Camie's Funeral

Camerie Udall - Funeral Services

In the program for Camie's funeral, it had the following poem by Shel Silverstein written in Camie's handwriting:

Listen to the Mustn'ts

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, Child
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then Listen close to me--
Anything can happen, Child,
Anything can be.

As I looked at all of the memorabilia on two tables that included pictures and passports and the lists of countries she had been to, what struck me most was seeing her handwriting.  Camie and I used to do that crazy thing called writing letters.  Her handwriting was so familiar to me and immediately brought tears to my eyes.  Funny - now everything is in fonts, not handwriting.  Perhaps we should all start writing letters again in our own hand.

I hugged Camie's mom first.  In my head I was running through how I would feel to lose my daughter and because I couldn't imagine the pain, I just hugged her.  Then I hugged Camie's siblings and our other cousins as they came in.  That is the thing about funerals (and weddings) - they are great family reunions.  This one was no exception.  In my mom's generation, ten out of the fifteen first cousins were there.  The last time all 15 were together was in 1988 so that tells you that a huge number turned out for the funeral (which was held in a tiny town in Northeastern Arizona).  

When the services started, I started writing.  I knew it would help me to focus, and I knew that there are some family members who will read this who loved Camie, but couldn't be there.  

- Travis said the family prayer.

- The opening song was "Each Life that Touches Ours for Good" - I couldn't sing a single note.

- Then came a Gift to Aunt Camie:  Several of her nieces and nephews shared memories of Camie.  
- My favorite was two of Lindy's kids, who came up with words for CAMERIE.  The "R" stands for "Rushing", because Camie was always rushing from one place to the other.  My second favorite was that Camie shared her wheatgrass juice with them.

- Then the nieces and nephews sang "Beautiful Savior".

- Travis read the obituary and amended it from 81 countries visited to 94 (they spent some time counting stamps in her passport).

- Ryan got up and sang "What a Wonderful World" and the Iz version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with Brady's Hector playing the ukelele (at least I think it was the ukelele).

- Cord got up and told about how he was reading in his grandmother's journal (she died six weeks ago) and she said that on April 1, 1982 when Camie was 7, she played the only April Fool's joke that they got that year by telling her grandpa he had a big hole in the back of his pants.
Then Cord told about the day that Camie left for the Missionary Training Center.  They couldn't find her!  She had locked herself in the bathroom to finish a final for a class she had taken six months earlier.  She had promised the professor she would finish the final.  Camie was unconventional, highly motivated, and did things in her own way.  Just her daily living with tourettes was difficult, but she was the most optimistic person in spite of it.  He quoted the Apostle Paul and said that Camie had Faith, Hope, and Charity, and has now found relief from her physical struggles. 

- Keegan talked about Camie's love for animals.  She had a german shepherd that was named "G" for the past while.  He said she never talked to him without talking about her love for animals and said you could tell a person's character by how they treated animals.

- Symonie remembered the day that Camie was born - finally she had a sister!  They shared a love of travel, and Camie loved people and connected with them wherever she went.  Sym read a passage from one of Camie's journals - one day she was delayed on a flight in London for a day (she was going to Zimbabwe) and did more in that day than most people would do in a week.  She went to Kensington Palace and it turned out it was on the one year anniversary of Princess Diana's death.  She said, "We are all capable of expressing the same things - we are so universal."  Then she wrote a note that joined notes from people all over the world.

- Brady talked about how Camie was gutsy, willful, and did not suffer fools lightly.  No one ever won an argument with Camie because of her sheer force of convictions.  When she was babysitting one of Brady's kids once, she gave the kid pizza and he was six months old!  When they came home, they argued with Camie that six month old babies should not eat pizza.  She disagreed and said he lost the argument.  He talked about how she tried so hard to overcome her ticks without use of medication, and was undeterred by her problems.  At 32 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but kept on undaunted.  She never wanted pity or sympathy - only support and understanding.  At the end, full of tumors and covered in bedsores she said, "I don't want to complain, but I am kind of getting sick of this."  He quoted Helen Keller, "The world is full of suffering, but it is also full of overcoming."

- Tommy (Camie's husband) said that if there was ever a person who personified refrigerator quotes, it is Camie.  Living with Camie was exciting and she was forever talking Tommy into doing things.  She was a very observant person and always made those around her feel loved.  She often would encounter people begging or selling candy.  Then he told an incredibly touching story...

Once when they were in South America, they met a blind man who was selling candy.  Camie stopped and talked to him and asked him all about his life.  By the end of the conversation, he had told her that he played the recorder, and would play for her the next night.  Camie and Tommy changed their plans to hear him play.  When they saw him, he had dressed up in a very ratty suitcoat.  He played for Camie for a couple of hours and then they finally had to go.  Camie cheered him on and clapped after every song.  When she offered him money afterward he said, "I cannot accept your money, because you gave me the happiest day of my life."  Tommy saw her do what Christ would do.

