A Eulogy for Patricia Caywood, My Grandmother

by Nathan on April 28, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and family:

We are gathered together today to mourn the loss of a decent and virtuous woman, to share the grief we all feel, and, perhaps, to learn something from this woman’s lifetime of goodness.

In sharing our grief and sadness, let us all reflect and meditate upon her life’s example, from which we all can draw inspiration to guide each of us for the rest of our lives.

Patricia Dorothy Caywood was a very special person.

She was born a subject of the British Crown, yet was uniquely American. Though she spent 51 years on this soil, she never lost her Englishness. Her accent was sweet and gentle, reminding us of that little village girl from Oxfordshire. From this working class town she inherited a disciplined work ethic and a sharp sense of fair play. Planting her roots in her new homeland, she adopted our American values, embracing the hope of upward mobility and the strong bond of community, especially that of our small church. I can’t prove this, but I will bet that she was the only member of any Southern Baptist congregation with an English accent. Nevertheless, she was an American who took in all this country has to offer, while never losing the manners and attitudes of her English forebears.

She was never formally schooled, yet was a wise educator. She was a Sunday school teacher for 12 years, every week teaching the divine precepts of that supreme headmaster. I remember as a child learning to read under her patient, yet persistent tutoring. In fact, I attribute my lifetime love of reading and of learning to this woman. So it is that one of my proudest memories was when I, in turn, taught her something. I cherish having had the opportunity to teach her long-division for her high school diploma at the age of 55. We have all learned something, about life, about ourselves, and even about God from this woman. She was certainly a wise and caring teacher.

She was never a rich person, yet was always charitable. She earned a humble living, working as our church’s custodian and as a nanny. But she gave generously, her time and her money, to the church, to local community charities, and to those in need. She always thought about herself last. Always. Indeed, shortly after she was diagnosed, she was worried, not about her own well-being, but about that of her cat Simba’s. Her humanity was always extended to our friends with four legs. She forsook material possessions – she never really cared from fancy clothes or impressive cars – she forsook material possessions so that she could help her friends, family, and community.

To me, my grandmother – my Nan – always believed in me. She saw something in me that others did not. She could always tease out my potential, inspiring me to keep buggering on no matter what. So when I first learned of her diagnosis, I fell into a state of despair and self-pity. I wept and I wallowed. And then I wondered, who now would believe in me? But as my eyes dried, I came to realize, that you must believe in yourself. She did her job – now its up to you. And though, this woman, my Nan, is no longer around to push and motivate me, her soul is still there. Her example, as a shining model of everyday Christian virtue, is there. Her example on how to lead a supremely good and decent life is there for all those who care to look.

So let us give thanks today for a life that touched so many, for a life that now serves as a beacon to guide us, God’s children.


AK April 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm

I am so sorry I wasnt able to be there but know how very proud your Nan was of you. Thanks for posting this, Dave told me you did a beautiful job. Xoxo – AK

Nathan May 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Thanks, Krys. It was very inspiring how many people showed up for this little old lady’s wake and funeral. She touched the hearts of many, and will be missed by many as well.

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