On December 18th, 2019, my Grandmother, Elizabeth Perenich Weaver, took her last breath and, peacefully, painlessly, and surrounded by family, entered into the tender and loving embrace of Our Lord Jesus Christ forever. I had the incredible honor of delivering one of the eulogies at her funeral mass a few days later, and would like to share it with you now…
Grandma, you were a character. From “Somewheeeere over the Rainbow” to “Flyyyy me to the moon” to “The Hilllls are aliiiiive with the sound of muuusic,” you LOVED to sing…and dance! Oh, what a great joy and honor it was to hold your hands and spin you around at many a family birthday party, rosary gathering, or holiday celebration! You never ceased to put a smile on my face just by being yourself, like the time a few years back when we took you with us to see the movie “The Greatest Showman” starring the theatrical Hugh Jackman and afterward when we asked you how you liked it, you simply smiled and said, “I think I want a husband!
Grandma, you were an artist. Who could even begin to count all the many breathtaking scenes of nature or realistic portraits of your grandchildren that you captured on your canvases, each of which give us glimpses of what this world looked like through your beautiful bright blue eyes? Thank you for painting a watercolor Image of Christ holding out Himself hidden in the Eucharistic bread and wine for my First Holy Communion, for sculpting a moment of me and my little brother laughing on a rocking chair, and for all the other colorful creations you so thoughtfully brought to life and lovingly gave away throughout the masterpiece of your life.
Grandma, you were a mother. I will never know just how you raised 9 kids, tirelessly cooking, cleaning, and caring for each and every one of them, and even warmly welcoming many a stranger from the streets, since for you, everyone really was always welcome and the more really was always the merrier! And though you were a human being with your flaws and failings just like the rest of us, somehow, you never seemed to complain, nor did your patience ever seem to run out. Indeed, who could forget your reaction the day when all the little grandchildren were running around the downstairs bedroom of your house covered in baby powder everywhere… “Oh, honey, that’s no big deal. Just vacuum it up. It’ll be fine…”
Even in your older years you would go through the list and pray for each and every one of your grandchildren by name. Your love for your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and indeed all children, born and unborn alike, was why, even in your last years, you would still talk about putting an ad in the paper for mothers considering abortion, pleading, “Please, don’t get rid of your baby. Give him or her me. I will take care of it and it will grow up one day to thank you.” I don’t think it’s any coincidence that in your final hours on earth, you were moved to a room the pediatric unit in the hospital, considering your special love for the littlest ones among us.
Grandma, you were, are, and always will be a lover of God, a friend of Jesus, and a child of Mary. You knew firsthand the intimate love, limitless forgiveness, and tender kindness of Our Lord and that is how you were able to radiate that same love, forgiveness, and kindness to others, even and especially to the unloving, unforgiving, and unkind. And with a rosary almost always in your hand, you were to us all a living reflection of the goodness, gentleness, and sweetness that can only come from a woman as holy and beautiful as Our Blessed Mother Mary.
Though you were a woman of faith throughout your whole life, it must have become increasingly clear to you that in the end of this life, in the face of death, in the light of eternity, nothing- not social recognition nor physical appearance nor worldly pleasures, riches, or achievements- nothing satisfies, lasts, or matters except loving God and saving souls, even in the littlest tasks and humblest duties of the day. Truly, I believe that right now, you are seeing from God’s eyes the fruits of all your selfless sacrifices, persistent prayers, kind words, and sweet smiles on the hearts and souls of so, so many. And because each one of your Hail Mary’s is saved and sealed into your eternal reward, I can only imagine your glowing crown of everlasting glory promised to and preserved in highest heaven for those who are faithful to their faith, their family, their duties, and of course, their daily rosary.
Grandma, you were a character, artist, mother, and -some might even say- living saint. I can’t wait for the day when you and I can sing, dance, laugh, and pray together again in Heaven someday. Yet in the meantime, I know you would want nothing more than for me, for all of us, to live lives like yours, lives of authentic holiness, of placing God above all else, putting aside our differences, picking up our crosses, and paying close attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. But because this process of personal holiness in the present moment is only possible through heartfelt prayer, and because a even single ‘Hail Mary’ prayed with a loving heart has the power to convert a soul, deliver a soul from purgatory, and change the future forever, I now turn to the Heart of the God of the Universe, which beats, burns, and bleeds for love of us in this and every Tabernacle around the world, and with all the angels and saints, and all of you who were touched by the one and only Elizabeth Perenich Weaver, I pray:
Full of Grace
The Lord is with Thee
Blessed art Thou among women
And Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb
Mother of God
Pray for us sinners now
And at the hour of our death.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and perpetual light shine upon her. May the beautiful, prayerful, sweet, and loving soul of Elizabeth Perenich Weaver and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the Infinite and Unfathomable Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.