Monday, October 6, 2014

Barbara Frey's Funeral

Some things from Barbara Frey's funeral

1. Her obituary
2.A letter Paul Frey read at her 62 wedding anniversary June 2014
3. A meditation Barbara herself wrote and read to Bill and her family this spring


1..Barbara Martin Frey, the third child and third daughter of Woodrow Martin and Lois Ripley, was born on May 9, 1933. She died on Wednesday, October 1, 2014. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters, and her daughter Kathryn, and her daughter in law Ann. She is survived by her husband Bill and her children, Paul, Mark, Matthew, Peter, and Suzanna and their spouses, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, as well as her sister in law, numerous nieces and nephews, cousins, and many others who knew and loved her.
When she was a young child the family moved to Denver, Colorado. She had fond memories of ice-skating on Sloan’s Lake, and trips to Evergreen, and Estes Park with her sisters, Maryann and Patricia.
After High School she enrolled at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. At the Episcopal Canterbury Club she met a young transfer student from Houston, Texas, Bill Frey whom she soon married. They celebrated their 62 wedding anniversary this past June 12, 2014.
Following his college graduation they went to Philadelphia where Bill was a Divinity Student at Philadelphia Divinity School.  Their first child Paul was born their last semester of seminary.
Following seminary, in 1955, Barbara and Bill returned to Leadville, Colorado, where he served a series of small mission churches, the Timberline Circuit for 3 years and in quick succession they had Mark Frey and Matthew Frey.
In 1958 Bill accepted a call to be Rector of Trinity on the Hill in Los Alamos, New Mexico. During their four years there Peter Frey was born and a daughter, Kathryn, who died shortly after birth.
In 1962 Bill and Barbara were sent as missionaries of the Episcopal Church to San Jose, Costa Rica where Bill served Church of the Good Shepherd, and the Centro de Publicaciones Cristianas. Their daughter Suzanna Frey was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. During their time in Costa Rica, Barbara taught school, and worked with other members of the Episcopal Church to found a daycare for single working mothers in one of the poorest neighborhoods of San Jose, to prevent children being left on the street while their mothers were at work. The Guarderia in Barrio Cuba is still thriving to this day.
In 1967, upon Bill’s election as Bishop of Guatemala Barbara and Bill moved the family to Guatemala City, Guatemala. Barbara remained active with various church groups, Diocesan ministries, and raised 5 children, in the midst of a turbulent, and dangerous time in the country’s history.
Upon their sudden return to the United States in 1971, when Bill was expelled from Guatemala, she and Bill became active in the beginnings of Charismatic Renewal in the Episcopal Church during a brief stay in Fayetteville, Arkansas. While they had always loved God, this time added fuel to the fire, and their experience of the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of lay ministry transformed them.
Upon his election as Bishop of Colorado in 1972, they moved again, back to Colorado. In Denver, Barbara served in many capacities, doing retreats, short term missions, and numerous parish visitations with Bill. She and Bill also founded a residential Christian Community to serve the Diocese.
She was active in the founding of the Saint Francis Center for the Homeless, a Jubilee Ministry of the Episcopal Church in the 1980’s and served in volunteer capacities in many, many organizations.
She had a heart for children, animals, and the hurt and dispossessed. She was a faithful prayer warrior and gave generously of time and money to missions and evangelism.
She and Bill traveled extensively as retreat leaders and conference speakers in addition to all their diocesan activities and ministry.
In 1990, after 18 years in Colorado, Bill accepted a call as Dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, a seminary near Pittsburgh, in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Barbara became active in improving the seminaries care of families, children, and future clergy spouses during their 6 years their six years there. At the same time she and Bill continued to serve as members of short term mission teams, conference speakers, and served in various ways in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
In 1996, she and Bill retired to San Antonio. While their schedule slowed somewhat, they became very active in the Diocese of West Texas, continued to serve as retreat and conference speakers, and serve with short term missions. They were members of St. Helena’s Boerne, and then at Christ Church, San Antonio where Bill had the opportunity to serve as interim rector twice. In between those interims she traveled with Bill while he served as interim Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.
Somehow in the middle of all of this Barbara always found time for her children, grandchildren, surrogate children and grandchildren, and numerous others. She loved her garden, and delighted in all of God’s creatures, with the possible exception of snakes and cockroaches. She loved to cook and made all her children learn to cook, (and clean!)
She continuously re-decorated, invariably in a blend of Southwestern, Native Peoples, and Mexican style.  Any room that was static for more than a few months was likely to become a target for re-vamping.
But above all this was her deep and abiding love for God, a passion for worship and adoration, and love of mission. She believed that forgiveness and reconciliation through Christ and the cross are at the center of the universe and the real source of life and health and peace. She rarely passed up an opportunity to show charity, and to pray for healing and blessing.
She was a deep soul, a soul mate to her husband Bill, a haven for her children and grandchildren and many, many others. She is sorely missed by all who knew and loved her.

Letter Paul Frey read at Barbara Frey's funeral. This was a letter he had written to her the summer before her death. She asked that he read it at her funeral which took place a few months later.
The letter begins with a quote from C.S. Lewis “The Magician’s Nephew”

"I asked, are you ready?" said the Lion.

"Yes," said Digory. He had had for a second some wild idea of saying "I'll try to help you if you'll promise to help my Mother," but he realized in time that the Lion was not at all the sort of person one could try to make bargains with. But when he had said "Yes," he thought of his Mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes, and he blurted out:

"But please, please - won't you - can't you give me something that will cure Mother?" Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion's eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.

