Rest in Peace, our beloved sister, Christian, mother, daughter, aunt, best friend, scientist, educator, musician, and original charter signer of our ministry,
Sharon Guido Kubiak.
Feb 27, 1955- Jan 20 2016
Founding Charter Member, SGEMI
For my beloved sister, Sharon Guido Kubiak.
This is not the way things are supposed to be. Parents are not supposed to bury their child. A daughter is not supposed to plan a mothers funeral months before her wedding. Brothers are supposed to protect and keep their sister from harm. Friends are not supposed to say goodbye to friends. A woman who was fortunate enough to retire early from a successful, award winning career was not supposed to spend her retirement caring for a husband she loved with her whole heart until his passing and then succumbing to the same disease 5 years to the day. A future son in law is supposed to spend his years arguing with his mother in law, not holding her hand as she passes away.
So, it is not supposed to be. But it is. Whether we like it or not, so it is. So, what good was my sister’s Christian faith? Where was God? Why did he let this happen? We could be bitter, we could be angry. I may not have the answer as to why this happened, but I will say, I can tell you where God was: He was in the hands of caring doctors and nurses who treated her. He was in the hands of her friend, Gail, who rubbed her legs as she lay on the couch that last day. He was most assuredly in the hands of her daughter Adrienne as she comforted her, drove her to the doctors and was with her every step of the way, a true testament to the character of my sister, as reflected in the love of a daughter, a daughter she took care of, nurtured and comforted as she was growing up, and who in turn did the same for her mom in her time of need. Yes, there was God. In the prayers and heartfelt cries of all of us gathered here, a true living testament to the love and character of Sharon, reflected in your faces, reflecting the image of God and His Love.
When I started to prepare this message, I wrote a first one, and it was sad. But it did not capture who my sister was, so I wrote another, she deserved the best, and it too, was not good enough so I tossed it. Then I wrote another, even more sad than the previous, and it too, was not good enough. And I thought, Why aren’t these good enough? I’m never going to be able to write a eulogy for my sister that comes anywhere near to capturing what she meant to me, to all of us, and do her justice. So I tossed that one too. And in a quiet, peaceful moment with snow gently tapping against my window it came to me. I thought, what would SHE want said about her? Her faith. Build on her faith
Yes, it came to me. She was easy to talk about because she was easy to talk to. First, why should we be sad and eulogize her? She was a Christian, and a Catholic, and she had a faith. A faith, as Christians that we really should come to know. And just what is the cornerstone of our faith? Is it Christmas presents? Easter baskets? No, the cornerstone of the Christian faith is the resurrection promise, given to us by Our Lord. The promise we have of life eternal, a heavenly reward. She had that faith. Most all of us in this room have that faith. A faith in a Savior. A Savior from what? From the punishment of eternal death. A promise of everlasting life. Yes, we can be sad in the short term, even Jesus was sad at the death of his friend Lazarus, but the joy was when he said, Lazarus, come out, and Lazarus came out from the grave. Once I looked at my sister’s faith, her Catholic faith, and used that as a cornerstone of what I wanted to say about her, the rest was easy. Instead of being sad at her passing, which is by the way, normal, we should also celebrate her life, not just grieve, but give thanks for her time among us. And be grateful that we all shared in her life, and she in ours. And once I used her faith as the building block, the rest of her life story came pouring out on paper, so much so that I had to cut it back just to fit the time we have here today.
So, in not mourning or grieving but celebrating my sister’s life, let me with pride, and with grateful thanksgiving tell you about my sister.
I remember once when I was a little kid, and she was home watching us I snuck in and hide under the couch. Dark Shadows was on the TV, you know, Barnabus Collins and all. Sharon came into the room, Where could my baby brother be? I didn’t answer, I wanted to scare her. She kept calling for me, but I didn’t answer. I was going to be a big monster and jump out and scare her to death. She sat on the couch. It was a green naugahide couch, and we had a red rug, like Christmas all year round in our rec room, I promise, mom, I really don’t know who ripped the black lining out from under the couch… anyway, maybe I could reach out and grab her ankle, or punch the bottom of the couch and send her into next year. When all of the sudden, a frozen ring ding came rolling under the couch. Hmmm, maybe she was feeding the monster. Maybe my would be victim wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe that girl with cooties wasn’t so bad after all.
Yes, as a child my sister turned me on. That’s right I said it, my sister ‘turned me on’. Now hold on, before y’all start thinking uh oh, what kind of scandal are we learning about from the Guido household, my sister did indeed turn me on. She turned me on to Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Santana and the Grateful Dead. And she turned me on to Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin. She loved music of all type, and if it was good enough for the monster tamer who fed me frozen ring dings every day after school, it was good enough for me. And because she loved music, I loved music and to this day still think about the days she taught me to play the guitar every time I am on stage, a stage we finally shared together just a month before she got sick, as we performed a concert together, something we always said we would do, but never got around to it, and how grateful I am that we finally did.
She turned me on to other things too: Marx Brothers movies, Planet of The Apes, Star Trek and Mint chocolate chip ice cream sundaes with hot fudge and butterscotch syrup from Friendly’s in Morrisville, with her friends, Ann Marie and Michelle. And how many sisters would dare bet their younger brother couldn’t eat an entire Al Jon’s #2 hoagie, the large one, whole loaf of Italian bread with hot peppers and onions, all in one sitting without throwing up. (I ate it, but lost the bet...my stomach hurt for days) . And who could forget the spirited arguments we had when my parents would go to bingo on Saturday nights and she watched us. She was a big Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadians fan and I was a Flyers fan, and when those two teams met, the fights were not always on the ice. Our living room was not too safe a place either. How many others could say their big sis knew more about hockey and Gil Gilbert’s or Ivan Cornwyaye’s stats than they did? I didn’t even particularly like hockey, but because my big sister did, I was determined to like it too.
