We've booked a couple of holidays. For those that know us, you'll know I struggle with no holiday plans on the horizon. So we have a week in Bali coming up in October and we have decided to spend Christmas and New Year exploring South Australia, especially the wine regions and Kangaroo Island.
Steve and I had the privilege of spending a wonderful holiday with Alex and her family in 2009. Alex was granted a wish by the Make a Wish Foundation and she wanted to see Italy. Her mum and stepfather helped make this celebratory trip even bigger and included her grandmother and stepsiblings and it all culminated with an Eastern Mediterranean cruise which is where we got to know this remarkably gifted lady.
I enjoyed learning about her literary loves - Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky and was amazed by her intellect and thirst for knowledge. I respected the hard work she had poured into her studies resulting in a university scholarship. I loved her desire to travel and made plans for her to come visit us so she could experience cities such as York and Durham and steep herself in history. I admired her strength to fight cancer the first time round and still embrace life. She still had the port in her chest at the time to deliver chemotherapy yet her traumatic medical experiences did not hold her back from enjoyment or trying new things including developing a taste for gin, thanks to me!
Most of all I loved that she laughed. She laughed at me for wearing inappropriate footwear to grapple with the stony and cobbled paths of the Acropolis in Athens. She giggled at her mother who enjoyed Happy Hour for too many hours and stumbled off to get ready for dinner with 5 minutes to spare. Alex rushed to her aid to make sure she was ok and didn't do something like poke her eye with a mascara brush or burn herself with the straighteners! She rolled her eyes but we could still see the smile within when her step brothers bargained with the bartenders for a drink discount and bought 100 bottles of beer which their room steward kept on ice for them for the few days they lasted! Her stepdad wrote the touching tribute below.
Alexandra J. Thomas
Alex has graduated from this life. Gone to join the literary giants and scholars that passed away before her and that she admired so much. They will welcome her as one of their own. She was without equal, with a staggering intellect, unwavering courage, a tender heart, and a wicked sense of humor. We will miss the challenge of trying to keep up with her in serious conversation and the little roll of her eyes as we inevitably fell behind. We will miss her ready answers to any and all questions with detail and personal commentary. We will miss her smile, her laugh, and the touch of her hand. Those of us who shared her life know what a remarkable one it was.
Alex was the recipient of the Sterling Scholar Award, which provided her with full tuition to Westminster College in Salt Lake City. She majored in history and planned to devote her life to education by working as a college professor. Cancer kept her from attending school for all but a few semesters off and on over the past five and a half years. But even as she was being denied her dream, she never complained, and never stopped fighting. She should be finishing up a graduate degree about now, probably at the Ivy League school of her choice, or maybe Oxford. We’ve lost someone who would have made a difference in countless lives. She touched all who knew her and our lives will forever be enriched.
We love you Al. Save us seats at the café. We owe you a coffee.