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Ella's Memorial Transcript

Officiant: Diane Livoti, Godmother to Ella

Diane:  On behalf of Tom and Shannon and their families, let me welcome you today as we gather to remember Ella and to celebrate her life. Please take a moment to look around and connect with each other and connect with this place that holds us. We honor all the faiths and belief systems represented here. Diversity in thought and faith connected by love make this community both rich and strong. I want to acknowledge each of you for the important character you are in this story. Thank you to the families who have traveled great and short distances to be here for your relative, Ella. Thank you to the old and new friends of the families who are here. Thank you to Tom and Shannon's work communities who are here from UC Davis and EDAW. Thank you to the Davis friends. Thank you to the river friends. Thank you to the school friends. Thank you to Ella's friends and and care providers. I want to thank all the loved ones who are departed, you are here in spirit and I want to acknowledge specifically Sara Ann, Ella's second cousin, who passed when she was four years old from brain cancer.

Thank you to all who were touched by Ella's life.

We are here to remember, release, and celebrate Ella's life. Life is a sacred and infinite circle of beginnings and endings. While it seemed that Ella was just on the beginning side of this life's journey, she was called to another. We are left with loss and all the emotion that comes with. We are also left with our memory of Ella, who at two had lived a joyous life. I have heard Chimene's voice in my head this week, saying " One door closed and another one opened." On Saturday night we gathered around Ella's beautiful body in quiet vigil. Shannon presenced for us that our gathering was matched somewhere by a gathering of souls who were welcoming Ella to their realm. Whatever our beliefs about life and death, we can take comfort in knowing that Ella is not in pain, she is at peace, and that she lived an incredible life.

Shannon and Tom chose to have us gather in Chestnut Park because this place was one that Ella loved. She spent many of her days here; exploring, playing, discovering, and growing. With daddy, Ella would watch him play basketball. She was his biggest fan. Daddy would pass her the ball, she would throw it back to him, and he would make the shot. She would giggle when he made a basket. Aunt Chimene, Ella's beloved Tia, would take her on adventures right here, going from this tree to that one visiting the scrub jays and crows. On any given day, Ella could be found pushing a stroller with one of her Gossies inside. Shannon would bring her here to throw the ball to Jolie and Pierre when Ella was in the womb, slung to her body, and learning to walk. Eventually, Ella was walking and made her way to the sand box much to the chagrin of Jolie and Pierre. The sand box delighted her. She taught her mom to fetch by setting pebbles sliding along a plastic pipe and would wait happily for her mom to bring them back to her. It is right that we are here in Chestnut Park. It is where we would find Ella if she were here today.

Ella was named after two great women. Ella Fitzgerald made music that both Shannon and Tom loved; she was a strong spirit and had an elegant name. Ella was given Kathleen as her middle name to honor her grandmother, Shannon's mother. Grandma Kathi is a compassionate soul, a quality that ran deep in Ella. She is a wise woman, deeply committed to her family. She is someone that I respect and admire. With such power in her name, Ella was destined to have a great impact on our world. By the looks of how many of us are here, I'd say she was well on her way. I'd like to invite Grandma Kathi up here to share her heart with us and to light this candle for Ella.

Kathi speaks and lights candle…


I'd like to invite Julia Ann, a work colleague and friend of Tom's to read a poem she wrote for Ella.


Julia Ann:

Close Your Eyes

Close your eyes, and see me now.
Relax, be still and feel me near.
But a breath away, I am.

My father's child, my mother's love forever.
Embrace, embrace - don't let go of one another.
Within your hearts, I have my life.

You saw seven candles, heard birthday's song.
Rode the river past my milestones.
And held my children in your arms.

My parents' hopes and dreams and wishes sweet.
We never know how long lives embrace.
Forgive me. I took brave steps another way.

The gifts we shared were precious, rare.
Love's lessons we learned in joy and tears.
But hope and love outlasted time.

Love circling, you held me, my hand.
I heard your words, but love spoke loudest.
In sweet peace, I closed my eyes - and see you now.

Soft tears. Good-byes. And questions why?
You gave me being and loved me strong.
I made you a father and a mother lifelong.

Speak of me aloud.
Monkeys, choo-choos and wagon rides.
The hugs, the giggles, the smiles, the wiggles.

And listen quiet for my whisper.
Strength and fight. And heart of courage.
Laughter. Joy. And life itself.

Close your eyes, and see me now.
Relax, be still and feel me near.
But a breath away, I am.

(written by Julia Ann Easley, for Ella - May 29, 2007)

I'd like to invite Catie Bull, a cherished friend of the Hinds family to share a reading from The Parents Tao Te Ching.      


Open Your Arms Wide

Wise parents do not strive,
yet their purposes never fail.
They are available,
but never interfere.
They communicate,
but never lecture.
They let their children go,
but never lose them.

These parents are like the Tao.
They open wide their hearts
and hands,
yet never lose a thing.

