A eulogy from a granddaughter to her grandmother–written and read at her homegoing celebration in December 2006:
Amazing, Beautiful, Anointed, Cherished, Blessed, Loved, Strong, Radiant, Joyful, Patient, Everlasting, and Memorable.
These words cannot begin to describe, or properly capture the life of Gertrude Tyler. But today we try through word and song, to let each other know how much of an impact she has had on our lives. For it is not how she died, but how she lived–that is the true measure of what she was and still is worth.
How many tears did she wipe away? How many hands did she hold? How many people did she comfort when her own heart was failing? How strong was her faith and her committment to family? How much did she love without building walls to keep herself from injury? How many people did she make feel worth living another day? How easily did she reach out to others? How easy was it for her to speak a kind word, to share a laugh, to dance without worry? How many days was she so overcome with the pure joy of living, that her body overflowed with happiness?
The truth is seen in everyone who is here today, and those who we do not see. We may not know the exact number of lives that she touched, but we do know that her life has touched a community. And for an only child, the ripples that she created will go on forever.
I stand in awe of the fact that God thought us so special, to let us borrow her for 87 years, before calling her home again. He knew that we needed her brand of guidance, he knew that we needed her love, and He knew that the world would be that much better by her being here. And while we knew that we were chosen, we all felt that somehow, Nannie would live forever.
I am here to say that she still lives on. While her body, the vehicle that accompanied her on her travels, will be laid to rest, her vivacious spirit will be darting around us until we too are called home. It is now that I wish to challenge you, to live as she did.
To bring joy to someone else’s life “just because”. To pay a sincere compliment. To comfort someone who is hurting because it was put on your heart to do so. To hug, to dance, to sing, to be so filled with joy that your own body overflows with happiness. To honor her memory by going forth to do great works, through simple, loving gestures. To find beauty in the most unusual places. To not care about what other people will think at the end of the day, except you and God. To live boldly and with purpose as Nannie has lived.
And finally, Nannie. I want to first thank God for allowing us to be chosen to be in your life for your appointed time on this Earth. I want to thank you for healing my wounds with your care, laughter, and wisdom. For seeing the beauty in me when I couldn’t see it myself. For lifting my soul to soaring with your joy, your spirituality, and song. For helping me understand what love really means. For allowing me inside the dreams of your heart so I could know the real you. For marrying my grandfather and having my mom, my uncle, and my aunt, whose choices in love and in life helped bring about 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. For being the epitome of grace and individual style. For each day I was blessed to spend with you.
And most of all Nannie, I thank you for how you lived your life– so unapologetically and on purpose.
As I stand here, and know that the day is almost at an end. And the sun, it races across this unseasonably warm December sky in search of twilight–I know my eyes will have to accept the truth and soon only see you in my dreams until God calls me home. I will miss you–as I know others will, until the end of our days–but now I know the meaning of mercy and am thankful for it.
Mother, daughter, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, niece, wife, cousin, friend, colleague, classmate, neighbor.
Mrs. Tyler, Gertrude, Gertie, Aunt Gert, Sis, Mama, Momsie, Mom, Nannie, Nannie-Boat, Cotton-top, Boatie, Boatie-babe, Gallant Fox, bo plenty, Gertie Merrill, Skipper…
we will miss irreplaceable you.