Home Inspirational A LIFE WELL LIVED


Gayle at Manzanita Lake 2012


Gayle’s spirit soared forth on new adventures at 4:15 a.m. January 6th, 2015. She passed from a pain-free coma with Michael, her sister Joan and Brother Butch holding her hand. Please remember her in your thoughts and prayers.

Gayle deeply believed that our spirit never dies, and although she loved this life with all of her heart she wasn’t afraid of death.



Last year I asked Gayle to perhaps give me some notes on things that I might include in her obituary, things about her life before I knew her, that she might wish to have mentioned. She never did.   Then, after she passed away, when I was preparing to write a notice for publication in the Redding Record Searchlight I chanced upon an item in her computer documents labeled “My Obit”. Here is Gayle’s Obituary as published, and, except for the introduction, as she wrote it:


Gayle Black Shaw Madden (1952 – 2015)

Gayle Black Shaw Madden departed this life on January 6th, at age 62. A Celebration of Her Life will be held in May at the Madden residence, exact date to be published later.

Gayle left this message on her computer:
“I came into this world in July 1952 under an Easterly wind in the Chinese year of the Dragon. I was the baby in a family of five. Mom, Hazel Black, was 40 and Dad, George Black was 52. After me they called it quits. I don’t remember being babied, but I always thought that I could get whatever I wanted, being the “kid” in a family with older parents.

Some of my happiest summers were spent with my oldest sister, Jean. After she married Bill Scanlon and had children, I continued to visit. As children, my next oldest sister, Joan, wheeled me around in an old wagon every night until I fell asleep. She treated me as her baby doll and still calls her daughter, Angie, by my name. Georgia Sorensen, my next oldest sister is married to Gary Sorensen. My brother, Butch Black married his darling wife Shirley Washburn shortly before he left to serve in Viet Nam. He loves me very much and would do anything for me. I love all of them, including their children and grandchildren.

In 1971, a year after graduating from Central Valley High School, I married Steven Shaw, an incredibly kind man. Our marriage lasted for 19 years. I remained happily single for the next 10 years before marrying Michael Madden in 2004. He and I brought much joy to each other lives and have traveled the world finding fun and adventure. We were planning our next trip when I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011. Mike stayed with me every step of the way, deciding that he would do whatever he could to make my remaining life the highest quality possible. I told him he earned his true wings for such loving care. (His other wings were from being a career USAF fighter pilot)

One of my proudest achievements has been the love I have spread to others and especially to all of the precious children who have graced my classroom during my years of being an elementary school teacher. I taught at Columbia, Grant and Pacheco School Districts. Each child will forever be in my heart.

Another achievement is a lifelong dream I have held of having a book published. I finally wrote one during the last three years of my life. Its title is “An Imperfect Life: A Memoir of Life Love and Laughter—But Most of All Love”. It is a book of miracles and describes my love of life—even in the midst of dying.

And now with sadness at leaving the life I so love and with excitement to once again meet my Maker, I bid the world a fond farewell. I like to think my life has been a testimony that life is good. Gayle”


There will be a celebration of Gayle’s life on her mountaintop home near Redding, California in late May 2015. I will post the date and time in the local newspaper and on this blog. I also will keep this blog site on-line, although I will not write any more blogs except that I may post some photos every once in a while.

I deeply miss Gayle and I leave you with this final thought:

The problem with death is that it is often more sudden than you’d planned, and neither the survivors nor the departed are allowed any do-overs. So, while you are alive reach out to those around you and to those you love. Ask those questions, tell those stories, and say those things that bond and that draw you closer together in love and understanding.   And also, love and savor each hour of this life and this beautiful world that we live in.

Gentle love to each of you,


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18 Comments  comments 

18 Responses

  1. Wilma Watson Pitts

    thank you Mike for the beautiful tribute to Gayle’s life and your love for each other. I will look on her blog and see if i can order her book. She was truly an incredible lady and i was proud to have known her. Hope to see you at the re-union’s or get togethers when ever we have them again.
    Love, Wilma

  2. Dear Michael, I am deeply sorry for the loss of your beloved Gayle. No matter what we understand about death, when someone we dearly love departs, we grieve and we miss their earthly presence.

