August 29, 2013

Remembering Gram

Gram Furze passed away Monday night, August 12. The phone call from my Mom woke us with a jolt at 11:30 p.m. Although I knew it was coming (and it was a relief when it finally did), I still walked to the bathroom and cried. She was gone. A fall in the middle of the night two Saturdays prior sent Gram to the emergency room for stitches on her forehead. Scans revealed bleeding in her brain that the technicians believed were not new. When the hematoma shifted, Gram went downhill. We spent many hours in the hospital that weekend and the following week. Aunt Marjorie flew in from California Tuesday night. My cousin Krista and her daughter Aubrey followed. We said our goodbyes and I love you’s and “everything’s going to be alright” throughout the week. Gram asked God to take her to Gramp (he passed away in 2005) and my Mom and Marjorie both cried. It was a week with boxes upon boxes of tissues. On Friday Gram went unconscious. To me, this is the day we lost her. Her body didn’t give up until Monday but the last day I visited was Friday. She was asleep – although likely already unconscious – and I held her hand and kissed her forehead. “I love you, Gram” was all I could say without completing losing it. So I left her room and ran into a family friend in the hallway on the ground floor and lost it in Mrs. Benoit’s strong arms instead. Then we went to my brother’s surprise 30th birthday party. The services were held Sunday night and Monday morning. This is when I finally got the chance to meet my Gram’s best friend, June. She was so sweet and such a lovely woman. I can see why Gram went to lunch with her every Sunday. The Canning families and my girlfriends from high school came to the wake. It was so good to see them. Gram’s fellow volunteers from the soup kitchen came. They actually closed the soup kitchen on Monday (the day of the week Gram volunteered) so that everyone could attend the funeral service. Gram’s ashes were buried next to Gramp in the National Cemetery in Bourne. Here’s the eulogy I delivered at the end of her Mass: My Gram and Gramp were married for 57 years before he passed away in 2005. A few years after that I asked Gram about their relationship. They never argued. How is that possible, I asked. “He knew I was always right,” she said. Gram was a smart cookie. She graduated high school when she was 16. She didn’t just play Trivial Pursuit with Marjorie and Tony. Her team won. More often than not, she knew the answers to Wheel of Fortune, the Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy, while watching with Gramp and a big bowl of popcorn. She was an independent woman, living alone with her cat, Sophie, mad she didn’t have the strength to mow the lawn herself anymore with the lawnmower she just bought. She was thrifty yet giving. Just throw those stale potato chips in the oven and they’ll be like new. Save the other half of the banana for tomorrow. It will be fine. Meanwhile, she spent countless hours volunteering at Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and the Taunton Public Library. She donated to many charitable organizations: Doctors Without Borders and MSPCA were among the favorites. My Gram was caring. How else can you spend your entire career as a psychiatric nurse at Taunton State Hospital? Her patience was amazing. She took great care to never offend anyone. “If you don’t have anything good to say about a person, say nothing at all.” This included ugly babies. Gram would smile and say, “How intelligent looking!” This included her own family. My grandparents never complained. Instead, they ate my Mom’s tortellini soup for years before one day my Gram pulled my Mom aside and said, “I have to tell you something, Janet. Your father and I hate tortellini.” Life is hard for us today, but it’s easy for Gram. She was tired and she was ready to join my Gramp in heaven. Her life was filled with love. It was fulfilling. So while we will miss her dearly, now it’s time to remember her genuine kindness and character. Here are a few things I learned from Grammy Furze: ▪ 60-degree water isn’t freezing cold. It’s “refreshing.” Jump right in. Now swim laps and keep your fingers together. ▪ Bake Christmas cookies. Just don’t eat them all. You will get a bellyache. ▪ Write Thank You notes. ▪ Ask for what you want, even if it’s a glass of milk at a fancy restaurant in Key West. ▪ If you’re going to do something quickly, the correct analogy is “quick like a bunny.” ▪ You are never too old to play on the floor with children. ▪ Be polite, kind and charitable. ▪ It’s possible to have a crush on Tom Brady at any age. ▪ That ripped stuff animals AND dog toys should be stitched up and returned complete with a doctor’s report. ▪ To never say never. There are so many stories and wonderful things I could say about my grandmother. But I think some family friends said it best on the funeral home website when they wrote, “She gave so much to so many and will always live in our hearts.” Love you, Gram. I was very honored to write my Gram’s obituary. Here’s a link to a very shortened story of a life very well-lived: (Apology for the one massive one paragraph as apparently I really have to learn HTML since Blogger is not cooperating!)


  1. Chills flew through my entire body as I read this beautiful piece. It was written perfectly. Grammy was a beautiful person. She is smiling with grampy up in heaven. From ear to ear she grins because she is so very proud of you a professional, a mother and a granddaughter. Amazing job. I am so very proud of you. Xoxo. Jess v

  2. Thank you, Jess. Love you! Now have a girls' night at that lovely home of yours!