Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Remembering Kliss Ann

I have so much blogging to do, but for now it's time to remember another loss. My cousin pal, Kliss Ann Crosser passed away from complications of Type 1 diabetes on January 10, 2017. I'm publishing the Life Story I presented at her funeral for my family who was unable to attend. I've also included the program and some photos. It was a beautiful service and I am so grateful she is resting in peace.

***
Eulogy for Kliss Ann Crosser
May 29, 1971- January 10, 2017
Funeral and interment held Saturday, January 21, 2017 in Thatcher, Arizona

Kliss Ann Crosser was born May 29, 1971 in Morenci, Arizona. She was the second of four children born to Gwen Layton and Bobby Crosser, and the only child to survive her first weeks of life. From the beginning she was a special miracle.  I was born four months later and even though we were first cousins, we spent our first years like sisters. I have hundreds of photos of Kliss and me doing all our baby stuff together—playing with toys, laying in the play pen, baths (in the bath tub AND in Grandma Layton’s buckets), holidays, birthday parties—we were always together. My brother Willy and our cousin Dougie also made many appearances in the photos, and when we were three, my twin sisters Laura and Lisa, and our cousin Max  Ross joined the gang.  We were often in matching outfits with cute hair-dos and it’s clear our moms were having a blast raising us. All photos point to a happy, nurturing start to our lives.

New jobs, moves, and eventual divorces split up our little gang. We would never be as close as we were as children again, but our mothers and especially Grandma Layton helped us to maintain our relationships with regular visits to Thatcher. Kliss lived in Thatcher with Grandma Layton and her mother Gwen, and later, her little sister Dasha, until she was a young adult. Kliss graduated from Thatcher High School in 1990 and attended Eastern Arizona College on and off through 1997 studying advertising and design.  She had some struggles with her “book learnin’” but she was very smart and a talented artist. She was a technical genius and could beat anybody at her video games. She always rode her bike faster than me and was better at softball. As we shall see in some upcoming stories, Kliss had a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh. She also had a great memory, especially for people and events, which made her very thoughtful and fun to be around.

 After a few years of school and working full time in Thatcher, Kliss ventured out to the big city. She moved to Mesa and worked at the Arizona Grand Resort in IT and technical support for 13 years. As her health deteriorated, working became more difficult. She worked for Deseret Industries in Mesa for a while, and eventually returned to Thatcher in 2015. In Thatcher, she was able to be close to her sister, Dasha, and her nephew and niece, Jaxson and Gwen Curtis, whom she adored. Kliss relished her role as Auntie. As we kept in touch over Facebook, she would always mention how much she loved Jaxson and Gwen and loved being an aunt, and she proudly shared photos of those darling kids. It was a blessing for Kliss to be back home close to family who could love and care for her as her health declined. None of us could foresee that this would be the last year of her life, but Heavenly Father knew, and he blessed her with a year of good memories and lots of love. Aunt Maxine Canaday, Jenene and Walt Maybury, and Dasha and Miles Curtis cared for Kliss and included her in family activities, and were caring for her right up to her unexpected end. Kliss’ family would also like to thank the many friends, doctors, and caregivers who have helped Kliss as her health declined. Every kindness and service you gave to her lightened her load and lit up her life. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.  Kliss’ life and relationships are a testament to me that Heavenly Father knows and loves us and provides for us every step of the way. Though neither of us had the ideal nuclear family life, neither of us went without love and nurturing and support thanks to the precious extended families and close friends God blessed us with.

Those good feelings and memories went both ways. Friends and family shared many joyful memories of Kliss this week.

Chyleen Lauritzen, Kliss’ former Relief Society President who is now on a mission wrote that Kliss taught her that she could be happy even if her circumstances were not ideal. Kliss always tried to look on the bright side of things.

Kliss’ friend and visiting teaching companion Katie Jorgensen said this: I have known Kliss since I moved to Thatcher in 5th grade. She lived around the corner from me we were always in the same ward growing up. She was very active in church and there were many activities she participated in. Kliss didn't like large crowds, so many people thought she was shy, but when you really got to know her, Kliss was very funny and had a great sense of humor. She also had a bit of a mischievous streak in her. Kliss was a very kind and thoughtful person and growing up, I never heard her gossip or speak unkindly of anyone. You knew that Kliss was a person you could trust and someone who would not talk behind your back. She was someone who would listen to you and would be your friend, always treating you with kindness.

