I don’t think I was ever naive enough to believe all the experiences I wanted to have were pleasant ones.
Today I eulogized my maternal grandmother, who died last Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009 at the young age of 74.
At the evening viewing of her wake, I spoke to a dozen family and friends, a vastly smaller crowd than the afternoon session.
I spoke lightheartedly about the plan my grandmother and me devised to open a hostel for young travellers in Philadelphia – where I now live. I mentioned how she overcame the death of her husband more than a decade earlier to find a new, active life, and how she loved cable news, the New York Mets and her family, which had grown closer still in recent years.
“We can grieve that a good, that a great woman died,” I said. “But I’m not sad because I got to tell her that I loved her. She told me she loved me – that she was proud of me. That’s the way to go, with no more pain.”
While my mother suggested some subject matter, I thought it important to speak from the heart. I am happy to say I am proud of how I represented my grandmother and family without preparing or writing what I wanted to say, but rather giving my first genuine impromptu public speech.
Geraldine Dolan, nee Howell, was born on Dec. 13, 1934 and raised in the Harding Park neighborhood of the Bronx in New York City. She died battling lung cancer, the effects of a long cigarette habit which she kicked a half decade before.
Her wake was held at the Marinello Funeral Home in Coram, Suffolk County, N.Y. on Long Island. She is survived by the children she raised in Hicksville, Nassau County – my mother and her sisters Eileen and Nancy, the youngest – and their children.
Tomorrow she will be buried beside her husband Bill, my mother’s father and my grandfather, in Calverton National Cemetery. My grandfather was a World War II veteran.