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Tuesday, 6 November 2007


Maria Elena Carreño de Granados

It is right that we pause, reflect, as we, from the youngest to the oldest spanning three generations, gather here today to honour our debt. We come as sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to remember the blessings bestowed upon us by a woman who was, to each of us, our 'Nana.' Though she touched our lives in different ways, Nana represented an unswerving constant that guided us all -- generation by generation, in this country, or as we travelled elsewhere.

In times of trial -- who amongst us was not consoled by Nana's assurance that all would turn out for the best? -- and in times of crisis, Nana led by her unquestioning faith in us. This was her hold over us; indeed, her power over us -- and why today we know that we would be adrift if it were not for her lessons taught, preserved, and passed to our children and their children.

Nana was a simple woman, with simple ways. Nana spoke of a simpler time. Life presented her with few complexities. 'There's good in everything,' she would say. More often than not, she was right. She believed in heroes -- she voted for Eisenhower over Stevenson.

Nana believed in honourabe things -- excellence, virtue, duty, love -- when many around her no longer held these qualities dear. We were, surely, imperfect in meeting her challenge. Yet the truth of her lessons established our understanding of integrity and purpose. We set out to meet her test.

It is unfashionable to hold these truths, to hold faith to values that seem to have lost currency in our turbulent age. Uplifted by her devotion to our Lord, Jesus Christ, Nana never suffered doubt. Her conviction flowed to us.

And, thus, Nana was all powerful. Nana urged. Not by stern admonishments, reprimand, nor threat. She led by example. We strived for success because we dd not want to disappoint. We strived for success because we knew that anything less would reflect upon us all. Nana taught the weighty lesson that too few learn: That as a family -- albeit far flung, disparate, and fragile -- we are yet one.

Nana taught us virtue by her belief in goodness and decency.

Nana taught us duty by her devotion top Pappa and the family they raised.

Nana taught us love by her attention to even the smallest of our pains.

Nana nurtured us when we were young and growing. She bathed us in adulation for our most callow accomplishments. She was warm, familiar, trusting -- and she played no favourites. In her eyes, we were all equals.

By all these things, Nana taught us that we are special, in a special place, with special obligations.

I remember the evenings of night school, as Pappa and Nana readied themselves to take their place as Americans, with grateful recognition of the fruits and prosperity endowed to us by this wonderful land.

I remember the instant affection and respect Nana generated from others.

I remember eating porridge -- I hate porridge, and I hated it then, and I hate it now -- at Nana's urging so that I could cause her no suffering. And suffer she would if she thought us under-nourished.

Most of all, I remember a woman who gave us all strength and the will to attempt the best. Even in failure, if it came to that, we succeeded -- along as we were true to the ideals she laid before us.

Now, as we renew our commitment to these ideals, we continue to render our best because of Nana's unfailing faith that excellence would be rendered.

That is Nana's legacy. This, today, becomes, too, our mission as we transfer Nana's standard to those who follow us.

(Maria Elena Carreño de Granados died in Mexico City in 1983. This eulogy was composed by Richard Carreño and read by him on 11 June 1983 in Plainfield, New Jersey).