Lisa was the life of the party
The following was a eulogy speech I gave at my sister Lisa's funeral.
On a cold winter day in Millington, Tennessee, Lisa Marie Shaner was born to Dave and Polly Shaner. It was January 21st 1963. Lisa was the fifth and last child that Polly would deliver and she was considered “the baby!” It was a title she never gave up and would have fought with you to try to take that away. She relished the title of “The baby!” And “babied,” she was! She had two older brothers, Dave and me, and two older sisters, Brenda and Julie! Lisa was now the baby, or “life of the party” at our house… and she relished that title! She had it made in the shade, she had it so easy… and we let her know that!
Our father, David Fay Shaner, was in the U. S. Navy at the time, and because of that, we moved quite a bit, or some would say, A LOT! When Lisa was four months old, we moved to Brunswick, Maine. But for only nine months, before we moved on to Newport Naval Training Base. We lived in Middletown, Rhode Island, on the Base family quarters from 1964 until 1968.
In the summer of 1968, we moved to a Chicago suburb, Vernon Hills, near the Great Lakes Naval Training Center where my dad was then stationed. It was there our family became much more engaged with the activities of the church and was introduced to youth groups, Bible camp and more social life than one person could handle… except Lisa! She excelled in people skills, laughing, and FUN!
In 1975, when my older brother and one of my younger sisters had left for college or marriage my dad moved my mom, along with Julie and Lisa, to Madison Wisconsin for one year and then on to the Milwaukee area.
Lisa attended Oak Creek High School graduating in 1981. While in school she was very active in athletics, playing softball. She was on the Pom-Pom squad and… she was on the Girls Track team where she excelled in the SHOT-PUT! She was a grown up full sized young lady that no longer wanted to be called the Baby! And, my brother and I obliged… or she would have punched our lights out!
In April of 1982 Lisa gave birth to a son, Colby. She knew that in 1982 she could not give that boy the life he deserved. She made the very difficult, heart wrenching, and courageous decision to let somebody else take that boy and raise him as their own. Eighteen years later Colby and Lisa reconnected and they have had a loving relationship every since. Colby told Dave and I yesterday that he has no regrets for the decision Lisa made. And that he is just excited to be a part of this family.
Lisa then took her determination and her spirit of energy, moved on, got married and had three more amazing children, two sons and a daughter. Allen was born in April of 1984, A.J. in July of 1985, and Nikki in December of 1990!
Lisa had her share of heart aches, and body aches! She had 27 auto accidents! Several broken bones, falls, and a variety of other health related injuries!
But she seemed to be resilient to defeat. Maybe it was the athlete or the cheerleader in her? Most of all it was the Holy Spirit that was guiding her days and nights. She never left the fellowship of a loving church, or Jesus the son of God, in her life. This spirit drove her to look forward and press on towards the prize.
After several years of raising her children on her own, on August 18th, 1996 Lisa married Art Bagwell. Her life seemed to be back on track. Art helped Lisa thrive. They worked together and raised their children for another 10 years, until one tragic day, August 19, 2006… while Art was mowing the grass, he suffered a massive heart attack and died in her arms!
Earlier in April 2000, our mother passed away. Lisa was still the baby, and she took that hard! Harder than the rest of us, save my dad.
In 2006 at Art’s passing, my dad was able to comfort her like none of the siblings could. He also had lost a spouse. Their common grief enabled them to bond even more than they had been over the years.
But, Lisa was finally bruised beyond her ability to hold on… She grieved, we grieved… she was broken. After several weeks, months, maybe even years of mourning she picked herself back up and she moved on, again! It was the only thing she knew how to do… move on.
Lisa immersed herself in her kids, her work, her church, and had about as much energy as any woman I’ve ever seen!
Her children all grew up. Allen was commissioned in the Air Force after graduating from the Citadel. AJ was working for the school district in his then hometown of Greeneville, SC.. Nikki is a cheerleader and has been attending Columbus State University. Allen married Meghan, AJ married Ashley, and Nikki is now planning her wedding to Merit for later this Summer.
In 2009 she met the love of her life when she met Brandon, and on October 10, 2010 she and Brandon got married. She asked me to perform the ceremony, but when I checked my calender, I noticed that date was on a Sunday? I thought that was strange, but she explained that Brandon was a computer geek and they getting married on a day that looked like 1-0-1-0-1-0, the binary equivalent of Computer Nirvana! It was right then, without ever have met Brandon, that I liked him!
About the only thing she was prouder of than her husband and children was her now emerging next generation… her grandchildren! McKenna was born in August of 2010 and Katelyn was born in May 2012.
Lisa passed from this life last Sunday, January 27th. She was 50 years and 7 days old. Lisa celebrated her 50th birthday just eleven days before her demise. She had a party planned but it was postponed because of her health issues. So were just going to do that for her right now!
She is survived by her husband Brandon, her four children, their spouses, six grandchildren, two brothers, two sisters and their spouses, 13 nieces and nephews, 21 great nieces and nephews, her father, a multitude of work associates and friends, and a whole Kingdom of God that meets here… and all over this world!
So Lisa, were all here… let’s party!
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Steve Shaner is a professional story teller that delights in traveling to meet new and old friends. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.