    Thank you so much for posting her obituary and for sharing with us when Gayle left us. Like so many others, I’m sure, I had wondered at her passing. I knew it had happened–or she would have written again after her last post in early December. Even though I didn’t know her personally, I will miss her. I feel as if I’ve lost a friend.

    Blessings, Michael. And again, thank you for posting.

  3. Canda Williams

    Michael, What a gift you have given us who knew and loved Gayle, by sharing her obituary. Thank you for keeping her blog on-line, and I look forward to seeing more photos of your precious wife. The one you chose for this post is so beautiful. Such a great lady with a fabulous spirit and smile. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, and miss her dearly. I look forward to Gayle’s celebration of life, and I know we’ll all feel her there on her mountain top. Wishing you peace and comfort, Michael. Hugs to you,

  4. Starla Crowell

    i am in the middle of Gayle’s book now. It is amazing to read about your journeys. Finding a mate that enjoys doing what you both did is pretty special. It gives me inspiration to get out there and enjoy this beautiful world. I’m so sorry for your loss Michael. What a special woman Gayle was. I will look forward to meeting you at Gayle’s celebration!

  5. charlie

    thank you, Mike, for all your wonderful gentle kindness. My friend could not have found a better man to share her life with.

  6. Kat

    Thinking of you Michael…hoping you find some solace and serenity. If there is anything we can do please call on us! We love you! Kat & Stan

  7. Dear Michael, This is such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul – thank you for sharing it with all of us who love and miss Gayle so much. She left a priceless legacy I have taken to heart in her honor, and for the honor of life itself: Always be kind, always forgive, always love -not superficially, but from the Heart Center itself. A deep bow of gratitude to you, sweet spirit Gayle, and to you, Michael. Blessings to you, Rita.

  8. Barbara simonds

    Thank you Michael Gayle will be missed by so many people her writings were always inspirational And I looked forward to reading them she was a. Beautiful angel here on earth.

  9. sue keller

    Incredibly beautiful, Michael.
    Thank you.

  10. Teresa Keyzers


    Thanks so much for sharing this. Even though Harry and I have not been in touch, please know that both you and Gayle had always been in my prayers. I will keep praying for you and please know that our house always has a door open, so please come visit……………..love always T.Keyzers

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this, Michael. Your words are a powerful reminder of how precious our time is with our loved ones. Take care, Sandi

  12. Jacque DAmato

    Take care, Michael. All my love, Jacque

  13. Janice johnson

    Mike, thank you for sharing the final thoughts Gayle shared about her life and loves. Truely an amazing woman that has touched my life , and forever changed it for the better. Thank you

  14. Miriam

    She certainly had a life well lived. What a good job Gayle did, and she is an inspiration to all of us. It is amazing how you know we will not be on this earth forever, but when someone leaves us, is doesn’t seem real. I loved your comment about reaching out to those around us, because what matters in this life, not the material things, but people.

  15. Joy Hayes

    Gayle, you are certainly missed, but when I see a bird take flight, the blossoms opening on my peach tree, my cat stretch, or my dog circle and lie down with a contented groan, I’m reminded of you. How much you enjoyed your life on Earth, and am comforted by your beliefs that know that you are still with us all and smiling. Thanks for watching over us all Gayle, and know that you provided me with a enhanced perspectives on how to learn and love, and trust. Love you, Joy

  16. Terry Reddin

    I enjoyed painting with Gayle, and was just promised her book to read. We kept running into each other in the last years… Bless you, Michael in your loss.

  17. Michael Madden


  18. Martha

    Thank you Michael for posting this for us. Although you may never read this I am so sorry for your loss of Gayle. The two of you waged a courageous battle and although it may have looked lost in the earthly realm, she, and you, touched so many lives. I pray that knowledge brings you comfort. Blessings.

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