Last year when my grandmother passed away, I was asked to do her eulogy. My first thought was how in the world would I ever be able to stand up in front of everyone and even talk. But I was honored to tell her story and portray how grand of a person she was. I am her firstborn granddaughter, one of many, and I am honored to share these words with you.
I believe that every person creates a legacy in their lifetime by which others can live long after that person has left us. For those who remain, grandma indeed made a legacy to uphold and fulfill in our daily lives. I firmly believe that this carrying out is a real honor and responsibility using the various facets that she made her own.
She lived many years before I was brought into the world. In those years, she was known to many others as wife, mom, grandma, aunt, friend, and later GiGi. She was the matriarch. The beginning, the first of us, is why we are all sitting here today. It is through her life that we have been incredibly blessed. God blessed us with the matriarch, and we are her legacy, proof of His blessings.
She was born in 1931 to Arthur and Nettie Fenton and was the oldest of 4 children. She had three brothers Bill, Richie, and John. At a young age, she lost two of her brothers and created a dynamic sibling bond with her youngest brother. Her mother and father raised her to be a classy young lady.
In 1952 she married her high school sweetheart and the love of her life Joseph Clayton Wale. The legacy of love and memories is what carried them through 54 years of marriage. Grandma and Grandpa modeled what a marriage center on God, forgiveness, and love should be. They had three beautiful daughters, Linda, Denise, and Debbie. They were very devoted to their three daughters and so proud of all of their accomplishments.
She has always been a child of God and now stands beside him to ensure that we all carry forth all she has taught us. She was the best testament to what living life full of love, grace, and kindness truly means. What made her so special? So wonderful? Her elegance. She always looked the picture of perfection and grace and didn’t go anywhere without putting lipstick on.
She was a loyal family member, a hard worker, a generous volunteer, a devoted religious figure, and a beloved friend to many. She especially touched my heart because of the person she was and the love she radiated.
She was a true woman of faith. For as far back as I can remember, she has been a conveyor of the word of God in developing her family and living her daily life. Never would she miss a Sunday to share the word and love of God. She spent a great deal of her life working for and volunteering with the church. It was an essential part of her life; her spirituality meant a great deal to her. The words of the Bible rolled off her tongue with ease. She prayed relentlessly for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. And many of us here today are the fruit of those prayers.
Grandma truly defined the word family as I have come to learn and live it. Holidays and family gatherings were the celebrations because her love surrounded them. Of course, I owe most of who I am to Grandma’s love passed down through my own mother. It’s the family traditions Grandma instilled that have made me who I am today.
Though it has been 14 years since grandpa passed away, he was the love of her life until the day she joined him in heaven. Their love was the kind of love that movies are made of. Even as a young girl, I saw how special their relationship was. They were a team that served one another.
Above all, grandma was a figure of unconditional love. Love was the primary fabric by which she created her tapestry of life. In raising her own children, the teachings of her grandchildren, and how she welcomed in new family and friends, her unconditional strong love has made our family what it is today and what will keep us together from this day forward.
After all, what is life without family to support you, love you unconditionally, and be at your side through good and bad?
She loved deeply and fully all of us. She was the kind of person who just has more love in her heart for the more people who joined our lives.
As incredible as all these gifts were, Grandma’s love for her husband and family was the core of who she was. She was an excellent cook, a great housewife, a devoted wife and mother, and above all, she was the best grandma and GiGi ever.
I remember how excited she was when I shared I was expecting my first baby. Great-grandma was too hard to say, so she became known as Gigi to Aiden and Alyssa. Though they are young and may not remember much about her, I am so thankful that we could spend every day for the last 14 years with her and create memories for them to cherish.
Lastly, I am deeply thankful to our family, who cared for, loved her, and relished spending time with her as she aged. And especially to my mom, who cared for grandma the last 14 years of her life with compassion and unrivaled devotion. I thank her for giving back to her mom and modeling care and respect for our elders.
I take comfort in knowing that she orchestrated our story and that there is a time for everything under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:
For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sow;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
It was grandma’s time, as she lived a full blessed life, gifting each of us with her kind, loving, generous heart that still lives on today in all of us.
Grandma … you have impacted who I am in so many ways. And shaped who I am and who my children are. You now can look down upon me from heaven and know that I personally accept the incredible honor and responsibility of carrying on your traditions and love in all that I do. Grandma, you have created your own dynamic legacy of love, spirituality, family, integrity, and joy. Thank you for your wisdom, courage, tenderness and compassion, humor, understanding, patients, and fierce unconditional love. As you walk the streets of gold, know that the world is a better place for the legacy you’ve created. And someday, I hope I can become half the mother, grandma, and GiGi you were!
Until we meet again, I love you forever and always.
This chain may have gained an angel, but this bond is unbreakable!
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