Friday, August 26, 2011

Karen's New Adventure

We had bridge last night just like we have every month for the past 43 years.  Our bridge club has evolved over the years so that now we have two permanent subs.  It's been so long that we don't care who the subs are and who the regulars are.  Out of 10 people we can usually find a Thursday in the month when we can get 8 players together.  We even sit at one big table so we can have a joint conversation and not miss out on anything, obviously it's not about the bridge game.

Last night was no exception except for one difference.  One of us would never be coming back.

Jackie was on an Alaskan cruise but Karen had died.

She died two days before and we found out the day before when Joan sent an email.  She called Karen's house to find out if she wanted a ride.  Bob (her husband) said he was in the process of notifying us when she called.  Karen died the previous day and would be cremated the next.  A memorial service will be sometime in the next couple of weeks.

The relaying of the conversation was kind of funny in a sad way.
"Hi Bob, how are you?"
"I'm doing OK, I'm a tough guy."  Now why did he say that?
"Where is Karen, I haven't heard from her?"
"She's at the funeral home."  Oh, not unusual, she could have gone to someone's calling hours.

Obviously Bob didn't realize he was talking to someone who didn't know that Karen died.  That was as much as we knew until last night when Joan got a return call from Bob and Karen's daughter-in-law who filled her in on the details.

Karen suffered from Multiple Myeloma for many years.  It was detected, as many cases are, during a routine blood test.  She didn't have any symptoms and it was watched on a regular basis.  Once the disease came out of the "do nothing stage", she had medications and then a successsful bone marrow transplant.  She was able to keep going with her ever busy, non-stop life.  While visiting her daughter one year she had what seemed like a stroke but after reading about the complications of the disease it was more like one of the side effects of the disease which is paralysis from tumor or spinal cord compression.  All of this is just my recollection, so don't quote me.   Life wasn't easy for Karen after that but it didn't keep her down.  She couldn't drive anymore, she practically had to learn to walk again but once she was able to get out she came to bridge and our dinner outings.

The picture below was at our 2007 Christmas dinner and Karen was on oxygen after a hospital stay.
Top Row: Joan, Jackie, Kathy, Ginny
 Bottom Row: Karen, Beth, Betsy, Barb (me) Missing: Sue, Kay
This one was taken at Ginny's house on a bridge night in 2009.
Top Row: Kathy, Sue, Betsy, Ginny, Jackie, Joan, Kay (thanks to her hubby John's photoshopping)
 Bottom Row: Beth, Karen, Barb (me), Ginny
Karen was one of the most active people I knew.  Over the years, with all her activities, projects, children, husband, job, exchange students and later grandchildren she barely took time out to sleep.  What didn't she do?

Karen, I know that wherever you are, you are on to a new adventure.  You're not one to let life (or "afterlife") pass you by.   I hope you are able to play and ski and fence and paint or whatever it is you would like to do wherever you are and I will miss you and your boundless energy,  perseverance and smiling face.

With Love,
This is her obituary that describes her so much better than I did:

Karen E. Chan
Chan, Karen E.

Scottsville, NY: Karen passed away on August 23, 2011 after a long courageous battle against cancer. She never admitted defeat and faced each new challenge with determination and grace. Karen is survived by her husband of 40 years, Bob, daughters Alexandra (Brent), and MeeRa, step son Rob (Susan), sister Margaret (David) Szewczyk and brother Jared (Deborah) Smith plus grand and great grand children, nieces and nephews.

Karen possessed a rare gift. She had a voracious curiosity about the world, driven by a brilliant, analytic mind that allowed her to succeed in a man's world of business, but also a deep wellspring of artistic creativity that saw and expressed beauty in many elegant ways. She retired from Kodak and pursued numerous passions including Rotary Youth Exchange, a lifelong love of theatre, music, and skiing not only at Hunt Hollow but locations around the world, and ultimately found new forms of self expression and realization in the creation of her silk painting business, Chance Designs. Above all, family and friends were most important and her reach was worldwide. Karen was a steadfast pillar of her family and best friend of husband Bob. All whose life she touched, here and around the globe, were accepted into her heart and they each have lost a caring, loving friend.

A memorial service is planned at at 10:00am Saturday, September 17th 2011 at the Union Presbyterian Church, Scottsville, NY with a reception to follow. Please no flowers. Remember Karen's life by supporting the Scottsville Ambulance, the above Church, the Scottsville Free Library or Gilda's Club of Rochester will be appreciated. To leave an online condolence, please visit Arr: J.H. Cameron Funeral Home, Scottsville.

Published in Rochester Democrat And Chronicle on August 28, 2011 

 Check out Ginny's excellent remembrance here.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful testimony to an extraordinary woman. I haven't seen Karen for many, many years but memories of her are still warm in my heart. A former bridge club member