Dearly beloved, thank you for coming today, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers. Thank you Lyle, and Holly, for putting on such a marvelous spread. I just wanted to share a few words.
Let us not forget that we are gathered here to remember a good woman. Maybe one of the best. Perhaps THE best. She was old Florida. She was an artist. She was beautiful.
(Speech notes to self: Enunciate your words. Do not mumble. Make sure your fly is up.)
You know, it’s weird. When I was first asked to say something about my friend, Sherry Sandquist, for her celebration-of-life service, I couldn’t come up with words to say.
Which is remarkable inasmuch as you’re looking at a guy who has diarrhea of the mouth. When I was a kid, my mother said I could talk the paint off a fire hydrant.
On my first day of second grade, for example, the teacher had to move me around the classroom six times.
She later told my parents that “Sean is a very nice boy, but his mouth never stops moving.”
I was an average kid. A straight-C student. But when it came to incessant talking I was without peer. Each one of my childhood report cards—every single one—explained that “Sean talks too much.”
And yet I am unable to find anything to say about one of my best friends for her final memorial.
Namely, because where would you start? What do you say about your friend while her whole family is staring at you? Where do you find the words?
Here you are. You’re behind a microphone. Your hands are clammy. Your chest starts to pound. And you’re about to crumble beneath the limelight.
Then, suddenly, you recall something the doctor said in third grade. He said you have a condition called “vasovagal syncope.” A prevailing medical condition wherein episodes of extreme nervousness can cause you to black out and lose control of important bodily sphincters.
One of the classic triggers for this condition is public speaking.
So what do you talk about at the mic? How do you approach this speech? Do you tell the story about how you met Sherry?
It’s not a very interesting story. Not much to tell, really. You were 20-some years old. A dropout. A loser. You enrolled in community college. You were trying to get your life together, but it wasn’t working.
You were having panic attacks. You were suffering from some extreme mental health issues. You were about to have a nervous breakdown after years of past trauma, suicide, and a hard boyhood came to the surface.
So you did something out of character. You contacted a therapist. The only therapist you knew, the guy who went to your church and smelled like Aqua Velva.
You called him up. You asked for help.
But this guy refused to take you on as a patient, instead he welcomed you into his home. He made you a friend. He made you family. And then you met her. His wife. She was older than you. She was smart. She was funny.
Her name was Sherry.
And that’s pretty much the story.
And where does this speech go now? Do I tell all these funeral visitors how this woman invited me into her home and cooked me fish soup? Do I tell all these guests that, typically, fish soup is a culinary concoction that smells bad enough to gag a goat?
But amazingly, this woman’s soup was delicious. Which blew my mind. So I went back for seconds, thirds and fourths. And only after my fifth bowl did I recall that overeating is yet another classic trigger of vasovagal syncope.
How can I tell everyone this? How, I ask? This woman was more than just a friend. She took me under her wings. She treated me like a son. This woman insisted that I was special. And the heck of it was, I half believed her.
This woman cut my hair in her kitchen every three weeks. She took me to Mount Dora, Florida, to a large antique fair and she convinced me to spend $300 on antique Philco radio, just because I liked it.
Do I tell people at the visitation about the time I decided to take up bike riding, and about how she gave me a bicycle with a street-value of a few thousand dollars?
What does one do here? How do you make a speech about a deceased angel?
Maybe you should tell everyone about how she bought your first book. A pitiful book with little literary value, and even less substance. But to her it was touched by Midas.
Or maybe you should tell everyone how she sold this book at her store, compelling anyone who could fog up a mirror to purchase one.
Do you tell these people how she is the reason you are what you are (whatever that is)? Should you tell everyone how she changed your life forever? How she made you feel valuable? Do you tell the people how she gave you a second chance at your own life?
How she bolstered your confidence? How she gave you wings? How she helped you find what you were looking for?
How she cared? How she laughed? How she spoke? How she was one of the few who loved you, even when you didn’t love yourself?
Well. Sometimes I think my teachers were right. I talk too much.
🇿🇦🇿🇦Norma Den - October 3, 2022 7:27 am
A perfect eulogy
Holly Floyd Shipman - October 3, 2022 7:29 am
Well said. Thank you for loving my sister. xo, Holly
Pubert - October 3, 2022 7:58 am
Sean, I know it’s part of your shtick to self depreciate yourself as a young man, but I bet you were never anywhere as goofy as you pretend. Having said that, I do see that Sherry had a powerful effect on you. You returned the favor and sent her out with class. So vasovagal that!
Leigh Amiot - October 3, 2022 9:35 am
This column is really sticking with me, Sean.
In these present turbulent times, economically, societally, there is no better investment to make than in another human being.
Undoubtedly, Sherry earned the reward of the Father’s praise, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Barbara - October 3, 2022 10:01 am
How beautiful to remember how Sherry invested in your life, in all the ways that became part of who you are. Valuing and appreciating her contribution in building you up and caring for you is the best honor for which one can be remembered.
