(Editor's note: Eleanor "Ellie" Gianni passed away March 15. Her daughter, Claire Sinclair, gave the eulogy at the funeral Thursday morning at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. Sinclair had blogged about her mother's illness, and her life, at "A Project for Kindness" and she graciously allowed Patch to post the eulogy here).
My family and I want to thank all of you for being here today to celebrate our mom. We always knew what an amazing, generous and kind woman she was, and this last week, the outpouring of love and support has proven this to be true. Thousands, (and that is not an exaggeration), of emails, texts, calls and messages have come to us. The lines at her wake were so long, at times, they were out the door.
I want you all to know that I read all of your emails and postings to her. I don’t know if she could hear me but if she could, I know that she would have been humbled at this outpouring. She was never one to put herself before others and knowing that all of these people, some who don’t even know her, were out there praying and thinking of her would have moved her to tears.
I honestly do not know how I can adequately describe our mom with words. She lived her life in the most positive way. She saw the good in everything and encouraged others to do the same. Her actions and the incredible example that she showed her children and grandchildren are behaviors that should be emulated by all of us. She was a true role model. A person who possessed qualities we should all try to imitate.
My mother cared deeply for everyone she knew, whether you were her family, friend or a member of the community. She was always willing to help out someone in need. She had the kindest heart of anyone we knew. Her house was always filled with friends and family. All of our friends called her “mom”, because she was like a mom to everyone. Friends lived at our house, (usually invited by her), and they were always treated as if they were one of her own….even if that meant pulling out the spatula or wooden spoon when they misbehaved. Our good friend Kenny, even told my dad that he thinks his grades went up when he started spending so much time at our house because of the “no homework, then no play “rule she had.
She was a person so filled with light. Everyone knew her. Everyone loved her. She was like an institution in Maplewood. She’d park herself outside on the bench in front of The Maplewood Stationers and talk to every person and dog that walked by – especially during “duck season”. For those of you who don’t know, she was known around town as “the Duck Lady” because she organized the annual rubber duck race every year.
She was a generous, loving, supportive and unselfish woman who always put other people before herself. She was charitable, giving, considerate and kind. She was always involved in something. The YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4th of July celebrations, Galas here at OLS, Kiwanis, The Twigs of Overlook…the list could go on and on.
We joked that she should run for mayor because she knew EVERYONE!!! We could not go anywhere without bumping into someone that she knew. As kids, it made us crazy but as we grew older and we saw what a positive influence she had on so many people, it was gratifying. I have modeled my own life around this. I know that I am the person that I am today because of her influence.
She adored her grandchildren, DJ, Drew, Gabi and Mikey, and we know that as she got sicker and sicker with her COPD, one of the reasons she fought so hard was for them. She saw them all of the time and each one of them had a special bond and connection with her.
We will miss her with all of our hearts and will always cherish the times we spent together. She was always there when we needed her and was the most loving and caring wife, daughter-in-law, mother and grandmother. She was selfless and always put others ahead of her. She never wanted people to go out of their way for her. Yet, she did it all of the time for others.
She has touched the lives of so many people and even though she is gone, her memory will live on in all of our hearts forever. Her spirit has not left us. Everyone who was ever touched by her in his or her lifetime should have faith that she will be watching over them because that is just the kind of person she was.
She has left reminders of herself everywhere: on the bench in front of the Maplewood Stationers, in the sound of Christmas Carols, (her absolute favorite), every time we see a rubber duck and every time The Wizard of Oz comes on tv. She probably saw, (and sang along to) that movie hundreds of times.
Our mom was a remarkable woman and I doubt she ever realized how many, many people she has had an impact on in her lifetime. Cherish the memories you have of her and honor her memory by doing good things for others. This is how she lived her life and there is no better way of honoring her than by following her example. Her love for all of us, all of you, is what is going to pull us all through this. All of the many, many people that who’s lives have been touched by her should take comfort in knowing that right now, she is standing at the gates of heaven, breathing in huge breaths of air. That is what is getting me through this. Knowing that she can finally breathe on her own. It makes me so happy for her, even though I am so sad for us.
So I leave you with a quote from The Wizard of Oz…
“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”.
My family and I thank you for being here today.