We held our mother's memorial this weekend in Tacoma. So much for which to be thankful.

Cousins, old friends and all us children, in-laws, grandchildren and great-grandchildren filled the pews at my mother's church. Neighbors, friends from days gone by and so many others filled the day with stories, memories and heartfelt thanks for her wonderful life. 

It's hard to live up to her example of loyalty, kindness, generosity and love. She was 94 when she passed (just shy of 95) and had every reason to complain about her lot in life. She was nearly blind, pretty deaf and no longer ambulatory. She never let that get in the way of her living life. She was still listening to books on tape provided by the Washington Library for the Blind through the Library of Congress. 

When friends and family visited with her, she was interested in their lives, always asking about their families.

I feel like I got my love of nature from her. When she was a child, her family made a trip across the country from Chicago to Portland, Oregon, to visit a grandfather who had a celery truck farm there. She was a city girl, but could camp with the best of them.

I still remember the excitement of the Columbus Day storm in 1962, when our basement filled with neighbors and my mother, a cub scout leader, broke out the canned goods and Coleman stove to prepare food for everyone.

I also remember when President Kennedy was shot. I was the only child (of the 5) home by that point, but my mother (a Lutheran in the midst of Catholics) had us kneel down to pray the Hail Mary for the President.

A year ago July, we spent an afternoon at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, at which the dykes had been removed and the refuge was returning to its original beauty, thanks to a partnership between US Fish and Wildlife, the Nisqually tribe and the state of Washington. Then, last Christmas, when my husband and sons were in Tacoma, we all  went to the refuge to visit it together. It was a beautiful day, sunny, warm and busy with all kinds of visitors. On our return to the car, there was a crowd of people around a strange looking bird. Had the shape of a heron, but a shorter neck and kind of squat. When I got home, I did a little research and discovered that it was an American Bittern, apparently a bird that rarely makes a public appearance.

And so, we move on, yet honor the memory of a loyal wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. A life well lived.

Berenice Helen Brockhoff Burke
October 25, 1917 - September 9, 2012



11/21/2012 07:42


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