Message from Olson Boys Regarding Our Mom’s Passing – video and transcript

 [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT]

We here assembled, are the five proud sons of Lauralee Catherine Lucille Bannatyne Stevenson Olson Elliott.

We come to you today with greetings of gratefulness for your support, as well as to provide some information to help you understand what occurred to this marvellous woman.

Indeed our beloved Mother passed away on Sunday Nov. 27 at 10 PM while she was happily talking on the phone with Brother Andrew when the line went silent,at which point, she passed away, quickly and peacefully, from heart palpitations for which she had recently begun taking medication. There were no signs of struggle or discomfort. For reference, she was born on February 17, 1944 and died at 72 years of age.

Yesterday we went to say goodbye to our Mother at the University of Utah medical school to which she bequeathed her body. Nothing prepares you for the situation if seeing your dear loved one in this state, but seeing her laying with a peaceful look on her face provided some solace for all of us.

This experience also gave us tangible realization of the generous gift she provided to many medical students where she will be their “patient number one” and help these doctor learn their craft, These doctors will go on to see an average of 30,000 people throughout their careers — all starting with Mom. Once they have finished their research with her body (up to 3 years), she will be cremated and ashes will be distributed to each of us to keep or distribute in a manner that suits us, as per her wishes.

Her name will also be engraved on a special memorial at a monument in a cemetery in the Avenues section of Salt Lake City for people like her who bequeath their bodies to science,. Each May, they hold a ceremony to celebrate those who gave their bodies over the previous year. This will provide a place for all of us to pause and remember her remarkable life and her continued spirit of giving even into death.

Mom’s death came suddenly and unexpectedly as we could imagine. After having a few tough years with back surgery and recovery, in the last several months her energy, the sparkle in her eye and all her life force had returned with renewed vigor.. Each day, she kept busy running her errands which often included multiple trips to the post office, taking donations to all manner of charitable institutions — particularly those who help single mothers, battered wives, and other women struggling to put together a life. And this was no wholesale dumping off of goods – she did this distinctly and deliberately after understanding what people needed and what would help solve those problems and make their dreams come true. Boxes put together with ironed clothes, individually wrapped treats, and handmade items plus and just the exact things people needed. She knew that everybody deserves to experience respect and kindness

We all wish to express our most sincere gratitude to the hundreds, even thousands, of you who have sent condolences, shared your stories, and otherwise expressed love for our dear Mother. Some of you we’ve never met but, every time we visit with Mom she gives us updates on dozens of different people with whom she corresponds – from people she shared a bus ride with once, to people that she met 40 some odd years ago and kept in touch, to our own buddies who would come over during our teenage years and still visited Mom regularly. We brothers loved that our friends acted as surrogate sons for Mom when we were off on various travels. She was always excited to catch us up on different friends who hung out with Mom as peers. Indeed, ever since we were children, she spoke to us as adults and expected proper behaviour in return for the respect she afforded us. She supported everyone of our crazy ideas, whether that be businesses, schooling, traveling, relationships or any other scheme..

Her circle of friends and influence is a true community of mutual affection.

We want to send a special thanks and gratitude to our cousin Scott Stevenson who after a phone call dropped, broke into Mom’s house, saw her in the chair and performed emergency first aid while calling 911. Scott, Mom adored you and your kids, and for us your cousins, we were so grateful that you were there nearby and able to participate in her life.

Mom did not wish for any kind of fancy ceremony, religious or otherwise, and instead wanted a gathering where we can celebrate her life with stories, songs, and readings from some of her favourite books. No doubt that Mom loved books!

We will have a small gathering at our Uncle Bob’s house tomorrow (Saturday Dec. 3rd). As Mom would want, dress will be casual and comfortable: Birkenstock sandals and jeans and a bright shirt and a big smile are entirely acceptable. Attendees will each be issued a pair of her ubiquitous Chums eyeglass retainers and have an opportunity to share stories and prepare some “love plates” of snacks prepared the way Mom did for us.

The five of us each feel this grief acutely but are also incredibly grateful for the good fortune we had to have such a remarkable Mother. Besides the daunting task of raising five boys into responsible men, (even gentlemen it’s true!), she was also the Akela of a Cub Scout troop for many years which extended her skill and interest of turning boys into decent men. There are hundreds of you out there and she adored each one of you.

No one who had a conversation with Mom ever forgot it — within five minutes, she had figured out your whole life story, the names of your relatives, your struggles and skills, and was already in her head preparing a special box of treats to send. Even at her house now, there are several addressed mail packages and piles of treats destined for folks unknown. We will make best efforts to find the proper homes for these projects undertaken. It would drive her nuts to think the packages weren’t delivered.

In lieu of flowers gifts and so on, we invite you to make a donation in our Mother’s name to charities that support Women, and/or organ or body donation. Both of these causes are dear to Mom’s heart. We will provide suggestions as requested.

Our Mom was a relentless optimist, over the years we had many struggles of different kinds, moved houses and cities dozens and dozens of times, broken down road trips, empty bank accounts, broken bones, and rude people who tried to bring her down, but nothing ever got Mom down. This wasn’t naïveté, this was a demonstration of true courage. She taught all of us how to work hard, to respect other people and never judge, to be kind and considerate to people and importantly, always say yes to new adventures or opportunities.

Mom never ever stopped learning or evolving, and always was dreaming big — whether it be the next trip she was taking: she was scheduled for trips to see brother Andrew in Las Vegas and brother James and Dan in British Columbia this month, or figuring out a new social media app so she could stay in touch with even more people and send greetings and prepare special posts for birthdays or holidays or when people just needed a little pick me up. She was there right on time, every time

Mom loved doing her family history research, but went far beyond dates and basic records and dug deeper to find the stories to present and share with nieces, nephews cousins grandkids and brought her personality to bring these important stories to life.

So like us, you may well cry but also will celebrate and be grateful for the contribution she made to your life, the lives of others like you, and to the future.

Again we are grateful for your kind words which lifted us and reminded us the importance of her life as we struggled to come to grips with a shocking situation. We are grateful for each other at the five of us could gather together in spirit of unity and support.

Space is very limited for Saturday’s reception, but we will also provide a web video stream where you can participate from wherever in the world you are, send in your stories, anecdotes, questions and condolences. Follow this channel as we do our best to bring all of you into the room.

Keep in mind, the five of us just arrived here in Logan yesterday from all over the globe, so please be patient as we scramble to put everything together in a matter of fitting this wonderful woman, our Mother, your Friend, Auntie, Grandma, advisor, helper, and fan.

Fondly and respectfully, the Olson boys:

Robert Lorne Olaf

David Aaron Thorvald

Daniel Mark Mathias

James William Christian

Andrew Joseph Harald

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