Mother, Dad and Lisle
4 June 2010
We have gathered here today to celebrate the lives of our parents, Kathryn, Dan and Lisle. Today would mark the 90th birthday of our mother, Kathryn and when we chose this spot for her under the magnolia tree, over-looking the fountain, we felt this would be a place that she might have chosen for herself. We remember her for her gentle and loving ways. Her love of flowers and appreciation of nature were always present Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can still hear her laughter. She seemed to laugh easier than anyone else in our family and always seemed to make friends easily. She would strike up a conversation at the grocery store or just about any place we would go. She just seemed to have that natural way with people.
When we were young, I remember Dad playing his accordion and Mother always had favorite songs that she requested and Dad also would play ‘Green eyes’ for her. Over the years, that song has always reminded me of her along with ‘I’ll be seeing you. which was sung by Frank Sinatra and very popular that last year of her life, 49 years ago.’ I recall the stories she would tell me about her childhood. The adventures she would have with her sisters when they lived on Riverside Drive . Stories about her family and life on the river. Our visits to Grandma Stockfeld during those last years of her life and visiting with Aunt Billie and Uncle Fred were special childhood memories.
Loosing Mother at such a young age was very difficult for all of us, but somehow we managed to carry on. We did not go to counceling as people might during this current time, but just pushed on with our lives. Those days… and years were very difficult on all of us. We didn’t talk things out and had no idea how to deal with a loss this huge. There was just a big hole in all of our lives. Dad was so very lonely without a mate in his life. But I seem to recall the many ladies he met during those years and then Merle who seemed to be be a stabilizing part of his life. He was so sad when she also passed away suddenly, just when they had decided to marry. He felt doubly devastated for he did not understand how a person could face a terrible loss like this twice in their life.
Meeting Lisle shortly after that seemed like the answer to a prayer for him. She was also a musician and lived right next door to Dad’s best friends, Todd and Eulalie. Dad and Lisle built a life for themselves with their music and also their mutual love for their cats. They married on Valentine’s Day 1970.
When Dad retired from the post office at the age of 59, he got really serious about his music. He took up the clarinet and saxophone. New instruments to buy and music lessons. His life became now he would have designed it, many years ago if he’d had the time and money. I remember him saying how much he was enjoying his golden years, for this is how he wanted his life to be. He would take his boat down to Alki and go fishing out in the bay, putter in the little yard where he and Lisle lived on 41st. or take time to go to the Pike Place Market to buy fresh vegetables and his favorite coffee from Starbuck’s very first coffee house. Evenings and weekends were spent playing his music at many places around the city either as a solo act or else with one of the many bands he was a part of. He had made so many friends over the years because of his music and I recall him saying to me that he didn’t want to have a funeral because all of his friends were already gone. That wasn’t exactly true, for he still had many friends right up until the end. So, just let me say now, Dad, we are not having a funeral,… simply a little celebration of your amazing life and one of the most important lessons you have taught us. For if Dad showed us one thing, it was to follow your dreams. He followed his dreams. It was his music and it brought him such joy his whole life. Many friends and kindred spirits shared his musical journey, even though he was a quiet man…. I like to think that he let his music speak for him.
Dad and Lisle seemed a bit like the odd couple. Dad so quiet and reserved and played more classic style music and jazz. Lisle who had this red hair, played honkey-tonk and was always talking. But they were like two pieces of the puzzle that somehow fit together for they both loved their music and simply lived for it. I recall them having their twin pianos in the living room and a visit to their house was always filled with their music.
They also both had a great love for cats. I remember once, I was designing a window treatment as a house-warming gift for my folks. Dad and Lisle carefully thought it over and chose the fabric that was the very same blue that was the exact shade as their beloved cat’s eyes. Blue was Dad’s favorite colour and it was important to him the the colour be a perfect match to their darling kitty.
The fact that Dad and Lisle lived so long and had such a productive life has been a wonderful thing to see. I have been so grateful that I was able to spend so much time with them at the end of their lives.
But it also makes me wonder what Mother’s life would have been like had she had better health and had lived longer. How different would all of our lives have been and what lessons would we have learned. All I know is , that as long as we love someone, they will always live within the protective folds of our hearts, and bring a special grace to our lives. Today, I feel that we are placing Mother, Dad and Lisle in the special resting place that will bring them extra peace. Looking over these beautiful grounds, surrounded by this heavenly view, we can all feel a comfort knowing that Dad and Lisle had chosen this very place and this place that we have chosen for Mother, she would have chosen for herself.
Under this lovely Magnolia tree with the birds for company….
Today we are having a little memorial service for my folks. My Mother who passed away 49 years ago and my Dad and his wife Lisle who passed away in 2006 and 2008. A special ceremony to celebrate their lives and dreams…