4/24/12

Eulogy for Nathaniel James Greenan

 

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Nate Greenan April 29, 1975- April 18, 2012

given by Celia Greenan Ashcroft on April 21, 2012

(Note:  Celia delivered this Eulogy with the poise of a pro.  She was elected because she demanded the funeral and she “knew him longest” according to Val.  Celia feels guilty claiming it as her own piece of writing and would like to cite HF and our family as supporting authors.  But really, she wrote it and she nailed it.  Good job Celia and thank you for honoring our brother in this way.)

I was worried about how I was going to manage to speak to you today considering the tender feelings in my heart. Then I remembered the stage training given to me all of my life by my, Pam Greenan. In the musical Annie Get Your Gun, there is a line in the song “There’s no business like show business.” It says “There’s no people like show people, they smile when they are low.” I will be a show person.

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1983 at the SF Zoo.  Pam, Val in stroller, Nori, Ellie, Celia, Paige and Nate.

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1986 Celia, Pam, Phil, Val, Jim, Ellie, Nori, Paige and Nate

I am the oldest of eight Greenan children. There are six girls and two boys. Nate was born third, on April 29, 1985. I was four and Paige was just fourteen months old. Nate was born at Marin General hospital in San Rafael, California. My dad was especially overjoyed to have a son. When Nate was born, we lived in a little yellow house on 32 W Castlewood in San Rafael, and when he was four we moved to a larger home on Palm Ave in the same town.

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Nate as a child.  Trifold display at funeral made by Val, Cam and Ellie.

Nate lived most of his childhood in a house full of girls. Our other brother, Phil, wasn’t born until Nate was 10. He tolerated us well, but definitely owned his masculinity. Once when we were small, Paige and I dressed Nate up in a ballet costume and we all played ballet together. My dad came home from work, saw his son all gussied up, and took Nate to the Army Navy surplus store posthaste. Suffice it to say, there was lots of camo around after that. This incident was the beginning of Nate’s fascination with the army. He was enamored with his grandfather Karl Bromley who served in WWI and was fascinated with the history like his father. Karl Bromley died when Nate was an infant and I imagine that he has enjoyed getting reacquainted with him now. Nate is famous for forcing younger sisters Ellie, Lenore, and Val to play GI Joes and other boy games with him.

Right before Phil was born, in 1985, our family moved to Danville, where he finished elementary school at Vista Grande and went on to Los Cerros Middle school and Monte Vista high school. My parents still live in the house that many of his school friends visited for its various entertainment options, including a skateboarding half pipe built in our backyard when he was still in middle school. That half pipe was situated neatly by the swimming pool, thus providing me and my sisters with a luxurious place to watch boys do tricks.

After high school, Nate lived in various places in the east bay, ending up in Pleasant Hill, where he lived for many years. Although he loved the snow and the surf, he was a Bay Area person from start to finish.

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Nate in middle school.

I have had a lot of input about what to say today, and many of the same themes kept surfacing. Although it is impossible to define a person, there are some attributes that continually resurfaced in the stories people told me about Nate. Nate was intelligent and he was adventurous. He was cool and he was musical. Nate was agile and he was enthusiastic. Most of all, he was loyal.

Nate was probably best known for his enthusiasm. In talking to family and friends, and looking over facebook comments, almost everybody mentioned how fun it was to be around him when he was excited about something. If he loved something, he made sure everybody knew about it and was as excited as he was. He was popular at our house during Christmas time. Even if it wasn’t his turn for a big present, he always got one because he was so eager to receive and stoked about whatever he got. We would fight about who got to ride in the car with him on the way to vacations, especially Hawaii, because his excitement was contagious. I’m sure his friends found his enthusiasm as alluring as we did and it attracted them to him.

