I am Helen Jarrell Ray, the youngest of three sisters, ages two, five and six when our mother died so young. I live in Shreveport, LA with my husband, Tom.
My outstanding memory of Cathy was how blessed she felt to be living her adult life in lush, beautiful Oregon after all her early years on the semi-arid, flat plains of the Texas Panhandle. Oh, how she loved showing us the rhododendrons in full bloom, the coast, mountains and Columbia River valley when we visited her in the 90's. She kept a beautiful garden on her condo’s small yard and maintained a flowerbed on the common ground for all to enjoy.
Cathy treasured her friends and we were honored to meet several of them. Wonderful people. Cathy took such pleasure in the little things – the markets, fresh fruits, preparing special dishes, pretty fabrics, sewing, needlework. I wonder how many people have enjoyed one of her little crocheted dishrags which she gave out so freely – some of them to her church for fundraisers. The last sweater she knitted she gave to my daughter, Melissa.
Her church seemed to be a cornerstone in her life. Over the years – from time to time – Cathy mentioned how she felt she could contribute something by helping with the bookkeeping on Mondays. We visited the church with her while we were there and it was a lovely experience.
Growing up on a farm during the dust bowl, depression years was not an easy life but there were fun things. We had parties, community singing meetings, school events, team sports, sleepovers with friends and cousins and many shared meals in the community and with extended family. Still, in addition to assigned tasks and planned activities, Cathy would do extra things – make a dress for our baby sister, Joan, make sugar cookies and cakes and tell us ghost stories at night. Undoubtedly, being the oldest, she did many extra things I took for granted at the time and do not recall. She always made her hair look great too (in my view) while fussing about how thin it was. And made A’s in school.
After Cathy came under Georgetta’s care, more than two years ago, she told me almost with wonder that she had never received such good care before in her life. She was so happy to be there and often said she owed it all to Shara and Keith, plus to Shara and her doctor for helping stabilize her health beyond her expectations.
Cathy and I had mostly perfunctory contacts over the busy years of rearing our children and working but became much closer after we each retired. She was always ready for a telephone visit about family, politics, current events, vacations, sports, health concerns and always books that we both loved. I just read a book last month that she had written to me about several years ago. We visited in person too. How I shall miss my very involved, much loved “big sister.”