I apologize in advance that this will be very scattered and hard to follow.
  1. Ten years ago, my Great-Uncle Petro died of complications from a heart transplant.
  2. He was like my Grandfather, because I never knew my actual Grandfathers.
  3. I had always felt a strong connection with Uncle Pete, and I asked my Grandma (Baba Luba) and Great-Grandma (Buna), his sister and mother, if I could say a few words at his service.
  4. I said a few words about his character and impact.
  5. The next weekend, a Cousins first birthday reminded our whole family that life goes on, that we would move on with Pete in our hearts, if not in our lives.
  6. Baba Luba pulled me aside, and asked me if, when she passed, if I would do her eulogy.
  7. I said yes, but honestly I didn't even know what that meant. I asked my Dad later.
  8. Fast-Forward to last year, as my Sister and her fiancé planned their wedding they found themselves without a minister.
  9. Offhand and sort of jokingly I offered to do it, I'd heard you can get ordained online and a couple weeks later, they actually asked me to do it.
  10. My Great-Grandma is from Ukraine. She's very old and unashamedly judgemental.
  11. Though we can't communicate well, she's always been one of my favorite people.
  12. She's a Brandy-lover, and I remember the first time I felt like I wasn't just a kid was when Buna asked me to take a shot with her.
  13. A shot with Buna, from when I was around 10 or 12, became the greeting and goodbye for every visit. Or if it was a long visit, we might go through a bottle or two.
  14. When I first grew my beard she looked at me, pursed her lips (always a bad sign) and said "what that thing on your face?"
  15. She continued to disapprove until the day she found out I was the officiant for my Sister's wedding.
  16. She's Orthodox Catholic, and in her old age assumed my officiating meant I was now a "Badzsuska" or Priest. and this was why I now kept a beard.
  17. Buna is 96, and we have in my life had many scares, nights we were called and told she was on her last leg. But she's always pulled through.
  18. After I became "Badzsuska" Buna and Baba Luba, on a night I visited them and the Brandy flowed, explained what that meant in Ukrainian culture and my new role in the family. I've honestly never felt so honored and on that night, Buna asked if I would do the service when she dies.
  19. Today we got another one of those calls, that Buna was likely not going to last the weekend.
  20. I rushed up to her home and thankfully caught her in a moment of lucidity. She's been non-responsive most of the day, but she opened her eyes and looked at me, and gripped my hand tightly when I went to her side.
  21. I stayed most of the day, sitting with Buna and talking with the family that came in and out to say goodbye to our Matriarch.
  22. I've never seen her like this. She's 96, and other times we've thought she might go haven't looked like this. Her breathing is so labored and she can barely open her eyes. She seems asleep, but in pain.
  23. I took a final shot of Brandy with Buna, pouring two glasses and tipping mine back before Dad and I left.
  24. A final "Nastrovia" with the woman who sacrificed so much, her entire life, to give her descendants opportunity.
  25. As I hugged Baba Luba goodbye, she asked if I'm still willing to do Buna's service.
  26. Words aren't often hard for me to come by. I think if my heart or mind is in it, I'm a decent writer.
  27. So of course I said yes, but I'm honestly not sure the words will come.
  28. Buna doesn't speak very much English, yet I've always felt a strong bond with her.
  29. and I'm worried I won't memorialize her right.
  30. That my words will fail to do justice to the life she lived.
  31. That family and friends will see me up there and think "what does this pipsqueak know about her life?"
  32. After all, I've only been around for a quarter of her life. And for most of that, either I was a child or her memory was fading.
  33. There wasn't a lot of time for us. I'm worried I'll do a bad job.
  34. I tried to write tonight, but it feels wrong to write a eulogy before she passes.
  35. I hope, when the time comes, that the words will come too.