She lived a magical seven times seven years.
Barbara was indeed a bit of a geek. She taught her kids to play Dungeons and Dragons, and was proud of the fact that her grandkids were third generation Whovians. Her favorite episode of Doctor Who was “Vincent and Doctor”. At the end of the episode the Doctor tells Amy “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things; but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.” It is little wonder to those of us who knew and loved her that she locked onto that sentiment: it’s how she lived her whole life. She was always trying to add to that ‘good things’ pile for herself and everybody she met, and tried hard to just shrug off the ‘bad things’. Her childhood taught her that.
I met Barbara on her 19th birthday. By that time, she had already been through so much. She had lost her parents, been through an experimental back surgery, and struggled with dyslexia. The thing that amazed me about her was that she never allowed herself to become a victim to her circumstances. She did amazing things. It’s rare enough to find a young woman who had already participated in national level roller skating competitions, let alone one who had also worked with a talking seal, sailed a tall ship into Boston Harbor, and acted in dozens of plays. Our daughter remarked that you could never put that woman in a box. That’s probably because she got so good at escaping them as magician’s assistant.
One weekend 30 years ago, a group of her friends talked her into going on a retreat with some friends at UMass. Just down the hall from here, she met a slightly burned out engineering major who had similarly been talked into the retreat by a group of his friends. “’nyello” was my standard greeting at the time. She thought it was cute. I thought she was cute. She was also amazingly capable of being lighthearted and profound simultaneously. My car broke down on the way back from the retreat, and I didn’t even care.
Within a year we were married here in this chapel.
She always wanted a family, and was adamant about having them while she was still young, so she could see them grow up, unlike her mother. She got what she wanted. She threw herself into raising them and making sure they were whole, thinking, and most especially caring people. When the grandchildren came, she relished in being Nana, and enjoyed watching them grow and watching her own children grow as adults. Though she passed far too soon, she got the gift she cared most deeply about: her children were safely on their way in the world.
Along the way she continued dabbling in the arts, joining the SCA to practice medieval stitching and song and dance, and later joining her knitting circles. As always for her, it wasn’t about the activity so much as it was about the friendships she made with her fellows. She was a fierce and loyal friend, with a quick wit and a totally infectious smile. She owned any room she entered.
She joined online communities to share her love of theater and arts. She made friendships there that brought us together with dear friends who now share in our loss.
Online, she often called herself ‘Mominator’. Sounds like a time traveling cyborg sent here to defend and raise some special children. Hmmm…. Spine reinforced with twelve pounds of surgical stainless steel- check. Alter ego from the twelfth century- check. Three fantastic young adults out to change the world- check. Yup, I married that girl.
She was a beautiful broken fragile thing, reassembled into something even more beautiful by her own strength of will. She was a bag of shattered glass, turned into a kaleidoscope to view all the unseen possibilities in the world.
She was my best friend, she was my love. In the end, she did what the best showmen know to do: she left us looking for more.
‘Kiss my nose and call me love’ she said. I did.
‘Come skip the road with me’ I said. She did.
It was a fabulous trip.