Debbie Cooley’s Eulogy

Emily was my sister, and my best friend.  We were only 22 months apart, so growing up we were pretty much inseparable.  We did everything together - we played, we danced, we sang, we double-dated, we went to the same schools, we had the same summer jobs, and when we were little, we dressed alike.  It was a wonderful childhood!

Emily had an adventurous, indomitable spirit.  I was the older sister, but she was always the first one off the diving board, the first one to learn to swim, and the first one to figure how to get on, and off, a horse without breaking her neck.  She sat in the bow of the sailboat eagerly greeting the waves, while I sat pea green holding on for dear life and hoping my breakfast would stay down!

Of course, her adventurous spirit would get us into trouble sometimes.  She cut her finger when we broke into our big glass piggy bank, and there was blood everywhere.  Then there was the time she hit a tree when we went sledding, and knocked out her two front teeth.  She was always the one that got hurt, which somehow always hurt me more since I was supposed to be the responsible one.

We did have our squabbles.  I am 65 years old and can still remember when Emily took my hair curlers the night I was getting ready for that big date.  Dad sided with her, since she already had them in her hair.  It was so unfair!  She already was the sister with the best hair, even before the curlers.  I got even.  I ate the rest of the chocolate cake and put the tin in her closet.  She took the heat for that crime!  She never let me forget it!

Emily grew up to be a woman of so many talents.  She was a fantastic cook and hostess, and she loved to entertain.  She taught me how to cook crepes and puff pastries.  She had a great sense of humor, and was able to laugh at my foibles. As my family knows, I am a bit anal.  Emily would reach for the spoon to stir the pot, and I had already washed it, and put it away. 

Her sewing abilities were unbelievable.  My entire guest room closet is filled with Emily Ritzman originals.  The red velvet Eaton suit made for Christopher, the matching shirts he and my Dad wore. Gowns, dresses, suits, blouses - You name it, She made it!

I could write a book about Emily - our times together, and her talents, but, in the interest of brevity, I would like to conclude with how thoughtful and giving she was.  She was always there for me, even when she moved clear across the country.

When Ron decided to be helpful, and put my wet turtle necks in the dryer, she sent me all new ones that were the right colors and sizes, since mine had all shrunk to Barbie doll size.  

The fist time I flew across the country with Jonathan, I was quite concerned about how he would take to flying at 18 months old.  I told Emily I was definitely going to need a drink when I got o Spokane.  She met me at the airport with a thermos of white wine.

Emily, I hope you know how much I love you and miss you.  Till we meet again! 

Ron Cooley's Eulogy

Emily was my wife’s sister.

I want to share a few thoughts that I observed about Emily over the 40 some years I knew her.

Emily was always trying new things, stretching her mind (and ours), and thinking outside the box.  She was constantly teaching herself new skills.

Her first new car was a stick shift. She had never driven a stick shift before, but she was determined to learn.  The first time we rode with her through the toll booth on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, we all stuck our hands out the window to get the ticket in case she couldn’t stop the car to get it.    

Another time, she thought she could cook a grilled cheese sandwich using an iron and an ironing board.  Unfortunately, the result was not what she expected, but it became a good family story.

In 1976, when she moved from the East Coast to Spokane, Washington, we thought “what is she thinking”?  Most of our family lived on the East Coast at that time.  She made new friends, added to her family, and started new adventures.  And, that’s how we got the opportunity to meet many of you.  Emily was a connector.

Emily saw value in everyone.  Her life was more about other people, than it was about herself.  She always had a smile on her face for you, no matter how difficult her life was at the time.

That’s how I will remember Emily, as a person who loved trying new things, and as somebody who loved people.

Christopher's Eulogy

 

I'm not sure where to begin.  To try to memorialize Emily, my Aunt Em, in just a few paragraphs, doesn't seem to do her justice but I will give it my best.  And although I think it's very important to remember the good times, I also think that's it's healthy to talk about some of the heartache.  

 

I've changed a lot in the last 10 years; done a lot of growing up.  Unfortunately, as I came to a place in my life where I began to see that Em was so much more than just the 'fun' aunt, she began to fade.   This is one of many reasons that my heart aches.   While that process was very difficult, it also helped me understand some of her best qualities.  Her spirit. Her courage.  Her zest for life.  Her belief in others. 

 

As all these thoughts have swirled  through my head the last few weeks; some as heavy as crashing waves and others as gentle as a summer breeze.  Through the turbulence a pattern has emerged.  The best way that I can pay my respects to Em is to take the lessons that I have learned from her and weave them into my own life.  Here are a few.

