I wrote this to read at my sister's memorial service in Kansas City. Unfortunately I broke my leg the day before the service was to be held. My sister Elaine was kind enough to read it in my place.
The first thing I want to say on behalf of the family is to give thanks for all of the support that has been given to Carol as well as the rest of the family during the past year or so. I understand that Carol was part of a church family in Georgia named The Grove that held her up in prayer and support. I am sure there were prayers and support uplifting Carol in Alabama from friends there and Elaine's church. My brother's church and friends in South Dakota lifted her up. Prayers and support were given from all over the Kansas City area as well as family and friends in Kansas, Colorado, South Carolina and many other places. I would be amiss if I did not give a special thank you to Karen Jones, who was always there last summer helping to get Carol to her chemo sessions and giving strong support to Carol. Karen went out of her way to give mom and dad as well as myself the support we very much needed as we worked through getting Carol well. Karen was such a blessing during that time. Could not have done it without you. There is not a doubt in my mind that Carol felt the result of all of these throughout her battle with cancer. I know that Carol would want to thank each and everyone of you and the family does as well. It was a great source of strength. Thank you so very much.
We were lucky and blessed to have Carol here with us for 64 years. There was a period of time when Carol seemed to drift away from us as she concentrated on her life in Georgia. Eventually she decided to try to restore those strong ties that made us a family. I think what she found was that those ties had never really been broken. She floated back into the relationships with family members, cousins Aunts and Uncles, thoughtfully and easily. She had rededicated her life and her faith and had a new insight on what was important to her. She made the most of those things as she re-established her place in the lives of others. She made new friends and this family of friends grew tremendously respecting her as the person she was.
Over the last week or so, I have tried to rekindle pictures of Carol in my mind from the past. The most powerful picture that continues to come to me is seeing her standing there with good posture, her head tilted ever so slightly to her right a smile on her face and her hands, well actually her wrists resting on her hips with her hands pointing outward and backward and her feet turned slightly pigeon toed. To be fair sometimes that smile was absent replaced by a stern straight tight lipped mouth depending on whatever was going on at the time but those hands and toes always seemed to be positioned the exact same way.
During that time I also thought about the kind of person that Carol was. Carol was kind hearted, sincere, loving, caring, forgiving, supportive, strong, determined and dependable. She had the gifts of being a good listener, someone who would reach out and help and a person who gave good advice. She was a friend to many and as hard as I tried, I could not think of one time she held a grudge against any one person.
Here are just a few examples that show how those attributes played out in who Carol was.
I remember when she was working at Paul's. I used to be addicted to "The Untouchables" television series that I watched late into the night on Fridays. When Carol was working on Friday nights, she would come home around 12:30 to 1:00 in the morning to find me sitting on the floor watching the show while mom slept on the couch waiting for her to get home safely. Carol always seemed to remember that I would be up when she came home and brought with her a greasy paper bag of cold french fries and tator tots. She would walk in and say "Here ya go" and drop them in front of me on the floor as she headed upstairs to bed. She always seemed to remember and it was very special to me when she did that.
When her husband Steve passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, I arrived in Georgia to find my sister crushed and grieving but at the same time I found her to be strong and focused on what needed to be done. Although she was hurting worse than she had ever hurt in her life, she carried on and found the strength to take care of things that she was use to having help from Steve in doing. I am not sure that I would be able to find that kind of strength in such a situation.
Last summer when she was diagnosed with cancer, she gave pause. She was scared and nervous as would be expected. But then after giving it some thought she became determined to do whatever needed to be done to beat this thing. She flat out told me, "We are going to beat this and then I going home to Georgia." and the three of us, Karen, Carol and myself with some help from Elaine and a lot of support and prayers took to getting her clean of the cancer. She never missed a chemo session, never missed a scan and did everything she was suppose to do. The treatments worked and before long the cancer had shrunk to the point that she was able to return to her beloved Georgia. I have never seen anyone so determined in my life.
After she returned to Georgia she continued her volunteer routine of two days a week at a nursing home giving care and support and love and kindness to the people residing there. She was a blessing to those in the nursing home. I believe she was born to do work such as that.
Then over the last couple of months, when the cancer returned, she insisted that I not be bothered with it. I was in the process of trying to get Barb a heart valve replaced and the situation had become extremely risky. Carol knew that I had to focus on Barb and did not want me to have anything else to think or worry about until Barb got well. After the doctors did finally succeed in getting a new valve in Barb's heart, Carol called me. She was afraid I would be mad or upset at her for not letting me know the cancer had returned. We both knew the cancer would return, they had told us that last summer so it wasn't a big surprise except we had gotten use to the cancer not letting it's presence be known. We talked awhile as I told her I appreciated her caring enough and that no, I wasn't upset. I appreciated her sensitivity to what my situation had been at the time. We ended our last talk together talking about her cancer. We decided that she had to revive that same determined attitude that she had shown last summer and she said "yup, we're gonna beat it again." Then after expressing our love for each other, we ended the call. It was the last time I would talk to her. After that call the cancer began to move extremely fast. It was just a matter of a few days between that last conversation until Carol was called home. But during that last time we talked she showed kindness, sensitivity, caring, love, concern, support, and determination.
That is who Carol was. Thinking of others. Trying to help others. Giving support to others. Raising her kids to be good people as she was raised. Loving her grandchildren as only a grandmother could and celebrating the arrival of great grand children and loving them more than anything.
She was a good person. A fine lady with class. A good daughter, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. Just overall as fine of a person as she could be.
That is how I remember my sister. That is how I remember my friend. I will miss her as we all will.