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In Loving Memory of Gladys

February 26, 2014

The following is the eulogy I gave at my grandmother’s funeral mass on October 30th, 2003 at St. Christina Catholic Church in Chicago, IL. I’ve only given two eulogies in my life: my father’s eulogy and the one for my grandmother below.  I was moved by those in attendance when at both services these eulogies received a response of applause from the congregation.  I imagine my words captured the essence of those loved ones whose memories we were there to honor.  I was blessed to have had such beautiful people in my immediate family in my father and my sweet grandmother, Gladys, who I love so dearly.

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Gladys M. DiGuido
September 14, 1913 – October 27, 2003

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The last few months have been very hard on all of us to witness Gladys’ health and capacities decline as they did. Recently we visited her at the nursing home. She was not feeling well. Grandma asked Tina and I to pray for and with her and we huddled close and prayed a “Hail Mary”, ending with the words “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death”. At that time, those words rang with an urgency that we often overlook. When I got the call from Michael that Grandma had passed away, I hung up the phone and prayed a “Hail Mary”. This time I couldn’t help but stop halfway through. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Blessed is the fruit of your womb — Truly, blessed are we who are the fruit of Gladys’ womb.

While reflecting on Gladys’ life 3 words stand out. The first word is “special”. Yes, she was special. But what made her so special was the unique way she had of making other people feel like they were the ones that were special. Her warmth and love were so palpable that even strangers were drawn to her. She would meet people, especially children, smile warmly, learn their names, talk to them, and shower hugs and kisses on them. It amazed me how many people, especially children, whether by blood, marriage, or merely affection, called her Grandma. She made many feel like she was their Grandma by the love and care she would show them.

Like the Lord who calls each of us by name, she had a special name for each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. From “Sweet” Susan, to “Eager” Eddie, to my own “Calm” Canyon, each of us knew Grandma’s special name for us.
Further, each of us probably thought that we were her favorite. I know I did. I suspect that many of you thought that you were her favorite too. She ,had a way of loving each one of us s000 much that we couldn’t help feel that we couldn’t have been loved by her any more completely — so we must be her favorite. She made each of us feel special in our own way.

The second word, and probably the most obvious, is “family”.

Nothing in this world was so special to Gladys as her family. Having lost her mother to death as a child, and been raised by her aunt and uncle, she knew the value and true blessing of a mother. By the grace of God she had a large and healthy family of her own. Much like Abraham of the Old Testament who would have descendents as numerous as
the stars in heaven, Gladys had 8 children, and lived to bless dozens of grandchildren and dozens more great-grandchildren. She actively participated in the nurturing and growth of each one.

Grandma loved to entertain us with stories, songs, and games.

She devotedly attended baptisms, communions, birthdays, graduations and weddings. She loved us all so very well and so very much that it seemed like her love would never end. And based on our presence here today, with her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, it never will.  Her love lives on in her family as we pass on her love to new generations of her family.

The 3rd word is “faithful”.

Yes, Gladys was faithful…to her husband Nick, to her family, to her friends, to her community…she was faithful.
Even more devotedly, or more probably because of the fact, she was faithful to the Lord. On a few occasions when I would spend the night at Grandma’s, she would make sure I was settled in for bed and would say, “breathe a little prayer”. Grandma breathed a lot of prayers in her life. She prayed daily. She made every effort to get to church on Sundays and whenever else she could to come to the table of the Lord and hear His Word. She emphasized her faith and glorified The Lord and petitioned the blessed mother for strength and the health of her family. She revered the blessed sacraments and supported us all in our faith development by attending our baptisms, first communions, confirmations, weddings and rejoiced in seeing the day of one of her own being ordained a priest.

Gladys was faithful over 90 years and even unto death… and will remain so unto eternity.

Many families become enriched by the death of a matriarch. Our family has been enriched by the life of ours. And oh, what a rich inheritance of faith and hope and love is ours.

Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Gladys. Blessed are we, your family, and all whose lives you touched.

Loving Father, accept tenderly Gladys — our mother — our grandmother — our great-grandmother — our aunt — our neighbor — our friend — our sister — into your house for those special ones of your family of faithful servants and guide us home to Heaven to join her there with you.

In Jesus name we pray,

Amen.

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