By Noah Mrnacaj/
For those of you who may not know me, I’m Noah Mrnacaj, Marashi’s oldest grandson.
On behalf of our whole family, I would like to thank you all for coming today to pay your respects to my grandfather and his life. I think the number of people not only here today, but who have shown support over the past few days, is indicative of the kind of man my grandfather was. It is truly overwhelming.
This is the first speech I’ve ever given, and when I began to think about what I wanted to say about my grandfather I didn’t know where to begin. He was my hero and summarizing how I feel about him in a short speech is impossible.
My grandfather was a very special person, not just to me but to everyone who crossed paths with him. He was a humble and selfless man who went through his life always helping others. He had a heart of gold and his home had an open door. Most importantly, he was a man of great faith and was one with the Lord. There wasn’t a day that went by that my grandfather didn’t pray the rosary.
Earlier this year, an injury kept me out of work for a few months- I can’t begin to tell you how much of a blessing this was and how grateful I am because it gave me the opportunity to spend countless hours with him. It was incredibly heartbreaking to watch my grandfather slowly decline but his strength, his gratitude, his humor, and his faith was so inspirational and a joy to witness during such a difficult time.
I’m so thankful to have had Tata and I’m thankful I was able to live so close and do so many things with him for over 35 years. One of my favorite memories is bringing my grandfather to this church for mass on Sundays. I was so, so proud to walk in here with him. Sunday lessons from him were the best- We once spoke about how scary it could be to be an entrepreneur and start a business. When my grandfather first invested in Real Estate he was told it was a big risk and a big mistake. My grandfather followed his heart, remained strong in his faith through prayer, and as a result his business flourished, and he was able to help so many of his loved ones financially thereafter. He encouraged me to follow my dreams too and he always pushed me to be my best.
My grandfather taught me to love everything about life- the ups and downs and everything in between. The good times were to be loved and the hard times were to be appreciated- because it’s in the hard times that you learn valuable lessons and you gain strength as he had in his life.
I’ll miss so many things about my grandfather. I’ll miss his phone calls inviting me over for my grandmother’s freshly made kachimak. I’ll miss visiting to find him pruning his vegetable garden or fixing things around the house with the most precise care and love. I’ll miss when I’d sleepover and my grandfather would turn on the living room TV volume on full blast at 7am. An hour later, I’d be greeted in the bedroom with his face peeking in to check if I was still sleeping- meanwhile I had been awake for the past hour thanks to him! I’ll miss hearing him call my Aunt Lucy “Lushi”, telling my Aunt Vera to “Sharrap”, and telling Aunt Lisa’s daughter Sophia that she was his favorite (but, we all know we were all equally his favorites). I’ll miss listening to his great storytelling and his contagious laugh after telling one of his many great jokes.
My life began with my grandfather bringing me home when I was born, and his life ended with me watching him take his last breath. Tata was absolutely THE most amazing grandfather I could have ever asked for. He loved our grandmother Mrija with his whole heart and their dedication to each other and their family was a precious gift to witness and something to be envious of. He cherished his children and he adored every one of his grandkids, loving each of us unconditionally. He was the happiest when he was surrounded by his family. When I introduced him to my now fiancé, he was absolutely overjoyed to see his family getting even bigger than it already was. Even as he declined, my grandfather’s face would light up when he would see us together. It was such a blessing to experience this with him.
The head of our family is no longer with us and we will no doubt feel his absence. Although he lived to the great age of 93, there is no amount of time with him that would have been enough and nothing that could have prepared us for this loss. But we are strengthened in knowing he is no longer in pain and is now in a place more amazing than the best possible day here on Earth. This is just a temporary goodbye and I know we will see him again.
As I put together all these memories of my grandfather the common theme and his greatest lesson to us of all is LOVE. My grandfather taught us to love hard, love the good times, love the bad times, and most importantly to love each other no matter what. May we honor my grandfather by doing our best to keep his most profound lesson of love at the forefront of our lives.
I love you Tat. Watch over us, and may you rest peacefully in the Lord’s arms until we meet again…