In Loving Memory...
| Carolyn Merritt from Matthew |
Patricia Agnes Graves
Teresa "T" Wilhelm: What God Won't Ask
Bev Saarinen in Australia: We Were "Friends Across The World"
Helen Descovich: Bev's Daughter
To Jill Buchanan from Kat Albrecht
Shin Na, Singapore
My mother was all of the things described in her memorial guestbook, and all the good things now on news releases and postings on the web. But to me she was something else – something different, and more. Though I am unequal to the task of describing in detail, all that mom was to all the people who knew her, I thought I’d try to offer a few words about who she was to me.
God gave mom the desire to make a difference in the world in which she lived and worked. She put her whole self into everything she did, and was committed to being mentally and emotionally present wherever she was and in whatever role she found herself. Mom ran the race.
She was a great mother. When Shannon and I were growing up, she made sure that we did the things that kids want to do. She was a Girl Scout leader when
She was engaged as a wife, a mother, friend, community enthusiast, and Sunday School teacher. She was into everything - that’s just who she was. When she saw a need or an opportunity that she felt her kids should have, she found time to get involved personally to make certain that things were as good as they could be. We didn’t have it all (does anyone?), but we did, and experienced, and laughed, and had lives which were fuller because she made it a priority.
Mom loved the Church. She was always reading and studying - C.S. Lewis, Oswald Chambers, Bonhoeffer, William Barklay, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Max Lucado, Phillip Yancey, and hosts of others. I think C.S. Lewis was her favorite, and lately she said “The Great Divorce” gave her comfort.
She loved to learn, and as long as she was learning she was willing to teach others what she knew, and willing to talk to anyone about what she suspected. She taught with patience, passion, and humility, and she listened the same way. I never saw her teach a Sunday School class as an adult, and forever I will wish that I have been able to learn more from her about how to teach and interact with people so that they are engaged and involved and interested. She really had such a gift for that.
God’s hand on mom’s life was the thing that made her who she was. I think she would say that was true. She was God’s very special daughter. She was a heart full of hope and laughter and compassion and generosity for every story before her. She was the very heart and smile of every family holiday. She was a warm and steady light in the storm. She was a million wonderful thoughts stretching beyond the horizon, and with all that was wonderful about her and with all the ways that she touched the world and all the amazing things she accomplished – to me, she was my most loving mother.
Carolyn Merritt died August 29th, 2008 in
She was the wife of one, and a mother and a grandmother to two.
She was a sister to 4.
She is survived by her father, her sisters, her brother, her husband, her children and her grandchildren.
She loved her life and lived to love. She touched the world. She finished the race.
I love you Mom.
While Pat was known for creating her share of waves, she also very early on developed a desire to help out anyone with any type of need. It didn’t really seem to matter whether Pat’s needs were taken care of- there was always someone who she could look to give her time and energy to help make their life a little easier.
Migrating to what must have seemed to the small-town girl a bustling metropolis of Wellsville New York in her teens, Pat learned more of the life lessons that shaped her commitment to others when her parents took a residence along the street on the edge of the town of 6,000 that otherwise was populated by families whose own ethnic origins were from Africa. Patty Gibbs would have had it no other way.
World War II had wound down, and consistent with the mood in America Pat Gibbs became enamored with a young vet who had entered the war at 17 years of age with his parent’s permission. Whether Pat was attracted to Fritz Graves’ war record on beaches from Iwo Jima to Kwajalein or from Guam to
As a post-war housewife, Pat raised her own family of 5 rotten little kids that she loved without condition. I can say that because I was one of them. My mom was the heart of everything she got into- whether it was the Easter Seals or the Catholic Youth Organization or any of the other causes she supported and managed; to borrow a phrase from the game of poker- mom was “all in” on everything she embraced.
After her youngest child was born in 1961, and with the oldest leaving for- ironically enough- his own military stint on
In 1969 the things being taught in her medical terminology classes did not include drugs like tamoxifen and host of others that were not yet available; lumpectomy was not offered as an option for breast cancer patients because it was still thought to be ineffective. The medical profession was still years from discovering that pre-operative chemo would make surgery easier on the patient. These were not good times for women discovering they had breast cancer. Pat’s home was 100 miles from a major city and mammography was not yet available there.
Pat’s doctor told her that the lump she’d discovered on her breast was something they should “watch”. They “watched” it for a year before she took it upon herself to seek testing outside the area, tests that she was told indicated she had terminal cancer. She came home to share with her husband the tragic news- she was being given a 6 months, maybe a year, to live. She didn’t waver, and without tears she asked Fritz to bear with the situation and promise not to “tell the kids”. His emotions had been tempered by war, and he promised to keep her secret. In this most crushing moment of both of their lives a witness unknown to them watched the display of courage from his hiding place just a few feet away- their 12 year old son.
