Saturday, October 31, 2015


My sister Terri passed away this morning.  After being diagnosed with a glioblastoma in early August, she succumbed today after a courageous fight with cancer.
To share an insight into my sister, the oldest of 10 siblings, Terri was always there for every single one of us.  She was one of the most selfless people I have ever known.  

One of  Mom's favorite things to say to describe Terri was this:  Terri would be there for any one of us regardless of her life's situation at the time.  No matter what crises was going on in her life, she would lend a hand.  Terri always was the last priority on her own lists.
She thought of others more than she ever thought of herself.  She raised two children and could have been described as a helicopter parent.  She did the job all by herself.  Though this might not have been the perfect situation, she was engaged through every minute of her children's

Terri was like this with her family and friends as well.  I could guarantee that her 'work' family could say the same about her.  I recall her showing me the set of bracelets and necklaces she made for a co-workers bridal party.  Terri thrived on this giving nature.

I recall being at a family gathering and noticing that she was handing out business cards of my blog, that she had printed off,  telling people how great it was.  I was  humbled at the time, but she reveled in the fact that this was something that everyone should be interested in. In addition, there were times that I was ready to quit writing this blog, but she would not accept that.  She sincerely enjoyed reading the postings, no matter how boring they seemed to me.  I would get a short text from her now and then telling me how much she enjoyed a post.  She was just like that with every single person she encountered.  Terri was the family cheerleader.

One of my fondest memories of Terri was responsible for starting my interest in refinishing furniture.  While cleaning out the basement in one of the houses that they refinished, she took me down to the basement and showed me an old spice cabinet that was left from a previous owner.  That piece started my  love of 'up cycling' items. Whenever we spoke on the phone, she inquired about  my latest project.  Productivity was something that she excelled at and she inspired all of us around her to do likewise.

When she was moving back to Chicago from St. Louis,  she asked me if I was interested in buying(for a very reasonable price) one of the armoires that was one of the remaining pieces of furniture in this historical house. I was thrilled to have something with actual known history. I have yet to refinish this piece, but now I think would be a good time.

Terri was what you would call a whirling dervish.  She would juggle more things at one time than the best of us. She could be having a party, making the food, decorating, printing something off on the printer, taking pictures, and being a hostess all in the same few minutes.  No one could keep up with her stamina.  She was the queen of multitasking.

Terri could usually be found with a camera in her hands.

  When we would travel for our annual Sister's weekend, I can guarantee that she took a picture of every meal that she had at the  bed and breakfast, restaurant or wherever we stopped to eat.  I'm not sure where this need came from, to take pictures of everything, but I think she wanted to create long lasting memories.  Reflecting back on these weekends, we are so lucky that we made the time to get together as sisters, with Mom, to eat, shop, relax and spend time with one another.

Terri never knew how to truly relax.  If we were attending a sister's weekend, she would be beading, or organizing her files on the laptop as we would be sitting around having a glass of wine. She would join in the conversation and have a glass of wine too, but her hands were always busy. If she came home for a holiday, she would bring at least 3 satchels of her ongoing craft projects. There was never a moment wasted that she wasn't productive. 

 And on these occasions, she would bring basic starter projects to show her nieces and nephews how to be crafty too.  My girls learned how to crochet, make beading Christmas ornaments, and numerous other craft items during those visits with Terri.

  Our Grandma Roth taught us, or those willing to listen, her crafting skills.  Grandma embroidered, crocheted, sewed, and quilted her entire life.  Terri definitely was an extension of Grandma.  No one could have believed the amount of crafting supplies that  Terri had accumulated over the years. She could have opened up her own craft shop with the scrapbooking, card making, beading and cross stitching projects. Ten years ago, I recall joking with a sibling that Terri had enough crafting projects to live her life out in a nursing home.  Unfortunately, that was not what God had planned.

Terri's work ethic was impeccable.  I like to think she came from good stock, but in reality, she was a force to be reckoned with.  She was an example to all of her younger siblings.  How often in a conversation among us you would hear, 'That Terri!'.

