will find a beautiful collection of her self-made masterpieces. She loved listening to Eli play his viola in the evenings. She delighted in Maya’s dancing and enthusiasm. She enjoyed talking to Alex about his band and music. She praised Nate’s ingenuity and craftsmanship. She was so thrilled to meet Wendy and that another artist was joining the family.
“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give. To roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.” That’s a quote from Hans Christian Andersen that I think fits Grandma’s life beautifully. In addition to extensive camping trips, Grandma and Grandpa visited all 50 states as well as 5 continents and 63 countries. Grandma documented everything well before it was cool to share your life on social media. She has countless scrapbooks and journals all documenting her trips and thoughts. My favorite are her comments on the back of photographs she would send to Grandpa while he was deployed. Travel is a unique form of education. One learns that their life is just one small piece of the world. There are so many cultures and peoples and needs. Grandma was one to help others, to see beyond herself. In the 1960s, Grandma joined an organized group to protest the neighborhood realtors not showing homes to African Americans. She was part of the environmental group, Save Our Shores, where she went with a coalition to study water levels at the Niagara Water Basin. Later in life, she became the Women's Group Coordinator for the Peace River Presbytery visiting churches throughout the region to help advise and support. She was also active in the American Association of University Women, which helps women attend higher education through scholarships.
Grandma didn’t stop at broadening her own horizons through education and travel, she gifted it to us all. Grandma and Grandpa made financial investments in the education of all of their grandkids. Most of us here have been on a vacation with Grandma and Grandpa and some had our first cruise experience with them. We’ve learned through the stories of her experiences and we all love her shoes.
Even in these later years as her mind started to fade, Grandma didn’t lose the core of who she was. Long after our names had faded from her memory, she held tight to her love of nature, art, education and activism. She spent many an evening enjoying the outdoors watching the sunset or walking with Grandpa. She enjoyed pointing things out to her great grandkids, teaching them about leaves, trees and flowers. You could often find Grandma at her desk coloring and she never missed a chance to join in egg decorating or a holiday craft with the kids. And even during her final days she would firmly remind us that women can do anything a man can do, maybe even better too.
She was so proud of this family and often commented that when she and Grandpa met up with friends and started catching up, all she could do is brag about us. Our successes, or how amazing we were at picking ourselves up and carrying on after a struggle. But, how can we not be inspired by the 67 years of love shared between Grandma and Grandpa. I hope that when my time comes, Alex is there holding my hand and feeding me sweets the way that Grandpa was there for Grandma. Because I can think of no better way to go than with love and chocolate.
I hope as I spoke you drew a connection between you and Grandma. Because as I reflect on this family, we are artists, we have those who craft beautiful things with their hands, we have those who love the outdoors, we have educators, we are active in our communities raising money for causes that are dear to us or giving back through volunteerism. We are a family with strong, intelligent women. We are all balancing raising families with being active, contributing members of society. And, let’s face it, we have the coolest BamBam, Mimi and Pop Pop who bring the best traditions and a little of Grandma’s quirkiness to the next generation. And, I know as we move forward, we will continue to honor Grandma with our lives.