Eulogy for my Brother
by Benito L. Ornleas
(Austin, Texas (USA))
Friends, loved ones and family -
It is an honor and privilege for me to pay tribute today to a very special person, my brother Jose Juan Ornelas.
My name is Ben Ornelas and I am Juan's younger brother. He was remarkable in so many ways. He lived his life to the fullest and touched so many people during his time here with us, as evident by so many of you here today. Griselda, Amanda, Joey, Eric and Krystal, I love you baby.
As I began to reach out for the right words to express my thoughts about my brother Juan, I remembered the many valued and meaningful roles that Juan played through out his life.
First and foremost I see him as the family man. He loved his family profoundly. He was a devoted husband / son / father / uncle / brother and friend. Looking back, he was always a family man.
Juan was a comfort for our mom and dad when they were alive. He was so devoted to them that I always felt it was OK to run away from home. I knew they would not miss me so long as he was around. I always knew he was there watching over them. He was a very respectful and caring man.
Juan took all of the roles in his life to heart and he strove to honor, support, and guide and most importantly, protect his family. He was at his happiest when he was surrounded by his family - even during those inevitable tough times that life has a way of throwing at you. His devotion to his family was the foundation of his actions - the anchor that defined and shaped his life.
As I turn the next page of Juan's life, I see Juan - the friend. He was a good friend to so many! He could be counted on and depended on always. Whether you needed simple advice, an empathetic ear, a shoulder to lean on; companionable silence, a listener if you will; if all you wanted was a pass the time, pool hall buddy - he was your man; ready, steadfast, willing and good fun.
As I look out at the faces in this beautiful church, I see many family members and friends and I know that you too will miss the friendship that Juan brought into your lives. I'm sure you all will remember him in your very own special way.
As I continue to turn the pages in Juan's life, I see Juan a man defiant and unwilling to settle for less. He lived a principled life underpinned by a strong sense of right and wrong.
Juan was not a cruel man and he wanted his children to understand that nothing can be gained from holding a grudge or leaving any issue that was very wrong unclear. He spoke out when it really counted; his strong principles did not allow him to let something wrong stand unchallenged. Juan cared enough to act - to follow through. He never let anyone or anything stand in the way of making things right. We can only imagine how much more he could have accomplished in his life were it not for his illness.
Another page is turned and I see him as a respected citizen. He shared his expertise with anyone who would listen, he worked hard and consistently and he remained a student of life. My brother never stopped learning especially through his loving wife and children. He never sat back and became complacent. He led by example as he mentored his nephews and nieces and his own children in a way that anyone of them can say that he was an inspiration in their lives.
My brother Juan was a business man who saw opportunity and made the most of it. One could say that what he touched turned to gold because he had a vision and his vision prompted him to act. But Juan, by the same token, was not too proud that he would not turn to his brothers Jesus and Enrique Jr. for advice. He knew that two or three heads were better than one when it came to business. I guess he did not ask me because I did not know how to make bread or run a business.
As I turn the page again I come face to face with Juan a man of passion and a dedicated supporter. He remained a keen sportsman who loved football, baseball and boxing.
He would stand at the door of dad's bakery, flex his muscles and stretch one arm out so that Janie and I could swing from it. He was always so proud of his strength. We would listen to boxing or any sport and he would say, boy, they better be glad I'm not playing, and then he would let out a simple heeeehooooo!
Juan supported children sports through his business and encouraged others to do the same. He loved seeing his own children involved in sports and activities that build character. He always told me how proud he was that my children were also so involved in activities that define their lives. I know that if he had been given a chance, he would have become a dedicated athlete.
I have to say though that the page in Juan's life that I find most memorable is the role that spirituality played. My brother Juan loved his God. We all knew him as a very private but loving man whose quiet faith guided his actions, words and deeds. He was a true Christian. He strove always to be the best he could be - family man, entrepreneur, brother, friend and champion to others.
I am so grateful that I was able to come spend time with him when he was at the hospital just four short months ago. We talked about many things: doctors and cancer and how we felt the first time we were both told we had cancer. We talked about how fulfilling his life was having had four brilliant children and we talked about not being afraid to die.
I asked him if he wanted to me to pray with him and he said yes. He asked me to take my mask off. (We had to wear masks while we were in the room.) I prayed the glorious mysteries with him and as I prayed the rosary his lips followed my words. He fell asleep half way through and I looked at him and I felt his pain and I knew that this would be one of the most profound moments that I would spend with my brother. But there is no other way that I want to remember him than this.
Juan, brother, it is very hard to say goodbye so we will just say so-long. The pages of your book will never be closed, just as the pages of Ninfa, Jaime, Mom and Dad's pages are not closed either.
We will remember you through the many people still left behind whose lives you touched so positively. You may not realize it, but you leave an amazing legacy behind, four beautiful, handsome and brilliant children. They are your legacy! Through them you leave this world a better place than when you found it and for that you have to be very proud.
Juan, brother, we will miss you, but we will always remember you with respect, admiration and love, always, always!
Ben wrote about why he decided to share his eulogy for his brother on write-out-loud.com in an email to me. His reasons are posted here with his permission:"I thought that my Eulogy might help others who might find themselves in the same situation I was and needed help in getting started.
Losing a loved one is very hard on a family and the Eulogy usually falls on someone who is a little distant from the departed. In our case, we are a very close family and no one else was in any condition to do it so I volunteered.
We had over two hundred family and friends and I was told that there was not a dry eye in the church. I did have one teacher come up to me and tell me that the Eulogy was one of the most moving Eulogies she had heard. I was very moved. I love my brother and I wanted to make it special for him. I am still very hurt by what he went through but I am happy that he is in a better place.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share my brother's Eulogy with your audience."