No one should lose two grandparents to death in a two week span. But it could also be said that one should not complain if they get to age 39 with all four alive, and age 41 with three still here. But still. Two gone in two weeks is too many.
My Nana, my father’s mother, died on a Sunday, the next day, Monday we signed my Paw, my mother’s father, into hospice care.
A week later, the following Monday, we said our final goodbyes to Nana.
In Alaska, late 80’s
That Friday Paw passed away.
The Thursday after we laid him to rest.
Even though they had both been fading for a while, it is still a surreal thing to happen. To lose them both so close together. To say goodbye to being the girl with all the grandparents so fast.
Oh how lucky I was.
Below are a gathering of memories from friends and loved ones, including the longer version of the obituary that I wrote to go in his service bulletin for the funeral.
There are so many things I could say about my Paw, but quite frankly, I think right now, I am out of words. They are all used up. My heart needs time to absorb the shock and find it’s footing once again, to refill the well with time and memories.
Thomas West Beverly Jr was born, November 10, 1922 to Mary Ellen Williams Beverly and Thomas West Beverly Senior, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The oldest of three boys, Tom joined the United States Army at age seventeen (yes, lying about his age, which caused no end of problems when we scheduled his burial at the Veteran’s cemetary let me tell you,) and served in World War II in the Pacific. While stationed at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Arkansas, he met Ethelee Hale, a Little Rock native, who proclaimed something to the affect that she “wouldn’t date that cocky conceited first lieutenant if he was the last man on earth.” Never afraid of a challenge, Tom eventually won Ethelee’s heart and they were married on November 27, 1946.
With his youngest great-grandchild last summer
In time, three children graced the Beverly home: Terry, Tanya, and Tejia, while Tom worked hard to provide for the family as a traveling salesmen. In time the children grew and added to the family, including two sons-in-law, six grandchildren, four grandchildren-in-law, and five great-grandchildren. Tom’s business grew as well, and he achieved the status of top salesman for Miracle Playground Equipment. A larger than life personality, Tom was the consummate people person – he never met a stranger and loved to see his children happy.
Post-fishing trip with my brother Josh, mid-80’s
Tom enjoyed fishing, water walking, frying catfish, talking politics, loving on his critters, extreme couponing (before it was popular,) sitting on his porch swing, and making Ethelee happy. He joined his parents, brothers, and son Terry, in death. Tom, was laid to rest on July 7, 2016, near the very place where he met my Ethelee at Camp Robinson. It was a lovely service full of funny, warm, and bittersweet memories. His was a life well lived.
With my Maw, August 2012
Upon reflection of their life together, Ethelee said
The week he died, Facebook was flooded with memories:
Holding baby Judy Carleene circa 1985
My baby sister Judea wrote this:
“The world lost a great man this morning. My grandfather, “Paw” passed away around 5am today. His 93 years on this earth left it a better place and I will miss him dearly. He was the first to introduce me to BBQ at McClard’s, he taught me how to dive head-first, he was my liberal pal in a family full of conservatives and he taught me the importance of getting regular oil changes, wearing seat belts and to always put my parking break on. Before I was his “Judy Carleene” he was a war hero, a tall and cocky charmer from Mississippi and the love of my grandmother’s life. His last days on this side of heaven were not easy. He struggled with dementia but he never truly forgot my grandmother b and would reach for her hand at almost every visit. Go flirt with all those angels in heaven, Paw. You’ll probably charm the wings off ’em”
My uncle Tim (my dad’s baby brother) wrote this:
“Even as my sister-in-law Tanya and niece Jerusalem were speaking beautifully and poignantly at my mother’s funeral on Monday, their father and grandfather (respectively) was nearing the end of his life. Tom Beverly died early this morning at age 93. Greatly loved, he will be greatly missed.
Mr. Beverly is a larger-than-life figure from my childhood. He was a World War II veteran. He made a career out of selling playground equipment — which was just about the most amazing thing I’d ever heard of as a little kid. He was tall, big and loud and funny and fun to be around. He enjoyed life so much that even life got a kick out of it.
Our family grieves with Ethelee and her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren at Tom’s passing. But we are also warmed by the memories and legacy he left us.”
Jemimah cutting his hair, 4th of July 2004.
My middle sister, Jemimah, wrote this on the day after his service.
“Yesterday they laid my Paw to rest. I was sad I couldn’t be there to see it, but I am so blessed lil man and I were there to say goodbye before he passed. He lived a good long 93 years filled with family and friends, love and laughter, life and death, war and peace, God and country. He was a veteran, a husband, a father, a businessman and a big supporter of his grand kids. He supported us in our adventures and even traveled cross country to see us. Even though he didn’t say much when there was a crowd of family swirling around him, from his quiet corner with his peanuts he would enjoy us in his own way. He loved to make his wife happy and even though “I love you” was rarely spoken, his “Baby” and their children and their grandchildren knew he did.
I will miss his smell. I will miss his steady devotion to his wife. I will miss his use of a handkerchief. I will miss sitting on the porch swing drinking a Coke with Paw.
Thank God he suffers here no more.”
From my Dad
“We’re laying the body of TOM BEVERLY to rest tomorrow at noon. A member of the Greatest Generation, he served in World War II, including in the Philippines and in the occupation of Japan. Besides which, he sired my wife, Tanya Beverly Jackson, and was a great father-in-law to me. Prayers appreciated for all the family, especially his widow, faithful Ethelee.”
Dancing with me on my wedding day, May 24, 1997
Paw was also well known in the family for all his “Popisms” as my Aunt Teija calls them. Here are some of the favorites we told at the funeral:
That is gooder than snuff
How are you Paw?
Well, I got up this morning and that’s a bonus!
I know you! What jail were we in?
Mule barn! (he would answer the phone this way)
Buckety– Buckety (when he saw an animal running)
Neckin’ leads to naked! (he said this once, out of the blue, when we were asking Jemimah about a boyfriend.)
You keep this up—you’re gonna get on regular! (To anyone who served him a good meal)
She’s my baby! (This is what he told everyone he met at the nursing home about my Maw, up until the end.)
Take what you want, but eat what you take!
I already swung on that gate!
I don’t understand all I know about that.
Their as crooked as a dogs hind leg.
The dishes must be dishwasher ready! (This was especially important when my family lived with Maw and Paw and helped with the chores.)
Give that baby a bone! (Said when I was a crying toddler at a holiday meal.)
Boy howdy, I’m going to miss this man.
We should all eat life up with the same joy and happiness as he did.
I love you Paw. Thank you for it all.