My wife’s mother, Judy O’Hara, passed away last week, and I wrote this eulogy in her memory.
“At the very moving burial service last week, I was struck by the words of the Military Honor Guard who handed over the meticulously folded American flag to my wife, Lorraine, with the words: “A grateful nation thanks your mother for her service.” Perhaps it was the tranquility of the cemetery but it made me think back to the chaotic period during which my father performed his service, as bombadier in a B-25 squadron based in North Africa, and how that war changed people’s lives — and our lives — forever.
Our town of Washington, DC is full of important people — and a lot more who just think they are important — but what about the people who are important to us on a personal level? The people who make our lives work on a daily basis, and improve our lives in small but critical ways, who are always “there” for us in times of crisis?
Grammy was most certainly one of those. Grammy was one of those people who instinctively gravitates to the center of an extended family, moves into the emotional vacuums unintentionally left by our youthful missteps or plain bad luck, always in our corner, always knowing who needs help or reassurance to make it through a hard time.
Grammy was perhaps the only person I have ever known of whom anyone had a bad word to say. Not a word. She had no enemies, only admirers. That is a remarkable achievement, and a profound testimony to life well-lived.
Grammy shared many things with me over the course of our friendship. Fascinating things about the struggles of her family through the Depression, the time she was forced to live away from her family, while her parent struggled to stay alive. Imagine that, today. Having to give up your children because you couldn’t feed them. And imagine how such an experience, instead of making you bitter, would have turned you into one of the most generous persons on earth.
So here we are, a grateful family, gathered to honor you Grammy and express our thanks for the big difference you made in our lives. We will try to be worthy of your memory.”