A few weeks ago, after 89 hard fought years, my grandmother passed away. Here is the eulogy I presented at her funeral for her:
The weight of the world
Under the burden
under the burden
the weight we carry
Alan Ginsberg’s Song in many ways speaks to me about my grandmother. She was a woman who carried the weight of love. And she was a woman who took the burden of the world on her shoulders and didn’t allow it to slow her down. I’d like to share 3 stories of times my grandmother taught me.
My grandmother always thought that visiting museums was an important piece of learning . From taking me to Kohl’s children’s museum as a preschooler to sitting and sharing our thoughts on seeing Guernica at The Sofia in Madrid years apart, my grandmother distilled a love of museums and learning in me. One museum memory was from a fall day, when I was a preteen and my grandmother decided to take me to Field Museum. At around 10 am, on a Sunday she picked me up to head downtown. Neither of us bothered to see if there might be anything else happening on a Sunday afternoon in the fall around Roosevelt and Lake Shore Drive.
After a couple of hours trying to drive downtown, my grandmother decided that we weren’t going to get to the museum with enough time to spare. But my grandmother still turned it into a day for my to learn, she had me learn about the neighborhood she had lived in and where she raised her family. For lunch, We went to Wolfy’s on Peterson for a hot dog. While my grandmother would likely claim it was my grandfather who always was the bigger hot dog fan, she was never one to turn down an all beef frank. And I don’t blame her. Hot dogs are delicious. That day my grandmother taught me that you can always make the best of situation that doesn’t go as planned.
In addition to teaching me about learning, my grandmother taught me to be active. One of the ways she did this was by teaching me to golf. My grandmother wasn’t what many would call a good golfer. She rarely hit the ball far. She didn’t always hit the ball straight, but she alway hit the ball with purpose and she had fun doing it. For her, playing meant a chance to be outside, a chance to socialize a bit, and perhaps if she was lucky, hit a few good shots. I never progressed much as a golfer, but the rounds that I had a chance to play with my grandmother were some of the greatest rounds of golf I’ll ever play. Every time I hit a golf ball, I think of how my grandmother taught me to enjoy games but not take them too seriously.
Finally, I remember some stories my grandmother shared with me. I remember my sitting with my grandmother during one of the countless times my grandfather was in the hospital. And I could tell she was worried. To distract her, I asked her questions about when she was young. She shared about going to college and wanting to be a doctor so she could help people. She wanted to cure leukemia since that is what took her father from her. My grandmother shared stories, because my grandmother shared. She was the kindest , most considerate women. Whether it was having cookies in her freezer ready to defrost at a moments notice or to be the listener that someone needed, my grandmother was there for others. She freely shared the important thing she had: her time. My grandmother taught me to share my time with the people I love.
Today, many of us are feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders. My grandmother Maurice Spielman never let this weight slow her down. She never let weight burden her. For she knew and we can remember that the weight, the weight we carry is love.