Beverlee’s Story

Site created on May 7, 2019

Beverlee Everett, shortly after being diagnosed with a brain tumor in May 2019:
“Well, the Christmas letter’s gonna be weird this year.”

*********
UPDATED CONTACT INFO as of 12/31/2019:Mark Everett, 1959 Crest Drive, Coatesville PA 19320 - email - markaeverett2006@yahoo.com - birthday 9/23
*********
Matthew Everett, 1802 10th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404 - email - mail@matthewaeverett.com, or matthewaeverett268@gmail.com - birthday 8/26
*********

When a friend from the old neighborhood died in the fall of 2018, but Beverlee only learned about it months later when her holiday letter was returned marked “Deceased,” she was more than a little upset with her late friend’s adult son.  Beverlee felt the son should have reached out and let all her friends know.  At the time, Beverlee admonished Matthew, “When I die, you make damn sure everybody knows about it.”
Other than this unwelcome news by returned mail, Beverlee started the year 2019 simply enough.  She had her 81st birthday in early February.  She had some cataract surgery on her eyes, one eye in late February, the other eye in March.  Suddenly she didn’t need glasses to see across the room or to watch the TV anymore.  Instead, she needed reading glasses for things up close.  She was still getting used to what she looked like without glasses most hours of the day.

Then in April, around Easter, she started having intense headaches, which she just chalked up to worse than normal sinus headaches due to changes in the weather or allergies.  But she also started missing appointments, including church ceremonies around Easter, which wasn’t like her.  Then things escalated.  She lost motor function, couldn’t get around without Mark’s help, and was kind of out of it.  Mark took her to the doctor, and then at the urging of neighborhood friends, off to the hospital.

She had a high-grade glioblastoma (fancy name for a cancerous brain tumor).  It was so large, it was inoperable.  If they tried to take it out, it would have removed so much of the rest of the brain that Beverlee wouldn’t be herself anymore.  Without treatment, the prognosis was less than three months.  With treatment, probably only six to twelve months.  Beverlee decided to she wanted to fight for more time, so treatments began – an oral chemotherapy drug, plus daily radiation treatments.

Matthew flew in from Minneapolis to assist Mark with the finances and paperwork.  They visited Beverlee, first in the hospital, then the rehabilitation center, every day, most days twice.

Beverlee’s friends and family heeded the call and closed ranks around her during her fight.  She had multiple phone calls every day, also visitors in addition to Matthew and Mark, and countless cards and letters in the mail.  There were days she barely had time for a nap.  All the love and support and prayers really lifted her spirits and kept her from feeling too alone.  And, of course, she charmed everyone she came into contact with, medical staff and fellow patients alike.

Only halfway through her radiation treatments, Beverlee developed a blood clot in her leg and one morning that clot traveled up to her lungs, and took her from us.  She didn’t want to be hooked up to any machines or have heroic measures taken.  She died on July 1, 2019.

Matthew and Mark try to focus on the positives in this situation.  They miss their mother terribly, but she was spared a great deal of pain, suffering and indignity that was sure to come at the end if the brain tumor ran its full course.  She was about to move to a shared room in long term care, after her initial stay in a room of her own on the rehab wing, and she wasn’t looking forward to that.  As much as she wanted to fight to stay with all of us, there were also numerous people who had gone on before her into the next life that she was looking forward to seeing and reuniting with again – her parents, so many other friends and family members.  She was a woman of faith.  She wasn’t scared.

She asked to be cremated, and to have her ashes buried between her parents, Dorothy and Ralph Armstrong, in the Baumer family plot in the old cemetery in Milton, Pennsylvania.  Her memorial service on July 9th in Downingtown, PA, (and burial July 10th) were a fitting celebration of her life and chances for many of her surviving family and friends to gather and say goodbye.

One of the things that disappointed Beverlee most was that the radiation treatments precluded her from making her annual theater pilgrimage to Minneapolis to visit Matthew and attend the Minnesota Fringe Festival.  The Fringe community was also devastated by Beverlee’s death.  She was a fixture at the festival, attending it faithfully every August for the last 16 years of her life, seeing hundreds of shows and making many good friends.  The Fringe staff created an award in her honor, called The Beverlee, to be given each year at the closing night party to an outstanding audience member who supported adventurous art, just as she always did.

Beverlee’s ex-husband Harvey was having some health issues in the fall of 2018, prompting emergency visits by Beverlee, Mark and Matthew.  Harvey bounced back a bit, and was around for almost an entire extra year than anyone was expecting.  From the nursing home, by phone, he was able to comfort his sons when their mother died, and on their first birthdays without her.  But his own health took another downward turn that autumn, and he died, peacefully, on October 14th, at the age of 91.

Mark and his friends Jay and Anthony cleaned out Beverlee’s house, and in mid-November it went on the market, and quickly found a buyer.  If all continues to go well, the sale will close on January 7, 2020.  Debts will be settled and the estate will have all its loose ends tied off in the coming months.

While she was still in the hospital, Beverlee went through her phone with Matthew and identified all her contacts – friends from all the eras of her life, extended family far and near.  Between phone calls and the internet, we think we got in touch with most people during her struggle.  But, of course, there were bound to be some people that she more regularly contacted with good old-fashioned mail through the post office – postcards on her many travels, and the annual Christmas letter.

So we dug into her computer, found her Christmas and postcard mailing labels, and now this letter comes to you.

Christmas was Beverlee’s very favorite time of year.  If there is a way to miss her more than we already do, the Christmas season would certainly fit the bill.

We hope this letter finds you and yours well and happy, and that we all have a much more kind and merciful 2020 ahead of us.

If you wouldn’t mind, and if you can recall a memory or story about Beverlee (or Harvey) that you particularly like, and wouldn’t mind sharing, we’d love to hear it.

