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Episode 140. My Grandmother’s Legacy

Episode 140

My Grandmother’s Obituary:

Mary Elizabeth Lang Huck, 91, of Vincent died at Marietta Memorial Hospital on the morning of December 30, 2022.

She was born May 9, 1931, in Lowell, Ohio to the late William and Eleanor Dyar Lang. She attended Fisher School and Lowell High School where she graduated in 1949. She worked at B.T. Tharpe Store, the Clean Spot and Marietta Truck Growers in Lowell before she was married.

She was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Churchtown, Ohio and the Catholic Women’s Club. She was a lifelong homemaker, farmer and one of the most prolific quilt makers in the area. She took great pride in sending quilts and comforters to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio over the years. She loved cooking, playing cards and spending time with family especially grandchildren and great grandchildren.

She is survived by her husband of 69 years, Regis E. Huck, whom she married September 15, 1953; her six children Bill (Karen), Alan (Peggy), Eugene (Teresa), Fred (Cary), Ann Eichmiller (Jack) and Don (Pam); 13 grandchildren; 20 great grandchildren; siblings Paul Lang (Muriel), Maxine Warnock and Martha Stevens.

She was preceded in death by her infant son and siblings Howard, Norbert and Eugene Lang, Patricia Stehly and infant sibling.

Funeral Liturgy Mass will be held 10:00 AM, Wednesday, January 4, 2023, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Churchtown, Ohio with The Rev. David Gaydosik celebrating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery.

Visitation will be Tuesday, January 3, 2023 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Marietta Chapel of Cawley & Peoples Funeral Home with Rosary at 4:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the St. John’s School Foundation. The family would like to thank all who participated in her care including the staff at Marietta Memorial Hospital, Drs. Lloyd Dennis and Justin Lindsey.

Cawley & Peoples is honored to serve Mary’s family and offers online condolences as well as many other resources by visiting their website, or by going to their Facebook page.

My beloved Grandma Huck passed away at the end of 2022. We just got back to Idaho after her funeral in Ohio and I have to tell you that with her passing, I feel changed. I feel like our family’s hearts will be forever full and forever broken at the same time.

I debated on sharing about her. She was so special it’s one of those loves, one of those special relationships you hold super close to your heart because it was that special. But I also think that her legacy is too powerful not to share.

The last days of her life were noteworthy. She was 91. She and grandpa lived at home on their farm by themselves. She did not suffer from disease. Her heart was weak from age. She died of old age. Her last day at home was Christmas Day surrounded by her family. The next day she woke up feeling confused. A uti had taken hold. (Just as a note, a uti plus low sodium can cause confusion in older people, so if a loved one of yours ever has something like that happen, ask that their sodium levels be checked). All of her children (minus a stillborn son, her first child) are all alive and well…so are all of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. In this day and age, that is a miracle and every mother’s dream to outlive her family. During her passing she was surrounded by her children and husband. It’s my understanding that she spoke of seeing stars. She spent moments in her hospital bed threading an imaginary needle like she would be doing if she were at home. She then sewed with that needle. Grandma prayed the rosary on repeat in her delirium. I don’t think enough of us would default to the rosary as automatically as Grandma did.

When I heard that she wasn’t doing well, I sat down to write her a letter. I had had it on my heart for a while to write her so she knew how special she was to me. There was part of me that understood that she already knew and that it might not arrive in time. I tried to overnight it so someone could read it to her, but the next morning was a holiday and the mail was delayed. My letter didn’t arrive in time. But it did arrive for my grandpa. I heard through the grapevine that it helped him. The final thought in that letter is what has helped me the most. I debated whether or not to share it with you because it is a personal letter from me to her. But I decided I will read it to you because it is a wonderful summary of her life and what she meant to me and so many others.

My Letter to Her:

Grandma, you are one of my favorite people in the whole world. There is no one like you. I’ve known how special you are since I was a little kid and have admired you always. All of my favorite childhood memories are at your house eating with family, playing with cousins, and playing cards with everyone. (And of course all the times you and I won hand and foot together. We are unstoppable, even on the rare occasions we lose).

I always feel like I belong when I’m at your house around your kitchen table. You have a wonderful way of making everyone around your table feel like they belong. The world tries to convince people that they don’t belong. But never you—you make people feel good and welcome and then feed them the most delicious food just to drive the point home.

I’ve eaten at 5 star restaurants around the world and there is no meal I’d rather have than a lunch at your house. Thank you for making me my birthday lunch this year. And thanks for making yours and letting us celebrate with you! (Thanks to Grandpa, too, cause I know he is your good and faithful sous chef).

Your hospitality is something I try to emulate in my own life. You’ve taught me the importance of being a good host who makes good food. You’ve shown me what it means to be good company—someone people want to laugh and tell stories with. When people come to my house it’s a bit like when people come to your house. They’re getting a dose of you even if they haven’t met you. Thanks for showing me how.

I’m a better mom because of you. The steady message I’ve gotten from you my whole life has been “children are a blessing” and “God always provides for a child.” As a mom now, I know these are true. Thank you for that steady message. And for making me feel like a blessing and a beloved granddaughter always, even when I’ve lived far away.

