SayWhatClub Online Voices September 2015

The Grandchildren's Eulogy

Presented jointly by Jackie Brenneman and Dana Wahrsager (on behalf of the Grandchildren)
Copyright 2015

EmilyWingert was much too young and far too cool to be called “Grandma.” So early on, she settled on “Mimi”—a young relative’s attempt at “Emily”—as her nom d’ generational advancement. And it wasn’t just the name that set Mimi apart. Everything she did defied any grandmotherly stereotypes (well, aside from her watching Wheel of Fortune and reading mystery novels).

For starters, Mimi gave us a childhood having the run of a jazz club, where we stood in with performers and ordered our Shirley Temples with extra extra cherries. After all, we were with the owner.

And it wasn’t just musical arts. Mimi also gave us an early appreciation for visual arts. From the masks hanging on her wall (and how many of you have grandmothers with indigenous masks everywhere?) to trips to museums, she showed us that art could be anywhere. In fact, Mimi’s everchanging and always-intricate nail art made her hands my favorite childhood masterpieces.

Growing up in Mimi’s glamorous shadow made us feel cool by association. Young men stared in jealousy or nodded in approval as we drove around town in her convertibles. Store owners came out of their offices to give her personal service. Bartenders, manicurists and diner waiters told us how lucky we were to have Mimi for a grandmother. As if we didn’t know.

Mimi loved to travel and made it her job to pass that love on to her family. For her 70th birthday, she brought a crew of us on a Caribbean cruise. For her 80th we all went to Cancun. And for high school graduation, Mimi took each grandchild on a trip. These trips were more precious than any material present or check. By showing us the world, she showed us that real love was about sharing your joys and experiences with others.

With her passing, what we continue to reflect on, is how Mimi never saw herself the way we do. A woman who lived on her own terms with no apologies; a woman who loved 5-star dining and diners in equal measure; a woman whose love of life was infectious to those around her; a woman who traveled constantly, and complained about it more; a woman who would re-use a paper towel within an inch of its life, but justify it by saying she would prefer to spend her money on first class upgrades.

Sammi even had the opportunity to interview Mimi a few years back for a college assignment, where she got to “be Mimi” for a day, an experience she will always remember.

Most people hope to have one special thing for people to remember them by, but Mimi will be remembered for so many of her iconic traits. For us, it would have to be jazz, her nail art, Wheel of Fortune, mystery novels by the truck load, SayWhatClub Convention location scouting stories, Mr. Potato Head, using rubberbands as sleeve raisers, “the new restaurant we have to try in Montclair”, and of course, convertibles.

Mimi was simply unmatched and unforgettable. We will love you always.

BACK to Table of Contents