Graciella “Sawyer” “Tavi” Freya Octavia Renice Harriet Josephine Caulkins-Feltz died unexpectedly on November 10, 2022 at 14 years of age. Born on August 8, 2008 to Dia J. Caulkins and Jeff Feltz, Graciella Sawyer will always be remembered for their compassionate heart which had room for every living being on this Earth, their open mind which accepted everyone without judgment or condemnation, and their unwavering quest for justice for all. The world is missing a beautiful light because they are no longer here. Graciella Sawyer leaves behind both parents and 4 siblings, Anthony Caulkins (Meghan) in Austin, TX, Persephone Caulkins, James-Robert Caulkins, and Mireya Caulkins in Verona, WI.
Graciella Sawyer’s funeral will be held on Tuesday 11/22/22 at 4pm at Cress Funeral Home - Madison Far West, 6021 University Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin. To view Graciella's service, please register at the following link: https://event.forgetmenotceremonies.com/ceremony?c=e3eee010-ee84-44f4-8439-9d2b8a7f5905
My beautiful talented creative smart kind loving compassionate generous Graciella Sawyer is no longer here with us in person - to love and hug and hold. However, even though they are not here physically their kindness of spirit is still with us and is without measure. As an organ donor Graciella Sawyer’s generosity helped save the lives of others who are still here, and there is nothing more Graciella Sawyer loved better than helping others. They left behind a large and loving extended family who will miss Graciella Sawyer dearly: grandparents Janet and David Caulkins in Verona, WI, Renice Osowski in Verona, WI, Roy and MaryAnn Feltz in Madison, WI, Aunt Juliette Caulkins in Amsterdam, Holland, Uncle James Caulkins in Hermosa Beach, CA, Uncle Troy Feltz (Vicki) in Deerfield, WI, and cousins Florentine Oberman (Jack) and Steffan Oberman in Amsterdam, Holland, and Zachary Feltz in Madison, WI.
Graciella Sawyer, also known as Tavi, named that by their very best friend and sister, Mireya, was a musical soul - they listened to music every single chance they got - there was not a day that went by that Graciella Sawyer was not listening to their pink headphones (which they kept on most of the time playing music and videos from their pink iPad) - Tavi and Mireya played piano and sang together, shared special secrets and moments, practiced ASL for their own private conversations, helped each other at school, went on bike ride adventures, and loved to go to the library and to get ice cream together. The joy that Tavi brought to their “favorite Irish-twin Rey” (which was Tavi’s name for Mireya) was magical to watch. Tavi understood without words and supported without question - Tavi‘s bravery was quiet and strong and they loved with an unending love.
Graciella Sawyer had many names, 8 given names - because they were born on 08/08/08 - Graciella Freya Octavia Renice Harriet Josephine Caulkins-Feltz. But other names came as we lived life --- Lala was the first nickname she got, named that by Mireya who could not say Graciella --- Miss G, or just G, because they had such illuminating presence and they fit --- Love Bug because they were so loving (and in the beginning so small with the tiniest of voices - even though they grew the name stayed because they were my Love Bug) --- The Wild Chipooooooh because they had the sense of adventure, fun, a love of animals and wildlife, and well, just because it was as special as Graciella Sawyer was --- Tavi from Octavia, which was one of their 8 names (and it was a unique nickname that Mireya created) --- and finally Sawyer, because Graciella Sawyer came to me and wanted a more non-binary name. I told them that I had considered Sawyer as a name for them when I was pregnant with them, because of the character Tom Sawyer. We read the book together and they liked the story a lot, and then they took Sawyer as their primary name, although they kept Tavi and Graciella for us as our private family names. Whatever name you knew Graciella Sawyer by, they were one of a kind.
Graciella Sawyer’s fantastic sense of humor led to many hours of uproarious laughter - often because of one line zingers delivered with a completely straight face. Tavi was so smart that they could play with words and meanings in an instant and loved to bring joy to others with their wit and sense of fun. Graciella Sawyer’s sense of fun was not limited to wordplay, Tavi’s ability to spontaneously burst into short joyful and fun dances brought irresistible smiles to the faces of those around them.
Graciella Sawyer also loved their family and friends, and enjoyed nothing more than playing video games and board games with them. Tavi was an excellent rival to their brother JR and sister Mireya when they played loud and laughter-filled games of Smash Bros. Tavi also loved gathering around the table or in the living room with everyone to play board games of all kinds - they was especially good at One Night Werewolf - anytime there was a chance to come together - to do things together - Graciella Sawyer was there smack dab in the middle making things so much fun for others.
D&D was a favorite game of Graciella Sawyer’s - with grand adventures always playing a kind and protective role. They played a magical Druid named Magic Puff and they saved both their friends and their characters more times than can be counted. That character trait is being lived out through their organ donation to others.
Graciella Sawyer was so very smart and perceptive - always listening and always thinking - so many thoughts. So many questions - digging for answers - often to unanswerable questions. Many a long night was spent with their brother JR discussing life, the universe, and everything. Those two would debate and discuss, watch videos together, and debate more - they had lifelong plans - they would be there for each other forever - JR and Graciella Sawyer’s love for each other was truly special - in times of trouble they were each other's rock - seeing them together warmed the heart.
Graciella Sawyer looked up to their cool big sister Persephone and looked out for them as well. When Tavi thought that Persephone was in trouble Tavi spoke to Persephone kindly letting her know - and supporting Persephone in making tough decisions. Graciella Sawyer shared a love of picking outfits and dressing up snazzily like Persephone, - each of them had their own style - but their looks were “stylin’” as Tavi used to say with a grin. Graciella Sawyer loved to share new songs and music with Persephone and would participate in crazy impromptu dance parties in the kitchen - Persephone and the Love Bug would just spread infectious joy that would draw us in! Although wanting to spread happiness, the serious and always thinking side of Tavi was ever-present and sometimes made them look at Persephone quizzically and announce that something that Persephone was doing was weird.