Your faith is the cornerstone of my faith. I know I’m supposed to say my Dad’s is, and he gets a lot of credit for taking me to church for so many years and steering me straight, but it’s your faithfulness and how you live out your faith that has made the biggest impact on me.

The only thing that helps me come to terms with the thought that we won’t always get to be together in this world is knowing we’ll be together for eternity in heaven with Jesus and our whole family you created and nourished. Knowing I’ll get to embrace you in heaven and rejoice with you always will be a hope and vision I carry with me my whole life, even when I’m an old woman and, God willing, a great-grandmother myself.

I love you, Grandma. So very deeply. I’m glad Amelia has Mary as a namesake. I’m glad she’s gotten to know you. I’m glad all my children have met you despite living so far away. They adore you like I do. So many people do. Thank you for being the brightest light I’ve ever known. Your love is constant in my mind and heart—for that, and for the privilege of being your granddaughter—I’m forever grateful.

I don’t have any regrets. I can’t even be sad that she didn’t get the letter in time because I know she knew how much I loved & admired her. This past year was special, too. Because we were on the mainland, I got to see her for Mother’s Day, her birthday, and my birthday. My girls (& my sister) made her her birthday cake. She made me my birthday lunch. She and grandpa taught my girls how to make her famous noodles from scratch. There is so much I still wanted to do with her. I wanted to learn quilting techniques and sit with her while she quilted, I wanted her on the podcast, but didn’t at the same time (she didn’t even know what a podcast was). I wanted to record more of her voice. I loved her thick Appalachian twang. I wanted to make more noodles with her. I wanted to play more cards. (I have had a few devastating thoughts of who will by my partner in cards from now on?) I want to be able to call her still and laugh and cackle together. I want to pick up the phone and call her now. I wasn’t done with her. But the truth is, I was never going to be done with her. There would never be a time I was going to be done wanting to be with her. My gosh. What a legacy. To be the mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother so many were never going to be done with. That kind of legacy was built on character, intention, faith, and how she showed up every day for 91 years.

I want to tell you about her so you can know her, too. Grandma Huck was incredible. She ministered from her kitchen table. Sister Viennie. College students. Priests. Nuns. Aunts. Friends of her kids and grandkids. We brought everyone to Grandma Huck so they could bask in her light, too. We brought people to sit at her table, eat her delicious (and famous) homemade food, play cards, visit, and just let them experience an afternoon of love and belonging. In a world that tries to tell you to be kind, be loving, and demands that you do or say or act a certain way that makes people feel like they “belong,” Grandma Huck showed me what true kindness, love, and belonging is…in only a way that a mother can.

Grandma knew her role as mother, grandmother, and great grandma were important. But she didn’t talk about how important her roles were, she showed us by loving us, feeding us, listening, playing, sharing stories, reminding us how fortunate we are, and loving big. She believed children were a blessing, grandkids were the icing, and great grandkids were the cherry on top.

I kind of hoped I’d get to read something I wrote for Grandma at her funeral, but instead she had a funeral mass. She told everyone there wasn’t anything to say at the end of one’s life, that your life speaks for itself. You guys. I can tell you that’s true. And she lived that truth. I did get to read at her funeral, but I read the first reading of Proverbs 31. I’ll share what I read with you now.

Proverbs 31

At her funeral my 5 year old was taking me out of the moment. I just wanted to be present and sad at my grandmother’s funeral. She kept insisting

I made a big dinner in honor of her and there were her cookies.

The next day I visited Grandpa Huck and he pulled cookies out of the freezer. I saw her last grocery list that she had started that grandpa just added to the bottom of. They are practical people.

The next night mom had a jar of Grandma Huck peaches on the counter. And I got it. Grandma is with us.

Motherhood is so important.

Grandma liked to tell the story of going to the social security office and having a woman condescendingly ask “and what did you do?” Ironically, Grandma would never have thought to treat someone like that or talk down to them. The harshest thing I’ve ever heard her say about anyone was when she described a specific person as “odd.” Even then it was said with an air of they are odd therefore we should have a little compassion for them.

Teenagers loved her. Kids loved her. Grownups loved her. People would come to her home and take pictures of her house (which was mostly walls of pictures of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren). They would take photos of her walls of john deere tractor gifts (because if there was something with a john deere on it, they’d think of grandma and buy it for her). They’d take pictures of her quilts. Her kitchen table. You guys…this year on the front of a Christmas card was a picture of someone visiting with Grandma at her kitchen table—front and center on a Christmas card!

That’s goals. I want my kitchen table to be well loved like that. What an honor it would be to have a photo taken around my table and have it put front and center on a Christmas card so that when others received it, they’d know. They’d recognize the table and the good times had around it. They’d see a photo of my table and be like “Ah, I know that table. That was a good day. Totally a Christmas card worthy moment.”

Mamas, I beg you to look at your life through the lens of legacy. To understand that your role as mother is the most important one you’ll ever have. You are changing the world when you show up for your kids and make them understand they are a blessing. You minister in the mundane. Your kitchen table is a springboard for so much love. Feeding your family nourishing homecooked meals, welcoming friends into your home, loving big, listening to others without judgement any harsher than “they’re just a little odd,” sharing stories of your own life and family (even on repeat), and pausing to stop and play and laugh can be elements of a beautiful legacy. Moms are incredible. Children are a blessing. God always provides for a child.

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