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Archive for May, 2017

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I wrote the following tribute to our dear Catherine last week in the hopes that I would be able to find someone to read it at her services on May 15, 2017, however, I have been unable to do so. I am posting it here in her memory and honor, as my personal tribute to a good friend and remarkable woman.

Well, I guess Catherine won’t have to emigrate to Canada (an idea that she proposed in the last few months of her remarkable life.) Instead, she has emigrated to a much higher plane.

Many of you present here today may think of Catherine as a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, an educator, an administrator, or a personal friend. However, it may surprise you to know that she was thought of in much the same fashion by her friends in the Michael Jackson Fan Community, which has members in every country, on every continent on this planet. In the Michael Jackson Fan Community, Dr. Reverend Catherine M. Gross was a shining star. She was a teacher; she was a mentor; she was a minister; she was a friend; and she lead by example. She was a tower of strength in times of struggle, a beacon of LOVE and UNITY, and a bridge spanning the sometimes vast distances between us.

Many of us got to know her through her on-line radio talk show, A Place In Your Heart, which was broadcast internationally. Personally, when she talked to me to ask if she could conduct an interview with me, I was dumbfounded. I had never thought of myself as an interesting subject for an interview, but she insisted that I had a lot to say and that she wanted to devote an entire show to me and to my books. Catherine saw potential in everyone she ever met or talked to, often long before he or she saw that potential themselves. She nurtured that potential in every way she could. She encouraged, uplifted and brought out the best in everyone. As a teacher, I imagine Catherine’s students would tell much the same story.

Later, when I was determined to learn to draw, Catherine invited me to participate in an Art Exhibition. Once again, I was hesitant. (You would have thought I would have learned my lesson by this time, but I am pretty stubborn.) My earliest drawings were certainly nothing to exhibit. Nonetheless, she insisted. Catherine was like Michael Jackson in many ways. One of those ways was: If it was worth doing, to Catherine it was worth doing BIG! If you’re going to make a splash, make it a BIG splash.She was talking about makeup artists, getting our hair done, and having television cameras on the scene. For a novice artist, Catherine’s “can do,” “let’s go” attitude was frightening. I was ready for baby steps; Catherine was setting up the marquee with neon lights. God love her.

This dream kept Catherine strong during the almost year and a half from May 2015 through August of the following year, when her health took a turn for the worse. I talked with Catherine every evening during her hospital and nursing home stays on the pretext of reading to her from my vast library of inspirational works by Kahlil Gibran, Gregg Braden, Rabindranath Tagore, and my own humble publications. Every evening without fail, regardless of how well she felt, she ended our conversation with the thought that this Michael Jackson Art Exhibition was going to happen. She was determined to make it a reality; and she succeeded. I am so grateful that she lived to realize the dream that she had held onto with such vigor and faith. Her wonderful inaugural Michael Jackson Art Exhibition happened in Gary, Indiana in August, 2016 and I did participate along with artists from Hong Kong, Russia, Sweden, The Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.

My thanks to Noble Love for the wonderful video.

It was a remarkable achievement, the crowning glory for a strong, determined, spiritual, faith-filled woman who has left her mark on all of our hearts. Catherine was determined that the Michael Jackson Art Exhibit would be an annual event to bring the fan community together and she would have moved heaven and earth to make that happen. At the time of her Continuation Day, she was in negotiations to find a permanent home for the art she had collected and wanted to expand the exhibit to include costumes, sculptures, and even performance art.

Catherine, thank you for your faith in me … your faith in all of us. I won’t say I will miss you, because, as Michael Jackson sang, “You are always in my heart.”

Jan Carlson

 

 

 

 

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