Monday, August 17, 2009

A Touching Memorial

I received the following email from a good friend and fellow author, Rita Karnopp. Rita has shared with a select few of us, her sister's trials with Cancer and I was saddened to hear the horrid disease claimed another victim. The big C might have won the war, but not the battle of courage Diane exhibited in her fight. Her ability to still appreciate life and cling to its joy should be an example for all of us. I thank Rita for allowing me to share this bit of inspiration with you all. I never had the pleasure of knowing Diane personally, but Rita's final testament tells me I missed out on someone very special.

I thought I would share with you that my sister is finally at peace today. Her courageous 14 years battle with cancer is finally over. Her funeral will be the 23rd in Thousand Oaks, CA... I though I would share with you what I will be saying at her funeral ... and it will allow me to express how much she has meant to me all these year...

When Joel (brother-in-law) asked me if I’d like to say a few words about my sister today, my first reaction was… yes… but then it struck me … how will I ever talk without crying.

Then I stated thinking about all the support and love Joel has given me over the years and how much his love has meant to Dennis and me. Not once in all these years has he asked me for anything. I am sharing with you how I feel about Diane… but I’m also sharing this for Joel.

I could describe my sister in one word… and I’m sure all of you who knew her will agree .. that word would be classy. She’d smile when I’d tell her that… I think she liked it …but it was true, Diane was a classy lady.

(Left to Right) Jamie (Rita's daughter), Diane, and Rita during happier times.

She chose not to have children…but when Dennis & I brought Jamie into the world…something clicked between Diane and our daughter. So the joke between us was that Jamie was more her daughter than mine. My daughter is so much like Diane … and many times she reminds me of my sister…and now I treasure that gift more.

Diane was my best friend. She was there for me when we were deserted little children and she has been always been there for me as an adult. I could tell her my deepest secrets and I could share my heartfelt feelings, and she’d always listen without judgment.

But… she never failed to give me her honest opinion—whether I wanted to hear it or not. We didn’t always agree, but we did most times. When we didn’t she’d call me stubborn …and I’d respond ‘ditto.’

We had always been in-tune with each other. We looked so much alike. When Diane got up sick…they would get me up, too….with good reason. When something was wrong with her …I’d get this feeling. The same happened to Diane…she always managed to call me when I needed her most. I’d like to think I was always there when she needed me most.

Our husbands used to tease us about our marathon—talking until 2:00am phone calls! Neither one waited up when they knew we were talking to each other.

Diane was the reason I keep writing. She’d tell me that she and Joel believed in me. They asked about my progress and encouraged me to keep working at my dream of being a published author. After my 7th published book, Diane asked me when I was going to get her favorite book on the best seller’s list? She was pushy… but she kept me on my toes...and that worked for me. I will get that book published and I know Diane will be watching with a smile on her face and pride in her heart.

Today is not about us… it’s about celebrating a lovely lady’s life. One who showed us all more about living than dying. Diane is my inspiration. When I hear people complaining about the ‘little things,’ I cringe. When I catch myself complaining… I stop in my tracks… put it in perspective … and think… Diane had something to complain about—and she never did. She never played the ‘poor me’ song.

Recently Jamie and I visited Diane and Joel. What we saw was shocking…what we heard and felt was the warmth and heart of a sister and an aunt. Not once did she mention her aches, pains or traumas. She wasn’t about complaining…she was about enjoying life.

For an hour and more Jamie and I shared stories of our family… and she listened, smiled and laughed with us. When we decided she might be getting tired… in her classy way…she suggested 'we ‘must’ have more stories to share than that.' She was all about life… enjoying every minute God blessed her with.

So, I will end by saying my inspiration and best friend is finally at peace. The celebration of her life will remain with me the rest of my life. On the wall in my office is a plaque Diane gave me years ago… it sums up how we felt about each other…

My Sister … my Friend

I often think about

The special relationship we have—

How we’ve shared so many experiences,

How we accept each other as we are

And can talk about our thoughts

And feelings easily,

And how through the years

We’ve become closer and closer…

And I like to believe

That if we hadn’t been sisters,

We would have been best friends anyway.

Thank you all for being here to help us share in the celebration of my sister’s life. May the memories you’ve shared with her give you comfort. May her inspiration make you smile, because that’s the way she would have wanted it.

To Rita, I send a big, comforting hug, and to her sister Diane, I say, Rest in Peace, Classy Lady.


Molly Daniels said...

Many, many heartfelt hugs to Rita and her family. What a loving tribute!

Maryann Miller said...

What a wonderful tribute. Thanks for sharing it Rita and Ginger. Makes me stop and be thankful for the special people in my life.

Anonymous said...

I have known Rita for several years and know what a journey she and her sister have been on. Rita has always been there for her sister just as Diane was always there for her. May Diane rest in peace and Rita, what a loving tribute to your sister. She is definately with you today and always. I'm thankful for your friendship and hope time eases your pain over the loss of your beloved sister. I also thank you for your support over the years with my little niece who has fought cancer since she was 16 months old. Your are in my thoughts and prayers - always.

Laura Reed

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