Today, on my 100th posting on CaringBridge, I get to talk about my favorite topic, my wife Beth. Beth and I were married for nearly 34 years. We dated for another two years so in all we were together for 36 of her 57 years. I take great pride in being the planets leading expert on the topic of Beth.
So who was Beth? The textbook answer is that she was the daughter of Joe and Lynne, sister of Michael, David and Kathryn, wife of Mark, and mother of Nicholas. But that only scratches the surface of who she really was.
The word that best describes Beth is “teacher.” Beth was a teacher. Not just a Kindergarten teacher, but a teacher on how to live one’s life. The way she conducted herself set a standard that the rest of us should try to emulate.
I was blessed to learn many things from Beth. First, she taught me how to have a good marriage. She was entirely flexible which made it easy to be married to her. As a marriage should be, Beth and I were best friends, we loved to chat about anything, and we rarely argued. We are opposite personality types, but our values pretty much matched exactly.
Early on in our marriage she taught me the importance of family and being there for one another. After Beth was swept away by her Prince (as hard as it is to believe - that would be me), she moved away from Colorado. That move created a challenge for her family. Beth’s mother had passed away a couple years earlier. Beth’s father was an airline pilot, so Beth helped fill several roles with her brothers in helping take care of her younger sister Katie when her father was gone.
Beth did not like moving away from her family. So she always made it a priority to get back to Denver during holidays. As I look back, I am so glad she did because I have many fond memories of those visits. And over the years I have realized that the many hours we spent driving through blizzards in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado were well worth the effort.
Every evening at dinner Beth and I would talk about our day. Mine weren't that exciting so most of our discussions were about what happened at school. There was always plenty to discuss on that topic. What I learned from her in those discussions was how much she cared. She cared about every one of her students. She cared about every students’ parents. And she cared about her fellow teachers. Beth talked at length about the things she was doing to help students with any type of challenge. She regularly attended school board meetings just to listen and know what was going on. As a teacher she was definitely engaged. It seemed like she was always at school including weekends. She really loved making her classroom a fun place to learn. She did that because she cared.
As a parent, Beth taught me the importance of patience, and how to love, nurture, and care for a child. She also taught me the great importance of taking a diaper bag when going on father-son outings.
Nick was probably the greatest benefactor of Beth’s teachings. Everything she did in life rubbed off onto him as he watched her magnificent life performance. She taught him all the important things. Just talk to Nick and you will see why we are so proud of him. He is a good reflection of Beth and will certainly live up to her high standards.
Beth’s cancer battle over the past eight years might prove to be her greatest teaching moments. That battle was difficult at times. Beth experienced pain that I couldn’t even imagine. Behind the closed doors of our house I saw the reality of the war that she fought. I cried often when I saw what she had to endure. She would tightly grasp my hands when she was in the worst of pain, and somehow got through those many difficult moments. But outside our house, very few knew the truth of what she experienced.
She did not want anyone to feel sorry for her. She did not want anyone to worry about her. She just wanted to be treated like a normal person. So she lived her life as though nothing was wrong. She lived with grace. She always put others before herself. She endured the challenge and never gave up. She loved. She cared. And she smiled. Oh how I will miss that smile.
The world is better because of Beth’s place in it. I know the angels in heaven are singing loudly as they welcome her and watch us celebrate her life. Beth’s was a life well lived. Let’s carry her teachings forward.
We love you Beth! Thank you for being part of our lives!