I’m usually wise enough to stay away from my kids’ Facebook pages, but a mutual friend tipped me off that Sarah had written a beautiful eulogy to Lea. Here it is.
My Grandmother, affectionately known as Mun-Mun, passed away yesterday morning—peacefully and in her own home, as she wished.
When I was a little girl, I knew Mun-Mun was “the best” for so many reasons; she’d let us grandkids wreak havoc like tornados through the Hyatt hotel, as she calmly swam laps in the pool.
She would encourage my sister and me to upturn every rock and climb on every tree in the neighborhood in the name of exploration. When Katharine and I had our hands completely covered in dirt (much to Mun-Mun’s approval and amusement) she’d take us to get our nails done, and of course, afterwards, treat us to Pretzel Time.
It was always a high time for tea with Mun-Mun. Back then, however, I didn’t “like” tea…so she’d catch me eating straight sugar cubes, but just laughed, and never once ratted me out. Pure love, I tell you.
She introduced me to ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,’ and had no objection to letting my imagination run wild, as I took apart every closet in her house looking for Narnia.
As I got older, I learned more about this amazing woman beyond sugar cubes and CS Lewis.
Mun-Mun was classy and rebellious at the same time. Her heart was on her sleeve always, and her love could fill an entire room. Her political activism during WWII and Vietnam centered on helping others, and giving herself entirely to each cause.
I learned about her exhaustive research, admirable stubbornness, and dedication to restoring John Gilbert’s (my great-Grandfather’s, and her father’s) reputation in Hollywood.
Last year I met a woman who asked me, “Are you related to Leatrice Fountain?” I told her yes, that I was her granddaughter. She [the woman] got a huge smile on her face, and told me warmly about her encounter with Mun-Mun, 30 years prior.
“I was in high school, and my boyfriend had just died in a car accident,” the woman explained. “I was crying in a church. Your grandmother saw me there, placed her arms around my shoulders, and asked me what happened. I was just barely able to tell her through sobs. She brought me to her house, and filled me up with food and tea.”
We both became teary at the recollection. It was so very Mun-Mun.
My sadness today is coupled with slight remorse. I regret the times I could have spent with her, but didn’t, because there would be “more time later.” I regret missing each opportunity to hear every tale of her adventures and heroism.
But, that said, she wouldn’t want me to feel disappointment. Mun-Mun would want me to spread the light she shed, as far and wide as possible. She would want me to stand up for what I believe in. And travel. And explore. She’d want me to carry on with my writing career. She’d want me to restore Sunday Night dinners. She understood the importance of family perhaps more than anyone else in the family.
Not that I’ve got the whole universe/soul/spirit thing figured out, but there’s no shadow of a doubt that she will bear witness to these things as they manifest. She will be watching and I’m sure, laughing, with that wickedly witty sense of humor.
I invite anyone with recollections of my grandmother to send them along to email@example.com. I would love nothing more than to collect the beautiful messages and memories of Leatrice Gilbert Fountain and redistribute them during her full celebration of life.
Love you, Mun-Mun. I hope (yet know) there are plenty of Wilber Buds up there.
September 6, 1924 – January 20, 2015