Sandra Cross Tribute

Our dear Sandra Cross passed away.  A special thanks to her many friends who have sent donations to The Life Experience School in her honor.  She was central to the School’s mission of spreading love and peace for over 36 years.  We miss her gentleness, her loving nature and her way of bringing out the best in everyone at this little school of life that somehow finds a way of keeping the dream alive on a wing and prayer.


Sandra was the first girl in the School which made her Queen Mother to all of us here … and the heart throb of Richie, her devoted sweetie for over 28 years.  Now that’s love!  Sandra was the ultimate banner maker, cookie baker, cat fight faker and dancing mover and shaker.  She also loved to deliver bread to the homeless, serve lunch to the elders at Pilgrim Church in Sherborn and work on the World Map Machine when time allowed.   And as for her wardrobe, all her clothes were handmade with love by her mum Joyce, who just happened to be one of the Founding Mothers who taught pottery at the School for decades.  Sandra’s sisters Annette and Veronica looked after her with TLC, as did Rob, Annette’s husband who was like a father to her.   It’s often been said, if you had to trade places with anyone, it would be Sandra, as even the Angels crave for the love she was surrounded by.

Sandra Cross Eulogy
February 11, 2014

(Written to be read aloud at the funeral service)
By Lewis Randa

When we look back over the last 36 years at the Life Experience School, there is one person around whom everything seemed to revolve.  Like the spindle inserted into a 45 rpm record, you know that little piece of plastic that kept the record centered, well that, in so many ways, was what our dear Sandra did for The Life Experience School.

When she arrived at the Brush Hill Road farm in 1977 when she was 16, there were 4 rambunctious inner-city boys in the program and no girls.  But Joyce and Norman, Sandra’s loving mom and dad took a chance and gave Sandra what amounted to, some highly unlikely brothers at this improbable place called the Life Experience School.

9006e8b5870cab15ffff8941ffffe415This soft spoken, gentle little spirit arrived and in no time at all managed to tame the orneriness of the boys, as in her presence you had to be, or I should say, you wanted to be, more respectful and loving and kind because that was how Sandra was.  When we would pile into the van, she sat shotgun, and when we climbed into the over-sized school canoe, the boys knew better than to rock the boat because Sandra was in it, usually positioned in the middle on cushions, wrapped in a life jacket, cradling Paul in her arms.  When we would walk across the South Natick falls, which was forbidden (but we only did when the water barely trickled over the edge), Sandra would look at us like we had three heads and turn away, our signal that we were going to far … so she watched … and in her special way summoned the angels to look after everyone.

Over the years as Sandra grew to be the young lady we all knew and loved, and the Life Experience School matured too with the greater number of girls that followed her lead.  I remember when one particular girl came to the school … and Sandra was the first to meet her, give me her impressions of her and even cooked lunch for her.  This girl was named Meg who was visiting from New York City.  Our relationship and marriage of 33 years was rooted in our mutual love for the School … and that love was intrinsically linked to Sandra.  In fact everyone’s love for the school, and for one another, was linked to Sandra, like that 45 rpm disk I first mentioned, because Sandra, whether shooting basket ball hoops, and was she ever good, or doing arts and crafts projects or making banners or serving meals to Sherborn Senior Citizens or delivering bread to homeless shelters , love was always being expressed as that was what she gave the world and she gave the world a lot of it.  That was Sandra’s way of being, love was the language of her heart.

Sandra said I love you more than any person I have ever met and each time she said it, you could sense she really, truly meant and felt it.  Think about how she said I love you … she whispered the words softly so as to require that you listen closely and hear it the way it was meant to be expressed.  Love for Sandra was soft and was delicate.  And as we know, it embodied a certain vulnerability that touched us all deeply … and we all became her loving guardians.

And she was, to use another metaphor, our canary in the coal mine as she would be the first to cover her ears if our voices were too loud or the music needed to be turned down.  She was our tuning fork to make sure The Life Experience School was the peace school that it sought to be.  
Sandra was a peacemaker in her own right, loving as she did pouring the water in the blessing bowl during morning meeting at the Peace Abbey and drying the hands of whom ever was lucky enough to be at her side.  That chair, whether to her left or right was always reserved for Richie, her boy friend over the decades, the one she designated as the joy of her life … and that he was.   Richie, would you please stand so we can give you a round of applause as Sandra would want you recognized.  Boy, you two were quite an item.

And as we would give the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award over a period 30 years, Sandra would be an essential part of the presentations.  I remember how precious she was while holding the award statue for both Maya Angelou and Barry Crimmins, almost dropping it cause it weighed as much as a bowling ball.  But when they received it, it meant more because Sandra gave it to them.

And when she met Mother Teresa at the Peacemakers Table, it was as though two beautiful hearts melted into one another.  That was how tender Sandra was, she elicited a gentleness and tenderness from everyone she was with … but as we all know well, she was no push over and had her own opinions about things.  When it came to lunchtime, there was no rushing her as she savored each morsel of food with little regard to time.  I for one couldn’t resist snatching a bite of her desert just to get a rise out of her.  She treated lunchtime as sacred, and I will always remember how she would call to one of us that Paul was choking on his food and how concerned she was about him.  Her relationships with us were sacred in many ways because of what her gentleness required from us.  That was Sandra; she was like an angel that needed TLC herself and in the process of receiving it, returned it ten fold, even as her own medical condition required increasing attention.  

