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Tributes and Condolences
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Truth be told...  / Justin Russell (Son)  Read >>
Truth be told...  / Justin Russell (Son)
Truth Close
What are you up to? / Carrie Acitelli (baby sister)  Read >>
What are you up to? / Carrie Acitelli (baby sister)
It is sometimes difficult for me to put into words the relationship I had with Valerie.  Being so far apart in age, growing up as a child I do not have that many "at home" memories" with her.  There was an almost 15 year age difference between us so she was leaving about the time I have any early memories.  Val came into my life at a later age.  She had a great talent in writing and tried to encourage my own abilities by sending little notes in the mail throughout my high school years and late teens and twenties.  At those times when you doubt your abilities and strengths, Val would always seem to instinctively know and drop a line about a contest, class, etc that encouraged me to take a risk and find out.  She reinforced the notion that unless you are willing to take risks and stick your neck out there once in a while, then you would never find out what you are capable of and that true failure was to not try. 

My Dad's passing gave me the catalyst that I needed to change my life and circumstance.  Kind of a "shit or get off the pot" mentality!  I could continue to be miserable or take life by the reins and control my own destiny.  Val's life and passing is yet another catalyst to prioritize what is dear to me.  I again realize that I am the only one controling my life's path and I thank the Good Lord for the many blessings bestowed upon me.  The abilty to laugh at myself and realize that others perspectives can be just as real and valid as my own, (even when in total contrast with my own take on things, allows me the freedom to forgive, empathize  and respect (at the very least  the others persons  right to their own opinion). 

Life leads us down so many different paths and unfortunatley, some have droppings in the middle of them that you can't circumvent.  You can try to walk around it, yet find even the edges of your shoes get a bit messy.(How did that get on my shoe? what smells?  How did I do that?)  Unavoidable collision.  How you clean it up is what counts!  Turn it into fertilizer and make flowers!

Valerie has taught me many things in her life and continues to do so in her physical death.  She however, is still around me in her spirit, her laugh that I can clearly still hear, her sarcasm and wit. 

Take risks.  Make things happen.  Believe that you can even if others don't.    Remember every moment that what you say and do impacts everything, especially your children and yourself.  When you know better, you do better.  Don't dwell on what you did wrong but what it taught you and move forward. 

Thanks Sis for the wisdom.  I will always love you.  Carrie
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Leaving Maine / Vicki McAllian (sister)  Read >>
Leaving Maine / Vicki McAllian (sister)
This has taken me awhile to put into words because the words are such apart of our relationship, both when you were here with us and now that you are here among us. I have gone from moments of deep sadness  of spirit, to being lifted high and free, like you were pushing me on the old wooden swing( that hit me in the head and gave me a concussion!) My experiences in Maine, before and after saying goodbye to you at Seawall will always reflect in my life. I want my sisters to know that any doubts I faced about spreading your ashes and losing you to the sea and time, were erased as we stood on that beach. I was surprised at how much my feelings and connection to Maine had changed ,as I rode back to Bradley with Heather.Instead of a sense of loss at having no place to mark your passing, I was filled with this feeling that Maine would always be home to my heart and to my family. It was like an Earth, water, land cycle that we are forever linked to through this experience. We are just at different stages now. I will always feel linked to our parents and their resting place, but I am so grateful that God placed me in  this special event so that I could feel the connection and love that will always remain with Val in Maine and in my heart. All my sisters were there, as we had been on New Years Eve, our lives linked  like they were that night. Great strengh..great love...great hope.....great beginnings. Happy Birthday Val.  Close
Happy Birthday  / Heather Spaulding (Daughter)  Read >>
Happy Birthday  / Heather Spaulding (Daughter)
Yesterday was your birthday and what a birthday it was.  We went to seawall  yesterday to carry out your last wishes, to have your ashes sprinkled in the ocean.  It was a beautiful spring day, the sun was shining bright, the wind was blowing and the waves were gently coming in and out.  When the time came to carry out your wishes Cousin Cathy had said some words you had left with her, then each person in attendance took turns sprinkling your ashes in the ocean.  We watched you get carried out to sea.  It was beautiful.

There is a story too that goes with this event, as there was with any adventure you went on.  When the time came and we were at the ocean I turned to the others and asked how close I should get.  The waves has been gently coming in and out.  Well you made sure the waves came to us.  Just after saying those words the ocean's water came to my feet, as if to say you wanted to be directly in the water and if I was too scared to go too far out you would bring the water to me.  I was wonderful.  Everyone left with the ocean's water on their feet and a rock from the beach. 

We love you and will always carry you in our hearts (and on our shoes, Ha, Ha).  I love you and will forever be grateful for your bringing me into this world.

Love,
Your Daughter
Heather Koreen Russell Spaulding Close
The lesson learned / Heather Spaulding (Daughter)  Read >>
The lesson learned / Heather Spaulding (Daughter)
The last three months were difficult for both mom and I.  Pain and the inability to move became the battle.  Being a 56 year old woman in a nursing home was another challange.  But while challanging mom tried to make the best of it.  I can remember, shortly after she got there, we talked about how depressing it was for her to be there at her age. I told her to try to find something positive about it, something that would make getting out of bed and in her wheelchair worth while.   She had said that physicial therapy was the only fun thing to do.  She was telling me about how one of the therapist had a squirt bottle that she would squirt people in therapy.  I told her that squirting a squirt bottle would be good therapy for her and if the therapist would let her she should do that.  Well mom thought that was a good idea, and got a squirt bottle from a therapist.  Mom took the squirt bottle, went out into the hall and proceeded to squirt any nurse that walked near here.  She would tell them "it is ok, my daughter says it is therapy for me to squirt water at you.". 