Ginny - October 3, 2022 10:18 am
Talk on, Sean … and never stop!
I’m twice as old as you so insist on hearing you until the day someone is thinking of what to say at my homecoming!
Joy Jacobs. - October 3, 2022 10:40 am
Sherry sounds like she was a beautiful woman. My 4th grade teacher solved his problem with my talking by having me sit in the hall. 😊.
mccutchen52 - October 3, 2022 10:55 am
I’m sorry you have trouble speaking about someone who is close to your heart. Earth Angles seem to bring out the best in people they care about.
Buddy Bob's Best Friend - October 3, 2022 1:08 pm
Bravo! Beautifully said! I am sitting here thinking of all the “Sherry” people in my life. I am so very thankful that God put them in my path as they helped to guide me away from destructive ways and toward a very positive, healthy life. I am trying to be a “Sherry” in our chaotic world as I think there has never been a greater need for carrying & compassionate people. “Sherry” people are saving our civilization. We look around our lives to see the hurting and down-trodden. We aim to come along side of the underdog to lift up their arm while they are carrying their burden of a cross. The world is a better place because of Sherry and you, Sean. Thank you for caring!!!
Kim H. - October 3, 2022 11:14 am
I respectfully disagree, dear Sean. I’m my humble opinion, you don’t talk ENOUGH. The world NEEDS what you have to say. I know I certainly do. ❤️
Debbie - October 3, 2022 11:21 am
I looked up her artwork on line. Very beautiful. She also had a gorgeous home.
Ann - October 3, 2022 11:27 am
A beautiful tribute ( keep talking and writing)
Debbie g - October 3, 2022 11:32 am
Sorry for your loss of such a dear friend I know your pain but we were blessed to have them for a while
Love you Sean
Marie - October 3, 2022 11:35 am
I’m so sorry for your loss and very thank for her impact on your life. A beautiful tribute. May we all be at least a little like Sherry.
LaRee - October 3, 2022 11:36 am
We all need a Sherry Sandquist in our lives❤️
Trudy - October 3, 2022 12:03 pm
Sorry for the loss of your dear friend, Sherry. There are angels among us. Glad you had her in your life. I’m sure you impacted her life as much as she did yours she must have been very proud of you.
Ann Thompson - October 3, 2022 12:10 pm
❤️ loving you was part of her. Pass it on.
Lynda Anderson Shirley - October 3, 2022 12:44 pm
Sherry was married to my ex brother in law for 11-12 years. She was exactly as you described her, just a loving, kind, heart of gold young woman. My girls grew up with their Aunt Sherry & were always so thrilled to spend time with her when we would come to DeFuniak Springs. The world has lost a very special soul but, to be sure, heaven has gained an angel. We are, for certain, better people for knowing & loving her.
May she Rest In Peace.
Roxanne Taylor - October 3, 2022 12:59 pm
Sean, we may somehow be related. All of my report cards said the same thing, “Roxanne is a good student but she talks too much!”. There you have it. I love this post about Sherry, such a legacy she left behind. God certainly placed her in your life to help guide you through tough times. May she Rest In Peace.
Pam Williams - October 3, 2022 1:04 pm
Chasity Davis Ritter - October 3, 2022 1:04 pm
I’m so sorry you lost your friend. I’m sure you said exactly the right things to bring comfort and peace and maybe a little smile to your fellow mourners over a life that mattered to you all. Wish I could give you a hug if you need one. But I think in Gods precious foresight He sent Marigold into your path because dogs don’t mind tears and snotty noses so much and love the cuddles and hugs when grief has no where else to turn. I know you know but I wonder how many have never figured out just what DOG spelled backwards is? (Please don’t tell my cats though) prayers for you and those left behind.
Kim Janine Ligon - October 3, 2022 1:07 pm
So sorry for your loss.
cm - October 3, 2022 1:27 pm
Tammy Andros - October 3, 2022 1:54 pm
“You were 20-some years old. A dropout. A loser. You enrolled in community college. You were trying to get your life together, but it wasn’t working. You were having panic attacks. You were suffering from some extreme mental health issues. You were about to have a nervous breakdown after years of past trauma…came to the surface. So you did something out of character. You contacted a therapist.” I knew there was something we shared, other than a southern upbringing and a bad case of chidhood diarrhea of the mouth (God bless teachers). You though, you lucky dog, found Sherry and she forever blessed your life. May her memory be eternal.
Donna from Iowa - October 3, 2022 1:57 pm
Love starting my day with your inspirational writings.
imcdbw - October 3, 2022 2:33 pm
Never! You do not talk too much! I am so, so thankful that you had this lovely, loving lady take you under her wing! I’m sure she is, right now, at Jesus’ side, hearing Him say, “Ya done good, girlfriend! I knew you would! He’s precious to us both!”
JonDragonfly - October 3, 2022 2:34 pm
I hope someone says such nice things about me when the time comes.
