Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In Memory of Bertha Balan-Olenik

This is the eulogy I gave in remebrence of my grandmother, Bertha Balan-Olenik on what would have been her 94th birthday and I now post it here to honor her memory.

"Today we gather to warmly remember, honor, and share our grief as we celebrate the life of my Grandmother, Bertha Balan-Olenik on what would have been her 94th birthday. She leaves behind a loving husband (Samuel Olenik), three adult children (Arliene, Barry and Elinore), eight grandchildren, numerous great grandchildren, cousins, relatives, people she touched throughout her life, and a beautiful legacy.

Beginning life in 1915, grandma saw so much of what was right and wrong with our world. She had so many memories that she shared with us all and we have so many of her. Each discussion with her was a treasure - especially our last.

My sister Jody and I remember fondly grandma's cooking. Things like Fried Matzah, chopped liver, and that soft boiled egg thing. As my sister recalls, if it had an egg in it, Grandma could cook it. We remember sleeping on the patio in Century Village, riding the gigantic tricycle, The Grammy Scale, and how Grandma always anticipated our arrival so she could show off her grandkids to all her neighbors. We both recall walks along Deerfield Beach, which in time evolved to sitting on a bench, visiting and talking. Her wisdom was endless. Although all of the memories my sister and I have of Grandma are precious, let me share two specific stories with you.

The last time I saw Grandma was on Saturday, June 6th of this year. I flew with my girlfriend, Meredith, to see Grandma after she had broken her hip. We joined my mom and Sam to visit with her at the rehabilitation center. After a long day, my mom decided to leave to run errands and allow Sam to get some rest leaving Meredith and me with Grandma. She was as sharp as a tack - very clear and very coherent. Meredith and I sat with Grandma for several hours. At some point during that time I left the room and Grandma looked at Meredith and said, "Meredith you have a gem right there, a real gem." We feel the same about our grandmother.

Another special memory occurred with Grandma and Sam in early 1999. After my Papa, Irving, passed my grandmother suffered from a severe broken heart - her world was in disarray - so I made every effort to visit her frequently to lift her spirits and comfort her. Then I heard she had a boyfriend so I flew down to Deerfield Beach to meet her new beau and evaluate him on behalf of the family. I left that trip thankful that my Grandmother had met a man who renewed her zest for life and treated her with the love and support she deserved. Since then Sam has become a very special part of our family, we love you and will always be there for you.

I would like to close with a portion of a poem that I believe would echo what my Grandmother would say to us today. It is called "I Am Always With You"

"..be thankful we had so many good years.

I gave you my love, and you can only guess
How much you've given me in happiness.

I thank you for the love that you have shown,
But now it is time I traveled on alone.

So grieve for me a while, if grieve you must
Then let your grief be comforted by trust
That it is only for a while that we must part,
So treasure the memories within your heart.

I won't be far away for life goes on.
And if you need me, call and I will come.

Though you can't see or touch me, I will be near
And if you listen with your heart, you'll hear
All my love around you soft and clear

And then, when you come this way alone,
I'll greet you with a smile and a "Welcome Home".

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