Happy St. Patrick's Day

Aunt Caren

Today's a big one for our family. Christmas, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day. In no particular order.

Paddy's has just always been one of our biggest celebrations. Guinness, music, dancing: the cornerstones of our family values.

And no one loved it more than Aunt Caren. She was always at the center of attention. And let me tell you, my family is the most ridiculous, loud, crazy, and colorful Paddy's supporters in the Western Hemisphere. People come out to see my family dance. The Guinness is just a bonus.

We tragically lost my Aunt Caren this past January.

Simply put: these traditions and celebrations will never be the same.

But we know her spirit lives on with us. She's going to be right there celebrating, cheering and dancing as if nothing has changed.

This will always be her holiday.

So lift a glass for Caren today. And join me in celebrating St. Patrick's Day in her honor!

Caren Williams: In Memorium

Here's the video we conjured up in the days after leading up to her funeral.

My mom's words and voice.

Aunt Caren: My Speech

I thought I would go ahead and paste my full speech I gave at her funeral. This stings a lot today.

There’s so much to say about Aunt Caren. I could go on for days. When someone is there for everything in your life, you amass a lot of stories.
Growing up with your cool aunt right down the street is pretty incredible. And as many of you know, my brother and I could be quite a handful when we were kids. We were always getting in trouble. And that was no exception with Aunt Caren.
I remember one time she got on to us about something we broke inside her house. She took away all our toys and made us sit in the living room. Well that didn’t last very long. We somehow found a raquetball and some plastic sacks. Before long, we had a makeshift basketball goal and a game of two on one.
See, Aunt Caren couldn’t stay mad at us too long. She was always eager to jump right in and play with us. She loved us very much and treated us as her own. From the impromptu campouts on her front lawn to trips Whitewater Bay to all of our sporting events, Aunt Caren was right there. She was always there cheering us on. She loved her little nephews so much. And man, I loved my Aunt Caren.
My parents tell me I was a very particular boy. I had to have certain things done a particular way. When I was 9 years old, I was ADAMANT that we HAD to be at the hospital when Lilia was born. We HAD to be there for Aunt Caren, I told my mom. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was so excited for Aunt Caren!
Being one of the older cousins, you get to see and comprehend a lot more. I could see how much love she had for this baby and I was so genuinely excited for her. And then Erica came along and I watched a family grow up together. I have many fond memories of these two - from Lilia’s first few, choice words - to Erica naming her teddy bear - Whale. But my memories pale in comparison to their mother’s.
Caren could barely go 5 minutes without bragging on her girls. Lilia said this today. Erica did this. Look what we did! She loved her girls with her whole heart and wasn’t ashamed of it, or quiet about it. I think she may have embarrassed them a few times but I know they’re grateful. And I know they’ll miss it.
Us Cougill kids are pretty close with our mommas, and I’m pretty sure it’s because our moms and dads are so close with our Grammy. They’ve led by example. I’ve really enjoyed watching the sistah’s grow together over the years. I think they’ve run every Taco Cabana out of town at this point. 
They’ve laughed, they’ve danced, they’ve cried, they’ve done just about everything together over the past 15 years. They're best friends. My mom’s talked to Aunt Caren just about every day for as long as I can remember. And I don’t think there’s another person that can make my mom laugh as much as she did.
As I was looking through all these old photos and videos, I came across her and Eric’s wedding video. And there’s this brief moment in the reception when she walks up to the camera and gives this most incredible smile. She’s absolutely glowing. She’s the happiest person in the world. 
Seeing this made me realize why I liked her so much when I was growing up. She looked at me that way. No matter what I was saying or doing, she made me feel so special with that smile and laugh. That was a really important thing for a weird kid like me.
As it turns out, Aunt Caren was one of the first people to give me an audience. She was a superfan. She was at all the sporting events, musicals, birthdays, holidays, just about every major event in my life. And when I got a little bit older and started making movies, she was my biggest fan. That tendency of hers to get super excited over little things like the silly motion fight scenes in my movie Molehill Mountain. She loved the first two installments so much, she made me, Ethan and Scott T-shirts for Molehill Mountain 3. Which I am wearing now - it’s a bit ridiculous for this setting but I know she would have liked it. 
That kind of encouragement and excitement helped me get to where I am today as a filmmaker and a person. And guess who was the most excited about me working on Thunder commercials?
She had that kind of infectious excitement that could get the whole group fired up. You could hear her for miles! We loved giving her a hard time about it, but man, we really just loved it. You can’t help but get a big smile on your face when she started laughing.
We’ve really lost a treasure here, but maybe we were just being selfish. Maybe heaven needed a little more laughter these days. And I know as this close family grows even closer together, we’ll miss her no doubt about it. We’ll feel the sting of her absence. It’ll hurt for a while, but then we’ll get to laughing. And if we listen close enough, I guarantee you we’ll hear that laugh all the way from heaven.
Thank you for celebrating this life with us today.
I love you Aunt Caren.