A few years after Kliss moved back to Thatcher, I was lucky enough to have her as a visiting teaching partner. And though she had health problems and was almost completely blind, she was always willing to go visiting teaching. The sisters who we went to really enjoyed having Kliss come. She would have us all laughing with her humor and funny stories she would tell us. She was a pleasure to have around and always brightened everyone's day. Kliss will be missed by everyone that knew her.

Jenene, Kliss’ cousin and “other mother” said, “I loved her sense of humor. She loved to laugh. Sometimes when she would try to tell a joke or tell a story she thought was funny, she started laughing so hard, it was tough getting to the punch line. She had everyone laughing because of her infectious laugh. Kliss loved babies and they loved her. She was like a baby whisperer. Jake spent a lot of time over at Grandma Layton's. Kliss took care of him. She held him the first day he came to our home and loved him every day after. She taught him a love of electronics and how to hook them up. For years, until Jake got old enough for us to bother, it was Kliss who hooked up the VCR's for the family. She loved photography and often used Jake and Dasha as her mostly willing subjects. She was talented artistically. She loved to draw and paint and took classes. Kliss loved family and her many cousins. She kept up with everyone. If we wanted to know what was going on with someone, somehow, Kliss knew. She remembered birthdays and who did what and when. I was in awe of that. Kliss also loved Star Trek, Star Gate, Star Wars. If it had a "star" in it, she loved it. She also loved Mash, a love she got from her Grandma Layton and Aunt Nettie, who never missed an episode. She had a DVD of Mash in the DVD player when she passed away. I was also impressed at how she never complained about her ailments. Last Wednesday before she passed away, as I picked her up from her doctor appointment, we talked about what she had learned there. She told me again that she had congestive heart failure, and something we had found out on Christmas Eve when Walt took her to the ER. She figured it was inevitable since there were heart problems on both sides of her family. She also said she was told that she had Stage 3 kidney failure and she could only drink 32 ounces of water a day.. She said told the doctor she had finally found a way to get her off Diet Pepsi. She chuckled as she said it. Even then, Kliss didn't complain. She just rolled with it. She was a great example of dealing with her adversity. Kliss loved our Sunday family dinners and visiting with everyone. I think it was often the highlight of her week. She got to see and hold her niece and nephew she loved so much. Her presence will be especially missed at those dinners. Everywhere she went, Kliss talked to people. Much like her grandpa Max, she didn't know a stranger. She always had a big smile ready to share. Kliss was a good person who truly loved life and the people in it. The void will be felt for a very long time.

Jenene’s son Jake told how Kliss used to take him and Dasha in the truck and drive on this road with fun up and downs. One day she took them to the Dairy Queen for ice cream cones and then on the fun road. She must have been going faster than normal because when she hit a bump, Dasha flew up and hit her head on the roof.  She looked down at the cone in her hand and her ice cream was gone-- it was stuck up on the roof of the truck!  He also remembered that one day Kliss made cookies. He wanted some, but before she would give him any, she made him sit on the couch and watch the news for an hour. Kliss actually liked to watch the news and thought Jake might learn something.

Kliss’ sister Dasha has many memories of her sister. Dasha said, “ Kliss loved my kids like her own....she had literally no money but would always give them gifts, and was always the first one to hold or interact with them when she saw them. Jaxson LOVED her cane, and Gwen her glasses. Kliss kept me company during the day when I had some postpartum depression and would scare Jaxson half to death with her snoring. She had such a good heart. Kliss taught me how to catch and throw a softball. We would spend hours playing ‘500’ or she would throw the ball as hard and high up as she could and I would catch it. We lost many balls in the huge tree next to grandma’s house, including a few of her favorites. Kliss loved to scare me. She and mom loved watching ghost/UFO shows at night that the scared the pants off of my young self. I would cry begging them to turn it off and they would laugh and keep watching. While sitting on the couch, Kliss would sneak out open the window behind me; very quietly and suddenly grab me. Many curse words were shared that way! Kliss loved to go out at night and ride her bike for hours; she was always a night owl. She would watch the weather channel for hours saying she wanted to do graphics for television someday. Kliss LOVED her dog CHEWBACCA BOSTON CREAM HARPO MARX CROSSER…such a funny name for a really beloved dog. Kliss and I could always get each other laughing and she would always turn super red and have tears running down her cheeks. I loved when she laughed! When we lived in Phoenix, we got Panda Express each week and would go to her place and just hang out, as well as Sunday dinner watching American funniest home videos. It was always a comfort and made living away less hard. A childhood friend told me the other day she loved coming to our home because it was always happy. It’s true, we (mom, grandma, Kliss and I) were always laughing. We saw humor in things and just had fun. That sums up a lot about Kliss: when she was healthier and happy she laughed A LOT.”

