I made the incredibly difficult decision to write and also read something at the funeral on Friday morning, and really there's no better way to sum up my grandma. So...here it is...
Grandma, Granny, Gran, Town Grandma, Kay Sonya…all things that I have called this lady in the past. As her only granddaughter, our relationship was deeper than it might be for some grandmother/granddaughter pairs. She was my friend, my prayer warrior, and my encourager.
For Christmas 1999 when I was a sophomore in high school, I gave my grandmother a journal-type book that was meant to be completed and serve as a memoir of sorts. I of course completely forgot about this book…but grandma didn’t. Because in 2005, as I was graduating college, I received the book back…fully complete. It’s full of memories and anecdotes and favorite Bible verses…but one of the headings was entitled…”You are only a failure if…” And these are the words she wrote.
You are only a failure if…you have never shared your life with anyone-and have no one to share your life with. Whether it’s your family or a friend who just needs to know they are important to you.
As we are all gathered here today, I think we can certainly say that Kay Sonya did not fail in this life. If sharing your life with others is a mark of success or failure, I can only say that she set the bar at the highest point imaginable. She most certainly shared her life with us and being her granddaughter, I had the incredible privilege of sharing my life with her for nearly 32 years. We shared life in ways that are too numerous to mention and the memories of our times together are as fresh in my mind as if most of them happened yesterday.
From the older memories of the novels she would write in each birthday card and the roast, mashed potatoes, and cooked carrots she would fix many Sundays because it was my favorite meal…to the much more recent memories of her playing her red French horn kazoo at our wedding and how Nick #2 and I caused her to break into tears & shakes as we revealed that Baby Girl Layman #2 was going to be named Nora Kay. Of course maybe what I remember most about that moment is that Kay Sonya was rendered speechless, as we all know that didn’t happen very often; which is something she so wonderfully has passed along to my mother & me.
My grandma shared her faith with us. As a beautiful illustration of Jesus, she shared her home, her love, her encouragement, and maybe most importantly…her prayers with nearly everyone in this room. I remember her telling me after Nick & I were engaged, that she had been praying for him. Not him specifically, but the person that I would marry. This blew me away…that someone would pray for something that technically didn’t exist yet. But for many of you, Kay Sonya may have had an even bigger impact on your life than you even know as prayers were sent up on your behalf without your knowledge.
My grandma shared her strength with us. Encouragement was embedded in her soul and regardless of her circumstances or the circumstances of others, she was always lifting others up and encouraging them to be a better person or to achieve all they had dreamed of. She was a woman of great strength, who fought through many incredible battles until our Heavenly Father gave her permission not to fight anymore.
My grandma shared God’s love with us. In the same journal she wrote…”I think that real success means being at peace with yourself and the security of knowing that you have shared God’s love with others.” I am fairly confident that not one of you ever encountered Kay Sonya and didn’t walk away feeling as if you had been touched by God’s love. And in many cases it may have been a more tangible feeling as you were left with remnants of her current perfume scent or red lipstick stained cheeks.
My grandma shared her humility with us. She was so many things in this life…daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, Sunday School teacher, school aide, kazoo player, artist…however, I honestly believe that she did none of those things for her own glory. She wanted each and every one of us to know Jesus and for Him to be glorified in everything she did.
And so, in Gran’s words…I pray that you all share your life with others. Share your life that is only the way it is because of Jesus and his everlasting love for you. Share your life that is certainly not perfect, Grandma’s wasn’t either, but IS a perfect reflection of God’s powerful mercy and grace. Share your life the way Kay Sonya did…and as she wrote in her own words…you will certainly not be considered a failure.
And as a tribute to her love of playing kazoos at any and every occasion, a kazoo choir of sorts was formed for her graveside service with nearly 100 people joining us in Victory in Jesus on kazoo. It was a precious moment, and one that I know had Kay Sonya looking down on with a huge smile on her face.