A Portrait

Here is the promised copy of the tribute for Louise. Thank you all for coming to honor her. Your friendship and care for our family is truly a blessing.

A Portrait
First, I must tell you that Louise would be uncomfortable with people standing around talking about her. She preferred the background to the spotlight. And, she would not want this service to take too long either, because she would not want to impose upon any of you or “cause you to go to any trouble.” Yet the bible says to give honor to whom honor is due, so today I want take a few minutes celebrate Louise.
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but, as a writer, I believe the opposite is also true. A thousand words paint a picture. So, I asked family members to each give me one word they felt best described Louise. Many of them questioned me, “How do you reduce a person’s life to one word?” It is an impossible task, until you realize that it is not about each individual word. A single word is one- dimensional. However, collectively there is enough power in our words to paint a vivid portrait with texture, depth, and dimension. Our words, added to your words, show the complexity of one human being and the profound impact one person can have on a family or community of people. So today, I share these words with you in order to celebrate the life of Louise Gunnin.
Service. She was the casserole queen, and those of you have been the recipient of one or more of her tasty creations can testify that she used her culinary talent to bring comfort. When she saw a need, she didn’t fret about it, she did something. She lived a life of service. Always a doer, always on the go, and always in the background. She preferred it that way.
Hostess. Taking in people (or animals) was her specialty. If your house was blown down by a tornado, she opened her home. If you were between places, she opened her home. If you were new to the area, she opened her home. If you were in town for a holiday, she opened her home. However, she not only opened her home, but also her heart and invited you into it.
Spunk. Louise was a go getter. She didn’t hear the word no, she was stubborn like that. She was determined to take on whatever challenge was in front of her with tenacity. A “pick it up and get it done” attitude caused her to accomplish most any task she set her mind to including dying with dignity and grace at her home. Even the hospice nurse said…Louise is doing this on her own terms.
Joyous- Louise radiated a deep inner joy. It was more than just being happy. Joy was there no matter if there was happiness or sadness. It overflowed into her radiant smile which was her most endearing feature.
Nannie-Louise didn’t hesitate with what she wanted to be called when grandkids came along. It was an immediate “Nannie” because she called her own grandmother Nannie. She had such fond memories that she wanted to provide the same kind of fun-loving care to her own grandchildren. She loved being called Nannie over and over again.
Musician- Louise always loved music. For years, she loved to listen to it. She encouraged her children, (maybe even forced a bit) to take music lessons, which they did. It was not until she learned later in life to play the dulcimer that she found that music resided inside her. At that point, she learned to release it and share it with many, many others. It was her gift.
Free spirited- Nannie was like a child trapped inside a grandma’s body. There was always a twinkle of the little girl in her eye. She was always on the move. Coming up with fun things to do was her specialty. Building sand castles, riding the waves, or playing Uno, made her larger than life to the grandkids. Even when she was sick, she was out trying to ride the lawn mower or attempting to help do the dishes, much to Ray’s dismay.
Lover- A lover of animals. A lover of children and grandchildren. A lover of people. A lover of God. She was loyal, and true. Her love for her family complete. But most of all she was a lover, who knew the intimate heart of her husband. Fifty-four years ago today, she was saying I do in a church, and I know she would not hesitate to do it all again.
Enthusiastic- Nannie was fully committed to whatever she was doing from hiking, to dulcimers, to grandkids, to tennis. She never stopped loving what she was involved in, because she was passionate about life. Her enthusiasm was contagious.
Warm-hearted. Louise had a way of showing care that invited you in to her heart. She tried to share the warmth with those around her. She opened herself to you in a way that made you feel a part of her life, and her a part of yours.
Encourager. She was a cheerleader for the Goats… and not just any goats, the mighty angora goats of Clarkston High School. From those early days as a cheerleader, to her more recent years Louise was an encourager. She took in those who were downtrodden and built them up…sometimes forcibly. It was in her DNA to come along side and push others gently…or not…to reach for something bigger.
Mother-in-love. Louise didn’t like the term daughter in law. She didn’t feel that a piece of paper should define the relationship, so she came up with her own term of endearment, daughter in love. It is how she introduced me, and addressed the notes she wrote to me. Which of course, made her my mother in love.
Perky-Nannie was briskly cheerful in all things. She had a self-confident air about her that sucked everyone around her into it. Lively, jovial, and fun followed her around. She poured this perkiness out as a gift to her grandchildren.
Strength. Nannie had a strength that would blow your mind. She would get up before the grandkids and go to bed after them. She kept them going from dawn till dusk. Bowling, swimming, and hiking were her favorite ways to tire them out. She could run circles around them…which they loved.
Faith filled. Louise showed her faith with her actions. She took the scripture “when you have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me” seriously. This note she wrote several years ago when we were building our house explains why.
“My heart was broken for a poor sick, mangy dog at the Bill and Michelle’s new house. It sits in the carport and begs for attention and food. I long to bring it home, wash it, feed it, and take it to the vet for attention. The workmen throw it bits of food and potato chips. Oh God! I see myself in the poor pup. In God’s eyes, I am dirty and hungry and full of sores. He longs to take all of us dirty dogs into his care, wash us, feed us with his holy word, heal our brokenness, restore our joy, but we continue to roll in the mud and eat potato chips. God, thank you for taking me into your care and making me clean and whole!”
Today her prayer has been answered in all its fullness. She is free and whole. And when we arrive there in heaven sometime in the future, she will be with that mangy dog whom she tried to save, standing there welcoming us in and showing us around the place. All these words will still be true of her, plus some.
I ask that you each think of your own word for Louise. Then at the reception afterwards please add it to the mat around the portrait to help us paint a portrait of her life.

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