Archive for October 28th, 2007


My gramma passed away this week.  THE HOBB, as I called her, raised me from the day I came home.  When I graduated from college, we lived together, almost like roommates.  This is the eulogy I read.   Please keep in mind while I wrote it, I was not writing it for grammar, etc.  I was writing it more as a script so I wouldn’t leave anything out.

My gramma was always there for me from the day I came home until the day she died.   She used to snuggle in bed with me at night and tell me stories when I was really little, because even then, I didn’t sleep.  I was her cuddly wuddly.  She would play games with me and read to me.  I remember when she taught me to play 52 pickup.  I had been driving her nuts all day to teach me something new, to play a game.  

I already knew rummy, war, go fish, etc.  Finally she said, “Okay, here’s a game, but you have to follow the rules and play the game.”  “OKAY OKAY!”  I was so excited.  I think I was about 4.  She then threw all of those cards in the air and told me “52 cards, now pick ‘em up”. I WAS SO MAD!!!  She had tricked me!  But she always did love to pull pranks on people.  I get that from her.  So does Claire.  

I know I wasn’t her only grandchild and she loved all of her family more than anything, but she was not JUST my gramma.   She was my mom, my dad, my granddad, my rock.  She got me through elementary school trials and tribulations like the time I told the cafeteria ladies that they couldn’t even cook spaghetti right, so I was going to bring my gramma up and teach them because she was a really good cook.  I promise I thought I was being nice.  The principal called the house and said, Ms. Harvey, you need to speak to Kim and ask her not to hurt the cafeteria staff’s feelings. 

She got me through middle school self consciousness and bad hair.  She was patient when I spent 8 months sleeping all day and crying at the blink of an eye, which is VERY out of character for this little mean girl.  I remember one year for her birthday, when I was about 13, I got her this book on Hitler.  Gramma was a big history buff and loved to read before her vision became too poor, so this really was a good gift for her.  She loved it. “Oh Kimmy, she said. “I can’t wait to read it”.  I burst into tears and said she hated it, then proceeded to run from the table to the yard.  It was all VERY dramatic.  She just left me alone, because she knew me and knew I need to be left alone to work through it.  That is just my way, and she understood that.  Later, I realized I was being overly sensitive and she proceeded with business as usual.

Then came high school.  THE HOBB was not one to play around as nearly everyone in this room can attest to.  She was particularly harsh on me regarding my grades and school behavior.  In 9th grade, I got my first C. It was in Algebra.  It wasn’t so much the C that put her over the edge as it was the comment “Kim tends to socialize in class”.  Granted this was NOT the first time she had read this same comment, as I am sure you are all shocked to learn, but it WAS the first time it was accompanied by a C.  So, she promptly had our telephone disconnected and informed me, “If you are socializing so much at school that you are getting C’s, you don’t need to socialize at home.  If someone wants to call me, they can call at work.”   I spent the next 3 and a half years walking to the Piggly Wiggly to use the pay phone.  When I was accepted to the fifth college, she decided it was probably ok to put the phone back!             

All my life, we sat down together and ate as a family.  No matter how hard she had worked that day, we always had a hot, hearty meal.  MMMM. But no meal was as good as that fried chicken and those mashed potatoes.  She has more than one person in here who can give me an amen on that!  She insisted we eat as a family, especially when we were older because we all had so much going on, but this gave her the opportunity to know us and know what we were doing.  Believe me, it is no easy thing to sit across from a woman who as busted her fanny all day at work, then come home and cooked your dinner, only to have you tell her you did poorly on a test or you had done some other foolish thing.  Even now, with Kelli and I nearly forty and her daughter nearly 60, she loved nothing more than to have us all sitting down together to a meal and family fellowship.           

One of my favorite things about THE HOBB was her undying notion that we could “do it ourselves”.  More than one “home improvement” project went scarily awry.  My gramma was ALL about saving money.  At one time or another, all of her children and grandchildren were lured into one of her projects.  Kelli and I living at home with her the longest endured more of these.  Once when I was about 27 or so, when we were still living on King St., we had an old shed in our backyard that was starting to rot. There were holes in the roof that gramma thought were in need of our attention.  A lovely, innocent Saturday afternoon. 

“KIMMY! C’mere”. 

“Yes ma’am?” 

 “I was thinking, we can take a couple of those big blue tarps we bought for painting and put them on the roof of the shop.  We can hold them down with some cinder blocks. ”  and here was the kicker “It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.”  That was the kiss of death right there.  The words were hanging in the air over her head like in a cartoon.

I just looked at her and said.  “ok.”  What else DID you say to her?   We proceeded to the backyard to drag the tarps and bricks and ladder out.  I then spent the next FIVE HOURS driving to lowe’s to get bigger tarps, spreading tarps haphazardly at best , moving tarps, moving ladders.   Although I think gramma’s favorite part was me LOBBING cinder blocks and bricks onto the roof while they immediately crashed through the already-dry-rotted roof while she stood on the ground puffing away on that cigarette laughing her head off.  Needless to say, we left it worse than we found it.  Oh, and then a storm came up and blew the tarp two houses up.  At the time I wanted to lob one of those bricks at her, but resisted, although we were laughing the entire time.           

