Easter Egg - Look very closely for a subtle pun hidden in this month's cartoon. See if you can find it and then check for your answer at the bottom of the newsletter.
“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. The writer's problem is to find that location.”
October 13th, 1930 - November 19th, 2020
Remembering Grandma - Shirley Cooper
By: Chris O'Brien (Co-Founder of Long Overdue)
Last Thursday, my Grandma (Shirley Cooper) passed away after a fight with COVID-19.
Grandma turned 90 back in October and lived an incredible life. She was one of the most humble and loving people I've ever met who always served and put others first. I don't think she thought highly or lowly of herself, she just didn't really think about herself. Her mind was always on the other people in the room.
There were two memories that came to mind shortly after receiving the phone call from my Mom. The first, I think because it's almost Thanksgiving, was the stuffing she used to make. See, I grew up in a Stove Top family. Nothing fancy. Pop-Tarts for breakfast. Hamburger Helper for dinner. Stove Top as a sidekick to the turkey. My Mom had a "Git-R-Done" philosophy and is a master of speed and efficiency in the kitchen.
Grandma Cooper was a different story. When we went to Grandma's down in Rushville, Missouri, it was like the Super Bowl of food preparation. Even something as simple as stuffing, she would create like a 5-star chef. Start with toasted bread torn into pieces. Freshly chopped onions. She made the turkey broth from boiling the neck and gizzards. The Christmas meal was served and I'd nervously stand in line, observing my family's scoops.
Alright, take the mashed potatoes. Get some turkey. Easy on the stuffing. Hey, HEY, no second scoop!
Second memory was four years ago at my Granddad's funeral. This was hard to begin with losing the Patriarch of the Cooper family. But our biggest concern was for Grandma. By that time, she'd been battling Alzheimer's for nearly a decade and so the idea of bringing her out of the nursing home, surrounded by people, processing her husband's funeral, we worried it would all be too much.
Rushville is a small town, about 300 people, so everyone knows everyone. You know everyone's family too. It's the kind of place where you say your name and the person responds, "Oh yeah, you're Archie's kid." So everyone knew Grandma had Alzheimer's and they'd approach her gently, saying their name - Hi, I'm so and so. To my shock, one after the next, Grandma would say, "Oh, I know you" and hold their hand or give them a hug. There she was still making everyone around her feel loved and at home. She was thinking about everyone else in the room.
During the funeral service, a few members of the Marines showed up, played the Taps, and folded the American flag, handing it to Grandma. The scene was incredibly powerful and emotional yet the person holding their composure the most was Grandma again, sitting proud, saying thank you to the Marine.
Courage and bravery are things I've always associated with my Granddad. He was in the Marines 2nd Division fighting in World War 2, some of the most intense battles of the entire war. He was at Guadalcanal, going days without food, defending our country. Doesn't get much braver than that.
But there's also a bravery in showing up to your husband's funeral, facing a room full of strangers who you used to know and being the steadiest, warmest person in the room. It's something I'll never forget.
Grandma was also the original inspiration behind Long Overdue, at least the Family Stories side of it. We were even going to call it "Shirley Cooper." Her inspiration will continue to be weaved into our work. We all have Shirley Coopers in our lives and everyone's life, everyone's stories, deserve to be recorded and passed down to future generations.
Death is not the end of someone's story. Not even close. Stories will always live on and, in that way, our loved ones are always with us. Even after they're gone.
Update on Family Stories for the Holidays
Our Family Stories team is a group of nine people spread out from California to the Midwest to North Carolina. Kimberly Galitz, Omar Muñiz, Alicia Leitzen, Dan Piva, Sam Hurteau, and Chris O'Brien all have other full-time jobs. Annie Cerovich, Rachel Elder, and Bailey Chorney are students at Hope College finishing up exams. This is our version of a bowling league.
So last week, we hopped on a Zoom call and instead of planning out the specific details of the "Family Stories Box," we focused more on big picture, what's the overall vision? What problems are we trying to solve?
Where we landed: Focus on the problem of families being apart for the holidays. This could be physically (travel and gathering restrictions), or losing someone this year, or just remembering a loved one the way holidays always bring back old memories. Our goal is to strengthen family connection through telling and recording stories.
To do this right, and since we have limited time with work and school, we're looking to work with only 5-10 families over these next few weeks so we can dedicate enough time to each family, making it personal, meaningful, and custom. And "work with" could mean many different things.
We could schedule phone calls with a parent or grandparent
Setup a Zoom call with multiple family members telling family stories
Provide our engaging story prompts so you can hold the interview(s)
Even if you're coming from a place of, "I'd like to get these stories down, I don't know if it'll be a book or what, but I'd like to start something," that's a great place to begin and we can absolutely help. You don't have to have a finish line in mind to get started.
Sign-up deadline for our Family Stories holiday project will be Friday, December 11th.
We are always available (well, at least outside of 9 to 5, Monday - Friday) to hop on a call and hear about the family member, the stories, the idea (doesn't have to be fully baked) that you have in mind. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email Chris at email@example.com
We look forward to working with you and your family!
So, the more obvious pun is the "ZOOmeeting" title but the very subtle pun/wordplay is how we need to "talk about the elephant in the Zoom."