Hi all. Thanks to everyone for the comments, notes, and kind thoughts. The Sinki's and the extended Sinki's are doing pretty well. We were back in Grand Rapids to try to celebrate Christmas, and it was a lovely day with Jim's family and later a nice quiet dinner for 3 at our house. Willa is now a wrapping paper ripping machine. There have been some very happy times that have risen up during this time of confused, exhausted grief. I promise to share those later in the week.
Yesterday morning was my Grandma's funeral mass. I was proud to represent my family in remembering Grandma in the following eulogy.
Good morning. My name is Amy, I’m the first granddaughter of Bill and Virginia. On behalf of the ______ family, I'd like to thank Father Joe and Deacon Larry, this talented choir, the luncheon committee, and the whole congregation for giving my family comfort. To all friends and family here today and those thinking of us from afar, thank you.
It’s such an honor - and a daunting task - to stand here. I guess it’s that way for all of us today. An honor to celebrate the completion of Grandma’s long and fulfilled life. A daunting task to do the work of missing her. I hope I’m able to do justice in sharing some universal memories of Grandma.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven” or maybe a few times in your life, you’ve been so completely happy and at peace that you leaned back, looked around and thought, “I could die a very happen person right now.”
On Friday, Grandma was surrounded by family- even most of the out of town family was there. She was sitting next to her priest. The new Mr. and Mrs. William _______ was just announced and we joked that the crowd at the reception were standing to applaud her and Grandpa. She was happily glowing, just a little less than the bride. About ten minutes later, Grandma started to say goodbye. Perhaps she was so completely happy that her heart couldn’t contain any more… and it was time.
Grandma seemed to live her life driven by three core priorities: her family, her faith, and her pride in her Irish heritage.
Grandma was born on April 1, 1923. After hearing stories of her growing up with her sisters Jean and Illene, I’m sure their parents Arthur and Adelaide Lynch had their hands full with 3 firecracker daughters.
She and Grandpa married on July 5, 1947, and celebrated 60 years of marriage this summer. Grandma and Grandpa raised 5 kids: Sue, Chuck, Jean, Tom and Richard, and welcomed their children’s spouses John, Kathy, Steve, and Diane into the family. I’m sure that as Grandma met each serious boyfriend or girlfriend of her kids, she asked them what she asked my husband Jim when they met: “Are you Irish?”
He is, by the way, and since she found that out, she never stopped flirting with him. Sally and Lisa? Did she ever do that with Jim and Ken? Are they Irish? Anyhow, Grandma asked everyone if they were Irish, and like my dad said, if you were Irish, you were okay with Grandma.
And, if at any moment you weren't okay with Grandma, out came what Uncle Tom has termed "the wave of disgust." One hand for minor infractions, two is you were really in trouble.
Faith and her Catholic religion was another keystone in Grandma’s life. She prayed daily for family and friends. She prayed to Fr. Solonas, and believed that St. Ann’s oil could cure everything from a head cold to cancer. I think that each of us probably owes some of our happiness and success to Grandma’s prayers. She was like our family’s very own main switchboard operator to God. And with such a big family, I’m sure Grandma was praying a lot.
Grandma and Grandpa have 10 grandchildren. Growing up, some lived very close to their house and some lived very far away. On visits, if cousins weren't there, I would hear updates about all of them equally, she’d talk about Doug, Matt, and Jim, Scott and Sally, and Erin. And I’m sure they heard about myself and my siblings Lisa, Bill, and Brian. And later we would hear updates about spouses too, and her 6 Great-grandchildren as well. And out of the 10 original grandkids, she had exactly 10 favorites.
On Thanksgiving, I was sitting next to Grandma and Grandpa, and she turned to Grandpa - after looking around the room - and said, "we started all of this." They were both so, so proud of their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.
One of my memories of grandma is sitting in the backseat of a car with Lisa. Grandpa was driving and Grandma was next to him. It was a hot summer day and the 7th Inning stretch of a Tiger’s game was on. We were all singing… and when it got to “root, root, root for the ….” Line, grandma said either “home team” and Grandpa said “Tigers.” And Grandma said, “Bill, it’s __ whichever one she thought it should be.” There was a little pause and grandpa responded with – say it with me everyone – “Yes, Virginia.” That little game of theirs helped define the gentle and constant love that they showed every day.
At the visitation I shared with Grandpa that he had been married 30 times longer than Jim and I. Grandpa, here’s a better one, you and Grandma have more than 60 years on Bill and Jackie. I want to thank you, and Grandma for showing your kids and grandkids what it means to be a married couple, working as a team. Your dedication to your wife - throughout your life – is an inspiration and a guidepost to all of us learning the ropes.
And we will all continue to carry on pieces of Grandma in our lives. The pious curses of – excuse me for this, father – “Judas Priest, Jesus Moses” and, when she was really upset, “Jesus Mary and Joseph.” Most of you probably have one of these to wash your dishes and counter tops with – I think anyone who ever met Grandma received their very own hand crafted dishtowel. Well, maybe only if they were Irish. I think my premature white hair is probably directly correlated to the Irish blood of Grandma in my own veins. Someone’s going to have to learn how to make the congo and shortbread that everyone looked forward to at family celebrations and the larger August _______ reunions. . I sit with my daughter on my knee and sing songs that I remember Grandma singing to someone in their Albion St. living room.
I remember saying, as a 9 year old, to my parents on the way to visit Grandma and Grandpa, “I hope my cousins are there. It’s so boring when all you grown ups do is sit around and play cards and tell stories.” And there were stories! Some involved names like Oenei, Gruey, and Mocheri, some involved Grandpa's siblings and their families (Grandma's adopted 2nd family). There were many, many stories about my dad and his siblings and their antics.
And here we are to celebrate the end of a generous, warm, spirited life. And those stories and family ties are the best possible gift. And the best gift we could give Grandma back is to continue those stories.
So, thank you Grandma. And, as Doug requests, “Tell God we said hi.”
Here is a photo of Grandma and Grandpa at the wedding, moments before her heart attack. As you can see, she was having a wonderful time!