This post has been on my I Intend To Do list for a couple of weeks now. As soon as I found out Grandmama Clyde was sick and likely didn’t have much time left on this side of Heaven, I knew I wanted to feature her as Hero of the Week. I hope she doesn’t mind that I didn’t get around to honoring her until today. (She almost never complained and had such a sweet spirit, so I think I’m OK.)
Hero of the Week
Clyde DuRant Kirkpatrick
Rather than starting from scratch with a post, I’m going to share with you the eulogy I gave at her funeral. I wish I had transcripts of the sweet words my cousins, Zack and Michael, shared. They made us all laugh, which she would have loved.
If you’d rather watch it than read it, Joseph captured it on his iPhone (thanks, babe). Forgive the ugly cry.
I began by reading Proverbs 31:10-31.
Starting in my late teens and early twenties, I wanted to be the Proverbs 31 woman. She was my hero. A few years ago, I came to the realization that my grandmother was the Proverbs 31 woman, and she was my hero here on earth.
She devoted her life to serving the Lord by serving her husband and her family. She maintained the house, prepared meals for her family, and showed hospitality to all who entered her home.
Grandmama worked diligently with her hands. She enjoyed sewing and other handwork, and she made clothes, blankets, decorations for every holiday, and gifts for others. She even passed on her sewing skills. I believe all of us grandchildren had a lesson on making pillows or Barbie doll clothes at some point.
We all have memories making cookies with her. There were pictures of us making cookies for Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day. She seemed to really love those times with us. It was a tradition that meant a lot to her, and to me as well.
When Grandmama and Pop Pop went camping, they often learned new games, and they enjoyed teaching those games to us. I remember playing the card game Hand and Foot with them one night. I was doing pretty well, and I made sure they knew it. Grandmama said, “Alright, now, you’re getting a little cocky.” She was right. She wanted us to learn and be successful, in big and little things, but she wanted us to do everything with humility.
Grandmama modeled friendship and loyalty for us over the years. She made friends wherever she went, and she maintained those friendships.
She loved to travel, and she and Pop Pop traveled as much as they could. They always thought about us while they traveled, and they sent us postcards, being sure to tell us they were looking forward to seeing us. Even when they were miles and miles away, we were always close to her heart, and she’ll always be close to ours.
When I was in second grade, I came down with the chicken pox. They lasted two weeks. Because I wasn’t allowed to go to school, I went to Grandmama and Pop Pop’s house every day. I remember lots of grilled cheese sandwiches and lots of tea parties. She was so good to me when I was little – and as I got older also.
She and Pop Pop were always supportive of me. They went to my tee ball games, dance recitals, school plays, award ceremonies, Girl Scout recognition days, graduations, and anything else I had going on. Grandmama loved being involved in my life, and I’m really glad I have all of those memories of her being there cheering me on.
Grandmama loved helping us any way she could. When I was little, I was in Girl Scouts. On the weekends, while I was staying with my grandparents, I would scour my handbook for projects I could do to earn badges. I would find one, show it to Grandmama, and ask her for help. She almost always replied with, “Sure!”
We heard the word “sure!” so many times. As we watched the wonderful video Dianna made, we recalled how much Grandmama just loved life, and she lived it to the fullest. We heard “sure!” so much because she was always willing to spend time with us, almost no matter where we asked her to go.
She also had a joyful spirit and a great laugh. A couple of years ago, we all went on a cruise. Grandmama went out into the ocean with us and began swimming as carefree as could be. While she was out there with us, she giggled like I don’t think I’d ever heard her giggle before. It was almost like she was a young girl again, and it was awesome.
Grandmama always talked about how much the Lord had blessed her over the years, especially with her wonderful husband and family. We girls especially love to hear the story of how our grandparents fell in love. Personally, I think it’s one of the greatest love stories ever told. A few years ago, Grandmama wrote this letter to me. I’d like to read part of it to you.
“To start with I’ll tell you how I met Mark. I met his sister, Betty, my freshman year at Winthrop and we became good friends And we ended up rooming together our last two years. I had been home with Betty a few times while Mark was away in the service, and I really liked her parents.
Mark came to Winthrop one weekend to date someone that he had been dating. And I was dating someone else. The girl he was dating got her report card for the semester and her grades were awful. She was a very good student and made very good grades as a normal thing. This upset her so much that she couldn’t continue her date with Mark. My date for the weekend had already left so Mark and I ended up together. Later it was found out that the wrong grades were sent to her and the gardes she had really made were very good. So this was the beginning of Mark and I getting together. My good fortune!
We started writing each other. He invited me to dances at Clemson and he came to Winthrop for dances. This was after he was at Clemson. With us getting together at Clemson and Winthrop and corresponding, it wasn’t very long before I knew that I liked him very much. And I think the feeling was mutual. …
I graduated from college in May of 1948 and Mark was there for the graduation. And I was at Clemson, with Mark’s parents, when he graduated in January 1949.
By this time we knew that we wanted to get married but we wanted to wait until he finished Clemson in January 1949. So we were married in April 1949. And it has been a wonderful almost 60 years and I think our love for each other has grown so much during this time. …
Writing this has brought back many special memories. The Lord has really blessed us. We hace three very nice sons – three daughters-in-law who are like daughters to us and six wonderful grandchildren. …
You asked about any attributes Mark had that I liked. He was considerate, caring, and thoughtful and still is all of this and more.”
Grandmama’s love for Pop Pop was evident to all who knew her. It was a love that grew stronger over the years, and it never wavered. Pop Pop, never, ever doubt that your wife loved you more than anyone on this earth.
As much as Grandmama loved Pop Pop, she also loved the Lord. Growing up, Grandmama and Pop Pop read the Bible together every morning after breakfast. I used to love when they would let me read. Grandmama helped me learn catechisms when I was little (please don’t ask me to recite them now!), and she helped me complete my Bible study worksheets during the summers. A couple of weeks ago, Grandmama was recalling her time battling breast cancer. She said she didn’t know how people could get through things like that without the support of family, friends, and the Lord.
Over the last couple of weeks, these verses in Philippians have been on my mind:
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
Our hearts ache because Grandmama is no longer here with us on earth, but her heart is rejoicing, because she is in her rightful home, and she is no longer suffering. I like to think she had a temporary visa here on earth, but her true citizenship was in heaven, with her Heavenly Father.
Seeing Grandmama pass on Good Friday was a beautiful experience, because Christ was on the forefront of our minds. We rejoiced because we knew Jesus was no longer on the cross, and Grandmama was seeing Him face to face. He told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” Jesus made a way for Grandmama Clyde, and He made a way for all of us as well. There was a celebration in Heaven when Grandmama went home to be with the Lord, and I know she would want each of us to have celebrations of our own some day. I’m sure she would be one of the first people there to greet us. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, I’d love the opportunity to talk to you about Him. I know Grandmama would really want you to get to know Him.
I’m thankful that because of Jesus we have hope and peace. We know that our grief is temporary, because we’ll see Grandmama again someday, and that’s a precious gift, because I miss her like crazy already.
Grandmama Clyde, I love you, and I can’t wait to see you again someday in Heaven.