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|[In Loving Memory Piper Rose and Sean]
Introduction - By Mike Simmons On Saturday December 29, 2001 the Armer Family, and the world, suffered a devastating loss. Piper Simmons (26), his wife Rose Simmons (26), and their son Sean Simmons (3), were killed in a car accident in Siberia, Russia.
In the weeks that followed this tragic news, a group of nine people, including myself, my mother, and my father traveled across the world to see with our own eyes that which we longed to deny. We were accompanied by Rose's parents, her 3 sisters and her older brother. In Siberia, we were guided by dear friends of our beloved in the arduous task of arranging for their cremation, visiting the site of the accident and packaging Piper and Rose's belongings from their home in Novosibirsk. Over 300 people attended a memorial service in Russia in honor of Piper, Ro, and Sean. Carrying their ashes with us, we returned to America and, in a small service attended by immediate family, interred their remains in a family plot in Maryland. A third and final service was held near Boston on January 20, 2002. Friends and family from across the country and the globe were in attendance.
Piper and Rose made their home in Siberia for the last five years. They worked with a volunteer humanitarian organization called Project Aid Siberia, delivering food and medical supplies to hungry and needy people in throughout Siberia, in places as far away and desolate as the Arctic circle. They were in the process of leaving Siberia to make their home in Maryland and both Piper and Ro were enrolled in American universities. In Maryland, they had found a new outlet to continue giving in the form of Project Hope International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of child exploitation in Asia.
They all - yes, Seany included - loved to snowboard, and it was on their way home from the best snowboarding mountain in Siberia that they met their fates.
They led fun-filled and unselfish lives and were an example of how much two people could do to help make the world a better place.
Below are the transcripts of the words spoken by my mother and father at the service in Novosibirsk, as well as a link to their web-based picture, video, and sound clip album:
I am Piper's Mother. Thank you for being here. Thank you for loving my son, my grandson, and my daughter-in-law.
I visited them here this summer and I am so glad to have come and played with them here. I am glad to have met you. What I want to say is that I believe what we saw in Piper, Rose and Sean is a reflection of something within ourselves and to honor them I think we must hold that same light and love out to the world.
As a mother I prided myself in not holding on to tightly to my children. I didn't want to stifle my children, but encourage them to venture out and discover things, even though sometimes it was unbearable for me as a mother to let them out of my grasp. As parents we must continually let go. When we first have someone baby-sit we must let go. When our children start school we must let go. When they marry we must let go again. Now we must do the ultimate letting go . but always keeping them in my heart.
In some ways I think they were not made of this earth. I named Piper after the Pied Piper who led children to a better place. My child, my first born Piper, was a gentle loving, kind, young man. He was a logical thinker creative and able to fix anything. He was so eager to learn and charge on with his new information. He was full of enthusiasm as he was beginning a new adventure in America, discovering himself, starting college and seeking his new career.
Rose was a go-getter, taking on this world, a beautiful woman, discovering her strengths, which were many, and putting them to use. And Sean. so intelligent. so excited about life, with boundless energy. A snowboarder at 3, full of questions and able to comprehend the answers. but so briefly with us.
They broke down barriers and made this world a little smaller and closer together. They brought us to you. They gave, they led, they loved. They influenced everyone they knew. They made an impression in this world.
May their love be with us, and the light they shed may we also shine with it. May we cherish our memories of them and allow them to pass on to a better place.
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This is a day to honor, commemorate and celebrate our dear son Piper our dear daughter Rose and our precious grandson Seany.
We remember them for their bright smiles, warm hugs and soft touches.
We remember their hearts and souls and how much they gave us, much more than we could give to them. Our small efforts to bring them into this world reaped tremendous dividend for those who had the privilege of knowing them.
They were above all else, givers. They asked little and gave much to all who knew them. This is their legacy, the way they touched and moved so many people with their love, and their joy filled spirits.
Piper was sent from God. He was a blessing in everything he did. It seemed every move he made was to help someone, to solve a problem, to do a good deed.
Piper was an exceptionally fine young man with golden dreams, high ideals, and a great amount of love. He was always around when you needed him; always ready to do what was needed to help another.
