The end is a beginning

In 1995, I met a woman named Cindy Kebler. She was my 11th grade English teacher. She was striking. She was sophisticated. She spoke clearly and concisely. And she had the best laugh. I thought I might be a bit intimidated by her.

She was wonderful. I learned so much from her that year in her classroom. Her and her red pen. Red ink is beautiful on white paper. I became very familiar with it.

My (step)dad Bob taught on staff with her at Palmetto High School for many years, so I probably knew a little more about her than some of the other kids since she and my dad were friends. Her name among a handful of others was usually included in dad’s summary of his day. They had been friends for nearly 20 years already back then.

When Brian and I married in 99, Mrs. Kebler (center in photo below) was among my three favorite teachers there to celebrate with us. As I type that, it dawns on me that maybe they were celebrating with my dad that I was leaving the house. I prefer to think that it was just because I was their favorite student.

Years later, I worked as a secretary in a large church office. I soon realized that it was the same church she and her family attended! I figured out that the ‘kid’ named Lee that my husband thought was cool in the youth group – was her son! Every Sunday I would look for her and her husband Bill in the same general section of pews and if I was sitting nearby, I would go over and hug her. After Lee had gone to college in Nashville, I would ask how he was and her whole face would light up as she told me.

Cindy was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago. After 28 years as a teacher at Palmetto High School, she retired and moved to ‘the country’ in Tennessee. I don’t know the timeline of how things progressed, but sadly, last night my husband and I visited with her family at the funeral home. I somehow managed to hold back the tears until I got home.

It can be awkward to know what to say in situations surrounding death. Sometimes saying nothing and just being present is enough. For others, sharing memories is almost somewhat therapeutic. Everyones process is different and takes on different stages.

Cindy will be missed by so very many people. Please pray for the Kebler family as they enter your mind.

In the obituary, “Where, Oh death is your victory? Where, Oh death is your sting?” Thanks be to God He gave Cindy the victory through her Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-56.


~ by hthr on October 20, 2007.

7 Responses to “The end is a beginning”

  1. Hi there,

    My name is Mary Harder, Cindy’s mother. Thank you so much for this lovely tribute to my very special daughter Cindy. I remember meeting you at the funeral home…thank you for coming.
    Bill was here visiting in Fl. with me for a couple of days lately and he pulled this up for me to read….I shed a few tears to see her standing there with her very good friend Jan Ayola…whose husband is still batteling a very hard and long battle with cancer too.
    God bless you, I’m so happy to know that Cindy (my only child) had such an impact on young peoples lives. Now, she rejoices with her Jesus.

  2. Hi,

    I am Cindy Kebler’s aunt. I do so appreciate your tribute to my beautiful niece. She touched so many people’s lives, especially when she was so ill. I remember her praying for others while she was in the hospital and in so much pain herself.
    I will always treasure the years God gave her to us and I look forward to seeing her again when we are reunited with our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ.

  3. I’m a friend of Cindy’s mom, Mary. I never had the pleasure of meeting Cindy, but I did have the pleasure of praying for her. I feel badly that I never met her, she was clearly a wonderful woman and every time I see something or hear something like your tribute to her I just really wish I could have met her. I too lost a daughter, it’s a terribly painful thing to go through. Cindy has really touched far more people than we will ever really know. A few weeks ago I was having my hair done, the girl who was doing it began talking about a client of hers that had passed away, she was really affected in a deep way by this and as she spoke I realized it was Cindy, I asked her if that was her name and she said yes. Needless to say Cindy and her family was all we talked about. She spoke of Bill and her son Lee, she had met both of them. She was very touched by them……..we never know whos lives we touch…..she touched many I’m sure. Love, Sandy

  4. Hello,
    I have been Cindy’s friend since we were in the same class in 1st grade. Cindy has always had that great laugh! I miss it too. I am a teacher/speech therapist in some schools in Michigan. It is a very special honor to have a student remember you in the way that you have remembered her. I have always thought that we should all be sure and thank our favorite teachers for the way they have shaped our lives. Thank you for honoring my friend in this way. She was a very special woman and I miss her every day. Cindy was my example to live life to the fullest with God’s leading.
    Bless you for your writing (very appropriate for an English teacher!).
    My best,

  5. Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful and touching story about Cindy. My name is Mary and I am married to one of her cousins. Cindy is missed and thought of daily by so many people because she was a blessing to know and love. You described her perfectly. She not only impacted students’ lives but I am postive countless others. She indeed was a VERY SPECIAL person and will never be forgotten.

  6. I worked at Palmetto High School with Cindy for 18 years, my name is Sandy Smelker (pictured to the left of Cindy) and I am still friends with Jan Ayola who husband recently passed away from cancer. Cindy impacted so many students and at times I still see her at PHS or hear her voice. She was a special friend and a well repected teacher. I will miss her and pray for her family. Cindy’s impact on students will be seen by many of her students of 28 years. She was a special person who is missed by many at PHS.

  7. Cindy Kebler, is a person who continues to touch my life. Friendly, caring, sensitive, and a dedicated English teacher. I worked with Cindy for eight years at Palmetto High and through each year we would have our laughs in the teacher’s lunchroom (lounge) and worry when our birthday was soon to arrive. Why? Cindy knew but what would Cindy do?!
    Cindy, I miss you.

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