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In Memory of Kelly A. Tulio

A Powerful Eulogy

So how do you do this?   How do you do this girl justice?   This beautiful person, who lived this beautiful life that many of us were envious of.    I mean......she was Kelly, the life of every party but so much more...

I know all of you knew Kelly as funny, funniest person most of us ever knew.  She had stories on everyone - too many to share here; but tequila, Chewbacca, shore houses, landscaping, camping, salads,  parched, sleeping under desks, bagels, pumpkins, lion tattoos, moose’s, pictures of horses, Von Milfer,  bananas, limes and more... I know these few thoughts will clearly bring a smile to some of you.  There was no one funnier.   We will get together to share those stories, so keep checking the Team Tulio website Facebook, and your emails.  I promise you that will happen.

So she was funny we got that, but Kel was a warrior too. She fought this fight for much longer than most knew.   She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was 18 months old, and we were told she would not live through puberty.  So began her fight, her "therapy" that was as physically grueling for her mother as it was for Kelly.  Her fight to keep her disease a secret, and the fight to never let it stop her from doing whatever she wanted to do.   In the later stages of her disease, she went through so much.  She was blessed to get her new lungs, and began a new fight.   She never gave up, no matter what words were thrown at her.  She allowed herself time for words to sink in, she let out some anger, and then she went right back to fighting.  She did not hold onto bitterness, anger or self-pity.   We need to remember that going forward and honor Kel by taking that with us.   No matter what was handed to her, she gathered herself and handled it with strength and grace.  Honor her by doing the same. 

She was mentally and physically tough...

Kelly was from a young age waking herself up and getting herself ready for school; she was nine or ten...She didn't have her Uncle Cliff then.   Many kids left alone like that would make unwise decisions - ok maybe there were a few, but still, she excelled at school.  She started interning at Merrill Lynch when she was 15 years old.  Coincidentally the same age she starting going to bars with us.  She went to college graduating with honors while working 5 jobs and never ever, ever, ever let it affect her social life.   She obtained  her series 7 license, she got her MBA, she worked for Financial Advisors, she became a Financial Advisor,  and she did all of his while keeping in contact with all of you and creating many more memories and stories to share.   

She challenged her beloved “Dr. Coleslaw”, his name is actually Dr. Douglas S. Holsclaw, MD, but one slip of my tongue changed that.    She challenged him by being a gymnast, doing keg stands, running the broad street race, scuba diving, climbing Mount Katahdin, drinking jugs of wine, and what was thought to be impossible - bearing two amazing children.....NEVER tell Kelly she can’t do something, right Doc?

Kelly had a lot of people, people from all parts of her life that were important to her and she knew well their strengths and weaknesses.   I am not sure that everyone understands the influence they had over her... her posse knows the influence she had over them.   She never forgot an important date especially birthdays, I know she remembered some of you while she was in the hospital, I know the posse will remember her always; the memories, the belly laughs, the lifelong friendships.    She had Dom’s family, at times fractured but fiercely protective of each other, Kel, Dom, the kids, and the family as a whole.  Mom and Dad Tulio thank you for keeping it all together.  Michael Tulio thank you for all you have done from the fundraising to the hand holding, always knowing when to show class and when to kick ass.   Bridgetta thank you for your time and effort with Team Tulio and helping with the kids and being an ear for your brother.   Kelly also had “The Clampets”, often broken but always there.  She had her father Steve who drove her to appointments, and was consistently by her side giving Dom a shoulder and allowing him rest.   We are all so thankful for you.  Christopher and Jackie she loved you both so much.    There was Uncle Cliff, forever faithful and always available, she counted on you and you always rose to the occasion.  Nikki and Peach, I know she has told you both how much she appreciated you always taking Raylin on adventures.  The boys fishing with Dom.   Aunt Mel, from egg dying and making pot holders to helping ease her pain; you were there.   Aunt Shirl where ever and whenever needed always.   Aunt Betsy, your support and words of encouragement.  My brothers John and Joe for making her laugh.   Her big sister Aunt Peg, from the frantic phone calls to the funny ones, you’re an absolute go to.   Michael Morrissey and I were lucky enough to be Kels people and she ours.   She knew.

Kel & Dom, “Kid & Buddy” amazing from the start.   That girl loved Dominic for many years, before she even let him in on it.  I had the pleasure of having to drive her around on drunken nights stalking him, who was he with - where was he?  We'd find him, she was good like that.  From the time they started "dating" for real, you could see his absolute devotion to her.  They did so much together - nothing held them back.   He learned everything he could about CF, but CF never stopped them from experiencing life, remember don't give her limitations.  Dom aka “Cliff Claven” went on to learn everything there was to know about every aspect of her medical care.   He took care of her like no one else could.   Dominic we are all forever grateful for the devotion you had to Kelly.  I know how devoted she was to you, how much she loved you.   I hope that people take that with them and remember - that's how you show love, its ok to argue, but when things get tough remember to love like he loved her - absolutely & without condition.

So these two Miracle children, I mean who knew?   Who knew Kelly had the potential to be the greatest mom?   I mean seriously?    I remember her coming to my house when Nicole was little and saying “ house will NEVER look like this.”   “I will NEVER have toys spread around like this.”   The day I walked into her house and found that sliding board in her dining room was hysterical and gratifying.    When Dommy was born, she changed the NEVER, and all of that changed.  She was an amazing mom and she became the most nurturing and encouraging parent.    They were always outside, fishing, exploring, and catching some kind of wildlife bringing it home where dad would create habitats and they would go out and start over again the next day.    Eventually Dommy started asking for a sibling.  He asked often, and said “get to it.”   Kelly and Dom knew that Kel getting pregnant with him was a blessing from God and a miracle.   Not much chance of having another, but God had other plans, he told Kel her princess status was changing.... and along came Raylin, or as some of us like to call her Kel's mini-me.   Again, who knew Kel had the fu fu  in her, the pink the lace, the dance recitals and ballet side of her.   Out came the games and craft supplies, the glitter, the nail polish.  They drew and did manicures, and went on walks, more excursions back to Masons Mill.  More trips to the shore.    They had the perfect family.   Kelly knew that and fiercely protected it.   

Dominic Jr & Raylin, your mom made sure you both knew you were the most important things in her life.  That was her goal to make sure that you always knew that.   She loved you - she will always love you - and protect you.  You have the toughest, funniest, Guardian Angel of all.   But remember you have her soldiers here on earth too.   Look around, We are all here for you... WHATEVER YOU NEED, WHENEVER YOU NEED IT, someone here.... will be available to you... to provide it.   We all stand here together making this promise to both of you.   Remember that. 

Love Always, Kate

(Kathleen Tinney Fisher)