My youngest brother had a nice a little speech written and prepared for Nana’s service. I had jotted down a few words, ideas I wanted to remember, for her eulogy. Mostly I wanted to talk about what a proud grandmother she was.
“Two years before I started my blog, Nana thought I should share my experiences as a stay-at-home dad because of my “unique perspective.” She also insisted that I look “just like Ben Affleck.” I took both compliments in the same vein and laughed off the thought that anyone might be interested in reading my parental musings as the wack-a-doo fantasy of an adoring grandmother. Writing has been such a creative outlet and led to such amazing opportunities, however, that I’m starting to think that maybe I do bear a striking resemblance to the future Batman actor (sorry, people, but that is still happening).
“My last memory of Nana was such a happy one; odd, considering she was in the skilled nursing wing of the assisted living center and was unlikely to walk again, after she was diagnosed with a cancer that left her weak and a series of accidents and infections left her in a wheelchair. She could not stop telling me what a great job my wife and I were doing raising our kids, how amazing they were turning out. This, while my adorable nut jobs were playing demolition derby with the walkers in her room. She didn’t care. Nana was going to be out and about again soon, and would hardly need them. No matter what the doctors told her. She was 93 and independent as fuck.”
That’s a more (and also less) refined version what I said up on the temple bema. It didn’t matter. No one was listening to me. I was barely listening to myself. I had just followed my six year daughter and she stole the show.
The morning of the funeral, Penny decided she wanted to say a few words about Nana. She asked if she could. I wasn’t sure if, when the time came, she would really want to, but said “of course.” Penny sat down at the table and wrote an incredibly sweet note about her great-grandmother. One more in the car. And another three at the temple. As usual, Penny had a lot to say. At this point, I knew nothing was going to stop her.
I’m not sure if it’s strange to be so proud of a first eulogy. It’s not one of the childhood milestones you normally read about or, when your kid hits it, passively brag about at birthday parties. But I am incredibly proud. In the moment, my little girl was able to collect her thoughts about a woman she loved and speak with poise and grace. All while being held in the air by her uncle, because, even with the step stool, she couldn’t reach the microphone. Her delivery in front of some family, but mostly complete strangers, was remarkable. I couldn’t help but smile when Penny read her eulogy and I couldn’t not get choked up after, thinking about how much Nana would have loved it.
Penny’s Eulogy to Nana
(as originally transcribed in Ye Olde Phonics, along with a mostly unnecessary translation)
A thing that’s great about [Nana] is that she loved us and now, sadly, she died. And so now we need to show love to her, most of all.
Another thing is Nana was always happy to see all of you guys and me and Simon.
The third thing is Nana is like always happy and that’s what I love about her!
Another thing is, she was nice to people she didn’t even know!
What I really like about Nana is Nana is so kind!