Memorial Service Comments
Presented on behalf of the family August 20, 2008
We thank all who have joined us today to celebrate the lives of our beloved Sam and Grace. We are humbled by and grateful for the love your presence demonstrates. We appreciate those who have traveled hundreds of miles—and those who have walked a few blocks—to be with us. We will need this remarkable network of support—our family; our many friends in Colorado, Oregon, and elsewhere; our professional colleagues and the St. Anne’s community—to help us in our long journey forward.
This journey will include profound grief. Today, however, we look through our tears and remember these two darling, loving kids. They brought such immense joy to our lives and there are so many stories to tell, that we could go on for an eternity. But for those who have to catch flights home sometime this week, rest assured that we will share only the best of the best.
Pianist, singer, ballet dancer
Soccer player, charmer, beach comber, pack rat
Skier low to the ground, pink parka, snow boarder to be, lip gloss queen
According to Midge Kral, girl who took reservations from friends to sit with her in class
Sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter, dear friend
Sometimes (and more rarely recently) teller of white lies, world traveler
Petite beauty with sparkling hazel eyes and long lashes
Above all, Grace was an enthusiast, always ardently attached to a cause, object or pursuit. And she had many pursuits. She lamented when soccer conflicted with ballet or when a birthday party conflicted with skiing. She loved clothes, despairing when the pile of hand-me-downs from the three Roseto girls next door had to be thinned. Only Liz could convince her that the size 10 faux-silk nightgown needed to go to Goodwill, or that she could not wear Chloe’s pink miniskirt to school. She liked everyone and everything; she even liked string beans and cucumbers. She marveled at the eggplant and zucchini growing in her first vegetable garden this summer—though she didn’t plan to eat them. Despite Marie’s efforts—Fred had convinced her that vegetables were less nutritious than Pringles and Funyuns.
It goes without saying that Grace loved Liz. She was enchanted with Liz—with her clothes and her lip gloss and her jewelry. Last spring, Liz’s treasured silver necklace with a sand dollar charm went missing. When asked where it might be, Grace pleaded ignorance. But her sweet eyes gave her away. She confessed that she had taken it to school to show to her friends. For about a week, Liz patiently asked everyday if Grace would bring it back from school, and Grace kept claiming she’d forgotten. Eventually, Grace conceded that the necklace was lost. Liz said nothing. She seemed to accept it—but a few days later, Liz returned from a shopping trip with friends, a Hello Kitty necklace in hand. She gave it to Grace and she said: “I bought you something very special and you can’t lose it because I got it just for you, so you won’t need to borrow mine again.” Despite the transgression, Liz’s affection for Grace overcame her frustration. Liz always had the generosity of heart to reach beyond anger with her little sister, and she repeatedly offered Grace forgiveness.
Grace was a glamour girl and a party girl. Dressed as a rock star last Halloween, she donned the most horrific pink lipstick, which cost a dollar at Walgreens, and was later recalled by the FDA. She loved tu-tus, sequins, sparkles, painted nails, makeup, feather boas, and playing dress-up with Reide. She loved PINK. Grace giggled with Sarah at My School Preschool, and she was still giggling with Sarah in this garden just a few weeks ago. Grace adored her many, many friends—Isabelle, Lexie, Sophie, Lydia, Sara, Hannah. The list goes on and on. We can’t recite every name but Isabelle Roseto was her friend at the beginning and her special friend every minute since.
Grace loved Sammy. Two summers ago, Marie painted Grace’s room in a carefully chosen mint green, sewed new curtains in hand-picked fabric, and bought new bedding. One week after completion, Grace moved back into Sam’s room, top bunk, and never slept in her own room again.
Grace also liked to argue with Sammy. They bickered to the end. Flying to Oregon 2 days before this horrible event, they each bought a huge box of candy—Grace chose Junior Mints and Sam, Lemon Heads. Fred got a box of Hot Tamales to boot. Even so, Grace wanted more of Sam’s lemon heads and she pestered him until he got testy—but in the end, he gave her a huge handful.
Grace loved Sammy and Liz, Marie and Fred, her friends, her dogs, her school, and her many hobbies. Every night before bed, Grace would come to one of us for extra tooth brushing and hugs, which she referred to as “huggies.” Grace glittered. Grace glowed. She brought a radiant grace to our lives.
Short for Hesam, the name of Grandpa Sam, not to be confused with his two cousins named Sam or Uncle Sam
Pianist, golfer, blue belt in Tae Kwon Do
Master Lego builder, cook, mathematician, and gardener
Kindly owner of Odette, the surly Chihuahua
Elegant skier, curious intellectual, lover of big words and Greek mythology
Reader, coin collector, XBox/Wii/PSP/Nintendo DS player
Brother, son, nephew, grandson, friend
Kind, decent boy with deep brown Persian eyes
Sam was a “foodie.” He loved to cook and loved to eat even more. In Portugal, he tried every kind of fish on the menu, including sardines, cod, sole, and an unidentified fish that was served whole – head and all. Frankly, some of the fish he tried were quite gruesome. In Greece, he ate oysters in wine sauce, thus befriending Tassos, the chef. On his trip to Manhattan with Fred a couple of years ago, Sam earned astounded glances from hardened New Yorkers who were stunned to see a ten-year-old consuming a whole plate of mussels in lemon sauce. He was a sushi fiend, eating piece after piece in rapid fire with bare hands, no time for chop sticks, soy sauce, wasabi, or ginger. And when there was only one more piece of sushi left on the tray, Sammy would stop and ask Mom if she wanted that last piece.