If I grasp my children
and my other treasures,
I will have only what my arms can hold.
And even that
slips through my grasp.
But the wider I have opened my arms,
the more and more I find.
If I can ever open wide,
I will have everything.

-The Parent's Tao Te Ching
Lao Tzu (modernized by William Martin)

Diane: Eulogy (written by Tom & Shannon):

How can we describe to you someone who is not yet fully formed as a person?

How can we explain how someone so full of grace could meet such tragedy?

How do we move ahead in life when we feel that we are leaving our precious little girl behind?

The eulogy today has more questions than it has answers.

Ella set out on life's journey on February 20, 2005, just a mile from here at Sutter Davis. She was born with her mother's apricot hair and her father's facial features. She had a boyish appearance that disappeared with barrettes and earrings and her radiant smile. Within a year, she was taller than 99% of the other girls her age.

Early on Ella showed her passion for figuring our anything in her daily life that required dexterity. She especially loved Fastex buckles. By 10 months, she could snap herself into her high chair. She would proudly crawl around with dog collars clipped around her neck, dog tags jangling along. Before she was two, as a result of many hours of practice, she could zip up her own sweaters. We figured she would be our little engineer.

Ella was a yes girl, preferring to announce a hearty "yes" with a big smile long before "no" regularly entered her vocabulary. She would also politely order her parents around the house, starting with the "princess wave" that she would direct at anything she wanted you to bring her. Some of her first words were "Hep peez" or "Up peez", translated as Help Please or Up Please, which she would shout to whomever was closest. Ella also learned that her parents set limits, and while they catered to many whims, they had boundaries for her to adhere to. So a healthy equilibrium was reached. One of her early-learned favorite words was "happ-pee."

What was it that made her "happ-pee?" Those things began with her mommy and daddy and the rest of her family, and extended to Gossie the stuffed goslings (there were at least three), ice chips, yogurt, Beebo the Baby Signs Bear, The Daddy Book, balloons, bubbles, making and serving imaginary hot tea, and a host of other things that captured her imagination and heart.

Ella's traits were thus: patience; a sense of humor and a sparkle in her eye; passion for music and wriggling her body; a sense of personal space that when violated could lead to a bite; and most memorably, a great doling out of affection and love.

By the age of six months, she would give her mommy a gentle pat on the back combined with "Mmmmm." She would do the same with her dollies and stuffed animals, delighting in rocking them and gently patting them on their backs.

In a household where joy and laughter are cherished, Ella added to the fun. We knew early on that she would have a great sense of humor. We would call her a tease as she pretended to give something and then with a wry smile and twinkle in her eye, withdraw her offer.

One day when Ella and Shannon were at baby sign language class, the instructor laid Beebo, a big furry blue bear, on the floor. Ella let out a squeal, crawled over to where Beebo was laying on the ground and attacked him, rolling and tumbling with Beebo while shrieking with laughter.

Even when she was sick, Ella enjoyed life to the fullest extent she could. In the hospital, she developed a morning ritual where she would clamber on the chair beside the window ledge, and begin playing CD after CD in the music player, dancing along to the snippets of songs that she played. This ritual combined three of her favorite passions: music, dancing, and figuring out gadgets.

Ella has been an example to us all, with her resilience and passion to live the next moment.

We are fortunate to have known her for as long as we did, though we wanted her longer. She gave us joy, and she showed how in this modern day of independence and technology we are all still intertwined in compassion, love, and support. For this, we deeply thank her. We will always hold her in our hearts.

For this next part, I want to invite any of you who would like to share a memory or story of Ella. When it is your turn, please move to the aisle and speak into the microphone.

Shared memories……


Chimene will close and open rock meditation.

Moment of Silence: Rock meditation


Closing (Diane):

There is no way to find justice in losing Ella so young. It is a tremendous loss; one we will each grieve in our own way. I stand here before you grieving. As we each journey towards healing, we will find our own personal meaning. In my search for meaning, my internal wisdom tells me to dive into love; to reach out and connect with my community and to relish life. I miss you Ella. I love you. I promise to honor your memory with a great life. I thank you Tom and Shannon for the opportunity to be a godmother. It has been a blessing.

Thank you all for being here. This community is inspiring. It is an honor to stand amongst such great people. Please enjoy the food, this place, and each other. It's what Ella would be doing.

Before we conclude, I'd like to ask that you deposit your blessed rock back into the pile of rocks. These will become a part of Ella's garden. Please stay for as long as you desire, and know that there will be an informal gathering at Tom and Shannon's home, through the exit on Penny Place, on-going throughout the day.


Untitled Document
Quack? No - it's a goose, silly.
Sand Box - fun!
Choo Choooooo!
Vroom! Vroom!
Charlotte's Web
Funky Chicken
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All Text ©2007 Tom Hinds & Shannon Hickey
Design & homepage illustrations - ©2007 Zac Denning
All other photos and graphics © Tom Hinds & Shannon Hickey unless otherwise specified - all images to be used by permission only