Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Elaine ... part deux!

I received this in a message on Caring Bridge from Steve, Elaine's husband.  It was read at her funeral.
I'm copying it here on my blog.  You might not want to read it all ... but I do suggest you scroll down to the end for her (plagiarized) advice.
She was an amazing woman.

To be read at my funeral:
Well I might be dead (actually if you are listening to this, I definitely am) but I still am going to get my last words in. You didn’t really think you would get peace and quiet from me just yet, did you?
I’ve never been a very religious person, I have always been proud to be a Jew, but I believed in following the spirit and traditions of the religion rather than the laws. One of my favorite things about the religion is how it views death and the grieving process. The Jewish religion says that when a person dies, you celebrate their life, rather than mourning the death. There is also the tradition of “Sitting Shiva”, where the immediate family gathers together and takes some time away from their normal routines, to spend time with each other, friends, and relatives. Most people tend to shorten it to a day or two from the traditional week. Steve, do what you want, don’t think of this as an obligation, but a time of healing. I really think it helped me a lot when my Mom passed away.
So let’s celebrate my life, because despite the short length, I dare anybody to claim to have lived a richer life.
My Travels:
One of my biggest passions in life has been traveling. Some have said that I traveled so much because I was running away. They are probably right, but there is way more to it than that.
I get bored easily and hate routine. When I travel, every day is an adventure. I love the breathtaking views that are just sitting there waiting to be seen. I love learning about other cultures and ways of life. I love the challenges of making my way through a foreign country. I love when things go wrong, as then I get a new adventure within my adventure. There is no stress, nothing really matters.
Here is a list of some of my favorite adventures:
At 21, right after college I took 30 days and drove cross-country to Berkley, CA, by myself, zigging and zagging to all the sights I wanted to see.
After dropping out of the PhD program at Berkeley, and then working for six months, I took a leave of absence and I spent two months hitch-hiking throughout Europe by myself (girls, don’t get any ideas, times were different then). I spent probably 2 weeks all told living with families who just opened their homes to me. The entire trip including airfare, food, hotels, and souvenirs cost me $500.
During my single years and pre-child married years, my trips tended to be shorter, limited by my vacation time – Aruba, Curacao, Club Med in Martinique, Greece (3 weeks), Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, lots of road trips, our honeymoon trip to the South of France (3 weeks), and a few business trips including one to London
When the kids were growing up, our family vacations tended to be close by – Cape Cod, Ogunquit, Loch Sheldrake (where my parents spent there summers, and we had built in baby-sitters). Interestingly enough, I never missed the real travel.
But as soon as the kids moved out, the bug hit again for both Steve and I. We saw various parts of China, North and South Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand. Last spring we got to Australia and then I rented a camper van to see part of the North Island of New Zealand. Our most recent trip was an Alaskan cruise (on my list since high school).
My Career:
I took the first job I could when I got home from my very short stay at graduate school. It was a computer job for Stone & Webster, which I really didn’t want, but after being offered secretarial jobs the first day I looked, it was a marked improvement.
I was then employed by Mckinsey & Co., Chase Manhattan Bank, got my MBA at night, and spent another year at Salomon Brothers, before running away from corporate life and starting my own consulting business.
Jacobson Systems, Inc. was born in 1980. Over the years, here is a sampling of things I was responsible for:
  • Inventory system for “Tickle Me Elmo”

  • Real-time transfer of transcripts of OJ Simpson’s trial

  • Brain Cell – a little puzzle I sold over the Internet
    My Family:
    I grew up in Queens with my Mom, Dad and little sister Beth. My Mom was ahead of her times. She did it all. She had a graduate degree at a time when most women didn’t even go to college. She worked first as an OT, then was at stay at home Mom, and then she started a magazine subscription business. She was always doing some sort of craft work, and had the patience of a saint. I was not an easy child, but somehow she saw through my external behavior and helped me along. My Dad was really the one who pushed me to make something of myself. I followed in his footsteps getting my MBA at night after I had started working. Last but not least was my little sister, nicknamed “the Beav” after the character in Leave it to Beaver. To this day, she is by far my best friend. She is my idol and responsible for all the great changes in my life the past 10 years.
    Steve and I met when I was 26, dated, played bridge and tennis, went to theater, and traveled together over the next 5 years. We both loved being single, I loved living alone and so neither of us were in a big rush to get married. We had settled into a very comfortable relationship. Steve was my best friend (not counting my sister).
    I desperately wanted to have kids when my clock started ticking. So, I broke up with Steve to look for the man I would marry. It didn’t take long to see the error of my ways. I took a trip with an old friend from my bungalow colony days, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I had a great time.
    When I got home, I got together with Steve, and immediately realized that I was looking at the man I would marry. Steve proposed a few weeks later over a meal of dried sauteed string beans that I had prepared (not take out!!!). Of course being so afraid of commitments, I left him hanging for an entire week. This was only the beginning of what Steve had to put up with throughout our marriage.
    Then came the two highlights of my life – Stacey and Laurie. I might not have had the best parenting skills, but I absolutely adored being a Mom.
    My Semi-retirement:
    I think I really came into my own in the last 10 years of my life. After a very rewarding career, I decided it was time to mix in something more emotionally rewarding.
    This was when I started walking in the Breast Cancer 3-day. I also worked as part of the crew in a second walk each year, and became the Westchester/Lower Connecticut training walk leader. I became an EMT and worked on our volunteer ambulance. I got involved in my sisters non-profit which support parents and teachers of children with behavioral issue. I did their computer work; joined the Board; and ran a local parents support group.
    During this time period I renewed my passion for traveling. I took a number of photography courses. Steve and I made almost weekly trips into the city to enjoy theater, take walks, and sample the restaurants.
    My top list of advice for living your life to its fullest. (Most have been plagiarized; I’m not really this wise.)
    10. Love yourself. If you don’t no one else will either.
    9. You don’t have to be perfect. In fact you are always going to fail if you try because you can’t ever achieve it.
    8. To get that beautiful rainbow, you got to have some rain.
    7. It’s not the cards you are dealt, but how you play the hand. You can make lemonade out of lemons.
    6. Don’t hold on to grudges. Forgiveness allows you to move on.
    5. No matter what’s going on in your life, there is always something (maybe small) to enjoy. Look for it and try to focus on the good things.
    4. Live each day like it’s your last, but hope and prepare for many, many more.
    3. Accept who you are. Don’t try to be someone else. Let people in, you can’t develop a good friendship, unless you open up.
    2. Perform at least one act of kindness everyday
    And the number one piece of advice:
    1. Perform a random silly act everyday (from John Ritter’s memoir which was written by his wife). Well what are you waiting for? This would be a great time to lighten the mood. I mean it. When Steve counts to three, do something silly.

    1 , 2, 3 …
    I know many of you feel sad today. I hope that you can get over it quickly, and enjoy the rest of your lives. Make the most of every precious moment. You never know …

1 comment:

  1. I read it all...and am glad I did. And now I'm a little sad that there was someone out there I would have really liked and never met. She sounds fun and funny and damn she packed some living in there...

    Thanks for letting us read that. It was totally worth it.