That observation of others' weirdness was something that we all received at different times, but that observation was never done in a mean or cruel manner - always in a manner of observing an oddity - because Graciella Sawyer was never cruel. It was not in their nature to be cruel to anyone, even to those who were cruel and horrible to them. Tavi’s capacity for forgiveness was limitless, and their unending kindness and compassion knew no bounds.
Graciella Sawyer loved to go on adventures and travel - they flew by themselves to visit their big brother Anthony and his wife Meghan in Long Beach when Tavi was only 10. They faced the fear of flying and even talked about becoming a pilot when they were older. They loved trying new things and when they were in California, they tried jack fruit with Uncle James (which was not their favorite) - and Boba tea with Meghan (which did become a favorite - leading to many visits to Icki Sticki). Graciella Sawyer waded in the Pacific Ocean, they visited museums, they learned to play ukulele, and they dreamed of further travel. Tavi had great plans to travel to Japan and Europe and to go storm chasing with Mireya in Oklahoma when they were older. So many dreams and plans.
Graciella Sawyer looked up to their big brother Anthony, not only watching his performances and listening to his compositions and life wisdom, but also learning how to play music and think about things in life. Tavi loved the discussions and debates that they would have with Anthony - the walks and jogs that they would have together - the love and special connection of the oldest and youngest siblings, playing games, cooking, running errands, or just hanging out was truly special to see. While Tavi was very excited about visiting Anthony and Meghan this spring to meet their new baby, now they will watch over this new member of the Caulkins Clan because Tavi would want nothing more to know that the baby is safe and happy.
Graciella Sawyer was always welcoming. When they first met Anthony’s wife Meghan they toddled over to Meghan and gave her a huge radiant smile and lots of hugs - just someone new to love. It was with that same love and affection that Tavi welcomed Billy, Persephone’s boyfriend, and the two became firm friends, uniting over Pokemon and video games.
Graciella Sawyer loved all of their family members, their cousin Steffan with whom they would joke and play and try new things, their cousin Florentine with whom they would talk and share stories, and Florentine’s husband Jack to whom they introduced our household chipmunk Porky and with whom they bonded over a love of Dr. Suess stories. Graciella Sawyer’s interest in learning was unending and they would have great discussions with their Grandpa Caulkins or help him fix or make things. Tavi would fill the bird feeders at Grandma and Grandpa Caulkins’ house so that the birds would flock to them and we could have fun watching all of the birds. Graciella Sawyer loved their Grandma Caulkins as well, bonding over their time caring for and walking the dogs, discussing a myriad of topics and playing board games. Aunt Juliette had a special connection with Tavi, helping them find moments to laugh and listen to more music, and trying to help Tavi create a soft place to land when times were difficult. Uncle James taught Graciella Sawyer about caring for the environment and loving the Earth, encouraged her to laugh at silly things, and to be brave even when it seemed as if things were going too fast.
Graciella Sawyer loved their dad Jeff and spent time with him enjoying superheroes, video games, and Pokemon. Their Uncle Troy, Aunt Vicki, Zach, and Grandma O made time together fun teaching Tavi new things, sharing meals, and enjoying games, especially rounds of Trivia that Graciella Sawyer found both challenging and such fun.
All of these things are important pieces of my beautiful love - but none of these observations reach the depth that made up Graciella Sawyer. Tavi was a beacon in the dark for many - they would light up any room they entered with a smile as bright as the sun and twinkling bright blue eyes - that some days looked quite green. They had an infectious smile, to hear their laugh was to laugh yourself, you just couldn’t help it. They welcomed you into a moment of joy and wrapped you in their happy laughter. And while their smile was as bright as the sun - their heart was warmer than the sun - Tavi actually radiated heat so that when we were cold we would snuggle with them - no hot blanket or fire held a candle to the warmth that Graceilla Sawyer shared - mentally, emotionally, and physically too. In fact, they ran so warm that they could not play with slime or thinking putty, because the warmth of their hands would melt the stuff - we laughed about that many times - That radiating warmth is why we will forever call unseasonably warm days Graciella Days.
Graciella Sawyer Tavi I carried you inside of me, our hearts beat together, and even though you are not here - you remain in my heart forever. Graciella Sawyer was our little love bug, giving lots of hugs and kisses. Tavi would lie in bed with me and their sister and brother and we would snuggle and read stories, from Suess to Tolkein. Maybe it was because Tavi was so beautiful, compassionate, and filled with light that the weight of the world was too much. Graceilla Sawyer had deep awareness and sadness about the brutality of the world around them, the compassion and love to know that the world as we know it must change, the internal drive to try to affect changes, and ultimately too much sadness at their inability to change things themself. Graciella Sawyer could not shrug off injustice or turn a blind eye to human cruelty - those things weighed on them. Their cheerful disposition and genuinely kind personality hid the deep depression that they were battling. Tavi The Bean was our little love bug - but their shell was not strong enough and cracked under the harshness of an unkind world.
Through the memories of those of us left behind, and our acts of kindness and compassion for others, Graciella Sawyer's light will continue to shine, because this world needs more light. We love you Graciella Sawyer Tavi - we will never forget you or your love for all humanity.
If you are thinking about suicide or are worried about a friend of loved one please call:
HOPELINE Crisis Textine: 741741 (English and Espanol)
National Suicide 24/7 Lifeline: 988
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7356