Almost three years ago to the day, I delivered a eulogy for my grandmother who died suddenly at 3:00am on Christmas morning. My nana's death broke my heart and led to me getting sober less than a month later.
Because of this, Christmas is an emotional time for me. Grief creeps in and my feelings are all over the map. As my website is an outlet for processing, I wanted to share the eulogy I gave for her. Eerily, I wrote it for a public speaking class six months before my nana died. The professor pushed us to write a eulogy about the most important person in our lives, dead or alive.
Although my writing has evolved a great deal in three years and much of the writing style here makes me cringe, I’m going to refrain from editing anything and leave the speech as is.
Hello everyone. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Ginelle Testa and I am Carole's first-born grandchild. I'm honored to be giving this eulogy in my nana's remembrance today.
I'm the oldest of her 5 remaining grandchildren. Although she was 71 and I've only known her for 21 years, she was one of the closest people to my heart. She touched my heart in a special way because of the person she was and the love that she radiated. She was special to many people, but she played an important role in shaping who I am. I'd like to talk about three important and special aspects of her.
There's a lot to say about my grandmother, Carole Beaulieu. She was a loyal family member, a hard worker, a generous volunteer, a devoted religious figure, and a beloved friend to many. I doubt that anyone from these categories would argue when I say that my nana had a backbone. She was a woman that didn't take crap from anyone. I mean NO ONE. I find it ironic, yet fitting that we are honoring her religiously. She spent a great deal of her life working for and volunteering with the church. It was an important part of her life, her spirituality meant a great deal to her. Still, the church was not exempt from her inserting what she believed. Nana Carole didn't always see eye to eye with their beliefs, and she wasn't afraid to let anyone know.
She was a sassy woman and her strong personality was something that rubbed off on me. She taught me to stand up for what I believe in, even if that meant stepping on some feet and ruffling some feathers. I'm proud to say I have my grandmother's backbone.
Yes, she had a backbone. This is her first awesome quality. But, on the flip side, MAN was she stubborn. Fortunately she married a kind man, my papa, but if she ever was cheated on or had wrong done to her, I wouldn't doubt for a second that she'd be in jail for murder or at least severe threatening. It was very hard for my nana to say sorry for a long time, she had too much pride. But, towards the end of her life I saw that pride being swallowed and she learned there were more important things in life than holding a grudge because family meant the world to her.
This brings me to my second attribute I loved in my grandmother that she also passed down to me: her candid ability to remember everything and everyone to be the most thoughtful woman I've ever known. There are a lot of upsides to this .. she always bought my toiletries every six months or so. Whenever we went out in public she'd see familiar faces and remember names even though she may not have seen the person for 40 years, she knew that persons mother, brother and dogs name. I never had a birthday without a card and a call. She was always there. Always thinking of others, especially those near and dear to her heart. Most of the time, this was SO wonderful.
The flip side to her crazy good memory was that she remembered EVERYTHING. She expected to talk to me minimum once a week. If a week passed by without me calling I could expect when I finally do call a "So, the last time I talked to you was 6:34 pm last Tuesday, after your night class. Good to know you're still alive." …. I'm telling you, this woman had a crazy awesome memory, even at 71.
The third attribute I loved is that she alway pushed me to be the best person I can be. Through the hardest times in my life, where society and even family labeled me as a failure and a reject, my grandmother didn't give up on me. She believed in me and always helped me get back on track after I had fallen off the horse. She supported me mentally, physically, emotionally and financially over the years and I have her to thank for many things. She would always remind me of my strength, persistence and intelligence despite any barriers I faced.
However, as you probably see the pattern now, there was another side to this attribute. Her and I didn't always agree about what it meant to be the best person I can be. When I told her that I was bisexual, she didn't understand at all and it took her a while to process. She told me that it wasn't that she thought it was wrong, just that she didn't wish a difficult life on me. She wished I would do things to make life easier in the future and follow a more traditional path. However, at the end of the day she told me she'd dance at my wedding whether I was marrying a man or a woman.
My nana was an incredibly kind, strong, and wonderful person. I loved her for who she was and who she helped me to be, myself. Despite that not aligning with her original idea of her straight, doctor granddaughter who would not put dreadlocks in her hair, tattoos on her body and travel to third-world countries… she loved me and taught me it was okay not to be perfect. And anyone who didn't accept me for who I was, she promised to kick their butt. I'll carry lessons learned from her forever, even if she is no longer physically here and I know I'm not alone in that.
The way my grandmother lived her life has changed me: I aim to be as loving to others as she was to me. In this way, her spirit lives on through me.