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Sample Eulogy for a Grandmother
One recent memory that I have of Mamama was when I asked her to accompany me to a party. I was always looking for any opportunity to show her off. When I finally convinced her to come along, she responded, “Oh, I guess I’ll wear my champagne clothes.” Even in her most advanced years, she was willing to party so long as she could do it in style, wearing designer clothes, donning posh accessories, and displaying a tall glass of champagne in her hand.
Though my grandmother was born as the only girl to a modest middle-class family of seven in 1922 Connecticut, she had aspirations that were aristocratic in nature, using her imagination to channel some long-lost French-Canadian aunt whose essence she was determined to embody. All five feet ninety-five pounds of her exuded class well beyond her humble beginnings, making her somewhat of an icon in our family.
My grandmother found the perfect partner in Alva. Each embraced sophistication, believing whole-heartedly that one’s outward appearance says everything about a person. Mamama and Papapa dressed like they belonged on the cover of a fashion magazine, always paying close attention to detail with accessories that included ascots and derby hats, silk scarves and pearls.
Their fabulous taste and impeccable detail carried over to their home as well. Lucy filled each room with the latest trends in interior design while Alva maintained the curb appeal. I can just see Alva now, with dungarees hanging over his skinny body, methodically mowing his perfectly manicured clover lawn using his beloved silent push mower. A weed-free lawn and driveway was one of his greatest accomplishments, making Lucy equally proud.
Mamama and Papapa loved being parents to my mother Pam and Uncle Peter. In them, they cultivated gentle souls who grew to understand that gratitude was the key to happiness. My grandmother displayed her own gratitude for life by embracing every opportunity to learn and grow.
She regarded education as a top priority not only for her children but for herself. She made it to college in the 1940s even when the likelihood of a woman getting an education was slim. After raising her children, she embarked upon a career in fashion and design.
Her work with JOSIE, Virginia Allen Clothiers, and Lillian August made her a pioneer in her field at a time when working women of a certain age were an oddity. She had so much dedication to her career that she worked until she was seventy.
After her husband Alva passed away, she turned to her extended family to find the comfort needed to replace her most cherished relationship. She lived with us in Easton for seventeen memorable years. She loved spending time with us, never giving up an opportunity to travel or visit Peter and Donny in Maryland or Dan and Manina in DC. She was so often our desired companion.
At age 84, her love for learning continued as she took it upon herself to learn French. From the first day of class, she exhibited the dedication and commitment of a straight A student. Her instructor and fellow students loved her! Eventually, she traveled to Paris with Peter and Donna to put her hard work into practice as she conversed with local Parisians and settled into the landscape that she loved so dearly.
Mamama loved to throw lavish parties with great food, dance, gossip, and glamour. Her Christmas parties mirrored her vivacious personality. As I’m sure you can imagine, every room was decorated with an abundance of Christmas flare, and she was dressed glamorously to the 9s. We kids were offered watered down wine while the adults drank champagne.
I can remember the delicious French food, which she cooked to perfection. Bread and butter were always on hand along with salted walnuts and raisins in silver bowls. Of course, a party wasn’t a party without music and dancing. Though my grandmother preferred to dance with the most handsome man at the party, she would occasionally settle for me as a partner.
When my mother’s illness progressed and she needed her own space, Mamama’s needs advanced too. Even still, my father honored my grandmother’s lesson of keeping family together by buying the house across the street. There, my grandmother and Aunt Mary-Anne lived in each other’s company. Family helping family continued as Ramona and Frank participated in the effort to keep this lesson alive and grounded.
Family took on a significant role in my grandmother’s life, but there is one person who, though not family by blood, exists as a significant entity in her story. Nilza became like a daughter to Mamama soon after becoming her housekeeper. The love they had for one another grew beyond what can be defined as a friendship. They filled each day by being present for one another, even in the roughest of moments.
