Tuesday, December 5, 2017


December 6, 2016. The day a piece of my heart was ripped out. 

But rather than mourn and hate the day that I lost my best friend, I choose rather to reflect upon the blessing it was to journey together through the years. 

As a means of reminiscing and counting my blessings I put photos to the memories I shared at Barbee's Celebration of Life. 

Oh my gosh, how I miss her. 

BFF. It’s a term invented by adolescent girls indicating that someone was their Best Friend Forever. Barbee and I were BFF’s. And although we sometimes joked it meant Big Fat Friends, we always knew we were best friends forever. I know we are sisters-in-law but I have always thought of her first as my best friend.

When one thinks about best friends you tend to think of two people who have everything, or at least much, in common. Not Barbee and I. We were actually weirdly opposites in so many ways.

Barbee had musical talent. She loved to play the mandolin, and Albert has always said she has such a pure singing voice. I don’t even know what a “pure voice” means. And if I’m feeling really musical, I might play a stereo. But more often than not, I will just sit in silence until the feeling goes away.

Over the years Barbee has made me endure more than my share of bluegrass music and festivals. I, in turn, inflicted Leonard Cohen and Bob Seger on her.

What a fabulous quilter she was. And hunting down fabric stores was always on her mind when we’d travel together. It’s the only way I could get her to indulge my shopping addictions. And as far as quilting goes… well, I like to nap with quilts.
Finding the perfect fabric in Newfoundland

Barbee knew all the chefs from every cooking show on the Food Network. I don’t even know what channel it’s on. I could have told her who was the number one NHL draft pick in 2005 and who won the Stanley Cup in 2016 … but she couldn't have cared less. (and if you do care for hockey trivia, you know that Sydney Crosby is the answer to both)

 I loved riding across Canada on our motorbike. But we never did convince Barbee to even ride around the block.
The first day of our epic Trip Across Canada in 2007

Barbee was gracious and polite, and when she spoke, she honoured God and encouraged people – even while being funny or goofy. … Yes, she was gracious and polite. And I… I can drop well-aimed f-bombs.

And sometimes I was a bad influence on her.

The day before she passed, I was sitting with her and she wanted to sit up. I sat on the edge of her bed and she sat propped against me for 10 minutes or so. We sat mostly in silence as she really wasn’t really verbal by this point. But she managed to somehow get across that she understood me when I did say something. 10 minutes was about all she lasted. But before she lay back down, Jimmy and Jody figured it would be best to get her meds and a small drink of juice into her while she was sitting.
I propped her up while they administered the “happy drugs and mango juice.” And between our 6 arms, we got the job done. Barbee somehow managed to muster the strength to lift her head and clearly state, “Well! THAT was a fricken fight!” Oh my goodness, we laughed!

I said to Albert that night, “I hope that’s the last thing she ever says to me.” However… Barbee was not going to go out with a near f-bomb being her final sentence to me. And the next day, a few hours before she passed, when Albert and I said our final goodbye, she managed to eke out, “I love you.” And I’m totally happy with that.
Wig shopping at the Canadian Cancer Society

Many times in her last few months, Barbee’s parting words to me were, “Take care of my Jimmy for me.” Sometimes it was a direct instruction and sometimes it was just inferred.

No one can hold a candle to the care both Jim and Barbee provided for each other, as we witnessed when Jim was in the hospital for months after losing half his foot. And again as we watched Jim nurse Barbee through her final journey. And many other times in between.
Albert and I cannot begin to make up for the hole she leaves, but we will do whatever we can to take care of her Jimmy for her. 

Jimmy, please know that your chair is always waiting for you, and I will buy steak in packs of three. 
However, … I will continue to bet you 50 bucks every time I think you are wrong. :) 

Barbee rarely left his side while Jimmy spent months recovering from his work incident. 

While I am a bit of a technology geek, for Barbee it was a technological feat to figure out how to text and facetime – and she only did that so that she could keep in contact with people. Barbee loved people. And I, well, not so much.

Always up for fun and games... even if it made her wheeze. 

Loving people was actually an impressive trait of my Barbee. If she met you, she considered you her friend. And if she hadn’t seen you in 20 years, she greeted you as if she’d been searching for you the entire time.

Over the years, Albert and I have benefitted many times from Barbee’s outgoing friendly nature. Most notably, on our trip across Canada. While Jimmy, Albert and I probably would have bee-lined through Northern Ontario, Quebec and parts of New Brunswick due to our lack communication skills with French speaking people, Barbee was willing to use charade tactics and basic French sentences to get us by. And as a result, we have some really incredible memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Our first lobster experience
Our second lobster experience
Getting our PEI on...

I have never experienced a storm quite like the one on Cape Breton Island

Thankfully the weather turned around for our amazing Cabot Trail ride. 

But of course, not all of my memories on that trip included other people. Like the time I had to stand guard to make sure there were no other people around while Barbee ripped apart the public coin-operated shower just outside of Winnipeg, where we could see that people had dropped coins under the grate. Yes, after a 10-minute struggle dismantling the place, we walked out of there with… 75 cents! – not even enough to cover the cost of our showers.

Barbee had never worked so hard for 75 cents in her life. 

Yes, for all our differences in character, we have shared so many connected moments as BFFs. Who else would indulge me on my 40th birthday and wake up in the morning and drive to Edmonton to go out for dinner at the Olive Garden? In December? In a snowstorm?

Or drive to Nakusp because we read in the paper that they served the most incredible baked brie. Yes, it’s true. We drove 10 hours for baked brie. Only to get there and learn that they had run out of brie for the rest of the weekend. Oh well. The hot springs were an amazing way to celebrate Barbee on her 50th birthday.

If match.com or some other computer-generated personality-matching site were to analyze everyone in this room, it’s quite likely that there are dozens of you who would be designated as better matches than me to be Barbee’s BFF.  However, in real life, I thank God that Barbee gave that title to me.

And it’s a title I will proudly wear for the rest of my fricken life.  


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