The following words were read aloud at my grandmas funeral last week.
Betty Jo Peek (Grandma to many of us) was an intelligent and strong woman. She was the grandma you see on TV, she baked cookies, jarred jam, read us bedtime stories, and was always there to listen. When we visited grandma's house part of it felt like any other grandma's house but it was a little different than most.
You see, Betty and Malcolm owned a funeral home in Wanatah, Indiana. and the only thing that separated grandmas house and the funeral home was a single wall and door. Being the good grandma she was, she always kept sweet treats for her children and grandchildren to enjoy. The thing is, she kept them in the garage freezer. Now that may not seem like an obstacle to you but for us, it was. If we wanted to indulge in one of the delicious dreamsicles grandma would store in the garage, we had two options. The first was to go through that door from grandmas house, through the funeral home, to the garage. Moving through the dark, passing a prepared body, and the casket and the embalming room.
The other option, was to go outside in the cold, to the garage. For most of the grandchildren, we chose to take the journey through that single door. You may be thinking, you touch the door handle turn it, switch on the light and go. But it wasn't that simple. You see, the funeral home was very dark and the lights were not connected by one switch. You had to plan and determine your strategic route to the garage. Which light would you run to first, which would be second, and would you look at the body in the casket, if it was there, or run by with your closed eyes. while holding your breath You see, we really loved grandmas sweet treats. We had to work for those treats. But it wasn't a one-way trip. Once we finally made it to the garage, we had to turn and come back to grandmas! Being sure to turn off each light(you didn't want to run up the electric bill) and hope we were not chased by a ghost or spirit in the room.
Grandma was known not only for her delicious desserts she was a highly intelligent and knowledgeable woman. If they offered a VIP card for patrons at her local libraries, she would have one. Betty Jo read books like others goes through a magazine. She could finish books in a few hours or a single day. Her thirst for knowledge and to keep her mind active was evident to everyone who visited her home, where she always had a stack of books near her favorite chair. Over the last several years, she bonded with one of her grandchildren over the author Janet Evanovich and would discuss the merits of Stephanie Plum ending up with Joe Morelli or Ranger. They both agreed Ranger would be the more interesting choice.
Betty Jo was always there if you needed her, by simply being present, providing financial support, or supportive words. Here are a few special memories and quotes from her grandchildren:
"When I was going through a tough time she gave me a big hug and told me "we just endure" that meant the world to me."
"You can do things the easy way or the kind way".
She accepted all of her children and grandchildren no matter their life choices, mistakes, failures, or way of being that is not accepted by all. We were her family.
Betty Jo will be so dearly missed.