Eulogy (by Pam James)
My first memory of Carol is when I was in the Lied with a bunch of people in the hallway above the offices, frantic, and she offered to come in several days a week to help me. That was Carol. I was needy and she wanted to help me. Well, she helped me all right!
We worked tirelessly that summer putting together the Lied Volunteer Handbook, analyzing the system and refining it, preparing for the next season and the future of the Lied, and Carol was to be an integral part of that future. As we worked closely together, I discovered the kind, vulnerable and giving person we all came to love, and formulated the closest friendship I have ever known. She was lovely and loving, concerned, but action-oriented, and honorable. She had a temper I admired; her anger came out only when it was appropriate to be angry. We shared a love of garden plants and often unwound in Lincoln’s public gardens for a break. She was pregnant with Andrew, the light of her life. She knew I was working late and she’d bring me a sandwich or some strawberries.
She told me of her love for Harry. How he would stop at the kiosk outside the subway when they lived east and bring her flowers. Of the wonderful period they lived in London. Of their mutual enjoyment of cultural performances. Of the tender decisions they made, his hard work and commitment to her, their journey together. They didn’t know then the painful course they would follow, but she trusted him completely and relied on him in ways we can only imagine.
When Andrew was born I visited Carol and gave her a foot-rub she never forgot; she mentioned it every time we got together for 22 years.
Her health had not been good when I met her in 1990. She had her son, Andrew, nursed him and he grew strong and beautiful and bright. And she was always proud of him, confiding that he had to endure things at home not fitting a young man his age in conjunction with her health. But he did. I only know him really through her eyes. And that means he is, and always will be, completely wonderful to me. She loved Andrew, and all of his friends.
Carol never refused an opportunity to go and do anything within her power, and that made her a terrific companion. We often ended up where we did not set out to go, and that was okay with both of us, giggling the whole way. Like leaving for Red Cloud and ending up in Omaha. We weren’t lost. We were just game and flexible. She and I went to Kansas City together, to UNL Women’s basketball games, art galleries, musicals, to many gardens, and out to enough lunches, dinners and breakfasts to make us both pleasingly plump. Plus. We protested together at political rallies and I took her to see Barack Obama in person. He shook her hand, much to her delight. I also took her to vote.
We went to Kentucky together in 1993 and we finally got her back last year to go to the festival of New American Plays in Louisville, KY, which she dearly loved. We went to Asheville, North Carolina on a lark one morning, stayed all night, toured the Biltmore Estate and went to six states in three days.
We shared a love of good food and fun, and laughed ourselves silly a lot of the times we were together. She was funny, and fun-loving. We drank too much coffee, ate too much dessert and stayed too late. I am SO GLAD we did all those things!
I was nearby when she almost died a few times. We all knew she was fragile, and she talked a lot about her health problems because they absorbed practically her whole life. While she talked about it, she didn’t really complain much. She endured with grace.
She often told me she was so grateful to Harry for his vigilance over her heath care in the bleakest of circumstances. She spoke lovingly of how he cared for her daily, checking her feet, measuring her meds, being the “bad cop”. Without him she would have died long, long ago. She hated that it exhausted him so, and that their relationship was hampered by her health. She praised him and his brilliance in dealing with the doctors, and specialists he often educated after careful research. She knew Harry bore the brunt of her health care in every way, as a husband, professionally, financially, in research and aggravation and downright dirty work. He did it lovingly. Thank you, Harry, from the rest of us.
She talked of her Mom and family, of camping as a kid, of how her Dad died when she was young, and how her step-dad was so good for her Mom. She spoke of her love for her sisters, their families, and nieces and nephews we shopped for together. Carol loved to shop!
As far as I know, Carol tried to be good to everyone she knew, and was a responsible, thoughtful, caring person. If there were separations in work or friendships it pained her from then on. She was good at connecting people and maintaining relationships. She cared about the people she knew and even those she didn’t. She wanted us all to be better for each other. She wanted universal health care, often remarking how fortunate she was and what would have become of her if UNL benefits were not as good as they are. She suffered cancer, pain, disability, a rare insidious syndrome called POEMS, diabetes, drug side effects, sleep apnea, mini strokes, big strokes, seizures, neuropathy, depression, heart failure, pneumonia, paralysis and more. Through it all, Carol loved me. She loved you. Our world will never be the same.