And she turned me on to science, like only a mad scientists could (and in my eyes, she was indeed the mad scientist). Who could forget Paulie, the fetal pig. Her science project was to dissect a fetal pig. So, my mother’s sewing room became sort of a makeshift morgue for a pig autopsy. That was where I was first introduced to the fragrant yet sickly sweet smell of formaldehyde. But the coolest part was when she said: Hey baby brother, watch this; as my eyes bugged out in amazement as she inserted a straw into the pig’s lungs and blew them up. Wow! That was cool! Let’s show mom. Mom,Mom, sis’s pig is breathing again!!!It’s alive. How many of you could say you had a big sister that could make a dead pig breathe?
But the science did not stop there: She had to dissect a frog, but she had to bring her own in. My dad , I don’t know how many hours it took him, but he got her the biggest bullfrog he could find, so she could have it for science class. I guess all the tuition my parents paid to Villa Victoria Academy didn't cover frogs. All my sister complained about was how many pins it took in its brain to kill it. Ahhh, but the science didn’t stop there. Over Easter vacation, she brought home her class gerbils. My mom and gerbils do not get along. But what did we learn from the gerbils: Two things. One, my mom hates gerbils, and two, daddy gerbils really do eat their young. She came home with 13, and she went back to school with 4 and one big fat daddy gerbil. (And a really freaked out mother). Yes, her science experiments were fun in my house, like growing up with the female version of Einstien, (or Dr Mengela, depending on how you looked at it). But wait there’s more: Never go into my sister’s bedroom and start poking around in her science projects. Who knew that if you opened a vial of virgin fruit flies, they would all fly out and her science project would no longer be with virgin fruit flies, and that you really couldn’t catch fruit flies once they escaped into her room.
And speaking of her room, there was one phrase that could accurately describe it. In the movie Independence Day, Will Smith was dragging an alien creature wrapped in a parachute across the desert and he stopped, looked down at the dead alien and said “ What is that smell” . Well, regarding my sister’s bedroom, let’s just leave it at that.
Most girls would shriek at the mere sight of earthworms, and even some of the boys in the neighborhood too. But not Sharon. We dug up a whole can of earthworms and filled another can with cold spaghetti…something about hazing the freshman girls at Villa Victoria…
There are so many stories of our childhood and growing up that I could go on and on all day. But as in all families, there comes a time to move on and start a family of our own. And that family is a reflection of the family she had growing up. First there was a loving husband, a really neat guy named Steve, and then a daughter, who was the reflection of them both, in Adrienne. And the love, caring and compassion Sharon showed for Steve in his illness was a reflection of the values she learned from our mom and dad. When Steve died it broke her heart, and it broke my heart to see her in such grief. But she was strong, she had faith, and she had family. And she picked herself up, and carried on, as did Adrienne, and us all.
My sister and I were opposites in many respects; She liked school, I hated school, she was liberal, I was conservative, she was democrat, I was republican, she liked Bernie Sanders, I like Ted Cruz. Differences that in sadly too many cases tear people apart, but not with us. Our debates were fun, friendly and spirited, but respectful. Opposites in many ways, but don’t anyone dare hurt my sister, for you will see how fast family rallies together and you could learn how quickly brothers could make people disappear. And she would be there for us too when we most needed someone to talk to. Through some very difficult times, I knew I could count on my big sister to be there, even if it was to just lend an ear to cry in for an hour or two. She was there. That’s who she was. Love, care, fun, comfort, support, advice, anything you needed, Sharon was always there. I was and am blessed to have a sister like her. A couple years ago on Thanksgiving, right after she was diagnosed with cancer, we were sharing Thanksgiving together, and she waited until I had just the right amount of wine in my mouth, and she timed a joke and a punch line just perfectly enough to make me laugh hysterically, spewing wine out my nose, mouth all over the table, the wall and down my shirt. Yes, even all these years later, she still had it. Same as always. yes, even at 59 years old, she still had it. The ability to make me laugh, while nearly choking to death as I drowned on my drink, squirting from my nose. Just like when we were kids.
I am proud of her, from her academic excellence, to her musical abilities, to her fun loving free spiritedness, to the love she showed to her strength. As a little kid, my big sister inspired me to reach out to do my best, and as an adult, my big sister inspired me to reach out and do my best. How many grown men could say their big sister was one of their best friends too?
One of the saddest days on my childhood was the day my dad drove her out to Seattle to live, and he came home a few days later alone. I realized she was not here anymore. Nothing would be the same. She was in my heart, but she was not here.
Until a day a few months later, my dad went out to Seattle and brought her back home, and there was joy and celebration and everything was right in our house again. So, too, something today does not seem right, she is not here. But like the day my dad brought her safely home in his arms so too, her heavenly father has brought her home safely in His arms, safe, sound and at home, with her husband Steve.
On Tuesday night, before she died, Sharon was slipping in and out but she began to reach up with both arms. Was it angels she was reaching for? Perhaps. Was it Jesus she was reaching for? Most likely. But I like to believe she saw Steve, ready to come for her, but God held him back just a little while longer. For the irony of it may just be the most romantic part, if we allow it to be; God held him back just a few hours more, so that on Jan 20th, 5 years to the day that Steve died, He could finally say to Steve, OK, you bugged me enough now you may kiss your bride. Again.
And to you, my sister, my best friend, you are free, you are with God, you are at peace. And we shall see you soon.
Until then, you will live on in our hearts.