Monday, November 4, 2013

Karen Avery

This weekend I went to the funeral of my friend and mentor, Karen Avery.

For two straight hours people went up to the front of the room and talked about the ways in which she'd changed their lives for the better. 

It is because of Karen Avery, that I am where I am in my career right now.

She hired me as a Trinity Fellow (grad school intern) at IndependenceFirst.  She supervised me for two years and I loved being supervised and mentored by her.  She taught me about advocacy and the spirit of inclusion and about the disability rights movement. She gave me freedom and trust to run with my passions and therein I begin taking leaps and trying things that made my job so cool.  And when I wanted to stay at my job after I graduated, she encouraged me to create a position and then pester our executive director until he gave me a job. 

During our meetings together we would talk for ten minutes about the work I was doing and then spend the rest of our time just chatting. She taught me so much about enthusiasm and passion and about being a mom.  She was the first person to tell me that it is okay to have a day that you just don't feel like being a parent.  I never knew that until she told me.  And that we can love our kids with our whole hearts but sometimes we just want to be just us and that is okay.

She told me about Highland Community School, where her grandson Xavier was attending and her other grandson Caleb would be attending when he was three.  I bought her Highland Community School fundraiser coffee and then checked it out for myself and fell in love.  And now Highland Community School is our second home, both my kids going there and Tad teaching there.  And Coen has a best buddy in Caleb. 

My life is better because of Karen Avery and I feel a huge loss in her absence.   But.....  as AA Milne Said in Winnie the Pooh (one of Karen's favorites) "The most important thing is, even if we're apart...I'll always be with you."  I sat in Karen's office the morning of her funeral and I felt her there.  She'll be carried along in the work and life of those who loved her.

Be giving of yourself
Be present for the people who love you
Fight for justice
Be kind.

Thanks Karen.

Found this on Karen's Facebook Page.

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