Claire Helwege Sidle – May 27, 1922 — January 8, 2012

Claire Helwege Sidle May 27, 1922 -- January 8, 2012
Claire Helwege Sidle May 27, 1922 — January 8, 2012

When you are sorrowful look again in
your heart, and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been
your delight.
– Kahlil Gibran

~ Program ~
Music for gathering ~ Carolyn Kuban, George Banks
Opening Words ~ Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry
Meditation from Thaïs (Jules Massenet)
Annamarie Koracson, David Greene
Reflections on Claire ~ Lydia Ferrante-
Roseberry
Oblivion (Astor Piazolla)
Peter Ewing, Margaret Smith, David Greene
Jewel Lake (Bill Douglas)
Bruce Orr, Marcia Pasquer
Andante from Suite #2 (Max Reger)
Adwyn Lim on viola that Claire created
Reflections on Claire ~ Lydia Ferrante-
Roseberry
Sonata for clarinet and piano, op. 167 Mvmt #3
(Camille Saint-Saens)
Mary Jungerman, Marcia Pasquer
Roumanian Folk Dance #4 (Bela Bartok)
Annamarie Karacson, David Greene
Sharing
I’ll Fly Away (Albert E. Brumley)
John Sidle
Closing Words ~ Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry
Music to be announced
Reception

Donations may be made to the Colorado Music Festival,
900 Baseline Rd. Boulder, CO 80302. There is also a box in
the back for this purpose.

I love you Mom

xx ooo


Claire Helwege Sidle Memorial

February 4, 2012

 

Music for gathering  Carolyn Kuban, George

Banks

 

Opening Words

 

We are gathered here this afternoon to honor the life of Claire Helwege Sidle, a friend, mother, grandmother, musician, artist, and lover of life.

We gather because we need to be together in a time like this.

Setting aside this sacred time to be together – to be in the physical company of each other’s love provides a reminder to us all that the journey through grief and recovery from this loss need not happen alone.  It is good to be together.

Though we gather in sadness at this loss, a justified sadness that will linger, let this also be a time for affirming the kind of person Claire was – smart, curious, talented, loving and generous.  And it is those parts of her spirit that drew us to her, and will remain with us now.
Each of you had different relationships with Claire.  Each of you will experience this loss in your own way.  Each of you will grieve this loss, and grieve you must. But you will also, over time, appreciate how memories, stories, perhaps a gesture or word you hear yourself saying, will remind you of Claire’s influence on your life.  This is the gift of immortality.

Today we are called not only to honor death, but also to affirm life – to affirm that your lives will continue, even in the face of the mystery of death.

Let this, then, be a time for sharing sorrow, yes, but also a time of lifting up the beauty of a life well-lived, and celebrating the many gifts that Claire has left, gifts that transcend even death.

And so it is that we have come together.

Because we need each other in empathy and consolation,

And because we need one another in courage and wisdom

To face this loss

To celebrate this life

And to show our love and support for those who knew Claire best, and loved her the most.

I light this chalice in honor of Claire, who found this beautiful vessel in the Southwest and created the base for it on behalf of this Fellowship.

Meditation from Tha’|’s (jules Massenet)  Annamarie Koracson, David Greene

Reflections on Claire  (Claire’s personal life –- via stories from Janet) Lydia Ferrante-

Roseberry

Claire’s life was full of stories, friends and music.  We are breaking up the remembrances of her life into two parts, including a time for sharing, and allowing for the music that she so loved to be interspersed.

Claire’s daughter, Janet, provided me with some of her remembrances, which I’ll be including in my course of my reflections.  I begin with Janet’s sketch of Claire’s life:

Claire Eleanor Helwege was born in Niagra Falls, NY May 27, 1922. She was an only child. Her parents, Walter and Martha Helwege, whom some of you might remember, moved a lot while she was growing up between Lansing, Madison and Milwaukee, WI and St. Louis.