The surgeries came rapidly- from the radical mastectomy, oophrectomy and lobectomies on both lungs- 7 operations in total. This didn’t keep her from teaching, didn’t keep her from her family duties or the other responsibilities she considered hers- in fact she added to everything else by joining and chairing the local fundraising arm of the American Cancer Society.
It wasn’t easy to see the work done in the early 70s on the flesh of your own mother. The scars that ran like a railroad switching station on her torso were so large and raised that they seemed almost unreal, honestly like something from a 1930’s Universal movie makeup department. Advances in treatment here in the
In 1983 the EPA named its second Superfund Toxic Waste Cleanup site in Wellsville, on the land of an abandoned oil refinery that was just upstream of our water treatment facility. Dumping there by Hooker Chemical in the 1950s had led to unusual cancer rates among our population. The scenario was eerily similar to the dumping in
Thank You, Kurt
Tax Free Charity
God won't ask what kind of fancy car you drove. He will ask how many God won't ask the square footage of your house. He will ask how many God won't ask how many material possessions you had. He will ask God won't ask what your highest salary was. He will ask if you God won't ask how many promotions you received. He will ask what God won't ask what your job title was. He will ask did you perform God won't ask how many promotions you took to chase a dollar God won't ask how many times you didn't run around on your spouse. God won't ask how many degrees you had. He will ask how many God won't ask what you did to help yourself. He will ask what you did to help others. God won't ask how many friends you had. He will ask how many people you were a friend to. God won't ask what you did to protect your rights. He will ask what God won't ask how many times you told the truth. He will ask how God won't ask about the color of your skin. He will ask about the God won't ask how many times your deeds matched your words. He God won't ask what neighborhood you lived in. He will ask what "God ordinarily will not show you His will in order for you to consider Ray Pritchard
What God Won't Ask
people you took to church who didn't have transportation.
people you helped who didn't have a house.
whether those material possessions dictated your life.
trampled over any people to obtain that salary.
you did to promote others.
your job to the best of your ability.
bill. He will ask how many promotions you refused to advance your
family's quality of life.
He will ask how many times you did.
people you thanked for helping you get those degrees.
you did to protect the right of others.
many times you told a lie.
color of your heart.
will ask how many times they didn't.
other neighborhoods you visited.
it. He will show you His will when He knows you are willing to do it."
God won't ask what kind of fancy car you drove. He will ask how many
God won't ask the square footage of your house. He will ask how many
God won't ask how many material possessions you had. He will ask
God won't ask what your highest salary was. He will ask if you
God won't ask how many promotions you received. He will ask what
God won't ask what your job title was. He will ask did you perform
God won't ask how many promotions you took to chase a dollar
God won't ask how many times you didn't run around on your spouse.
God won't ask how many degrees you had. He will ask how many
God won't ask what you did to help yourself.
He will ask what you did to help others.
God won't ask how many friends you had.
He will ask how many people you were a friend to.
God won't ask what you did to protect your rights. He will ask what
God won't ask how many times you told the truth. He will ask how
God won't ask about the color of your skin. He will ask about the
God won't ask how many times your deeds matched your words. He
God won't ask what neighborhood you lived in. He will ask what
"God ordinarily will not show you His will in order for you to consider
To My Friend TONI'S TRIBUTE TO HER MOTHER: M um was one of the most beautiful people I have ever known. I am not only talking about how she looked, I mean, in her heart. Mum had the kindest gentle soul. -- Mum was born in I will miss talking with you Mum. Therefore Mum, I do not bid you farewell, because in each moment, of every day of my life & all the lives of the people that you have touched along the way, we will feel you singing in all of our hearts.
(Who wrote part of this to me: Marion)
“To my dearest friend whom I have never met, but feel I have known all my life. Thank you for all the pleasure you have given me over the last few years.” Our internet friendship was one that defies description.
(Bev’s oldest daughter):
Mum & Dad saved & worked hard. Mum picked strawberries for extra income, to help with the family budget. She still found time to sew for us & dress all beautifully. We were a happy family of five.
Mum often told us kids, “It’s not so important how well you do, just be honest to yourself & do your best…”
Mum loved an adventure. These adventures took her exploring in remote parts of New Zealand & Tasmania, walking through pristine rainforest searching for native animals. Dad & Mum lived with native villagers in the
Mum became quite involved with dads love of aircraft, to the extent that she got her pilots license. She loved flying with him to different parts of
Some of my fondest memories with Mum revolve around the kitchen. We would spend hours making elaborate Chinese meals for the family – going exactly by the book – that was one thing about Mum – she was a perfectionist! One particular trait that sadly, I did not inherit! She was particular about everything that she made: cooking, sewing, knitting, patchwork. The dresses she made Helen & me for various formals & balls & weddings & especially our own wedding gowns, were always finely detailed & immaculately finished. Although she always told anyone who would listen that she wasn’t an artist & she couldn’t even draw a straight line, I believe she was an artist in the truest sense of the word. She could take a variety of materials & create something breathtakingly beautiful.
