This is a tribute to Goldie Eugena Cramer (1928 - 2002) and was read aloud for her, her family and friends on Sep.16, 2002.
-Scott Cramer

Our lives always involved a trip to Mom's - or Grandma's, Aunt Goldie's, or Goldie's. She was a constant. Whether it was across town or across the country, she had always been there for us and she always would be. Mom was family to all of us - by blood, by marriage, or by friendship.

Her home was the crossroads where we all came together. For some of us, the center of our universe, for others a place where the "Welcome Sign" was never off and a loving smile or embrace never in short supply.

Never more than a drive across town or a quick phone call away, she'd always know what to do if we had a problem or at least somehow just make us feel better even if we never said a thing. Just knowing she was there made any problems seem better already. I don't know if she realized how many of us depended on her or how often she propped us up when life weighed us down. To her there was nothing special in her actions - this was just the way she lived her life. The way life was supposed to be lived.

Mom would have been the first to admit that she wasn't perfect. She got angry. I even heard her say "darn" once or twice - and if you ever heard her say "shoot" you'd better run for the hills. She had her vices too. I'd seen her take to the drink - two Pepsi's in a row - the good stuff in the bottles. And I'd like to say she wouldn't wish harm on any living thing, but I'm afraid she - did - not - like - mice. I remember once when I was very young, mom was cleaning the kitchen chairs and she saw a mouse. She jumped up to land on a chair - but these were the kind where you folded the seat up against the back - and so down she went, through the empty chair frame and right back down on the floor. I'm pretty sure that was a "shoot" moment.

To so many, Mom was the definition of family - sometimes she reminded us in words what was important but mostly she set the example in her unconditional love and caring. She may not have agreed with everything us kids said and did but we learned respect and tolerance in that she let us own our own decisions and learn from them. She had her own opinions but recognized we all had to live our own lives and was there to share our successes or provide a safe haven for the times we messed up.

She saw the good in all people and welcomed them without hesitation into her home. Dad had a saying that even if the devil himself showed up at your house that you had an obligation to be a good host. Mom would have done just that, and still have managed to slip some sound advice into the conversation about how to be a better person - and then sent him away with a dozen freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

It was impossible to know Mom and not be changed in some way. And I don't just mean the extra 2 or 3 pounds from the cookies or even the 10 to 20 from the holiday baking! She had tamed Dad and for those of you that knew him that in itself was no small feat!

I had always thought my stubborn streak came from Dad, but I learned most recently that it was probably Mom that passed it to me. By sheer force of will she beat back her cancer for three years - and refused for most of that time to even let the chemo slow her down. That would take time away from her family and that was just not acceptable to her. Even at the very last, she refused to be more concerned about herself than she was about the family she would leave behind. She was ready to see Walker and Brenda again - and all the loved ones to whom she'd bid farewell. But she also knew they'd stay waiting and she held on to every second of life she was allotted. Her sickness ate away at her strength but not once did she let it take away from the joy she felt with her friends and family. Especially every new child she saw come into this world gave her the will to keep on fighting - To keep on living.

She was a pillar of strength and caring that held us all together. Now that she's gone, I've heard fears expressed. What holds us together now? Where are we supposed to go? Who do we look to? The distance is shorter than across town and quicker than a phone call - and it always was. Just look inside. The love you have for her - that hole you feel inside right now because you can't just reach out and grasp her hand - she's right there to fill it.

The baton's been passed. Take all of those shared memories - all of those reasons you loved her - and live them out with those around you - with all of those you call family. Her love still holds all of US together as family too. We are without her body - not her spirit. Where do we go? We go on - she'd have it no other way. Eight years old or eighty years old - she showed us how life could be lived. She'll be waiting to greet us on the other side - but she doesn't want to see any of us before we wring every last ounce of life out of this world. Who do we look to when things get tough now that she's gone? The crossroads may change, but same as when she was here - and just as Mom would want it - we look to each other.

We love you Mom.