By Cait De Mott Grady, a eulogy for her grandma, Teresa Jane Shaughnessy Grady (right), who died on Sunday, April 10th in her home in Ithaca, NY
I am Caithraoine Jane De Mott Grady, daughter of Ellen Grady and Peter John De Mott, granddaughter of Teresa Jane Shaughnessy and John Peter Grady, great granddaughter to Mary Baldwin and Tom Shaughnessy. Sister to Marie, Nora, and Saoirse. Cousin to Manny, Gabriel, Isaiah, Ana, Leah, Rosie, Oona, Jack (Jass), Thaddeus, Michael, Seán, Ariel, Madailein, and Clare. Niece to John, Laurie, Clare, Paul, Larry, Mary Anne, Teresa, Oscar and Cesar.
I name these names because in order to understand my Grandma Teresa and who she was in the world, you have to start with relationships. My grandmother was the fierce force she was in the context of community, a community that nurtures, loves, holds, challenges, dances, sings, cooks, births babies, buries loved ones, celebrates and grieves.
I stand before you today thinking of our planet and the existential ecological crisis we face as a result of climate change.Thinking of the 50,000 plus families in Detroit whose water has be shut of by their own government because those in power decided that debt payments are more important than basic human needs. Thinking of those living under US imperial wars, occupation, and drone strikes. Thinking of the state-sanctioned murders of black and brown men and women at the hands of those whose purported duty is to protect and serve.
And I’m thinking of my Grandma Teresa.
My grandma who found cracks in empire and planted seeds in the rich and fertile soil that’s there. My grandma knew in her gut, in her bones, in her heart, in her spirit, that it is imperative that each of us say something, do something, speak from our specific position within the interlocking systems of oppression — patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, racism, militarism, materialism — systems that work to strip us all of our humanity. And that this sacred work starts with relationships.
Deep gratitude to a fierce woman who chose to give birth at home at a time when women were denied agency in the birth process. To a woman who modeled caring for elders with compassion, love, and an embrace of death as a fundamental part of each of our stories. Gratitude to a woman who delighted in art and music, understanding that to know and celebrate our culture and our history is to push back against against the emptiness of whiteness. Deep gratitude for her dying process — for allowing herself to be carried, loved, fed, washed, sang to, read to, napped with. For showing us what it means to live in these human bodies, bodies that age and change and that there is sacred beauty in that.
As we honor my Grandma, let us step up to the challenge of putting our bodies on the line, our feet in the streets, of not only saying that black lives matter but actively working to dismantle white supremacy. Let us show up for each other, take care of each other, ourselves and our planet. Let us eat Graham Crackers and milk. Let us put down roots and build soil. Let us be astonished by the spring flowers.
¡Grandma Teresa, PRESENTE!