A picture is worth a thousand kazoos

Sister Sue Graduation

“Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.” — Sister Sue Tracy

A graduation picture fast-freezes a moment.

Few resonate outside of family … until you consider Sister Sue Tracy was family to worlds beyond the usual definitions.

To Delinda Brock, “Sister Sue’s graduation picture from her last accomplishment of completing chemo, is in my Book Of Life of others who have passed on.”

Graduation photo backstory

As the accidental musical minion who shot that graduation photo, I had to smile, remembering how it happened.

No one was more surprised than I to arrive at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital for a visit, only to find Sue prepping for her “graduation” after finishing what she called her “Sweet Sixteen” — her 16th and final in-patient chemo.

Armed with mortar board, gown and a recorded rendition of the traditional graduation march, “Pomp and Circumstance,” she was as excited as a little kid at a birthday party.

The time came  and Sue pressed “play” on the recording.

The silence was deafening, despite repeated attempts to jumpstart the music.

No pomp due to circumstance?

Disappointing her because of a little mechanical malfunction was not an option, and I found myself volunteering to accompany her on a kazoo. I have no idea how it got in her room, but my duty was clear.

One of my fondest memories is of following in Sue’s wake, humming my heart out on that thing, as she sailed grandly down hospital halls, doing the royal wave, and sharing delighted smiles with her “subjects.”

Switching “instruments” once outside, I grabbed my phone and shot the photo just before she stepped into her waiting carriage and was off.

Insider trading lives on

Delinda, a fellow member of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, says “I still miss her but will remember her words of wisdom as I continue to work through:”

  • If we keep a positive mind about what we are facing if will make the difficult moments easier to work through;
  • Ask many questions of our providers so we can make the best choices for our treatment plans;
  • Remember that each person’s journey is different;
  • Look for comments that will help you, the survivor as well as family members who helped you along the way;
  • Rest often and treat yourself to the little things in life when you feel your anxiety level on the rise.

Pictures can reflect the essence of a life when mourning a death.

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“Attending her funeral helped me to bring closure to my emotions of her passing on, and I love the pictures they had in the lobby reflecting her inspiration to others.” — Delinda Brock

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