She Had The Final Word


For anyone who knew Emily Curtis well has at times encountered her fierce, stubborn determination get get things done HER WAY!!! Every band show, choir song, organ piece, musical scene everything down to the minutest detail had to meet with her demands.  She was the teacher that you either loved or hated but always respected.  Her devotion to family, country, students, everyone she touched was stronger than most; very few could match her will and strength.  This profound quality  showed in true fashion in the  memorial service that she orchestrated herself.

The prelude music was traditional Ma.  From the religious to the patriotic to musical theatre to CHRISTMAS? was all there.  You heard correctly… Christmas.  The woman had Christmas trees in every room of her house every year… yes, even the bathroom.  “Silent Night” closed every holiday concert she ever directed.  The choir (be it high school, junior high, or elementary) stood in the darkened  auditorium  with lighted candles and sang  all three verses  alternating from English  lyrics to the traditional German.  I also heard “O, Holy Night.”

The Broadway pieces also were typical.  “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel would fit most funerals and is a regular piece in many church hymnals.  I also heard “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music which was the last lyric that Oscar Hammerstein II wrote. I was half expecting to hear the guitar opening the overture of Jesus Christ Superstar, but must have come in late.

On to the service itself.  I’m sure that Emily chose each reading herself.  However, the point that drove the whole thing home was Amanda’s “Time of Remembrance.”  Her mother asked her to deliver it.. they did everything together.  At the end of her delivery, Amanda took out a micro-cassette player and pushed “Play.”  then, Emily’s voice filled the  church  as she  told of her love of family,  country, and large support group.  She ever joked about her need to have the final word.  She never gave up her battle with leukemia.  The doctors and nurses at the James Center on the OSU campus were all amazed at her fortitude.  They dubbed her either “princess” or “general.”  They knew her well, too.  Unfortunately, the disease finally defeated her.

The music played during the service was also quite unusual for most… but not for Ma’s.  A violinist played “Carmen Ohio” (the Ohio State alma mater).  Although she was a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, Emily was a traditional Buckeye… she bled Scarlet and Grey.

Following the internment service, a large number of people returned to the church to celebrate and remember  Emily.  Teachers… remarkably who found subs for the day (probably 15 total), family, friends shared some personal memories.  My mother told me that we had until 1.45 because she had to get back to drive the school bus.  I can honestly say that I am a stronger person because my life has been touched by Emily and her typical lunch of fat-free pringles or honey mustard pretzels and her can of Diet Coke (I would not want to be around her if she did not have her can of Diet Coke).  So many great, profound, life-affirming memories that will last forever.  THANK YOU MA, I LOVE YOU…SON2.

2 thoughts on “She Had The Final Word”

  1. Great post! So glad you were able to share today’s events with the rest of us who could not be present. I found myself fighting tears several times throughout this day; I’m not sure what my patients must have been thinking. I was glad I was able to attend calling hours yesterday, but surely wished I could have been present for the memorial service. I could barely speak with Paul in front of the casket yesterday. He was full of personal memories and to my amazement kept the conversation rolling along.

    I don’t think that it is much of an exageration to say that Emily and her influence continue to impact me every single day. Unlike this blog’s host, public performance of any kind can really be a mental and physical drain on me. But with Emily’s often stern nudging, she forced me to confront it and get out there to share my capabilities. That is what she has done for so many that have been blessed to have her for an instructor and we are all certainly better for it. There were times when I basically fell flat, but that was only a lesson in waiting on how to persevere and continue forward. After all, you can’t enjoy the times when things go well if you don’t even try.

    If we were all to live and give so freely of ourselves as she did, what a tremendous world this would be. I’m glad that she is no longer suffering, but am sad that I won’t get to watch those magical hands grace the keyboard or hear her throw out some sharp zinger from that quick wit of hers.

    Here is a salute to the best. Requiescat In Pace. God bless and keep you. We will miss you.

  2. Thank you, Jamy for the lovely post. Yes! Emily did love Christmas! I think this is so difficult to accept because she was so full of life and high expectations for everyone and everthing around her…which is always a good thing..

    So, to our dear friend and mentor, Emily….we say…”Sleep in Heavenly Peace”….

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