You see, for me and Meg, Ruthanne, Sheila and Nancy, Dot, Karl and Marty, and for all the teachers over the years, Sandra was much more than just someone who attended the program, she was, and this is no exaggeration, the essence of the program.  She was the heart and soul of everything that went on there for 36 years.  The students too realized this.

And oh the wonderful memories, the Magic Shows with her Dad Norman in Turtle Island on the grounds of the first school location on Brush Hill Road, the pottery classes with her Mom Joyce and with Auntie Beryl at her Pottery studio on Maple Street in Sherborn.  Doing chores and caring for the chickens and turkeys, the goats and sheep, the horses and ponies, the cows and oh yes, her relationship with Emily the Cow was special and watching the Peace Doves fly over head at the Peace Abbey was her favorite surprise … and seeing Sandra sitting on the lap of our special Santa Claus each year was the best, and the beautiful blouses she wore each day that were lovingly created by her mom Joyce made you realize the extent of her families love for her.  The love and devotion that Annette and Rob, Ronnie and Paul and their sons blessed her with what, no doubt, will serve as a halo around her spirit as she enters into heaven.

And I remember too, when my father, Papa Augie, as everyone called him, put the Special Peace Corps apron on Sandra as part of the ceremony at the foot of the Gandhi Statue during the Pacifist Memorial Dedication.  I always loved introducing Sandra to our distinguished guests over the years and watch their demeanor shift in to pure love; I watch it with the Dalai Lama, members of the Gandhi family, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali and so many others.  Sandra was our litmus test:  If people didn’t take the time or have the inclination to zone-in on who Sandra was, then it became evident they were in need of more contact with the Sandras in the world.

What do I mean by the Sandras in the world? I mean that in the course of our lives, if we are attentive, we will cross paths with those who require from us greater sensitivity and love and deeper understanding, more patience and acceptance, in short, those attributes that make us better human beings, better peacemakers.

My last memories of Sandra were of our special time together while driving her home to Hudson following yoga class with Nancy on Tuesdays in my British Mini Cooper and listening to the song Tuesday Afternoon by the British Band The Moody Blues.  We would crank up the music and sing together as she would sit up straight in her seat and shift gears to the following lyrics:     “Tuesday Afternoon, I ‘m just beginning to see, Now I’m on my way, Chasing the clouds away.   Something calls to me, The trees are drawing me near,  I’ve got to find out why, The gentle voices I hear.  Explain it all with a sign.  I’m looking at myself, reflections of my mind, It’s just the kind of day to leave myself behind, So gently swaying through thru the fairyland of love. If you’ll just come with me and see the beauty of, Tuesday Afternoon, Tuesday Afternoon.

So I’d like to close on this late Tuesday Afternoon during Valentines Week by thanking Sandra for loving all of us at the Life Experience School and Peace Abbey as she did. Thank you Sandra for being such a good friend to all those who passed through the doors of the Life Experience School over such a long period of time — we each found in our relationship with you a certain blessing that will remain with us until we too close our final chapter of life and meet up with you and Jeff and Paul and Neita and Norman and Howie and so many others we loved.

Our hearts are heavy now; our sadness in losing Sandra is profound, but with time, we will each find that we have carved out a special place in our hearts where our memories of her gentle being will live on to bring us comfort and happiness and a sense of peace, joy and gratitude that we had her in our lives.

Alexandra “Sandra” R. Cross, 54 of Hudson, MA, died Saturday, February 8, 2014 at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Boston, MA.

Born in Framingham, she was the daughter of Joyce E.(Vickery) Cross of Hudson and the late Norman C. Cross. For the last 36 years, Sandra had been not only a student, but also a teacher’s aide at the Life Experience School in Millis. Her life was full and her days were always busy. She was a member of the Special Peace Corps, working in the food pantry as well as delivering meals and food to shutins. She loved being outdoors and happily spent long hours in her pool or blowing bubbles. She was proud of her athletic accomplishments which earned her a gold medal at the Special Olympics and participated in basketball and skee ball.  She excelled at any arts and crafts projects and an occasion never slipped by that she did not create a banner for the day.

paul$20and$20sandraShe loved music, especially musicals, her favorites being, The Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, Grease and Saturday Night Fever. While growing up in Southborough, she loved camping with her parents and she looked forward to her Saturday trips to the library.

She was honored in 1988 to have met and prayed with Mother Teresa, as well as other notables, at the Peace Abbey in Sherborn. She was close to all her friends at the Life Experience School and will be missed by her longtime, dear friend, Richie.

Besides her mother, she is survived by her sisters, Annette Clement and her husband Robert of Hudson and Veronica Cove and her husband Paul of Sudbury, her nephews, Adam Cove of N Bedford and Ryan Cove of Marlborough and several cousins.

Visiting hours will be held on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 from 5:00-7:00pm at the Slattery Funeral Home, Inc., 40 Pleasant St., Marlborough, MA.

A funeral service will follow at 7:00 pm at the funeral home.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Life Experience School, 16 Lavender St., Millis, MA 02054

Thank you for your support in loving memory of our dear Sandra.

To Make Gentle the Life of the World

The Life Experience School is under the care of the Peace Abbey Foundation

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