Bekah v. Death

Death…I don’t deal with it well, mostly because I’ve never really had to deal with it at all. In August of 2004, the summer after my senior year in high school, my grandfather died, and as crass as this sounds it didn’t affect me much. He had had a stroke several months earlier and had been in a nursing home since then, and it was expected and I never quite got too close to him.

Two weeks after that, Uncle D died and that hit me pretty hard. He was one of my best friend’s, Mary Beth uncles. I met Mary Beth, and thus Uncle D, in Virginia and we all became pretty close, he and his wife, the appropriately monikered Aunt B, became like transplanted grandparents who were always at church prepared with hugs and smiles for everyone to have at least 3 of each and were never afraid to remind you just how much they loved you.

Today, I found out that Aunt B died. I was on the phone with my friend Jay when Josh IMed me with the news. It didn’t hit me, I mean, it was all so out of nowhere, I haven’t seen Aunt B in 2 years. Then I found the obituary and it began to hit me a little bit more. Then I went to dinner with Daniel which kind of distracted me from the situation at hand. And then I got home and it hit me. It hit me good.

Aunt B was one of the kindest, most loving, self-less, God-fearing people I’ve ever known. Putting her needs second to all others and ready and willing to love anyone she ever saw. I love and miss you Aunt B, but I know I’ll see you again.

Barbara McAllister Denson    
HAMPTON – Barbara McAllister Denson, 66, joined her husband, Donald, in the presence of their Lord and Savior on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2007, as she slept peacefully in her home.
Born Oct. 23, 1941, Barbara grew up in Dinwiddie County, spent her adult years in Hopewell, Va., until moving to Hampton, Va., upon retirement in 2000. Barbara retired with 26 years of dedicated Civil Service at Fort Lee, Va., in various office management, clerical, and computer positions.
A 1960 graduate of Dinwiddie High School, Barbara earned letters for her participation on the varsity basketball and softball teams. She continued her interest in sports until her battle with polycystic kidney disease
prohibited her participation.
Barbara’s greatest passion was Jesus and she lived out this passion in how she treated people-loving them, serving them, praying for them, and, most especially, hugging them. Her servant hood and selfless giving had
tremendous impact on the lives of others meeting both physical and spiritual needs. Barbara had a way of loving you into the presence of Christ. A special blessing came through her leadership ministry with the Mayfair House Assisted Living Center where she led residents in worship and praise to the Lord each week as her illness allowed.
Barbara was preceded in death by her loving husband, Donald West Denson; her parents, Hammie and Rebecca McAllister; five brothers, Jeffrey, Raymond, Herman, Albert and Myers McAllister; and three sisters, Mary White, Rose Alley and Rita Fitzsimmons.
Barbara leaves to cherish her memory two daughters and their husbands, Rebecca and Robert Styron and Shirley and James Bowie; one brother, John McAllister; two sisters, Nancy Krise and Helen Pitman; five grandchildren, Jordan Bowie, Meghan Clonts, and Rob, Hunter, and Hannah Styron; a great-niece raised under her guardianship, Mary Beth Bowie; as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins and a multitude of friends too many to name.
A Home going Celebration for Barbara will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at the Church of the Nazarene, 32 Tide Mill Lane, Hampton, Va. The Rev. Mark Wilcox and Chaplain David Green will officiate. The family will receive friends at the Church from 5 to 7 p.m. prior to the Celebration Service. Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Southlawn Memorial Park in Petersburg, Va. Dr. Lewis Brown and the Rev. Charles Wallace will officiate.
Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to Church of the Nazarene, (please note in the memo: Barbara Denson Memorial Fund), 32 Tide Mill Lane, Hampton, VA 23666.
Friends are encouraged to visit http://www.mem.com to share words of comfort and memories with the family and to view a picture tribute of Barbara.
Service arrangements are under the care of Parklawn-Wood Funeral Home, 2551 N. Armistead Ave., Hampton, Va.

Bekah v. Life Change

Tonight I packed up 27 years of my father’s life. Tomorrow is his last day as the Vice Commander of the Air Force Weather Agency. Tomorrow is his last day of military service to the United States Air Force. I pulled pictures and plaques off the wall, some of tours I remembered, some of those I had only heard of. Put a scrapbook of Desert Storm in a box and as I picked it up I caught a glimpse the yellow and red, white & blue ribbons that had been pulled off the small flags that my mom, sister and I were waving when he hopped off of that truck and walked across the airstrip when he returned from war. The various coffee cups he’s collected as gifts from units he’s led and been a part of were piled into another box with his Jelly Belly jelly bean dispenser as well as his subwoofer and speakers that he swears can rock out any room. It’s time like these, the promotions, the changes of command, the retirements, that I really learn about my Father, the Colonel. The troop he led into Iraq during Desert Storm, his time in Somalia, the various leadership positions he’s held, pretty much his character as ‘the Colonel,’ because I don’t see that side of him at home.

The next two weeks are going to be a lot tougher for me than I think I’d initially imagined. Because despite the fact that I am not a member of the military, this is my retirement too, and essentially my excommunication from an exclusive club — the military dependent club — which coincidentally enough is pretty much the only thing I’ve ever known. It’s hard to explain, and unless you too are a military dependent, quite honestly, you’d never understand. It’s scary. But here’s to being scared, here’s to change, here’s to a new beginning.