The Corning Memorial Service will take place on May 21st, 2016 at 2:00pm. It will now be held at the Guthrie Corning Hospital in conference rooms Concord, Niagra, and Seneca.
Guthrie Corning Hospital
1 Guthrie Drive
Corning, NY 14830
"The cure for anything is salt water
- tears, sweat, or the sea." - Isak Dinesen
Please join us to honor Sherri at one of the following services:
May 15th, 2016
NC Restoration Community Church
11001 Raven Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27614
May 21st, 2016
Guthrie Corning Hospital
Meeting Rooms Concord/Niagara/Seneca
1 Guthrie Drive
Corning, NY 14830
Memorial contributions may be made to:
Food Bank of the Southern Tier of New York
Sherri Fillipo, 55, died of metastatic breast cancer on April 10, 2016 in Raleigh surrounded by family and friends. Sherri leaves behind her beloved son, James (Jim) Ward Barnhill of Greensboro, NC and her husband, Brian Fillipo of Corning, New York. In addition, she leaves three greatly loved stepchildren, Kyle, Heather and Rebecca Fillipo of Philadelphia, her sister Kathryn Whiteheart, her mother Jane Dicus-Blackburn, her father Gene Whiteheart, her loving stepfather, James Blackburn, and her two wonderful cats Johnny and Simon. Sherri also leaves behind two devoted aunts who faithfully read her blog, Susan Walters and Marie Ivester. She also leaves behind an uncle, Louis Whiteheart along with many cousins of all ages. Lastly, she leaves behind three beloved nephews, Casey and Coman Wall, and Cody Rubenstein. Her life she felt would not be complete if she did not mention a life-long family friend, Lovey Russ, who loved her from “way, way back” as they always ended every correspondence.
Sherri was many things, but above all else, she was loving and loved. Loved by her family, her friends, and all that were fortunate enough to meet her. As a nurse, she was dedicated to improving patient safety and quality of care throughout her career, and was able to devote time to helping children in China through her work with Operation Smile. Through her blog, sherrifillipo.com, she continues to help others through their journeys with terminal illnesses by sharing her humor, wisdom, and faith.
Sherri had great love for her mother-in-law and father-in-law, Lou and Janice Fillipo along with her sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Els and Bruce Fillipo, Ted and Cheryl Donnelly. Along with them and their children Paul, Erin, Chaz, Thomas and Amanda, she was introduced to not only the north (Philadelphia) but to the outer banks as well. She loved the Fillipos and the Donnelleys with all her heart. She said that some of the happiest years of her life were the years spent loving and having fun with her new family.
A memorial service will be held in Raleigh, NC Restoration Community Church 11001 Raven Ridge Road and in Corning, NY in the near future; announcements will be made on sherrifillipo.com. Her ashes will later be scattered in what were her four favorite places on earth.
Heartfelt thanks go to special, deep and close friends who took care of her and loved her through various stages of her life include Deborah Venable, Susan Liles, Beverly Harrelson, Louise Dembry, Alison Hong, Shirley Magana, Deb Raupers, Chris Wentzel and Kant Lin. So special and all so dear.
Any memorial contributions can be made to one of three organizations, Operation Smile 3641 Faculty Blvd, Norfolk, Virginia 23453; the Food Bank of the Southern Tier of New York, 388 Upper Oakwood Avenue, Elmira, New York or to Metatvivor, the only breast cancer organization whose funding goes solely to research to find a cure the disease that took Sherri away from us.
Since we closed the door in Corning, things have disintegrated to the degree that, even though my heart breaks, I am unable to continue my blog. To give you an update of my status – I need my wheelchair full-time, I no longer have an appetite, I have to deal daily with my discomfort/pain and I am consistently falling. Hospice continues to come – three times a week now, and Beloved makes his trip from Corning weekly. I appreciate and have felt all the love and prayers coming my way over the past few weeks. I have loved blogging and it has been a source of therapy for me over the months as my illness has progressed. I have made so many new friends along the way and I have been blessed by so many. I wish those of you with similar circumstances peace and the best of luck as you continue your journey. It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye – this is my final blog.
Momma Jane and I arrived last Wednesday and it has taken me this long to get my energy up to post a blog. Last weekend, my son came and we had the best time we have ever had (Mom, Dad, Beloved, Jim, and I). We ate well and played around and if you can believe it, in the midst of fun, we all had a Saturday afternoon visit with my minister to talk about the memorial service. I felt like we had to go ahead and do it as the likelihood of all five of us being together at the same time was unlikely. It was difficult but no one wept. It was good to just get some things out of the way.
Sunday morning, we all went to church; my minister had asked me if I would come and tell everyone about my situation and why I was back in NC. During communion, while standing in line, a woman a little older than me along with her mother tugged on my sweater and the younger women said, “I don’t go to this church but I came with my mother intent on giving this to someone. I looked down and it was a silver bracelet the read “love” twice around it. I was so taken back. I thanked her profusely. We took communion and went our separate ways. Isn’t that interesting? Later that afternoon, we took Beloved to the airport and a few hours later, my son jumped in his car and was off. It was then that I looked around and realized I wasn’t in Corning, and it would be a week until I saw Beloved again, and who knows with Jim. I’m not sure how to tell you but I took a mental nosedive. Remember I still have Mom and Dad right here with me but I began to cry and I have cried for two days solid. Where had my faith gone? It hasn’t helped that it has rained since I arrived.
Monday, I was seen by the intake nurse and social worker for Hospice here; Tuesday, my caregiver nurse came and we went through an assessment all over again. Telling my story twice in two days depressed me beyond belief.
This afternoon the sun came out and Momma Jane pulled me up and took me outside. It is about 68 degrees. We sat and watched the birds feed; I will confess that it mentally did me a world of good. I told her it gave me just enough energy to come in and post.
