My Grandmother Died Yesterday

As sometimes happens to me in the middle of the night, yesterday sometime around 2:30 in the morning, I woke up with a complete chorus playing in my head. I got up, went downstairs, found the chords on the guitar, sang the melody, and wrote the lyrics in my book.

Here’s what I wrote:

All the pressures of this world got me feeling like dying
All the pleasures of being with you got me feeling like flying
Flying, flying, flying, flying
Flying into the colors

I even recorded myself singing the chorus, lest I forget the tune in the morning. I made up the chords, as they are not ones I normally use; they are uplifting, but they are tinged in sadness.

The next morning my mother called to tell me that my grandmother had died sometime in the night. And I remembered the chorus that I had written in the night, wondering if it had been around the same time. I played it again and cried and thought of her. Thought of her flying into the colors, seeing all those she had lost and longed to see again.

Most of yesterday I felt frozen, mysterious, and distant from everything. All I could think of was this vision of her hands. I held them last on Saturday when she lay sleeping. The skin tissue paper thin over her bones. Hands that once knew the secret to every task, tiny but amazingly wise, always expressive and gentle hands. I saw her hands as if over a pottery wheel. Over those of my mother’s lovely hands. And under them is all of me and mine.

She shaped everyone that shaped me. She made all the things that made me. So much of her lives in me. I am like her in so many ways. I am so grateful for all she showed me. So loved by her all my life. It is so much that I almost can’t speak or write of it. It is everything. The greater everything from which all growth is rooted, from which all branches have grown. It is so sad to know that those roots have slipped down into the earth to nourish us in a new way. My mother has become that firm root now, that place from which all else becomes. It will be my turn someday.

My mother and aunt asked me write the obituary. The honor of which I cherish. Today I sent it to them, and they both wept with the loving of it. And that giving, that act of me giving them something they can love today, the day after they lose their mother, makes me feel prouder than I can say. It makes me feel that I can be good. That what I make can be good. Goodness.

I am now sharing it with you here; if you knew my grandmother, then you will know the truth of all I have shared. If you didn’t know her, then I am sprinkling some of her goodness to you now. And you will be better and happier for standing in it.

Lois Ann (Francis) Morgan Zukunft

On September 6, 1926 Lois Ann Francis was born in the pocket of Prairieton to Helen and Marion Franklin Francis, with four brothers and a sister before her; a younger sister followed after her. She grew up with love and happiness despite the Depression, and according to her own recollection, never went without anything she needed. Tucked in each night with her three sisters all sharing a bed, her mother would play them all to sleep at the piano; each of them calling out a request. Young days blessed with a happy home despite the early loss of her father.

Lois lived a beautiful life. That beauty spread about her in droplets in all the places she touched with her hands, walked with her feet, like a brightly colored path, each a flash of memory, sweetness, laughter, music, sadness too and loss, but each she made a color, for each she made a place, for each she loved and worked and smiled.

Those early beauties were days of hide and seek, playing house in “the trees”, whispering with friends on the playground, dolls at Christmas, singing with her sisters at church, pinning her curls back and sneaking her sister’s sweater for school. Dates to dances, and brothers off to war. And further on a husband and babies and making baby clothes and dinner and memories. Making a precious home, magical Christmases and doll clothes for little ones, laughing over cups and saucers of coffee on a porch, and children running and laughing and holding kittens and opening so many presents. Early mornings of cleaning and cooking and weeding and watering, eggs to fry, tomatoes to slice and grandchildren to talk and tell stories to. Card games to win and gardens to plan, and clubs to attend and funeral lunches to make; choirs to sing in and vacation bible schools to serve in. And further on friendships to cherish and loved ones to lose, new loves to find, and sweet days to spend.

And in each and every place, she sprinkled that beauty like colors, like texture, like contentment. Every love, every friendship, every child and grandchild and great-grand child, every living thing in the garden, every task done well and in love. Every day spent in purpose and affection. A legacy of love, a family tree, a watermark, as those droplets settled and spread, little tributaries of more love and more love. Lois Ann Francis married Earl Morgan on June 19, 1948. Together they raised Lou Ann (Pence), Cindy (Morgan), and Scott (Morgan).  In marriage added a son in Donnie (Pence). Families grew and grandchildren too they loved and provided every good and perfect thing to Sara (Quah), Nathan (Pence), Courtney (Morgan), and Lucas (Morgan). Added in marriage new grandchildren in Mark (Quah), Sarah (Morgan), and Stephanie (Pence). Abundant joy found in great grandchildren Lexie (Hardy), Lizzie (Quah), Mallory (Quah), Caleb (Jones), Evan (Quah), Zach (Morgan), Andrew (Morgan), Samantha (Morgan), and Mara (Pence).

On July 10, 2010, Lois happily married Carl Zukunft; their wedding a day of joy and sweetness for them both. Lois added to her heart Carl’s three children, grand-children and their families. Though declining in health in recent years, Lois and Carl found happiness and companionship in one another.

Yesterday, on August 15, 2017, Lois Ann (Francis) Morgan Zukunft died just as she wished to, in her sleep, at the age of 90. But the beauty she leaves behind her is not faded. It grows more and more vivid with each new photograph and story and remembrance. Hold hands today for her. Bend and kiss a child. Sing a song today for her. Smile over dinner at those you love. Plant something new in your garden. Take a walk and pray. Love a little bit more for her today. Sprinkle droplets of beauty as you go, as she taught you, as she showed us all.

Please come and share your memories with us. Visitation will be held at Debaun’s Funeral Home  on Springhill Rd. from 4-8 on Friday, August 18th. Funeral services will be held at Prairieton United Methodist Church at 2:00 on Saturday, August 19th.   In lieu of flowers, Lois asked that donations be made to Prairieton United Methodist Church, Prairieton, IN.

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7 Comments

  1. I did not know your Grandma, but I know you and your Mom, and feel blessed. Wish I could be there, but my heart is reaching out to you all.

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  2. So beautifully written of a life well lived and invested in the lives of others.
    Though my brushes with her were sporadic, gracious, kind, and lovely are three words that come to mind in my memories of you Grandmother.
    Losing someone like her always leaves a huge void in our world…in your world.
    Praying for God’s peace for your entire family.

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  3. Dear Sara,
    I read it all and felt the love and beauty in her life. I’ve started to reply a few times since finishing reading, and kept deleting because nothing I wrote sounded right…not that this does either. Tears fell as I read. Your middle of the night chorus is wonderful. Reminded me of your story about the song you wrote using [some of] the words your grandma sent you. So glad you saw her so recently to hold her hand. Hand holding matters. My heart is with you and your family in the days ahead. May you have the grace, peace and strength you need.
    Love,
    Janean

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  4. I just can’t compete with the beauty thatflows from your fingers and your heart. All I can do is give you a hug and a virtual LOVE! You are amazing, she was amazing, and you know that you carry tge burden and the gift of carrying on that legacy. Xo

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