Sunday, January 20, 2013

Barby Remembered: Memorial Gathering

"Books are my passport to the stars."

Memorial program for Barby, those special books, Barby with son David on a Caribbean vacation. David gave a lovely eulogy with a wonderful rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." .Storytelling friend Pamela Hollenbeck perfectly rounded out the service by reading the last chapter of "Charlotte's Web," a Barby favorite, which friends had been reading to her, chapter by chapter, as she lay dying under hospice care. "We never got to finish the last chapter," Pam noted  And so she read it.  We are sure Barby was very happy.  
These are some of my memories of my friend Barby.

Once upon a time, as Barby would begin her stories, the Britsches and the Carys shared some summers on Nantucket Island.  Jim and Barby fell in love with the island and, in her own inimitable way, Barby started collecting all things Nantucket. She collected books, more books, puzzles, more puzzles, posters, maps, art, & memorabilia, which filled her house to the day she left it. I now have a few of these momentos gracing my apartment, special reminders of a dear friend.  

We walked the beaches, picked blueberries on the moors, enjoyed fresh fish dinners.  Once we had a memorable brunch at the famed Jared Coffin House. It was so fantastic, the food, the ambience, the historical setting, that it inspired Barby to get ALL the recipes, including for its famous cold cherry soup.  Then one December, we brought a little of Nantucket back to Toledo, hosting a Nantucket Brunch for our wonderful “Brunch Bunch” in the Old West End.  Diane Pribor and Sue Craig and Susan and Nick Muska remember it still, they said to me after the service. We reminisced.

One of Barby's
 says is all. 
On Nantucket, we’d run to the beach to catch the sunset, cocktails in hand, and then return to "Cross Rip" to play roaring games of scrabble at night.  We made great words and connected letters in super ways, and of course we made great use of this book:  The Official Scrabble Dictionary!  Yes, this is Barby’s. And she made us use it!
So how did we ever “cheat” in a game, as it were?  Well something happened. It seems that one of us got away with the word “twink” in one of our games.   And, wonder of wonders, we didn’t catch it until AFTER we were done with the game and reviewing the board.

“TWINK?!!”Barby asked incredulously?  We just looked at each other, like well, it couldn’t have been me!   “Gee and no one added an 'S' to it?" Jim asked in amusement. Roars of laughter.  Super blunder. A fish’s tale if there ever was one!  Ever after, Barby would just say the word “twink” from time to time, with mock dismay, in that splendid storytelling voice of hers.  She didn’t let us get away with that one.  

And then there was the time that Jim and Barby saved our children, Elissa and Michelle. Jim and Barby were sitting on their grand front porch at 2308 Robinwood, on the 3rd floor of that fabulous 4-story red brick apartment building that our family had lived in before buying a house down the street.   They were sitting there, enjoying a drink and the sunset, when they noticed two little girls walking by on the street below them.

Well, good heavens: it’s Michelle and Elissa Cary, and Michelle’s carrying a suitcase. “What are you doing with the suitcase, Michelle?”  "She’s running away,” Elissa called up, “and I’m helping her.”  

“Well girls," Jim called down, "why don’t you come up for chocolate milk and some of Barby’s homemade chocolate chip cookies first!”  The girls jumped at the chance.  Jim and Barby took the suitcase, fed them, regaled them, held their attention, as only they could, and gave us a call. We ran over right away, quieted some ruffled feathers, then enjoyed an evening together.  Our girls were rescued, and not for the last time.  Barby and Jim were such dear friends, and my girls adored them as special grandparents. "My memories of Barby are still as a child," Elissa said after the service.  Barby would love that!

Now my children are passing their memories of Barby down to their kids, to my 6 grandkids and one great-grandson, Philip. And as luck would have it, David let me take his mom's special collection of wind-up toys and a few of her children’s books. And who had more of them than Barby?!   I took the "Winnie the Pooh" pop-up book, which I remembered from years back, with joy, and shared it with Philip one afternoon.  We opened it and... Pooh’s forest popped up! Enchanting.  Then we saw in the little storybook that came with it that there were cutouts that Barby had NEVER cut out and used.  They were there for Philip.

"Philip, look, Barby left these for you!  We made a new discovery."    Philip's eyes lit up.  He started to yell to his GranE.  "GranE come look. WE MADE A NEW DISCOVERY! We made a new discovery! We have cutouts!”

For hours after that, Elissa and Philip and I carefully cut out Pooh and Rabbit, Christopher Robin, Kanga and Roo, Owl, Piglet, Eyeore and Tigger, and found them homes in Pooh’s forest.  Philip was enthralled.  Elissa and I could feel Barby’s presence, smiling down on us, glad that Philip had discovered something new in Barby’s "Winnie the Pooh" book.   Something just for him. So fitting. So special. So Barby!

“...and they all lived happily ever after.”  

Momentos from Barby:  painted cups (maybe from a trip to Portugal?) and carved  English-replica houses on my window sill. A hanging lamp with tiny tin angels. Nantucket poster (a favorite) and a fun artistic map of Nantucket treasures and things to see and do on the Island.  .

May your spirit stay with us forever, Barby. 

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