• A Tribute to Grandparents

    I recently had the honor of speaking at my grandmother Bunny’s funeral. After arriving in Texas, I sat down and let my memories of her fall onto the page. After the service, I had quite a few people ask me for a copy of my speech. Below is the tribute I shared with our family and friends.

    In Loving Memory of Jadine “Bunny” Patterson Nuding

    1.10.25 – 2.1.15

    Grandparents are the best. They see you differently than your parents do because they see your parents in you and it offers them a chance to relive the raising of their own child.  Almost like a do-over, except it’s only for the weekend and they have no problem sending you home bouncing off the walls with a belly full of cake and ice cream and pure sugar pulsing through your veins.

    Grandparents also have this keen, birds-eye view of your relationship with your parents and offer sound advice. After all, they’ve known at least one of your parents for their entire existence and know the tricks to helping you get what you want from them.

    As the child of a blended family, I was fortunate to grow up with three sets of grandparents. Each of them couldn’t be more different and each played a varying, yet vital role in my upbringing. I want to share with you today some of my favorite memories of my Bunny.

    Bunny was my most no-nonsense grandparent.  There wasn’t a lot of babying or coddling from her.  Bunny was, however, my grandparent that taught me to be very excited about being a grown-up.  She was a beautiful, fashion-forward, social butterfly throwing dinner parties and playing bridge with her friends.  I couldn’t wait to be like her.

    Visiting Bunny and Jack’s house always felt like a sophisticated vacation. There were rules to be followed, but I always knew why and I got it. Having five girls running lawlessly through the house was not an option. Which reminds me of a classic Bunny quote.  “Slow down!  This is not a gymnasium.”

    Bunny and Jack’s home was adorned with white furniture, white carpets, white shag rugs, even a white-flocked Christmas tree and the house was always immaculately kept. I remember quietly exploring room-to-room, examining artifacts, mementos and snapshots collected all over the world.  Being at Bunny and Jack’s made me want to travel and experience the places I saw in those photographs and books.  And I did grow up to be a jet-setting world traveler and they planted that seed.  I am eternally grateful.

    Bunny was an exceptional hostess.  The bed was always pristinely made with amazing sheets and dream inducing pillows… As a girl, upon waking I’d sleepily walk to Bunny’s bathroom and peek in at her sitting in front of the lit makeup mirror putting on her face for the day. I’d watch her morning routine silently until she noticed me and invited me in. She’d continue what she was doing, but ask how I’d slept and rattle off my options for breakfast. My favorite was a cheese danish or waffles. She would always have half a grapefruit, which she ate with the proper grapefruit spoon, of course.  And black coffee… she could drink coffee all day long, as can I.

    When I was a young adult Bunny bought me my own waffle maker when I complained I only got Belgian-style waffles at her house.  I still have it, but I remember they always tasted better when she made them for me.

    Mealtime with Bunny and Jack was always a lesson in etiquette.  Bunny turned it into a game.  We’d each have a ramekin of coins in front of our placemat. We’d begin the meal and lose coins for poor manners or missteps and keep whatever money was left at the conclusion of dinner.  Which, by the way, dinner wasn’t over until you spoke the magic words.  “I’ve had sufficient, thank you.  May I be excused?”  She told us girls that when she was done with us, we’d be ready to dine with the Queen of England.  I believed her.  I’m just waiting on my invitation.

    My favorite two groups of people to talk to are young children and old people. They say exactly what’s on their minds. Kids are too young to know what a filter is and old people just don’t give a shit.  Bunny was always candid, but as she got older, her edges softened and she was more playful.  I remember a few years ago on Christmas morning at the ranch house.  I was wearing a dress or skirt… that part I can’t exactly remember.  But I mooned her.  I mooned the woman who taught me to act like a lady.  And she belly laughed and encouraged me to do it again!

    I’m so grateful for the quality time I had with Bunny this past year.  As her dementia progressed she sometimes couldn’t remember my name or who I was.  At my Aunt Lyn’s funeral, she introduced herself to me and told me how beautiful I was.  She later complimented my outfit and then looked me in the eye, pointed her finger at me and told me I got my fashion sense from her.  And she winked.  Even when she didn’t know me… she knew me.

    Bunny passed on Super Bowl Sunday.  As I gathered with my new friends in California to watch the game, I was instructed to bring something to the potluck.  I showed up with a bag of Fritos and Scotch – two of Bunny’s favorites.

    The last couple of months of Bunny’s life here on Earth were hard on my entire family.  Bunny was ready to go and even though I am sad, I feel an overwhelming sense of joy and relief.

    She lived an amazing and adventurous life for a country girl from west Texas.  And then she looked up to God and in proper Bunny-fashion probably said, “May I be excused?  I’ve had sufficient, thank you.”


8 Responsesso far.

  1. Laura says:

    Dear Johanna, as only you can be, this speech is sensitive, delicate and touching. Both you an your Bunny have been lucky to meet each other in this life.

  2. ken cluley says:

    JoJo what a beautiful tribute to your grandma! I almost feel that I know her through your words. My sincere condolences and thoughts are with you and your family. Ken

    • I appreciate you, Ken. I was sure bummed to know I was in such close proximity to the Cluley clan last weekend and didn’t get to squeeze any of you! And, I still need to get out to the lake! Mandy says y’all carved out a little slice of heaven. 🙂 I’m glad. Y’all deserve it. Love!

  3. Jessica says:

    Wow I did not know her but it sounds like I would have loved to know her. I’m in tears