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Mema’s Eulogy

 Eulogy for Lula Rosalia (Hughes) Ritchie, Thursday, January 7, 2010, written and read by Kim Myers at the funeral in St John the Apostle Catholic Church.  I am Kimberly Smith Myers, and Rosalia Hughes Ritchie was my grandmother – a fact of which I think we were both equally proud. Born Feb. 6, 1914, she may have entered the world on a snowy day such as this.  My name is Kimberly Anne, and I can still see it written in her dainty Victorian handwriting that is such a lost art today. That is just one of the many things I will miss about Mema – as he came to be known to my brother, Tim, when he became her first grandchild, and to me, when I came along eleven months later.  Mema was there for my mom and dad. Water had to be carried, diapers washed out by hand, and for a while, two little ones had to be rocked at the same time. Mom said, to keep her sanity, she just treated us like twins. I like to tell Tim he did everything a little late, and I did everything a little early – that’s why I’m smarter!  Mema took to mothering at the age of seven, when her mother, Adelia, died suddenly and left behind four children and a baby, Roy. Her sister, Bea, was older, but somehow it was Rosalia who took the lead in the family. At first they lived with her “Papa’s” parents, but later Albert Hughes moved his family to a farm on the backside of Flaherty.  She didn’t leave ‘til the day she married Bernard Ritchie, on September 18, 1934. Father Gettlefinger did the honors at St. Martin Catholic Church and they came back to a fried chicken dinner, courtesy of her Aunt Mabel Hughes. Mema wore a store-bought gown, made her veil, and gathered her bouquet of maiden hair fern and bridal veil spirea out of the front yard. The old house still stands today.  After living with Bernard’s parents for awhile, they bought a farm on Hwy 79 which came to be the Ritchie homestead, and moved their children, Betty Anne (my mom), Delored (Dee, as we liked to call her), Shirley Rosalia (boy did they name her right!), and Joe Marian, there in 1945.  Farm life was good, filled with fresh air, hard work, faith and family. Mem had a garden, canned, raised chickens and turkeys, and even helped out with the cattle, pigs, and other livestock on the farm. They never missed Mass, and she said the rosary as a family every night. Mema was a member of the Altar Society, and took her turn bringing the altar linens home to wash and iron.  Mema never was afraid to take her turn to step up and lend a hand. She was pretty good with advice, too, especially about your appearance…but that’s another story! Mema taught us all many things. She taught us to be proud of who you are. She always used to talk to us about who our relatives were, and told us stories about them. It seemed like she knew everybody. Every time I dated someone in high school, she’d say, “Well, he’s your cousin!” And I’d think, “I didn’t know I had so many cousins!”  She taught us how to care for people and included them in our life. If she heard about someone having something bad happen, she’d say, “We’ve got to do something for them!” She worried about everybody.  Mema taught us how to have fun. She liked to say that Dee was the “monkey in the family,” because Dee was always making a joke or playing a trick, and I think she got some of her sense of humor from Mema. Mema got Pa on April Fools Day every year, and she could deliver a funny remark with a deadpan expression and then wink at you. Her expressions! If I’d say, “Oh, Lord!” She’d say “Well, call on somebody you know!” Or if I’d say, “Well, shoot!” She’d say, “Don’t shoot this way!”  Mema taught us about faith, both in God and in each other. I loved to hear Mema and Pa say the rosary…their voices would layer over each other with a practice that came through the years. Mema would always give out and Pa would respond. There was the deepest feeling of security that came with those peaceful voices. I know she prayed the night the doctor called to ask permission to treat Shirley for a gunshot wound. It turns out Shirley was walking in front of Joe one night when out frogging, and the rifle went off, hitting her in the lower calf.  Mema taught us to be creative. She was known for her crafts and arrangements. Being a member of the Midway Homemakers Club and learning new things at their lessons were some of her favorite times. She was always trying something new. Once we took her out to eat and she brought the lobster shell home to show Pa. They’d never seen a real lobster before.  Mema taught us to be grateful. The people of her generation lived through times of depression, influenza, and two world wars, and it forged them an optimism that carried them through their lives. She thought it was important to thank people and she would want to thank all of you who are here today for her.  Thank you, Mom, for all you did to make her feel special…and Fred, for going above and beyond the call of a son-in-law. Thank you, Shirley, for having the patience to handle all of her medical bills…and Jerry for the visits. To Bruno, for keeping her birdfeeders full of seed…and to Joe Marion, for the cards and calls from E-town. To Jamie, for the Sunday milkshakes and pretty fingernails…and to Kittie, for the zinnias which brought memories of her flower gardens she used to grow.  Thanks to my husband, Joe, for looking out for her, even carrying her out of the house when we had a tornado warning. To the Sisters of St John Church, for bringing communion on Thursdays.  To Bea Ann Reesor, for never forgetting to see how she was doing. And to so many caregivers who were there for Mema during her last four months back home on the farm…but especially Tina and Tammy, sisters and angels who saw her through the last two weeks.  To her children, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, and one great, great grandson, she was so proud of each one of you…and I know, made you feel special in some way. That’s the way she was.  My thanks come from being lucky enough to have had such a wonderful best friend in my life. Mema was my cheerleader!  I think she was that for all of us, and I am so grateful for all of the time I spent with her in her 95 years, and all she taught me.  God has reunited her with her sweetheart of 68 years, teaching us that the only thing that lasts in this old world is love. It stands the test of time. It carries us through in sorrow and in joy. It joins us to our families and to people we don’t know.  It is a blessing from above, and it was Mema, to me.