At the funeral, my Great Aunt Edna spoke about my Grandma. She had some of the sweetest things to say about Grandma and I asked her if I could get a copy of her talk because it really touched me. I'm going to share it here:
"My name is Edna Vargas Morales. I am the youngest sister of Albert Vargas- Anja's first husband.
I felt compelled to give my perspective about Anja since I am the only one surviving of my sisters and brother.
I never referred to Anja as my ex-sister-in-law since she continued to be a big part of our lives after the separation from my brother. On the day my brother passed away, it was Anja that called me with such love and concern. She was the one who told me my brother was asking for me the day before he passed and she knew that because she was with him at the end.
But I will tell you where the letter "x" is appropriate to describe her. She was an extremely hard worker, she was extraordinary, she was an exceptional mother, and she exemplified all the characteristics we value today.
Her hard work was demonstrated in working the night shift so she could be with her family during the day. When she was going to leave the bank for Yamaha, she hadn't given the bank proper notice so she continued working for them at night and Yamaha during the day for the time required to leave on good terms.
She was also extraordinary in her resilience and strength. Diane will tell you the full meaning of the Finnish word "sisu." That was Anja; resilient, strong, and with extraordinary character. Her past life in Finland and her story was so incredible, I am happy that Diane recorded it in the book she wrote about her mother. Anja never talked about it or let that part of her life hinder her in reaching her goals. She was also extraordinary in that she never spoke badly about my brother. She realized his good qualities and kept the focus on his special talents which I believe helped the children to grow up well adjusted. It was always amazing to me how she brought in Norman (my brother's son by another marriage) as part of her family when his mother passed when he was 17. To this day, all the children have remained close as one family.
Anja was also an exceptional mother. All her life, her main focus was on the best interests of her children and what would help them to grow into responsible, hard working, and caring adults. Her love of her children gave her an insight into what they needed. She never kept the children from their Grandma, Grandpa, cousins, uncles, and aunts on the Vargas side. I will be eternally grateful to her for keeping us close to her and her family. As you can see, she raised exceptional children who continue to love and remain close to all their family, to lead responsible lives, and to have faith.
Now that I am the only mother left to all my nieces and nephews, I feel a need to continue the legacy that each of their parents left. For Anja's children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, I will remind you what Anja left you: her example of striving to be the best person you can be, working hard to achieve your goals, her belief that when life gets hard- realize that difficulty develops strong character, her actions of always being kind to those who have less than you and may need a helping hand, and lastly, the way she put a priority in staying close to her family. As you learn about her life, you will discover many more lessons she left, too numerous to mention here.
Thanks, Anja, for the legacy you left us. May God bless you."