In a letter to Rev. Catharine Harris, Claire wrote that she was inordinately close to her father, from whom her love of music and the arts derives.  In his later years, she wrote, he used to tell her, “Nobody or nothing makes you mad.  If you decide to be mad about something, it’s your choice.” She adopted that attitude, confessing that she didn’t always succeed.

Claire went to 7 different schools in her junior and high school years. She was on the swim team and played violin and viola in the orchestras.
Claire went to college in Los Angeles at UCLA, and ended up in Washington, DC, receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Home Economics from Georgetown University.

Her degree got her a job at the Edison Company, where she was a lighting designer and taught people how to light their kitchens and homes. She later used her knowledge when she designed the house she and Bill and Janet lived in, by using direct and indirect lighting in ways that were functional and also soothing to the eye.
Later, during WWII, she was a draftsman and wrote and illustrated the directions on how to build bombs (!). You can see some examples of her work in the displays and in the photo assembly.

Claire met Bill Sidle in Washington, DC and they were married in September of 1955.  Janet was born two years later. They had been married almost 46 years when Bill passed away in 2001.   Claire remained in the home that they built until she died, on January 8th of this year.

I share with you now some of Janet’s personal reflections about her mom:

I always thought my mother was amazing. She astounded me. She could do anything.
When I was young in the 60’s, she joined the Boulder Potter’s Guild and produced a plethora of pots, from vases to casserole dishes, coffee cups, to platters.
I also have memories of going to the Artists Series Concerts at Macky Auditorium every Tuesday night – EVERY Tuesday night!

I would sit on the floor and color in my coloring book on the seat and ask questions in my little high-pitched voice. I remember my mother smiling down at me from her seat with her finger to her lips, “shhhh”.  I could only talk during clapping.
When I was in high school, my mom was the “cool Mom”. Our house became the place for all my friends to come over and we all “lived” in the basement where we played Rock and Roll music, did our homework, and just relaxed after school. Our house was the place to be and she was so accommodating to all my friends that everybody called her “Mom”.
And when I was 18 and crazy and I wanted to hitchhike and hop trains to CA, she came up with idea that I should go on a REAL adventure, to Israel, and volunteer on a kibbutz. So my boyfriend and I went. And it opened up the world to me – and I thank her so much for that.

It also opened up the world to Mom and Dad. They hadn’t done much traveling before. My dad wasn’t really interested before that. But they went to Israel to visit us and also to visit the Levron’s , their Israeli friends who had spent some time here at the University.
Next thing I know, I’m in Oregon at University and she’s found a radical college for me to go to, where I can travel the world and get college credit. So I went.

I ended up in Kenya and lived there for a year and Mom and Dad again came to visit. I think all her ideas for me were actually to get my dad out of the country and give them an excuse to travel!
Then they really did travel the world: besides Israel and Kenya, they explored Alaska, Canada, Iceland, China, India, New Zealand, South America, Russia, down the Danube, and the fiords of Norway.
Mom’s last trip was in 2005, when she went to Costa Rica with her companion, Rita Cray, to visit me and my son Ian, who were spending the summer there. They saw the volcanoes, and stayed on the beach in tent-huts. Mom really enjoyed the trip.

Claire was proud of Janet’s son Ian for his accomplishments in school and his amazing gymnastic ability, which she saw several times on video.  She was always interested in what he was up to — always asked about him.

Claire was funny and spirited. She lived with a twinkle in her eye.  As an example, Janet recalls how her mom and her dad invented a word:

PRUB: When someone flatulated, instead of using the usual words we all know, we used the word PRUB, which is BURP spelled backwards!

She didn’t do anything “ok” or “half-way” – she was a perfectionist, so if it had her name attached to it, it became “precision art”. She could fix anything in the house, and often did, everything from a leaky toilet to sealing the deck.

Claire spent nights in the basement at her sewing machine until 3am, forgetting to eat or sleep;
She could do anything with her hands.

She even made her own viola, which will be played as the last piece in the following musical selections.

