1. Samples for an EULOGY FOR A FRIEND
My name is Jane Smith and I have had the pleasure of being a friend and colleague of Mary's for the past twelve years. I cannot believe we will never see her again, but we can keep her memory alive, through her music.
Mary and I met when we were in graduate school at the conservatory. The first day we met, she was rushing down the hall from one direction and I was rushing from the other direction. Neither of us was watching where we were going, and we collided quite forcefully. She was concerned about keeping her violin case from popping open, and I was trying to wrestle with a clumsy cello. We were definitely not poetry in motion.
In spite of our rather awkward first meeting, we became close friends, roommates, confidantes and co-workers. We auditioned for and were granted jobs with the same orchestra, which added another link to our chain of common interests. She was an attendant in my wedding and my oldest child's godmother. I was there for her when she had a career-threatenng injury to her wrist. She relied on painkillers for her injury and six months later, after a delicate surgery and physical therapy, she was back on stage doing what she was born to do.
I've never known anyone who was more in love with her music than Mary. She must have known that she could make poetry, rainbows, smiles and tears come from her instrument, who she named “Jake” by the way. A violin named Jake. If we were in a crowd, she would say “Watch this”. Then she would deliberately start to rant and rave that she couldn't find Jake, and count the seconds until someone invariably asked “What does he look like?” This would trigger gales of her wonderful trademark giggles and confuse her poor victim. This sweet, beautiful, talented gal loved practical jokes!
There were many times, during a concert, when I watched her while she played across the stage from me. She was in the middle of a hundred other musicians, including me, but, for some reason, it seemed that she was the only one on the stage. The only one making music. It was as if there was a spotlight on her. I would blink my eyes and bring her back into focus and wonder if it was another one of her practical jokes.
She adored the pieces written especially for the violin, like Vivaldi, but also appreicated any fine, well crafted scores, from composers like the Beatles. One day after a rehearsal, we played an impromtu duet, of the Beatles' “Here, There and Everywhere”. It was so pretty, a bystander asked that we play it again so he could tape it.
As I leave, I would like to play a short portion of that tape. I can see us that day every time I hear it played. As I said earlier, her memory will always be with us, and for that I will always be grateful.
Cello and violin duet in the background
My name is Charlie. I'm not happy to be here under these circumstances. Mary and I are first cousins, as many of you know. Our mothers are siblings. We grew up together like brother and sister.
When we were little. I lived in Detroit and she lived here. Because I was a city child, my mother would put me on a plane and Aunt Helen and Uncle Bob and Mary and my other cousins would meet me at the airport, so I could spend the summer at their house in the country. No one else that I knew did that, and my city friends were jealous, I'm sure. I was an early version of a jet-setter, I suppose. A big deal.
We spent the summer playing on dirt roads that were safe and quiet, no honking horns or tall buldings that blocked the stars at night. Mary taught me about the constellations and the harvest moon and why climbing onto the garage roof was not a good idea if you'd never done it before. She was like a monkey. Always in a tree or perched on a railing, or swinging from the clothes pole. It's kind of ironic that her first injury happened not when she was a kid, but many years later, after she became a violinist.
By then I was in law school and trying to find myself. I really wanted to play ball or sign on as a deck hand on a fishing boat – anything but sit in a classroom trying to understand contract law or torts. I couldn't come close to loving the law as much as she loved music. I couldn't relate to her passion for hard work. One day we arranged to meet for lunch and she brought a friend, a pretty girl named Rebecca, who was also a music major. Mary introduced me as her favorite prodigy, who she had taught to jump off the garage roof without breaking every bone in his body. Then she said she was so proud of me because I started out with no direction and now I was going to be a brilliant lawyer, and maybe a judge. I looked at myself differently after that. I wasn't stupid, just lazy. She energized me, gave me confidence, and saw in me what I couldn't see myself.
I absolutely adored her, and we made sure to keep in touch often – thank goodness for email and cell phones. And family reunions. She was the proudest person at my graduation from law school. I was in the audience when she played in her first symphony orchestra concert after she had been named concert master. She was a brilliant and well-loved performer, and colleague.
Because of her example and encouragment, I ended up loving being a lawyer. I remember the day I realized that, and I called her, all excited and blurted out that this was my passion. She said “I know – I knew a long time ago, you blockhead!”
As a bonus to our amazing relationship, there is Rebecca.. my wife, my best friend, my inspiration, my love. For Rebecca, our children, my career, I owe Mary a lifetime of gratitude, and Mary, I will never let you down. You will live on forever, in my heart.
I didn't know Mary as well or as long as many of the rest of you did, but I wanted to share with you how thankful I am that she touched my life,
My name is John Smith. I run a homeless shelter and food cupboard over on the south end of town. We are almost always understaffed and overworked, but it's what we have come to expect since it's not the most glamorous job in the world. But it is a labor of love, and it's really a pretty easy way to make a lot of people happy. It's just giving them clothes and food and a place to rest.
Mary came to us one day and said she had a few hours that she'd like to give to us, if we could use them. She wanted to give us some time. It was a strange way to offer help – not money, not groceries, not clothes, but time.
Well, we had heard so many times that people couldn't volunteer at places like ours because they didn't have the time, and here was this pretty young girl with an offer of time. So we took it! We had no idea who she was or what she did with the rest of her time, but it didn't matter. She started coming in once or twice a week and did whatever needed to be done. She served meals, sorted clothes, stocked the grocery shelves and talked to the people who came and went from day to day. Did any of you know this?
On the days she didn't come in, many people asked where she was and when was she coming back. We never knew when she would pop in, but we did know she was becoming very well-liked. When asked what her hours were, she said she never was sure; it depended on her schedule. So we left it at that. She found an old record player one day, in one of the store rooms, and brought it out. She cleaned it up and found some old records in a box and suddenly, we had music, and singing, and dancing.
I know now why she loved music, but she never talked about her career. We didn't know about it until after her obituary was in the paper. She was a celebrity who put others first and gave unconditional, unselfish love to others. She had a special way with these people who lived on the fringes of society. Many of our guests; we call them guests, are alcoholics or drug users. All are poor or homeless, alone, usually without families. Imagine the shock we felt when we found out what she was. It was an honor to have someone like her give us this gift of time and attention.
You all knew her as a friend or relative. I knew her as an angel. My shelter is in mourning. It's such a sad time...
Many people find writing a eulogy simply daunting. Would you consider sharing a eulogy you have written? It is enormously helpful to people for ideas for people who are searching for words to recognize their loved one. And we would love to hear the story of your loved one!
If you have written an eulogy, would you consider sharing it?