We all looked up to him.
Piper was born in Switzerland in 1975; we moved to India when he was 10 months old. While he was growing up he lived in Greece, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Even at a young age, Piper had a keen eye and he just seem to know how to fix anything. I could ask him about anything and he would explain to me how things worked.
Rose was a very caring person. It was not uncommon for her to give up something that she wanted to do or something that she liked in order to help others. Rose was a determined person. Whatever she set out to do she wouldn’t quit till it was done. Rose had many great plans for the future.
Rose and Piper came to NovoSibirsk the first time in 1996 with Project Aid Siberia as a volunteer. Out of the 35 young people that came, he and Rose were the only ones left a few months later.
Both of them fell in love with this region of the world and they fell in love with each other. Rose confided in a long time friend. "I want nothing but the best and Piper is IT." I was fortunate enough to travel to Novosibirsk in October 1997 to attend their marriage.
At their young age, in just a few short years they had touched the lives of literally thousands of people with their love and dedication. Whether it was English classes to help a friend land a job with a foreign company, a Bible class to help someone understand faith, or the far reaches of the monumental food aid they spent three hard years working on, many, many were touched.
In a three-year period 55,000 tons of food aid was imported, packed, and distributed to needy people by Project Aid Siberia. Piper sent me photos of his trip near the North Pole in a Soviet helicopter delivering food aid to Siberian Chucha, or Eskimos. There was never a dull moment in their lives.
Piper’s and Rose’s boss during that 3 year period said of them, “Piper and Rose were the heart and the soul of the Project. Everything they did was from their hearts.” We found that to be true in our arduous journey to Siberia this past week. We, the 9 members of the personal family, were shown such hospitality, such love and such respect by the Siberian people, their friends and colleagues that knew them.
Sean and Rose were Piper's cherished treasures. Sean was a beautiful child and mirrored his parent’s love for people and their thirst of knowledge. Piper would share his Sean stories with me. Oh how much he enjoyed watching Sean grasp a new idea or concept. He was a faithful father and teacher to his son, devout husband and loyal friend. He was a true hero in every sense of the word. He like his Dad and Mom was an accomplished snowboarder at the age of 3!
In my mind's eye I see their faces. They are FREE, they have shed their earthly bodies to go back to the ONE who first sent them to us. They are in a better place, they are alive and Eternity is a very long time.
Today we are living in the shadows of the Earth and in the light of tomorrow’s dawn we shall see the true reality of our salvation and the joy of the heavenly kingdom. Be assured this is a temporary separation. Almighty God created the entire Universe from nothingness, Every particle belongs to Him.
My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father which gave them me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:27-29)
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (I Corinthians 2.9)
We are just passing through this world on our way to a life of much greater significance. Piper Rose and Sean thank you for showing us the way You are the truest examples of courageous people willing to take on whatever challenges you face. “Fear not little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
[Additional thoughts added for the Boston service:]
Since the 29th of Dec, like you, I have been in a state of shock, confused, very angry, and frustrated with innumerable questions. I have not known how to move on. Recently, I found one answer, it came from Piper himself. I found a file on his computer written on the 11th of Oct, 2001
I am writing this as I just read the news. It stated that there may be new waves of attacks on the US. Since I am near DC, the capital… who knows.
I give all that I have to my wife Rose Mary Paquette.
My last wishes are that my wife, Rose Mary Paquette have a long prosperous life, kicked off by getting Tony Robbins Personal Power Tape series and follow that program.
Know that I love you and always will be watching over as from the other side. Enjoy the gift of life. Make raising Sean your #1 priority.
God this hurts to write but better safe than sorry..
In this document Piper provides a simple blueprint in how to move on from this tragedy. He says, "Enjoy the gift of life."
Then, "kick off this new life with Tony Robbins tapes" Tony Robbins is a motivational speaker. Piper was using this series to make a new start in his new life post Project Aid. My interpretation is Piper is telling us to "Live a motivated life"
Then "Make Sean your #1 priority" or take care of the children entrusted to your care.
Finally, "Know that I love you and always will be watching over you from the other side"
So the formula is simple.
