Cathy De La Cruz obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Cathy De La Cruz

March 2, 1958 - March 23, 2015

Obituary


For those of you who don't know me, my name is Mike De La Cruz, Cathy's brother and the eldest brother in the De La Cruz family. It is with great sadness that I stand up here today. When my sister, Cathy, passed away, although it was devastating, I immediately began to put some words to paper. Writing this eulogy to my sister has helped me deal with the grief and I hope it can help you too. My thanks to my family for their assistance in writing this eulogy.
Cathy was born on...

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Mike De La Cruz, Cathy's brother and the eldest brother in the De La Cruz family. It is with great sadness that I stand up here today. When my sister, Cathy, passed away, although it was devastating, I immediately began to put some words to paper. Writing this eulogy to my sister has helped me deal with the grief and I hope it can help you too. My thanks to my family for their assistance in writing this eulogy.
Cathy was born on March 2, 1958 in Pampa, Texas and passed away on March 23, 2015. She recently reached her 57th birthday. As far as siblings, I am the eldest, followed by Cathy, then Pete, and Richard is the youngest in the family. Both Cathy and Pete were born with Muscular Dystrophy, and Pete passed away when he was 5 years of age due to pneumonia. Cathy was later was determined to have SMA.Spinal Muscular Atrophy. She was diagnosed at 9 months of age, briefly walking with leg braces, but by age 3 she could no longer walk. Cathy had no memory of ever being able to walk. She lived her life confined to a wheelchair. Most of us here don't know what that's like.
But for all family and friends growing up with Cathy, I say that experience gave us a different perspective on life, making us thankful to God for what we have. Despite her physical handicap, Cathy did not let it dampen her spirits or motivation to succeed. Cathy was driven to be as normal as all her peers, determined to achieve much more than what was expected of her. I must mention that Cathy got that drive to succeed from her strong Mother and Father, Ed and Ofelia. Evidence of her emerging determination was demonstrated when she attended Ingleside High School. Cathy wanted to join the band, and I remember everyone, including myself, thinking "how can she possibly do that?" I was in the band in Junior High and High School, so I knew how difficult it was to play an instrument. But she did it, learning to play the clarinet quite well, an amazing accomplishment. In addition she was Student Council Secretary, plus she served as a CYO officer at Ingleside's Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church. We all know that Cathy loved to talk and was very articulate-to the point that we called her "Chatty Cathy", as he always provided lively conversations throughout her life, so in high school she placed as a regional qualifier in UIL Informative Speaking. Cathy graduated from Ingleside High School in May 1977.
But that didn't end her academic life--Cathy wanted to attend college. She wanted to be a Texas Aggie, but in 1977 the University of Houston was the only handicap accessible college -- so that made it her choice. This was especially difficult for her Mom, Ofelia, to let Cathy move from small town Ingleside to the big city of Houston, but there was no stopping Cathy. Our dad recalled how Cathy secretly did all the research on handicap accessible colleges. It wasn't until our parents got a call from the University of Houston about her being accepted that they found out what she'd done! U of H accommodated Cathy's needs nicely, allowing Cathy to earn a BA in Psychology, another remarkable accomplishment given her handicap. This wasn't enough for Cathy though, as after graduation, she decided to teach. St. Christopher Catholic School hired Cathy to teach kindergarten with the caveat that she had to obtain her teaching certificate. So she attended night school, once again demonstrating her determination to succeed. Cathy taught at St. Christopher's for about 4 years, but the reality of her handicap set in as the job's physical demands took their toll on her, forcing her in and out of the hospital due to illness. Over the years Cathy served in numerous positions at St. Albert's Catholic Church: volunteer Adult Catechism Instructor, Pastoral Parish Council member, Homebound Ministry Chair, making banners & flyers when working with the Stewardship Council, Baptism Team member, Funeral Reception Ministry, Prayer Network Volunteer, the 5 PM Adult Choir, was a Perpetual Adoration scheduler, and she helped with Spanish for the St. Vincent DePaul and Gabriel Projects. She was also a teacher in the English as a Second Language Program sponsored by St. Albert's Catholic Church.
Cathy became very proficient with the computer, and as always was determined to not let her handicap keep her from being productive. I remember saying, well Cathy is on the computer again, as I would get a flood of emails from her, several of them were typically religious emails, but some were funny emails too. From home she designed banners and flyers for the church's Stewardship Council. Her most recent computer was so high-tech that it actually used infrared technology linking her eyes to the controls which enabled her to write and send emails!
Cathy always had a sense of humor. I remember the time when I was in the 6th grade, back then we did not have video games, but we had board games like Monopoly. We were playing a board game called "Kreskin's ESP-Extra Sensory Perception" board game with Cathy. At that time, I wore black frame glasses, and the object of the game was for the person sitting in front of you to "read your mind" as to what was on the card in front of you. Every time I played with Cathy, she always correctly guessed what was on my'secret' card. I was proclaiming to everyone that Cathy definitely had ESP, until she finally confessed that she was reading the card's reflection off my glasses, so she would always be correct. She really had me going.
