While Facebook tends to be super negative on the whole, I’ve decided to provide a somber, yet celebratory post of loved ones gone. I debated posting this, but I thought it be best for those of you who were unable to make the ceremony.
Over the past week, I’d been dealt a serious task: to write my second eulogy ever for a family member. Yes, you read that right; second.
In 2005, I was asked to write an eulogy for my Pépère, Normand Ouellette. Now, ten years later, I was asked to write about his better half, my Mémère, Theresa Ouellette.
Let these eulogies be a reminder to those who still have their grandparents or other loved ones to make the effort to visit with them, I’d missed my last chance to see my Pépère before he died, and I won’t make that mistake again.
So without further ado, Here’s first my Mémère’s Eulogu, followed by my Pépère’s eulogy (written by a Jamie ten years less professional as a writer).
Theresa Ouellette (Dubois)
Ten years ago I was asked to write my Pépère Normand Ouellette’s eulogy. It was one of the hardest things that I had ever written. To try to encapsulate the entire life of someone whom meant so much to our family and to do them just cause in a five-minute speech, is an immense undertaking. (That’s why this eulogy will be one full hour… PAUSE for laugh) Now, I’ve been asked to complete the circle and send off my Mémère Theresa Ouellette, his wife, with the same words of love.
It was hard to speak of the two individually because up until 2005, they were inseparable. As kids, we’d say we’re going to “Mémère and Pépère’s”. When we’d receive cards for our birthday or Christmas it was always “Love Mémère and Pépère.” Of course, we’d be so quick to skim the words and head straight for the cash. Typical kids.
In all of the years of Theresa’s life, she never allowed anyone to feel lonely. She was always there to lend advice, swap stories, or be the shoulder to cry upon. Shortly after the passing of Normand, she moved from their home at Mountain View apartments to her home- Forest Hill Nursing Home.
Where most people would see a nursing home as the bitter end, Theresa took Forest Hill by storm and soon was loved by all- residents, visitors, and workers alike. Most CNA’s would call her “Mémère,” a fact that (I won’t lie), would get me a little jealous. But that was the thing: she had so much love to give that I knew that none of her children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren would ever feel left out. Every time we’d visit her, her eyes would light up like a kid at Christmastime.
And our eyes too were ablaze when we were able to visit them at literal Christmastime. See every birthday, every holiday, we would gather as a family and celebrate together, something that’s missed in today’s world. And at every holiday, Mémère and Pépère were there as the foundation of that family tree, and Mémère was the star adorning the top. It wouldn’t be the same without them there for they were rich in the heart.
She always put others before herself, and if something were wrong behind the scenes, we would never know because she was always radiant with happiness. Her smile would spread across the entire room, catching each and every one of our faces. You know that laugh that’s deep, from the belly? That was her laugh: genuine and infectious. If you were feeling down, all you had to do was talk to her and you’d wonder why you were ever sad in the first place.
She went to great lengths to ensure that every individual person in her life was loved in their own way, even down to tailoring how each of us liked our peanut butter and jam sandwiches (I didn’t like peanut butter then so she made mine PB free; Jason liked it cut in triangles, Travis was PB and J without crusts). We never had to tell her what we wanted, because she was always ready to give us exactly that.
Speaking of cooking, Oh my gosh was she ever the cook. The spreads she used to present at our family gatherings would take up so much room that we had to set another table to the side to hold it all. We had spent lots of time around that kitchen table, especially when it came to playing card games.
Some of the most cherished moments for us at home and from Mountain View and Forest Hill was when she would play games: Bingo, Charlemagne, Skip-Bo, La dame De Pique, you name it; she played it. Everywhere she went she brought her game face and quite often won. Games were one of the ways for her to extract exuberance out of the people around her, and she used it to great effect.
And that’s the thing, as sad as this is, I can’t help but smile every time I think about her. A hard worker, a fantastic cook, and a wonderful matriarch; Theresa Ouellette was it all.
So now I ask all of you too- Every time we play a game, share a belly laugh, or see someone smile, think of Theresa, because undoubtedly she will be there right along with us, sharing in the wealth.
Rest in peace, Mémère. We all love you and will miss you.
Normand Ouellette had many titles that pertained to many people. Husband, Father, Pepére, Brother, Uncle, and Friend, but all knew him as a compassionate and endearing man. He was a devoted husband for 58 years, always faithful to his wife. They would spend every waking moment together, and when they were apart, you could tell his heart was aching.
As a father, he understood the needs of his family and set out determined to achieve them. He also was always the most experienced teacher to his children. Whether he taught his kids how to drive back in the cuss you sons, or fishing and hunting with the boys, every child knew what he taught them with expertise when he was finished. And no matter what kind of mischief his kids would get into, he would forgive and forget, just as long as his kids were safe.
As his children grew older and they became parents of their own, it seemed as if his love grew as well. In fact, his face would light up every time he would see his grandchildren. Plus when his kids went back to their homes either in Connecticut or Southern Maine, he would shed tears to show that he would miss them dearly. Now not that the children who live here were any less important, just that he wouldn’t see the traveled ones as much. And believe me, when I say children, I mean his biological children as well as their spouses. Because he made the spouses feel just as important as his own kids would by welcoming them with open arms.
And when things were down and any of his family was ailing, he was always the first to be there for them. When I was diagnosed with Leukemia 19 months ago, Memére and Pepére were always calling me to show their support and love for me. They always had a candle lit for me when I was recovering, and never stopped praying, all six months of it. They did this for every part of their family that was ill.
Through all Pepére’s own trials and tribulations, he remained a devout catholic. When he couldn’t make it to a mass, he’d watch it on T.V. and both Memére and he would say the rosary at least a couple of times a day faithfully. Through his battle with Prostate Cancer, his hip replacement, his 3 back surgeries, and even during his run as a corporal in World War II, he never showed a sign of weakness. When it came down to his siblings, he may have been smaller in stature, but never in spirit. He would always want to see his brothers and sisters in the Nursing Home, which couldn’t be here today, no matter when or where they were.
He worked hard as much as he played hard. He loved a practical joke, but when it came down to maintaining the farm or housework, he never took it as one. He was a 3rd Degree member of the Knights of Columbus for 16 years, and a member of the VFW. He will be truly missed for he has always kept each and every one of us in his prayers. So let’s keep him in ours and know that this is not a goodbye, only a farewell until we meet again.
I Love You Pepére…
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