Below is eulogy that I gave at my grandmother's funeral on May 1, 2003. I'm fortunate to have known her and she will be greatly missed. -Matt
Henrietta Rieman - Eulogy
Henrietta Rieman lived a long and happy life full of many happy memories and even up till the very end was able to recall many of those memories. In the past couple of years I'd taken an interest in trying to get to know her and I have many notes of memories that she'd shared with me.
In looking over those notes, one incident that struck me as most pivotal in her life occurred in 1925. Etta was 19 years old and was attending the Normal School in Newark, NJ. After a few weeks, she started experiencing motion sickness on the bus ride from Union City, so she stopped attending classes. During that time off she attended some night basketball games at her old high school, Emerson High in Union City. Refereeing some of those games was a 23 year old dental student named Ray. One evening a mutual friend introduced them and they hit it off.
Soon after this introduction, Ray started his dental practice in Union City. He needed an office assistant and sent Etta a note which read:
'Dear Etta. As I heard you are not working I am taking this opportunity to ask you if you would consider working for a Dentist. The work is pleasant, easy & good hours. If you so desire, you can find out more details by calling at the office any time you care to. If not just let me know. Absolutely no experience required. Best regards, Ray'
This introduction and subsequent work offer was a pivotal moment in her life; a moment that set her on a path to a lifetime of love and happiness with my grandfather, Raymond Rieman. From 1925 on, they dated for 7 years (while working together) and got married in 1932.
The ensuing years were filled with many happy times: she raised her 3 children (Ray, Mary Lou, and Jan), she visited Hawaii with Ray for 3 months in 1968, she went down to Point Pleasant every summer, and she knitted endless booties for her grandchildren.
One of grandma's best traits was her great memory and whether she used it to recite a poem, to win at her favorite card game 'Canasta' or to play an old 1920s ditty on the piano, she always put it to good use. Just last year we all sat enthralled as she recited by heart (for a good 5 minutes) the poem 'The Face on the Barroom Floor'. I can still picture her elbowing me when she was done...with a twinkle in her eye she said 'See Matty-boy, Grandma's still got it!'.
Grandma also loved music. I remember her proudly cooking Thanksgiving dinner in North Bergen while humming a few lines of one of her favorite tunes... maybe it was 'Bye Bye Blackbird' or 'The Lambath Walk' or 'Making Whoopee'.
But in the end, always the greatest love of her life was her husband Ray. Ray passed away in 1993, but he was always on her mind. Visiting her in Bricktown you knew that if Ray's name was mentioned she would typically motion to the urn with his ashes and say a few kind words... or maybe she'd give a little wave, as if to acknowledge his presence.
Other times when his name came up in conversation, she would pull out her necklace with his picture, give it a little kiss and continue reminiscing about their lives together. He was definitely the most important person in her life and the memories that she cherished the most were of time spent with him.
Etta never told me the name of the old mutual friend from way back in 1925, but I think that we all owe him a bit of gratitude for introducing them. That introduction enriched her life and made many of our lives possible.
Thank you all for coming today.