Humility was her gift too.  She never wanted to be the center of attention.  She enjoyed her family members' successes and if she could create a craft project to commemorate those successes, she would do so.

While I was single, Terri always invited me on her vacations.  We visited Boston, Washington, DC, Raleigh Durham, W. Virginia and smaller trips in Illinois.  Terri was fast with everything she did, especially in her walking.  I could never keep up with her and I would joke at the time that I would need a vacation after our trips to rest.

In the last few years of Terri's life, she found an interest in bicycling. She biked through Charleston, SC, Italy and France.  What a go-getter.  Honestly, I would never go on my own and venture out, but Terri did.  She loved these trips.

Terri had major challenges in her life. I tend to think that with the trauma of losing her Mother at the age of 10, as the oldest, some expected her to help raise her younger 6 siblings.  Can you imagine that? Another challenge came after her marriage when she was pressured to leave the church for a long time.  It is with great relief that she made the effort to return to church in the last few years. Other major challenges included her devastating divorce and a bout with breast cancer that never kept her down.  Most people would have buckled with such stresses, but she never, ever gave up.

 To see her rendered so helpless after her initial diagnosis with a brain tumor was a shock. I recall going to Chicago 6 weeks after that fateful day.  There she was sitting in the recliner with her legs crossed and hands folded.  I had never in my entire life seen those hands still.

In her last few months, our sister Sharon, the retired nurse, set into motion all that was necessary for Terri's care, handling medications, getting Terri's house cleaned and ready for showings and leading the rest of the siblings, a sister-in-law, nieces and nephews in a well developed plan.  Like Terri herself, Sharon executed the details in a very organized pattern.  My sisters Merri and Karen (and her husband Dave and daughter-in-law), brother Bill (and his wife Debi), and nieces and nephews assisted Sharon in completing the bulk of all these tasks.  Such giving back is a gift that this family continues to share with their loved ones.

Terri was loyal to those outside her family as well.  When I visited her in September, I was overwhelmed with the numerous friends that Terri had from her workplace, church, and neighborhood.  Their abundant gifts and many visits cheered her up.  She would rally when they came to visit her and I know their frequent communication kept her engaged.

Terri has worked hard, fought the good fight and left this world a better place.  I don't believe that she consciously planned it that way.  

I have every hope  that Terri will be greeted at the heavenly gates by her two loving mothers, father, grandmothers and other family members.  They will tell her that yes, her job was completed and she did well.

I am very sad about Terri. It is a good thing, that when Terri comes to mind in future days, a smile will appear on my face.  Thank you Terri for all you did for us.  You were loved well by your family and friends. I love you Terri!

 And so I believe that Terri is in line for the All Saints Day parade-just in time for tomorrow's Feast day.
 May she rest in peace.


  1. Beautiful. I'm sorry I never had the chance to meet her. Thank you for introducing me here.

  2. Hi Lora. I met you at Terri's Memorial Service luncheon. I worked with Terri the past 10 years at the Rosemont lab. This is a beautiful rememberance & describes Terri to a "t"! When we moved 6 hospitals worth of microbiology testing, personnel and supplies to one central lab, it was chaos, to say the least. I remember on my first day there, and although I did not know where a glass slide was to perform a basic test, your sister introduced herself and told me to get up and follow her (at a fast paced walk!) so that we could send a Salmonella out through the courier department to the state lab. I knew at that moment that she was a knowledgable, committed & trustworthy person. I am the youngest of 4 ( 2 sisters and a brother), so I am used to being instructed what to do. I learned a lot from Terri, from micro, to computers to beading and card making. She and I would discuss our children's' activities & personalities, our siblings and extended families, our crafting, her divorce and caring for our aging parents. I considered her a friend and somewhat of a sister at work.
    We still think of her and talk about her at work. She was, as you said, always busy-taking care of computer or printer problems (I called her our "computer guru", since she could usually figure out the problem and then tell the IT guys what needed to be done!), restocking supplies and monitoring inventory.
    I am confident that she must be in heaven organizing things and crafting to her heart's content!
    I got the Info about your blogspot from another friend at work. I will have to add it to my list to follow :-)