Goodbye Grams, and Thanks.

Today we celebrated the life of my Grandmother Verna Mattox who passed away on April 25th.

I know it’s been awhile since I blogged and I am certainly way behind on posts, including one about my incredible wedding.

But today, today is about Grams. The following is the eulogy I delivered and a memorial video I put together for today. It’s a long one, but she was an amazing woman and deserved every bit of it.

Eulogy For My Grandmother, Verna Mattox.

Many, many years ago my grandma made me promise that when the time came that I’d speak about her at her memorial.  It was a promise I easily made, but didn’t realize the challenge that I’d have in front of me until a few weeks ago.

Without writing something as long as War and Peace, how do you summarize 96 years of life, 40 of which I was so blessed to be a part of?

Then I did, what I know what she would have done …I talked to God.

As He has so many times before, and He did throughout my Grandmother’s life He provided guidance, inspiration and support.

So today I’d like to talk about, how this one woman, who words will never be able to properly describe, changed the world through her dedication and love.

Since I was around 8, I was amazed at her work in the political field. I didn’t fully understand what she was doing but I knew that she worked with important people that I had heard about on the news.

As I got older I came to learn and more fully appreciate what she had actually done and who she had worked with

She held titles like
Republican Convention Delegate
National Platform Committee member
State Volunteer Coordinator for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign
GOP Nominee for 52nd Assembly District
Campaign Manager
Electoral College Member, not once…not twice, but three times.

People like Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Bob Dole, Ronald Reagan, and George H Bush knew, and communicated with my grandmother. Her viewpoints. Her ideas. Her friendship was of great value to them.

Add on to this, she served her community through the many local groups she was involved in. Perhaps most important to me, the Torrance Sister City Association where she took high school students to Kashiwa, Japan and eventually held a seat on their board.

It is because of this incredible and unselfish service to her country I am honored to announce that Senator Mimi Walters of District 37 will create a memorial resolution, and adjourn a California Senate session  quote “in memory of Verna as a great American, a patriot and a timeless force in California party politics who served many presidents and governors in her illustrious tenure.” end quote. It will then be documented for history in the Senate Journal and archives.

While she was proud of her service, it was ultimately her love for her family, and wanting to make sure that the world they lived in was a better place that inspired everything she did.

I am incredibly proud of all that my grandmother accomplished, but it is the love, and memories that she gave me that means the most.

Just below God, my Grandmother was one of the most influential people in my life

When my parents divorced she was there to take care of my brother Lee and I.  She was my solid rock in a sea of incredible pain and uncertainty. She was a source of love and understanding that I couldn’t have lived without.

She taught me manners and personal conduct that serves me in every social situation I’m in. As a kid you think it’s all nagging, but in the end it all makes perfect sense.

From a restaurant, to hanging out with friends, to the board room. She taught me so much that now in observing others, I’ve come to the conclusion that many could have used a Grandmother like mine, and the very manners she taught me.

Her involvement in the Sister City Association spurred me to take part as well. That led me to a journey that would change me from a boy who felt incredibly unpopular, to a young man who had a greater amount of confidence in who he was, and where he was going.

She instilled in me the desire to want to be a responsible, ethical and determined man.
As a result I have been blessed with incredible success and achievement that continues to flourish to this day.

She has also left me with some incredible memories that will forever be in my heart…

Memories of…

Calling her up and asking her if she wanted to go “mall crawling”. She’d then keep me out of the toy stores and I’d keep her out of the shoe stores. All the while yelling at me “I’m not your papoose” if I started walking too fast.

Going to Hawaii with her, and my cousin David. A trip where her nickname “Grams” was bestowed upon her and used until the very end.

Sitting on a cruise ship crossing the Pacific, enjoying pizza and beer while talking about the life she lived.

Having her present when I was baptized again, and seeing the happiness in her face that I had fully accepted the Lord, something she had been wanting for me for so long.

Perhaps the favorite memory I have is during her final time on earth where she was fully conscious, aware and chatting up a storm.

I stood there with my wife, my son and my step-daughter and we had the best conversation we had had in a couple of years. I was able to tell her about my new job, an upcoming trip to Australia and everything going on with the kids. Most importantly she was able to see her grandson happy and excited with a brand new future in front of him. I was able to give her the peace that I was alright and was going to be just fine until the day we meet again.

