Sunday, February 21, 2010

Barb Wagner's Yard Sale

This weekend marked Barb's first foray into Yard Sales... I don't know why I helped her as she is moving away and that is just not fair! No one asked me my thoughts on that! Anyway, seriously, we will miss Barb a great deal.

The sale was a success, even though we had to turn some early birds away.

Here is Barb is a reflective mood. She hadn't slept at all the night before trying to get everything ready for the sale. She did very well, considering!

Barbara's cousin and daughter came down from Oxnard to attend the event. We enjoyed visiting with them both,.

Brother and Sister Benatz showed up! That was a pleasant surprise. George collects LPs and was delighted at Elaine's collection. I had their daughter in my Young Women's class.

Dr. Cathy, Maura and Mark all came to help out and helped make the event successful. I think they were trying to total up the spoils in this photo!

My Relief Society Sisters

These photos were taken at our Relief Society dinner on Thursday, February 18th. These are great ladies!

Our Pickering Ward Relief Society President, Ellen Balke is a beautiful woman, inside and out.

This next shot is Alecia Lai and her lovely mom. Alecia has the sweetest little boy ever.

Ellen Ibey just doesn't age. Don't know what her secret is! I recently worked with Alecia Lai and Ellen Ibey in Young Womens and just miss them and the girls alot since my release. They are such talented ladies.

Mary Beth Rodriguez is probably going to hate me for posting this photo, but the joy in her face was just too compelling, so I'm posting it, anyway! Mary Beth is our Bishop's wife and my current missionary companion. I've known her the longest of all these women, and treasure her friendship. She was a huge help to me as I recovered from my surgeries a couple of years ago.

Here we have Karin Peltz Grimm, Vicky Peltz, Nicole Hall, Barbara Klein and Nancy Cunningham. Nicole is our ward organist and her husband is in the bishopric. Barbara teaches gospel doctrine and is just an amazing woman. All these ladies are just terrific. They've given me shoulders to cry on, hugs, meals, smiles, gospel lessons, rides to church and temple, listening ears, encouragement and countless kindnesses. I'm so lucky to have them all in my life!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Barbara was laid to rest today

My friend Barbara was laid to rest today. I was so glad to be able to attend the service, which was held at the LDS Stake Center on Orizaba in Downey, California.

Michael was looking fit, but obviously distraught. There was a large group of family to comfort him.

Barbara's father and brother were there (looking like twins, practically! "I get that all the time in Jerome [Idaho]," her brother exlaimed when I mistook him for his father. Brother Rupert, Barbara's father, is remarkably fit for a man in his 90s. Michael's son Michael gave a lovely eulogy and provided some insights into Barbara's extraordinary life. When he asked if anyone would like to say a few words, several people spoke, including Barbara's father, Richard Daggett (her long time friend and the president of the Polio Survivor's Association) and her kindly hair dresser, who exclaimed she had never seen such wonderful hair as Barbara had.

I met Barbara's sister for the first time. She lives in Texas, [She had absolutely wonderful hair, too.]

The local LDS missionaries sang, Sally DeFord's version of the traditional LDS hymn, "Oh, My Father" to the tune of the traditional "Come Thou Font of Every Blessing." It was just a lovely arrangement. I found it online this afternoon at Sally's website. It is downloadable in pdf format for free. Just google DeFord Music.

Here is a photo of a photo of Michael and Barbara in the early days of their marriage. Barbara was responsible for helping shape California's laws regarding handicapped people, and one story I heard this morning was how Michael and Barbara had met while doing a check of curbs for the committee that was in charge of that legislation. I may have gotten that a little wrong, but it is still sweet that they met, worked together, and fell in love.

Barbara's casket was blue with a lovely spray of pink roses. It reminded me so much of my mother's casket that it gave me pause.

This is Michael's son Michael who delivered the eulogy,

Here is Brother Rupert and Ramona, Barbara's long-time friend and caregiver. Ramona didn't want me to take this picture, but she was really looking beautiful and I couldn't help myself.

Bishop Bukowski spoke about the Plan of Salvation. Kristie Larsen and Joan Langton were there. It was lovely to see these good sisters. Kristie led the music and Joanie gave the closing prayer. When she broke down in the middle, I was already crying. I got some good hugs from them.

The weather was beautiful. It was sunny and warm. Although the weatherman said the high was 67 degrees, it felt much warmer.

I was so glad that Barbara had such a lovely send-off. She had a challenging life and faced it with courage and what someone today termed an "iron will".

Oh, My Father, thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place
when shall I regain thy presence and again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood was I nurtured near thy side?

I had learned to call thee "father" through thy Spirit from on high,
but until the key of knowledge was restored, I knew not why
In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare.
Truth is reason. Truth eternal tells me I've a Mother there.