When my mother became too ill to care for Mamama, Nilza stepped in with the selflessness of any good daughter. She was attentive to my grandmother’s needs as she helped us to keep Mamama’s mind and body moving with activity and conversation. Her generous spirit and commitment to providing comfort and friendship will forever be remembered with a thankful heart.
Despite the circumstances created by this terrible pandemic, we made sure that family and friends were always faithfully in her presence, providing her their loving embrace. She selflessly believed that ending this life in one’s own home is not what is important, rather, it is in knowing that your most cherished family and friends are there, continuing to carry you through a life that was worth every moment.
I stand here today, grateful for the lessons Mamama taught us by simply being herself. Love your family, even the ones not bonded by blood; show up and be present; find your confidence and goodness in helping others; finally, though life is often painful, there is no dark without light, so recognize the light that is life’s beauty.
Personally, I was always so proud to show off my grandmother. I saw what I imagined others were seeing, a woman who mirrored the grace and sophistication of a queen. Though her outward appearance, with the fashionable clothes and latest trends, screamed something extraordinary, the essence that lay quietly within that small frame is what I secretly adored.
Her strength made it possible for a girl to find success in anything and at any age, her tenderness made it possible to raise children while being the breadwinner of a family, and her natural wit made it possible to laugh at or be the bearer of dirty jokes while still being considered a lady. My grandmother embodied so much that I’ve come to admire over her many years. She was the perfect combination of strength, tenderness, and humor.
I imagine her to be in heaven now, after having prepared one of her fabulous parties with the champagne, salted walnuts, and music; anticipating her daughter’s arrival to share in the joy of everlasting life and the eternal party.
Sample Eulogy for a Mother
Born at the start of the Great Depression in the small coal mining town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, my mother entered into a loving family as the second of four kids. At the age of eight, she endured the heartache of losing her own mother in a way that was sudden and at a time when the cares of a child should be free of worry and loss. She often reflected upon the generous spirit of my grandmother and the tender affection that came so naturally.
Being raised without a mother only brought her closer to her sister and two brothers. Despite the unfortunate circumstances of their childhood, they understood the importance of their relationship and nurtured it with unselfish love and steadfast optimism. Throughout their long lives, they looked out for one another and provided endless support at every turn, teaching their children that even a three thousand mile separation shouldn’t break the bond of family.
To my mother, family was essential. When she married, she joyfully anticipated starting a family of her own; one large enough to guarantee that the echoes of laughter and expressions of love would carry on even in her golden years. Though the shock of losing her first child left an unrepairable emptiness, it did not extinguish the hope that she had for building a family. Consequently, she and my father raised nine children in the years that followed, often reminding us that we had a guardian angel as a sister.
My mother recalled the loneliness she felt when leaving her father and siblings to move to California in the 1960’s. Of course, she was following her husband’s wishes at the time but was left dumbfounded by the dry landscape and center block fences that surrounded their small home. Despite her longing for Pennsylvania, she made the best of the situation and created a home for her family that was meaningful and grounded.
Though they often encountered hardships along the way, their love for family and commitment to faith never faltered. My mother’s inner strength grew as her family grew. She became a woman who could stand on her own two feet and manage the fort as my father worked two jobs. Her love for California was soon realized as the sunshine became a convenient partner even in the winter months. Although she came to appreciate the west coast, she went out of her way to make sure that her brothers and sister in the East remained close.
Because of my mother, her children developed close friendships with their cousins. Not a year went by that we didn’t visit one another. As kids, we were never left wanting because our parents were sympathetic to the desires of children. If we wanted to go to the beach, they’d load up the cars with boogie boards and coolers for a trip that lasted until the sun set along the pink horizon. If we were in the mood for Disneyland, they’d pool their money together and make sure that the long summer day ended with empty ticket books and a seat along Main Street, watching the bright lights of the Electric Light Parade.
