Apologies to my avid reader(s) for being incommunicado. Life has a way of messing up perfect plans, which is a recurring theme of this particular website.
On the morning of March 28, my wife’s mother, Barb Anderson, passed away suddenly. She had suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease, and survived her own brush with death several years ago following surgery to remove part of a cancerous kidney. Honestly, how Barb pulled through that episode still makes me shake my head. Tough Swede. Very tough.
This account is not intended to dwell on Barbara Jean's fist fight with Alzheimer’s and cancer. True, her last few years were defined by that struggle, but that’s not what I’ll remember most about this wonderful lady.
There are, on rare occasions, special people we meet who have an inate ability to change the energy in a room. They can transform the crappiest day with an infectious smile. They can melt the bitterness of a darkened soul. They can make us smile when a smile is the last thing we want to show.
My father in law, Merl, gave me the honor (and a true honor it was) of delivering a eulogy for Barb. In it, I described a typical visit to their home in this way:
"Those of us who had the pleasure of visiting Barb and Merl on Hillside Avenue can visualize her smile; we can feel the positive energy she brought to a room. Those quirky Minnesota characteristics. Yeah, you betcha. Uffda. Lefse. The way she’s pronounced melk. Took me a couple visits to figure out that melk is something you put on cereal. Her world famous crazy cake…a must-have at all family functions. And of course, there was always a pot of coffee. Some of the weakest, see-through coffee I’ve ever had, but the flavor grew on me. And soon it would be as familiar and welcoming as the hostess sitting at the end of the table. After you met Barb you never forgot Barb."
Positivity. Another of my favorite themes. Barb exuded positivity. Oh sure, she had moments when she spoke her mind…and she could drive home a point very well. But that’s not how I remember Barb. I picture her smile, I hear her giggle, and I treasure those sassy moments that reminded us that she was nobody's fool. I picture a mother who gave advice and direction to her daughters. A grandmother who taught her granddaughters how to bake Christmas cookies. A mother in law who made me feel like I was an important and welcomed part of the family.
What a great way to be remembered. To be a continued source of positivity, to bring smiles long after our physical connection is gone, to be an inspiration for future generations.
I closed my eulogy with these words:
"When you leave the service today, let the sadness go. You’re better people because Barb was in your lives. Carry on her legacy of caring, of doing for others, of being a rock for someone in need. Smile like Barb. Be positive like Barb. Be like Barb."
April 7, 2015