Sam also loved to golf. Fred had the great honor of playing many rounds with him in Denver and in Oregon. Three weeks into this summer, Sam announced that he had already played at least 180 holes in golf camp. At the Highlands golf course in Gearhart, Sam made friends with Dan, the owner, a crusty retired marine sergeant. Before every round, Dan would encourage Sam with the mantra: “fix an extra ball mark, and get birdies and pars.” Sam invariably cracked a grin as we walked out to the first tee. Sam had an agreement with Fred that if either made a hole in one that the family would go out for lobster. No matter that it is nearly impossible to find a lobster dinner in Denver. While we never ended up enjoying that lobster, we got close a few times. Sam loved to recount our golf triumphs, including his tee shot off the flagstick on the fourth hole at the Family Sports course, his 45-foot putt on number eight of the Highlands, or the time Dad chipped it in for an eagle on number seven at the Highlands. An eagle from Dad was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience
Sam was funny—sometimes without intention. On a recent summer evening, when the family was sitting together reading (not Grace—she playing with her Littlest Petshop—none of that reading stuff for her), Marie came across a Ben Franklin quote in the newspaper she liked and read it aloud: “There are three great friends: an old wife, an old dog, and ready money.” Sam earnestly looked at his Dad and said, “but Dad, you don’t have an old dog.” He was genuinely worried that Fred was only going two for three. During his recent trip to Washington, Sam went on a White House tour with Fred and Uncle Jerry. Jerry had to remind Sam that while he was in the White House, he should refrain from telling George Bush jokes.
Sam had the uncanny talent of engaging adults in conversation. Just ask anyone who visited our home and experienced the grand tour of his Lego Star Wars collection. In his sweet, still-high voice, Sam would talk in tremendous detail about the storm troopers, the trap doors and engines of his ships. So many have written us recently, remembering how Sam would draw them in shortly after arriving at our home, regaling them with facts and stories, often introduced by a question—Do you know what this ship is called? Do you know that I had to paint this storm trooper like this because the original was selling for $300 on eBay? None of the questions had a one word answer!
Sam was also an inventor. He spent a full day this summer with his buddy Isaac dreaming up a machine that could sort real copper pennies from the more recent clad versions. He invented board games, tried to start an eBay business to sell Lego parts and Yu Gi Oh cards, and designed his own Lego ships. He was a true friend. He went to Luke’s baseball and football games to cheer him on. He played endless hours with Phil, Alex, Ben, Sam, Jake and Richard; and Rhodes was his Tae kwon Do mate these past 6 years.
While their full potential will not be realized, it’s hard not to consider who these children would have been. From our biased point of view, we know that Sam would have become a world-famous architect or television chef. He would have earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do entering high school, thanks to his teacher Gary Smith; he would become an expert pianist, thanks to his teacher Rich Italiano; a voracious reader thanks to his sister Elizabeth, and a scratch golfer, no thanks to his golf buddy Fred. As a man, he would have been universally liked, hard-working, curious, possessing a wry sense of humor and strong loyalty, all thanks to his teachers, friends, and family. He was and would always have been gentle and kind.
Grace would have become the CEO of a large company or a discerning fine arts critic; a bon vivant with an unparalleled sense of style, eventually wearing only one type of lip gloss at a time—and in a better hue of pink. She would have been a darling ballerina thanks to her teacher Bridget, a feisty soccer player thanks to her coaches Bruce, Matt and Mike (though this might be a stretch—since soccer for Grace was really all about socializing with the neighborhood girls on her team and wearing a uniform—which she had come to like even though it wasn’t pink). She was bound to be an outstanding student liker her sister Elizabeth; and a spirited participant and leader in every extracurricular activity—including orchestra, yearbook, and even the jai alai club—despite all the driving this would mean for Marie. And as she promised Fred on a birthday card this year, Gracie would be Daddy’s little girl even when he was 99 years old.
Talking about their potential, though, obscures the fact that Sam and Grace had already led remarkable lives. They played, learned, loved, laughed, cried, dreamed, skied, golfed, cooked, gardened, helped, hugged, and sometimes argued. They traveled with us to the Great Sand Dunes, San Francisco, Portugal, Spain, and Greece. They spent countless summer days over the years with their cousins on the Oregon coast, in Gearhart, where they loved the gray skies, the enormous trees, the candy store, the Pacific Way Bakery, Pop’s Ice Cream, and lazy days at Ecola State Park. We invested our hearts, souls, love, and attention in them with the hope that the investment would be repaid a thousand-fold. And although their lives were much, much, too short, we know that this investment was, without question, still worth it. As parents, we might forget the leap of faith we have made; we might forget that in bringing these children into our midst, we have agreed to accept all the possibilities—even the possibility that it should end this way. But we made this tremendous leap of faith for the possibility of their love. And we would take it again, and again, and again.
We miss you so dearly, Sam and Grace. We will miss you to the end of our days. We treasure our memories. Stay with us. Continue to change us. We know that you will ask us to live our lives more fully—to be more enthusiastic, more loving, more silly, more kind—until that wonderful time that we see you again.