Posted by: sarahkennedy33 | August 18, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Our family gathered in Everett, Washington this past weekend to finally have a chance to remember and say goodbye to Gramma Nan. She passed away back in June and we had her “celebration of life” party scheduled for this weekend so almost everyone could make it (one cousin wasn’t able to get home for it). It was a beautiful weekend full of sharing stories, laughter, meeting all kinds of people whose lives she’d touched over the years, and just being together. Grandma did not want a funeral or a ‘regular’ memorial service. She didn’t want anything formal, or in a church, or full of tears. Instead she wanted a big party, a BBQ on her favorite beach where hot dogs could be roasted and her ashes could be scattered. Wine from a box was her request, and of course, don’t forget the marshmellows to be roasted! This was Grandma, this was where she was the happiest, these are the foods and activities that brought her the most joy. So we followed her directions and threw one heck of a party! Saturday was family-only out at Useless Bay, the beach we would all spend a week on every summer. Grandma would rent the home of a good friend of hers and we’d all gather and spend time walking, flying kites, building sand castles and roasting lots of hot dogs! It was where she was happiest, on her beach, surrounded by her family. So we took her ashes with us and recreated the scene for her on Saturday.

Sunday was a big community celebration where over 125 people gathered for a luncheon and to remember Grandma. She had lived in Everett since the 50s and knew everyone in town it seemed. I had written a post earlier about how much she volunteered, how much she gave back to her community. She never got a paycheck, she was a professional volunteer and dedicated her life to numerous charities. At the luncheon my aunt Peggy read a list of all the organizations Grandma had worked for and with in her lifetime, she structured it from A-Z, and while not all letters were covered, I thought this was pretty impressive. My dad spoke and said in his tribute that if all of us left this earth with a list like this, this world would be a much better place. I think he’s right. Check this out–I’d say most of us have a ways to go before we even come close to the number of volunteer projects Grandma had participated in!

The A-Z’s of Nancy Leaf Weis, Professional Volunteer
A–Assistance League, charter member and president
A–American Red Cross president and chairwoman of long range planning
C–Citizen of the year of Everett, WA (1978)
C–Child Fatality review board for Foster Care system
C–Compass Health Committee
C–Council on Aging for Snohomish County
D–Department of Social and Health Services foster care citizen committee
D–Department of social and health services advisory committee
E–Everett Community College Board of Directors (a governor appointed position)
E–Everett Community College Early Learning Center
E–Everett Medical Auxillary (this group put together & researched libraries and schools for pre-med students and found scholarships available to them)
F–Foster Parent (helped raise 5 children in addition to her own 5 over the years)
G–Girl Scouts (taught them their first aid certification over the years)
H–Homeless taskforce chairwoman
L–Liz McLaughlin award from the human services council
L–League of woman voters activist
L–Library volunteer (when she heard school libraries were closing b/c of budget cuts she mobilized volunteers to help keep them open)
O–Operation School Bell chairwoman and organizer (her most favorite and rewarding charity)
P–Providence Foundation board member
R–Room mother for all 5 of her children
R–Red Cross volunteer during WWII (her first volunteer experience, she served meals to thousands of people during WWII as a young girl)
S–Snohomish County human services council board of directors
S–Secret Harbor School for Boys board of directors
S–Snohomish County Ethics committee chairwoman
U–United Way–first female president of Washington State’s chapter
U–United Way allocations committee
V–Visiting nurses association president
Z–Zonta President and long time member

Phew! I am exhausted just re-reading her list! She raised 5 children of her own as well, which makes me believe most of us cannot use the excuse “I’m too busy to volunteer!”

Gramma was amazing, and it was a beautiful weekend, and we will miss her a lot. Here are some photos as we celebrated and said our goodbyes.

Decorating on Friday, we put flowers and photos of Gramma’s life on each tableOn the ferry to Whidbey Island on SaturdayUseless Bay, Grandma’s favorite spotMegs sunbathingThere is a big sand dune that we used to climb and play on as kids. Turns out it’s just as much fun as grown ups!Cori and JeffChuck and Uncle Rick put together the BBQLunch time! Bocce ball tournamentsCori and I enjoying our hot dogsGil, Harmony and my momMom taking Beth’s kayak out for a spinGil and JacobChuck tries kayakingSteve had a bit of a problemRoasting marshmallows. Aunt Beth specifically told us not to fight with the sticks. So of course we ignored her 🙂Cori reading her favorite memories of grandma while Chad looks on.Goodbye GrandmaAttempting to disperse her ashesThe Weis family minus my dad (the photographer) and Chelan (my cousin who couldn’t come home)Saturday was also my dad’s birthday, so Saturday night we gave him our present. We bought a bag of the “riesen” candies (chocolate caramel things) and on each piece we tied a strip of paper that told him one reason we loved him. So for his 55th birthday we gave him “55 ‘riesens’ we love our dad”.All 4 of us helped come up with them, it was very fun!Sunday afternoon’s Celebration of Life. Jeff and ChadCori and IMegan and Jeff (and I am sure, baby Zoe!) were excited to get to eat!Sunday night dinner at Anthony’s on the Everett waterfront
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