The day was beautiful and over 300 people filled the church for a service of Burial and Holy Eucharist.
My mother read a letter written by my grandmother to be read at the funeral. I will try to post the text here.
In addition both my uncles spoke and I am placing my Uncle Brad's words below.
I am Brad Hastings, the youngest and favorite of Jinny’s and Brad’s four children.
On my mother’s desk, I recently found a quote of theologian, Dietrich Bonhoffer that Jinny had noted that she had read it at a friend’s funeral in 2002.
His message resonated with Jinny then it does with me now. Bonhoffer compellingly identifies how I – and maybe you – feel as I live without Jinny. I quote:
“Nothing can make up for the absence of someone whom we love. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap. He doesn’t fill it, but on the contrary, he keeps it empty and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of pain. The deeper and richer our memories, the more difficult is the separation. But, gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. The beauties of the past are borne, not as a thorn in the flesh, but as a precious gift in themselves.”
Jinny Hastings was a remarkable gift in so many ways, and thus, we have a multitude of fond memories of her qualities and the ways in which she affected us. I will comment on just a few:
her generosity, straightforwardness, athleticism, kindness, thirst for reading and learning, competitiveness, faith, upbeat manner, being a good friend and strength in coping with adversity. These personal characteristics all complemented her expertise in horticulture, sun tanning, needle pointing, skinny dipping, lawn mowing, story telling, chain sawing, tickling, making Thanksgiving gravy, cheerleading for her children while simultaneously berating referees or umpires, being a model spouse of a parish minister and a bishop – the same guy, playing bridge at a high level, and being a tennis and golf champion extraordinaire.
The fact that she spelled her nickname with a “J” says something about her uniqueness or her independence, maybe.
As children, some of my siblings and I called her “Jinny” rather than “Mom.” We held her in such high regard that doing so respectfully felt natural to us and she reinforced it by not being phased and she was comfortable with our choice of address.
As many of you will remember, back in the 1960’s, I won a few under-13 tennis tournaments at the Sakonnet Golf Club. And, Jinny and I came very close to winning some parent and child tourneys. (Unfortunately, she and I kept running in to the Eddys or the Thayers or the Smalls.) As an adult, my game improved measurably - as I recall - and I was able to hold my own even with some prep school Varsity players. I played during the summer and won a few tournaments on a small island in Maine. Even so, when Jinny and I would play singles, she won our matches year after year. She was so deft, smooth and calculated; she anticipated my shots while psyching me out in the process. Finally, when I was in my mid- 30’s and Jinny was in her mid-60’s I beat her for the first time! She told me that I “got lucky.”
The real truth is that I got lucky to have Jinny in my life.
Over her 94 years, she experienced more than her fair share of emotional and physical suffering. Yet, her resilience, belief in God and sincere interest in others kept her from doting on her own ills and she dissuaded us from focusing on them, too. In moments when most of us would have been overwhelmed with grief or self-pity, Jinny was tough, optimistic and deflecting of inquiries about her particular situation. I would ask: “So, how are you doing, Jin? And she would respond: “Oh, just fine, Dearie. More importantly, how are you?” She did not want to burden anyone else with her problems. Independence was her highest priority.
Betsy and I regarded her, with Brad, as our biggest supporters when they would visit us at our home in Boothbay, Maine. For many years, in the summer, they would leave their beloved Little Compton and travel downeast with their gloves, gardening tools and work clothes to help us tackle many home improvement projects.
Together, we laid oak flooring, cleared trees, built gardens, painted walls and took brush to the dump. Inevitably, Jinny would gash one of her Betty Grable legs and it would require bandaging or a run to the emergency room, but she’d be back at work the next day. The best medicine, she claimed, was vodka and cranberry juice with not too much cranberry juice. She was amazing!
Now, in her instructions for this service, she told the speakers to be brief. It was difficult for me to abbreviate my reflections about such a fine person when considering her amazing legacy and her loving impact on our lives. But, as I rarely did as a kid, today, I will do what I have been told by my mutha.
Again, Bonhoffer’s thoughts:
“Nothing can make up for the absence of someone whom we love. The deeper and richer our memories, the more difficult is the separation. But, gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. “
Thank you, Jinny, for so much. With great joy, I will always love you.