Today we received this email from John’s cousin, Fred Lewis about Fred’s sister, Eileen:
Eileen Lewis the daughter of Bert and Melba Lewis passed away today at about 9:45 AM. She had her 60th birthday last Thursday, March 16. As you recall, she had Downs Syndrome, but due to mom and dad’s great parenting, she was high functioning. She played the piano and guitar, was able to read and write, laughed easily and loved being the center of attention. Her brother and sister in law, Tim and Sheryl Lewis cared for her for 20 years. For Tim and Sheryl, her passing is more like losing a child.
Our plan is to have a graveside service in Spanish Fork with a lunch after at a chapel in Spanish Fork. We do not have all the details yet but will follow up with another email. If any would like to attend, you are welcome. We don’t expect any changing of already planned activities in your own busy lives.
Please do two things. First, please let any other members in you individual family lines know. I only have a limited number of emails on each family as you can see from the addressees above. Second, if you plan on attending, please RSVP to me so we can plan food. Eileen always liked a party, so she is springing for the meal. She loved Arby’s but we will use Kneaders instead – fewer carbs.
We look forward to seeing any who might be able to attend. Funerals like this, ones that are not unexpected and come at an appropriate time in life, are happy events. I am imagining the happy reunion that is taking place as I type this. The funeral will become an impromptu family reunion for any who can attend.
This is a happy day for Bert and Melba and especially for Eileen. In the words of Fanny Brunt, “She has danced her earthly jig.” Eileen’s brother Bob dreamed several years ago of a conversation he had with Eileen after the resurrection. The typical physical characteristics of Downs were no longer present, and the conversation was normal. There is much more to Eileen than we saw in this life. She has humbly finished her work.
- Eileen Brunt Lewis b. 1958
Eileen Lewis 1958 — 2018
Eileen “Feather” (she added that middle name herself) Lewis was born with Down Syndrome on March 16, 1958. After enduring 60 years with that handicap, on March 20, 2018 she was freed from that body and graduated to something far better.
Eileen was a blessing to her entire family and taught us many wonderful things. For example at one stage of her life, whenever Eileen heard the word “good” (even when it was not directed particularly to her), she would internalize the notion and say to herself: “You’re good Eileen!” This seemed to boost her confidence to carry on with life.
We felt God was speaking through her to us, effec-tively telling us to stop beating ourselves up because of our imperfections and to take comfort in the idea that our true natures are good but that we inevitably make mistakes during this very well-designed and difficult test called “earth life.” Whenever we hear the word “good” we should follow Eileen’s lead and tell ourselves we are good, to encourage us to live up to that idea and to carry on as best we can.
In that, and many other ways, Eileen softened the hearts of her parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. She made us all kinder, more thoughtful, and more accepting of others. She even softened the hearts of other people. Our dad used to say that we got better treatment in restaurants when Eileen was with us. It may even have saved us a traffic ticket or two.
While most people would be insulted to be called “spoiled,” Eileen loved the idea that she was spoiled. When we would say: “You’re spoiled Eileen!”, it would bring a huge smile to her face and she would agree whole-heartedly by saying: “Yeahhhhhhh!!!!”
She was a genius of sorts among the Down’s population. Our father taught her how to play the piano. She could play “Silver Bells, “The Sting, and “Carolina Moon” on the piano. While she was trying to play something, her dad would often say something like: “No, Eileen. That should be tonic, not a sub-dominant chord.” None of us knew what he was talking about, but Eileen did! She made the appropriate correction and played on.
Contrary to the common practice at the time of her birth, her parents, Bert and Melba Lewis, did not institutionalize Eileen, but rather, raised her in our home with the rest of her siblings. We think this is the reason Eileen learned to do so many things well. Eileen was very good at reading and she loved to dance and play the guitar. Our mother taught her how to set the table and crochet afghans for all of her siblings.
The various “flames” in Eileen’s life (in Chronological order) were Donnie Osmond, Shawn Cassidy of the Partridge Family (she even ran away from home once to join the Partridge Family) , Greg of the Brady Bunch, and finally, Adam at her “Turn” day care program in Cedar City, Utah. Unfortunately for her, they were all unrequited loves, except perhaps for Adam. We think he liked her too but due to his handicap, he had a hard time expressing himself very clearly.
Eileen will be missed for her loving nature, her sense of humor, her appre-ciation for fast food, and her killer dance moves. We are thankful that she was part of our family and are forever changed.
Eileen is survived by her siblings Fred Lewis (& Gayle of Provo, Utah), Jane Cannon (& Roger of Idaho Falls, Idaho), Robert Lewis (& Jill of Orem, Utah), Tim Lewis (& Sheryl of Cedar City, Utah) and Rachel Duwyenie Elthie (of San Carlos, Arizona). Eileen’s sister-in-law Sheryl was the one who bore the “lion’s share” of caring for Eileen for the last nineteen years. Her loving kindness to Eileen garnered all of the family’s admiration and appreciation.
Eileen will be interred in the Spanish Fork, Utah, cemetery next to her parents. Her funeral service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, March 24, at the LDS chapel on 1750 E. 750 S. in Spanish Fork, Utah.
Bob and Eileen Lewis