Karen was my sister. She was a year and a half older than me, so she was closer in age to me than any of our other siblings. We had more differences than similarities, but we always got along really well. That’s because Karen was very good at relationships. She was shy when she was young, so she didn’t have huge numbers of friends, but the friendships she made were lasting. She grew out of her shyness when she became an adult, and she made many good friends wherever she went. Karen was a great listener, and a master at unconditional love. I’m not sure she was ever angry with me, though I am certain I must have given her cause to be, plenty of times. She very rarely lost her patience with anyone.
Everyone knows she was really talented as an artist, but few people know she also had a beautiful singing voice. I remember one time as a teenager she sang Ave Maria at a talent show, and it was amazing. I wish I had a recording of that. And her paintings were beautiful. I have five of them, but I really wish I had more. I was waiting for a bigger apartment and more wall space to ask her to paint some of my favorites (of her paintings) for me, and now I’ll always regret that I put that off.
She was a great cook – often when I would visit her, we’d spend hours in the kitchen talking while she cooked a delicious and nutritious meal. She took good care of herself and always ate healthy foods. She was energetic and so young at heart – she was always the first adult to jump in and play with the kids. She was a wonderful mother. She loved her daughters so much, and they are as creative, thoughtful, and playful as she was.
She was a great sister and friend to me. When she came to visit right after I’d had my daughter, she noticed that my feet were swollen, and she was so sweet and gave me the longest, best footrub ever. She was a nurturer. She always called me on my birthday, even the one that was twelve days before she died, when she absolutely didn’t need to have me on her mind. She was one of the most optimistic people I know – she was always looking on the bright side and thinking positively.
My daughter, who is 8 years old, says she would describe Karen as adventurous.
I’ll miss you, Karen. Love, Greta