As an aunt, my mother's generous and easy going nature was appreciated. Without hesitation, she opened her home to the young nephews whose futures were uncertain and who wanted to give California a try. She’d go out of her way to make them feel welcome by feeding them and including them in every family celebration. They enjoyed her sense of humor, especially her ability to laugh at herself; and she never passed up an opportunity to split a beer. The love she had for her nieces and nephews was obvious, and their love for her was reciprocated by the simple fact that they always wanted her around.
She adored her twelve grandchildren. She expected each to greet her with a hug and, in return, spoiled them with an endless amount of treats in the kitchen. Chocolates and ice cream were always on hand. She remained tender and reliable at times when they needed it most. She tried to be an example for them to emulate when it came to practicing their faith. She never backed down from asking the important questions like, “Did you go to Mass today?” She knew well that young developing minds need to be reminded about what’s really important in life.
Being a wife and mother were her two greatest roles. My father was lucky and he knew it. From the day he spotted her in a department store elevator in 1950, he knew he’d be lucky if she gave him any bit of attention. Her beauty was considered exceptional and her outgoing personality was equally memorable. Although the forty seven years they shared together were often filled with disappointment and grief, it was also filled with love and understanding.
Because of my mother’s ability to rise to any occasion and offer forgiveness before it was asked of her, she taught us the meaning of selflessness along the hills and valleys of a marriage. Even in the darkest moments of cancer, she remained committed to providing what little comfort she could to a man who gave her the family she asked for. Because of her ability to show strength in the face of hardship, tenderness in the presence of sorrow, and joy in the midst of celebration, she taught us the meaning of motherhood.
Though my mother’s highest accomplishment was her family, her greatest relationship was with God. She looked at faith in all its simplicity. She lived her life according to His word and found comfort in prayer, focusing special attention on seeking the Blessed Mother for intercession and guidance along the way.
She did not bother to sully this relationship by allowing the influence of society to complicate it. She did not need proof that what she practiced was the truth because she was content in pondering the beautiful mysteries that were her faith. If we breathe new life into this lesson of faith, if we incorporate it into our own lives, then we carry on her legacy and give her reason to smile.
As her final years approached and Alzheimer’s began to steal away her memory, her need for her children grew. We were more than willing to step in and take on her most cherished role as mother. With each new stage of this terrible disease, we gradually saw her come full circle and end this life as it once began, resembling the likeness of a child.
Jesus once proclaimed, “Whoever humbles himself like a little child is the greatest in heaven.” I like to reflect upon this as I think of where my mother is today. I imagine she’s with her sister Kay, her dearest friend, holding hands, laughing uncontrollably, and wishing her children knew the magnificent joy that awaits them.
Sample Eulogy for a Brother
It’s hard for me to imagine that I’m here, at my brother’s funeral, speaking of him in the past tense. It was difficult to think of ways in which to eulogize a life that I’m struggling to let go. My purpose is to offer a glimpse into his life as I saw it, as his youngest sibling. Although I wasn’t around when Paul was a child, I’ll share with you the picture that I had created in my mind while spending time listening to my brothers and sister reminisce as they so often did.
As the third oldest of nine, Paul had little choice but to exist at the heels of an older brother whom he adored. Tom was the one he followed with intensity. He marveled at his big brother’s every move as the twosome committed to finding mischief at every turn. Whether they were playing football in the yard, hopping trains that passed through Norwalk, or riding a horse named Duke, Paul was eager to please and pleased to fulfill the promise of brotherhood because it resulted in the simplest yet deepest kind of friendship. Paul cherished the time spent with each of his six brothers, knowing that what culminated was a bond that surpassed all others.
As a young boy, Paul’s obsession with drawing filled his days. I can just picture him as a little boy seated at the kitchen table, face to face with sketch paper, crooked dark rimmed glasses upon his nose, pencil in hand, and an eye for form that was advanced for his young age. Sketch after sketch, he’d draw because he was passionate about his talent and eager to improve with every stroke of the pencil.