I have lots of childhood memories of Kliss, mostly of her just being with me. We “went swimming” in Grandma Layton’s wash tub in the back yard and had little hide out in the hedges under a tree in the front yard. Another favorite “swimming pool” was Grandpa Layton’s old boat with the red glittery trim. We would fill the boat with water and have a blast. I’m sure Grandpa appreciated that. I also remember chasing Grandma’s dog Pudgy through the leaves in the back yard. We raced tricycles down the fancy new sidewalks that EAC installed right next to Grandma’s house and caught crawdads in the canal and tried to pinch each other with them. We collected soda cans with Grandma on walks, picked cotton from neighboring fields, and drank cold kool aid out of her brightly colored aluminum cups. When we got older, Kliss was obsessed with Star Wars and the sitcom Silver Spoons, especially the star, Ricky Schroeder. I never asked her if she knew Ricky had become a Mormon and how she felt about that. She always drew me cool pictures and did my portrait a few times. I was jealous of her amazing mane of blond hair, even from childhood. I can remember a time we went and got our little bangs trimmed and they stylist curled our hair into matching ringlets. Of course my fine hair didn’t hold the curl, but Kliss Ann had a crown of gorgeous Nellie Olsen ringlets and I just couldn’t bear the injustice. I cried all the way home.

Kliss and I didn’t keep in touch as well after I left for college and went on my mission, but she did send me occasional, newsy letters from Thatcher, and later occasional emails. We stayed in touch better once I started blogging my married life up in Montana. Kliss would send me comments and emails about what we were doing and about how she’d like to know my kids. I regret that I didn’t make that happen.

One of the most important email conversations we had was when Kliss wrote to tell me she had decided to prepare to receive her own endowments. She told me that she hadn’t been very active in church for a while  (which is understandable given her health and her single adult status—sometimes it’s hard to find our place in a family centered culture), but she had realized the importance of keeping her baptismal covenants and wanted to ensure her eternal family relationships. She understood that family is everything. She treasured her relationships and she wanted them to last. I believe her relationship with the Savior was also strengthened as she bore her trials gracefully.

The prophet Joseph Smith said, “All men know that they must die. And it is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world…and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other... If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important subject.” Joseph Smith was well acquainted with the grief of losing loved ones, and as the Plan of Salvation was revealed to him, he called the principles of death, the spirit world, and the resurrection “principles of consolation.”

And it is a great consolation to know who we are and why we are here and where we go after this life. We are children of a loving Heavenly Father who sent us here to become like Him. He provided a Savior for us so that we could return to our Heavenly home. As well as showing us how we should live and love one another, our savior Jesus Christ overcame death and sin through His atonement. These truths have been revealed to us through prophets, both living and in the scriptures. Prophets have described some wonderful things that await us in the spirit world.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “[Our deceased loved ones] are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith.” Joseph F. Smith said: “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. . . . We are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors, to our friends and associates and co-laborers who have preceded us into the spirit world.” Spirits continue to be interested and intimately involved in the Lord’s work on both sides of the veil.

Alma 40:11–14 reads, “Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.… Then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.” It brings me peace to know that Kliss is experiencing this state of rest and reunion with the God who gave her life, as well as her earthly mother, grandmother, and siblings.

Orson Pratt said, “Do not forget to look forward to those joys ahead, if we do, we will become careless, dormant, and sluggish…but if we keep our minds upon the prize that lays ahead—upon the vast fields of knowledge to be poured out upon us, and the glories that are to be revealed, and the heavenly things in the future state, we shall be continually upon the alert; we are beings that are only to live here for a moment, as it were. Let these things sink down in our minds continually, and they will make us joyful, and careful to do unto our neighbors as we would they should do unto us. [I have touched upon these things] to stir up the pure minds of the Saints that we may prepare for the things that are not far ahead, and let all the actions of our lives have a bearing in relation to the future.”

As we remember Kliss and grieve her passing, let’s allow those feelings to remind us of the great things to come. I think that is what Joseph Smith had in mind when he encouraged us to study the plan of salvation and understand more about death. I think that’s what Kliss wants, as well.  If you’ve distanced yourself from God and your covenants, come back. If you have yet to know God and make these covenants, explore that possibility and experience the joy and peace that comes from making and keeping covenants with our Heavenly Father. Let our sadness turn into joy and hope as we consider the peace and rest that awaits each of us. I like to think of death as graduation. Kliss Ann lived with love and endured her trials with patience and humor. She passed the test and graduated early. I am grateful for her and for all that awaits us in the Great Plan of Happiness.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


                                              * right click to download any of these images*









No comments: