Activism

Kimela Nelson, a friend and colleague, passed away this past week. This afternoon I went to her memorial service and joined with other friends and colleagues to celebrate her life and grieve her departure. I first met Kimela in the fall of 2001 when she became my teacher of American Sign Language at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. It was a pleasure knowing Kimela and working with her. The kindness that she showed was inspiring.

Activism. Today at Kimela’s memorial service, hearing many friends and family members share stories about Kimela, I was impressed with the realization that Kimela was very much an “activist” seeking to make the world a better place. One story was shared by a woman who worked with Kimela in the early 1980s. This friend explained how Kimela helped her realize that social activism can be fun. At the time, Kimela was instrumental in organizing a local Ladies Against Women demonstration. This was a sarcastic and satirical protest group who would dress up in clothes from a different era and carry picket signs while saying chants such as “Mommies, Mommies, Don’t Be Commies, Stay at Home and Make Pajamis” or “What do we want? Nothing! When do we want it? Now!” Some black and white photos of a rally were displayed on a table at the service.

Social Outings. Over the years, our interwoven interests allowed us to share many events in the Iowa City area. Several years ago, when Amma came to Mount Pleasant, Kimela and I took the day off work to go on a road trip and visit Amma (Mātā Amritanandamayī Devi or, माता अमृतानन्‍दमयी ). During that trip, I was given permission to be one of the few people to video tape Amma. I remember on one occasion going with Kimela and other friends for a performance by Sweet Honey in the Rock at Hancher. Another event we attended was a play in Cedar Rapids put on by members of the deaf community. There were numerous other events we attended over the years.

Shared Network of Friends. At today’s memorial service, I saw many long-time friends of mine who I didn’t realize were also friends of Kimela. That touched me to realize that we’d both been connected to the same network of friends and I didn’t realize it. Today, as someone shared about all the good and inspiration that Kimela left in her wake, I thought about how a funeral service is also called a wake. I thought about how that’s interesting that just as a ship leaves a wake, so too a person leaves a wake behind them as they go through life. Kimela was a kind soul, who left a wake of kindness. She will be missed by many. ~ Gregory Johnson

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Comments

There was a request to enable comments for this memorial page. So, it is now possible to add your comments by scrolling to the bottom of the page. Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories. Thanks.

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Visitors

In the first few days that this memorial page was created, there were visitors from California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, and Washington as well as other countries including Canada, India, Saudi Arabia, and the Netherlands. Thank you to all who have visited this page, and emailed gracious comments in response.

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Obituary

Below is the official obituary that appeared in the Press Citizen.

Kimela Nelson, 61 of 24 Erobi Lane, Iowa City, died suddenly Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008, at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City.

Celebration of Kimela’s life service will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17 at Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service in Iowa City. There will be a time for sharing during and after these services. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in her memory to CASA (Crawford Area Shelter for Animals @ P.O. Box 338, Ferryville, WI 54628). Online condolences may be sent for her family through the Web at www.gayandciha.com.

Kimela was born October 31, 1946, in Torrance Beach, CA the daughter of Ross and Mildred (Nelson) Nelson. Following graduation from high school she attended and graduated with her BA degree in English from California State University at Long Beach in 1971. She later received her certification from the Interpreter Training Program from St. Paul Technical College in 1992. She has been involved in the American Sign Language Programs at both Kirkwood Community College and the University of Iowa, most recently as a lecturer and program coordinator at the University of Iowa. She has belonged to numerous local, state, and federal professional organizations throughout the years. Kimela has developed many friends and associates within the profession and outside of it. Her love of animals was embraced by many, as well as here deep feelings for women’s rights, and the general well being of many kind. She was an advocate of peace at home as well as abroad.

Her family and closest friends include her partner in life, Deb Spurgeon of Iowa City; her aunt, Phyllis Nelson and her family of California; cousins, Robert Nelson (Jan) of Minnesota, Midge Gustas of Oklahoma City, OK, Sandra Slaughter (John) of Ames, IA, and numerous other cousins; close friends Kristi Lynch and Donita Hermsen of Coralville; God Parents, Bunny and Roger Ayers and their family of California; and of course her four cats, Salsa, Deilig, Max, and Jinx.

Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service is caring for Kimela’s family and her services.

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Old Capitol Flag at Half Mast

Kimela worked for the University of Iowa for many years. She was appreciated by the many people she worked with who’s lives she touched. In her honor, the flag was flown at half mast.

A memo from the University of Iowa stated, “The flag next week on Thursday 8/28/08 will be flown half mast at the University in honor & memory of Kimela and her contribution to the ASL program.”

Photos are available from Thursday, 28 August 2008, when the flag was at half mast. One of the photos is shown here. There are also some photos of the sunset that evening which was spectacular, as can be seen in the photo of the flag here.

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Words of Advice and Wisdom

The following words of advice and wisdom about life were printed on the memorial service guide. In searching the web, I was unable to determine the source of these words.

Mend a quarrel
Seek out a forgotten friend
Dismiss suspicion & replace it with trust
Share some treasure
Give a soft answer
Encourage youth
Manifest your loyalty in word and deed
Keep a promise
Find a time
Forego a grudge
Forgive an enemy
Listen
Apologize if you were wrong
Try to understand
Examine your demands on others
Think first of someone else
Appreciate
Be kind & gentle
Laugh a little more
Deserve confidence
Decry complacency
Express your gratitude
Welcome a stranger
Gladden a heart of a child
Take pleasure in the beauty & wonder of the Earth
Speak your love
Speak it again,
Speak it once more.

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Success

These words on “What is Success?” by Ralph Waldo Emerson were shared.

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

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Love

These words about Love by John Lovejoy Elliott were shared.

The love of the human heart is the most real and the most beautiful 
Of all the realities we know 
It is the richest gift of our manhood and womanhood. 
It is the bond that joins us together as lovers, as husband and wife 

As father and mother, as parent and child, 
And as friends and neighbors. 
Whatever the length of time may be, 
To have known something of this 
Is to have experienced the supreme privilege of being human. 

The anguish of parting cannot destroy this most real of all realities. 
The love has been, 
The affection has existed, 
The ties have been woven. 
Life has been shared, the joys and the sorrows. 
This is as real and strong as anything we know.

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Music

The music selected for the memorial service was quite nice. Selected songs are listed below in alphabetical order along with their lyrics. Songs titles are linked to iTunes along with alternate versions. These songs are currently available on CD (for free) from Resources for Life (if you live in Iowa City) and will be featured among the Heart Songs selections for September 2008. Our license permits 10 copies of the CD to be given away. Beyond that, the CD will be available for checkout from the Resources for Life Library.

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California Girls” by The Beach Boys

Well east coast girls are hip
I really dig those styles they wear
And the southern girls with the way they talk
They knock me out when Im down there

The mid-west farmers daughters really make you feel alright
And the northern girls with the way they kiss
They keep their boyfriends warm at night

I wish they all could be california
I wish they all could be california
I wish they all could be california girls

The west coast has the sunshine
And the girls all get so tanned
I dig a french bikini on hawaii island
Dolls by a palm tree in the sand

I been all around this great big world
And I seen all kinds of girls
Yeah, but I couldnt wait to get back in the states
Back to the cutest girls in the world

I wish they all could be california
I wish they all could be california
I wish they all could be california girls

I wish they all could be california
(girls, girls, girls yeah I dig the)
I wish they all could be california
(girls, girls, girls yeah I dig the)
I wish they all could be california
(girls, girls, girls yeah I dig the)
I wish they all could be california
(girls, girls, girls yeah I dig the)

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Forever and Ever Amen” by Randy Travis

You may think that I’m talking foolish
You’ve heard that I’m wild and I’m free
You may wonder how I can promise you now
This love that I feel for you always will be
You’re not just time that I’m killing
I’m no longer one of those guys
As long as I live this love that I give
Is gonna be yours until the day that I die — Oh baby

chorus…

I’m gonna love you forever, forever and ever amen
As long as old men sit and talk about the weather
As long as old women sit and talk about old men
If you wonder how long I’ll be faithful
I’ll be happy to tell you again
I’m gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever Amen

They say that time takes it’s toll on a body
Makes a young girl’s brown hair turn grey
But honey, I don’t care, I ain’t in love with your hair
And if it all fell out well I’d love you anyway
They say time can play tricks on a memory
Make people forget things they knew
well it’s easy to see it’s happening to me
I’ve already forgotten every woman but you — Oh darlin’

chorus……

Just listen to how this song ends
I’m gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever
Forever and ever, Forever and ever Amen

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Goodbye My Friend” by Karla Bonoff (also performed by Linda Ronstadt)

Oh we never know where life will take us
I know it’s just a ride on the wheel
And we never know when death will shake us
And we wonder how it will feel

So goodbye my friend
I know I’ll never see you again
But the time together through all the years
Will take away these tears
It’s okay now
Goodbye my friend

I’ve seen a lot things that make me crazy
And I guess I held on to you
We could’ve run away and left well maybe
But it wasn’t time and we both knew

So goodbye my friend
I know I’ll never see you again
But the love you gave me through all the years
Will take away these tears
I’m okay now
Goodbye my friend

Life’s so fragile and love’s so pure
We can’t hold on but we try
We watch how quickly it disappears
And we never know why

But I’m okay now
Goodbye my friend
You can go now
Goodbye my friend

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I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
’cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

CHORUS

Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
’cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
’cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

CHORUS

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
Oh, I am woman

I am invincible
I am strong

FADE

I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

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I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance 
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
 I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

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Landslide” by the Dixie Chicks (originally by Fleetwood Mac)

I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life

Well, Ive been afraid of changing cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
Im getting older too
Well…

Well, Ive been afraid of changing cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
Im getting older, too
Well Im getting older too

So, take this love and take it down
Year and if you climb a mountain and ya turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Well the landslide brought me down
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Well maybe
Well maybe
Well maybe the landslide will bring you down

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Testimony” by Ferron (Website)

There’s godlike
And warlike
And strong
Like only some show
And there’s sad like
And madlike
And had
Like we know
But by my life be I spirit
And by my heart be I woman
And by my eyes be I open
And by my hands be I whole 

They say slowly
Brings the least shock
But no matter how slow I walk
There are traces
Empty spaces
And doors and doors of locks
But by my life be I spirit
And by my heart be I woman
And by my eyes be I open
And by my hands be I whole 

You young ones 
You’re the next ones
And I hope you choose it well
Though you try hard
You may fall prey 
To the jaded jewel
But by your lives be you spirit
And by your hearts be you women
And by your eyes be you open
And by your hands be you whole 

Listen, there are waters
Hidden from us
In the maze we find them still
We’ll take you to them
You take your young ones
May they take their own in turn
But by your lives be you spirit
And by your hearts be you women
And by your eyes be you open
And by your hands be you whole

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The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers

On a warm summers evenin on a train bound for nowhere,
I met up with the gambler; we were both too tired to sleep.
So we took turns a starin out the window at the darkness
’til boredom overtook us, and he began to speak.

He said, son, Ive made a life out of readin peoples faces,
And knowin what their cards were by the way they held their eyes.
So if you dont mind my sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces.
For a taste of your whiskey I’ll give you some advice.

So I handed him my bottle and he drank down my last swallow.
Then he bummed a cigarette and asked me for a light.
And the night got deathly quiet, and his face lost all expression.
Said, if youre gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.

You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

Now every gambler knows that the secret to survivin’
Is knowin what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
’cause every hands a winner and every hand’s a loser,
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.

So when he’d finished speakin’, he turned back towards the window,
Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep.
And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

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