Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Life Well-Lived, Goodbye Sister Claudia

My sister Claudia passed away July 29th. I was with her during her last days in a nursing home, her husband Jim constantly at her side. Claudia was the picture of health. We all expected her, due to her healthy lifestyle to outlive our small clan, I even thought she'd be hiking into her 90's.

Cancer took her life, a vicious one, an environmental one. I believe she came in contact with something toxic, could it be the Fracking waste dumped unceremoniously near where she worked? Was there radon in her building and those responsible neglected to maintain safe building standards?

Below is the eulogy I wrote then read at her service. I hope anyone reading this post would do one small thing–suggested in eulogy– for themselves in memory of my lovely sister Claudia who left us way too soon:

Eulogy for Claudia Ebeling

I thank you all for coming here today in celebration of my sister Claudia’s life. Jim and I opted to call this gathering a “celebration”, because this was a life so very well lived.

Looking around this room, I know one thing; my sister Claudia probably had a funny tale about each and every one of you. You all have starred in a Claudia story. Why? Because Claudia was a keen observer, a gentle spirit enjoying how those around her interfaced at work, with family, with friends, with life. She mentally chronicled how you touched her mind, her heart and yes, her funny bone. She understood humor was the best elixir.

A keen intellect, and avid reader, Claudia could recount the names of characters, plot twists, author bios like some of us can recount-how many toes and fingers we have. Students and former coworkers emailed me in the past few days to share how special Claudia made them feel when attending PGSA, or how focused and hard working she was, how she made their work environment better for having been among them. You all shared what a beacon of light my sister was in your life.

The beacon of light in Claudia’s life was her husband Jim. Their honeymoon spanned 40 years. Wow, 40!  Jim and Claudia had the wonderful fortune of meeting early in life and sharing that life together tending to house cats, traveling to the Outer Banks, attending concerts, hiking, entertaining friends and family at their rambling Victorian townhouse by cooking up amazing meals, and some of the organic ingredients harvested from Claudia’s own garden. Preparing a meal for those she loved was an all encompassing ritual for my sister, she wrote copious lists of what to stock up on before the holiday; her home is filled with classic and current cookbooks. She cared about what she put in her body, but also what she served to you. One thing that meant so much to me was how much my husband Mike treasured hanging out with Claudia in her kitchen at Christmas chatting about everything under the sun. She was indeed a gift to us all.

There’s so much more I want to share with you about Claudia Neva Ebeling. She was that rich of a being. But pressing in mind now is how to honor her spirit as we move forward to cope with this sad void. I believe we have more in common than just being a friend of Claudia’s or a relative. Claudia saw our inherent uniqueness, she saw good in us, so let’s keep that good floating.

Since, Claudia was the conduit that’s connected us all here. Let us remain connected from this day forward.  We have email, we have phones, we can sit and write a letter, we can hang out, we can do this.

Further to honor my sister, I ask that you keep her passions in mind. Read and share the joy of reading with the younger generation. Start an organic garden and promote green living in this state of Pennsylvania. Support and encourage the arts, Volunteer to positively promote your neighborhood community, crack open a cookbook, invite friends over-people here, gather in the kitchen and chat, and chop and stir and simply enjoy the whole process of being together.

Most important to Claudia, me, and my family, is to be there for Jim. I thank Jim for how he took such unwavering care of my sister in her last days. I thank him for fiercely loving my sister in a way, some women only dream about. Be there for him. He carries the biggest part of Claudia in his heart. We are honored for having been in Claudia’s life and so grateful to be in Jim’s.

Thank you for honoring Claudia’s memory.

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