Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cheryl Marshall Remembered

I wrote the following Remembrance for Cheryl and read it at her 
Memorial Service on Saturday, September 13, 2014.

Cheryl Marshall was one of my dearest friends. We knew each other for twenty years, we enjoyed Crones together for probably fifteen of them, and we spent uncounted hours in Starbucks. Twice every school year from second grade to twelfth, Cheryl accompanied me to my younger daughter’s ARD meetings, even when they were in Waco! Every December, Cheryl, Dan, Michael, and I went out to dinner for our wedding anniversaries, which were a day apart. Cheryl and I made road trips together, one all the way to Bellingham, Washington to see Bertie Edwards, who many of you know, and one to Dallas to see Eddie Izzard perform.

I guess you could say I knew Cheryl pretty well. And I know that if Cheryl were here, she’d have you all laughing by now. She was seriously funny. She’d probably undertake a pun or two - tell us we’re getting morgue than we bargained for and that we have to do more to urn our keep. If you tried to tell her there was mortal life than puns, she’d just laugh. It was her joy to post a pun on her Facebook page every morning for a friend she especially wanted to cheer up.

And what friends she had. Cheryl was Houston Gran to a couple hundred people all over the globe, on every continent except Antarctica. When I say she was their Gran, it was not just a word. These people loved her, they poured out their hearts to her, they sent her letters and gifts, called her on the phone, came to Houston to have lunch with her. For her 80th birthday, they sent testimonials about all that Houston Gran had done for their spirits and their hearts. Cheryl loved her Internet family deeply and truly.

Cheryl considered herself Eddie’s Gran, too. Besides the trip to Dallas, Cheryl made a trip to NYC to see him in a play. She owned every DVD of his ever made and then some, but let's not say bootleg. Cheryl and I had tickets to see Eddie on June 30, but she went to the hospital instead of the performance. She was heartbroken to miss him, she loved him so.

She loved children, too, devoted her life to them, as you’ve heard. Special education was not just her vocation, it was her calling. She continued standing up for children after her retirement, attending ARDs as a substitute parent for children in foster care. And there are more families here than just mine whose children Cheryl advocated for tirelessly, refusing to accept a penny for her skill and time.

Before Cheryl was Houston Gran, she was grandmother to the children of her friends and acquaintances, offering a comforting lap, a listening ear, a willingness to engage in childhood games and stories. And who could forget the bag of lollipops she carried? Cheryl never condescended to children and perhaps that is why they loved her so much. In local circles, she was mostly known as Lala, a name she cherished. There was a special place in her heart for her one and only Mazie.

Was Cheryl perfect? No. None of us is perfect. Cheryl was simply so full of love and laughter, compassion and comfort, wit and wisdom, that her imperfections didn’t amount to a hill of beans. I am proud to have been her friend, and I know you are, too.