Music

Oblivion (Astor Piazolla)  Peter Ewing, Margaret Smith, David Greene

jewel Lake (Bill Douglas)  Bruce Orr, Marcia Pasquer

Andante from Suite #2 (Max Reger)

Adwyn Lim on viola that Claire created

Reflections on Claire  (public life – music, organizations, Fellowship) Lydia Ferrante-

Roseberry

Claire was very well connected here in Boulder, as is attested to by this turn-out today after the biggest storm of the season.

Janet recalls:
I remember there was hardly ever a time when we were out in Boulder together that we didn’t run into someone Mom knew. Everywhere we went we ran into someone she knew: concerts, the grocery store, the Middle Eastern restaurant….

Mom was a member of the BCIV, Boulder Community for International Visitors. One of her favorite stories was when we hosted a young priest from Spain for several months, Miguel de Lorenta, whose English was not quite perfect. One evening at dinner, after he had cleaned his plate, Mom asked if he would like more, and he said, “No, thank you, I’m all fed up”. (!)

Her connections to Boulder were largely through music: Columbine, Colorado Music Festival, Tacaks.

She was also a member of this Fellowship from its early years, joining in 1981.  She cared passionately about this group and nurtured its growth and development. She was on the search committee that eventually found this building in 2004.  And, as I mentioned before, Claire made this chalice we light every week.

It was Claire who suggested to Rev. Catharine Harris, the Fellowship’s former minister that Marcia Pasquer be considered as music coordinator for the Fellowship.  Marcia did become the music director and, with Claire’s help built a fine music program here at the Fellowship.

Marcia wrote this about Claire’s support:

She was supportive and helpful as I learned the in’s and out’s of the job.  Her vast knowledge of music and the musical tastes of the Fellowship congregants often saved me from getting into hot water!

She was always very interested in the choice of musical selections for each service, making sure that they were appropriate to the service theme and the enhancement of the message. Especially in the beginning years, I often shared my ideas with her and was appreciative of her suggestions.  She introduced me to many fine musicians and loved hearing us play for her in her home.  She was a good listener and often had sound advice.  The musicians, themselves, enjoyed the opportunity to “rehearse” for an appreciative audience!  We still recall fond memories of playing for Claire!

She also helped me struggle to “build” a choir.  For the handful of folks who were willing to give it a try, she offered her home as a “rehearsal room”!  Many years went by before we were finally able to make something “stick”, but Claire was never one to give up and was always there when I needed a slice of her courage.  She made a solid and wonderful dent in my life and will always be sitting on my shoulder.

Marcia was also part of a group formed by Claire that included Peter Ewing, Margaret Smith, Lindsey Calhoun, Greg Merrill. They would get together every Monday night at Claire’s house to play trios, quartets, quintets, depending on how many players they had. It was a standing event, every Monday night, with coffee or wine, dessert and conversation afterwards. Even when Claire could no longer play viola, the friends came to play at her house so she could listen and still be a part of the group.

And so we continue with music in honor of Claire.

MUSIC

Sonata for clarinet and piano, op. 167 Mvmt #3

(Camille Saint-Saens)  Mary Jungerman, Marcia Pasquer

Roumanian Folk Dance #4 (Bela Bartok)  Annamarie Karacson, David Greene

Sharing

It is in the sharing of memories that lives become immortal. I’ve shared some of the stories I’ve heard about Claire over the years, stories from Janet and some Fellowship memories.

Now it is time for you to share your stories as well.  If you would like to speak, please come forward to the microphone here below the pulpit.

(Sharing)

These are the stories of a life well lived, a life woven with joy and sadness, a life committed to both family and the community at large.

It is through these stories that Claire’s legacy lives on.

I’ll Fly Away  (Brumley)

John Sidle

Closing Words   ~ Lydia Ferrante-

Roseberry

Undergirding the loss is a deep sense of gratitude, for the beauty of Claire’s life, and the circle of people who have been connected to her these many years.

