Eulogy to Rose Gabrenya
Funeral Mass, St. John the Evangelist Parish, May 15, 2011

RoseMom’s passing leaves a hole in our family that I don’t think can ever be filled.  For us, mom was forever, an institution, the matriarch, the fixer, the motivator, and the willing critic.  She knew which tie to choose and what kind of potatoes go well with roast beef.  I actually ironed this shirt myself yesterday, in the exact way she taught me in 1966.

She was a sharp dresser and she liked to dress us all up, too, but her point wasn’t just that we should look good on a date, but that we should strive to make a positive mark in the world.  She was a determined woman who strove throughout her life to show just how well the children of immigrants, and the children of the children of immigrants, could prosper in America.

So up in Ohio, not only did she plant the biggest and prettiest garden on the street for four decades, but she was relentless in expecting academic success and correct behavior. 

She and my father probably worked more hours per week than any adults we knew of, and still had a lot of energy left over for an over-the-top social life as well as considerable charity work. In fact, my brother and I didn’t catch up to her energy level until she was about 80 years old.  We hope we inherited her values for hard work and moral fibre, and that we passed them on to our own children, but we will never compare to her in sheer energy.

Mom, like dad, was a devout Catholic but in a traditional, quiet way.  She ironed 10 uniform shirts a week for us so we could go to Catholic school, but was not, exactly, reticent in challenging the nuns on occasion.  As many of you know, she was active in this parish and in charity work until, eventually, her illness stole away her energy.

Mom had a good life, better than many many others.  She was born in the Roaring 20s, grew up in the Great Depression, endured the War as her fiancé, my dad, was in great peril.  She married this fine man right after the War and quickly established an elegant household. Only one of her sons, that would be me, was especially troublesome, and we all got married eventually and made more Gabrenyas.  Daughter of an Italian immigrant, I think she was the first person in her family to fly on an actual jet airplane back to Italy.  (And she did indeed love to travel. ) She was blessed with a long, active, healthy retirement that would make the cover of the AARP magazine.  Her parting leaves a great hole in the network of our family, but we celebrate her life and her legacy, and we hope we can leave such a legacy to our own children and grandchildren.  (And let me repeat that last word so our children hear it, “grandchildren.”)

Thanks, and thank you all for being here today.