 

Em' s fight has showed me a very different side of courage.  As a man, I tend to think of courage as running into burning buildings, jumping in front of bullets and slaying dragons.  Em's fight was very different and she handled it with such beauty and grace.  I think a quote from Maryanne Radanbacher captures it perfectly.  She said Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow".  When I'm sitting a stoplight thinking that the world is going to end because I'm late and it won't change fast enough, I try to think of her attitude as she faced each new day. 

 

From her, I've learned the importance of experience.  I came to visit one year and on the first night we decided to cook dinner.  Prior to that day, eating was the best part of dinner and everything else was just a pain in the butt.  But our meal started in the grocery store, where we talked and laughed as we picked out our food.  It continued on to the liquor store, where we stood in the aisle for way too long and talked about vineyards and labels and shared other experiences that had happened over a bottle of wine.  This continued on through dinner, desert and even the clean up afterwards.  She had just transformed a typical routine of dreading all of the work it took just to stuff my face for 30 minutes into 5 hours of genuine, meaningful interaction.

 

I also learned that we need to keep an open mind and to stand up for the things that we believe in.  I can remember a day of shopping, a ritual between Em and my mom, at the Chester flea market.  I was a teenager, which would probably mean it was in the late 80's.  I'm sure that I only came along because I had important business to attend to like buying ninja stars or picking out a new pair of Jams.  I noticed a button on Em's purse and in those days they usually had some sort of joke on them.  Hers said 'Support Gay and Lesbian rights'.  Since I'd only really heard those terms in the context of jokes, I laughed and asked her to explain.  The answer that I got wasn't at all what I expected but it also wasn't scolding, or judgmental , it wasn't overly persuasive, it was simply a firm statement of her belief.  That lesson didn't sink in immediately but is one that I continually go back to and will always remain with me. 

 

She also taught me the importance of gifts.  Em is well know for her thoughtfulness of others.  For the first 33 years of my life, Aunt Em was there for every Christmas.  I never knew what I was going to get but I always knew that it would be something interesting and nothing I had ever seen before.  Most of her gifts were not only fun but usually inspired some sort of creative play that most toys don't.  Things like a Ramagon set which was like Lincoln Logs on steriods.  They lasted for almost a decade and we used to build a grand array of structures which sometimes took up entire rooms of the house.    About  10 years ago, a few small things kicked off a small change in my life that pointed me in completely differen direction.  One of them was a gift from Aunt Em.  She gave me a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  Although I was an avid reader of fiction, I'd never even  thought to try to continue to educate myself outside of school.  Reading that book lit a fire in me that will burn forever, it ignited a passion to learn and grow.  Something I had no idea I even had, yet she somehow saw it.  Her gifts often sought to give more than just a material possession and that is a something that I will never forget.

 

There are many other things I remember  but there are many more things that I don't know.  Because of the circumstances, I feel like there are so many things that I just don't know.  Part of this process for me, is building a more complete picture of Emily that I can carry with me.  I would encourage each of you to share any thoughts and stories in any way that you are comfortable.  I know that Em possessed many remarkable qualities and I feel that the best way I can memorialize her is to learn as much as I can about those qualities and then to find ways to live those qualities in my own life.

 

Mary Doran's Eulogy

Good bye Sweet Emily.   I miss you every day.   I am so sorry that I cannot attend your life celebration, but you must remember that you and Don did not attend my wedding as you were in Oregon celebrating the end of your chemotherapy.   I understood totally and believe you will understand too.

 

I miss your exuberant smile when visitors arrived, especially if Ally was there….you did love your men.   I thank you for all of the Saturday mornings and Tuesday evening.   That is how we met Ally, going to coffee at Tully's at the Fred Meyers store.   He soon became a part of our Saturday and Tuesday routine.

  

I love our times together.   you were so fun and relaxing to be with.    I could suspend everything else that was happening at the time.   Thank you for that.

 

Emily, you caused us to expand our horizons.   I had never participated in a nude fun run until you discovered one and signed us up.

 

I did not know much about Alzheimer's but I do know now.   I feel lucky that you kept your Emilyness almost until the end of your life.   Even when you did not speak you were very expressive with your face and gestures.   You conveyed your humor, recognition, delight and enjoyment

 

I thank Emily's family for letting her stay in Spokane for this last seven years. 

 

I thank Mary Rupert……let's hope we all have a Mary Rupert in our lives when we need someone.   Mary, your weekly informational emails, your doctor and dentist visits, your answering calls in the middle of the night on Emily, and especially that you kept all of us in the loop.    Emily lit up every time your name was mentioned.   We, her family and the staff at Northpointe are grateful to you for all you did.

  

Emily,  I fell blessed to have known you for 31 years.   You were a treasure and gave me many many happy memories that I will cherish when I think of you.