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  • Writer's picturejodi

Gigi's Eulogy

The photo you see along with these words was taken the day my grandmother died. My children's GiGi.

At the time we didn't know she had passed. But sitting here now, I find it rather interesting that we were spending time in one of her favourite places on earth when she left here. And to riff off of that... On our ride to the airport from our resort, my eyes spilled tears and in my gut I knew she was gone. For no reason, other than just 'knowing'.

Very late the night before her funeral, I was asked to write a eulogy. I don't know why I didn't see that coming.

The same as I didn't see this coming.... I'm going to share the eulogy I wrote, here, with you.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jodi, Helen’s granddaughter. Apparently, my grandmother wanted me to be named Jolene ~ Jo from the beginning my grandfather’s name Joseph & lene for the ending of her name... that is one argument I was always glad she lost, although I don’t think she lost many. Now, in retrospect, I wish she had won that battle.

I struggle with finding the right words to say today, how I can possibly encompass 92 years of my grandmother’s life into a few paragraphs is a challenge. I will also have a challenge getting through this without tears, so please bear with me.

I’ll start with what I first remember of her when I was a child. I remember her teaching me how to make my first cup of coffee, it was in a little golden china pot, the cups were no bigger than a little girl’s mouthful ~ but she made me feel so special & feel so grown up; this taught me that the little things mean everything. And I also learned at that young age how much she loved her coffee.

I remember her teaching me how to iron and showing me patience when I burned my grandfather’s shirt... and that was not the only time I learned how to speak a Hungarian curse word, although I still don’t know the English translation.

I remember her teaching me how to sew with her old-fashioned Singer sewing machine. She showed me great restraint as to not correct me as I was ruining the hem. She’d let me complete my task without a negative criticism spoken. Then after I'd left the room, she’d quietly take out the hem & I’d hear the sewing wheel start turning again. I learned that self control is essential when teaching children, in order to allow them to grow.

I remember her teaching me how to make cabbage rolls and Hungarian cookies, the names of which I cannot pronounce & I learned that cooking for those she loved meant everything to her... So much so that she brought food to Cuba in her suitcase to feed families she had befriended over the years, but the food was confiscated at customs. We just came back from a trip to Cuba this past Saturday; they’re still talking about her cooking.

But that’s what grandmother’s do, they teach, even when they don’t realize that they are doing it. My grandmother taught me, as I’m sure she has taught all of you whose heart she has touched; to work hard, to never give up, to laugh, to give and to love. And she also taught us that she is stubborn & therefore always right... most times I’m sure that she was, her wisdom surpasses our own.

Her family was everything to her. Her family was her happiness. Her children; my aunt Barb and my father Ed. And she took on & loved her grandchildren Chris, Shayne, Freddy, myself as her own, in many different ways, at many times in her life. She embraced our significant others as if they were an extension of our physical being; Fred, Madeleine, Lara, Marla, Mark; She loved us all.

She became a widow 29 years ago... that was such a long time ago. I remember being here in this very building, although at that time I truly did not understand the significance of HER loss. So we became her sole focus. Her sole purpose was for Us, Her Family.

Our children are blessed to have known & been loved by a Great Grandmother ~ GiGi. Morgan, Ethan, Aysha, Samantha, Nicole, Alexandra, Emma... the pride she felt and the happiness you brought to her life is near impossible to sum up into words. She lit up every time you were around. Even hearing your names triggered a spark of happiness in her eyes. She always wanted to hear stories about 'the kids'. I mentioned to Barb yesterday, from the time my kids were little, every time we went to visit GiGi she’d send me back out to McDonald’s for 'hamburgers & fries', Every Single Time. Even If they had just finished dinner because she always wanted to give, she always wanted to make everyone happy & feel special. Even last summer, when she could barely get her words out, she found the strength to articulate the words to Order me to go back out to get Her & my children McDonald’s.

My grandmother innately taught us strength & independence because those are the characteristics which she bestowed. I never once saw my grandmother to be weak willed, I never knew my grandmother to be afraid but I’m sure she had to have been at some point throughout her 92 years... and the grace with which she carried herself, makes her one of the strongest people I know.

And on the topic of strength, Kevin recalled yesterday the memory of his Aunt Helen when she worked at a convenience store; she chased a man who tried to rob her out of the store with a broom... and I’m sure she was yelling those Hungarian curse words at him.

I realize that we all have our own personal significant memories of her, our own special private shared words & private shared moments But one thing we all share, is knowing what it felt like to be loved by her.

At some point one or many lives in this room have breathed easier because she has lived.

I know it’s supposed to be easier to say good bye because she lived a good long happy healthy life but the truth of the matter is, it just gave us all more time to love her, respect her & appreciate her...

it just leaves a greater void.

Miss you Gigi

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