Nate loved toys. When he was little, he collected star wars figures and GI Joes, and when he was big, he liked big boy toys. Primary on his list was boards. Snow boards, skate boards, surf boards, skim boards and even little tiny finger boards he could play with inside were his favorites. His next priority was things with motors. He liked motorcycles, minibikes, jet skis, wave runners, go carts, and cars. Many cars. We couldn’t resist making a list of the cars we remembered, and I’m sure we missed a few. If you are a car person and you knew Nate, maybe you remember his white Blazer, or his red Integra. He drove my mom’s red Vanagon for a while, and he had two Tacoma trucks, a red one and a white one. He had a black acura, a green Jeep Cherokee, a white Bronco, a white CRV, and finally the car he called his “mom Lexus.” He was generous with rides when he had gas and you could almost always count on riding along with a dog.

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Nate at the Danville Children’s Musical Theater where he drummed for 17 years.

One thing I recently learned about Nate was that he had tools he used to fix his toys. We didn’t come from a household that used a lot of tools, so I was surprised to learn that he was fond of tinkering with things and could actually fix some of them!

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High School Senior Portrait

I know I don’t have to tell anybody here that Nate was cool. He was an outlier. He knew instinctively what the next big thing was in his community, and he embraced it before anybody else had ever heard of it. I was four years older than Nate and he was always, always cooler than me. He knew all of the music long before I did, he knew the styles, he knew the slang, he knew the people. He knew the cool people my age, and they wouldn’t give me the time of day. He had it, whatever it was. I still don’t know. Of course, because he was so cool, he was always young. You can never be old and cool. We were all surprised to realize that he was 36 when he died. He was too cool to be that old.

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Drumming.

All of my siblings have stories about Nate’s tutelage in cool. Nate and Paige were coolness competitors. He taught her how to Safety pin her jeans. He used to make mix tapes for Ellie and instruct her to pay attention to them. He taught Lenore about horror movies. He made Val into a baseball champ by throwing balls at her head. He taught Phil how to ride a motorcycle. He attempted to teach Camille how to wakeboard but that was a failure. He even tried to make his nieces and nephews cool by sneaking them away from their mothers so they could do things like ride pocket bikes on the Los Cerros black top. He even taught them how to hide their wounds with their clothing so they wouldn’t get in trouble.

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Nate and Dibo

Due to his agility, one of the coolest things Nate did was win the Northern California skateboarding championship title when he was only sixteen. He was sponsored by labels including Bullpen skates, Think, the Shop, DC, Osirus, and Joyride. Nate was uniquely qualified for skateboarding because he was strong, brave, and small. Skateboarding led to snowboarding, another sport in which his agility served him well. He loved snowboarding. He spent endless hours in the snow with his friends or with his dad. His favorite thing was to go snowboarding with his friends and his dad. He would meet my dad at the lift ticket window, get his sponsored-by-Jim ticket, and then take off and meet us at the end of the day. It was fun to ski down the hill with him swooping back and forth and all around.

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Nate could do amazing tricks with his body. One of our family’s favorite Nate tricks was watching him surf on a boogie board across the pool to the diving board. He would then grab the diving board and do chin ups. It was a good show.

Speaking of shows, Nate was a drummer for almost all of the shows at my mom’s theater company, Danville Children’s Musical Theater. He fulfilled his responsibility of keeping the children on beat, and I bet he knew more about musical theater than anyone here other than my mom. Nate started playing the drums when he was an adolescent and loved being in bands. His most successful was a band called Open Your Eyes. He was famous for it and had his picture in the newspaper. He was in the newspaper all of the time, even when he was a child. It was part of his cool thing.

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Nate in Hawaii, his most beloved vacation spot.  He was nearly a local.

My brother Nate was a very intelligent person. I almost always spotted him with a Time magazine in his hand at my parents house, and he was eager to discuss politics or world events with willing participants. As a kid, his favorite book was the encyclopedia, and he kept a stash of National Geographics in his apartment.

Another thing I recently learned about Nate was that he was a writer. He scribbled down his feelings and thoughts and kept those journals with him. The night before he died he even wrote a note to himself about his future.

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The fam at Phil and Aubrey’s wedding.

