Please join Karen`s family and friends as they spend time remembering their spouse, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, sister-in-law, and friend. Bring a story to share and arms to hug. We will be at the Wilson Funeral Home on Friday, November 14, 2014 from 4pm to 7pm. Please come and go as your schedule allows. There is no formal service planned.
Next summer, the family will hold a private memorial at the family camp. At this time the family will carryout one of Karen`s last wishes: spreading her ashes at camp.
As the sun rose on Saturday, November 8, 2014, Karen took her last breath. She left us while being held by her husband, children, and sister. Three weeks prior to Karen`s death, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in her liver and bones. The exact origin of her cancer is unknown, but it came quickly and washed over her like an ocean`s wave crashing into the beach. Karen and her family spent the three weeks between her diagnosis and death making new memories and telling stories of the life that they had spent together.
Karen`s illness was a huge shock to her and everyone who knew her. Karen was a lively, joyous, caring and giving woman with a kind heart. She would greet everyone with a quick warm smile. Although she had a quiet way about her, she was in no way meek. Her inner strength was apparent to all that knew her, and the way that she dealt with her diagnosis and illness only verified that.
Karen was completely dedicated to her work at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services where she worked for 34 years. First, as a child protective case worker and then as an adult protective case worker. She committed the last 16 of those years to working tirelessly as the Director of Adult Protective Services. During this time she served on both Governor and Legislative Committees, which were focused on improving the care and services for Maine`s elderly. In 2012, Karen retired from the Maine DHHS. Before her death, Karen was working part time for Maine Adult Guardianship Services as the Director of Guardianship Services. She was the first and only guardian in the state of Maine to be a certified by the National Guardianship Association. She was also Board Member of the National Guardianship Association.
In her free time, Karen enjoyed a variety of activities. Although she would never claim to have a green thumb, she thoroughly enjoyed working in her gardens. In the evenings, she might be found working on her most recent crocheting or sewing project; which was most likely intended for someone else. Karen also found joy in traveling and experiencing other cultures and new things. Although she only found time to take one cross county train trip while the children were young, as an empty-nester she was finally able visit Italy (ancestral homeland), Mexico, Ireland, and Alaska. She also found time to take several short winter trips to Florida, Utah, Arizona, and the Carolinas.
In recent years, Karen had been planning, designing, and literally working with her husband building a new cottage to replace the family camp. This was going to be their retirement home. She was extremely excited about the cottage and how it was coming together. She hoped to work on it this winter and be able to use it next summer.
An overwhelming outpouring of support and love surrounded Karen and her family during her final days in the form of cards, flowers, phone calls, visits, and delicious meals. Everyone who knew her wanted to do something to help, almost as a way to thank her for the influence that Karen had had on their life. To quote a few of the cards that were sent,
`I feel so fortunate to know you and to have worked with you. My hope is that you will feel the great comfort that you gave to others. You are a beautiful, amazing woman. Your gentle, calm, and compassionate nature put others at ease. Along with those wonderful qualities is your beautiful sense of humor. You opened your heart and shared your love with so many over the years.`
`I will always remember you as a person with an amazing abundance of kindness, as one who made huge contributions to so many. I will always remember your constant calm demeanor, wisdom, and positive leadership.`
While Karen is still with us in spirit and in the memories we have of her, the physical void that she has left will forever be felt by the family and friends that survive her. For Rod, Karen`s husband, there will be a deafening silence, from the loss of his wife, lover, partner, helper, confidant, and best friend of 35 years as he navigates the future alone and continues to lovingly rebuild the family camp that was to bring joy to her. Her children, Jennifer, Nicholas, and Julie will always feel the love that their mother had for them, but the absence of her support, smiles, hugs or a simple phone call will always be missed. Judy, Karen`s sister, will miss her in only the way that a sister can. This loss for her runs deep, as she lost not just a member of her family, but her best friend as well. Karen`s vibrant spirit and warm smile will be missed by many others that survive her: Paul, her brother; her granddaughters and daughter-in-law; her many sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law; countless nieces and nephews; friends; former co-workers; and neighbors.
On Saturday morning, after being told that Karen had passed away, her two and a half year old granddaughter may have summed it up the best by saying, ` But grandma loved us.` And, so, in our grief and when we miss her, just remember Karen`s love and the impact that it had on your life.
Below, please leave a story, favorite memory, or photo of Karen. We would love to hear about Karen and the way that she impacted your life.