Remembering Colleen Graff

Originally Published January 12, 2008
Colleen Moore Livermore California

Remembering Colleen

Colleen Graff
My dear friend Colleen died unexpectedly shortly before Christmas 2007. She left behind her husband Bill, her beautiful daughters Jennifer and Michelle, her brother Michael, her cousin David, and her absolute pride and joy ... her granddaughter Rachelle. Also missing her are countless extended family members and friends whose lives have been touched by Colleen's gentle soul.

I met Colleen many years ago when I was teaching aerobics in northern California. She was one of my 'front row' students; tough, serious, and hard-working, belying her petite stature. We became fast friends when she set a goal to earn her fitness certification and start teaching aerobics herself. She reached this goal in a few short months. Colleen and I attended each other's aerobics classes and often enjoyed taking the classes of the other fitness instructors in our circle of friends.

Colleen later moved to the Seattle area, and I visited her several times. She loved the beauty of Washington, and enjoyed sharing it with her friends. Despite my fear of heights, Colleen persuaded me to take the elevator to the top of the Space Needle. On another trip, she and her husband Bill were determined to help me catch my first salmon, but (to my relief) they weren't running that week!

Colleen was an accomplished gourmet cook, with more cookbooks than anyone I have ever known. She was a fabulous hostess and prepared every morsel of food from scratch, even for her own wedding.

After Colleen's passing, her daughters discovered that Colleen had been bookmarking her favorite cookbooks and sketching out menu plans for the upcoming Christmas holidays with her family. Colleen's cookbooks were embellished with fingerprints from her daughters and granddaughter, lovingly accumulated over the years. I feel certain the girls will carry on this tradition and cherish memories of time spent in the kitchen with their mother and grandmother.

When I think of Colleen, her wonderful and playful sense of humor comes to mind. We laughed so often and so hard. I loved to see her laugh. I pray that she is at peace and smiling down on those of us who miss her, especially on this day, her birthday. I will always love you, Colleen.

Colleen Graff Huntington Library Pasadena
Huntington Botanical Garden in San Marino, California

The Messenger

From an Angel on high
a tender message of love was softly whispered into the ear
of this humble scribe…

Weep not for me
now that I have passed.
Remember the laughter, the affection, the joy
not just the recent tears.
Cherish the memories, our hopes and dreams.
Hold fast to the love that we shared.
Be happy with the time we spent together
and being anew.
For I am not really gone,
I am closer than ever before.

As the morning sun rises
and throughout the busy day…I am with you.
Until the setting sun disappears on the horizon
and we watch the day turn into night…I am here.
You may feel a faint breeze stir round your head, while you slumber
as I gently kiss your forehead, “Good night.”
The stars that shine so brightly in my heavenly sky
help me watch over you and keep you from harm.

I am the wind in the trees
and the song of a bird.
I am moonbeams in a midnight sky
and a glorious rainbow after the storm.
I am morning dew
and freshly-fallen snow.
I am a butterfly flying overhead
and a puppy happily at play.
I am a smile on a stranger’s face
a gentle touch
a warm embrace.

Listen to the wind for my message of love.
Watch the sun rise and set in the sky with me.
Feel my essence encircle you with warm memories.
Open your heart to know…I am not gone.
Reach deep into your soul…You will find me.
I am here.
Have no fear.
I am with you,

©1999 Kirsti A. Dyer MD, MS

Colleen Graff Randle Washington

Tributes & Thoughts

Mark ~ Centralia, Washington
I’ve known Colleen since she first started at Blanton’s Market. I am the bread man, so I was a regular there and at Fischer’s. We always had great conversations about our families, including our dogs, and especially about her pride and joy, her granddaughter. It seemed that most any conversations we had would always lead to something about her granddaughter. Colleen was a very nice person and a good friend and will be greatly missed.

Rick ~ Renton, Washington
I very much enjoyed my time working with Colleen in Kent. A cowgirl all the way and a wife, mother and grandma that loved her family that knew no bounds. I was sorry to hear of her passing.

Chris & Laura ~ Lodi, Wisconsin
No bond is as great as that between a parent and a child. Laura and I share your sorrorow at the passing of your mother Colleen. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

Amy & Christopher ~ Lodi, Wisconsin
Jenn, Michelle, Rachelle, and family, We are sorry for your loss, and our thoughts are with all of you.

Arlene & John ~ Roseville, California
I was lucky to know Colleen while we both lived in Livermore, California. We were both Aerobic Instructors at the Livermore Valley Tennis Club. I’ll always remember her outgoing and bubbly personality. She made so many people happy and healthy with her excellent classes and infectious enthusiasm. My deepest condolences to Colleen’s family and may she forever rest in peace and be with God.

Rachelle ~ Graham, Washington
My Grandma was the coolest Grandma in the world. I miss her so much. No one even can comprehend it. But one thing I know is that wherever she is now, she is much happier than when she was.

Eva Mullins (January 22, 2008)
I worked with Colleen for 3 1/2 years at Blanton's Market. She was such a fun person. She was definitely one of a kind. I will never forget her sense of humor, for those of us she let see it. I hope and pray that she is at peace and in a better place. I love you Colleen and miss you dearly.

Michelle Moore (September 5, 2008)
Thank you to Kim for this wonderful tribute to my mother. I miss her everyday and it is lovely to know that she touched other people with her loving heart and giving nature. You never realize how much you take for granted a parent's love till they are gone. I will always be able to say I was loved and that is a gift.

Tim Nyhus (December 7, 2009)
I just came across this remembrance by accident. I am profoundly shocked to hear that Colleen passed away. I knew her and her family well. My heart goes out to Michelle, Jennifer and Bill. I will remember her very fondly and all the summer BBQ's, horseback riding and her loving fun and wit. She is and was a great lady.

Rachelle (May 5, 2010)
I wanted to stop by and say how much I miss you. Its hard to go by everyday and think about how much of my life you're missing. I wish you could be here.

Michelle Moore (June 15, 2011)
Going home for Rachelle's graduation this weekend. Kiddo your Grandmother will be there in spirit, I promise you hunny. Love you. Mom, your girls miss you every day.

Michelle Moore (June 15, 2011)
Kim, Rachelle is graduating from HS this Thursday. Crazy how time flies. Thank you again for this memorial for my mother. Love, Michelle

Michelle Moore (December 27, 2011)
Thank you to everyone for the kind words and thoughts these last few years. The holidays always start off a bit rough as we girls miss our mother/grandmother. This year we have spent time recalling old memories and creating new ones based on our mother's (grandmother) love of cooking and family. She will never be forgotten. To my sister Jennifer and my niece Rachelle, I have enjoyed this Christmas the most and look forward to many more over the years to come.

Colleen Graff Memories

I'm Free

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free,
I’m following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard him call,
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
to laugh, to love, to work or play;
Tasks left undone must stay that way.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Ah yes, these things too I will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I’ve savored much.
Good friends, good times, a loved ones touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts and share with me,
I’m with God now, I’ve been set free.

Author Unknown

Colleen Graff Wedding
Anita, Colleen & Kim

In Gratitude
I’d like to express my deepest appreciation to Dr. Kirsti A. Dyer, who allowed me to share her beautiful poem, The Messenger on this page. Kirsti’s collection of articles on grief and bereavement helped tremendously when I lost my dear friend Colleen.