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July 4, 2011.  Our last all-kids-there family photo.  Paige, Nate, Ellie, Val, Celia, Nori, Cam, Phil, Pam

Having a good vocabulary was always important to Nate. I’m sure his well-spoken Grandma Fae will appreciate his efforts when she speaks with him now. One favorite family story happened when he was about nineteen. He worked at an art supply store, and a customer asked him where to find a pen. Nate replied that there were a plethora of pens available in the next aisle. The customer was surprised to hear a stereotypical skate kid use SAT vocabulary words. It was typical Nate. He loved going against type.

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Brothers, 10 years apart.  Phil and Nate in Hawaii

Out of all of the virtues that Nate held, the most important is loyalty. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his dogs and his devotion to them. Nate’s first dog was named DOG and it wasn’t even his. I believe it belonged to his lifelong friend Matt Ferris. DOG inspired Nate to get his own dog as soon as he could, and he did, a yellow dog named Chewy. Chewy’s best trick was pulling him on his skateboard, for which he was awarded yet another picture in the newspaper.

Probably Nate’s most beloved dog was Dibo, the brindle pit bull that most of you remember. He loved Dibo and when Dibo died last year, we lost a part of Nate also. He was so sad. Thankfully he had recently acquired a younger dog, a grey one called Sierra. One of Nate’s friends has adopted Sierra and I’m sure he is happy to know that she will be well cared for.

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Nate’s best bud Dibo.

Nate inspired loyalty among his many, many friends. Nate has more friends than anyone that I know. People loved him, including Matt and Ryan Choate, another lifelong friend. I know he would be touched to see all of the friends that are here today to remember him and he would love to visit with each of you. I hope you know in your hearts that you are important to him.image

Nate, Dibo and Matt Faris

Nate was especially sweet around newborns, and he always came to visit any new niece or nephew in the hospital if he could. He loved being around babies. My brother Phil and his wife Aubrey recently had their first baby, a boy. It means a lot to Phil that Nate was able to see and meet Teddy before he left this earth. Nate was glad there was a son who would carry the Greenan name because he was worried that he might not have the chance to have his own baby. It brings us my family comfort to know that there is the possibility of him having his own children in the next life.

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Nate and Jude, 2008

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Nate and Mimi, 2007

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Nate and Sylvie, 2008

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Nate and Griffin, 2003

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Nate and Bea

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Nate and Sylvie 2008

My sister Lenore thinks Nate wanted to go to paradise early so he could show us all around when we got there. He’ll know all of the cool spots to go before anyone else, as usual. I think Nate will be happy to be able to give something back to my parents. They supported him with devotion and dedication and he will be able to greet them and help them in the next life.

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I loved my brother. It feels so weird to have him gone and it is sad to consider the rest of my life with one of us missing. I know most of you feel the same way. You love him like a brother and you will miss him. I have found peace in the knowledge, though, that through the atonement of our other brother Jesus Christ, I will be able to see and have a relationship with Nate again.

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Paige, Val, Lenore, Phil, Camille, Celia, Ellie 

(birth order is Celia, Paige, Nate, Ellie, Nori, Val, Phil, Cam.)

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Celia giving the Eulogy

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imagePall Bearers Max, Phil, Ryan, Matt, Mark Ryan

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Each of the siblings put Nate’s favorite skate stickers on his casket.

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The grandchildren present put flowers on the casket.

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Dad dedicated the grave.

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Cousins Anna, Karl and Axel with Paige

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The Greenan Family

Families can be together forever.

Val, Paige, Ryan McAllister, Lenore, Cam, Pam, Jim, Ellie, Mark Maher, Aubrey Greenan, Teddy, Phil, Celia, Carl Ashcroft

Max A, Henry A, Sol W, Bea W, Griffin M, Alice A, Mimi C, Cece W, Claire A, Fiona W  (smaller grandchildren not pictured)

24 comments:

Val said...

Nice post nor (and Celia). I like the pictures you added. Well done.

Celia Fae said...

Good illustrations. I should have had a power point show.

OnCallMom said...

