It didn’t take much to make her happy – a quick visit, a phone call, a smiling baby on her lap, a pool full of children, her house busting at the seams. June Marie Parent Overmier lived for others and it was apparent in everything she said and did. Grandma had a life well lived and a life well ordered.
Born to “a pusher” Belle and an easygoing Harry, Grandma June was the 4th child out of 11. She loved telling stories about growing up with her siblings, her momma that wanted everything perfect, and her daddy who was as gentle as a lamb. That family molded her into the woman we knew and loved.
Grandma contracted polio as a young girl and learned to walk again with a “wobbly leg” around third grade. Her struggles with mobility and the lasting effects of polio did not dampen Grandma’s spirit but enhanced it. She learned from an early age to see God in everything, to not dwell on the negatives, and to persevere no matter what.
Grandma was an independent woman. After business college she got a job in New Orleans. She caught a bus from Natalbany to New Orleans, then hopped on a streetcar to Canal Street, then walked four blocks to the National Bank of Commerce. Walking was difficult for Grandma, but she enjoyed being independent and working.
She met her beloved “Garyyyy” while working for the Department of Veteran Affairs. He was relentless in her pursuit of her. Driving up and down the highway in front of her building just waiting to catch a glimpse of her. After their first date they were smitten with each other – looking around this room makes that obvious. Their love for each other lives through each one of us and will continue to flourish as our families grow.
Looking back over the years, it’s the little things that seem to stand out the most—her rolled up paper towels when eating or drinking, her endless stash of cookies or ice cream, her dainty hands, her ability to be sweet and spicy all at the same time, the endless summers of swimming where she never minded when the entire neighborhood came over – to her it was always the more the merrier. When your grandma was the school secretary, she was literally everyone’s grandma. And she liked it that way.
I’ll remember her singing “KKKKatie, Beautiful Katie” or “Picking up Paw Paws Put ‘Em in Your Pocket” or “I love you a bushel and a peck.” There are so many things that I can see and hear and feel as if they had just happened. Goodness, she was wonderful.
I’m sure everyone here has memories much like mine, mostly because all of us cousins usually came in one cohesive unit.
Family Sundays. Weekly hauls from the Schwann Man, or the Fruit Man. Eggnog and Christmas Eve. The woman had a present for nearly 100 people and we joyfully all stuffed ourselves into her home. Cabbage ball in the front yard. Playing in the hay barn when we weren’t supposed to. Her Rosary’s. Destroying the upstairs because we knew she couldn’t make it up there. Her stack of newspapers and mail on the table. The way she critiqued our fashion choices in the politest judgmental way – but her facial expressions let us know her thoughts well before any words came out of her mouth. Epizooties. Grandma’s ability to float on her back for hours, or her impressive speed when swimming after us to grab out toes. Man, that was terrifying! Napping in her big bed in our wet swimsuits with the window unit on high. Getting every restaurant to sing Happy Birthday to her even though it was never her birthday. Her insistence that we be “presentable” anytime we left the house. Her shopping sprees where she didn’t shop until she dropped, she shopped until her scooter battery died. And some of us were lucky enough to be there for the loud battery alarms going off and having to do the walk of shame as they pushed her out of Hobby Lobby.
So many good memories, something we’ll always have to cherish and look back on with a smile.
There will be times in our lives when situations arise and we’ll long to talk to her, be with her or ask her just what we should do. I hope that, when those times come, we can begin to look to each other and find that part of her that she gave to each of us.
Like Aunt Mary Ann’s advice, perseverance, and writing skills.
Like Uncle Timmy’s feistiness, generosity, and loyalty to his family.
Like Uncle Pat’s love of nature, planting things and laid-back style.
Like mom’s fun, playful personality, and admiration of clothes and shoes that never fit right.
Like Aunt Monica’s love of shopping, always ready for a trip and a good time.
Like Uncle Daniel’s calm demeanor and his ability to attract all the kids in a five-mile radius.
Like Uncle Harry’s big generous heart and wanting the best for everyone he meets.
We can never forget that there is a part of her in each of us, something that she gave to us and asked nothing for in return.
From my earliest memories, Grandma’s house was home base. The place our hearts longed for, the place where we felt safe and free, the place where we felt the most loved. Looking back now it wasn’t her home, it was her. She was the epitome of love, mercy, and compassion – a perfect real-life example of being Christ’s hands and feet on earth. She’d give you anything in her house, or anything she saw on QVC, if she thought you needed it. How blessed are we for having the opportunity to call her ours for so many years?
I know Grandma June would want me to leave you all with a few final pieces of advice… Make sure you put an undershirt on that baby, dress presentable even if you’re just running to the dollar store, fix your spouse’s plate because you love them, send in your monthly check to your favorite Catholic charity, hug your kids tighter and longer, and one last thing…
Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.