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Eulogy for JoAnn Mincey by her granddaughter, Caitlin Collins
April 21, 2016
“The price of great love is great sorrow at its end.” This is a quote that speaks not only to the love my grandfather shared with my grandmother, but also to the love we all shared with her. Pure, unconditional, unadulterated love is what my grandmother taught us most of all. When I look back over my short life, my grandmother, my Mimi, is absolutely one of my greatest influences, and I know she is above watching us all here today.
When I was writing this speech, I spent a lot of time listening and I spent a lot of time thinking about the most important things to include on behalf of not just the grandchildren, but the whole family. And, unsurprisingly, the things my grandfather said stood out the most of all. I’m sure that almost all of us here know the story of their love, but I will tell it again because it could never get old. When my grandfather was in high school, he had the option to skip a grade. He chose not to, and it was the best decision he ever made because that’s how he met JoAnn Bowen. It was the first day of school and he was a senior and she was a freshman. He was sitting on the steps of the school when her bus pulled up. He had never seen her before, but as soon as he did, he said to his friends that he was going to marry her one day. As we all know, he did, and he continued to call her “my bride” until the day of her passing. I vividly remember the first time I heard this story and it has made such an impression on me and all of those I have retold it to. Kenneth and JoAnn’s love is beyond a fairytale, because it is so very real and we were all blessed to watch it play out in front of our very eyes.
The day before my grandmother passed away, my grandfather said something remarkable to my mother. He told her, despite how much of his wife was gone, and despite the fact that she was only breathing with the aid of oxygen, that he would take her how she is now, forever. This kind of love is rare and it is real and it is beautiful and it is remarkable and it should remind us of what we should strive for. It should remind us of what is possible and it should inspire us to not settle for less.
When I got the message that Mimi was near passing, I was out with my friends in Cairo. I immediately knew that I would come home. I booked the ticket and sat with my friends as I felt helpless about what to do. My best friend remarked that people would be surprised and grateful that I would be able to come. It had never occurred to me that this was even something I should think about. My grandmother raised me almost as much as my mother did and the thought of the not being there never even crossed my mind.
One thing I specifically remember about being in my grandmother’s house (and yes, it is her house) is that she always made time to keep in touch with family. I remember coming to visit and hearing her say things like, “Oh, I need to call my sister Colleen back.” No matter how far away she was, no matter how long it was since she last saw someone, she always kept in touch. She always let each one of us know that she cared and that she was there, no matter the circumstances. As someone who lives in an entirely different country on an entirely different continent, this is a lesson that I will take care to apply to my life going forward. It is far too easy to fall out of touch, but that does not have to happen if we can all live a little bit closer to the way my grandmother lived.
This morning and this afternoon, we cry tears of heartache. We push through the moments that are more painful than words can express. Our suffering is too deep to name. It is a feeling we never imagined, no matter how hard we tried to imagine it. The pain is deep and we will learn to live with it. Today, my dress is black to express respect and heartache. My dress is also white. White symbolizes purity and goodness. My grandmother is at peace once again and she is not sick anymore. I hope that you do cry tears of pain today, but I hope that after today, your tears turn to tears of joy and tears of remembrance. I am sure that she would not want us to be sad, but rather to come together and love.
The day after her passing, I was sitting with my grandfather. He was between smiles and tears. He told me that she was the best of wives and best of women and that, no offense, but he got the best sister. I would like to add, in my humble opinion, that she was also the best of grandmothers and the best of confidants, the best of comforters, the best of mothers, the best of sisters, the best of friends. We are all absolutely blessed to have had JoAnn Mincey in our lives. And so, I have one final request for you. We are all heartbroken, but my grandfather is heartbroken most of all. I would ask all of you to keep him in your prayers in the coming days and months, as we need him just as much as he needs us. Please let us share stories of his wife, our mother and grandmother, our friend, our sister, as we go throughout this afternoon and throughout our lives. Let us show just a small piece of the love she shared for each of us.