December 11, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 50

Christine Celello Piper

Christine Celello Piper, 74, died Nov. 21, 2013, in Lake Havasu, Nev. In this life a little bit of grace goes a long way, and Christine had a lot of grace. Though she passed from this earth, her life continues in memories of the many she touched.

She was born Sept. 4, 1939 in Hurley, Wis. She was a creator. What started as a love between her and an ER patient with a “cold,” developed into 10 children, 27 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

She painted rocks and made jewelry, often in the company of a grandchild. She made the best peanut butter, marshmallow and chocolate chip sandwiches in the world. She knitted scarves that didn't quite keep you warm, but were made with love, even for the significant other she barely knew. She created elaborate dresses when she could see well enough to sew. You were always one of a kind in your new outfit from Christine.

She gave the best hugs and always had cookies. She brought trinkets as gifts and kept glass elephants for herself, although the material things she truly treasured were the gifts from her family. Even if it was a toy from a McDonald's Happy Meal that a grandchild gifted, she would keep it forever.

Though she had her hands full with eight little ones running around, she always found time to make each child feel special. The best part of any day for her children were the stolen moments with her after school. She always was there to lend an ear and divvy a chore. When it was just you and her, she could make you wish it could always be that way.

She was a great tracker of her grandchildren's height. She was free with a compliment that read right into your insecurities, assuring you that you were beautiful and your dreams did matter. When everyone had their doubts and were quick to express them, she would tell you that she believed in you. She never gave up on you, even if you had given up on yourself. Though in her retirement years she travelled the western United States with her husband, Michael Piper, she was never more than a phone call away. She was your one person cheering squad, and that was enough.

Through her arthritis, she tap-danced for her family at her grandchild's college graduation, chuckling the whole time. Her laugh was like warm sugar and spice. There was no greater feeling than Christine declaring she was proud of you, and she never hesitated to do so.

If an abundance of laughter equals longevity in life, then she should have lived forever. A grandchild's story of making a face at a boy that hit on her sent her into fits that lasted into the following day.

She would gush about how beautiful her grandchild's wedding dress was and forget to eat in her excitement to help with decorating the reception.

She wasn't afraid to use brute force – or at least to make a seemingly realistic threat of using it to protect someone. Her threats of slitting your throat were “gentle” words of encouragement to include everyone in playtime.

A mischievous woman with a trick up her sleeve, she always pretended she was in on the secret in order to have you “accidentally” tell her the secret. She was the absolute queen of that trick, one that will be surely employed by her children on their own.

Her touch could heal skinned knees, bruised egos and broken hearts. It made everything better. To crawl into the safety of the crook of her knees as she napped was to experience a love and comfort hard to duplicate. Nobody and nothing could hurt there. It was an impenetrable fortress greater than any army every built.

She was strong and passed that strength to those around her. During times of great loss, the power of her touch and encouraging words helped family and loved ones develop the courage to overcome obstacles that seemed insurmountable. Despite the tendency of children to suck the life from their parents, the well of her strength never ran dry. If only she was here to give that strength in the times of our greatest suffering – the loss of her.

Her father, Michael; her mother, Aubrey; one brother, Tony; children Nicolette and Nicolay; and one grandchild, Isabel, preceded her in death.

She leaves behind her husband of 52 years, Michael R. Piper and their children, Michael A. Piper and his wife, Jennifer, Frank Piper and his wife, Kim, Stephanie (Piper) Holom and her husband, Randall, Tonie (Piper) Laird and her husband, Dave, Nicole (Piper) Van Laecken and her husband, Cody, William Piper, Thomas Piper and Stephen Piper, along with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Please contact Stephanie Holom for information on memorial arrangements.

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