Football was another passion of his. As children, Paul and his brothers seemed to live and breathe the sport. After watching the Dallas Cowboys or LA Rams on TV, they’d immediately dash out the door and onto the front lawn to replay every move of their favorite players. Well beyond the first glow of the streetlamps, they’d play into the night before the tackles and interceptions became the focus of their dreams.
In high school, he received the nickname Square Head because he amazingly cracked his football helmet while playing. To his teammates, it was only logical to assume that in order for someone to crack a helmet, the head protected underneath must have sharp corners. Clearly, this nickname did not phase Paul in the least because it remained for life. He was always the first to laugh the loudest at himself.
His thirty some years as a maintenance worker for the school district proved his dedication as an employee. He was committed to hard work and willing to complete the most difficult jobs with a smile, proving his integrity and desire to do what he could for others. School children loved when he was around because he was so silly, going out of his way to make them laugh. Even after he retired, those who worked with him remained loyal friends.
Aside from his humble vocation, Paul enjoyed a simple life with simple interests. He became giddy with excitement whenever he met someone who shared in his love for music. As a young man, this fondness developed with the help of Jim Croce, Steely Dan, and The Doobie Brothers.
As he painted landscapes on canvases or worked on restoring an old ’56 Chevy truck, the atmosphere was filled with the sounds of the music of the 70s. I can just see him curling the end of his mustache while listening intently to the lyrics of Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. All the while with a Coors Light in his hand and a smile on his face.
As an older brother, he was our biggest fan. Even the minor recognitions were made to seem extraordinary because of him. He bragged about his younger siblings whenever he got the chance and his love was always made apparent with his outward regard for us. Though his own talents seemed to relinquish and settle comfortably in the shadows of others, his mark of humility will remain on our hearts forever.
As happens with many, life’s passions become memories not forgotten but far to reach as the wheel of life continues and the years multiply.
His new focus became finding a partner with whom to share his life. The likelihood of finding and experiencing love became all the more real when he met Donna. With Donna, he was at his happiest. He found someone who shared his sense of humor and love for people. They boarded cruise ships and vacationed in Mexico regularly, leaving a memorable impression with those they encountered at each destination. For the first time in his life, Paul understood what it meant to live life to the fullest.
When Donna got sick, his love for her and trust in God grew even stronger. Though his life with her was short, he recognized that God’s will transcended his own, so he humbly accepted his fate and appreciated the blessing that was Donna. Courageously, he came to truly understand the power of prayer, even in the face of a losing battle, and found comfort in it long after.
His life was suddenly met with an emptiness that was profound. Although he accepted it, he never recovered from it. It wasn’t just the act of losing Donna that was so hard, it was the process of assembling the broken pieces and creating a new life that he hoped might resemble a mere hint of the old. Despite his efforts, he fell short of fully capturing the happiness that once existed.
Regardless of his setbacks, Paul remained optimistic because of his love for life. His days were filled with friendships and family. Friendships were easy for Paul because he was so easy to love. He could make people laugh with his gregarious nature, and he could make them feel at ease with his openness and honesty.
His big heart was instantly recognizable because he had such a kind and generous spirit. When he met someone new, he’d talk to that person until he found something that the two had in common. All it took was a friendly smile to capture Paul’s attention, and he was your friend forever.
To his family, Paul had always been larger than life. He was the best at telling stories because he would use his whole body and reach his voice to the highest octave. He would succeed at capturing a moment in a way that no one else could. We were sure to laugh with every muscle when Paul was around.
He loved to cook and enjoyed sharing his food at holiday celebrations and impromptu family gatherings. He was always the first to call me whenever the Anaheim Ducks scored, and his enthusiasm for hockey was contagious. The love that his family had for him was too vast to be measured, and the void that his absence now leaves seems endless.
To reciprocate his kindness and fill this void, we now must do our part as his loved ones and friends. We must pray that Paul is reunited with those whom he loved and those whom he never knew. God’s most important commandment was to love thy neighbor.
