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Laurie Kujawa

Laurie Kujawa

Laurie was a genuine, open, and passionately caring person. From the age of two she taught me things – like putting her hands on both sides of my face and making me look at her when she talked to me. She was asking for the same intense attention she gave to others.

Laurie was the kind of person who gives all and expects nothing in return. She loved being a grandmother and would drop anything to play with the grandchildren. She worked tirelessly in the background many days to make sure everyone had a good meal that accommodated everyone’s dietary needs. Our grandson David was shyer than his siblings and for years, each time she came to visit, Laurie made a game of chasing David until she got a kiss or hug. He ran and he giggled, but he loved being caught too.  Sibling issues were often solved with humor – like the time she and her sister, Cheri found they could get more school clothes if they shared some basic pieces. Laurie was more classic style and Cheri ruffled or knotted scarves and other accessories. Laurie tried to get her sister to unkink the knotted clothing but it wasn’t working. One day she came home from school and ran up to her room, calling down that she’d be there in a few minutes. She was mysteriously cheerful when her sister came home and went up to her room. Cheri’s laughter could be heard through the house. Laurie had knotted everything knottable in her sister’s room – clothing, curtains, the works!

Her hobbies were also centered around bringing others pleasure. She enjoyed knitting and felting items for family, coworkers and friends. We miss her flute music that was part of family gatherings and especially a favorite song, It Is Well with My Soul, she would quote when life was challenging. She could handle challenges because the ‘big rocks’ of her life were settled, giving her a firm foundation. Her herb garden, her pride and joy, continues to inspire us. She made teas and ointments and gifted many different concoctions to anyone who had a need. When our grandson had cancer, she researched and prepared him gourmet meals. When David asked what of all those wonderful things he could eat, she exclaimed, “All of it, of course!”

She enjoyed her work as payment services manager at UW-Stevens Point and beyond being described by coworkers as a professional inspiration, a lasting legacy and friend, and one who would, with a big friendly grin, set others right whenever they needed guidance, she also encouraged several students there when they were hungry, ill or lonely. Laurie delighted in learning and continued her education. We enjoyed discussing some of her elective courses, especially Native American studies, part of her heritage.

Laurie accepted Christ at age 4 and confirmed her faith daily through love in action, as many will testify. She was very health conscious and was heard to say if she did not make it through menopause, she intended to preserve all her organs in a healthy fashion. She would not take one bite of anything that might compromise that goal. She was completely dedicated to whatever cause she took up, and did it with such joy. Laurie pursued life and lived it well – for others first.

She would be the first to tell me not to represent her as a saint, and I do not intend to convey that but was so proud of her drive and determination to pursue excellence in all areas of life – whether her job, education, community service, hobbies, gardening, cooking, serving, or nurturing family, friendships and other relationships. Her name Laurel, which means, crowning glory, and she created her pen name using the initials and Almot – C.G. Almot (C.G. which stood for Crowning Glory – at least most of the time!).

More than a daughter, she was also a best friend who would often call or email that she prayed for me or thought of me from a song she heard on the way to work. This excerpt, from a song she often quoted, Seize the Day, by Carolyn Arends, was what she lived.

Well, one thing I’ve noticed wherever I wander
Everyone’s got a dream he can follow or squander
You can do what you will with the days you are given
I’m trying to spend mine on the business of living.

Seize the day – seize whatever you can
Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day – pray for grace from God’s hand
Then nothing will stand in your way, seize the day.

Those words bring a fond memory of her sister and I walking along with Laurie at the parade in Wild Rose promoting programs of the Lioness club she was proud to represent. Only months later her final gift was being an organ, eye and tissue donor benefiting 70+ lives, including vision to two Wisconsin recipients, and donating her eye glasses, both through Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin.

Because of her faith, I believe Laurie’s soul and spirit lives on, and I will see her again. Because of her dedication and determination, her body also continues to live on, bringing life to many. She continues to inspire me, and I hope this bit of her story inspires you too.