So my family picked me to give the Eulogy for my Grandma so I’m flying out to California to give it. I’ve given all kinds of talks. Commencements, rotary, conventions, and motivational but never a eulogy. My family sent me a ton of info on my Grandma but it felt like those were their moments. The other issue is she lived to be 95 and had done a TON of things so if I were to list them it would be 55 pages. So this is what I’m starting with. I’ll punch it up a little. Don’t worry about spelling and punctuation. Nobody is going to see it but us. Plenty of you tell me I suck at spelling and punctuation and I still don’t really care .
If I were to have to give a title to the eulogy of today I would probably call it “Now that’s how you do it”. Throughout her life Jackie Koenig was presented with many of the challenges and obstacles that life brings to all of us . But every moment in her life she had someone to share that part of the journey. A lifetime of friends and family to help guide, stand beside, or follow her for those 95 years. The greatest part of what I am going to say is that it came from the words of Grandma herself. When I say “that’s how you do it” I say that because until her last days, Grandma could still tell stories complete with the names and places. To me that’s my dream. To live an incredibly full life, surrounded by people that love me, and be able to tell stories from that life from beginning until the end. A true gift.
Grandma lost her Father when she was only 2 years old. To add to it, it happened in the middle of the Depression. Fortunately for Grandma she had been blessed and was born to one of the toughest women you’ll ever meet. Her mother Gladys, Gram to most of us . Gram was either was born strong and confident or was forced to become that person raising 2 girls by herself. Grandma had an older sister Betty , who while had a little of the fighting spirit of Gram, was one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve met. Add in Gram’s Mom ,who came to help , and you had 4 women, navigating life during one of the hardest periods in a American history. Strong women, building strong women
If you knew Grandma you know two of her favorite things in life were dancing and sewing. The dancing started in Chicago as a kid. Taking lessons from Helen Hays in the church basement and continuing those lessons until she moved to Edna McRae’s classes 3-4 days a week. Grandma even took a job dancing at the Edgewater Hotel to help her family. And while in High School she met Joe. My Grandfather. Tall, handsome, with a full head of hair that he did a horrible job passing down. The family made it through the Great Depression only to have World War II break out. Grandpa joined the Signal Corp and Grandma the USO. Both doing their duties to help the country.
Both were fortunate to come home safely and create the family you see here today. 4 kids and a couple thousand Grandkids. And this is where I come in to share my thoughts and memories of Grandma. As a child you think everything you experience and the people you have in your life are what everyone else also has. Everyone had Grandparents that were madly in love, even after 50 years. That while they loved their kids and grandkids they put their time and heart into keeping their relationship strong because the kids would eventually leave and it would be back to being them. I remember my Mom having a little trouble being considered number 2. She didn’t realize until later that the love for number 2 was still more love than anyone could ever need. I myself have been married for 27 years and I credit that to my Grandparents who reminded me to give my wife the love and attention she needed while raising kids. So when our daughter left for college we did what Grandma and Grandpa did. We said “Alright lets go have some fun now”
Grandma and Grandpa added to the “that’s how you do it” story by retiring before they were 50 and moved to California. And this was the California before it became well today’s California. The great weather and the chance to live by family brought out most of the kids to live in California as well. Letting Grandma get to watch her kids and grandkids grow up. The sewing I mentioned earlier became a big part of her life. She became a member of the Monday Night Quilt group that met every Tuesday (I assume that’s a California Traffic thing). While Grandpa always came first, her friends filled the rest of her heart. Just as a young child, Grandma guided, stood shoulder to shoulder with, and followed a group of people that filled her life with happiness.
When my Grandma lost my Grandfather we knew it was going to be exceptionally difficult. I said earlier that it was always Joe and Jackie. They came as a package. But Jackie Koenig was strong like she always had been and her friends , her four kids, and their grandkids were more than enough to provide all the happiness a person could ever want. Grandpa was the center of attention but Grandma was always the center. She was the backbone of the family all along.
The last 15 years of my Grandmothers years were filled with two major events. Grandmas house burnt to the ground in the San Diego fires. Leaving her with essentially only a toothbrush. And she met a man named Joe. I said Grandma was like Bewitched. If you’re old enough you remember that in the middle of Bewitched they changed actors who played Darren . So one day you are watching and there is a new person with the same name on the show. I say this in Jest other but the two Joes may not have looked the same but they had a common characteristic. They both loved Jackie. It’s rare to find love at 80 but my Grandmother was rare. Every who knew Jackie loved Jackie. And that house that burned down? Within a day Grandma had a napkin out on the table sketching how she wanted the new house to be laid out.
The only down side of living to 95 is that there are so many memories that I could talk here for 3 hrs. I have been sent 10 pages of memories from many of you about your Aunt, your grandma, your great grandma and your Mom. They are incredible stories and memories but they are yours to tell and share. We all considered Grandpa to be the best storyteller there every was but we knew where the stories came from. The woman we celebrate here today. The best way to celebrate her is to make sure your kids and their kids remember and know Jackie Koenig. Keep her pictures and her stories on the walls of your homes and the tip of your tongue. I’ll conclude my words by letting you in on a secret to Grandma’s long life. And this is true. Grandma ate a sweet roll for breakfast every day. Not a power shake, a behind the scenes shot of whiskey, or even a bowl of cereal with fruit on it. She ate a sweet roll. So all of you that want to find 9 decades of a sound mind and body you may want to hit up a Cinnabon every day
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