It was the little things in life that made her laugh and she always knew how to take the worst of situations and find some way to bring the sunshine in.  She fought and fought until she just has no fight left.  She knew what she wanted and she knew how to get it, in anything she did.

Mom is now in a better place that is pain free and that allows her the mobility that she was denied during her last 3 years here on earth.  When people pass we often reflect back on what lesson we were suppose to learn from having these people in our lives.  Mom taught me many things, but first and foremost she taught me about unconditional love.  "We were born knowing unconditional love. It is a gift, a birthright given to us from the very beginning. It’s the conditioning once our souls take on the human form that limits our belief in unconditional love. It’s erased and replaced by conditioned thoughts of the world. We learn our actions cause reactions. We learn that we are either good or bad. We learn What is acceptable and what is not. That becomes our point of reference, removing us far away from what we were born with. After time and experiences it almost seems hopeless to return".  We need to "release the past, release the pain, and forgive. Forgive means to stop being angry about or resentful against, to relieve from payment of. To relieve from payment of the past is the step that will bring you to unconditional love. The world owes you nothing. You were born deserving it, so was everyone else. We are here on our journey’s to help each other heal" (http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Brandt1.html).  Mom helped me realize that people have the right to make their own decision even if we think they are wrong.  That people have the right to choose their own path and we have to be respectful of their decision and love them anyway.  Thank you mom for keeping the unconditional love that I was born with, alive within me.  I LOVE YOU!!!!!
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STEPPING OUT FOR A MINUTE WITH MY SISTER / VICKI MCALLIAN (SISTER)  Read >>
STEPPING OUT FOR A MINUTE WITH MY SISTER / VICKI MCALLIAN (SISTER)
We have just returned from a very long trip to Shreveport,La.Val's passing happened while I was on the road to this committment.Exactly where she would have wanted me to be, at that time.We had discussed it many times and looked forward to sharing the events that always go on when I go on one of these adventures(many of which ,in our younger years, she initiated).So today was my first day back, since her passing.It was sleeting this morning , but we had a sunshine break this afternoon.  I was trying to deal with all the mixed emotions ,that we all are going through ,and I was really at a point that I needed something positive to lift my spirits and put me back on track again.So I decided to walk to the mailbox, even though I had already been to the post office to pick up our held mail. As I stepped out on the walkway to the mailbox, I happened to look down, and all around my path were the brightest purple violets. They stretched all across the lawn as they had in Maine every spring.My mind was flooded with the memories of all the " poor man's bouquets" all the sisters had picked over the years. Some for our Mom, some for our Dad and many that the younger sisters, had given to the older sisters. I was so surprised and flooded with the sweetest, loving feelings. Those feelings you get only from innocent , unconditional love that comes from a gift of the "poor man"s bouquet.It was like God had reached down and handed me this garden of violets and head full of loving memories that connected all my family. It made me cry and smile and feel comforted all at the same time.Those are the thoughts I want to be left with when I think of my big sister.   love to all Vicki Close
Heather's Tribute at the March 14th Memorial Service / Heather Koreen (Russell) Spaulding (Daughter)  Read >>
Heather's Tribute at the March 14th Memorial Service / Heather Koreen (Russell) Spaulding (Daughter)
First of all I would like to thank everyone for coming tonight.  My mother had very specific wishes for when this time came, for which she left a very nice hand written note, and my family and I have tried to follow those wishes to a T. 
 
My mother wanted me to gather the people she knew and loved as well as those closet to my brother and I.  She wanted all of us to share memories through her love of books and photographs.  She wanted us to remember the happy times and toast her journey in this life.  She wanted you all to know that she learned from all she knew and she hopes you have learned something from her.
 
My mother planned everything right down to writing her own obituary and even leaving me the phone number of the funeral home for whom she wanted me to work with.  She wanted a direct cremation and with her ashes she wanted them to be scattered in a river or ocean as an expression of her love for nature and the water. 
 
As her last gesture my mother donated a part of herself to research.  She lived 3 years with a disease that seems to be a mystery.  We don’t know how people get it or why.  We don’t know for sure if it is hereditary.  She wanted to make sure that she was able to help shed some light on this disease.  She asked that her brain and spinal cord (the two organs most affected by MS) be sent to the Rocky Mountain Research Center in Colorado.  I can tell you today that this was successful. 
 
My mother left my brother and I a very special note for after she was gone.  She wrote to us to remember ONLY the good times and asked us to try to help someone everyday.  She asked us to recite daily a little prayer that she had found.  “Dear god, forgive me for my sins, and forgive those who sin against me.”.  She states that forgiveness is powerful.  I hope you will join my brother and I and do the same in your life. 
 
My mother writes in her final message that she leaves us with no regrets and no fears.  This is merely a new beginning for all of us.  Love is forever. 
 
May we all join together and lift our glasses to Valerie Jean Russell born March 30, 1948 and left on a new journey March 10, 2005.  To Valerie!!!!
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