Eulogy by Noreen Wenjen
Today, we celebrate our beloved mother and grandmother, Rose Miyako Wenjen, for a life lived well. Although she was small in stature, just under 5 feet tall, her unique blend of traits balanced perfectly. Her quiet strength offset her sweet personality. She was both easygoing and hard-working. patient yet persistent. She was flexible and tolerant, but she was no pushover. Her positivity was quite infectious, and she loved staying busy and being with friends and family. Thank you for being here today.
Rose was incredibly open-minded, especially for an American citizen of Japanese descent born in 1923. Just the fact that she chose a Chinese husband, was unusual for that time. She made no demands or expectations of whom we should marry, and my siblings and I chose
spouses from three different backgrounds: Japanese, Korean, and Irish.
Her Glass was always Half Full
Ever the optimist, and extremely patient, she quietly guided us through our lives. Our family says that she is like a cross between Yoda in the Dalai Lama. Her wisdom or requests came through in her own way. For example, she was never pushy about things like grandchildren. One day, she dropped by our house came by your house and dropped off four tiny ceramic turtles. When we asked what they were four, she smiled and said, “fertility.”
She was Always Connected to Mother Nature
She loved growing things in the garden, and her gentleness was even felt by mother nature. In her backyard, butterflies would land on her hand in her head. Last year, when I visited her at her senior residence, a mother duck 12 new baby ducklings sat under her lounge chair where she was quietly reading outside of her room in the sun. A hummingbird came to take a sip of nectar out of the crocheted flower that was attached to her blue cane.
She was always kind
Even if someone was unkind to her, she never took revenge or lashed out. She wouldn’t even say an unkind word. She let it roll off her back, like beads of rain on a waterproof jacket. She Held no Grudges and had few regrets. She only said she wished that she had traveled more when she was younger.
She was a Social Guru
She was a people person and had a gift for growing friendships and growing organizations. She joined the Seal Beach friendship association they were fewer than 10 members. They would collect supplies and send them to their sister city, Todo Santos, Mexico. She served as president, and on the board for many years. She added themed dinners and entertainment to the meetings. By the time she exited the board, there were over 80 members.
She also had a lucky streak
She was extremely lucky, and whether she entered a raffle or played bingo, you can bet that her name would be called at least once. Sometimes she won so many times in raffles, that she would give away all of her prizes.
She must have discovered the Fountain of Youth
My siblings and I used to joke that like the immortal jellyfish, called Turritopsis dohrnii, Rose was reverse aging. When I was a little girl, everyone thought that Rose was my grandmother. However, as the years passed, they noted that Rose now looked younger than their parents! At one point, her hair actually went from all grey back to salt and pepper on its own. Or maybe it was the aloe vera and magnets.
She Took many Classes to stimulate her Creativity
The secret of keeping a sharp mind was exercising her mind and body. Every year or two, she would take up new hobbies. She lived near Leisure World, and although she was not a resident, the teachers enjoyed her so much in their classes that they gave her an honorary pass, so she could participate in all of their classes…which she did! Line dancing, watercolor, oil painting, drawing, weightlifting, Mah-Jong, and Spanish, to name a few.
She even studied piano with me in her 7o’s for 10 years!
Although she was very nervous performing, she would always memorize her pieces when she performed, to keep her memory strong. She would tuck her music within reach, just in case! My students called her Grandma Rose, and they fondly remember her for her tea and cookies, and receiving Pipa plant clippings, which are now huge trees bearing fruit, in their own yards.
Always smiling, she was persistent and extremely patient. She was always helping others and asked for little help for herself. Rose use to sit at a “health desk” at the hospital, hand out brochures, and inform people that they could control pain with positivity, meditation, and deep breathing. While on hospice, as her breast cancer visibly spread, the nurses and caretakers marveled how she seemed impervious to pain. Every morning, even in her last few months, she would tell the nurses, “I feel good today!” One nurse said that she was now going to wake up every day and say, “I feel good today!”
We will continue to honor her as we remember her kindness, strength, and wisdom. When we have to make difficult decisions, we will continue to say, “what would grandma Rose do?” And we will know in our hearts that we have chosen the right path.
––Noreen Wenjen on December 28, 2019