Eulogy for my sister, Lisa Baird – posted 1/17/2014
January is the month of my sister’s birthday. Lisa would have been 61 on January 29. To remember and honor Lisa’s memory, I did want to post something I wrote right around the time of her death. Here are remarks I delivered back in October 2009 at Lisa’s graveside service held in Roosevelt Memorial Park in Trevose, Pa. Jon
Not so long ago we were here at Roosevelt burying my dad. Lisa gave the eulogy. It is with both shock and some degree of disbelief that we are here again burying Lisa. I do not feel reconciled to this event. Lisa, her family and friends have been cheated. There is no fairness in this death.
I personally cannot imagine a world without Lisa. Her personality, warmth, inspiration and drive gave me hope and literally made the world a better, kinder place.
She has been at the core of my life and I have known her since the beginning. I spoke to Lisa everyday although there were days when she would say, “Boo-boo, now is not a good time to talk”. She knew pretty much everything about me and I knew the same about her. She definitely had a mother hen quality.
She had the audacity to tell me what to do and say in almost every situation. She was like a script writer. Her advice was invariably good.
To say that Lisa was caring does not do justice to that term. Lisa took caring to a whole new level. She redefined the possible as far as how many people one person could have as good friends. She was like an Olympic gold medalist in the category of friends. Friends of Lisa is probably a group that could rival Friends of Barack.
Her spirit of generosity is unrivaled. That outstanding quality defined both her personal and professional life. When it came to Molly and Lou, there is nothing she would not do for them. It is those daily, little things that Lisa attended to with persistence. Whether it was helping Lou with his homework or being on top of Molly’s financial aid, Lisa attended to those tasks with utmost devotion.
Professionally, Lisa was an accomplished immigration law attorney. A part of this tragedy is the loss of Lisa to the Bar and to her client population. She had expertise and knowledge which she used to the great benefit of a marginalized and often despised group. She took cases that others would not take. Her fee scale was off the charts – she redefined the cost of high quality legal work downward. If a client came in and said, “Ms. Lisa, I only have $250 but I’ll pay you when I get some money”, she would take the case. She appeared to have a hard time charging for her services.
At a time when lawyers are held in contempt as greedy bloodsuckers, Lisa carried on the most noble tradition of the advocate for the poor and oppressed. She did her part to rehabilitate lawyers and the Bar.
That big-hearted quality was who she was.
In rummaging through Lisa’s apartment yesterday, Molly brought back to my mom’s place a pillow case with numerous messages written all over it. The pillow case went back to Lisa’s days at Camp Red Wing when she was 16 years old. Some of the ink was hard to read but here are a couple of the quotes:
“Lisa – what an honor. I’m the first one to sign this thing – ample thanks for giving me the best thing in the world – a real friend – not just a friend for the summer but a friend for always. I mean it, Lisa, you’ve given me so much this summer, in all ways. Please let’s not let the distance between our homes break up the wonderful things we have. I mean it. Congratulations on winning. Keep in close touch. Love forvever, Nancy”
” Dear Lisa, It’s really been a fabulous summer. You’re the best captain the Winnies have ever had. You’ve got the most spirit of anyone I’ve met yet. When we won, I was sooo happy for you – you deserved it. Congratulations on your swimming. I knew you could do it. I’ll call you and maybe when I come to Ilene’s house, I’ll visit you. I’ll love you always, Lucy Trotter”
“Dear Lisa, You are one of the most amazing people I know. I have never seen anyone before who could have as many friends and be so all around as you. You’re really a great asset to camp and I’m really glad you could be part of my bunk. As far as Winnie-Tuskie goes, you were the best captain ever and don’t ever think differently. I really love you so much and hope to see you during the winter. Please write. Love ya, Nancy”
In Lisa’s pocketbook, I found a little trinket. It looked like a recent purchase. It was a piece of jewelry. There was an accompanying piece of paper. It read “creative gifts by your homeless neighbors.”
To Lisa’s friends, I want to say publicly “thank you”. Your support has been overwhelming. The whole Baird family appreciates all that you have done to help out. It has been above and beyond the call of duty.
Lisa, I do so wish we were not here today. This should not be happening. You deserve so much better. Please know that you are loved and will always be loved. I know i am speaking for the whole family in saying we will miss you forever.