Eulogy For Beatrice Romaine Snyder Melhorn

Bea and Gail B and W

I was very fortunate to meet Gail Melhorn and marry her and become a part of this family. I was welcomed warmly and completely by Bea and Bud.

I first visited their home for Thanksgiving dinner in 1984. Bea had prepared a great meal for 10 or 12 of us and we ate on the ping pong table in the basement. Recently when we were packing up the kitchen and going thru the pots and pans and dishes Gail could only wonder “how on Earth could this woman prepare a holiday dinner for 12 in this kitchen?”

Well she did it. Many times. And she had everything you could want and it all wonderful and delicious and it was all made with the special secret ingredient, love.

Bea was a home maker.  Let’s think a bit about what that means. There is a house at 124 Rockwood Avenue that will soon be sold; right now it is just a house. But Bea made it a home. That was her life’s work. She raised three children of her own there, Steve, Gail and Greg but beyond that this house became a home for many others. For Gail and her friends it was the after school place to be. The girls would sit in the kitchen and talk about their lives and their problems at school at home, with boys, and Bea would listen to them but never judge or tell them what she thought about their problems, she just created a comfortable and welcoming place for them to gather. And of course, she would make her famous homemade hand cut French fries. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard about these legendary French fries. While I’m sure the fried were indeed great, what these memories are recalling is the feeling they had when they were in that kitchen. Happiness, safety, comfort and above all – Love.

Both Bea and Bud came from large families, she was one of 7 children, her sisters, Sandy and Jean are here with us today. So of course there are many nieces and nephews. During difficult times in their own lives some of these nieces and nephews would come to live with them until things settled down in their own families. Bea was there to be their mother when their own mother could not.

Over the years this little house was the temporary home for several immigrant families that Bud met at work, the man of the family had landed a job at the plant and now the family was coming over and they needed a place to stay for a while until they could get set up and into a home of their own. For these new Americans, their first home in America was the home that Bea made.

Bud was fond of saying “If you don’t have family, you don’t have anything. Family comes first.” And Bea felt the very same way. But they didn’t just say it, they lived it.

When our daughter, Chelsea was born, and we brought her home I will admit to being overwhelmed and a bit frightened. But Bea came to Baltimore to help, and once she was there, I knew everything was going to be all right, that we could do this.

She had done the same for Steve and his wife Kim and their children Tim and Chris and later for Greg and his wife Kim and their children Brianna and Brandon.

She was a huge presence in the lives of all her grandchildren,  She loved them all of course and they all loved to visit their Nanny. Each one of them had a special game or favorite activity they would do together. Something that was just theirs together.  And this continued with the GREAT Grandchildren, Justin and Sean. She was so proud of all of them. And she will live on thru them.

She truly was a Mother to so many.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that is true but it is also true that we need neighbors we can depend on when we get on in years. During times when her own children were not able to be there to help her, the neighbors were. Jim and Mary Ann Neff,  Jim and Kay Roberts,  Jean Doll, Betty Mummert were always there for her when she needed help and she loved you all dearly.

Something I always found remarkable about Bea was the pleasure she had at imagining the good times other people were having. For example, it’s York Fair time soon, and she would likely remark something along the lines of “Oh I’ll bet there are a lot of people at the fair, I’m sure they are having a ball”

 

And it was not as if she felt jealous of them that they were there and she was not, but she was sincerely pleased that a large crowd of mostly strangers was having a good time.

Bea loved to laugh and she had a beautiful laugh.  She had a great wit and a good sense of humor. She had so many wonderful qualities that one may wonder did she have any flaws at all? Well, of course she was human, and we all have flkaws, right? But what was Bea’s flaw? This truly puzzled me.so I did some research, I took a survey, I was not finding any evidence of a flaw… Finally, an unnamed informant clued me in AHEM Chelsea Clough. Bea did have a flaw and I will share it with you now.

Bea liked to watch “The Girls Next Door” No, no Mary Ann or Kay or Jean, but that cable TV show about Hugh Hefner’s harem of blonde twenty somethings. She was just fascinated by those girls and the strange life they had, so unlike her own. Other than that, I could not find anything else.

She also, to my surprise, enjoyed watching sports on television. She knew what time the Penn State football games were on, and I am proud to say she was a fan of the Baltimore Ravens. However out of respect for Chris’s wife Jessica, she pretended to also like the Steelers.

Back in 2001 I was watching the first game of the NBA finals and the Philadelphia 76ers were stunning the Los Angeles Lakers – Allen Iverson was having the game of his career against Kobe and Shaq and the Lakers who had not lost a single game in the playoffs leading up to the finals. Sometime in the third quarter the phone rang, Gail answered, “Hi Mom, what’s going on? Yes he’s here and she handed the phone to me.  Are you watching this game, This is just amazing” I was surprised and very happy to get that call.

But above all else Bea cared for others. She gave of herself without hesitation or reservation. The needs of others always came before her own. And she was a caregiver to the very end. Her last assignment was caring for her son Steve’s pet bird, Buddy while he was on vacation. When Steve came to the house that morning in June to pick up his pet he was stunned to find his mother stranded, unable to stand up and walk. She had been there all night and much of the previous day as he rushed to call an ambulance and tried o help her Bea’s first thought was to ask “Is that bird OK?”

In pain,  unable to stand up on her own and her first thought was about the little animal that she was caring for. That is who she was. And this was never more apparent than in these last months of her life.

Throughout this difficult time, she had almost unimaginable grace and humility. Anytime a caregiver would leave the room after coming in to do whatever needed to be done, she would remark about what a nice person they were. And they all loved her as well. How could they not? Those who choose to comfort and aid the sick and dying are truly angels who walk the earth. And they recognized one of their own in Bea.

Everybody came to visit Bea. The Middletown home told us they had never seen such a flow of visitors coming in every day of the week.

On our very last visit to the home, Misty, a weekend nurse called us out into the hall. She said “I love her. Sometimes I stand here and just watch her sleep, I will do anything to help her and make her comfortable. She is an angel and I really believe in that stuff.” Gail and I both agreed and she went on and asked, “Has she always been like this?” and we told her Yes, she has been. And she just shook her head and said again,” I just love her”.

I have said many times, that I hit the Mother in Law lottery.  She was there for us always, in every way that she could be and never gave us any grief. Just love, compassion support and encouragement. Oh sure she worried about things, as we all do, but she had a deep powerful personal faith in God that sustained her.

She said that she talked with God every day, that she knew God and they were fine.

We will all miss her so much. Her smile, her laugh, her sympathetic ear, her french fries…  But we are lucky. Because this was a woman full of love, and after the spirit leaves the body and the body is committed to the earth, Love endures. Her love will be with you always. You will be able to feel it in your own heart forever, for love is eternal and truly Love is stronger than death.