My Grandmother’s Funeral

funeral themed dinner table

My grandmother died at nearly 95 years old. Of course, I made a special themed dinner for 8 people (including 2 cousins from Ireland) at my parents lake house the night before the funeral. Elements of the theme were a dove, cross, Celtic knot, and shamrock – to represent death and her Irish heritage. I asked my brother to carve a cross out of a pineapple for the centerpiece. He did a fantastic job!


I want to get better at garnish and plating. I used carrot doves cut with a small cookie cutter for the Potato Leek Soup. To garnish the mushroom soup I mixed sour cream with milk and piped out of a small ziplock bag with the corner snipped off. I struggled with the sour cream garnish since it was my first time. My first try was too thin, second too thick, and third was just right. I garnished the strawberry soup with strawberry doves cut with a small cookie cutter. I forgot to use mint leaves.

Double Mushroom Soup (This is a family favorite from Sunset’s “Menus & Recipes for Vegetarian Cooking”)
Makes 4 – 1 cup servings.

1/2 cup dried mushrooms
1 cup warm water
3 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbs butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms
3 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme

Cover dried mushrooms with water and let stand for 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms; cut off and discard stems. Thinly slice mushrooms and set aside. Measure soaking water (discarding any sandy portion at the bottom) and add enough stock to make a total of 4 cups liquid; reserve.

In a 3-quart pan over medium high heat, melt butter. Add onion, garlic, fresh mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are gold and pan juices have evaporated. Stir in flour, paprika, and thyme. Add reserved stock mixture and dried mushrooms. Cook, stirring until soup thickens slightly. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

potato leek soup with carrot dove garnish.jpg

strawberry soup

pineapple cross centerpiece.jpg

lakehouse funeral dinner.jpg

creme de mint sundaes with shamrock cookies.jpg

grandma memorial photos.jpg

My mom set up a memorial table of photos for the night before the funeral and morning of the funeral.

Joan Fox Photo.jpg

I planned the funeral mass with the priest. Above was the photo I put on the cover of the program for the Funeral Liturgy. The large photo is from a few years ago on a cruise with my parents (she was in her 90’s). The small photo is from when she was 12 and newly arrived in America.

I decided to do an eulogy for my grandmother. In a Catholic mass sometimes an eulogy is allowed and sometimes it is not. It depends on the priest. The priest at the small country church allowed one speaker. I kept it short because it is advised to be between 1-3 minutes. Also my grandmother was not an easy woman (often verbally abusive) and I thought it was better to keep it brief. My friends asked what I was going to say because they all knew that she was often not very nice. I think that some of my relatives wondered what I would say. During my preparation I Googled, “eulogy for abusive parent”. I found this and it was very helpful. I even took at least one of her lines and in general it was inspirational. I received a lot of positive comments afterwards and relatives were glad that I did it the way that I did. I really do think that my grandmother loved us; she was just not able to do it in a way that did not hurt and alienate her relatives. 3 of her 4 children, 3 of her 9 grandchildren, and 4 of her 10 great-grandchildren attended her funeral.

Eulogy for Joan Fox

For anyone who does not know me, Joan Fox was my grandmother.

Joan leaves behind 4 children, 9 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. We are grateful for those who can be with us today.

9 days from today would have been her 95th birthday.

Born in Ireland to an unwed mother – who then left her and emigrated to New York – Joan was raised by her grandparents in Ireland until the age of 12 when her mother married in America and decided to reunite with her.

Joan met a kind man, had a life of nice houses, international trips, and cruises. She was married for 64 years until his death in 2007.

She was an avid reader mostly romances and family stories. She loved to watch sensational TV. She could knit. She tried to teach me how to knit at 10 (a family tradition) – I never really got the knack for it but Terri my sister did.

She was tough on people, had strong opinions and expectations and was not afraid to share them. In her older age, these traits made strangers think that she was funny and cute.

She liked sweet things. If something was sour, her whole face puckered. Her favorite color was yellow.

I am sure we all have unique stories about her. Some of my favorites are her sayings: if I asked what was for dinner – she would say air balls and wind pudding. If a knife fell on the ground she would say a man was coming, fork a woman, and spoon a baby.

She was a devout Catholic. She spent a lot of Sunday’s in this church. Always praying to the patron saints – St. Jude for hopeless causes, St. Anthony for lost things, St Joseph she buried upside down to sell a house.

She was rarely at peace on earth. My prayer is that she finds peace.

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4 Responses to My Grandmother’s Funeral

  1. Loving Lunches says:

    So sorry for your loss. What a lovely way to commemorate one life impacting on others. N

  2. Keitha says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. You did a wonderful job on the eulogy. My grandmother died a few years ago when she was 96. The preacher of her church kept referring to her as “feisty” and “quite a character”. It is hard to eulogized someone who was so unpleasant to others throughout their life. Your meal looks lovely.

  3. eclecticlamb says:

    Thank you so much Keitha!

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