Until this week, I never thought much about the importance of bucket lists.
I’m now working on my own bucket list after attending the funeral yesterday of my amazing sister-in-law, Judy Ann Culp. My older brother Earl wisely married her 56 years ago. Throughout her life, Judy was interested in everyone and everything, and she lived vicariously through the adventures and accomplishments of those lucky enough to know her.
When she realized she was not going to win her long battle with cancer, Judy created a bucket list of things she wanted to experience. Her equally amazing daughters, Konda Dawn Berry and Kimberly Ann Lanoue, eloquently recounted their mother’s life and bucket list achievements at this week’s funeral. I’m so proud of their powerful message that I wanted to share it here as a reminder for all of us to create and live our own bucket lists. Please read this beautiful eulogy to a life well lived:
We called her our superhero. To see her on the outside and her love of life, most people would have had no idea about her struggles, and her many fights with cancer. When most people would have given up, she did not. She was a true warrior and no matter how much pain or challenges she was given, she sure made navigating through it look easy. In some of her darkest times, she only saw the light and the bright side of the situation. One of her standby phrases, “This too shall pass” and she meant it.
She started fighting cancer more than 30 years ago. She won that battle many times and won it with Grace. There are so many people that she inspired but she would never take the credit. She simply didn’t know any different.
She was stubborn and steadfast in her beliefs and would go toe to toe with the biggest of them. She was never afraid to accept a challenge.
This last time her cancer resurfaced she went head on with the fight again. But she also knew the reality and decided she was also going to complete a few bucket list items.
One of those was going on a Mother-Daughter Cruise and while on that cruise she wanted to go zip-lining in Cancun. The only issue she had was that she currently had suffered a hip fracture from the tumor in her hip and was in a wheelchair most of the time. When we looked up the zip lining event in Cancun, we learned there was not an elevator or any type of lift that would enable her to get to the top of the structure so that she could Zip-lining. So, we told her we may need to wait and do that another time as she was not strong enough to climb the 4 flights of stairs. Well, as you might have guessed, she was not letting that stop her.
For the next six weeks leading up to the cruise, she started walking with her walker and then started taking the stairs in her apartment building so that she could build up her strength to go. And she did. She climbed every step and when we got to the top perch, we found out that the landing would require her to land in water and the only way to stop was to drag your feet through the water at the bottom. She did it like a champ, yelling and “yahooing” all the way down. She loved it. While we were so scared about her doing it we were also so very proud of her tenacious grit that yet again showed us how life is done.
Another item on her bucket list was to go Skydiving with grandson Chase. They had been planning this event for months. However, two weeks before she ended up in the hospital with another round of chemo rejection. She became very sick, and we didn’t think she would make it out of the hospital. When the doctor visited her during the midpoint of her stay, he asked what he could do for her. She said, get me well and out of here because I am going skydiving in 2 weeks! She of course proved everyone wrong again and rebounded and got her chance to skydive.
Visiting New York City to see granddaughter Shae and then taking off and flying to California to see her when she moved out there. Spending a week to walk up and down Hollywood Blvd and visiting the ocean. There were many other events like this and trips all over the country in the next couple years all while fighting the big “C”. She never let it slow her down.
She loved having grandsons Kaleb and Nate so close and enjoyed seeing them and going to almost every activity keeping up with them. She even made a trip to Hawaii with us in 2019 to see Kaleb while he was doing an internship there. Bucket list item was to go to the Big Island and see the Volcano…. which of course we did. But unfortunately, she broke her foot at the coffee bean farm just before. But she insisted on making the trip and she did it with a cane and an ace bandage we bought at the local pharmacy on the drive there. #gritandgrace
The youngest grandchild, “Nator Gator” had a special place in her heart. She spent the most time with him as she started picking him up from school when he started elementary. She always took him to Dairy Queen after and then he got to go to her apartment and play with Bailey. They enjoyed their time and oh, the things they would talk about. It was never a quiet car ride or day with them in the same room. They were kindred souls.
She loved her grandkids to the moon and back. Fountain Park was a special place for all of them. They were all raised there with her teaching them all of the family traditions from learning to paint, working at the hotel or just enjoying a Kappa Burger at the stand with her. The late-night rummy cube games at the hotel and cottage were the highlight of the two weeks. That tradition has continued even as young adults up to last year’s season. Chase once told someone that his Grama lived at a place that was more magical than Disney World. That was Fountain Park.
In the last couple years while living at Friendship house, she made many new friends for that we are so grateful. Each and every one of them made her feel loved and admired. She enjoyed all the parties they had, including dressing up each Halloween and winning several of the contests for best dressed. One of our favorites was Marge Simpson. (We didn’t even know that she knew who Marge was).
She was always so busy and had started a new life there and barely had time for us! 😉 Which of course is a good thing and made us so happy that she had great friends who she loved and who loved her.
She was an easy soul to love. No matter what challenges she faced herself, she was always there for her family and friends and reminded us that “this too shall pass.”
Now that her journey has ended here on earth, we are happy that she and Dad are again reunited. We know that she missed him dearly. We always say that we had the best parents who set the bar very high and taught us compassion, and unconditional love for others. But most importantly how to be good people. We are so grateful to have had the best example on how to do life.