Jon Cassie is an educator, writer, podcaster and game designer based in Southern California. See his work at Game Level LearnIlinx and SchoolNEXT.

Eulogy

My family asked me to speak at my grandmother's funeral last week and some wanted a copy of what I said. I thought I would share, as a small memorial.

We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of my grandmother, Elaine Mott, a woman of extraordinary quiet dignity and strength who taught me, and I suspect all of you, important lessons on how to live a life of meaning. I want to share three observations about her that will stay with me forever.

As I grew up and my grandmother got older, I was able to discern what a great sense of humor she had...a bit offbeat, only getting more so the older she got. It wasn't really like the other members of my family though. She wasn't a big joke teller. Her stories, in truth, tended to wander around a bit. She didn't fill the room with her witty observations on life or dominate conversation. Rather, her sense of humor to me was one of gesture and reaction. She was famous, at least to me, for her thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs up thumbs to the side reaction to just about anything. She was the subtle straight man, making everyone else funnier in the process. If you had the chance to view the extraordinary photo collage of her life, you will see what I mean in many of the pictures.

I would also say that my grandmother was not one for a lot of nonsense! I knew her to be magnanimous and accepting, loving and supportive of whatever we intended to do with our lives. She could be quite serious minded, whether playing a game of Yahtzee or doing battle with the one-armed bandits down at Foxwoods. She didn't assign much meaning to symbols, preferring real experience to the trappings of them. And she wasn't all that interested in a lot of talk, talk, talk.

The most memorable lesson I take away from my grandmother's life is the powerful contrast between a life of frantic doing and a life of thoughtful being. My grandmother was a be-er. She came to visit my mother and me in California a few years back, and throughout her visit, she reveled in quiet things. Her doo-wop music, games and quiet hours spent watching our cats and the birds they love while sitting in the sun. We sometimes spent whole days sitting quietly. I loved having her around. New England builds things and people who are sturdy. People who endure and last and don't grumble. So it was with my grandmother.

So, ad astra Grandma Mott. Ad astra. To the stars! Your reward awaits you. Our reward was having been your parent, your sister or brother, your daughter, your son-in-law, your grandchild, your great-grandchild, your friend. Love you, Grandma.

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