"My son, my son," said Aslan. "I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.

Dear Mom,

I have composed several letters mentally. But they all are inadequate. When Anne finished hers I was jealous, but decided that she was only working with 3 decades of material and I am coping with almost 6!  So I gave up trying to put everything in and have written this.

I am so very grateful you got out of Denver alive! For a while there I thought we were going to lose you. These last few years have been hard, but also a great gift. Funeral directors and preachers are professionally aware that death does not always give us much advance notice, and so having these last few years has been fantastic for us.

Of course, when I look back, I suspect that there were many times when you and Dad have been close to death, perhaps without even knowing it. Clearly it has always been “grace hath brought me safe thus far...”

And the second part of the line is more poignant: “...and grace shall lead me home.”  And that journey faces all of us, but it certainly looks like you have a reservation for an earlier flight.

It is interesting that I have first memories of Peter, and of course Suzy. But I have no first memories of you and Dad, (or Mark or Matthew for that matter.) Kind of like the sun and the moon, you have always been there. So the idea of loosing either of you has always been hard to face. 

There are more things to say thank you for than I could possibly recount or remember. Since I don’t ever remember a diaper change, or midnight feeding, or trips to the pediatrician, (at least as a baby), I am still thankful, because I know I was deeply wanted and loved, even when I was exasperating. (Which is still often!)
While we certainly have many interesting dysfunctions when you mix up the Ripley-Martin side and the Frey-Quasso/Oliver side, I have never doubted the deep reservoir of love. I always knew even at my worst moments that I would be loved. Perhaps punished, perhaps the cause of frustration and even shame, but never unloved. That is an unparalleled gift. And the older I become the more I am sadly aware, that there are far too many who did not grow up knowing that and am ever more grateful

So thank you first for love.

Secondly, I attribute that to you and Dad learning how to give love by being taught to share, to care, to say kind things, and to do kind things, even when my impulses wanted to go the other way.  I learned that giving love always means some degree of sacrifice of my wants, my needs, my ambitions, even when I most freely want to. And I know too that I learned that from you. Thank you.

And I know that I learned my love of animals from you and Dad. Narnia and talking animals seemed to be just barely out of reach as a child. I felt that perhaps if I turned the right corner I’d suddenly become like Doctor Doolittle and be able to understand animal speech, or even better that like Narnia the animals would somehow be able to become “talking beasts.”

The smell of pine trees and aspen leaves turning golden still transport me back to times before I have even conscious memories, and I cannot travel anywhere in Colorado or New Mexico without a deep love for the beauty of the earth and a desire to preserve that beauty. I am so grateful for picnics taken in the mountains, at the beach, in the car with volcanic eruptions making the whole vehicle vibrate. I think I will always have a desire for adventure, and a love of the cosmos.  And I know those trips slowly made me aware that another country still awaits, and that as Lewis says, “Let us take the adventure that Aslan has prepared for us.”

That is the greatest gift you and Dad have given me. The gift of the knowledge and love of the Lord. I cannot separate my faith from the gift of being raised in a Christian home, and a Christian community by faithful follows of Jesus. And it is that gift that allows me to trust you to God’s care now and in the life to come.

Words are a pretty poor substitute for the feelings that well up in me; gratitude, grief, hope, denial, joy, doubt, and trust. Yet they can hopefully convey some of my love for you.

I am emailing this to Dad, and sending a copy via post.
Much, much, and even more love,    Paul

3. Mom's Meditation.  In the Spring of 2014, Barbara asked her husband Bill and other family members to stay at the dinner table after a meal so she could read her thoughts about dealing with her impending death.

How to begin, how to ask or desire to ask or reach that place, (or wait patiently to be brought there?? - or resist?) So many questions. What?

I have said that I feel like there is a (something) hole punch taking away circles of me and I’m unable to stop the process or figure out what it is all about. These bits are part of me and I have “needed” them - are they now extraneous - to be thrown away - or guarded like dust to be part of the glory / resurrection day?

Who knows? Beyond me - us? Yet it would be good to have a “how do we go into glory” guide - how to begin to divest, discard, dis - own, abandon (with regret or delight) all that stuff that is / was / could have been me, Barbara.

What about the child, the girl, the young, middle, now Old woman, the daughter, granddaughter, niece, the student, friend, competitor, wife, lover, selfish wife, selfish lover, how about mom who is a (peer) an adult with kids who are light years away? Who are still able?

How to say goodbye with joy and gladness, pain, sorrow, excitement, retreat, anticipation, thanksgiving, thankfulness, gratitude - different aren’t they? How?

How to write all this before time runs out and should I?

What do I want so much to say to the man who has held me in his arms for 61 + years and encouraged and shoved and urged and nagged me to go on and grow up? How do you un-cleave? How dear God in heaven do you stop being 1 flesh - only when that last breath is breathed?

And how my Jesus do I hold your hand thru all of this without despair, hopelessness, self=pity (worst) - the self centeredness of it all is the worst.)

1 comment:

  1. Oh Paul, Ken and I only heard about your mom today. We are so, so sad. She rescued each of us in different ways, and as we visit churches, she is who I think of when I want to love the clergy wives well. Our hearts are broken but with hope. Love to all of you, Sallie and Ken Ross