When I leave this frail existence, when I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high?
And, at length, when I've completed all you sent me forth to do -
With your mutual approbation, let me come and dwell with you.
- Eliza R. Snow

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Weekend in Arizona

Merlene and I at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant for a birthday bash,

Here's Dianna at the Ren Faire. When the Mini Reunicon didn't fly, we decided to do the Faire together just the two of us. It turned out to be a gorgeous Arizona day and we had a good time together. Next time, we'll have to get the rest of Landru out.

I got to see Dan Boyle on this trip. He seems to be doing fine, despite Arizona's flagging economy.

Doug Jones joined us for Sunday dinner on Valentine's Day.

Here is Merlene helping me with my Molly's Arizona Photo Shoot. Check out her adventures on her cousin's blog,

I had a great time visiting with friends and doing the Faire! We'll have to plan on another Arizona trip sometime soon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Barbara went home...

I got a call late last night informing me that my dear friend, Barbara Morrione, passed away on Sunday. Barbara was an incredible woman of strength and integrity and I shall miss her. However, I'm also glad she is finally free from the confines of a body that was a painful prison.
Barbara Jean got a piano for her 9th birthday. She was so thrilled. Her parents, simple Idaho farmers, were kind and good people. You can imagine their suffering when both Barbara and her little brother contracted polio that year. It was the late 1940s, and this was one of the last polio epidemics in the United States. The Sabin Oral vaccine which I got as a child, marked the end of that horrible disease, which claimed the lives of all of the 35 children in that little Idaho school who contracted polio - except two. Barbara Jean and her little 5 year old brother were the only ones to survive.
Barbara spent the next year in an iron lung, with little hope for a real life in the future. Doctors told her parents that there was little chance she would live past her 21st birthday. She was to prove everyone wrong.
Her 21st birthday was marked by tragedy, however. After countless surgeries, she finally had her legs amputated that year. I asked her what, on retrospect, was the worst about losing her legs. She replied, "Giving up all my shoes!"
Barbara was to forge on and do everything she dreamed of doing: she became a seamstress, then attended LDS Business College for a degree in accounting, she married, learned to drive a car with special controls and took an across-country trip. She once ran an entire accounting department of over 40 employees!
When her first husband passed away, Barbara was still young. She met Michael at a meeting of the Polio Survivors Association at Rancho in Downey, California. Michael, too, was a polio survivor. The two married and have lived a lifetime of loving devotion. Michael is an extraordinary, talented, individual, too. Together with Barbara's caregiver and good friend, Ramona Valdez, they forged a happy family.
When I met Barbara in 1999, she had already beaten the odds. She was running a company out of her home and performing accounting services for half a dozen companies. She was slowing down physically, but still possessed a razor sharp intelligence and a charming wit.
She died Thursday, February 4th, of complications from a car accident caused by the mechanical failure of her specialized van the week before. She was at the wheel when the van ran into a tree in the Kaiser parking lot. The doctors and nurses at Kaiser saw the accident and were able to give her immediate care. Although she seemed fine, her fragile health was jeopardized and she was kept under observation. Ramona told me that she passed during the night of the 3rd/ 4th, as she was unresponsive that morning. Official cause of death appears to have been an aneurism or bleeding in the brain.
I know Barbara was afraid of dying. I told her once that I thought she'd be anxious to be rid of her broken body and how great it would be to see her mom again. She told me she just wasn't ready to go. I know she wanted to stay with her beloved Michael. I know she is waiting for him now, with her mom by her side, free from pain and sorrow.
But Ramona says she thought Barbara knew she was going to pass from some things that she had said the day before. So, it appears she was at peace and passed quietly in the night.
Barbara told me once that she didn't think much about her situation and that it was "okay as long as I keep busy". She was truly a remarkable lady.
I am so happy to have known you, Barbara. See you soon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sweet Little Pip, Rest In Peace

Sweet Little Pip Torres passed away today, Wednesday, February 3, 2010. This picture was taken at the party on Saturday. You could tell she wasn't feeling very well. She was always so friendly to me. I will miss my little Pippi. I hope she and my Emily are having fun together in kitty heaven where there is no pain, only joy.

My big fat Belated Birthday Party...

Maura and Barbara at Mark's house.

The big huge package was mine! I was so surprised! It was a horse for my American Girl doll. What a fun gift!

Here is Mark, on his knees bearing the cake for all of us.

Now we know how to make Mark disappear! It's all smoke and mirrors...

So we celebrated my 2009 birthday three months after the fact. Don't ask. It's too weird to explain.
But I got to celebrate in January with Joyce,
and Peggy, and Peggy's mom and dad. It was a really fun evening.

Here is Mark with Peggy after a successful blowing out of all those durn candles! (See, he didn't really disappear.)