Last night was so bittersweet. To see all of my loved ones was nice, but to have to share in such grief with them was also heartbreaking. I hate that as we get older, the only time we see everybody is at Weddings and Funerals. That is the sad reality of aging and life, it pulls apart with time and space what once was close and bonded.
Harter & Schier Funeral home was wonderful to us, Eric Schier ALWAYS compassionate, always such a wonderful presence. I thank him for the care and service he provided to us, as well as all the employees that were there. What they do is nothing short of amazing sometimes....and I'm thankful for that. I'm also thankful that my two sisters who couldn't make the trip home to be there were able to log in through a live feed online and watch the visitation, and then be with us for the Catholic Service and Eulogy. While it wasn't like being there in person, it was the closest thing to it, and I'm thankful for technology like that, that allows us to be close, even when we are far apart.
The night was hard, and at times upbeat was we talked to relatives we don't see often, and as we shared in memories of days gone by....but the hardest thing for me the entire night was to witness a husband say goodbye to his wife. I'll never forget the goodbye I saw, or the words he spoke to her for the very last time. I'm in tears right now just typing this. How do you say goodbye to the one person you can't imagine living without?
I was honored to have spoken at the wake. I was honored that I was given the opportunity to talk about her, to share something with everyone in their time of grief...and sorrow. Even if I couldn't look at anyone directly as I stood up there before them for fear of being overcome with grief, I was more than happy that I could do that....and be there, and contribute in some small way, perhaps a "good word" or a sentiment that people could take home with them, and hold in their hearts whenever they think about my wonderful Aunt Barb. She truly was Wonderful, and I will miss her.
In talking to my mother this morning, she said my grandma and some others who were not able to make it to the service really wanted to read my Eulogy that I gave last night, and so I decided to post it here, so that if you were not able to attend, at least you might partake in the sentiment from the evening. Keep in mind, it's written like a "speech" so it's a little different than other things you may read of mine.
for those of you who may not know who I am, I’m Barb’s niece, Heather, and I wanted to say a few words tonight, to honor her and for the type of woman that she was.
Everybody have their Kleenex? I got mine, so if you don’t have one out already, just get it out now. I know everybody here is all rough and tough and made of steel and whatnot, but I figure if we’re going to cry, let’s just do it together, one big cry fest, we will be sissies together, and when we’re done, “what happens at Harter’s, stays at Harters” so all our reputations will remain intact. Okay?
First off, let me start by saying that I’m a writer, and as a Writer, we see everything as a story….we can make wild adventures out of merely going to the grocery store…that’s just how our brains work, so allow me if you will to tell you a story about my Aunt. A woman who would never be so bold as to think of her life as a New York Times Best Seller. And not because her life wasn't rich, or adventurous and not because her life wasn't meaningful and inspiring, but because Barb would never consider herself a leading lady.
While going through my photo albums to find photos for the photo boards on display here tonight, I tore through my album’s pages for photos of her. And I’ll tell you, finding a good photo of Aunt Barb was like trying to find a picture of “Big Foot”….every picture I had of her, she was either half cut out of, standing behind someone else, or you’d see like the heel of her foot as she was walking out of the shot just as it was taken. She was a very elusive creature to catch on film, God Bless her. And I think that speaks to her Character…once more, Barb never thought of herself as a leading lady…never vying to be the center of attention. That’s just not who she was.
But I will tell you WHO she was, and that’s a born Mother….a kind hearted caretaker to the core. Barb took care of everyone. Even if you didn’t know she was taking care of you, she was. To a woman like barb, every supper she sat on the table for her family whispered “I love you”…every dirty pair of jeans she washed and folded, and tucked away into a drawer…said “I love you”, every late night call she answered, every time she picked one of her boys up, be it Dan, or Aaron, Jason, Cody or Ethan, OR DROVE all the way to Tennessee to pick up Lauren, she did it with love.
Everything Barb did, she did in servitude to her family, or a friend.
On a very personal level, I can’t tell you how honored I was that she cared about me. From the time I was a little girl, playing G.I. Joe with Aaron at their house, Barb always said that she would of liked to have had a little girl herself, but since she didn’t, “I’d do”…at the time, I thought it to be a wild compliment. Now, I think “HEY! I’ll DO? What the heck’s that supposed to mean?” But seriously, she was always good to me. As an adult, every time I would ride my motorcycle out to Rite Aid when she was working, I’d walk through those automatic doors and the first person I’d see was Aunt Barb, half smiling, half scowling, she’d look out the window at my bike, then she’d look at me and say “I don’t like this! Not one bit!” It wasn’t that she didn’t like Motorcycles, she just didn’t like ME riding one, she wanted me to be safe, she wanted me protected, and not risk my life needlessly. I LOVE that she loved me. Even when she was scolding me with disapproval, I knew that that was her loving me.
I think that if Barb could have taken care of the whole world, she would have given it a shot. She wouldn’t of blinked an eye, she’d of just rolled her shirt sleeves up, and went to work.
I’m not sure if you all watch the Oscars, or even give a rat’s behind about what goes on in Hollywood, as Delphos is so far removed from the red carpets and glamour of tinsel town, but when I think about Barb, I think about the Oscar Category for “Best Supporting Character in a Motion Picture”….the Motion Picture being her life, the best supporting Character being her role as a Mother, as a wife, a grandmother, a twin sister, as friend, and as a daughter. The thing about supporting Characters is, while they may not be front and center, it’s their work behind the scenes, it’s their performance that enriches the story, it’s their very presence that makes the story whole, and full of life, and character.
There can be no leading lady, or leading man without a Supporting Character. They are the unsung heroes that give people like me, and you that encouragement to do more, give more, to BE more, in those moments when we fall short, in those moments when we feel alone, and in those moments when life puts the screws to us, none of us would make it to the other side, without people just like Barb….the world’s BEST supporting Character to have ever taken the stage.
In closing, I just want to say, that it takes a very special person to marry and Osting, to give birth to Osting Children, to become a member of a family filled with a bunch of hard headed, determined, hotblooded and sometimes HOT headed, passionate and infuriatingly obstinate Ostings. It’s no simple feat; I can assure you of that! Barb fell in love with Dan when she was just fifteen years old, and she supported, loved and honored all of us with her presence for the next forty-five years. She devoted her entire life, all her love and her very spirit to each one of us…Especially her boys and Lauren, whom I’m sure she never, EVER would have voluntarily left behind.
In her absence, I believe she would want the show to go on, for her loved ones, to love each other in her place, to support one another, as she has always supported us.
She may not be in the kitchen making beef in noodles, she may not be behind the counter at rite aid with a smile and a warm conversation anymore, but she’s with us, she’s all around us, because a mother like her never leaves her cubs unprotected.
If Aunt Barb were physically here right now sitting in the front row, she would have HATED being “publicly honored” like this, after I finished she would have grabbed my arm, pulled me aside and told me how unnecessary all of this was, how nobody needed to make a big fuss on her behalf, but I think each of us in this room know that she deserves our respect, our love and our promise to never forget her, because it is in our memories, that people never die. I will NOT remember her as she is today, but as she was…and will always be in my heart, as I’m sure she’ll be in all of yours.
RIP Aunt Barb,
I love you
I miss you
I'll never forget you.