CELEBRATION OF LIFE: GOLDEN GRAM

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On November 12, 2017 over one hundred family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of Goldie Don Huie. A beloved mother, grandmother, and longtime educator who lived 93 years on earth. 

Goldie was the daughter of Mo Yin Chan and Don Shack Toy. She grew up downtown where her family ran a market. She attended Davis Elementary, Roskruge Middle, Tucson High, UC Berkeley and graduated from The University of Arizona. Goldie was a longtime teacher with the Flowing Wells School District. Goldie was preceeded in death by daughter, Lauren Lily and devoted husband, Ben Ying Huie. Survived by her five children, Sharon (Stephen), Douglas (Debbie), Patricia (Sam), Audrey (Alberto), Carolyn (Richard) and ten grandchildren, Darren (Amy), Stephanie (Jeff), Kelsey, Elizabeth, Lauren, Daniel, Matthew, Ryley, Lily and Elena.

My Mom is one of the daughters and her gift is creating beauty and that's exactly what she did. Grandma Goldie's celebration of life was orchestrated beautifully at the Tucson Botanical Gardens with a slideshow created by my cousin Stephanie and even a dance to "Halo" by Beyonce choreographed by my sister, Lauren. 

As my offering, I spoke a few words and shared a final "Golden Crane" prayer for Grandma Goldie. Below is an audio recording and also a transcription in tribute to a woman well-loved and a life well-lived.

FOR GOLDEN GRAM

As I take off on what will be a 28-hour, 4-part flight home, I realize that when I get there, Grandma won’t be. She won’t be there for a hug or a kiss or a good story. She won’t be there for a laugh or a smile or even an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen. Her peaceful soul has passed on from this realm to the next.

I’m in tears at this realization. Thousands of miles up in the clouds surrounded by strangers and wondering how I got here. Being on this flight triggers an old memory of when I was little and I used to get motion sickness. I remember being four or five years old, boarding the plane and sitting in the middle seat next to Grandma on my right. Takeoffs were the hardest and as we began to take off I buried my face in Grandma’s warm chest and squeezed her tight. I felt her warm soft body like a safety blanket, my protection from the storm and I realized that’s how Grandma loved, radiating warmth and simply being there when we needed her the most.

Though Grandma was special to each of us in our own way, whether as a loving mother, grandmother or caring friend, in every role she was a teacher. And while she taught me many things, there are two lessons or gifts she’s given that I will treasure forever.

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The first, as I mentioned was the way she loved. Osho says, “Love should be like breathing. It should just be a quality in you.” When I think of Grandma’s love, that’s how it feels. Soft. Emanating. Effortless.  She wasn’t running around forcing her love on you, trying too hard or worrying about what everyone thought. She sat still and allowed the love within and around her to simply be. She was fully present in every moment. She taught me to love just by breathing. The second thing Grandma taught me was storytelling. I will highlight the word “story” singular because 9/10 times Grandma would tell me the same story.

The story is a tall tale about when I was born and she stole me from the hospital “you’re the baby I stole” she would say every time she saw me. She would tell me of how she put me in the car and how we drove all the way to my Mom’s house talking away, “well I mostly talked”, she would say. She said we were so immersed in conversation we even missed a turn. When we did get home, she got a call from the hospital, “Hello, this is Tucson Medical Center, we’re going to need you to bring Kelsey back for her to be checked out.” She would then look at me, “well you didn’t say anything.”

Over the years, that story grew, to the point where in one version the police came. While my Mom has assured me that never happened and at this point it’s unclear whether this story happened at all, it doesn’t really matter. What Grandma told me in her story, no matter what version, is that she loved me so much that she would be willing to steal me from the hospital just to show it. And I think if I had one more moment with Grandma, we’d lay down in her room on her super soft pillows and I’d hug her while she told me this story one more time.

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The last thing I’d like to say is that I believe souls choose their parents before they are born. I believe they chose the lessons they’re meant to learn on this earth. And even though Grandma’s childhood wasn’t easy and I’m only now learning more about her life, I am so grateful that Grandma chose her mother, Lily. That my aunts, uncle, and mom chose Grandma and that each of the grandkids chose this family too.  

Family isn’t always easy, in many cases it’s not, but this celebration of life is sewn together and orchestrated with so much love and grace.

And I thank each of you for choosing to be here to celebrate our Golden Gram.

Grandma, we all love you so much. Thank you for teaching us how to love. 

GOLDEN CRANE PRAYER

Let’s take a  moment to bow our heads in a closing prayer for Grandma Goldie.

Heavenly Father, Divine Creator, we thank you for this moment and this life.

We thank you for the opportunity to honor and celebrate a woman well loved and a life well lived.

While we’ve shared many special memories today, what rings true in each is how Grandma touched our hearts with her unconditional love and grace.

So in this moment, I invite each of you to go into your heart space. And as you go into your heart space, I invite you to allow the love and tenderness of Grandma’s golden light IN.

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As you feel her golden light filling your heart, I invite you to see two cranes: one that represents your soul and one that represents hers.  Maybe these two cranes are dancing together, flying together, watching horses, or having their favorite chocolate ice cream.

The Chinese consider the crane a heavenly bird and symbol of wisdom. Its powerful wings were believed to be able to carry souls up to heaven. It is said that a thousand folded cranes, one for each year of its life, makes a wish come true.

In this moment, I invite you to think of a wish you want to send from your heart to hers.

Connect to your one golden wish, take a deep breath, and set it free as all of our cranes combined carry Grandma’s soul up to heaven to be with Grandpa, Lauren Lily, and her Mother.

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And now a last moment of silence.

I’ll ring the bell three times and on the third bell, you’re welcome to open your eyes and squeeze the hand of someone next to you.

Wishing you all good health, happiness, and a world of eternal peace.

Thank you. Bless you.

We love you, Grandma.

Amen.

My sister Lauren, mother Audrey, me and Golden Gram horsie :)

My sister Lauren, mother Audrey, me and Golden Gram horsie :)