Friday, February 5, 2010

Frances M. Vinansky - January 6, 1932-January 24, 2010

This is the original text of the eulogy I gave at my Grandmother's funeral on Friday, February 5, 2010. The delivered text deviated slightly from this prepared text.

Grandma died on Sunday, January 24, 2010 – that is at least what the paperwork says, anyway. It could be argued that she was gone long before her body decided to shut down, but I would say that is being unfair both to her and to the human spirit. Part of her will live on so long as we are willing to honor her memory.

Yes, it is true that she suffered an immense amount of pain. For good or ill, that pain is part of life, and unfortunately, Grandma herself was not blameless; she was not completely a victim in all of this. She did not do all she could to take care of herself. We tried our best to help, but as most people can attest – change has to come from within. She is at peace now – no more suffering, no more agony, no more pain.

I say these things not to cause further anguish, but to remind us of the fact that the image of her deterioration is one that is going to dominate our memories. Even I, the oldest of seven grandchildren, find my old memories fading from time to time, especially having spent the better part of 15-20 hours with her most weekends for nearly two years.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Her indomitable spirit lives on. Her spirit of generosity, her quick wit, her service to God and country, and her devotion to, and love of family – three children, their spouses, and especially her grandchildren – her angels, as she called us. We learned a lot from her and because of her. She pulled some crazy stuff that will forever be in our minds. I would like to share some of these experiences.

Grandma taught me, for example, how to use Grandpa’s things when he was not home and how to put them back exactly as they were before he returned.

I learned from Grandma’s weekly calls when I was college never to put my drink down at a party, lest some guy stuff it with roofies and try to date-rape me.

When I was four, Grandma took me to McDonald’s and bought me two balloons. When we returned to her house, I let the balloons go and said ‘Grandma! Look!’ She replied in a reprimanding tone that since I hadn’t taken care of the balloons, they were going back to McDonald’s to find another kid who would!

Once, she took Aaron and I to see the Lion King (I was about 12), and we had to make a stop at Sears or some similar department store at the mall. She went in and bought the most grotesquely large purse I have EVER seen in my life. Why did she do this? So she could sneak a six pack of Coke, a big bag of chips, two bags of M&M’s, and several candy bars into the movie theater!

Then there was time when she and Grandpa got some kind of buy one, get one free meal deal coupons in the mail for the Pizza Hut. She got the idea that they should pose as an unmarried couple and meet up for dinner and bring their grandsons to meet the other, just to be able to split the check and use two coupons. Oy! And it worked! It was the only time in my life I ever called Grandma ‘Fran’ – that is, other than to mimic Grandpa’s calling to her when I was a kid.

The last memory to share comes from only about six months ago. Paula and I were over the house in Bowie to have dinner to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary. I was helping Grandma get ready for dinner by taking her to the bathroom and getting her adjusted at the table. I remarked that she was having a good day and doing a good job and then she looked right at me and said ‘oh good Lord, Joshua, you are really full of [you know what] shit.’ I was a bit taken aback by this comment and I said a tad defensively ‘Grandma, what are you talking about?’ She said in response ‘you aren’t fooling me, and your eyes are STILL brown!’

I feel like we should remember Grandma in many ways. We are all going to miss her very much. We have all learned a lot from her, but I think the most important lesson we have picked up in the past couple of years is that you cannot put a price or a value on human dignity – it is a gift given to us by our God who made us in his image and likeness, and she had it until the very end. I would like to thank my mother in a special way for not allowing that dignity to be removed.

As we say our farewells one last time, let us remember Fran Vinansky close to our hearts, our minds, and our souls. Let us never forget what she means to us. May she rest in peace and may her soul find eternal happiness in the Kingdom of God. We love you and miss you. Goodbye, Grandma.

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