"Love 'Em In Spite of Everything"

Hey There Friends and Family...

Family is VERY important to me.When Jake and I got engaged (it seems so long ago), we were thrilled to start building our life together. We were having so much fun telling our families too. One afternoon, we got in the car and headed to see my Mima and PawPaw at their assisted living facility and give them the great news of our engagement.

Mima gave us some relationship advice. It's perhaps the best and most simple advice we've gotten, "Love 'em in spite of everything." That's what kept she and PawPaw married for 68 years! She loved everyone that way. She loved me in spite of seizures and in spite of taking almost as many pills as she did. :-) She was a miraculous woman.

Mima passed away at the end of July and her birthday is later this month. She has been on my mind a lot lately and in an effort for you to "know" ME better, you have to know Mima. So, here are the words that I spoke at her funeral:

My eulogy to my wonderful Mima:

"Throughout my 29 years, I’ve had the blessing of experiencing the love and beauty of my Mima both through a child’s eyes as well as an adult’s. It is impossible to identify a favorite memory of her or an experience but what’s easily determined is that Mima wasn’t the average blue haired, rain bonnet wearing, grumpy grandmother; she was not an average anything.

Each year, we’d pack up the boat of a Lincoln that PawPaw drove, mom's Mazda van and whatever Uncle Mike drove…the entire Callahan clan would head for Cherry Grove beach. We stayed in the same house year after year. I always wanted to ride with Mima and PawPaw--not necessarily because I loved them so much, but because PawPaw always had Double Mint gum in his car, and Mima was always the first to suggest stopping for peach ice cream at Suggs. Unlike most grandma’s, Mima built sand castles, waded in the afternoon pools, collected shells with me and even chased seagulls.

The Callahan clan at the beach.
Who is that cute little girl in the middle?!?

Mima wasn’t the average crafter…. The walls of each of the homes in which I’ve lived have been adorned with her art, very beautiful art. I remember her climbing a ladder to help mom paint the walls of my room as a little girl. Pink walls with free hand blue bows swagging at the edge of the ceiling; average grandmothers don’t climb ladders! Whether it was my girly girl room or the framed art in my home now, I see more than time and talent, I see love and passion.

Mima and Pawpaw 1945
Mima wasn’t the average beauty either. While she was generally perfectly groomed, had a wardrobe that all women envied and jewelry fit for a queen, she knew how to relax. On one particular occasion, she let Sam and I fix her hair. Thankfully, her hair was no longer permed (it used to smell up the kitchen when mom did it on Saturday’s) and it was very short. We decided we’d get out the hair bands that mom and I used and give Mima a pony tail. We wound up giving her pony tails all over her head as she patiently sat and let us wreck her “do.” When we showed her our salon masterpiece she responded, “It looks like a cat’s butt!” Again, not the average grandmother comment!

Mima didn’t stick to only the prim and proper southern hospitality opportunities of family meals at her house. While it might not have been her best tasting meal, this was the one that was the most special- home-made egg salad sandwiches, celery stuffed with homemade pimento cheese, cold caffeine free diet coke…all finished off with a Little Debbie Nutty Bar... a staple in the Callahan home. It was so great to me because this was the picnic she packed for every horse show in which I competed. It didn’t matter where it was, how hot it was, or how nasty it smelled, Mima was always there with her signature horse show goodies. Regardless of how badly I rode or how horrible Larry (my horse, not my boyfriend!) was, she always said, “You should have won…the judge must be blind.”

My “adult” memories of her are quite different, as over the years she did change. Her sweet spirit and passion remained very evident…still, not your average woman.

For example, throughout her life, Mima was a very dedicated shopper. She could spend just 15 minutes in TJ Maxx and come away with 4 different fabulous outfits. If shopping had been an Olympic sport, Mima would have been a gold medalist. As both a blessing and curse, Mom and I received her gene for searching for a great-looking bargain and, together, we have managed to carry on her passion for shopping.

It was very important to me that Mima and PawPaw be right here in this sanctuary when I got married in September last year. After I got engaged last spring, Mom and I knew a shopping spree on Mima’s behalf was required! We purchased 3 “grandmother of the bride” outfits and decided we’d let her choose the one she wanted. While seeing each outfit on the hanger was pretty good, I volunteered to model them. Her modest room at Pennybyrn instantly became New York fashion week as I tried to strut my stuff for her. She studied the lines, the stitching and colors of each option and for each of the three choices said, “Yeah, I’d look good in that.” She decided to keep all three! Let me tell you she didn’t look good in it. Nope! She looked the MOST beautiful I’d seen her look in many years. Her skin was smooth, her lips were glossed and her eyes twinkled again. It was a glorious day in many

Mom, Uncle Mike, Pawpaw, and Mima on my wedding day
While my heart is heavy and I will miss her desperately, I take comfort in knowing from where I come. I’m a Callahan woman… and will never be just average. Thanks, Mima!"