Monday, February 25, 2019

2/25/19 Memorial Service Speeches: Intro

Dear friends,

Daniel James here. Thank you for coming to celebrate my mom's incredible life at her Memorial Service on February 23rd at Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church. Thank you for those of you her were also there in spirit, we felt your love. 

Several people mentioned that they would like to read the speeches that we wrote, and since we chose not to have any recordings of the service, my dad, Renee and I decided to share the words with you here on the blog. The three posts below will be those speeches, I am separating them into different posts as I want to respect the unique voice of my dad, Renée, and myself as we remembered our wife, and mom respectively. 

We could have spoken for hours about our her, and I personally love to talk about my mom, so feel free to ask me more when you see me-- but these are just a few highlights of our thoughts and feelings. 

P.S. I added an "infinite scrolling" feature, so you can now simply scroll down indefinitely to see all previous posts. You can also navigate posts by date using the menu on the right. The newest post will always be at the top of the page. 

Thank you,

Steve, Renée, & Daniel James

We love you mom ❤️

2/25/19 Memorial Speech by Steve

Memorial Speech by Steve:


            On behalf of my family, I would like to thank you for coming to this celebration of Gabrielle’s life.  I know that many of you have traveled great distances to be with us today and am honored by your presence.
            I am sure that it is no surprise that Gabrielle had a hand in planning this memorial service.  Her attention to detail and planning were some of the things that made Gabrielle so successful in everything she did.  Several years ago, she wrote a document entitled “things Steve needs to know” covering topics such as bill paying, the name of our lawyer, and how to redeem airline miles (still a mystery).  If the situation were reversed, my instructions for her would have just one item: garbage day is Wednesday.  That’s pretty much all I had to worry about on the home front, as she took care of the rest.
            In our early years, we carpooled to the UW: she to the first of many highly successful jobs in development, and me to some science lab as I pursued my first degree.  We took a night class together: early childhood development, in which she got a 4.0 to my 3.9.  She loved pointing out that she beat me, and would sometimes cite her flawless performance in the class as evidence of her natural parenting abilities.
            A while back, Renée and Daniel started referring to us in conversations with a single name, combining elements of our first names, just like Hollywood A-listers.  You’ve heard of Brangelina and Bennifer.  For us, it was Stabby in the singular, such as, “Stabby is going out tonight”.  I always liked that name, as it reflected the oneness in our marriage.  Our complimentary personalities and talents were a good fit.  She was my soul mate, my counselor and best friend—a companion and fellow pilgrim on life’s journey.  The first one I shared good news with, and the one to turn to if I needed a pick me up. 
            Her energy knew no bounds.  She was the brains, the planning and the energy behind our numerous trips, parties and entertaining.  I often had to remind her that I was not as young as her, but my protestations of advancing age fell on deaf ears as she dragged me hither and yon. 
            Last week, I was driving along listening to the Oldies station.  There were a couple of cheerful tunes: Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Heaven is a Place on Earth.  So far, so good.  I thought of all the fun Gabrielle liked to have, the laughter, smiles and parties.  Yes, she was always at the center of a good time.  The vibe changed as Jimmy Buffet sang a sad song about a missing salt-shaker in Margaritaville, but I held it together.  However, he was downright cheery compared with Bette Midler crooning about the Wind Beneath Her Wings.  I completely lost it, blubbering along at 60 mph, wondering what had come over me.  You see, I never cry to songs on the radio.  But the song struck a chord, how Gabrielle so selflessly encouraged and supported me throughout every major event in my life, content to stay in the shadows, with quiet humility and a “you can do it” attitude.
            And that’s the way she was with so many others as well: encouraging people in their careers, faith, friendships and so much more. Many people viewed her as a second mom, nurturing and compassionate.  She was a loyal friend and loved nothing better than to get into deep conversations with them.  She had the courage to stand for what was right, even if hers was the only voice. 
            She took that same courage to her cancer fight.  Someone has said that when your life is shaken, what is on the inside spills out.  As Gabrielle courageously fought cancer, we all had a chance to see what came out: faith, hope, peace and joy.  Where others might become embittered and angry, she exuded a serenity and peace that was an inspiration to all.  The nurses on her care team used to fight over who got to take care of her.  Yes, even on her dark days, her faith and “eyes on Jesus” approach shone like a beacon.
            I cannot end my little remembrance of Gabrielle without stressing her absolute faith in her Lord, Jesus Christ and the promise of hope that He brings.  She was a woman who clearly had a foot in each world, someone who embraced the joys that this life has to offer, while being convinced of the glories to come.  To paraphrase C.S. Lewis:

The door on which she has been knocking all her life has opened at last.  In this world all her adventures have only been the cover and the title page.  Now at last she has begun Chapter One of the Great Story, which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.  She is saying, “I have come home at last.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life.  The term is over: the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended.  This is the morning.” 
And Jesus beckons her to “Come further up, come further in!”