Two weeks ago, the world lost an everyday hero. I was privileged to know Linda and Loy Williams; to share a daughter with them. They were married for 52 years and still crazy in love; like in the 60's when they met and married and began their wild ride together.
Linda and I shared being the American moms to Vero Castro Lopez, an amazingly kind, smart, funny, talented young woman from Publeo, MX who can to the US in 2007 as an exchange student through Rotary International. Vero is the glue that binds us together as a family and reminds us that we are all much more alike than we are different.
Vero has stayed in our lives. She's traveled back and forth visiting us in Geneva many times since that initial trip. When Linda died, I called Vero. Within 24 hours she was on a plane back to her homes in Geneva to pay her respects, to be with family and friends; most of all to support Loy.
She shared with me that Linda's was the first wake and funeral that she had ever attended. She's only 28. That's as it should be. Nevertheless, she was apprehensive about how to handle herself with all the sadness around her; unsure of what to say and do to best support others, especially Loy. I explained that everyone grieves differently. There is no right or wrong way. I suggested that she just be herself and to lead with the love that fills her heart. She did.
On the night of the funeral, after all the days activities she had trouble sleeping. She wrote this tribute to Linda. I share it on Facebook. It's worth sharing again; even reading again. It reminds us of all the things in life that are really important. It reminds us of the lessons that w can teach one another. Thank you, Linda. Thank you, Vero.
"I didn't want to write anything here, my mom recently passed away, and I wasn't able to put myself together. I didn't know that I could feel that much sadness and emptiness and I'm definitely heart broken.
Today I was prepared to have one of the saddest days of my life, and surprisingly it was the complete opposite. Seeing and talking to everyone who went to the funeral filled up my soul. Damm! she was loved! So in tribute to her I just want to point out some things that she taught me in this last 10 years that she was part of my life.
1. Care about the right things.
Our lives and resources are finite. And you just can’t care about everything. Seek to care about the right things.
2. Commit to your partner.
My parents were faithful to each other in every possible way for 52 years. I can’t thank them enough for that example.
3. Education is worth pursuing.
My mom was a Teacher, she taught herself Spanish which gave her more opportunities to help/teach others, she was always learning and studying.
4. Value education.
The ability to learn is a gift and a responsibility. She will always be learning something and apply it on life daily basis.
5. Express gratitude.
Gratitude is a discipline best experienced in both the good times and the bad. She always displayed it regardless of external factors.
6. Have an opinion.
You could always count on my mom to have an opinion. And thankfully so. She taught me the value of forming one.
7. Invite others.
She always included others into our plans and lives. From her, I’ve learned the value of the question, “Would you like to come with us?” Our world needs more people like that.
8. Laugh often.
9. And then laugh some more.
Needless to say, I love the culture of joy, she established that at home.
10. Learn from others.
My mom never considered herself so above someone else, that she couldn’t learn something new from them.
11. Love conversation.
Both my mom and dad excelled in the gift of conversation. She was a good listener, I miss the evenings spent in the dinning table just talking.
12. Love is best spoken and shown. Words are important. But so are actions. Loy and Linda mastered it.
13. Love your work.
Either as teacher, translator, fighting for civil rights, helping install clean water systems in Guatemala, etc She was always so passionate about whatever she was doing.
14. Serve others.
As I learned from her in both word and deed, life is bigger than yourself. And truest life, fulfillment, meaning, and joy is found in the service of others.
15. Trust others.
Back in 2007 Linda and Loy chose me to live with them, they knew nothing about me, and by the second that I put one foot into their home they loved me already. She lived her life, seeing the good in others and trusting them because of it.
16. Value family.
I’m so grateful to have lived with her when I was 17, Linda made a huge impact in my life taking care of me in a home filled with love, care, and joy. I seek to develop those attributes in my own life and family.
Give freely to your community.
Your gift is needed. And it makes the world a better place for everyone.
18. Work hard.
She didn't waste a single minute of her life. Her example has taught me the value of working hard and pursuing lasting significance over worldly success.
19. You never give up.
Until her very last day, no matter what the situation was she never stopped fighting to get better, I admire her determination.
20. Be the bigger impact.
Put your 100% of your mind and soul in everything that you do in order to make a positive change in everyone around you.
Mom I can't thank you enough for all this worth lifetime learnings, its incredibly amazing the impact that you have generated in me in this 10 years.
Also I want to thank everyone of you who attended to her celebration today, I had a Happy day instead of a sad one. It was different but beautiful. I enjoyed so much talking to all her friends and hearing all the wonderful stories about her. A good friend of mine will always tell me, since I was 15 years old, is that "everything in life is exact" I can finally understand it, and say goodbye to my mom, because I know "she's out there somewhere, ridding horses!".
I love you.