It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the news that our Don Benito family has suddenly become a little smaller. Our dear friend, mother of Bobcat alumnus Max Geller and former PTA President, Sarah Geller, passed away peacefully at her home last night, surrounded by the family who has always supported her every step in the way of her journey through life. I was lucky to be there with her in her final moments. What I saw in those minutes lifted my soul and spirit.
Sarah suffered from a recent diagnosis of cancer, and in true Sarah Geller-fashion, she downplayed how much this disease ravaged her body. Few of us knew. And in many ways, that was Sarah. She constantly fought against letting the struggles she battled define her. Instead, she brought a toothy smile to everything she did. That smile we came to depend on. I was motivated by that smile. It propelled me forward.
Sarah was one of the most authentic people I’ve ever known. She threw every ounce of her being into any project she worked on. She didn’t hold back from a persistently kinetic motion of leaning forward. Whenever I struggled with the spark to begin a project, she was 10 steps ahead with amazingly creative ideas, all of them GOOD.
The Sarah we knew was the lady with specks of paint in her hair, and the smudges of dirt on her face. She lived in the materials that she used to build the life she made for herself, her work, her son, and his world. Clay, paper, glue, yarn, fabric, soil, ink, paint, wood, metal… they were her tools to open her mind to the world.
At Don Benito, Sarah never stopped giving her whole physical being to benefit all of our students. From utilizing an empty storage area into a garden to teach children how to make salsa, to providing amazingly immersive lessons in our art studio, to landscaping whole hillsides and planting gardens in class spaces, Sarah was the epitome of what it means to partner with public education. I often told her what a role model I thought she was, but she didn’t care. To her, those were just words. And she lived by her actions. Actions, to Sarah, came naturally.
In the 2017-2018 school year, Sarah served as our Association President. I will honestly say, that was not an easy role for her. Sarah stepped forward to be considered for nomination at my strong urging… because I felt she embodied someone who does not normally raise their hand for such things. Frankly, she was terrified. Many did not see her as the easy choice. But Sarah always went against the grain, and a quiet bravery always persisted in her. Those that did not know Sarah well did not always see it. I was deeply proud of her for that bravery, more than I ever expressed.
Last night, as Peggy, her mother, stroked her forehead and gave her permission to let go, I saw Sarah smile. It was that same slightly mischievous, happy-go-lucky Sarah smile that I always knew. And in that moment, she took her last breaths. I believe she knew that she could leave this world with the very thing she gave to all of us all these years… love.
Sarah, we’ll miss that dear smile. We’ll miss the positive energy you so unselfishly gave for the well-being of all Bobcats, not just your own. I know that I will miss how the traditional gridlines of life meant absolutely nothing to you. But you taught us that to live life in the moment is to live the best life possible. I love you. Your Don Benito family all love you.
Keep smiling my friend, wherever you are.
Don Benito PTA