Today would have been Aunt Bernice’s 91st birthday.
I’m so thankful for her Influence. Bernice was the strongest woman I’ve ever known. She’s been an inspiration to us all, having achieved so much in spite of her physical limitations.
We thought she was such a cool aunt . She planned fun things to do when we stayed at her house and took us places, plus she let us walk around on her crutches.
For those who don’t know, she was born on September 23rd just weeks before the Great Depression. When she was three, almost four, she said she had a bout with Scarlet Fever. Soon after that her ankles began to hurt. She believed this may have been the beginning of her battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Her parents sought out any promising treatments for her including blood transfusions, aspirin, penicillin, soaks in the bath houses at Hot Springs and a visit to a doctor in Canada who gave her “adjustments” much like a chiropractor. He taught her father to do physical therapy to keep her joints as flexible as possible. They traveled around the country in search of medical treatment, in the summer especially, as her father was an educator. He would sometimes teach summer school near a doctor that offered promising new treatments.
She missed a lot of her early elementary years because of her illness. She was in a wheelchair in her early years for a while and later, crutches. Her father physically carried her to school during her frail times but many remember him making her go up the stairs on her crutches at the high school . I’m sure that her parents were concerned about making her strong so she could live independently after they were gone.
Since she couldn’t go out to play in her younger years like the other children, she had many stories to tell about her family. She and I collaborated on a family book and also a book about her including as many of these stories as possible. She told me that she vividly remembered holding the rope at recess while her friends jumped, happy to be at school with them but longing to jump with them instead of just watching. Once when she and I were working on the book about her life and her family, she told me that she thought ,”If I were ever able to jump rope, I’d have them hold the rope while I jumped until I couldn’t jump any more. When I get to Heaven, I’m going to jump rope.”
I think she’s probably celebrating her birthday by jumping rope with her new body and rejoicing with her Savior and loved ones. 2Corinthians5:4
She never let disability slow her down very much and lived a very full life, living independently until the age of 85 when she fell and was no longer able to walk on her crutches. Her resilience and determination were inspiring to so many.
The framed picture is of her around age 3 at her best friend, Virginia Moorehead’s birthday party and includes a Valentine to Virginia.
Our guest bedroom furnished with antiques from her home and a quilt made by her mother (my grandmother). The small table pictured includes a silhouette of her made on a trip with some of her dearest friends to the ‘62 Seattle World’s Fair, her New Testament, a doily that her mother likely crocheted, one of her hankies, her “B” pin and her Pilot Club name tag. She had many friends in that organization and was a member for over 50 years, I believe.
She was a woman of incredible abilities and talents, having become an accomplished artist who will not soon be forgotten.