My daughter was fifteen years old when she bravely stood at my sister’s funeral and offered the following eulogy. This was just less than ten years ago, when we still lived back in Minnesota. My sister’s passing was like the first rock in the avalanche that finally brought us to Arizona. It’s funny where life takes you. I tried to find a picture of Kat, but I’m sad and somewhat ashamed to say I have none, except for the framed 8×10 of her at home (and I’m not home). This picture will have to do. Happy Birthday, Kat. We miss you.
“My Aunt Kat had a tough life. Of course, if she were sitting here now with us, she would stand up and insist stubbornly that I call her “Uncle Kat.” That quality of Kat’s, her stubbornness, is something that all of us who have known and loved her will always remember.
Kat left us with a sad reminder of how the decisions that people make during their life affect them and those around them, often in ways that no one can foresee.
But despite the challenges she faced every day, Kat stood up and everyone noticed. She was bold and bright and very beautiful, a star that burned out way too soon, and the sky will be less bright without her.
I never knew Kat half as much as she deserved. But despite this, she always welcomed me with a warm smile and a kind word. I could always count on her for a laugh, even when nothing seemed funny. And when the days were cloudy, Kat would bring a ray of sunshine in to my day.
I think that if somehow I had traded places with Kat for a day, that maybe I would have felt that life was unfair. And maybe it is, but Kat never complained about it. She always cared for others no matter what, especially for those without a voice, her birds, and cats (of course) and particularly her dog, Tio.
I remember visiting her once, and all I noticed at the time were all the birds, and how messy I thought her place was, and how all she had to do all day was sit and watch her little TV. It seemed sad to me at the time, and it was, but I regret now that I couldn’t see past all this, and maybe just sit down next to Kat, and hold her hand, and ask her how she was doing.
Kat loved to cook. She had lots of cookbooks and recipes, and loved to have people over for dinner. She also had a big sweet tooth (it was her little secret). She had Snickers bars and 3-musketeers, and her candy jar was always full.
My mom and I went grocery shopping for her last week, and I thought it would be amusing if I picked out lots of candy and some blue JELLO for her. We brought the groceries back to her apartment, and when my mom showed her all of the candy we bought, her eyes lit up in anticipation.
But when I showed her the blue JELLO, she just laughed like it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen. So the next time you eat blue JELLO, think of my aunt Kat, and her smile. I know I will.
Maybe she never meant to, but Kat taught me a lesson while she was here; that life is too precious to waste. And now that we have lost her, this lesson is even more apparent to me.
Even though I didn’t get very close to her in the short time she was here, the time we spent together is precious, and I’m glad I knew her.
I am proud to be her niece, and I can only hope that I have inherited her potential. She was smart, and beautiful, and even though her light has left us, she will always be a part of us. She will be missed.”