Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Toast to Bernie

Tomorrow will be the memorial service for a former parishioner and I will not be there. Once again I am struggling with the necessary but painful reality of keeping my professional distance from my former pastoral charge. I thought the world of Bernie, who was actually Bernice, but as with many women of her generation took on a male nickname. In the same congregation there was a Billie and a Georgi. Bernie was anything but male. She was an elegant, accomplished, vivacious woman. She was seventy-nine when I met her and ninety when she died, but she was beautiful to the end, with the panache of an aging movie star. Our two daughters loved her fashion sense and style, as did my wife Ruth.  

Bernie was a person of depth, thoughtful in conversation, often engaging me after worship to talk about the sermon or give the service her stamp of approval. Her opinion mattered to me.

Aspects of her life had not been easy, yet her spirit was not dampened. She was compassionate, concerned about the well-being of neighbours, and she was a lot of fun. Bernie was the matriarch of a group of women who were all her junior by many years, including Ruth, and they gathered periodically to share a meal and the fullness of life. These women are mourning her death, and one of them, reader Lynn, will reflect on her full-to-the-brim life tomorrow.

I am reminded again that our loss has nothing to do with the deceased's chronological age. Is this a tragedy? No, and Bernie would scoff at the notion. Are we saddened to the point of tears? I know I am.

Thank you God for the life shared with us in Bernie. Condolences to her family. A toast to a classy lady.


janet.rice said...

Wonderful blog for our remarkable friend Bernie. Our "group of women" will stand with Lynn to present our tribute tomorrow. Bernie was our role model, and among other gifts, taught us how to live to 90 WITH CLASS! How we miss Betty and Bernie - and Ruth!

Lynnof60 said...

Thank you David!

Laura said...

My girls and I concur with the Mundy girls, as we admired Bernie's style in all that she did. I recall an older gentleman in my life telling me her age...and was quite sure he was mixed up!
Lynn said it well when she said that she wanted to be like Bernie when she grows up. Bernie's circle of girlfriends continue that tradition cause I want to be like them when I grow up.
Look forward to your reflection today, Lynn. What a hard yet wonderful chance to send Bernie off with the fun and elegance and love she so deserves. Thank goodness for church friends!