Sunday, July 26, 2015

Laura Sue Schackelman Eddy 

My cousin Laura is the gorgeous gal in the white dress. this pic is about 21 years ago. She is holding her daughter Amanda, who was 4 then, to her right is her niece Holly and the young man is Laura's son Mario, when he was about 16.  This is how i remember her, with that bright smile and loving her family. She died last week at the age of 56, of metastatic breast cancer. Here is what I said at her Memorial Service on Saturday July 25. 

One of the bright lights our lives has gone out. Laura and I were cousins, our dads were brothers. She and her sister Diane and I have always been very close, though we lived in different cities. We played Barbies together as kids, giggled together at a movie as teens, shopped together, and raised our kids at the same time. We vacationed together, playing cards, hiking, shopping, watched our kids catch fish and learn to swim. And we ate. And cooked, and ate...our conversations always went back to food, whether in person or on the phone.

Laura was a remarkable woman. She was one of the most generous, thoughtful people ever. She loved to cook and make sure people were well cared for. She had an incredible gift for listening, and remembering. She used that gift to help all of us feel better about ourselves.

She loved to be out in nature, in her yard, or in a park, or in the beautiful north woods of Wisconsin. She, as so many of us, found incredible beauty and peace in nature. There were some times it wasn't quite so peaceful, though, like when she drove that old Jeep like a bat out know where!

Laura loved to go camping-- for night or two or longer. Now camping for Laura was NOT 'roughing it'! Yes they were in a tent, but she had her electric blanket, her coffee maker and toaster too! (Amanda added "and her air conditioner!) Camping never meant going without the comforts of home.

And Laura's home was always comfortable-for her and for everyone who stopped by. The couch may not be new, but it was great to sit on, and sleep on! And there was good food...Laura was a great cook. And nothing made her happier than to share a meal or dessert...especially dessert-- with people she cared about.

I remember when we spent a weekend with them in Crivitz, she fixed up an aero-bed for us, and put the electric blanket on the mattress, since we'd been hiking all day and she knew we'd be achy. That kind of thoughtfulness was so typical!
She remembered little details about who liked what...or disliked!

She loved music, all different kinds...especially Pink Floyd. She played the piano well. She played REALLY well when she was mad. I remember when she was a teen I got to their house and Laura was crashing out Beethoven on the piano, her mom was in the kitchen banging around pots and pans...they had had a fight.
Their fights often included her mom saying, “I hope someday you have a daughter and she's JUST LIKE YOU!” …..Well, Amanda...

Amanda posted on FB once aobut her mom pounding out Pink Floyd's Shine on You Crazy Diamond, ..and every year they went to see PINK FLOYD tribute band together. What great times that must have been for you both!

Laura never had much materially...but she was quick to share what she had, she would almost give you the shirt off her back! She loved to give, she loved birthdays and Christmas and gifts for no reason...just to reach out. She gave the PERFECT gifts―because she listened and paid attention and remembered so well. One of her final gifts, was given through the Rainbow Hospice connection to a Make-a Wish program. When Laura was asked what she would like, she, as always, thought of others first...she wanted to take Amanda and Mason to the Wisconsin they got to go.

As Diane put it, for being one person in a small town, Laura lived a big life of loving everyone she encountered...whether an elderly neighbor, her daughter's friend, customers at the bakery and of course all of her family and friends.

She also had a remarkable knack for being able to take a step back and see the absurdity and humor in life, especially life in a small town- and share it with us. She loved to laugh, and would make a comment or tell a story...and we could laugh and laugh together. And you might find yourself weeks later remembering that and start laughing all over again! Even in her final illness..I had taken some chocolate cake to her house...this was about a week before she died. She ate some and we were sitting together. she said she was having some double vision. She said, "yes i see 2 of everything." Then she said, "at least i have 2 pieces of cake!" 

In 1993, both Laura's Mom Shirley and my Dad had cancer and died eight weeks apart. That was an intense year, and we girls ran up some hellacious long distance phone bills. Those phone talks got us through the rough days of the illnesses and grief afterwards.