As her children moved out of the family nest, she found a new passion: patchwork quilting. No wall was left bare, no bed uncovered, no cupboard left unfilled with beautiful intricate quilts. Then Mum really began putting a few people out by she entering her patchwork in the local shows & consistently winning numerous awards. Although she was very happy with herself, I think dad was even prouder!
Mum instilled in us a love of nature & all its wonders. Mum taught us to love life, & to live honestly. She taught us to be aware of our environment & to leave it pristine for generations to come. Mum helped us see what is important & what isn’t. She taught us to search our soul & follow our heart.
Mum was a wingless angel, here for a short time to make the lives she touched, and a little bit better. I would often talk to her about some dribble or issue I had & she would quietly listen, never judging, let me get it off my chest, she was the best listener. I don’t think there are enough listeners in the world today; we are all in such a hurry to be heard above everyone else.
To My Friend
TONI'S TRIBUTE TO HER MOTHER:
um was one of the most beautiful people I have ever known. I am not only talking about how she looked, I mean, in her heart. Mum had the kindest gentle soul. -- Mum was born in
I will miss talking with you Mum. Therefore Mum, I do not bid you farewell, because in each moment, of every day of my life & all the lives of the people that you have touched along the way, we will feel you singing in all of our hearts.
This is Helen, Bev’s youngest daughter, who also had breast cancer and predeceased her mother (Bev) on December 29, 2004.
Toni's Tribute to her younger sister Helen:
rom the outset, Helen was a determined, passionate person with a great love of life. She was a person who was quick to smile, tell a joke, and who was fearless. Like our Mum & Dad loved nature and Mum’s philosophy of: Help Others First.
In the 70’s, Helen developed her love for horses, - with all her time devoted to her beautiful Chestnut horse, Trinity. Theirs was a match made in heaven. He would courageously swim through murky, eel infested dams with a gaggle of girls giggling hysterically, as we clutched at his mane and tail to stay afloat. And with his goofy nature on top of all this - he was very much like Helen herself!!
In 1996, Helen met and married Greg Descovich. Over the years, Helen retained her passion for horses and for riding, then began competing in a number of different events locally (in
Helen saw each day as a journey. Along her journey she inspired many people. Her ability to smile and make jokes when she was in great pain, was humbling to those of us who sometimes struggle to cope with the pressures of everyday life. Her positive outlook throughout her illness, despite loosing her hair, despite loosing her independence - which she so fiercely fought to keep - even despite loosing her ability to ride, was nothing short of courageous. And she still had the strength of will to take Greg on holidays to
Helen left us on the 29th December, 2004 after a long battle with metastatic breast cancer.
Helen, you will be with me forever. I will feel your strength in the tallest trees. I will feel your free spirit in the beautiful sea eagles hovering over the cliffs on Moffat Headland. I will feel your fierce determination in my beautiful children. And I will hear your bubbling laughter, and see you as a teenager: freckled face red from the sun, with the wind whipping your long dark hair, galloping bareback, running free...when ever I feel absolute happiness & joy.
The following thoughts were found in Helen’s journal the day after she passed away. We thought she would like us to share them with you:
Journey every Day
Give gratitude everyday to something.
Counsel people from the soul & heart.
Don’t wear yourself out and don’t think that you
are the only one who can care for people like you do.
Understand they have responsibilities to themselves.
People show they care in different ways - you can accept this.
Forgive people when you need to.
Say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said.
Let the past be the past.
Go for it.
t is with deep sadness that I share that my friend, Missing Pet Partnership volunteer , and self proclaimed "number one slave"
About three weeks ago I had a conversation with her about dying and she was most certainly ready. I am so grateful that when I recently visited
The attached photo was taken the day before I pulled out of
Jill, Kat, and Karen/BCDIY: members of Missing Pet Partnership: http://www.missingpetpartnership.org/
To view her tesitimonial: click here
Shin Na, Singapore
Inspiring Personal Journey: Shin Na
We are saddened by the passing of our sister, Shin Na, on Tuesday, January 27, 2009.
We thought of you with love today,
but that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday,
and the days before that, too.
We think of you in silence,
We often speak your name.
All we have are memories,
and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake
with which we'll never part.
God has you in his keeping,
we have you in our hearts.
- author unknown -