Eulogy for Susan Lawrence
This is the text of the eulogy delivered at Susan's
funeral on 4 January 2014,
at Saint James Church in Manotick, Ontario.
Sue was a good person
Sue was kind, compassionate, and caring. She was also very
intelligent, well educated, and a free thinker, always preferring to
draw her own conclusions rather than going with the majority, or
taking the word of an expert.
These traits stand out in everything Sue did.
Sue was a consummate musician
She played clarinet, recorder, piano, and organ, and sang
beautifully. She started studying music young, and majored in it
college, where she practiced organ for hours for relaxation, for fun,
for escape from the cares of the day. She was a fabulous organist.
In addition to working as a choir director and giving piano
lessons, while we were living in Massachusetts Sue performed
frequently, singing with an accompanist. After we moved to
Sue sang with Just Voices, and later joined the Ottawa Choral Society
as a paid chorister.
But she was many things in addition to a musician.
Sue was a loving wife and mother
Sue wanted to be a mother, and when she had a child, she was
determined to raise the child correctly, with love, not punishment.
She was a whole hearted believer in attachment parenting
It's simple in concept: When the child needs you, you
respond. When Flora was very young, Sue was always there for here.
Sue also believed in
homeschooling, and started teaching Flora when she was still too
young to talk. The teaching was always gentle, and always
fun. Initially, it consisted of showing large pictures of things
butterflies, dinosaurs, numbers, all sorts of things. There were
also cards with big, single words, written in large red letters.
the time Flora could talk, she had already learned to read.
Flora's homeschooling continued
through elementary school, with Sue gradually switching to a “child
led learning” or “unschooling” format, where Flora learned
whatever she was interested in with no fixed curriculum.
As Flora got older, Sue felt she
would benefit from practice speaking in public. We already knew
Flora was exceptionally good with language, so Sue looked into
spelling bees, and signed Flora up to compete, representing the local
homeschooling group. To help Flora study for the competitions,
spent her evenings going through the dictionary, picking out new
words, and building word lists for Flora to review. Sue started
the Canadian Oxford dictionary and eventually moved on to the Third
When Flora reached high school
age, she started taking some French classes at the local high school,
along with some other classes that interested her. Sue continued
home schooling her in other topics. Recently, however, as Sue
became too ill to do much for her education, Flora has moved to a
nearly full time class schedule.
Sue was an activist
She was never content to just complain about things. If something
is bad, it should be changed.
Sue worked for Children's Rights
She wanted to teach others about the
value of attachment parenting, and encourage a gentle approach to
raising children. To that end she started the Parenting in Jesus
Footsteps website. It started as a place where Sue could put a
essays, but it grew into much more than that.
We learned very early that there are a
substantial number of people working to promulgate the use
of corporal punishment
, often in extremely severe forms, as a
method of training children.
When Sue saw an ad for something called
in a homeschooling newspaper, she was appalled. It
was was a fiberglass rod about 18 inches long with a heavy-duty
plastic handle. It was intended for just one purpose:
children. It was manufactured by a family in Oklahoma, and
to customers all over the United States.
I spoke of the rod
in the past
tense. It is no longer being sold. That is due to Sue's
her stop the rod
campaign. It took several years, a lot
work, and some clever sleuthing, but in the end she won.
Sue worked to have several other
baby-whipping devices removed from the market, and she also went
after baby-whipping books.
The first one she tackled
was, as I recall, “Train Up a Child” by the Pearls. I've read
parts of it, and it's pretty nasty.
There is no practical way to force a book off the market in the
United States, so Sue, and the group of activists which she led,
worked to reduce the popularity
of targeted books. The
ranks on Amazon provided a measure of how effective they were.
Sue also wrote and worked to pass an anti-corporal-punishment
resolution in Arlington, where we lived. It didn't pass, but the
effort garnered a lot of attention and we hope the ground work she
did will make it easier to eventually pass such a law somewhere
in the United States.
Sue worked for peace
She hated war, and could see no point in either of the wars in
which the Bush administration embroiled the United States. There
were regular demonstrations in our town, and Sue was part of
them. Sue also worked very hard on the John Kerry campaign, not
was ideal, but because he seemed so much better than George Bush.
Sue became a vegan, and converted her family
She wanted to allay world hunger, and could not abide abuse of
animals. By becoming vegan, she addressed both issues: A
lifestyle consumes far less resources than an omnivore lifestyle, and
it requires fewer abused animals to support it.
After Sue became a vegan, it took over a year to convince her
family to do so as well. In the interim, Sue prepared two
dinners most nights ... a vegan meal for herself, and something else
for her omnivore husband and daughter.
Sue worked for animal rights
She was a member of PETA in the United States, and went to quite a
few demonstrations. After we moved to Canada, Sue joined the
but active animal rights group in Ottawa, and worked with them to
reduce abuse in this city.
Sue helped animals directly, when she could
We've had a menagerie of adopted or rescued animals in our home
over the years, including, at various times, four cats, four guinea
pigs, a lot of rabbits, and a number of mice. The latter were
rescued from the cats and nursed back to health before being
In addition to adopting multiple cats from shelters, Sue rescued
several strays. For some reason, people dump
Rideau Forest, where there is not much to eat, there are large
predators, and the winters are ... well ... like they are in
Ottawa. It's a terrible place for a stray.
Sue's first rescue of a stray was one fall, when the weather was
getting very cold. She turned out to be an old, declawed
cat which someone had dumped (
abandons a declawed cat outdoors?)
and she was in the last stages of starvation. She lived with us
several months, during which she ran up startlingly large vet bills.
Later rescues went more smoothly,
and Sue successfully placed three or four former strays in new
Sue was a Christian
She wholeheartedly accepted the words of Jesus, and particularly
loved his statements regarding children and the poor. However,
concept of animal sacrifice disgusted her, and she could never accept
the Pauline view of Jesus as a human sacrifice who expiated our sins
through his death.
In short, Sue's view of Christianity was much closer to that of
Saint James than that of Saint Paul.
Sue was a very fine scrabble player.
She wasn't all work -- no play. She enjoyed games, and she was
good at them. When we were first married, I taught Sue to play
handed pinochle. She'd never played pinochle before in her
been playing it since high school. But after four or five games
she started beating me. Consistently.
And of course she creamed me every time we played scrabble.
She also enjoyed relaxing on a beach, reading classic fiction,
drawing, paddling a kayak around a lake, and ... a host of things
that are just for fun.
Finally, Sue fought the cancer herself
As with everything else, Sue did not take anyone's word for it.
She did enormous amounts of research, and selected all of the
treatments which she underwent during the past three years. And
some cases, when she couldn't find a local doctor to treat her with a
she could get the drug by mail, she did it herself --
or trusted me to do it. (I will never again feel the same way
It was an approach which took enormous
courage. And that is certainly something Sue had.
Sue died on 25 December 2013. Page created on 4 January 2014