Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Sad Start to 2020 and A Special Tribute to a Wonderful Life

On January 1st we fired up Opus, left Stuart and headed to our favorite winter destination, the Florida Keys Elks. Even though it is only 170 miles south, it was great to see so many friends who return every year.
We love our view of the tiki hut and sunsets at the Elks. Look closely and you can see Venus, the evening star, shining brightly in the top right corner.
The sunsets here are always fantastic. People gather every evening to watch the sun disappear over the horizon. Sadly though, a week after we arrived we received word that Nanc's sister Michelle had lost her battle with cancer.
We made a reservation to fly from Miami to DC to be with Keith and to celebrate Michelle's life. As we were leaving at 4:45 AM the full moon was reflecting off the water. 
After she was diagnosed in February 2017,  Nanc and I planned a trip along with Nanc and Michelle's brother Dave and sister Judy to visit Michelle and Keith in Maryland to spend time with them and to celebrate her birthday.   
It was a great family time, exploring Old Town Alexandria and National Harbor. Here are the three sisters; Nanc, Judy and Mike (her family only nickname). In the back are Dave, Jim, Braedon (Dave's grandson) and Keith.
Keith, Mike and Spartacus, their wonderful labradoodle.  
That summer we visited Rick and Denise's place on Lake Norman, North Carolina. Here are Nanc, Michelle, Keith Denise and Rick enjoying a great meal.
Mike even conquered the paddle board, but not without incident, running into a dock. It was a fun visit sunning, swimming and boating.
On many of our trips south we would spend a few days visiting with Keith and Michelle. On this visit, we went into DC and then had a great dinner in Old Town Alexandria.
This spring Michelle flew down to Stuart to spend a few days with us at our new home in Stuart. This picture was taken at the Flagler Museum in West Palm Beach where we saw how the super rich lived.
On Sunday, January 12, we had a celebration of life at Keith and Michelle's beautiful home. Michelle's co-workers put the whole thing together and it was a great tribute to a life well lived. Here are Dawn, Pilar, Carolyn, Judy, Satu, Nanc, Brenda and Jim.  Nanc dubbed the ladies the Fabulous Five.  
They brought everything, including more than enough food. 
As part of the celebration, each person brought a flower. The needle work on the wall was done by Grace,  Michelle, Nanc, Judy and Dave's Mom. 
Three vases were needed for all the flowers. It was a wonderful tribute for a wonderful caring person. 
Several people spoke about how Michelle had done so much for them while working together. A special thank you to these ladies who not only put together the celebration, but also supported Keith and Michelle during her long struggle with cancer.  We are so thankful she had such wonderful and caring friend.
The celebration ended with a walk along the Potomac River in old town Alexandria. This was one of Michelle's favorite places and a fitting ending to a wonderful celebration. Here are Sparta, Keith, Rick, Jim and Nanc. It was a beautiful sunny day that would have made Michelle happy. One thing she truly disliked was the cold weather.
Sparta was their for us also. Even he knows something is just not right, but he is not sure what it is.  He was a constant companion to Michelle all through her illness. 
Michelle and Keith. It has been a very difficult time for all of us. We are so grateful for all the support of friends and family during this difficult time. Keith intends to follow through with their plan to move to Arizona to be closer to his family. He will soon be taking the road trip west with Sparta for a new beginning. He and Michelle will always have a special place in our hearts. 
We would also like to give a special thanks to our friends here at the Elks for their kindness and support.