One year ago my wife passed away after a short fight with colon cancer. I’ve spent a lot of time this past week reliving her final days. I know she’d rather we move forward. I know she’d rather we remember her almost 40 good years.
These are excerpts from comments that were shared by friends and family at her Memorial Service – and they are really good memories.
From Sallie, Lisa’s younger sister:
As her little sister, I used Lisa’s bossiness and emphatic suggestions to guide many of my choices in life. I liked how Lisa dressed, so I bought the same clothes (or more often just stole hers). I liked how she threw a party, so I’ve used all her party ideas. I liked her choice of a husband, so I tried to find one just like him. She had some very specific thoughts about how to plan my wedding, and we used every one of them.
I have often found myself in a “what would Lisa do” situation. As a result, I have modeled much of my life as a friend, neighbor, wife, and mother, based on Lisa’s example. I strive to run a household like Lisa’s… full of energy, music, love, and tasteful decorations. I strive to organize and lead efforts in the community that make a difference, like Lisa. I strive to maintain amazing friendships, despite a busy job and home life, like Lisa. I strive to have a marriage that is based on a friendship, faith, and love, like Lisa’s. And finally, I strive to raise polite, self-confident, loving children like Lisa’s.
From Jim, a member of our church:
Lisa loved to playfully tease people.
When growing up in the church, Lisa was a slightly mischievous teenager who seemed to take delight in my efforts to serve as a youth advisor. I was much younger then, and still single. When Lisa learned I was dating one of her teachers at Broughton High School, she always asked me how “Babs” was doing, with a twinkle in her eye. At one point she even sent Babs a Valentiine song-gram, signed my name, and didn’t let on as to what she had done for the longest time. Now I’m not sure that song-gram alone drew Babs and me closer, but I think Lisa might have taken some deserved credit for bringing us together.
Lisa loved Bruce.
Some of my fondest memories are of Bruce teaching our Sunday School class, pushing the envelope on what was appropriate to say. Lisa, in a way only she could do, would roll her eyes, shake her head, and without saying a word conveyed the message, “Can you believe what I have to put up with!”
But we all knew this was simply for show, because the love between them was one of the strongest of bonds imaginable.
From Copie, a colleague at work:
But one of the best traits about Lisa is that she could make anyone and everyone feel special, included and comfortable. What a wonderful trait for an Angel!
The work Lisa has done to build and grow our school is her legacy. She will be remembered as the backbone of St. Timothy’s for these 14 years. And for that we need to say thank you—one of those thank you’s that is bigger than the two words themselves.
As you all know, co-workers have a special bond—we spend a lot of time together! All of us treasure the honor and opportunity of working with such a wonderful person.
We will miss her. We already miss her. We miss her leadership. We miss her lists. We miss her smile. We miss her ability to write well. We miss her story-telling. We miss her version of a bad week—when she hasn’t had time to get her nails done.
From Charlotte, one of Lisa’s best friends:
Lisa loved to be in the thick of things, but she never sought to draw attention to herself. Believe me, I feel her eyes rolling at this very moment. I feel confident that where Lisa is now, committees are being formed, lists are being made, and things are being whipped into shape. She made things happen, but never took the credit for anything. Lisa just so loved to be part of things—one of the gang. And I don’t know if you know this, but Lisa really loved to talk, and was quite gifted in this arena. She was a one-stop shop of information on everyone and everything, sometimes telling you just a little more than you needed or wanted to know. And who can forget the conspiratorial whisper when she gave in to the urge to dish just a little bit. On our annual girls’ weekends she would sit up as late as she could, head leaning back against the couch, eyes closed. Every now and then she would rally to make a point so that we would know she was still listening, taking it all in. At some point, when she just had to throw in the towel, she would sternly instruct us to not say anything interesting or funny until the next day.
Lisa, you were incomparable. It’s the only word I know that encompasses you. I am sorry for going on and on about you in front of the world. It comes from a place of deep love and gratitude. Thank you for the gift of your friendship.
From a letter I wrote to Lisa the week before she died; I read the letter at her inurnment:
From the time I fell in love with you in the canoe at Camp Seafarer, until this day, our partnership and relationship has been more than I’ve ever dreamed it could have been. I believe that we have complimented each other’s strengths and weaknesses like no other couple I’ve seen.
You – comfortable talking to a perfect stranger in a waiting room at the dance studio.
Me – looking for you to be my companion at the dance studio so I don’t have to talk to people I don’t know.
You – providing the much needed wings for our children, pushing them toward independence and self confidence.
Me, kissing them, hugging them and holding them in my lap as long as they will possibly stay.
You, the shopper; Target employees know you by name.
Me, the yard man, trying endlessly to grow fescue grass, to no avail.
Me, the funny man, even in inappropriate situations or when you clearly aren’t in a good mood. The funny man, a wise crack, sarcastic comment, silly made up phrase from years past, zany dance moves or a strange garment on my head.
You, the straight man, eye roller, zinger on occasion. You have always been able to give me as much as I give you and I think that’s one of the best parts of our connection.
Both of us with tremendous love and respect for one another, our kids, our work, our church and our community.
These are the things we should be remembering. There was certainly a lot of good!