Cathy’s own “Three ‘R’s"
By Frederick Dudley
Impatient to get started, Cathy was born prematurely. Weighing less than five pounds, she was soon eating voraciously, eager to catch up. As an infant, when faced with seizures and hospital stays, she fought to come home quickly and bounced back with more energy each time. These events of her first few years served to make her aware of and respect the possibility of life’s dangers, but did nothing to deter her from wanting to sample life’s possibility for joy.
Those temporary set-backs yet ultimate triumphs became imprinted and helped her when she later faced ovarian disease, frequent surgeries on elbow and knee, and late-onset allergies to favorite foods. So she powered through therapy, gave birth to two healthy babies, outplayed me on the golf course, and taught us all how to avoid soy. And it was certainly in that spirit that she took on ALS after the initial shock of its diagnosis, and the way she met each new twist and onslaught.
But Cathy’s Three R’s were about much more than her health. Each time a new challenge appeared, she faced it, studied it, learned from it, and moved ahead:
As a child, she loved cats; loved holding and caring for them. We had cats and they had kittens. (She may have hidden a cat in her room at UVM.) Sometimes a cat would run away or get hit by a car. She cried and missed it, but didn’t despair, just found a new stray and took it in and gave it food and love.
Our house was small; her room was tiny: she made that few square feet her own private space, content that she and her imagination could make it as big as she needed.
She let us have the other space, whatever we seemed to need. And she always made room for one more kitten--they were small and her heart was plenty big enough to take them in.
She sleepwalked a few times when she was young, frightening all of us; but she was determined not to sleepwalk through her life. She partnered early with hard work and they became inseparable companions. Her career was filled with gems of accomplishment fashioned arduously and skillfully from opportunities often overlooked by others. And she never forgot her mentors and she never forgot her roots (yes, another important “R” ). She understood and appreciated the abundant blessings even her modest beginning afforded her. So when she prospered, she reached out, hoping her financial help would foster her three “R’s” in the education and lives of Willum and Mbwana in Tanzania. So her legacy of Resolve in overcoming obstacles, Resiliency in the face of setbacks, and Respect for the needs and hopes of others will live on.
These words beginning with R can’t capture Cath whole--alphabets might be needed, and even then... . But a couple of words ending in R help define her for sure: humor--
whether corny or clever, it helped her endure; that coupled with laughter, ironic or pure.
These are things we remember as we think about her.