Richard, her youngest brother, recalled that, while back in high school, he complained to Cathy about his aches and pains from playing football. And then Cathy said, "Well, would you rather be in my shoes?" Richard said that shut him up real quick and he didn't complain to Cathy again. Amazingly enough, none of us can remember Cathy complaining about her situation to us, as her strength and determination to succeed never faltered in all her years of life.
When growing up, I was athletic. Cathy would always say her electric wheelchair was stronger than me, and she said it could beat me. She challenged me to a duel, so I tried to push against her chair, her chair versus me, and I kept pushing her chair with lots of difficulty until her hand on the controller slipped and her chair crashed into the sliding glass door, cracking the glass. Our little brother Richard was right there witnessing the duel. Our Mom heard the noise and came downstairs. She saw the sliding door's cracked glass, and assuming Richard was the culprit, she immediately spanked Richard. Cathy and I just stood there silently watching him get blamed and spanked for what we had done. We told Richard it all happened so fast we didn't know what to say before he got the punishment.
While growing up, Cathy wanted to participate in many activities--one I remember was Ingleside's Halloween parade. She dressed up as a witch and drove her wheelchair in the parade. Cathy always wanted to participate like everyone else. Mom and Dad made every effort possible to make that happen.
Cathy loved pets, dogs and cats, and they loved her. Cindy recalled the time when a Labrador dog was dumped in the yard, and Cathy and Cindy kept it for a while. Cathy tried to block access to Cindy's room with her wheelchair, but the Labrador managed to steal Cindy's shoes and put them all in the yard. One of Cathy's favorite dogs was their Boston terrier, Lulu. Lulu was selected from the local dog shelter by Cathy, because, while most dogs were afraid of her wheelchair, Lulu came up to Cathy's chair, and looked up at Cathy with big eyes and a huge grin. Lulu was immediately chosen to go home to be a companion for their dachshund Pipper.
Cathy also loved to swim and lounging around the pool. Cindy recalls the time when everyone was splashing water on Cathy as she sat in her electric wheelchair by the pool. Apparently, the water short-circuited the wheelchair controls and it unexpectedly drove her & her wheelchair straight into the pool. Luckily a quick thinking friend unbuckled Cathy's seatbelt as the chair sank straight to the bottom of the pool, and Cathy just floated to the surface, laughing and enjoying her time in the water.
Cathy also had numerous experiences in the rain while in her wheelchair, particularly when she attended U of H. There was the time she got stuck alone in the middle of a rain storm, and the downpour shorted out her wheelchair and she was stuck in the middle of the sidewalk. People kept passing her by, but someone finally stopped and said "do you need help?" She gladly accepted their help as they pushed her and the wheelchair out of the rain.
Cathy loved all her nieces, and we have many memories of Cathy giving rides to the nieces on the back of her electric wheelchair when they were young. Rolling with Aunt Cathy trumped Dad's piggy-back rides every time.
Our family wants to thank all of Cathy's friends for taking the time to stay in touch with Cathy, as your friendships meant so much to her. The De La Cruz family also wants to recognize some very special people in Cathy's life. Thank you, Alma Salinas Lohman, for being a caregiver to Cathy in the early 1980's. Alma, your willingness to take care of Cathy during that time as a Caregiver and as a close friend, is very much appreciated. Cathy could not have accomplished some of the things she did without your help at that time. Our family also wants thank all of Cathy's friends for their love and support, with a special thanks for Cindy's sister Jacqueline, who helped care for Cathy on several occasions. Also to Cindy's brother-in-law Redd Etzel, we thank you for the help you provided, especially during the time that Cindy was dealing with cancer and chemotherapy, your help and assistance is deeply appreciated by our family. We also want to thank Dr. Karne, Cathy's Doctor, as he watched over Cathy, maintaining maximum quality and extending her life. Also, I must mention thanks to my Mom and Dad, for always being there for Cathy. Dad has made numerous trips back and forth from Portland to be there for Cathy. Dad and I, on a few occasions took care of Cathy to try and give Cindy a break and time off, and in opened our eyes to the difficulty of being a care giver for Cathy. The De La Cruz family owes its most heartfelt and sincere gratitude to Cindy Sarver, clearly an Angel on Earth for Cathy. Cindy has been Cathy's Caregiver since 1983, for 33 years. Her outstanding care no doubt made it possible for Cathy to live to the truly astounding age of 57. Cindy was instrumental in all aspects of Cathy's remarkable achievements. The De La Cruz's consider Cindy an integral part of our family and, while enough words cannot be found to express the depths of our gratitude, we can only say 'thank you' for her decades of care and service to Cathy.
In closing, I believe that Cathy wanted to share with us a special message. Cathy endured many hardships throughout her life, and despite all these trials and tribulations, she always kept her faith in God. Therefore, no matter how difficult life is for each of us, remember the life Cathy led and the hardships she endured, yet she stayed strong in her faith. We can learn from the life she led that she believed that God expects us to do the best we can with our lives.
It comforts us that Cathy has been reunited with our beloved mother, Ofelia. There is no doubt that Cathy is in heaven with our Mom and her little brother Petey now, where she can run and dance. She's in a better place, waiting for us in a destination we should all strive to attain. Although we will miss you Cathy, we are happy for you and we know that someday, we will all be together again.