Sunday, January 20, 2008

In Memoriam: Bernadette

I knew Bernadette was fighting breast cancer. Her name appeared each week in our Parish Bulletin in the column asking for prayers for the sick. I saw her at Mass several months ago--was it Easter? Mother's Day? I hugged her and asked how she was doing. Bernadette was petite, but I was surprised how fragile she felt under my arms. She let me know she was fighting, physically and spiritually, and introduced me to her parents.

We met through the Girl Scout troop at our parish school; Bernadette's daughter was two years ahead of DD#1. Bernadette had been a Girl Scout back in New Jersey; I had been a Girl Scout here in the Bay Area, but it didn't matter. We knew many of the same songs and the same "lingo." At camporee, we made "Girl Scout chili" from a recipe she had copied down from her time at camp.

Bernadette's daughter moved up and out of Girl Scouting, but Bernadette and I would run into each other. For years she ran the White Elephant booth at Oktoberfest. Then she volunteered at a local thrift shop. I'd see her at Mass or at the store. She'd send me e-mails with jokes and prayers. She went back to teaching, sometimes special ed, sometimes junior high English.

An artist, she always wore colorful clothes and had an eclectic style. Okay--she looked like a refugee from Telegraph Avenue or Haight Street. She favored hats, especially large ones with floppy brims, even before she lost her hair during chemotherapy.

Sometimes it was a challenge carrying on a conversation with her. Her sense of the here and now wasn't always in the same realm as the rest of us.

She always made Hubs laugh and shake his head in wonder.

On the Feast of the Holy Family, during the Prayers of the Faithful when the lector reads the names of the recently departed, her name was read.

I was in shock, in part because I thought I would have heard something if she was so close to the end of her fight. I looked up her obituary and discovered she died Christmas morning.

Please pray for Bernadette's family: her husband, her son, and her daughter. I hope Bernadette finds a halo to her liking up in heaven--shiny, purple maybe, with a wide, floppy brim and an oversized flower or two.