I missed the boat on delivering a proper eulogy for my Aunt Barb at her funeral on Sunday, so here’s what I would’ve said if I’d realized the floor was open.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Leah Jones – Larry and Linda’s daughter. Aunt Barb was my great aunt – Uncle Jimmy is my late grandma’s little brother. I didn’t realize until today that Jimmy and Barbara were the cool, young aunt and uncle to my parents, because to me they were always the grown ups.
When we got here today, we heard that Aunt Barb’s visitation yesterday is one of the biggest that Brazil has ever seen. Was it 184 cars of people that came through?
Instead of focusing on her biography – the over 50 years of membership to her church, over 50 years of service to the Reelsville Volunteer Fire Department or 62 years of marriage to Uncle Jimmy – I want to share one lesson that we can all take with us when we leave the firehouse today. Something that Aunt Barb taught me and probably all of us.
The lesson is simple.
Just… show up.
I can’t think of a single family celebration – holiday, wedding, funeral, graduation or birthday – when Jimmy and Barb didn’t show up. If two things were scheduled on the same day and hours apart, like my sister and my high school graduations, Jimmy and Barb would split the duties and show up.
Eavesdropping today, I realize she didn’t just show up for the Proctor, Cohn and Jones families. She showed up for all of you. She went to countless football games, pancake breakfasts, bible studies, recitals, weddings, graduations and funerals.
You knew she would be there. Didn’t it feel good to know she would be there? When you saw their minivan pull into the driveway or heard Jim and Barb call hello from the door?
More than that.
We never worried about how she would show up. To my knowledge, nobody ever worried about Barb bringing an argument to the holiday table – nothing beyond whether you should put noodles on your mashed potatoes or gravy.
Obviously gravy goes on the mashed potatoes. Noodles are their own dish.
Even in a world where religion can be contentious and I converted to Judaism, she made sure I knew that I should still show up and that she would still show up for me.
So I want to thank you. Everyone in this room. You have all taken this lesson to heart without realizing it.
You showed up today.
I’ve never been to a funeral where the staff had to keep opening the walls and adding more chairs like this.
It means so much to her family that you are here and that you’ll continue to be here to support Uncle Jimmy, her mom Grace, Tracy, Connie and all the grand kids, great grands and her kids.