Jillybean's Blog

{July 18, 2012}   A Tribute to my Grandmother…

When Mom asked me to write a eulogy, I was terrified. How do you do a woman justice, who influenced my life with so much passion, determination, and love? This was my first attempt, as read at my Grandmother’s funeral this morning…

“This is gonna be a big challenge for me… This may be the most important thing I’ve ever written in my life.
If Gramma were physically present today, I know she’d gently smile at me, cautioning my candor with a raised eyebrow, and an understanding shake of her head, simply sighing, “Oh, Jilly…”

I should start off by saying I was extremely fortunate to have the chance to say goodbye to my Gramma. Not everyone gets the chance to really honestly say goodbye to someone they love so dearly, and I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for the opportunity I was given.

We were all feeling anger, despair and extreme sadness in her final days.
To look at her and see the light, NOT beauty, fade from her face, made us feel powerless. This was the challenge of letting go…the lesson I somehow presciently told myself at the start of this year I would need to learn.

How do I let go of my Gramma? How do I let go of the joy I felt when she reacted to my impressions of the high school teachers I enjoyed, yet sometimes loathed? It made her laugh and laugh at such an infectious level that everyone laughed, even if they weren’t in on the joke. She laughed with passion, and I was so committed to seeing this very reaction of merriment and pure joy that I’d even embellish, borderline make stuff up, just to keep her laughing.

I leaned on her, and she rewarded me with wisdom that inspired me. She made me BELIEVE in love through faith, which if you’ve met any of my boyfriends, you’d see this is QUITE the feat… And yet I still, and always will believe, in true love of all kinds, because of her influence.

The most important lesson would come in her final days, which she handled with more grace than I could fathom. Her physical discomfort at times made me question the process of dissipation of the spirit…but I was awed by how amazingly peaceful and perfectly natural this process was for her.

A few days before she died, my Mom opened a fortune cookie that said, “Your family is truly one of nature’s masterpieces.” And today is about the amazing family and friends my Gramma leaves here. Everyone here today.

And Grampa, what a hero he is. I just wrote a thesis about heroes and STILL had no idea what the term hero meant until I watched you and the way you looked after Gramma til her dying day. I never, in my LIFE, have seen so much love, so much dedication, so much disregard for self. I can only wish that when I’m facing the next chapter, there is someone to hold my hand like you held hers. That, everyone, is unconditional love. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Maybe we can now begin to understand what the timing of her death meant. She struggled, but she was strong. She was willing to pay the physical price because her work was not yet done. We thought maybe there were things she needed to hear from US. “It’s ok to let go. We love you.” No. This wasn’t about what WE needed to say. This was about what she needed to teach US.
She was not going to let go until she was sure WE had learned the importance of teamwork, unconditional love, and the power of strong bonds. That we knew we’d always have each other. She needed to be sure we had learned all of this before she left. This was our gift. And when she was sure we learned this lesson, she let go.

Knowing how this family pulls together, unhindered by divorce, or disagreements or by what we do or don’t have in common or where we live, is what she gave to us. We all, everyone here, values whats important, and she taught us that. She illuminated this connection we all have. She taught me, by watching my uncles with her, and ESPECIALLY my Mother, that we are capable of being who we were meant to be. She believed in us even when our faith faltered. She believed in us even when we were afraid to be who we were meant to be, who we really want to be.

Whether or not we know it right this second, we are all now endowed with the strength that comes from this lesson, even if it’s in its nascent stages.

We now know that our bonds as family and friends are strong and she is the glue. No matter what the future brings, she keeps us together. That is the comfort she leaves with us. That’s her gift. That’s her legacy.
We need St. Marilyn up there. From where she is, and from where she now sits, she still loves. And we carry on so that she lives on.
We take her with us as we do, which is all she really wanted to know before she left.
Love is the greatest force on Earth. We know this love today, and because of her…we know that as the soul transforms, love is undying. Thank you, thank you, Marilyn Neher, for showing all of us the truth in that.”




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