Archive for the 'family' Category

Maria Hunt Hancock: In celebration of a beautiful life

I have no words to go with this post right now because writing will make me cry, crying gives me a headache, and I’ve had a headache all week (from crying). When my heartache is a little more bearable, I will post my memories of my beautiful, courageous oldest sister. Meanwhile, here is a slideshow Ally and I put together for Maria’s funeral.




So, almost a year ago I said I’d start doing more blog posts and … nothing. I didn’t do it. Sorry. One of the biggest events in my life the past year was my graduation on June 9, 2011, from the University of Washington’s Master of Library and Information Science program (or, using acronyms, I received an MLIS degree from UW). So I’m a real, live librarian. Sort of. I have the piece of paper, but it hasn’t magically transformed into a job yet. Anyone out there want to hire a smart, hardworking librarian?

The unemployment deal has been pretty discouraging, but back to graduation: My mom and dad came to celebrate with me and spend a few days in Seattle. It was lovely.

Happy birthday, Celia!

This morning I woke up with a headache and sore throat, so I seriously contemplated skipping class and staying home to look at pictures and watch videos of my angel sister, Celia, since today is her birthday. Then I started thinking about the last few days of Celia’s life. Last year I spent the night at her house the night before her birthday, and — as I often do — I read late into the night. The next morning, I woke up groggy and grouchy because I hadn’t had my eight hours of sleep. Celia had stayed up pretty late, too, and she woke up with a headache, an occurrence that had been way too frequent those days. Celia asked if I wanted to go to church with her family, but I decided I’d sleep a little longer and count going to my nephew Josh’s blessing later that day as my church attendance.

Continue reading ‘Happy birthday, Celia!’

Big Climb

The overblown, schmaltzy strains of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” filled my ears as I stepped through the doors of the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle. I had just climbed 1,311 stairs — 69 floors — in Seattle’s tallest building to help raise awareness and money (by the way, you still have time to donate) for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, but I didn’t feel like much of a champion. The first 60 floors of the Big Climb were pretty easy as I kept a steady, gentle pace floor after floor. But when the bracelet Maria gave me the day of Celia’s funeral snapped in half after catching on my pocket, I just wanted to be done, so I raced up the last nine floors. I was a sweaty, breathless mess by the time I got to the top, and I had awhile to wait while Meg caught up with me. Thinking time.

Continue reading ‘Big Climb’


I’ve been thinking about doing this post for a long time, and I really don’t know why I’ve been putting it off. The past several months have been really hard for me — I think I’ve cried more since March than I did my entire life up until then. But I’ve also had a chance to reflect on how blessed I am, and so, in no particular order, here are a few of the things I’m thankful for: Continue reading ‘Blessings’

Celia Turley Memorial Blood Drive

apple01As many of you know, my sister Celia passed away May 16 from complications related to Acute Promyelotic Leukemia (M3). During her short stay in the hospital, Celia received numerous transfusions of blood products. In Celia’s memory and in gratitude to the people who gave blood that was used in her treatment, my sister Maria has organized a blood drive in Joseph City, Arizona, on Aug. 10. If you can make it to the blood drive, sign up at We are planning on organizing blood drives in other cities as well, and information will be posted on and on the Celia’s Circle Facebook group.

My family has a goal of having 500 blood donations made in Celia’s memory in 2009, so even if you can’t make it to one of the memorial blood drives, please donate at a blood center or blood drive near you and e-mail to let us know about it. I’m planning on donating three pints this year, so that leaves just 497 to go. Let’s make it happen!

Campin’ my style

I’ve had a couple of camping trips this summer, although neither was what I would call “real” camping. No tents were involved. My mom was the Girls Camp music director this year, and she recruited me to play the guitar for singing around the campfire. I have to admit, it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be — mostly because the stake leaders were a fun bunch. I made some new friendships and strengthened some old ones.

This past weekend my mom had her annual Cousins Camp for the grandkids deemed old enough to participate (and an old maid aunt). This year we went to Virden, New Mexico, to help clean up my grandparents’ place for them. We got a bit of work done, and we had time for lots of fun, too. We had a weenie roast, rode the John Deere lawn mower, climbed trees, swung in the hammock, shot off fireworks (spooking the neighbor’s horse), and lots of other stuff. On Friday, the older kids hiked to the peak of Caneaster to check out the petroglyphs while the younger kids made treats with Grandma Payne. Basically, we had a good ol’ time in the country. I’m thankful my mom felt well enough to enjoy it all.

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Happy Independence Day!

My mom and I have been practicing a patriotic piano duet to play in church tomorrow. Here’s a preview.

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Power tools

My dad is terrific, but he hasn’t been very supportive of the plans my mom and I have to grow vegetables in the flower box on the south side of our house. I suspect it may be because he doesn’t want to eat any of the vegetables that the flower box may produce. Anyway, it hasn’t concerned him much that the chipmunks and cottontails have been stripping our baby plants of all their leaves. So while he was at Scout camp this week, I purloined his circular saw, a staple gun, some wire mesh and scrap lumber and got to work. I never took wood shop in high school, so the end result was no masterpiece, but it has kept  our little plants from being denuded so far.

It was too late for the first tub; we'll have to replant

It was too late for the first tub; we'll have to replant

My beautiful sister Celia

celia_turleyMy older sister Celia died last Saturday after a short but intense fight with leukemia. She was diagnosed with the disease a week and a half earlier. Because the type of leukemia she had was supposed to be very treatable, my family was optimistic that our sister would pull through. However, Celia’s body didn’t respond well to the chemo that the doctors started her on, and her organs began to shut down a couple of days after she began treatment. After a bad reaction to dialysis, Celia developed a brain aneurysm and never woke up after that. I’ll miss her more than I can ever hope to express.

Those of you who knew Celia know what an amazing person she was. Those of you who didn’t know her, I wish you could have. She was smart, funny, kind — everything a big sister should be. She encouraged my love of reading even before I could tell an A from a Q. We had a deal that I could get in bed with her at night and she would read to me if I let her put her cold feet on my legs to warm them up — I still think I got the better end of that bargain. She always made up original games for me and my brothers and sisters to play, and she came up with the best characters for playing make-believe; Old Dame Dob and Gretchen von Klutz were two of my favorites. Unfortunately, neither of those characters ever made it into any of the numerous family plays she wrote and directed. The audience (Mom, Dad, grandparents) always seemed to love those plays, even though the acting was far from Tony-worthy.

As we grew older, I loved spending hours talking to her. Often when I’d visit her, we’d stay up talking and laughing (she was always laughing — one thing I loved about her) until 2 or 3 in the morning. Then she’d get up at 6 the next day to make sure her kids had everything they needed to make it to school prepared and on time. And she was always cheerful doing it. She was one of my best examples of love, compassion and selflessness in life, and I’m eternally grateful for the time I’ve spent with her.

Update: Here’s a slideshow from Celia’s funeral.

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