1. Enjoy the gift of life.
2. Live a motivated life--helping and serving others.
3. Take care of the kids and make them your number one priority.
Knowing that he and Rose and Sean are watching over us from the other side I invite you to join me in making this part of our daily creed to live by.
Ken’s Eulogy at the Boston Memorial Service for Piper, Rose and Sean, Jan. 20, 2002 Since the accident occurred on Dec. 29th we’ve had now 3 weeks to be able to reflect on what happened. Words seem to be lacking to be able to express oneself adequately in times like these. In Novosibirsk in preparing a eulogy for the service there, it literally took me about a half hour to even write the first sentence. The main thought I guess that I want to express is that Rose was and is very dear to our hearts, and that we will miss her greatly. We, as parents, are very proud of Rose and Piper. They lived their lives caring for others. Those of you that had Rose visit you in your home will remember how she promptly did the dishes right after the meal, helped to straighten up things, etc. Or at times that we were planning to do something, Rose was very quick at organizing and getting everybody going. Something else about Rose that I mentioned in Russia was that she never gave up when faced with a challenge. I shared two examples and I’ll share them here with you. When she was maybe 11 or 12 I had a watch that you had to punch a code into in order to get to the phone numbers. She was always very curious to know what my code was. One day she asked if I could give her my watch to look at for a moment. I gave it to her knowing that she probably wanted to figure out my code, but then thought to myself, “she’ll never figure it out.” A little while later however, she came back with a smile on her face and sure enough, she had figured out my code. Recently, this past August, she came to visit us and spent time with Lillie who had just had a serious car accident and was recovering in the hospital. Someone had given Lillie a wooden puzzle—kind of like a square wood puzzle made of many geometric shapes—of about 15 pieces that needed to be put back together. It was very complicated. Several people tried to put it back together but there’s only one way for it to work. Everyone after a long time of effort, finally decided to give up, including myself. But Rose was determined as always, that she was going to figure it out. She just kept working at it and working at it. I told her finally, “Ro, forget it,” but she was just determined to find the way it went. Finally she figured it out. We all applauded. She then made a little diagram of what piece goes first and then the pieces that followed in order so that we would have a map to go by if someone was to take it apart again. I saw the puzzle yesterday at Lillie and Michelle’s place and it’s still together. Piper was also very helpful. The last time they came to visit which was in August, shortly after Lillie’s accident, Piper came and helped me at the office. I was having a really hard time with reinstalling the programs after our computers were hit by a bad computer virus, and Piper very patiently worked with it and got the computers running and networking together better than ever. Both of them were very talented and capable young people. They were going somewhere with plans for the future. We don’t understand why their lives on this earth ended so soon and so abruptly but, knowing that they are with the Lord helps to comfort our hearts. There are certain scriptures that have also been a comfort to us. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. Another verse is “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord to them that are the called according to His purposes. We know that God isn’t only a God during easy times but He’s also a God ever present in times of trouble. It is said that in times like these, some people draw closer to the Lord while others distance themselves from the Lord. It is our desire that through this loss of those we love, that somehow, we would be able to all find comfort in the Lord and to trust Him, that He only allows things to happen that are a part of His greater plan. Eulogy from Lara (Laraine) Paquette, Rose’s Mother When I first heard the news about Piper and Rose and Sean’s passing, I was just shocked – it was the last thing I ever expected to happen –it was just so unbelievable that my mind could hardly register the words I was hearing, and of course heart-breaking. They were always so full of life and so strong and such giving people – they were the type of people that others looked to for encouragement and strength. After hearing the news, I didn’t have time to think very much as we were almost immediately caught up in a multitude of business details concerning funeral arrangements, questions from the American Embassy in Moscow and making preparations to travel to Siberia. Our trip to Siberia was very special time. I’d like to say at this point that we appreciated so much the prayers of you and others for this trip as I can truly say that I really felt the Lord’s love and care of us in a very special way throughout the whole trip. We were able to make the journey together with 3 of our daughters, one of our sons and with Piper’s parents and brother—there were 9 of us. Together we met so many precious people there that Rose and Piper had worked with and we saw again what a positive impact that they as a little family, had