Eulogy for My Sister


Eulogy for Colleen Ann Morris Cashell 30 November, 1965 – 21 March, 2019

Delivered 27 March, 2019 Clear Spring Maryland by Nance Morris Adler


Colleen was taken from us all far too soon and suddenly and we are all still struggling to understand what happened last Thursday morning. While we are shocked and devastated by her Death, in this space we want to focus on her life and share what made Colleen Colleen. I know there are people here from many parts of her life and all of those parts go together to make up a full picture of her life. We hope that in this room we can create a circle of love and memory to celebrate Colleen.


I always looked up to my big sister and wanted to be like her. Our mother told me that as soon as Colleen started school I wanted to be in school and had to be put into a part time pre-school so I would be happy. We are only 18 months apart in age and only two grades apart – Colleen started school young so that we wouldn’t be only one. We were great friends growing up and often mistaken for best friends rather than siblings as teenagers. We shared friends and hobbies and spent many winters ice skating and summers roller skating together at North Park.


Colleen and I both loved music from infancy – her first album was a Johnny Cash album – which is why he is our soundtrack today – and mine was Glenn Campbell or Cher. We stayed up late to watch the tv shows of all three of those entertainers. Colleen and I shared multiple memberships of Columbia House records and fought over who got to pick which records to play on our father’s stereo each Saturday morning growing up. She introduced me to British New Wave music when she brought home albums from a friend of hers in high school – Echo and the Bunnymen are still one of my favorite bands and when I saw them recently I thought of her bringing home that album. Colleen also introduced me to Punk rock when she went to college. Many of my favorite bands to this day are ones Colleen introduced me to and my “birthday” song is from this album (hold up Colleen’s copy of The The Soul Mining) – we found her copy in her house yesterday – that she shared with me in 1984.


Another area where Colleen was a huge influence on me was on the need to be involved and make the world a better place – to see the issues beyond your community and recognize the world is all connected. Colleen became very involved in a number of causes in college and it was her activism that encouraged me to become involved as well. As a high school student hearing about her work to end Apartheid and forward the cause of peace and human rights, I couldn’t wait to go to college and get to do important things like she was doing. While she moved on to other focuses in life, working for many of those same causes are still a vital part of my life and I never forget that it was Colleen who first lit that fire in me. I have often reflected on how dedicated she was in college and how it is me that has carried on the work. I always give her credit for that part of my life.


Colleen has always loved animals. She always had whatever pets our parents would let her have. Dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, turtles. In college Colleen spent much of her allowance on caring for her pets and would come home with worn out shoes because her rabbits needed their nails trimmed or the cats needed something. Caring for others – even animal others – always came first. In Clear Spring she adopted I don’t even know how many feral kittens and cats and I hope someone else takes up feeding them all now. Her love of cows developed during our years living on a farm and raising calves for 4H. Her desire to be a veterinarian developed early and it is unfortunate she was not able to achieve that. Her love of animals got in the way of her desire to care for animals and the demands of veterinarian school did not sit easily with her after choosing to become vegetarian in college. She switched her major to Dairy Science, and that led her to her work here in your community the past 20 years and for a total of 30 years with the Dept of Agriculture. Her love of Holsteins was never more clear than at her wedding where every decoration was cow themed. I had been told to wear something western and in black and white. When I saw the theme I said “I didn’t mind the black and white, and even the western was easy (I lived in Montana then) but if I knew I was being made to dress like a Holstein I might have complained!”


“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Corinthians 13:4-8


As I am sure all of us in this room know, these words describe how Colleen lived life. It did not matter to her that others did not live by these same values – Colleen was endlessly giving and kind. She was eager to help anyone who she saw was in need of a helping hand. She always felt things would turn out well, and worked with that as a goal. I have heard from many of her friends and coworkers in the past week on Facebook and in messages about how helpful she was, how kind she was, how she helped their career, or spent time with their family. I have heard from our friends from high school who remember her as someone who was always smiling, was kind and friendly to all. I chatted Sunday evening with our friend Jim who Colleen and I convinced our parents to take in when he needed a place to live. He remembered her care for him when he was in need and is grateful to this day for that help. She had hope and she gave others hope as well.


Colleen, my dear sister, you are a child of Earth and starry Heaven. You are loved by many – both those here and those who could not be here but send their love and thoughts – may all that you gave to others in this life be given to you in your soul’s next journey.


We know that many of you know Colleen in settings we, her family did not, and we look forward to you sharing your memories of Colleen so that we can add them to ours.


(Allow others to share)


Closing –


In Judaism, when a loved one dies, and on the anniversary of their death, it is traditional to wish that “their memory be for a blessing”. It is believed that it is in the memories of those that we leave behind that eternal life is most easily found and that as long as the memory of a person persists, so does their influence and blessing on the world. Thank you for sharing your memories of Colleen with us – Colleen’s life was a blessing to many – and may all of our memories of her be for a blessing and may her influence live on for many years.

About nancesea

I live in Seattle with my husband Steve. I am an award winning Jewish educator, and primarily teach middle schoolers. My speciality is the Holocaust. My hobbies, when I have time, are reading, live music, and photography. I am passionate about teaching the lessons of the darkest periods history to help inspire my students to assure our future is brighter. Pre-Covid I used to travel yearly to Central and Eastern Europe to continue to learn about this history and make connections with educators there doing similar work. I hope you enjoy my writing on my travels, my learning and Jewish thought and practice. B'vrachot - with blessings - Nance

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