Yesterday morning, my Nana passed away. This is my written eulogy for her.
Marilyn Horan was my grandmother- and a bright shining star in my life. She was a truly beautiful person and in the yearbook of life, she would win quite a few superlatives.
She’d be runner up to Paula Dean in the category of “Highest Use of Butter in Recipes”. Nana was a good cook- and I think part of that might have been because when her food was good, she made it better by adding some butter or cheese. My uncle Timmy used to say that when she pet sat, the animals were going to “the fat farm” because they always came back heavier.
But that was just her nature- she’d definitely win in the category of “Best Hostess”, because she’d hound you when you were visiting to eat and then eat some more. She wanted to make sure everyone was fully satisfied and fully comfortable- aside from pushing food on people, Nana had an uncanny way of making people feel at home. She was the hostess with the mostest even when it wasn’t her party. Nana would always find that one wallflower in the group and hone in on them. She’d ask them questions about themselves, finding a topic they’d be interested in sharing about and then having a good long chat. And it didn’t just stop with chatting. I can see her so clearly escorting any new person around a party, arm looped through theirs to introduce them to her family and friends. I’ve never seen someone so skilled at setting an entire group at ease.
Nana would also win for “Best Person to Chat with”. In her own way, Nana really had the gift of gab. Visits with her that were going to be a half an hour often stretched into hours while Nana put on the kettle and made some tea, inquiring after every area of your life. I shared more with Nana than I think most people share with their best friends- she was such a wonderful sympathetic listener. When I’d call excited to share something about school or life, she’d be even more elated than I was. If I were sad or upset, she’d respond perfectly.
Nana would absolutely, hands down win the category of “Best Secret Keeper”. I can’t imagine the number of secrets those of us here shared with her that she never shared. Not only would she not share them, she wouldn’t even remind you of them unless you brought the topic up again. She had true integrity of character- if you asked her to keep something to herself she would never go against her word.
And then there are the categories that are less well defined. Nana was the understated glue that held people together. She kept in touch with everyone- calling her grandchildren to find out when their exams were and starting a prayer chain to make sure we all passed. She’d call her aunts and update her children as to how they were. No one could keep friends quite like Nana- from friends she met as a young girl to friends she made when she was older, its an inspiration to see how many people here she loved and was loved by. I can picture her in her command station- seated at that kitchen table she could and did frequently check in on all her family and friends. And she always remembered birthdays and she ALWAYS sang happy birthday. I wish I had saved her last birthday message to me, but whatever the case I’ll always remember and appreciate that singing call I got every year.
And she was funny! I can definitely tell where the goofiness comes from in the Horan family- she would often rhyme or make up silly stories for her grandchildren. She taught me that life doesn’t always have to be serious. Beyond that, she was often the butt of the jokes because she was so gullible, but she’d laugh just as hard as the rest of the family. And then she’d retell the story so that others could have a good laugh too.
If I had to sum up all of the emotion I felt about my Nana in a word, I’d simply say she was lovely. She was such a loving person- she cared for her family and her friends, but beyond that she truly felt empathy for the less fortunate in the world. She was constantly praying for something or someone in need. She had a quiet grace and faith and those helped to carry her through tough times, and even more so now remembering her in that way is helping me to carry on.
So thank you for being here today to remember one of the greatest ladies I’ll ever have the honor to know and love. I lost a bright shining star in my world on Tuesday- but I know my Nana, and she’s sitting up there in heaven, so happy to be with her baby John watching down on all of us saying, what are you crazy? Stop making such a big deal over me, go outside go enjoy your lives!
Well Nana, it’s going to be incredibly difficult, but I’ll keep my promise to keep going. I love you so much, and I love all of you here today. Thank you for being so important in my Nana’s life.