Last Wednesday, one of the most beautiful people on earth, my grandma, passed away. After 9 months of battling multiple myeloma she succumbed to her disease. Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease.
She was the most wonderful person I have ever known. Her wake and her service were hard, but it was also full of laughter. We saw family we haven't seen in years. Many people came to pay their respects to her and our family and we are forever grateful.
In lieu of flowers, my grandmother chose to have donations made to Finley's foundation - the RDH12 Fund for Sight. In honor of her life, she wanted to help ensure that her granddaughter didn't lose her sight. Amazing to the end.
My brother and I had a chance to write the eulogy for my grandmother's funeral, and he and I and my two cousins (my grandmother's only other two grandchildren) had a chance to speak. It was nice to have a chance to speak from our hearts about what she meant to us.
I have decided to post here my part of the eulogy that I wrote. I thank my cousin's Kirsten and Alissa for sharing the burden of reading it at the service - that made it much easier to get through. I need to ask my brother for his part because it was very beautiful and I want to make sure I have it down so that we will always remember what he said about her.
Amava con tutto il suo cuore
This is Italian for “she loved with all of her heart”. This one sentence describes my grandmother and how she lived her life. She never was without kindness for others. She never put her needs before another. There was no one else on this earth like her.
There are so many things I could say about her. And none of it would come close to expressing what she meant to me. I wa blessed with her olive skin and her laugh. She was one of my best friends. Being the eldest granddaughter of her eldest daughter – we had a special bond. Before she got sick, we talked on the phone at least once a week. Unless I was cooking something – then it was usually more because she would call me several times to make sure I wasn’t messing it up. These conversations were always my favorite because she knew the recipe by heart. When I would ask her “Gram, how much sugar should I put in” she would answer “oh, you know…..some” or “until it tastes right”. It always made me laugh because as someone who has no cooking skills – this was not going to work out well.
Growing up with my Grandmother was pretty amazing. There was never a lack of food. Or good stories. Or food. My brother, cousins, and I would spend many weekends at her house all together. She had an amazing hill in her yard to roll down. She had a huge basement that was perfect for roller skating, or playing make believe. I could count on one hand the number of times we used television as a means of entertainment while we were with her. We would listen as she told us stories of growing up and what it means to have nothing and yet have everything. She taught us always to be grateful for what God has provided.
As a small family, she was at every concert, every recital, every game, and every vacation. I don’t remember a single important life event where she was not present. Even when Mat and I lived in California, she made several trips out to see us and visit (and reorganize my spice cabinet). She showed us the importance of being present. That hearing about it afterwards was never as good as being there during. That has always stuck with me. She was never too busy. It was never too big of a burden to be with her family.
There are so many little things I loved about her. That her favorite food was candy. That her favorite feature was her hair. That she screamed the loudest of everyone in the family at the West Virginia football games. That even though she had many beautiful table cloths, the only one we ever saw was an ugly yellow and white checkered one from the 1970s because it "washes well". That each spring she helped make 1500 ravioli for the church and the money she made from the sale was her casino money. That she kept a glass jar of Pizzelles and Biscotti on her attic stairs and she pretended not to notice when you snuck one. That she always threatened us with a paddle with the wooden spoon when we misbehaved, yet never once used it. (although we found out one day that she carried it in her purse on our outings). We could go on forever and never scratch the surface of who she really was.
As a deeply religious woman, we always knew that if she prayed, the prayer would be heard. Want to sell your house? Have Gram bury St. Joseph in your front yard and you will be all set. Of course – if you can’t remember where he is buried…..that is on you. Last year, we were really worried about having bad weather for one of my daughter’s fundraisers. But the day was beautiful. When talking to Gram about it she said “well of course, honey, I put the statue of Mother Mary in the window this morning”. She had a direct line to God. And now that she is up there with him, I know we are in good hands.
I am going to miss her every minute of every day. I will spend my life trying to be half the person that she was and know that I won’t ever come close. Grazie a lei, io farò il conteggio di tutti i giorni : Because of her, I will make every day count.