Evelyn Engelking


Today my Grandma turns 91.

Unfortunately, she is celebrating it in heaven rather than here with us.

I’ve spent the last 5 days trying to figure out how to put my love for this woman into words and I keep falling short. Mere words do not seem to do her or our relationship justice.

However, here are some lifelong lessons I will never forget and I think everyone could benefit from:

  • Love Jesus & People – my Grandmother was an incredible role model of living a faith based life.
  •  Invest in People and they will invest back – my Grandmother has built a wonderful legacy. She was the first person I can remember that told me “You can do anything you want to do”. She was truly involved in my life and I am forever grateful for it.
  • Spend time in nature – I can’t say Green Thumb without thinking of my grandma. She loved her garden and taught me many life lessons by allowing me to spend time with her in her garden.
  •  Do something adventurous – She travelled the world and was always up for anything.  I remember her telling me she wanted to skydive for her 90th birthday. She was running races well into her 60s. To me, she was invincible and good at everything and always willing to try something once.
  • Keep learning – My grandmother went back to college to get her Master’s degree at the same time as my Mom went to college for the first time. The night she died she was still listening to books on tape. I know she valued education.
  •  Be inquisitive – On our last conversation my Grandmother started with “Tell me about the things that matter in your life”. What a great conversation starter she was.
  • Be Kind – From animals to people my grandmother had a soft heart for the less fortunate. Holidays at grandmas always included strangers and friends that she wanted to make sure felt welcome. And she took in stray animals all the time, including my very bad cat.
  • Be Charitable – I remember being 7 years old and going with my grandma to deliver meals on wheels. One of the last conversations I had with her was about the charity marionmedical.org. She was talking about the great work they are doing building wells in Africa. She donated money to various causes but more importantly she donated herself and her time.

If there is any “good” in me, I know it’s largely because of her and I miss her terribly.

I know I’m fortunate to have known her for 41 years. I also know she’s in a better place (and reunited with my Grandfather who passed away last March).

Love you Grandma. Happy Birthday, I’m sure you are leading the choir up in heaven.

Added on 1/18:

PS – Grandma fun fact: As I was helping my Mom type up the eulogy I learned my Grandma was not just on one tv game show, but 3. I remember her saying “hi” to me during her Wheel of Fortune stint in 1976 but she was also on You Bet Your Life (1952) and Beat the Clock (1959). A true star in the making. With her personality and good looks no wonder she kept making the cut.