Then Tommy sung "Amazing Grace".
Deb and Cam (Deb is from Wales)

Deb Barry was Camie's best friend for the past 13 years.  She met Camie when she interviewed her over the phone for the job that she took in Kosovo.  The interviews were supposed to be 15 minutes.  At the end of the call, she offered Camie the job.  Camie had a passion and a love for people.  They traveled the world together.  Camie wrote in Deb's journal when they were in Thailand right after Camie's diagnosis, "I do what I love and I love what I do."  Then she wrote about her diagnosis, "This is a blessing - forcing me to reflect and remember my Savior and Heavenly Father."

Camie taught English to the women and children in Kosovo right after the war with Albania.  One day she came home and told Deb they had to change the curriculum after 10 women came to her mourning their husbands and sons.  They were contemplating suicide, or had plans to leave their other children behind.  Camie revamped the curriculum and instead taught the women instead about the joy of living, and of hope.  

Camie would do the same thing in Afghanistan, going out into the communities to teach girls about hope, never putting her safety first.  She literally saved thousands of lives, kept families together, got people off the streets, and found foster families for homeless children.  

Deb took care of Camie the last months of her life so that she could be the hands and legs for those people whose lives were changed because of Camie.  There are memorial services all over the world being held for her.

Lindy talked about how Camie was a fighter and she was Camie's first and frequent opponent.  Camie introduced Lindy to her husband, and was always matchmaking other people.  Once when she and her husband went to Tonga so that she could meet his extended family, Camie met them there.  Everyone wondered what the problem was because Camie was so skinny, and then she won their hearts by eating them under the table.  She was never a foreigner in any land.  Lindy is proud to be her sister and grateful she doesn't have to fight, anymore.

Brigham said that Camie was the best big sister any little boy could ask for.  What made her special, is what she did with her determination.  When he was in the Missionary Training Center, he got a call from the MTC President telling him to come to the lobby.  Camie was there.  She had convinced the president that she needed to see Brigham, and had flown in that day from Germany to see him...and then flew back!  She loved to show up and surprise people.  She never boasted about what she did.  In fact, no one ever really knew much about what she was doing, and they are just starting to see just how amazing she was.  

Brigham challenged the rest of us to follow Camie's example of the Power of One and see what we can do for others.

Barry (Camie's dad) talked about Elijah, and how the hearts of the fathers and the children are turning to each other.  He bore his testimony of the Savior and His sacrifice.  He said that Camie is in Heaven, reorganizing things.  He said that Camie didn't just keep the light going, but she cranked up the torch.

The closing hymn was "Abide with Me".

Camie was buried in the St. Johns, Arizona cemetery on a hot afternoon with dusty and wind blowing.  

Some humorous, humbling, and amazing facts about Camie

Camie has luggage and stuff in so many people's homes around the world, we may never find all of her things.

She speaks English, Spanish, Russian, Albanian, and Dari

Her latest favorite TV show is "Arab Labor," which is the Middle Eastern version of "Seinfeld".

Camie's favorite thing to do while "in hospital" these last few months was to be tested on the capital cities/finding out random facts about the smallest/largest countries in the world, then making a list of when she would visit each.

Was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of 7.

Is the queen of list making and coming up with ideas.

Played matchmaker between Lindy and Aki.

Favorite colors are white and red.

Is the "extreme coupon" expert on bargain flights and collecting air miles.

Planned her Christmas gift-giving at least 3 years out and has them often all wrapped and labeled at least 1-2 years out.

She danced ballet on pointe.

Learned to drive a stick shift in Kosovo on an open field about 100 meters from a still-active landmine.

Got up on stage in Kosovo in front of about 100 people and sang and danced to Ricky Martin's "Living la Vida Loca".

In May 2010 was stung by a stonefish, the most venomous fish in the world, while on a beach in Puerto Rico.

Once wrote a letter to the Prophet (the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) insisting that the age for sister missionaries be changed.

Was passionate about collecting red shoes/flip flops and Nativities - they were always on the shopping list.

Loved eating vanilla custard baby food and tapioca pudding.

And finally....

Went to Afghanistan to surprise her best friend, but didn't have time to get a visa.  She somehow convinced immigration to let her in without an paperwork!  In fact, in 2005, she was one of only 6 tourists allowed into Afghanistan!


  1. Thanks for this wonderful post Heidi. I did not know Cami as well as I would have liked to because of our age difference but have always been in awe of the life she lived. Reading about all she did here makes me wonder how much more the Lord will do with her in heaven!

  2. Heidi--THANK YOU! This is amazing. The funeral did not get recorded, so your notes and report of it are a treasure. Just reading through everything made me cry all over again. It still doesn't seem real. Thanks for coming to the funeral, and thanks for taking notes!!! Love you. Sym

  3. Heidi, there are no words to adequately describe our gratitude to you for having done this in honor of Camie. We are grateful for your having recorded what you did and for your efforts in posting your impressions on your website (most interesting and provocative site, by the way!). We thank you for making that long drive to come to the funeral. Your efforts are very much appreciated. Much love, Risa and Barry

  4. Heidi, there are no words sufficient to describe our gratitude for your efforts in recording the funeral and then posting your impressions. We will always treasure your posting. Thank you, too, for making that long drive to come to the funeral. Camie would have loved seeing you! We are grateful for your love and support.
    Love, Risa and Barry