Grams,

I will never be able to properly express my love, gratitude and deep admiration for every little thing you did for me, the family, and the country. I know you are in an incredible place up there with so many amazing people.

I hope that you’ll check in every once in awhile on me and the family. Jenny, Josh, Kaylin and I love you, miss you, and hope you’re having an incredible time up there, we all know you fully earned it.

As a final tribute to Grams, I have put together a memorial video.
When I first starting creating this I struggled with what music to use.

Again, I did what Grams would have done and I prayed to God for help.

I eventually decided on a beautiful piece of music by Michael Giachinno, appropriately titled “Moving On”. While I am sure Grams up above is so happy with everything we do here this morning, ultimately her final wish would be that we happily remember her life, the memories we made with her, and that we move on with the lives that she’s helped support, guide, and inspire.  

So with that I invite all of you to remember, celebrate and rejoice in the life of God’s gift to us, my grandmother Verna Mattox.

Happy 13th Birthday Josh!

Son,

It’s hard to believe that you’re a teenager today. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 13 years since the day you were born.

Sometimes it still seems like it was just yesterday that your mom and I got our first look at you on a black and white screen.

You were smaller than someone’s hand and we could still distinctly make out your head, your arms and your legs.

As you grew in your mom we prepped everything for your arrival from Pooh Bear themed bedding to all the accessories and diapers that we’d need to take care of you when you were born.

To this day I can still remember every single detail, sound and feeling from the day of your birth. When the doctor took you out of your mom it seemed like it took forever for you to make your first cry. You let out a nice little cry though to let us know you were breathing just fine and as soon as you were tightly wrapped up you calmed right down. Little did we know that was just a sign of who you’d turn out to be, a very relaxed and calm kid.

As you’ve grown up you have filled our lives with a lot of wonderful and funny moments.

You’ve proven to be the world’s greatest sleeper. As a baby you slept one day for 12 hours straight. That’s a blessing for many parents, but it scared your mom and I. Turns out you were just fine, you were just tired. You’d eventually fall asleep in just about any place, from the bottom of the stairs in our first home to the doorway to your room, to the dining room table. When you’re tired you knock out and nothing can wake you.

One day you decided to change your own diaper which was great, except for all of the baby powder and diaper cream everywhere. It wasn’t fun to clean up but your mom and I had a good laugh and were impressed at your initiative.Of course we took photos to embarrass you with later.

There was also one day where you walked upstairs carrying a huge block of sliced cheese. You took a huge bite out of it and were making a meal out of it. You thought it was totally normal and okay to do.

As you’ve gotten older you’ve continued to impress your mom and I as you went to school. There seemed to be nothing that you couldn’t learn (as long as you were interested in it). You’ve excelled at math so much, so you’re doing far better at it than your Dad ever did.

You’ve developed an incredibly creative mind that comes up with the most interesting of scenarios and stories, as well as the most impressive of Lego creations.

From recognizing when people are sad, to coming up and giving hugs or back-rubs for no reason.You’ve become this incredibly sweet and loving kid whose empathy and caring seems to know no bounds.

Despite the challenges you’ve faced and continue to face in your life you keep growing, and becoming an incredible person. From tackling your autism, to having to deal with your mom and I divorcing. You’ve come out on the other end even better and stronger than you went into it.

You have grown into the strong, wonderful and incredible young man that your mom and I both knew you would become.

We both know it doesn’t stop there, and we see you continue to grow as you become the unbelievable man we know you will be.

Just remember son that you are capable of many great things. Push the limits, break the boundaries, and continue to prove that anything can be done with the right drive, heart and determination.

No matter what the outcome I will always love you. I’ll continue to help you learn from your mistakes, and give you twice the amount of love when you make them. My love for you is never-ending and unconditional.

When all is said and done remember that you are not defined by the things you do, or have. What matters is the love that you share with the world, and the wonderful impact you’ve had, and continue to have on everyone who’s lucky enough to know you.

You have many years ahead of you son, but today

Today, I celebrate….

I celebrate the day you were born.

I celebrate the day that God blessed the world with you.

I celebrate the day I was bestowed
the greatest title I will ever carry in my life – DAD.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOSH!

I love you and always will,

Dad