The follwing eulogy was written and read by Jackie's granddaughter, Ashley O'Neil:
Jacqueline Marie-Claire Pelletier O'Neil... It's a big name for a woman with an even bigger heart.
To describe myself is to describe my Grandmother. I am the third oldest of Jackie's 21 grandchildren. I feel truly blessed to have spent the first eighteen years of my life living under the same roof with her. This means I have hundreds, if not thousands of memories of her and me and our family.
One of my favorite things to do was to sneak up to her apartment on school nights after my parents went to bed. We were both night owls and we would play cards, do crossword puzzles and watch her favorite TV shows like Murder She Wrote. She would kick me out around midnight in fear that my parents would find out our little secret and get us both in trouble. It was okay to break the rules with Gram as long as you were safe and having fun. To this day, three of my favorite things to do are: play card games, do crosswords, and stay up late. These things will forever remind me of my Grandmother.
One of my most prominent traits is my competitiveness, something I am 100% certain came from my Grandmother. She taught me every card agme I know, and it wasn't until a family camping trip many years later that my Aunt Michelle warned me: “Watch out, Grandma cheats!” Yes, it's true, she was so competitive that she would hide or hold onto cards just to win a game. But THAT was her spirit, and it was all in good fun.
Then there's the stories that everyone still laugh about. Like the time when my Uncle Sean and Aunt Lisa asked my Gram to videotape one their son's baptism. Well, the video came back completely backwards as she accidentaslly held the lens to her eye because she didn'y know how to work the camera.
Another memory I love was when many of us traveled to California for a family wedding a few summers ago. Gram was telling us to “do the Bump” as she demonstarted hip movements towards men that were dancing by themselves. This made us laugh to tears.
My Grandma Jackie was a strong-willed, family oriented, independent woman who continued working until her fianl days.
She's taught me many life lessons:
One of the first was to always keep tissues in my pockets... little did I know how much this would come in handy until I started working with children.
Another was how important faith is, whether it was your faith in God, faith in those you love, or faith in something that you were truly passionate about.
But most importantly she taught me the importance of family. Absolutely nothing came before her children and grandchildren, not even herself. She attended every--and this is not an exaggeration--baseball, football, basketball, softball, soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse game of her grandchildren's that she possibly could. She attended every dance recital, Irish Feis and graduation. Every baptism, first communion, and confirmation.
She cherished and looked forward to spending time with her family. She was PROUD. She was proud of all her children and grandchildren and of their accomplishments. And for those of you who knew her well, you know she bragged to anyone that would listen.
It's hard to think that we won't get to make new memories with Gram. It's true, life will never be the same without her, but I know I can speak for all her children and grandchildren when I say that we are grateful to have enough memories to last a lifetime. From the camping trips to the family vacations, to the birthday parties, to all the afore mentioned games and recitals, Thanksgiving at Assumption, Christmases and her beloved nutcrackers, Easter egg hunts, bus trips to Canada, stories about Willy the black lab, Summers on Cape Cod at Onset and in Dennis at the Willows, and for many of us: going to the dentist.
What Ted Kennedy was to the Kennedy family, Jackie was to ours. She was the true matriarch of our family. I will be eternally grateful to have her light shine on in my heart for the rest of my days.
I leave you with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
|To laugh often and much;|
|To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;|
|To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;|
|To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;|
|To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;|
|To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.|
|This is to have succeeded.|
We all know Jackie succeeded.