I know I use the same thankful every year around this date, but it’s worth repeating. Plus I believe that remembering and talking about the departed provides a kind of immortality. I never met Oscar Wilde, for example, but I love him to bits, nonetheless.
Gratitude #5 Rebecca Garrison-Sokoloff
I am thankful for having had the opportunity, however brief, to get to know Rebecca Garrison-Sokoloff. Yesterday marked 3 years since my kids’ aunt (sister of their biological mom) passed away at the tragically young age of 34. Rebecca was a clever, kind, vibrant, generous woman who loved traveling, animals, adventure, and philanthropy. A dancer and fashion model in her early 20s, she later founded two companies – The White Aisle and The Wish Jar – using her classic, impeccable sense of style and her talent to create gorgeous stationery and elegant jewelry that was very popular in the wedding industry.
Rebecca was diagnosed with melanoma in her late 20s and rose to the challenge of fighting it with grace and courage. It must have been very difficult, but she seemed to view her cancer not as a reason to feel angry and victimized, but instead as a clock-is-ticking motivator for trying to relieve the suffering of those in need and for making the world a better place.
Rebecca and her husband, Dade, traveled extensively during their years together. As she saw many beautiful places around the globe, Rebecca made a point to get to know the people who lived there. She always managed to find a way to help the people she met. For example, touched by the plight of girls who’d been sold into the sex trade in Cambodia, Rebecca helped set up a sewing center at the NGO, Daughters of Cambodia. She purchased sewing machines and air conditioning for the center where girls wanting to escape lives of prostitution could come and learn a marketable skill. She also bought items the girls created such as ring cushions and silk sashes for use in her wedding business in the US.
I wish I’d had the opportunity to get to know her better. I wish my kids had the opportunity to have their Aunt Bex in their lives for longer. She made an indelible impression on all who met her, though, and will not be forgotten. Rebecca’s family has created a foundation to continue the charitable works she began in her life. In addition to helping fund Rebecca’s projects in Cambodia and elsewhere, the White Aisle Foundation actively supports melanoma research. The foundation is in the midst of a five-year campaign to raise $100,000 for the Rebecca Garrison Sokoloff Melanoma Research Endowment at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The endowment will advance melanoma research and training by directly funding young researchers.
As the holidays approach, perhaps you’ll consider buying something Rebecca designed for someone you treasure or make a tax-deductible donation to the foundation.