Over the years, sometimes life got in the way and we didn't talk or get together enough. But we knew the other was there and deeply loved. Even when it had been a long time, when we talked, the time melted away as though it had been a few days.

Laura was probably sick for long time without knowing..or admitting it. She was always caring for others... She was so busy caring for others, she forgot to take care of herself. Had she done so, would she still be here? It's hard to say. Doctors still don't know nearly enough about cancer. Her mother, Shirley, was diligent about check ups, but her diagnosis was missed until it was basically too late. And it would seem that Laura's was a pretty aggressive cancer. So we won't second guess. But please do remember to take care of yourself..not selfishly. But in the sense of putting on your own oxygen mask first, so that you can then put on your loved one's. Do things that promote your health, so you can care for others as well as Laura cared for us.

And do care for others, that's the best way to honor her life. Take time to listen, to the older neighbor, he may have the best story you will hear all week! Or the young friend of your child...she may be need to hear that you care. This is what Laura did for us, and how we can honor her life and her memory.

Today is only one step in our journey together. We will share more memories and some tears and laugh together.

Laura was a remarkable woman, one who left an impression on everyone she knew. There's a quote by Helen Keller “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; All that we love deeply, becomes a part of us.” Laura became a part of all of us, by her love, her generosity, and enjoyment of life. When we honor her by sharing her love and caring, we help her continue to be part of our lives and those of others.

Our family has a lot of stories about odd things that happen, that could be interpreted as hearing from a loved one who has passed away. There is a powerful story of our grandmother, Uncle Joe's mother, when she was a young girl and was quite ill with Spanish Influenza during the devastating epidemic, saw 2 doves land on the windowsill, and she knew that her mother and brother had died. Other stories are less powerful, lots of finding pennies from heaven. While Diane and I were talking about this the other day, she found a penny! Laura and Diane's grampa Fritz always thought those stories were silly, until one day in his NEW car, a tie clip that had been a gift, that he mislaid years before, fell out of the visor of his NEW car, right onto his lap.....Our Aunt Fran has a lamp that belonged to her sister Joan before she died. from time to time, that lamp will light up, randomly, often on a birthday or anniversary of some sort. a couple years ago I got a phone call Aunt Fran saying, "Joan lit her lamp yesterday to remind me of your dad's and your birthdays!"

The other night, I was uploading photos of Laura to be printed out, and thinking about today's service. I had windows open, this was just about sunset, and birds were singing, but I really wasn't paying attention, I was trying hard to get a good quality print and cropping...and finally I noticed a persistent sound outside, a Cardinal, even though it was now past sunset was close by outside my window, whistling and singing. And I wondered if Laura sent him to me? And then I couldn't remember if Laura knew how much I love Cardinals, but Aunt Joan knew...and I think maybe Aunt Joan was showing Laura, “here honey, this is how you do it...”

Those moments of hearing from loved ones, or maybe it's doesn't matter what the “REAL” explanation is right now. Those moments bring us some comfort. They remind us that there is something after this life is over.
Life is not easy, Laura had some hard times. but she was grateful for what she had and she enjoyed her life because she enjoyed the people around her... And she enjoyed her family. She loved you all SO much. She especially loved being a Mom and Grandma. Mason, hang onto that love. It can help get you through a lot. It can help ALL of us get through a lot! And remember, she knew the Source of that love, of all Love. Laura knew and loved so well, she was SO filled with love, because she had the love of God in her heart-the truest love of all. God is Love and those who love Know God...

God so Loved the world, God gave his only begotten son....God loved, and God gave....Love inspires giving. Love inspires action. Laura knew this, she loved and gave so much! God gave us His Son Jesus to help us to know exactly how to love and live, and yes, to die. Because there is something more.

The Bible describes heaven this way:
Revelation 21:3b-4 ESV

…..“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man(kind). He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”


God will personally wipe every tear away...what a beautiful image that is. It's an image of a perfect, intimate love. That is what Laura is experiencing right now! There is NO more pain, or grief or tears. Only love and light and peace. And one day, by God's grace, through our Lord Jesus, we will all be together in that beautiful place of love and light and perfect peace.   

Let us join together in singing Amazing Grace.  

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