Saturday, April 18, 2009
Today, my grandmother, Kathryn Beard, died. She was 96 and lived a fascinating life. Born in 1912 in Scotch Ridge, Ohio, she spent much of her early life in Toledo, Ohio before modern sewer and electric infrastructure came to the city. Her father, a John Deere tractor salesman, got a sales position in Portage, Ohio and the family moved about 35 miles south. At school in Portage, she met David Beard and thus began a lifetime together including 73 years of marriage, 3 children, and 5 grandchildren. She was the first in her family to attend college as she spent one year at Bowling Green State Teachers College (later Bowling Green State University) and raised her family in Columbus, Ohio and Adelphi, Maryland. In her lifetime she witnessed, the Great Depression, World War 2, and the Moon Landing, but the important event she discussed most was the Civil Rights March on Washington and how she, along on a business trip in Idaho, participated in an im-promtu singing of "We Shall Overcome." She was a dedicated sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and died only six weeks after her husband of 73 years.
She received the nickname, "Bay" from her joint ownership of a cabin on the Chesapeake Bay. She relished this name and favored it over her other nickname of "Mother Time" for running late. In a family that favored science over art, work over play, and logic over feelings, Bay was intuitive, spiritual, and dabbled in eastern thought and esoteric Christianity through her friends Shirley (True) Banning and Marilyn Shanks. Using perception, Bay would defend the downtrodden, respect the other, appreciate diversity, and try to make outsiders welcome. She had a knack of finding the silver lining in many clouds and once even said of Charles Manson, "He has a good vocabulary." She was on every sucker mailing list and her heart was at the center of her decisions.
What I remember most about Bay was her unselfishness and commitment to her family. She would always rather spend money taking my brother and I to the toy store than having the latest or greatest consumer item. She never had an answering machine, a microwave oven, or a DVD player. She reluctantly moved to Maryland since her husband got a job with the federal government, and later she dutifully moved into a nursing home to be with her husband who suffered a stroke. She had a wonderful fascination with geography and weather and she read my textbooks from my university courses. She did not know it, but she was a very spatial thinker and recognized beauty at various scales. She mentioned, "I can always find something in my own backyard." That something was often a flower, bird, or squirrel that she tended to.
I miss you and love you Bay, and I hope now that the mystery of Christ is now revealed to you in new and exciting ways.
PS: The attached photo was taken in 2004 and pictured is Bay, Julie, Rachel, Rebecca, (great grandchildren), Sandra (my cousin's wife), and Gino (Tim's dog).