My Grandma Micki died in March of 2020, right as COVID began sending the world into chaos. This weekend, my family gathered on her birthday to remember her life. I was grateful to be asked to write the eulogy, because it finally gave me a chance to process what she had meant to me, and to revisit the lessons I told myself I wouldn’t forget as we walked with her during her last days.
Margaret Louise Sechrest was a really cool lady, and I think we’re all pretty lucky to have been her family and friends.
Every photo that I have of Grandma looks like she’s in the midst of a great joke. Even when she wasn’t laughing outright, she exuded joy and gratitude. Her life was and remains a reminder that “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
From what I understand, Grandma never got much of a chance to play as a child. Mom has always told me that Grandma had to do her chores before she was allowed to eat.
Despite this heartbreaking fact about her childhood, Grandma was one of the most playful humans I have ever met. She loved a good game, whether that was Connect Four in a restaurant waiting for food, a football game with Gary and Sandy, a round of golf on the TV, or playing with her grandkids.
Whenever I brought Isaiah for visits, well into her 80s, Grandma would get down on the floor and play with whatever he was into that day. Sometimes it was rolling a golf ball across the floor to a target, but just as often it was matchbox cars or toy trains. She would help make a garage out of the living room stool and spend ages down there, driving cars in and out. She wasn’t afforded the chance to play when she was a young and vulnerable human, yet decades later, she was able to show other young, vulnerable humans just how much fun could be had with a little imagination.
This sense of goofy fun was with her until the very end. During her last stay in the hospital, I’ll never forget, she found an earring back in the sheets. I put it on the hospital tray, just to make sure it didn’t dig into her skin. I remember that she was sitting up, but she wasn’t speaking. She let the earring back sit there on the tray for a while. After a few minutes, she picked it up and began to examine it really closely. And then suddenly, she jabbed it into an uneaten apple, leftover from her lunch, brought her hands back closer to her body, and pretended to reel the apple in, like a fish.
Then, in perfect Grandma Micki fashion, she slowly turned her head toward me, looked me dead in the eye, and flashed a huge, sly grin.
Of course, part of the reason I’ll never forget this story is because I wrote down a lot of notes during Grandma’s last few weeks of life. We all know who I get my terrible short-term memory from.
In the second chapter of Galations, Paul contrasts the works of the spirit with the works of the flesh. Works of the flesh are things born of selfishness and self-service. They include things like strife, jealousy, anger, envy, drunkenness. The works of the spirit, though, are shown in the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, and self-control.
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Generosity. Faithfulness. Self-Control.
Grandma Micki bore all these fruits.
She loved her friends and family, caring for her dear friend Goldie for many many years.
She was filled with joy, and shared that with everyone she met. Everytime you came into the room, she was happy to see you. Grandma made you feel so deeply wanted.
She brought peace to my mom during some of the hardest years of her life, reminding mom to keep praying, to keep listening for God, to keep her mind on blessings, no matter how small.
She managed to raise Gary and Rob into generous, kind men, despite the many ways (I’ve heard the stories) they tried her patience!
She was generous of her time and energy, giving to her family and her church community. Even when the services at church were just too loud for her ears to take, she showed up during the week to fold bulletins, an act of service to a community she loved.
She was a faithful follower of Jesus, continually reminding her friends and family that His eye was on the sparrow. She knew her Savior, she trusted her Creator, and she was sustained through many trials by the love of her Lord and the promise of eternal life in His embrace.
Grandma could have become a bitter person, but instead she chose joy. Her work was always done in cheer. And she was always busy.
I’m a compulsive tidier, a greatly underappreciated trait. I don’t mind, though, because every time I reach to pick something up and someone says to me, “I’m not done with that,” I think very fondly of Micki Sechrest, who I watched stealing that cup you were still using, for the first forty-some-odd years of my life. Even as she laid in her bed in the end, her hands were moving to pick the lint from the sheets.
A night or two before she died, I sang or hummed or cried my way though all the hymns I could remember, songs I knew she would know and love. And I told her that of all the people I knew, she deserved to rest.
That night, I also promised her I’d try to be goofy, silly, and less selfish, because she was one one of the goofiest, silliest, and most selfless people I’ve ever met.
The Psalmist reminds us that “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” What a joy it was to have Micki in our lives. What a legacy of joy and faithfulness we have to pass on to our own friends and family. There’s not a doubt in my mind that Grandma entered the gates of heaven with thanksgiving in her heart, and praise on her lips. May we do the same here on earth, until the day we meet again.