Mark Everett's new address is 1959 Crest Drive, Coatesville, PA 19320 (Hillside Apartments); cell phone is 484-364-9299, his email is markaeverett2006@yahoo.com (mailto:markaeverett2006@yahoo.com)

Matthew Everett can be reached at 1802 10th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404-2001, cell phone: 612-345-1673, email: matthewaeverett268@gmail.com (mailto:matthewaeverett268@gmail.com). 

We’re sure there are stories of her that we don’t know, her network of people was so vast, and covered so many years.  We would love the chance to learn more about the Beverlee you knew, when she wasn’t busy being our Mom.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Matthew Everett

July 13, 2019 entries are intriguing.  There's one addressing whether I'm going to keep the Caring Bridge journal going.  The general idea was it seemed like it was possible to keep going through July 1, 2020, just to get us all through that first year without Mom.  Well, mission accomplished there.  I made mention of the fact that "One of the only things that got me through the second half of my plane trip back to Minnesota without crying the entire time (I still did cry, a lot), was making notes on my phone about things I remembered about Mom or reminded me of her, or events of just the past couple of days."

The strange(?) thing about the last few days here in 2020 is I haven't really felt the urge to cry that much.  Even going over the details of those days where we were getting ready for the memorial and burial.  It's odd.  It's not the I want to cry, I just wouldn't have been surprised by more crying.  Maybe it's just reassuring to realize we made it through all that, the worst of it, and the tasks are (almost) all done that have any pressing deadline to them.  We're waiting on the inheritance tax determination from the state of Pennsylvania, then we get the remainder of the escrow the real estate people put aside for that purpose, we pay our last estate lawyer bills, empty out the estate bank account to split between me and Mark, and then we're finally finished with the estate clean up.  Then it's really just all the boxes that need sorting.

This time last year - in fact the July 13th entries remind me - we were just applying for the life insurance payout and the pension death benefit (I'd forgotten this, but of course, we had to wait for copies of the death certificate, and we didn't have those until the memorial on the 9th, and we had the cemetery trip right away on the 10th, I was thinking I'd go back on the 11th, but it actually was delayed until the 12th, so after I caught my breath back in Minnesota on the 13th, I could finally get that paperwork done to drop in the mail).  And we still had both the funeral home and the estate lawyer waiting on their payouts, plus all the bills including the two mortgages that needed paying.  Also the weirdness of her final social security payment that we didn't full understand right away (she lived through the whole month of June, so she gets that paid out in July - for a while we thought we needed to return July's payment, but she "earned" it by making it to July 1st before dying.  Technicalities.  The social security person on the phone was SUPER nice, though, I noted.)  Throughout this whole process I kept bracing for daily fights with bureaucracy, and almost without exception, people were VERY sympathetic.  Turns out all you have to say is "my mom just died" and then through in the fact that it was brain cancer, and that tends to undo most people's standard defenses.  Funny how that works.

But the 13th a year ago, we were still very much in the thick of it (and I hadn't even mentioned the HOUSE, and all its attendant needs moving toward sale) - and Dad's death was of course yet to come.  2019 was a banner year for all the wrong reasons.

Weirdly enough, the morning routine I established this day a year ago is the one I've circled back to in the last week or so - writing first thing in the morning before work begins, so I'm sure to take the time to do it and not get to the end of the day, exhausted or forgetful, with no energy reserves left to face the writing.  I also make mention of my two jobs (VERY different this year, same day).  The 13th was apparently a Saturday last year because I had a monster open to close shift at the Guthrie box office window (but I did have a nice view out the back doors to the trees and Mississippi River and walking/biking paths, and it was a lovely sunny day - much like today).  I was looking forward to the ebbs and flows of foot traffic through the building, people looking for tickets, renewing or buying new season ticket packages, and the like - that season package being the one that just got cut in half by the virus, little did we know at the time.

I hadn't done any planning for the Minnesota Fringe Festival (same this year, for different reasons).  I was looking forward to the distractions of work and Fringe to fill the days around all the death paperwork.

A lovely turn of phrase here from one of the July 13 entries last year:

"Sometimes not everything's awful."

I remember that guy.  He was still getting used to ground having totally shifted under his feet, and at the same time having all these "things" to do.  I do feel a bit steadier now, which is good, and the list of "things" is down to a very few from the previous "everything" so that's a major improvement.  Not done, but close.  Comforting in some ways what difference a year can make.  My orphan friend Chuck was right - time.  It takes time.

And I end the entries from last year on the 13th with one about how nice it is to have warm, open the windows and let the breeze flow through weather finally in Minnesota.  It wasn't fully spring yet in Minnesota when I left to help tend to Mom.  And I wasn't back for more than a week and a half in June to really get used to the change of seasons.  After the return from the funeral, it finally felt summery and I was adapting accordingly.  Memories of me and Mom in the house in the summer, like I've been conjuring the last couple of weeks in current entries.  And Mom loving and outfitting this new home of mine.

And it ends:

"Now when I feel the breeze wafting through the house, and enjoy the natural sunlight illuminating my work, I think of her, and how happy she was here, and how happy she was that I was here.

And that gives me a little comfort this morning.

Maybe she's in the breeze that cools my skin today.

I'd like to think that's true."

That's not bad.  I'll try to think of it that way today.  That's a very nice thought to hang on to.
Patients and caregivers love hearing from you; add a comment to show your support.

Comments Hide comments

Help Beverlee Stay Connected to Family and Friends

A $30 donation to CaringBridge powers Beverlee's site for one month. Will you make a gift to help ensure that this site stays online for them and for you?

Show Your Support

See the Ways to Help page to get even more involved.

SVG_Icons_Back_To_Top
Top