Just a few months ago we took our Spring Break with the Everitts — a wonderful holiday with old friends. Gisela bravely battled cancer for about three years and although it took a heavy toll on her body, it seemed not to dampen her spirits nor warp her outlook on life. She was so very special to us, so refreshingly genuine, uncomplicated, eternally cheerful, chatty with everyone — even strangers — and generous to a fault. Pictured here, after a buffet Chinese lunch she treated us all to, Gisela shed her mortal coil today at 4am. Yes, that’s me behind the camera, as usual, not in the photo. Gisela’s sister Hannali suffered a similar fate recently.
Of late Gisela wasn’t up to taking calls, but we did speak with her several weeks ago. She was rather cheerful and left us with happy audible memories of our last conversation. As Carolyn and I struggled with composing voice mails or recordings that Paul could share with her in lucid moments our daughter Bo-Ashley created a special message that we hope Gisela got to hear before she died. With Bo’s permission I’ll post it here. Gisela was one of Bo’s Godmothers.
Last year her daughter Grace assembled a retrospective book on her life. Our contribution was this small (but slow loading) album reflecting on how her life intersected with ours.
On Tuesday night 8.30pm we spent an hour reminiscing Gisela’s wonderful life by candle light, listening to her favourite genre of music, looking through the album mentioned above, snacking on brie, white wine and good coffee.
UPDATE 2/23/2010: Paul, Grace and Ryan fulfill Gisela’s final wishes by taking her ashes to Guatemala: Final Journey Home
Suggested links: The Hugo Droege Story about Gisela’s father, a German American Internee, and his family — an article which she co-authored | Private Memory, Public Records, and Contested Terrain: Weighing Oral Testimony in the Deportation of Germans from Latin America During World War II by Max Paul Friedman | World War II – The internment of German American civilians | Gisela’s obituary in New Smyrna Beach’s The Observer