Sandra Desmond, 57, of Ann Arbor, passed away on February 2, 2013, after a long and brave struggle with cancer. Her final days were spent at Arbor Hospice, surrounded by many, many dear friends, family members, healers, teachers, co-workers – all whose lives she touched deeply.
Born on October 21, 1955, in Detroit MI, Sandy was the daughter of Bill and Shirley Desmond and sister to Brian and Bill. She cherished her upbringing surrounded by large Italian and Hungarian families, which she said "should be the fate of everyone on the planet who wants to feel loved and special" and loved to remember family gatherings at Grandma and Grandpa's, New Year's Eve at the Aunt's, weddings with Italian treats and music, and summers at the cottage. She spent her summers playing baseball with her brothers and the neighborhood kids and perched in trees reading books from the local library. Sandy was a really good ball player her whole life – she covered 2nd base and could hit, run, and throw with the best of them. She had a great time after the games, sometimes dancing on the bar at the team's favorite hangout. She hung up her spikes after her children were born, but she still enjoyed baseball, especially watching the Tigers play. Her passion for reading continued her entire life – her children often joked about the piles of books she brought home weekly from the library and stacked next to her side of the bed.
Sandy graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Communications in 1977. After graduation she moved to metro-Detroit where she worked for advertising agencies, ultimately meeting and marrying her co-worker, Jeff McCullagh, in 1984. They moved to Ann Arbor in 1985 and became parents to two wonderful children, Molly and Riley McCullagh.
Sandy worked for many businesses over her life – George Milroy Associates, Honeywell, Quad Six, Chris Siegel and Associates, Forest Health, and most recently, Thomson Reuters. She was known as an incredibly hard worker, often working 60+ hours a week to accomplish all of her work. She became good friends with many of her co-workers, many of whom she has kept in touch with over the years.
Sandy was a woman of tremendous and varied talent. She was a skilled crafter, creating hundreds of needlework samplers, knitted scarves and afghans, and beaded jewelry. She and Jeff watched many movies together, but she always requested they be in English – she couldn't read the subtitles and craft at the same time! She enjoyed embroidering birth announcements, which still grace the walls of many friends' children's homes. Sandy renovated and redecorated every room of her house, including painting the entire outside of the house (twice – she didn't like the first color) and helped to build a carport on the house one spring – she was the only mother we knew who seriously considered entering a construction apprenticeship program!
Sandy supported her family in so many ways. She spent much of her free time assisting her husband's business, at her kids' baseball games, staying up late to sew Halloween costumes, taking Molly to tap classes, or organizing Boy Scout activities with Riley. She accompanied Riley's Boy Scout troop on many camping outings and enjoyed their annual trips to St. Helena Island, where the troop was renovating a lighthouse. We often joked that it was Sandy, not Riley, who earned all those badges because she truly was the driving force behind his participation! Sunday afternoons were often spent on the phone with her beloved aunt, Tib.
Although her last ten years were marred by cancer diagnoses and recurrences, she remained upbeat as she pursued both conventional and alternative treatments. She was inspired by others who practiced alternative medicine and developed a network of healers who became close friends. She extended her lifespan through many complementary health practices – reiki, massage, energy work, and nutrition. Her healers were her special friends and provided tremendous support to her and her family. Sandy founded the 'AlterKnits' knitting group comprised of friends in the alternative healing community and treasured the evenings they spent knitting and chatting.
Sandy created a business called Higher Level Health, specializing in astrological readings and hypnotherapy. She was a trained and registered astrologer, consulting on astrological matters for many friends and family members over the years. As a hypnotherapist, she thoroughly enjoyed her training and the ProGroup update classes monthly with Frank Garfield and Cheryl Beshada in Warren MI.
Sandy brought her unique perspective on intuition, healing, and synchronicity to every moment of her life and delighted in sharing stories of recent 'coincidences.' "You never know what will happen when you wake up in the morning," was her mantra, reminding us all that surprises, both welcome and unwelcome, are a natural part of life and to prepare ourselves for the unexpected. Despite the seeming inevitability of her too-soon death, her loss is felt deeply by those she has left behind in this lifetime.
Sandy is survived by her mother Shirley, brothers Brian and Billy, husband Jeff, and children Molly and Riley. A service celebrating her life will be held on Saturday, February 9th, at the A.J. Desmond and Sons Funeral Home (2600 Crooks Road, Troy MI 48084, (248) 362-2500). Visiting with family 9 – 11 am, service begins at 11.
Sandy attended the Grass Lake Sanctuary Women's Wellness Retreat for breast cancer survivors in Manchester, Michigan. Memorial tributes may be made in Sandy's memory:
Grass Lake Sanctuary, P.O. Box 130842, Ann Arbor, MI 48113
Read Sandra Desmond's Obituary and Guestbook on desmondfuneralhome.com.