Remarks Made at Evelyn Wallraff's
Feb. 10, 2001
by Barbara Wallraff
brother, Dean Wallraff, had to cancel a business trip to France
to be here, and my husband, Julian Fisher, had to postpone a trip to England.
And I can just hear Evelyn's voice now:
"Oh, no, don't do that. You won't be able to get your money back
for the tickets you did buy them at a discount fare, didn't you?
Then they're probably nonrefundable. And I'll be dead, so it won't make
the least bit of difference to me."
Fifteen or twenty years ago now, Evelyn
had a heart attack, and after she awoke to consciousness in the hospital,
almost her first words to my father were to remind him that the coupons
on some bonds had matured that day and he should be sure to get down to
the bank and clip them.
Evelyn Wallraff was a very practical woman,
and in some ways a very unsentimental one. And yet she always used that
practicality and that shrewdness in the service of the people she cared
about. She was very proud to have a son and a son-in-law with international
business projects and interests; a daughter and a daughter-in-law accomplished
in the arts and she was unfailingly generous to us all. She was proud
to be a member of this church and felt honored whenever she could be
of service to it. With her many friends, she hovered between bluntness,
that same self-effacingness that her family knew so well she wanted
never to be intrusive - and deep sympathy and solicitude. She took enormous
pleasure in her connections to you and the things you did together.
I think her life often amazed her - the
youngest of five children in a Catholic artisan's family in Chicago, grown
up to be a college science professor and live in Arizona and travel the
world. I will be forever grateful to her for setting me on a path toward
a life of my own that amazes me. Evelyn died at a time when she was reaping
the well-deserved rewards of her life. When she left us, she had happy
plans to look forward to, and a long lifetime's worth of wonderful memories
to reflect on.
The last time she came to visit me in Boston,
she did something she had done on previous visits: she tucked a piece
of paper into my hand listing the latest information about where the folders
containing her income-tax returns were, the names of her doctor and her
lawyer, and all that sort of thing. The last item on the page was the
name and phone number of the funeral home where she had signed up as a
member of the memorial society almost thirty years ago. She was no more
flighty about death than she was about many other things. She'd probably
tell us not to be silly and carry on about missing her. But of course