Claire's Favorite Things (and not so favorite things) by Susan and Jimmy Goudeau
Susan: This year marks the 20th anniversary of Claire’s birth to heaven and every year during our presentation time, we or someone close to Claire will tell a story about her. We do this so that you too can know something about her. Because it’s a special anniversary year, we thought we’d tell you about Claire’s favorite things and even a few things that were not her favorites. Jimmy: Claire absolutely loved making lists and checking off things accomplished. The first time we saw her doctors she had her list of questions. From the beginning Claire wanted to know what was going on with her treatment. One of her doctors failed to address her in a manner she considered appropriate. Her cancer doctor treated her as if she really didn’t understand what was going on. She let him know he should talk directly to her not just her parents. I’ll never forget the shocked look on his face. But from then on, he always spoke directly to her. We ran across some lists that included her daily activities written on its own index card. The entire week of index cards was placed in an envelope. Yes, she was organized. Susan: Claire was determined to complete her fourth-grade year – and with the help of her teachers and special friends she did it before she died. While she was a good student, she didn’t make straight A’s. She had to be reminded to do her homework because fun was the most important thing and most homework lacked a fun factor. She loved school and learning but would tell you lunch, recess, and riding the bus were her favorite “subjects”. Her favorite lunch was pizza with milk to drink. We know all of this because she had a list. Jimmy: We mentioned fun was the main criteria for worthy activities. That included girl scouts, family camping and scout camping, cheerleading, and Han Mu Do, a type of martial arts. She loved wearing hats and gathered quite a collection as she began to lose her hair from radiation and chemotherapy. She wasn’t always good natured during those last seven months. Sometimes she was angry and resentful, but her daily reminders on her lists usually included SMILE and BE NICE. Susan: She also loved writing notes and letters. Many never mailed or delivered. I suspect it was her way of venting her frustration about a situation or some person in particular. I recently had a morning with one of Claire’s friends Kaitlyn. She had a “Claire” box that contained little notes. One such note had been attached to some pictures from some event. A simple note just saying, “I hope you enjoy.” Another letter about their friendship. Just simple little notes. One letter written to me from Girl Scout camp the summer between 3rd and 4th grade read like this:
Jimmy: One of our Sunday rituals was to receive anointing of the sick after mass. Only Father Blanchard, our pastor at the time, could do this. Substitutes were just not the same. She enjoyed music. She loved playing piano but hated doing her scales, but did them anyway. Her favorite groups were The Spice Girls and Back Street Boys. She loved our church band Refuge who played during 5:30 pm mass on Sunday evenings. When she and I were together, it was listening to rhythm and blues – especially Etta James. Susan knew when we were coming home because the truck’s windows were down, the music loud and we were singing loud to Etta’s music. Susan: She loved to pray at night with her dad but sometimes when sleep would evade her, she asked me to sing her favorite song Hail Mary, Gentle Woman until she could go to sleep. She wanted to be a mom. She didn’t want sympathy. She enjoyed attention but often wished no one knew about her illness. On bad days when she wasn’t feeling well, she just wanted to be a regular kid. Jimmy: But when faced with her illness, she was determined to live the life she was given. She wanted to go to school be with her friends and teachers and be with her family.
Afterthoughts: At the time we prepared this we forgot to include a couple of important favorites. Claire loved shoes. We called Claire and her Aunt Beth "Sole" Sisters because they both couldn't pass up checking out a great pair of shoes. The other favorite of Claire's was a slip.....but we'll save that story for another day.
If you'd like to view the mass and presentation click here. Disciples of Christ presentation begins at 46:00 Claire awards begin at 55:00