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Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Life Lived Well Beyond Well

Yesterday, we attended the Celebration of Life of someone special.  Yes, everyone has someone special that they've had to say goodbye to.  But this woman was truly one of the most amazing people.  The kind of person who really does leave the world a better place because they were in it.  A person who made a difference every single day and was the poster girl for living life to the absolute fullest.  The legacy she leaves for her two beautiful daughters, and her brand new grand-daughter is brilliant and beautiful.  Just like Gay.

Joe, Gay's husband, and Celinda and Maggie, her daughters, asked friends and family to share stories about how Gay touched their lives.  Honestly, we would have been there still, if people did indeed stand and share.  Averie and Mary alone went on and on, just at our table, about how Gay was a gamechanger in their world.  Being two of Celinda's best friends, they spent many, many hours, days, events, dinners, dances, parties, joys at Café Geranium, as they refer lovingly to the family home.  As a mother, I am so grateful for her place in my daughter's world.  I know that Gay was instrumental in helping to teach Averie how strong, independent, and empowered women can be, to never settle, to stand up for herself, and to go after your dreams.  I have but one personal story, but I am so grateful for the many, many stories that Averie holds in her heart and memory for a woman who's FB profile picture was, appropriately, Wonder Woman. 

This is MY Gay Geiser Sandoval story:

Last summer, as many of you know, our daughter Averie participated in a worldwide event called “GISHWHES”, which is an acronym for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.

(From the GISHWHES website):

GISHWHES is a 5-time Guinness World Record breaking scavenger hunt hosted by actor Misha Collins. Thousands of participants from more than 100 countries are placed on 15-person teams and for one week, through laughter, sweat and tears (of joy of course), they acquire Items on a wild and jaw-dropping scavenger hunt list. The Items are “captured” as videos or images and uploaded to this website to memorialize the annual Gishwhes experience and to supply the judges with something to judge. The more sublime and creative a submission, the more points awarded. Items range from the sweet and touching, “perform a sock puppet show at a children’s hospital” to the weirdly sublime, “a fully dressed storm trooper cleaning a pool next to a sunbather.”

We try to create a list that is challenging, thrilling and absurd. We like to see items that make us tear-up and laugh out loud. We like to have participants break out of their comfort zones, humiliate themselves a bit and do a bit of good in the world. We’re proud to have broken several Guinness World Records including: the most global hugs, 108,121; most pledges to commit charitable Acts of Kindness, 93,376, which we did in partnership with our friends at the non-profit Random Acts  (www.therandomact.org); and of course, let’s not forget the prestigious Longest Safety Pin Chain – over a mile long! We’ve also: delivered thousands of items to the homeless; raised the money to completely furnish every room of a home for a wounded veteran and his family (we’ll be posting videos for this soon!); had a Mars rock named after us by NASA; made Christmas trees fly; and have been reported on by news organizations around the world.

The GISHWHES list is lengthy, to say the least, and in 2014 it featured over 190 tasks.  Bear in mind that the teams had only one week to complete as many of these tasks as possible.  Therefore, team members got their friends and families, and their friends’ families involved.  Which brings us to the task that Averie asked us to help her team complete:

Task #31 - IMAGE. Get married. If you’re married, renew your vows. For this ceremony, the marital partners must be adorned in this season’s hottest, stunning and elegant… kitchenware. Make sure your ceremony is well attended and set outside in a stunning location befitting such a momentous occasion. The officiant must be a ship’s captain. 82 POINTS

She said: “I know you and Daddy are already married, but you have been talking about renewing your vows for a while.  I couldn’t think of anyone that would love this idea more.”  How could we say no.  So we quickly made calls to friends and asked them to just show up at the beach for a sunset vow renewal, and ran around like crazy trying to throw together the perfect “trousseau” of kitchen gadgets. 

Enter Gay Sandoval.  Gay let us know that she had kitchen aprons, and wanted to know if we’d like to use them for the big day.  In my head, I was thinking that she had an apron for me, and one for Charlie, to wear during the ceremony.  I was thrilled.  Yes, of course, I told her.  We’d love to have that “something borrowed!”

When Celinda, Joe, and Gay arrived at the venue, we were stunned to find that Gay not only had aprons for Charlie and myself, but enough for the ENTIRE WEDDING PARTY AND EVERY GUEST.  She had aprons of every style and size, new and vintage, cute and funny, demure and sexy, seasonal and everyday.  Now I ask you, who do you know, in this big, wide world, that just happens to have such an eclectic collection of aprons to costume and entire wedding party?  Gay Sandoval. 
Needless to say, we were beyond thrilled.  The wedding was a big success.  After the ceremony, we celebrated with a "reception" consisting of another task on the list...A water balloon fight in business attire.  Gay took some pretty amazing photos of that, and then she helped Averie complete a few more GISHWHES tasks.  Not only did Averie’s team get the points for this task and many others that particular day, but our kitchen gadget wedding photo made the GISHWHES 2014 yearbook.  However I have to say, that perfect finishing touch was from the always ready for fun heart of Gay.  This type of thing was right up her alley. I found out later that aprons were a running theme for Gay.  She brought them to the community kitchens where she and Joe volunteered and "aproned" the rest of the volunteers who were serving meals to the homeless.  She gave them as theme gifts.  She liked to dress up and she loved to get others to dress up too.

All of that being said, I think the final statement on the GISHWHES page pretty much epitomizes the way I think Gay lived her life.  With the help, of course, of her equally amazing family.

gishwhes believes that “normalcy” is overrated and that true “living” can be found hidden under the rocks of community artistic creation, acts of artistic sublime public performances, and random acts of kindness. More importantly, we are all artists and have gifts for society no matter what our capabilities or talents. And most importantly, we at GISHWHES want you to know the most important thing we’ve learned in the past four years: it is almost impossible to make durable clothing from cheese.

(That's Gay, third from the left-tan hat- in the top picture, peeking over....)
Thank you Gay, for going beyond “normal” and completely, utterly, and unashamedly embracing life.  We could all learn from your passion.

With gratitude,

Charlie, Pua, Averie, Caris, and Bryson