Sue’s Eulogy, for those who could not be there . . .
The Wizard of Oz once said to the Tin Man, “As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.”
The Tin Man had taken a long and treacherous trip down the Yellow Brick Road only to be told his fondest desire was going to cause him a lot of heartache. Which we all understand, as everyone present today has, at one point or another, walked the Yellow Brick Road of Life with the very special Susan Ives.
There are so many things about Sue that we will carry forever in our hearts. She always thought the best of everyone and worked hard to see things from their point of view . . . right up until they proved her wrong, of course. She may have laughingly called herself Silly Sue, but she was wise enough to understand who she should spend her time with and whom she shouldn’t.
Sue always made everyone feel comfortable in her presence, and thought more about other’s feelings than her own. Even as she was dying, most of her fading strength was focused on making sure the people around her were at ease with what was happening. Sue was fine with impending death, and looked forward to being with friends and family who had crossed over before her. She often told us not to worry, she’d be right there, working hard for all of us from the other side. And we know this it true, because Sue always kept her promises; we have a dedicated heavenly advocate watching over our shoulders every moment of every day.
Sue’s obsession with making sure people were comfortable even extended to this eulogy . . . she requested it be kept short so no one would become uncomfortable sitting in the wooden pews for too long. Most of us, however, would probably agree if anyone deserves a long and splendid tribute, it’s Sue, and since she’s unable to tell us to stop making a fuss over her at this precise moment, we’re going to make sure we all leave here satisfied with these memories of her.
We’ll start with the ruby slippers. Over Sue’s hospital door hung a pair of ruby slippers, reminding staff that Sue was at risk of falling. This wasn’t news to any of us, as over the past 25 years or so we’d all seen her walking around on crutches more times than we could count. The hospital falls were different, however, as it wasn’t just Sue being klutzy – it was Sue trying to hold onto her last bit of independence and do things for herself. Heaven forbid she be a bother to anyone, especially for something as mundane as getting to the bathroom.
As the cancer progressed for Sue, the attack on her bucket list reached fever pitch. While Hawaii was out of reach, Bermuda beckoned and Sue packed up her shorts and wheel chair for the vacation of a lifetime with her family.
When the Red Sox were playing, she was there as often as possible. Her daughter Jamie remembers what they refer to as “The ULTIMATE trip to Boston.”
“She had a 5 star hotel with down comforters and pillows in a room literally next to the elevator.
The Red Sox won AND Big Papi hit a home run (which Tom bet a dinner at Papi’s restaurant if Ortiz came through). Then there was room service breakfast. And giving Jamie a heart attack when she put Sue on the elevator, said “push the door open button”, then turned to get the luggage on said elevator and turned back only to see the doors close and hear mom’s fading voice say, “I’m sor..r…y………”
And then the life-long wait for her duck tour was over. She had an ear to ear grin the entire venture and Jamie occasionally pretended to look at scenery because her eyes were welling up to see her mom so happy.
Sue even managed to sit in a car for a six hour trip to Virginia. She didn’t necessarily get to see a baby alpaca be born, but she got to hold a 4 day old cria on her lap, and it was a beautiful picture.
When looking back through her high school yearbook, Jamie noticed that her mom had crushes on nearly half the boys in her class. Right up to the end she would turn back into an awkward teenager when reminiscing. Sue was around 60 when she met the movie star Keir Dullea for the first time, and even though she’d had a week to get used to the idea of meeting her teen crush from the movie David and Lisa, her hands shook, her knees knocked and her voice trembled. She actually had to sit down and compose herself afterwards, yet she smiled for weeks afterwards and treasured the moment.
Sue’s life revolved around those she loved so beautifully and well – her children, her family, her friends and her animals. She was always at her children’s sporting events, drama productions and band performances. She often became assistant coach or stage manager, never turning down an opportunity to be involved in their lives. Sue was the ultimate cheerleader.
She took in a pair of unwanted cats, one of which turned out to be diabetic, and scheduled her life around his injections. She adopted a PMU colt that was destined for slaughter and obsessed over his soft hooves and sore back. She purchased an alpaca that she kept in VA with her brother Chuck and Sister-in-law Sue, visiting every year and making a fuss over Miss Wise’s babies. Sue was the superlative mother to all.
Lori Warner sent this Sue Story in an email to Jamie:
Your mom taught me through her actions that all children need to be protected as if they were our own, and often put herself in an uncomfortable situation so I could be spared embarrassment or discomfort. She really listened when I talked and I knew whatever I said was safe.
I would babysit for you and one day you were in a bad mood and your mom said, “It’s okay of you don’t give me one now, but sometime today I need a hug.” You went upstairs, but 15 minutes later you came back down and silently walked over and hugged your mom for a long time. Then without a word you went back upstairs with your shoulders a little lighter. Sue explained that she never wanted you to do something you didn’t feel, but she had told you what she needed. When you felt it was the right time, you’d hug her because you wanted to, and then she was happy.
Sue made me see that the best mothering is based on intuition, communication, and knowing your audience!
She taught me that simple things are sometimes the most meaningful, that casual conversations and treating people with respect, no matter their age, can make a huge difference in someone’s life. This is how she taught me how to be the mom I wanted to be.
Kathleen Schurman remembers when Sue met her horse, Bart, for the first time. Life had taken a difficult turn for Sue, and she was very depressed. It took several months to convince her to come to the farm to see the first three of what would become many rescued horses. Sue finally agreed to visit on her mother’s birthday, and when she first laid eyes on Bart, she began to cry and said, “If only I could have that horse, I know I would be happy again.”
Kathleen looked at her and said, “If that’s all it’ll take, then he’s yours!” And thus began the greatest love affair of our Sue’s life as she was never as happy as when she was when with the pony she had wished for since she was a child.
Sue grew weaker ever day, but Jamie remembers those days when her mom could get to the farm to see her “boy.”
“Nothing compared to the smile she had when around Bart. Their first reunion was in late February. It was the first time she’d seen him since October of 2009. Bart sniffed and snorted with happiness, then removed his mom’s hat and was startled by her “Darth Vader” appearance, but he rubbed his muzzle over her head and realized she was the same handicapped woman who loved him unconditionally. Just without hair.
The second visit – same huge grin!
The third and last visit, now wheelchair bound, was the biggest grin ever. It even surpassed the duck tour grin!”
It was only a few weeks later that Sue checked off the last item on her bucket list, a visit from a special relative, and said, “I can go now.” She tapped the heels of her ruby slippers together one last time and said, “There’s no place like home.”
The Tin Man looked on, oil can at the ready, and said, “Now I know I have a heart, ’cause it’s breaking . . .”
In the end, her spirit remains. Which one of us hasn’t felt her lurking over our shoulder in these past few days since she left us?
We imagine that soon after crossing to the other side, aside from a visit to her beloved Bart, who would have been her first visit after embracing Jason and her parents, she managed to get in a trip to Hawaii and Ireland, the two “misses” on her bucket list.
In the past months Sue managed to orchestrate quite an elaborate funeral production. Every single thing she wanted- the Calvary tribute, the flowers, donations and the songs were all hand-picked by her. Even the things Jamie wasn’t sure could be accomplished, such as the writing of this eulogy by one of her best friends to the musicians and even a freak weather event like Hurricane Earl and a gigantic rainbow last night as people began to exit her wake. . . all lined up with little effort. Sue could not have made a more grand exit.
And if anyone deserves to make it to the Emerald City in such fine style, driven in a cart pulled by the Horse of a Different Color, it’s our Sue.