Friday, March 27, 2009

When Words Fail...

Today, I have to attend the funeral of a long-time writing acquaintance. I am so sorry for her family, for their loss, and for the loss of such a wonderfully talented, giving lady.

Her "official obituary" reads in part:

Stella Rose Edwards, 78 of Lawrence, passed away Sunday, March 22, 2009 at Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo.

Stella was born Stella Filipczyk on September 16, 1930 in Chicago. She was the daughter of Felix and Rose (Brumber) Filipczyk. They preceded her in passing, along with her first husband: Howie Schoenberger, two sisters: Florence and Jean and a brother: Rudy.

On October 13, 1953, she married her soul mate: Everett "Eddy" Edwards, who also precedes her in passing. Stella and Eddy met at Camp Farr in Indiana and in 1964, they moved to Lawrence and completed their dream of owning their own summer camp, when they founded Lakeside Farm Camp, later changing the name to Cedar Lodge. Stella spent her entire adult life nourishing the hearts and souls of young people through hers and her husbands lifetime passion of owning and running children summer camps. Her love of music, flowers and animals were gifts she presented daily to those who knew and loved her.

Stella is survived by four children: Chuck and Pat (Griffin) Edwards, David and Nan (Kohlmann) Edwards, Sally and Gene Butler and Amy Edwards, along with seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that those wishing to make a donation can donate to a Scholarship Fund being set up in Stella’s name at Cedar Lodge, being created to change the lives of even more children or you may donate to a Children’s Charity of your choice.

Anyone who knows me knows that I believe in the power of words. They can inspire, enlighten, and educate. Handled correctly, they can move our emotions -- incite anger, elicit tears, or provoke laughter. However, I must say that words fail miserably in summing up a life.

I met Stella over 15 years ago. She and I both attended a writer's group in Lawrence, Michigan. Most of the members of the group wanted to write for writing's sake. They were not at all ready or willing to take the plunge into writing for publication. But Stella -- grandmother Stella, with a full life, busy schedule, and extended family -- wanted to publish.

I could take credit, in some small way, for encouraging her to submit her material for publication. But I can't take any credit for her actually following through with it, taking the time, making the effort, and risking the rejection. When Stella told me that Reminisce magazine had accepted a piece she sent them, I was so thrilled for her.

After that, nothing could stop her. She had several things published in "Reminisce" and was tickled when people contacted her because of something she'd written. She later compiled her stories into books to share with her family, friends, and other interested people.

It's ironic that someone can love words as much as Stella did (and I do), yet words simply do not have the power to do justice to a person's life. Ultimately, when it comes time to comfort those remaining, make things "all better," and keep our loved ones with us a little while longer, words fail us.

Goodbye, Stella. You will be missed.