David - October 3, 2022 2:52 pm
Your illustration is a beautiful and fitting “cherry on top” of a heartfelt, articulate eulogy.
Tom Wallin - October 3, 2022 3:01 pm
Rest in Peace, Angel Sherry.
Sandy Lipsky - October 3, 2022 3:14 pm
You said just the right things about your precious friend. I feel like I know her now, too. May the Lord love on you in unexpected ways as you walk through this valley of loss.
Carol - October 3, 2022 3:29 pm
Oh that we all have a Sherry in our lives! So glad she was a part of yours…Thank you for sharing…
Richard Birch - October 3, 2022 4:37 pm
Thanks for sharing Sean , I believe you diagnosed two of my my new illness, I’ll keep it as I enjoy eating and taking
Barbara Farr - October 3, 2022 4:40 pm
I am glad you talked too much!
Susie Flick - October 3, 2022 4:41 pm
Sincere condolences, prayers & peace on the loss of your friend, Sherry. Your words were the best in relating your relationship and time together on earth. I lost a dear friend 6 years ago and before she died she asked if I’d say something at her memorial. I have never had someone request that of me and told Ginny I’d do my best. I wrote it up before she passed and had her read it…about 5 days before her death. She read it and said “but you didn’t say anything about her husband or things about myself…” I replied, this isn’t about us it’s about you. I pulled it off in front of her family and close friends and choked up several times in saying my thoughts…I was blessed to have had Ginny in my life for the time she was here and even more blessed that she thought of me so much to ask me to say what I did. She passed at 2am and her husband said he’d let me know…he did but at about the time, my doorbell rang, I got up, no one was there….I knew it was Ginny coming to say good bye. I treasure that moment and every other moment I had with her.
Hugs to you, Sean and take good care.
David Britnell - October 3, 2022 5:47 pm
Thanks again for sharing your heart. So sorry for the loss of a friend.
Alan Brock - October 3, 2022 7:23 pm
I can’t come up with adequate words to react. All I can say is Damn these allergies and your a good egg.
Pete Tucker - October 3, 2022 7:36 pm
Sean, that’s excellent! It’s better to have verbal diarrhea than mental constipation.
Stacey Wallace - October 4, 2022 3:05 am
You made Sherry proud. Thank you for sharing such a special person with us. Prayers for you and the rest of her family. Also, love to you, Jamie, and Marigold.
mona dodson - October 4, 2022 7:31 am
And sometimes you talk just right.
Michele Sandstead - October 4, 2022 8:02 am
You’re words about dear Sherry were perfect! She truly was a beautiful lady, inside and out. She and Lyle made a beautiful couple! And Lyle is an incredible therapist too. I know your words honored Sherry and blessed all who knew and loved her. You are a treasure, Sean!
Laura Lathinghouse Sullivan - October 4, 2022 11:33 am
I loved reading about how you met Sherry and Lyle. I know she will be greatly missed. What a special person she was!
Felicia Bassham - October 4, 2022 5:24 pm
There is so much I want to say about my cousin Sherry. She was truly a beautiful person. She gave unconditionally, and everything she touched, from a palm branch to a rusty chair, she could effortlessly make it beautiful. I’ll never forget the way she entered a room, always announcing that she had arrived. With a Yoo-hoo or Anybody home??? She could change the atmosphere in the room and in your mind, and make you believe you were good at things that you really weren’t. She was a great listener. She would be genuinely interested in what was going on in my life, and she was always able to reflect her wisdom to me. Every time I slow down enough to reflect on Sherry, my eyes well up and the realization that she is gone too soon overwhelms me. I know she is with the Lord now and painting heaven white.
Scott W - October 5, 2022 1:38 pm
Yeah….sometimes the words are not enough.
Melissa - October 6, 2022 10:37 pm
Phyllis Browning - October 17, 2022 9:58 pm
Thanks Sean, Sherry was my husband and my friend, also. We were totally blessed to have her in our lives as well. She knew my parents and was so supportive when we lost them. We always wanted to purchase something in the Santa Rosa area because how could you duplicate friends like Lyle and Sherry. We hold them friendship and love for animals deep in our hearts. God bless your wife and you, we hope to connect sometime in life! We hope to hear you speak, play the guitar and reminisce of sweet Sherry sometime. I too have Vasovagal Syncope and fainted one time, when my mother was in ICU after a big surgery and, somehow with all of the tubes, she mouthed the words, “ I love you”. Of course, on the fall, I hit my head on a hospital bed, had a minor seizure,which caused chaos and the hospital doctors wanted me admitted, after stitching my forehead! I am happy you succeeded in showing your love and respect for Sherry without incident. Love your home but, wish you were still in Santa Rosa, so we could meet you when we see Lyle. Sincerely, Phyllis and Robert Browning
Renee Welton - October 23, 2022 10:23 pm
That was great, Sherry would have loved it.