had on people there. At each step of our journey (first to Moscow, then to Novokuznetsk where the accident had taken place, and then to Novosibirsk) we were met and taken care of by such warm loving people who were intent on making sure our every need was met. They reached out to comfort us and we found ourselves reaching out in turn, to comfort them. On the 9th of Jan. we had a beautiful memorial service for Rose and Piper and Sean there in Novosibirsk where we were able to participate with others in sharing our love and appreciation of Rose and Piper and Sean as well as comfort each other in our faith in the Lord and His promise of eternal life and that they are together in Heaven with the Lord. I know that my heart has been greatly comforted in the knowledge that through Jesus they have eternal life and that they are happy and safe in Heaven, and that we’ll be with them again someday. Although they lived such a short life in comparison to other people, I’m so thankful that they lived such a full life and a life dedicated to helping others. And I’m so thankful that they loved the Lord and were used by Him to help change their part of the world. Also I’m thankful that I had such a good relationship with my daughter, Rose. We were always really close and our relationship was always loving. She was such a caring person and always concerned about us and making sure we were okay. And even though she lived such a great distance away, she always made a point of staying in close touch via E-mail and phone calls. Piper also was a very kind and caring person and I always felt comfortable around him. I didn’t get a chance to know Sean as well as I would have liked as we only saw him once a year for a short visit in the past couple of years, but Rose and Piper always sent us lots of photos and told us all about him and the cute things he did, and I am thankful for that. Somehow through all of this, my perspective has changed. I think I used to look at life with a great deal of emphasis on this present life, but now, I see it more in the perspective that this life is just the preliminary of the other and greater life that is to come. As the Bible says, “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him. There’s a song that’s been going through my mind quite a bit since this all happened which pretty much expresses how I feel. It goes like this. I have so many memories of my times with you, So many reminders of the things we used to do You made my world a better place, with the love you gave me, dears And I feel that I’m still close to you although you’re gone from here.. Now you’re in Heaven, a land beyond today, you’re in Heaven, you’re in a better place, And though when I think of you, tears come to my eyes I realize you’re happy now, and so am I. Often in my day, I still feel you near Sometimes I close my eyes, and picture that you’re here. But though I miss you dearly, I know that you are safe, You’re happy now with Jesus, and we’ll be with you someday. For you’re in Heaven……… In place of a broken heart, God's put His peace. He's giving understanding and He comforts me. I hear His voice whisper in my heart He says you're free. You're alive, you're well in Heaven, you're watching over me, for... You're in Heaven, a land beyond today, you're in Heaven, you're in a better place. And though when I think of you tears come to my eyes, I realize you're happy now, and so am I. You're happy now with Jesus, and we’ll be with you someday. In closing, there’s a story that I used to read with my children when they were growing up –actually it’s a series of 7 stories by a famous author, C.S. Lewis called “The Chronicles of Narnia”. We read these books several times through the years and I know Rose loved these stories as we all did. They are about some children in England who go through a wardrobe door and find themselves in another world where animals talk and where there is a lion called Aslan who is in that world, who Jesus is to us in our world. In each book, the children are drawn magically and unexpectedly into Narnia where they participate with Aslan in some quest or adventure to rescue someone, or free Narnia from some great danger, etc. Then at the end of each adventure, Aslan lovingly sends them back to their own world of England. At the end of the last book, however, somehow they all end up in what seems to be Narnia Heaven which is also somehow connected with England’s Heaven. It’s a beautiful place beyond all description and they are all so happy. But now, I’ll just quote from the book: (From “The Last Battle” by C.S. Lewis) “The light ahead was growing stronger. Lucy (one of the children) saw that a great series of many-colored cliffs led up in front of them like a giant’s staircase. And they she forgot everything else, because Aslan himself was coming, leaping down from cliff to cliff like a living cataract of power and beauty…….. Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not look so happy as I mean you to be. Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.” “No fear of that”, said Aslan, “Have you not guessed?” Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them. “There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are –as you used to call it in the Shadowlands ---dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning. And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us, this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. [back to top]