by Peter Robertson

I’m 61 years old and convinced I know everything worth knowing. But assuming any self improvement is still possible, I want to be more like Claudette Rogers.

Claudette found a lump on her back, and began to document it on her Facebook page in the same even tones (and with pictures!) that she wrote about that evil, man-eating, thorn-encrusted plant she bought. I want to be more like Claudette.

The lump became more serious, but Claudette didn’t flinch: her posts remained brutally honest and without a hint of self-pity. I want to be more like Claudette.

Claudette over the past several months has called upon reserves of inner strength that beggar description. She, and her alter ego Dot, have kept their senses of humor when lesser people would have seen theirs fail. I want to be more like Claudette.

We spend our lifetimes building relationships with friends and family that are among the most important parts of human existence, yet many of us have trouble calling upon those relationships to ask for or accept help when it is offered. Claudette recognized when she could use help, and accepted it so that she could conserve her physical and emotional energy for the battle that really matters. I want to be more like Claudette.

Our bodies fail us as certainly as the seasons turn. Not a one of us can escape that truth. On my slow march to the grave, I noticed arthritis starting over a decade ago. Type two diabetes showed up five years ago, though it’s well controlled with medication. A skin cancer four years ago was little more than an annoyance. Four additional ones a couple of months ago, including a melanoma, were a little more sobering. Through it all, as my family can attest, I have whined and cried about each new malady like a mewling baby. I want to be more like Claudette.

Adversity doesn’t build character. It reveals it. Claudette’s struggle has cast a light on her extraordinary character. The six decades of my life have been blessed with ridiculously few things to complain of. When the troubles come to me, as they come to us all, I want to be more like Claudette.

June 24, 2017

I’m taking the liberty of cross-posting Peter Robertson’s beautiful tribute to our dear classmate, who passed into eternity on Saturday after a long battle with cancer. Well done, Pete. Well done, Claudette. Steve

Claudette’s obituary in the Tulsa World, July 13, 2017.

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