Monday, June 06, 2005

Aunt Eva's Eulogy

Before my Aunt Eva moved to Charlestown, she and my Uncle Ed lived in a fantastic house. They decorated one particular wall with tribal masks from around the world. My parents tell me that as a baby, I used to stare at these masks. I must have wondered about all those odd faces. As I grew older, although I remained fascinated with those masks on the wall, I also began to explore the many other wonderful objects that decorated my Aunt’s house. Now I see these things for what they are: the trophies collected during the course of a “charmed life”.

My Aunt certainly led a charmed life. I have no problem listing her accolades: the daughter of immigrants; a star athlete; a participant in the greatest conflict mankind has ever known; a Doctor of Philosophy when her contemporaries barely finished high school; an acquaintance of presidents… It is hard to minimize that list of accomplishments.

But my Aunt did just that. She could have enjoyed her success on her own, but instead she chose to pull her family and friends along with her. All three of my grandmother’s children earned bachelors degrees. My sister and I did the same and all indications are that my three cousins are well on their way. Not only did we all succeed in our education, we are succeeding in life. What a great track record.

Speaking for myself, I can honestly say that I could not have achieved the things that I have with out Aunt Eva’s influence. My Aunt set high expectations, she certainly expected us to meet them, and she certainly was not shy about it. I can remember how many of our conversations went: first she recounted a list of my accolades and achievements and then she talked about how my current goal played into eventual success. Her message: with all that you have going for you, there is no reason for you to fail.

Those conversations fortified me for life’s challenges. When those challenges inevitably came, I easily could have turned away, but more often than not I choose the hard path that leads to accomplishment. I imagine that the same goes for the rest of my family. As Aunt Eva would have said, the great thing about this country is that if you want success, you can have it, but you have to earn it.

It turns out that my Aunt’s life was charmed in more ways than one. Although she achieve remarkable success for herself, she also charmed the lives of her family members and countless others. So now, whenever I face a challenge I will remember the lessons my Aunt Eva taught and whenever I collect one of my own trophies, in my mind, I will place it on the wall next to all those masks.

Originally delivered June 3, 2005

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