This was beautiful--thanks for sharing.

Saheli said...

Thank you for sharing, Lenore (and Celia). I didn't know Nate, but I wish I did. Sounds like he 'sucked the very marrow out of life.' I hope he's found a good place to skate. Take care, Greenans.

kara jayne said...

thank you for sharing something so dear to your heart. nate sounds like such a neat person. he truly lived his life to the fullest.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! I was so sad to miss it that I'm glad I got to read it.

Hope things are going okay.

--cat

Circe said...

Beautiful. I'm so sad for your family. I admire the way your conviction in the gospel is so inherent in Celia's tribute.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Sad to think you actually had to do this. He will be missed. Her talk/speech was truly inspired. So well written I could only image the power it had when heard. I love you Greenans!!!

-Niya

Justyn Henderson Peterson said...

Beautifully done. I love and appreciate Nate even more by reading this. It brought years to my eyes. I look forward to being able to hive him a big hug someday.

Jessica said...

Of course excellent. Loved all of it. Thanks for sharing. I didn't know a lot of that stuff. It's good to have a more fleshed out picture of Nate. Hope your family is healing.

Sheryl said...

I love what Celia/you wrote. This is a great tribute. I knew Nate to be very thoughtful and kind and this post is such a great credit to him. Thank you so much for posting this. I so wish I could have been there to hear it in person.

Jeanelle said...

Thanks so much for posting this and all of the pictures. I loved getting to know your brother through Celia's beautifully written eulogy.

Jory Allen said...

Heart wrenching... I've lost both of my parents and know how difficult it can be. My prayers are with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

My deepest condolences for the loss to the Greenan Family. I first met Nate over 20 years ago when I opened California Bike and Snowboard in Alamo. Nate quickly became a great friend and member of our crew. He was such a naturally talented athlete and was always working endlessly to perfect that next skateboard/snowboard trick. It was very unfortunate we lost touch over the years as I moved on and became an engineer, but I will always cherish those days of hanging out with Nate, skating, crashing, laughing, snowboarding, and having a great time. Rest in peace Nate you will be missed!
-don a

Leslie M said...

I'm trying to figure out how you captured this word for word. Did Celia write it out in advance then memorize it? Or did you have it transcribed?

It was an incredible eulogy, delivered beautifully. It comforted me.

Jennifer said...

I am a friend of Circe's and came here through her blog when the word "eulogy" on her blog roll caught my eye. I am so, so, sorry about your dear brother. Please know that even though I am a stranger, I share in your sorrow. This eulogy was absolutely beautiful. The pictures of Nate with all the babies are treasures.

I wouldn't wish the hurt of losing a brother on anyone, but I share your testimony that families can be together forever, and peace can come.

Marc André McAllister said...

Beautiful.

Lauren in GA said...

Nor, this was such a fantastic tribute. Celia did a wonderful job. I enjoyed learning all about Nate. I also love the, "introduction" that you wrote for Celia at the top of the post. The pictures you chose are wonderful.

Kerry said...

What a lucky guy to have sisters and family honour him in this way. Personal, detailed and awesome.

Michelle said...

What a beautiful job Celia did. I am so sorry your family is going through such a difficult challenge. So grateful for your knowledge that families are forever, I hope you are all comforted and have peace.

Emily said...

Nor - I'm an infrequent comment leaver, but have followed your blog for awhile - and followed your sisters back in the day, too. I just wanted to let you know that you and your entire family have been in my thoughts since I read this earlier this week. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Emily

Nicole Patterson said...

Lenore and family,
I'm so sorry for your loss. I too lost a brother this year. We are still trying to accept it. I hope you feel the leave of the comforter.

Larry W said...

A beautiful tribute to Nate. Thanks for sharing it with those of us who could not be there. Love to all the Greenans.

Selina Pengelly said...

Wow... This was beautiful... I'm so sorry for your loss, you guys are such a strong amazing and super cool family! I loved the part about how he just wanted to get to paradise early so he could show you all around...