My grandmother passed on Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011. I was given the honor to speak at her funeral 2 weeks ago. This is what I said about Mary Teresa, a woman that is dearly missed and will always be in our hearts.
I’ve always known Grandmother is an angel. It only took a flash from her blue eyes or a glimpse of her smile to know God sent us a very special soul.
I am deeply honored to speak on behalf of all the grandchildren and the great grandchildren about the matriarch of our family and the best Grandmother any of us could have ever asked for.
When asked who my greatest role model was in school, I didn’t say the latest athlete or superstar. I said my Grandmother.
Grandmother lived by example. She loved with her whole heart. She forgave time and time again. She knew when to let go.
She also enjoyed the simple pleasures of life like eating ice cream every day of her life (except for during Advent and Lent), sitting in her chair, watching Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and the Price is Right, gardening, baking, etc. She prayed for every single one of us every day – for our tests, our jobs, our dreams.
I recently heard a particularly moving quote: “Do not fear death but the unlived life.”
Whether it was learning to drive at age 59, touching her toes on her 100th birthday, going on a 19-day bus tour around the country, or seeing the ocean for the first time in her 70’s, Grandmother lived.
Her greatest joy on earth was her family, and next to her relationship with God, it was the most important relationship to her. She always brought us together, wanted everyone to be happy and to feel included, and tried to smooth out any differences we might have.
There is no doubt that Grandmother is rejoicing in heaven and that all those that passed before her welcome her with open arms. She is home.
And for those of us still on earth. She will be dearly missed—her contagious laughter, her firm German pats on the back when giving a hug, her cookies, her “Oh my Lans,” her hands, her birthday cards, her holiday prayers, “sweet” kisses and “I love you’s,” her excitement over the fact that you called, her waking up at the crack of dawn every visit to wave goodbye, her calling us 2 or 3 different grandchildren’s names before our own, and her constant desire to make sure you were well fed and comfortable. We will miss all that and more.
Grandmother lived the meaning of love. And I truly believe that the way we can best honor her and her life is to follow her example and live our lives to the fullest, knowing that there will be difficulties and challenges, but that love will always prevail if we let it.
Grandmother showed us that you don’t have to discover a cure for cancer to make a profound impact and difference in the world. Grandmother made a difference in everyone’s lives she touched, and so can we.
Grandmother: thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you’ve done for us. I strive to be half the woman you were—to have your faith, compassion, and ability to let go and to love.
I love you, and I’m so grateful I got to share 27 years of my life with you.