Christine StewartMarch 23, 1945 - April 27, 2018
In loving memory
Chris Stewart was a consummate hostess. She brought people together and treated everyone to the kindness of her wisdom and the generosity of her table. Her favorite thing to do was gather a crowd and feed them while they played cards and games. She enjoyed reading, watching cooking shows on PBS and working the Sunday Times Crossword ~ in ink. She arranged fresh cut flowers often and enjoyed going to the movies. She loved all of the arts and was a long time docent at the Phoenix Art Museum.
Chris was a devoted wife to Dr. William Stewart. She was an excellent mother to her four children and their friends. She leaves her husband, her brother, four children and their spouses, four grandchildren and a large extended family who are lost without her.
I have been reflecting on our relationship, thinking of the pivotal moment when you shaped the person I am today. I was just starting to find myself when I began losing you. I knew I lost you too soon when you never had the chance to know and love my family. But my heart sank when I couldn’t find, in all of my memories of you, the turning point in my life when you sat me down, told me something philosophical, and changed how I would see the world.
I scanned my memory for every exchange, event, and interaction. I knew that a woman as influential as you, left me with more than loving memories. There needed to be that one thing you said to me, which altered my perception, my opinions, and me in general.
The funny thing is, I couldn’t find that “one” thing. I remember hardship, challenges, and bad days. And I remember you meeting me with open, loving arms, and encouraging words to get me through anything. When I was overwhelmed with school projects, sports, and friends; all needing more of my time than I had to give, you said “Just take it one piece at a time, finish one thing, and then the others will follow”. So I picked something easy, finished it, and sure enough you were right, my task list eventually diminished. When I was struggling in my relationship with my significant other, you said “Open and honest communication with your partner is the best way to ensure a happy and love filled relationship”. Again, I implemented your advice and things improved. You always had a way of helping me through life.
I realized the reason I couldn’t think of that “one” thing is because you gave me a lifetime of unconditional love, support and knowledge. I wish I had more time with you. I feel like you had so much more you could teach me. But I’m grateful for everything you taught me to shape the person I am today, by emphasizing things like education, diligence, and compassion, and always putting love first. You have given me all of the tools I need to live a long and happy life as the person you knew I could be. Even now, when the hurt gets overwhelming, I can hear you say “It’s OK honey, I love you, just take three deep breathes, and everything will be fine”.
I love you mom,
Alzheimer’s is like the caucus race from Alice in Wonderland where the birds and ocean creatures are running in a circle on the beach. You see your love one running in circles, and given the lack of other options you jump in and run with them because it seems to be the kindest thing you can do. Running in endless circles trying to catch a breath, a moment of lucidity, in between these drowning waves that sometimes take you right off your feet. You have to get up and you have to keep running because you can’t let them run alone. Eventually the inevitable happens. The waves win and your loved one is washed away. You are left cold and wet from your own tears, exhausted, angry at the futility of it all, and absurdly wishing you were still running. I would have run forever with my mother.
She had nothing but kind words for me, on both good days and bad. Her assuring words were like fortune cookies after dinner, holding cryptic but inspirational messages. "You're going to do it, no one can hold you back!"
I was blessed to earn her love, and a place in her family, even after she couldn't remember who I was. She knew her first grand-daughter was due and talked often about the expected baby.
Family proved to be something too strong for Alzheimer's to take away from her, making it a painful tragedy when Alzheimer's took her away from her family.
Donate in Memory of Christine Stewart
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