Janet has been filled with gratitude amidst the sadness of losing her mother.  She asked me to share some of it with you:

Janet is grateful to her workplace that for the last 2 ⅕ years, graciously allowed her to work every Thursday on her computer from her Mom’s dining room table, so that she was able to spend both Thursdays and Sundays with her mom for many years, watching old movies together while Janet worked, or just enjoying the time together.

Janet offers these other gratitude’s:

THANK YOUS:
All of Claire’s musician friends who came to play for her: Malena Boratgis, Carolyn Kuban, Peter Ewing, David Greene, Gigi Boratgis, Margaret Smith, Virginia  ???, and everyone she may have missed!

Emily & Ross Jacobson, Isabel Echenique,  her neighbors who always kept a good watch on the comings and goings in the house and who stopped by to visit and were always there to help out;

Malena Boratgis, who came and stayed with her many nights, keeping each other company, and who stopped by several times a week, just to say “hi”;

Oshala’s group of caregivers, who were there at the beginning of the caregiving and dealt with Mom firing someone every few weeks; I think she fired about 20 people in all!

Alice Mosdell, who was willing to go out to the garage with Mom and help paint the scratches in the bumper of the car with a Q-Tip;

Vikky Krapu, who spent hours with her looking at slides my dad took from all over the world and reminiscing about their trips;

Brooke Biglow, who helped her stay young and interested with new books and movies and was there ‘til the end;

Pam Aamodt, who really understood what was going on with Mom, could handle her ups and downs, and has helped me maintain my sanity for the past couple of years;

Clay Finch, Pam’s husband (but we call him Mom’s boyfriend) whom she was very fond of and who often kept her company and could always make her laugh;

And Rita Cray. Who stuck it out for 11 years, paid Mom’s bills, got her taxes ready, kept track of everything from medication to doctor’s visits to whatever needed to be done, repaired her house, repotted plants, and treated it like it was her own home and her own mother. One of the most important things I’ll always remember was, when Mom and I were clashing about how things should be done, Rita said, “When that happens to us, I always try to remember that it’s not about me, it’s about her”.  When she said that, I was able to let go of my Ego and let be. That wisdom was one of the things that allowed my Mom and me to enjoy our last few years together.

Also, thanks to Boulder Hospice: Tyyne, Amy, and Peggy for helping keep her comfortable and keep her dignity in the days before she passed on.

Claire had a thing about turtles and collected them from all over the world. Her collection of turtles and her pottery are out in the foyer. Janet invites you to take a turtle or a piece of pottery to help keep her in your heart. This way her memory will be dispersed among those that admired and loved her. So please feel free to take the one that speaks to you.

Amidst the gratitude, is also the sorrow saying good-bye to the person of Claire Helwege Sidle, but not her spirit, nor her accomplishments. Those live on in our lives and are passed on through the generations.

And, now, as we prepare to end our formal time together, let us remember again those for whom this loss is greatest:  for Janet Thomas, Claire’s daughter, her son Ian, and all the close friends and family gathered here today.

May they be granted the strength they need to bear the loss, the wisdom to find deeper meaning and understanding of life through the lens of this death, and thanksgiving for Claire’s life, which touched them each dearly in its own way.

May both forgiveness and acceptance lead them to Peace.

May you all go in peace and be gentle with yourselves, taking from and giving to one another — as you need and are able – the gifts of courage, wisdom, and gratitude for all that is our life.

Blessed be and Amen.

Music to be announced

3 thoughts on “Claire Helwege Sidle – May 27, 1922 — January 8, 2012”

  1. You have my deepest condolences Janet. I regret missing the ceremony, the love is obvious and copious. Surely a Good Soul to have left so much Light. Godspeed Claire.

  2. Thank you, M. Douglas Wray for posting this. I will share this with other members of the family who were too far away to attend the service.

  3. Audrey, you’re very welcome. Everyone deserves some form of living memorial! I’m honored to do this for my dear friend Janet. If you have images you’d like me to add, send the along.

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