A Good Life Was Lived

My grandmother visited me in a dream last night, less than one week after her passing. As I struggled to balance a stack of newspapers in my arms, she walked out to meet me on the front porch of the house in which my mother was raised. I dropped the papers, and wrapped my arms around her waist, lifting her. She laughed. I thought, "She lives!", and I felt bad for having gathered her obituaries because there she was, living. And that's exactly it. She continues living. Thank you for the reminder, Bà Ngoại. Looking forward to our next visit. Shall we meet in the garden? Your hoa mai is blooming one blossom at a time, and your soursop is ripening quite nicely. 

Cecilia Trần Thị Kim Trân
November 13, 1927 - November 3, 2014

To our beloved Great-Grandmother, Bà Ngoại, Mother, Sister, Trần Thị Kim Trân:

The name Trân reminds us of Trân Châu, which means “precious pearl”. And that is exactly what you are to us. Precious. And we are so blessed to have had you in our lives and to have witnessed so much of life’s beauty while standing beside you. Your name, Kim, means "gold". You have been the rock of our family, the corner stone, and your love, pure and golden.

Your life began in Kiến An during the time when fall was transitioning into winter, on the thirteenth day of November, 1927. Born to Ông Bà Trần Văn Hóa, you inherited the loving and compassionate heart of your faithful mother and father. You followed in their footsteps, and beginning from a very young age, you had already developed such a great love for humanity. When you were a little girl growing up in Kiến An, your parents built a children’s shelter in the back yard, and named it “Nhà Thiên Thần”, or “The House of Angels”. You cared for those babies with such affection and wonder. And here we are today, gathering as fall is once again transitioning into winter, after the first rains of the season have fallen. We come full circle as you return to the House of Angels that God has prepared for you.

You are the sister of seven brothers and four sisters, a family of twelve literary, musical, creative-thinking, intellectual, driven, and devout individuals. You were raised in a God-revering household, and with four brothers who have served in the priesthood, and two sisters who have devoted their lives to God’s work as sisters of the Church. You were one seed of God’s very special crop, and what a bountiful life you have harvested.

You were blessed with a devoted marriage to your loving husband, Phan Văn Học, a man who loved his people, loved his children, and adored you. What a gift it is, that the time has finally come for you to be reunited with him and your third son. From this devoted love, sprang your ten beautiful children – your five beloved sons and five beautiful daughters, twelve grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, all of whom have taken on your likeness in our own unique ways. We know how much you loved all of us, as you would remind us how you kept each one of us in constant prayer.

You will live on through us. We will preserve these precious memories, and try our best to live life with the courage, the vigor, the faith, the gentleness, the kindness, the patience, and the love with which you had lived your life. You are loved by so many, because you had so much love to give, and you gave it so generously. You lived a life of gratitude, fully embraced the joys of life, and led by example. When we speak your name, when we care for one another, when we carry on your traditions, when we witness those first blooms in your garden and eat of the fruit, we will remember you.

Through your life, we have witnessed:  

The power in God’s forgiveness.
The beauty in God’s grace.
The strength in God’s love.

So, although we gather here today to mourn the ending of your presence here in this life, we rejoice with God and all His angels, for His beloved child has come home.

This is a joyous occasion. A good life was lived.

Read Vietnamese translation by my mother, Phan Ánh Huy.