I am thankful to have my mother and father offer their home to me during this exceeding time of stress. And I am equally thankful that my Corning friends have not forgotten me the minute I left town. But blending the two, I don’t know how to do. Transitioning has been enormously more difficult that I had anticipated.
It has been an extremely emotional few days. On Friday , Mom arrived in Corning and from then on, weather kept rolling its dice over the weekend. Though we had no reason to be in NC at any given time, the longer we had to wait, the mentally worse I felt. On Sunday Mom suggested I pack since were weren’t going to leave til Monday. Then it hit me, “What does one pack when one is stopping at her mother’s on the way to heaven?” I stood walking around in circles at everything that after Monday, I would never see again – sea glass from all over the world, Corning glassware. Then I remembered the oft touted verse of not storing up things for this earth but heavenly things that will abide with me forever. Still looking around my apartment, the terrace, the river behind us…I was a total mess. Frankly? I wanted to drop on the spot so I wouldn’t have to pack a suitcase of ‘things for the sick’ like pajamas, and more pajamas, two gallon-sized bags of meds. Oh, and my new cane! Nothing says sickness like a good four-point cane.
I’ll admit as much as I desire to see my son, I thought about gluing my feet to the floor and refusing to move.Sunday we were still there -22 degrees windchill and I still wanted to stay. I am not sure what aspired on Sunday. Momma kept one hand on her iPhone and one hand on the computer charting snow up and down the mountains of Virginia, the weather in Corning, Williamsport etc. I had no opinion. I can no longer drive and at any rate, I would be wrangling those two medicated cats in the back of the car.
Monday arrives and Momma calculates that it still isn’t safe to venture out so we sit another day with me fretting to the point of being out of control – visually trying to take everything as I wait another day.
Tuesday arrives and by noon, Mom decrees we should try and head out. The roads, all 11 hours of them were dry. One cat dropped, comatose from the meds, the other howled until I let him completely out of the cage. He tromped through the luggage, settled down and slept several hours of the evening.
We arrived at 1:00am with Dad pacing a groove into the hardware, fretting like Dads do. He got the luggage in and there on the kitchen table were two spring bouquets and two card, mine straight from heaven, “For everything there is a season…” Remember me writing that last week? I just stood there and stared. He said,”I had a hard time finding that one.” At least two people thought I needed to remind myself of that one more time.
The end of this week was a whirlwind of tying things up. I had my final haircut with Dustin. I had been dreading it. How would he react? How would I react? I think he could see the deep fatigue in my face. We cried a little bit but not as much as I had thought. Getting my haircut allowed me (forced me) to walk 3/4 of the way down our main street which I would have avoided if I could have. I am glad I walked. 20 cold, chilly degrees but it gave me one more time to look in the windows. Did I ever tell you they use a local design team to come in and window dress each window for each season? It is thematic so there is a nice cohesion of design when you walk down the street. We have had very little snow this year but starting this past Tuesday, it has put on a show for me. I needed it. I can’t describe it but it snows differently up here. With a little more power or punch. When you look out the windows, you are not seeing delicate fluffy flakes, it’s like paratroopers coming in for a landing.
Momma Jane should be here in a couple of hours. Her dance card is almost filled; as you can imagine, she has many fans in Corning and they are wanting to say good-bye to her as well. I don’t want to leave. But I need her to help me with all kinds of small projects here that I am stuck on. That is what we will spend the weekend and early next week doing before we medicate (!) those cats one more time and head south. This time, for good.
When my son was seeing a counselor many years ago, she had a saying to describe any of a variety of things: Maybe it was just meant for a season. I am forcing myself to overlay that sentiment over my years here.
And then there is Ecclesiastes 3:1 which is familiar to most, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Momma Jane is fretting and she would say to you with good reason. She is ready for me to get to NC so quickly that she is coming here to take me away! Literally. She is driving up at the end of the week to pack me and my two fat cats up and we are headed south. Beloved will follow at a later time. I am not ready. But it is time based on Hospice’s assessments of my list of physical ailments. So, our family (except the cats who aren’t old enough to have a vote) are in agreement that I need to be headed home – last stop on this train.
Mom will give me and Beloved a lovely space in which to live. We will have one side of their house, they the other. Mom and Dad said they would be there or not be there, whatever we need. I am blessed in this regard. They both are great cooks, make great drinks, can sing and dance and pretty much keep me occupied on the days Beloved is here in Corning.
But with all that loveliness on my side, I am not ready to leave my sweet, sweet city of Corning and I spent one whole day wailing that lament into thin air. It reminded me recently of one afternoon when my aunt, newly widowed, called. She is so saddened to think of needing to consider a smaller environment in which to live. She is also aware of the need to choose a place near one of her sons. Her call came a day or two after I had blogged about moth and rust.
Scripture says that we should choose thing in this life that will earthly destruction can’t take from us, like moth, or rust or thieves. It says to store in heaven those things that can’t be touched. Loosen our grip on the earthly; hold firmly to that which is eternal. She said that made her feel better.
I felt pretty good about myself (ha) until last week when that advice came tumbling back at me. Everyone said I should prepare to move by early next week. No! I haven’t mentally prepared for this. I love my 3rd floor terrace, as do the cats. I’ll never read out there ever again? No more day trips to the Finger Lakes? I could go on and on. And yet, I can’t carry one of the lakes on my shoulder on in to heaven like carry on baggage. And except for the basics: pajamas, underwear, socks etc., there is nothing else I am packing for NC. They don’t need my furniture on the other side.
Now I must take my own medicine. I need to leave this town that I adore, be brave and head to my next stop, which is the last stop on this earthly journey. Continue to pray for me, as I do for you. The train keeps moving on.