I could actually spend the entire week up here telling you about my great memories of gramma, but I will just share a couple of more.           

Gramma and I were great traveling buddies.  We went all over the place and had tons of fun.  When the doctor’s induced my sister Kelli’s labor, Gramma and I jumped in the green bean and drove to Tallahassee.  Most of you know where our house was on King Street.    We made it from King Street to the BP on the corner of Trenholm and Beltline, probably less that five miles.  Gramma always was a nervous eater.  

“PULL OVER!” she yelled and pointed at the BP.  I pulled over. She said, “I gotta have something to eat”. Ten minutes later she came out loaded down with candy bars, chips, and a diet coke.  There might have been some beef jerky in there too.  I think we then made it a couple of hours before we had to stop and eat dinner.  We basically stopped every hour or two to get food for gramma.  When we finally got to Tallahassee, it was around 5 a.m. I had driven the whole way and was really tired.  Gram said, “Okay, get a shower and get changed and we’ll go eat before we go to the hospital.”  I am thinking “Good LORD! How much more can this woman put into her body!!??”

She was not pleased when I said, “gramma, really, I need to sleep a couple of hours.  She relented, very begrudgingly.  We made it to the hospital where she said HI to Kelli, made sure all was well and headed immediately to the cafeteria.  All that food didn’t stop her from grinning from ear to ear when that little pink girl showed up around dinner time.  She was so pleased to finally have a great grand daughter to spoil.             

One thing I will always remember, love and take joy in is Gramma’s great depth of love and compassion.  She just loved to surprise people with some bit of sunshine.  I can remember getting surprised with Duran Duran albums, candy bars, surprise parties ( which I knew about but would never ruin HER joy at doing it for me), jewelry, you name it. She loved cooking your favorite meal.  I can remember even two years ago when she was still in her better health saying, “okay, I am gonna have a surprise for you for dinner tonight!” she would be so excited about it!   She truly LOVED to give to others.  She was always generous and giving.  If she had 20 dollars and 99 cents and you needed it, it was yours.  There were times when Annie was coming over and she’d say, “oh, well, we’ll eat later because my annie will be here and she loves my friend chicken.“  Or Claire might be coming over and she’d send me to the grocery store to make sure we had ice cream and chocolate milk “because baby Claire loves those”.  She took in friends who needed places to stay.  She fed every boy or girl I ever drug home from college.  It would not be shocking for her to wake up and see three guys sleeping on her living room  floor because they came to town and needed a place to stay.  She’d just wake them up and ask how they liked their eggs.  She knows everyone’s favorites.  She knew Nikki loved St. Peter’s Cookies and zucchini casserole.  She knew West and Tammy loved blue cheese biscuits.  Of course, her Amy Jo was her biggest fried chicken and mashed potato fan.  Debbie loves the fudge. 

She took great joy in the holidays. She planned for months what she was going to buy people for Christmas.  We all had to have our lists in by September.             

I really used to think I wouldn’t be able to survive when my gramma died.  I just felt like I would be so grief-stricken that I would be brought to my knees, debilitated, unable to do even the most mundane things.  Over the 38 years and some odd months that my gramma spent teaching me how to be a grown up, I learned a few things though.  I learned that I always need a good screwdriver and hammer.  I learned that red is my best color, which is why I am wearing it today.  I found out that no matter what, I still can’t touch raw chicken.  I found out that yes I CAN cook.  This was a big shock in college!  I remember calling THE HOBB and telling her, in a most amazed tone, “Gramma, I made a big pot of vegetable soup.  And it was good!” 

Always full of faith in me and my abilities, she said, “Well of course it was.” 

I learned that you always need to wear clean underwear because you never know when you might get in a car wreck. There is also, apparently an inordinate amount of carjacking going on in Columbia and they are all looking for a little old lady in a Subaru station wagon.  I always told her they’d get a block and bring her back.  I learned that I will not tolerate disrespect.  I learned that the lettuce will sit there and rot before I will pay that price for it.  I learned that no matter how angry I might get, my capacity for love and forgiveness is endless.  I learned that I should always be tolerant and respectful of others  regardless of who they are or what they think.  I learned that I am complete whether I am married or not.  I learned how to cook fried green tomatoes.  I learned that Gettysburg really is pretty great.  I know that there is nothing better than a party with good friends, because THE HOBB LOVED a good party!  I realized that I can give second chances and forgive.  I learned that my gramma made me into this self-sufficient, successful, loving, compassionate, hard-nosed, stubborn woman standing here today.  I learned that when you love someone it is a lot easier to do the one thing others think impossible.  I learned to love unconditionally. I learned that a little exaggeration of the facts is okay, but only sometimes.  I learned that ringing in the new year with your gramma at Art Bar is pretty fun.  I learned that there is nothing wrong with a little honest hard work.  I learned that I am all these things because as so many are so fond of saying, “You are just like your gramma”.  I say amen and thank God.  All of her good and “underappreciated qualities” are inside of me because of her endless efforts to make me the best me possible.  I know that though I will miss Gramma until the very last second I breathe, I can survive and I can move forward because she spent the last 38 plus years making sure that I could do just that. 

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