My Grandma died on 30 September. Today was her funeral and I am posting my speech. I’m sorry to stray off topic, but she was such a great influence in my life that I want to share who she was.

Ruth Sollie Holmes
25 September 1918 – 30 September 2011

Grandma was Grace
Funerals are for those still living. They are about rememberance as well as farewell. For me rememberance is not merely specific memories of Gram, but also acknowledging her influence and what she taught me and how she helped me in creating who I am becoming in this world.

  • Gram was impatient: don’t ever tell her your bored or she would take you straight home.
  • She cared little for possessions: don’t leave your favorite stuffed loveable lamb at her house or it will be given away. [I got it back]
  • And sometimes she could be tactless: she noticed if you’d put on a few pounds and she asked…loudly.

But evenso, one of the great things about being Ruth is that she was never Ruth-less; my Grandma was Grace.
A few years ago someone confided in me that they were afraid Gram would not forgive them. That she would no longer love them and would no longer accept them. I told Gram about it and her only response was…
But that wouldn’t be Grace.

Grandpa was profound; Gram was practical. I had expected her to simply say the notion that she would not forgive was silly, but she surprised me by distilling a reassurance so succinctly.I think she surprised herself as well, because when I reminded her about it a few years later, she did not remember saying it because she didn’t think it sounded like her.
The concept sounds like her, but she’s right that the manner of expression is more Grandpa than Gram. But I belong to a family where the concepts of Grace and Acceptance seem to be a theme.

Grace: the unmerited favor of God, given freely and without obligation.
Accurate, but I don’t think that definition does justice to Grace.

Gram was not perfect. But somehow she understood Grace. And yet I don’t think she thought she got it. That’s because Grace is an action. But as an idea, a feeling or even a gift it is a bit of an abstract concept.

But you know she was Grace—probably better than she knew. When you first walked into this church, who walked up to you? Who greeted you, smiled and helped you to feel welcome?
For those of you who knew her as Mrs. Holmes, she remembered you didn’t she? When you saw her years later—perhaps even this year—she knew who you were, who your parents were; who you married and she remembered the stuff you wanted forgotten. Maybe that says something about a great memory. But more importantly it says something about her values. She valued you.

My Uncle Tom wrote a song called People. In it he says that there is nothing more beautiful than people. People are miracles, and he goes on to say they stretch our dreams and though it don’t seem like it, they bring God’s best. Gram taught him well.

Grace is a reflection. To feel and give Grace is to recognize the reflection of Self in others; a realization of unity and all that is positive and beautiful. Gram found beauty in each of you and in so doing she reflected beauty back to you.

So when you remember Ruth Holmes, do it by looking at your own reflection so you are seeing what she saw.


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