If anyone fulfilled this commandment, it was my brother Paul. I’d like to think that God is embracing my brother with a merciful heart, pleased that Paul lived his life always having His greatest commandment in practice, knowing that His will, after all, is love and mercy itself. And with this in mind, I can set my heart at ease.
Eulogy for a Sister-in-law
Donna will be remembered for her kindness, her ability to accept others for who they are, and her sense of humor. She was able to laugh at her own short comings while making others feel welcomed regardless of their own. She was the life of every party and friendly to all.
She made every effort to recognize the good in each person, believing that everyone possessed it and never hesitating to offer the benefit of the doubt. It is this understanding of humanity that made her love and patience so profound.
Donna never considered herself a victim of cancer. Rather, she was a passionate warrior on the front line of a relentless battle. She wasn’t going to back down or surrender easily. She would fight the good fight despite being aware of the battle’s inevitable outcome.
She was committed to beginning each day as she always had, maintaining some kind of normalcy and hoping to get just a glimpse of life as it was before cancer. While she wished and prayed for that life back, she graciously accepted her fate. She was humble enough to realize that this life, this earthly life, was not hers to dictate.
She embraced her faith, knowing that God would protect her through her suffering and finally summon her in the end. If she was having a difficult time, no one knew it because she presented herself with that memorable smile. Even through the pain, she smiled.
There is one thing that I don’t think Donna realized before she left us. The mark that she left on the minds of her nieces and nephews will last forever. All young people search for someone to admire, someone to emulate. To them, she remains a testament of the most honorable of soldiers.
She did not choose to fight cancer. She did not enlist. She did not sign up for the ugly battle. She was chosen. To be forced into such a fight without direction or desire is honorable enough. To conduct oneself in a manner that is one of resolve and grace is beyond measure. Without question, she was a strong and inspirational woman in her long fight with breast cancer. For this, she will be long admired.
The amount of joy that she brought to my brother’s life was immeasurable. Because of her, he understood the true meaning of happiness. Whether it was at a family gathering, a trip to Mexico, or one of their many cruises, they lived life to its fullest with enthusiasm and purpose.
For Donna, the purpose of life was to share and receive love. As a couple, Paul and Donna did just that. It’s true that their life together was short, but the memories of that life will remain forever.
It should bring us peace to know that as the sun rises and sets every day, we will marvel at the knowledge of God’s powers of creation while Donna will experience the magnificence of God first hand, at His side.
As Donna herself would say, “It’s all good.”
Eulogy for a Father
My father lived a simple life of prayer and commitment to family. He worked hard to provide his children with the necessities of life, never sparing them a day’s meal or a trip to the doctor's office. He went beyond his duty as provider by embracing them all with his prayers. For each of his ten children, he recited a rosary a day.
While most father’s express their love outwardly, he chose to maintain an expression of love that was reflective upon prayer. Prayer, in his eyes, was the most powerful love of all. When his children allowed life’s small distractions to get in the way of their faith, he was there to remind them of the importance of humility and the power of God’s graces.
The love he had for his wife may have often times been overshadowed by the difficulties that come with raising a large family. One cannot deny, however, the special love he held for her in his heart. Until his dying day, she was his rock, his soul mate, his source of life.
Without her, he would not have discovered life’s rewards. By giving him children, she opened his mind to immeasurable riches and proved to him that life is indeed miraculous. The death of their first child proved their commitment to one another, their strength in faith, and their ability to endure the most impossible of human trials.
When his mind could no longer steady itself upon a thought, when his lips could no longer come together to form a word, when his voice could no longer find the strength to sound even a whisper, his family gathered around.
His wife remained close, kissing the fingers of his lifeless hand. His sons remained committed, wiping the sweat from his colorless face. His daughters remained loyal, moistening the lips of his breathless mouth.
Before their eyes, his suffering ceased.
Once again, life was restored.
The eyes, young with anticipation.
The mouth, animated with joy.
The skin, alive with a newfound glory.
Blessed are they who witnessed.