Today’s resolution: Live and delight

15 Jun

A dear friend and family member died Tuesday. Unexpectedly. Still processing that.

She was here, then she was gone. Even though you know that’s the way of life and death, and that the cliches — “living today because there may be no tomorrow” foremost among them — are true, it’s always a sharp slap of reality to those left behind.

Barbara was such a vibrant woman that her absence is unimaginable even as we experience it. She lived life with a joyful playfulness, always full of curiosity and ready for the next adventure. She loved opera, history, foreign films, birds, trees, astronomy, bicyling, waffles and books. She never stopped learning, and took full advantage of the free tuition for seniors programs at her local college.

She noticed details about people and could come out with the most surprising compliments. The last time I saw her, she told me I had a lovely neck. When was the last time someone noticed your neck? Or said it was lovely? That was the thing about Barbara. She noticed things the rest of us don’t see.

She was delightful because she found delight in everything.

And she was funny. Not always intentionally. She was always getting into one mishap or another.

She and Uncle Don lived to travel and explore. Many years ago, they were rambling about the French-speaking part of Canada. They checked into a lovely lakeside hotel in which each room had a front and back door. They believed  the French-speaking clerk told them their key would unlock both doors. So they latched the front door, exited the back door, which locked behind them.

After a day of exploration, they returned to the room and discovered the clerk had misled them and they were locked out of their room While Uncle Don went to the front desk to talk to the clerk, Barbara decided she would climb in the bathroom window, go through the bedroom and unlatch the front door.

She got her head in, but her shoulders were too wide for the narrow window. So, in a very Lucy Ricardo moment, she found herself wedged in and unable to move. While she was trying to get unstuck, a strange man came into her bathroom.

Barbara stared at him. He stared at her. Then Barbara, naturally friendly, said hello and asked why he was in her bathroom.

He told her. In French. Rapid, loud French. Barbara didn’t speak French, but she got the point. She was in the wrong room.

When my uncle and the clerk arrived, things were about to get ugly. But the clerk managed to get the point across to the gentleman in the bathroom that Barbara wasn’t trying to break into his room. And somehow Barbara got free of the window, apologizing and laughing as she backed out.

There’s so much to say about Barbara and, sadly, this is all I can manage at the moment. It’s inadequate but later, perhaps, I’ll feel up to sharing more.

She was a gift. A delightful one.

Sailing with Uncle Don on Lake Michigan, 1977. See that smile? It's in all my memories of her.


4 Responses to “Today’s resolution: Live and delight”

  1. Laura Cartwright Hardy June 15, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Nice tribute.

  2. Paul Carreras June 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    What a great story! I’m sorry you lost your Aunt but, it sounds like she lived life to the fullest.

  3. Cici Davidson June 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Very nice, Rhonda.

  4. Donna McGowan June 16, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    They look and sound like people who enjoyed life together. The bathroom window story was a hoot! Glad you’ve got some wonderful memories.

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