(I wanted to post this, if just to mark the moment if for nothing else. What follows is a rough manuscript of the Eulogy I had a chance to offer at my Granddad’s funeral this past Wednesday. It was written to be spoken, and needed some ad libs along the way for support. It was hard to get through it without completely falling apart. Perhaps someday I’ll edit it for better reading, but here is the current version. Thanks to all of you who have been so kind to my family as we mourn this loss!)
January 1, 1924 – December 15, 2014
Although we come to mourn a great loss, we do so with a spirit of celebration, knowing that Calvin Stevenson was a great, great man, and also with the joyful laughter that marks our family. The laughter in our hearts is part of the legacy of the man! He would light up when you were around him, smiling with his whole face, and he always had some little quip. He would tell you he was hanging in like a rusty nail, or say something like “I used to use head and shoulders, but now I use mop and glow.” He was a man of great hospitality, and who knows how many poor souls came to him for the friendly chit-chat that came for free with your lawnmower tune-up. He was good at fixing mowers, but what he was really great at was making people feel like you were his absolute best pal in the whole world. One of my cousins told me about listening to Granddad carry on with somebody, and it made her feel like it must be somebody special. When they left, she wanted to know who it was, and he said, oh, I don’t really know”. But that was just part of his character…indeed, he never met a stranger indeed, but with his infectious smile and playful spirit, he was always welcoming people in.
There is, of course, one exception to this that I must, in all fairness, mention. There was one shady character who Granddad would not abide, his one great remaining enemy after the fall of the third reich. There was a squirrel in his backyard that was always conniving to steal from the bird feeder, and granddad was always devising new ways to keep it out. From building on little shields, to greasing the pole, and then the power cables, there was often a new chapter in this ongoing chess match, although it seemed like that squirrel was always just one step ahead.
On the other hand, at Christmas is seemed like Granddaddy was always one step ahead of us. It took a while for the family to open presents, going around and around the circle. But if you didn’t keep a close eye on him, grandaddy would slip out his pocket knife and slit the tape on his next package, and probably had the gift out of the box. So many times, our gift-giving was interrupted with laughter as granddad was caught, and one of the kids would be moved next to him to keep a better eye on him, and off we’d go.
These are the sorts of tales that always filled the air around the table on N. Weakley street, and they sealed our family with a spirit of joy and laughter. He loved to have the family all together.