Sunday, February 01, 2009

Eulogy for my Gramp (1917-2009)

I was honored to deliver the eulogy for my grandpa's funeral mass. Gramp passed away at 10:30pm on January 27th. After being cremated, the funeral mass was held on January 31st.

Gramp was a private and humble man who didn’t like attention or a lot of fuss over him.

But today, on behalf of his family, we appreciate your presence here to help us remember him and celebrate his life.

When I was preparing to write a few words about the man I called “Gramp”, I realized I had already written most of it almost two years ago.

Part of this is from a blog post I wrote on March 9, 2007 – to commemorate Gramp’s 90th birthday.


My beloved grandpa is Cleveland native Alex Jasin (wisely shortened from Jaczynski). He was born March 9, 1917. He survived the Great Depression and was a factory worker until he retired.

Never one to sit around – was more antsy than anyone I have ever seen – he was a school crossing guard for the past 25 years. He finally retired this past June at age 91.

He had not one, but two workshops – one in the garage and one in the basement. He invented all kinds of cool stuff and did some woodworking – mainly making ducks with propeller wings -- anything to keep him busy.

I always compared him to a working breed of dog, maybe a border collie, that is happiest when it has a job to do, whether it’s herding sheep or playing Frisbee.

Gramp was truly a jack of all trades. He knew about plumbing, electricity, and carpentry. You name it, he could figure it out. He received several patents for his inventions when he worked at General Electric. He had the mind of an engineer, despite his 8th grade education.

Gram and Gramp’s house and garage are filled with his little inventions and creations – from the “toast remover” – made out of two tongue depressors which pulls the toast out of the toaster - to what I called the “garage ball” – a golf ball that hung from a string in the garage that would hit his windshield and tell him when he had pulled in far enough – and then there’s the little red chair Brian and I would sit on at family dinners when we were kids.

My childhood memories are full of fun times at Gram and Gramp’s house. When we slept over, Gram and I would share their bed while Gramp and Brian would take the bed upstairs. We would hear them laughing uncontrollably until all hours and we would start laughing too. We loved going over to stay with them – even when they argued - good naturedly - in front of us in Polish.

Gramp gave me my love of all things hot and spicy. We would have discussions about our favorite kinds of hot foods and he would actually turn red and start sweating. As a result of our love of hot stuff, we both ended up with acid reflux.

Gramp loved laying in the sun in the summertime. He enjoyed watching the Indians with Gram, and we all loved when he mispronounced the players’ names - like Kenny Lawson.

He was the official family turkey carver. He loved to make people laugh. When he was in the hospital, he was always the nurses’ favorite patient because he was the one who joked with them and made their job more pleasant. He loved Chuck Norris and watching westerns, cartoons, and COPS.

Gramp always dreamed of winning the lottery. And he said that when he won it, he was going to pay off everyone’s mortgages and buy himself a new car.

Did he ever win? No. Did he come close? Yes. He did have 5 numbers one time.

But deep in his heart, though, he knew that what he had was more important than money.

He was one of the lucky few who won the lottery of life. And how many of us can really say this?

- He was in love for 62 years with his wonderful wife, my Gram. He always told her how much he loved her. He lived for her, as she did for him.

- He has two devoted daughters who realize and appreciate what amazing parents they were blessed with.

- Brian and I looked forward to all the great times we spent with Gram and Gramp while we were growing up. We went to African Lion Safari, Geauga Lake, and water slide parks. Even as adults, our times with Gram and Gramp have always been very important to us.

- Gramp also enjoyed the time he spent with his little great-granddaughters Missy and Jenna.

As we celebrate Gramp’s life today, I would like to end by reading the last paragraph of my 90th birthday blog post. It describes a typical day in his life that would have made him happy.

And I believe this is how he will best be remembered:

“Never one to sit still, Gramp will do his morning and afternoon school guard duty, probably log some time on the exercise bike, and watch the Price is Right and Judge Judy. Hopefully he will wear his favorite red plaid shirt I bought him with his trusty suspenders, and he will have fried big bologna for lunch and Gram’s old-fashioned hamburgers for dinner.”


Debbie Phillips said...

Absolutely precious, Kristin. You are a wonderful granddaughter. I laughed and teared up.

Auntie Karla said...

Beautiful words Kristin. I am so sorry for your loss but I can tell by your words that you know you gramp will be with you always. What a special love the two of you shared... you can't ever take that away. Love, Karla

Anonymous said...

God and Gramps are now watching television together in heaven, KK. Either Gramps is (1) fixing stuff or (2) maybe on guard patrol for the angels. I know you loved this man, Kristen. Men like him make our world better. Their contributions to family and planet should be recognized and remembered. Thank you for introducing me to him. Love, LML

Roxanne said...

Kristen, I'm so sorry about the loss of your dear Gramp. You've done a wonderful job of sharing his essence with all of us. You are so lucky to have had such a wonderful grandfather. Both my grandfathers died before I was born.

Jim Y said...

I could feel the love as I read your wonderful tribute to your "Gramps". Thanks for sharing your memories in such a beautiful way.