Monday, October 28, 2019

Eulogy for Barb

“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.”  This quote is from Helen Keller and certainly sums up how we feel about our dear friend, Barb O’Fallon.  She has truly become a part of us in so many ways and our love for her is deep.

I first met Barb in the early 1990s when she was a parent and I was the principal at Gilbert El.   Sean and Kelly were students and she was a very involved parent.  She became our PTSO president and I will always remember her coming in to help or run things off and Ryan was always with her as he wasn’t in school yet.   She was such a great parent to work with and she truly cared and supported her kids and Gilbert El. 

After Ryan went to school, Barb decided to go back to work.  We had an opening for an office assistant/instructional assistant in January, 1994.  I hired her and soon after had an  opening for school secretary (they are now called, administrative assistant).  There was no doubt in my mind that she was the best candidate for that position.   And I can truly say, 25 years later, that she was the best of the best.

Barb quickly became an integral part of Gilbert El.  I feel that I had a very successful career and absolutely believe that she was one of the reasons for that.   She treated everyone so incredibly well.  She always had a smile on her face—no matter what!  And she truly loved our children, families and staff. That was what was most important to me.  

But the added bonus we got with Barb, was her smarts and her ability to do the budget, as well as many other important tasks.   Budgeting was my greatest weakness and she kept me in line.   If it  hadn’t been for Barb, we would have probably been out of money by November because I always wanted to give anyone anything they wanted when they asked.  However, I was able to “blame” Barb.  Many of you will remember how many times I had to tell you that I had to grovel to Barb to get any money!  It was true!

Through the years, we had many different programs on our campus to help our community.  I remember the look that I got from her when I let another one in.  I knew that soon I would get the visit and the budget lecture from her!  Sheila, she would say, I know all of these are important to you, but remember when we have all of these extra people on our campus, that means we need more toilet paper and paper towels!  I told her I knew that but to please make it work.  And she did.  For that I will ever be grateful.  And I will always remember with a smile what I call, “THE TOILET PAPER LECTURE!”

Through the years we worked together, we became very close. I knew I could count on her for anything.  I also knew how much she loved so many people.  I remember her talking about her grandparents, Big Mama and Big Daddy.  How she loved them.  I remember when her parents moved to Arizona and how thrilled she was to have them here. She would always tell me about the fun times they had together. I remember all of the times that Steve came by school and how much she loved him.  They had a special relationship.  And of course, she was an amazing parent to Sean, Kelly and Ryan and was always proud of them.  In the later years, her grandchildren were what she cherished so much.

We went through so many things together. We had so many wonderful events happen, but we also had more than our share of sad times. We laughed a lot about different situations that happened and she was there to support me in times of sadness.  I rarely closed my office door, but once in awhile, I needed a few minutes to myself.   One of the most memorable times that  meant more to me than anything was a little over 16 years ago.   Our wonderful teacher, Ellen Widmer, was not doing well and was no longer working.  Barb came in to tell me that Ellen was on the phone to talk to me.   I took the call and then shut my door so I could fall apart for a few minutes.  Ellen had called and asked me if I would do her eulogy at her funeral as she knew she didn’t have much longer on this earth.  Barb always respected me but that day she came into the office because she knew that call was probably something very difficult for me.  I told her what had happened and she hugged me and we talked and cried for a time.   Never did I think that I would be standing up here in front of you doing the same thing for Barb 16 years later almost to the day.

Barb meant so much to so many people through the years because of the way she treated them.   I have received so many messages this week from different people who knew her who spoke of her warmth and kindness, her smile and hugs.

I asked a few students if they would share some things about Barb because she was all about our kids.  Here is what I received from three students.

From Avery O’Shea

Miss Barb was a great office helper.  She was funny, full of energy and worked happily.  I loved working on Brain Food with her.

From Brian Jones

Every day Miss Barb greeted me with a Good Morning, Brian.  I worked with her as an office helper and on Tiger T.V.  I felt important to her but I know she liked everybody.

From Elizabeth Romero

Miss Barb was fun to work with as an office helper.  She knew my name and smiled.  She was very responsible.  I don't have specific memories just all good memories.  She will be missed.

And from Adrianna Cooper

Mrs. Barb was special to me because she always made my day no matter what I was feeling. The thing that I remember about her is that she always had a smile on her face and said have a great day!

These students sum up how so many of us feel about Barb and what a difference she made to so many of us on a daily basis.  What a legacy she has left when so many students loved her so much!

My favorite book of all time is The Last Dance by Carmen Agra Deedy.  In the story that grandfather tells his grandchildren that every human being has the right to three things:

“To Dance. The great things in life is not so much to dance well, but whether one is willing to dance at all.”

To Sing. Even if you sing off-key.  The crow has as much right to a voice as the nightingale.  (And we all know this is very true about Barb after many karaoke night staff parties at Shenanigans.)

To Tell Stories.  Those we love are never really gone as long as their stories are told.

Barb’s stories will live on in the many lives that she has touched through the years. They will live on in the love she had for Steve.    They will live on in her three children, Sean, Kelly and Ryan, their families,  and in her beloved grandchildren.  Barb’s stories include kindness, acceptance, love, and laughter and that is what we need more of in this world.

The great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, once said, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.”  I concur with Winnie the Pooh. How lucky are  we all that we have had Barb  in our lives that makes saying good-bye so hard.    Our lives are better because of our dear friend, Barb.  She will be greatly missed by so many!  

So God Speed to you, our dear friend, Barb.  Until we meet again, your stories will always be with us!  Thank you for being who you were and for truly making a difference in so many lives, especially mine!


Monday, October 21, 2019

Sometimes Life Sucks

Through my many years in education, I learned quickly that the school secretary was probably the most important position in a school. I was fortunate as a teacher and as a principal, to have many good secretaries (or as they now call them, admin assistants, which is probably a better term). When I became a principal, I realized how very important this position is. From 1994 until I left Gilbert El in 2010, I had the most amazing person to work with, Barb OFallon. Yesterday morning, I received a call that changed my world. Barb passed away during the night and I could not have been more stunned or heartbroken. She was with me through many good times and some not so good. She kept me in line and made me stay with the budget--not easy for me. If I needed something late at night or on a weekend, she would go in with me. The most important aspect for me was how people were treated and Barb did that with "perfection" smiling and hugging everyone no matter who they were. Today I went to Gilbert El and saw all of the flowers on her desk. She cannot be replaced ever. She loved her family with everything she had and she loved her job. I will be forever blessed to have had her in my life and to call her my friend. I loved Barb so much and I am so devastated by this news. She was truly one of a kind and I will always love that we worked together and I can always call her my friend. Her kids all went through Gilbert El and Steve is one of a kind. I will forever miss you, Barb! Sometimes life "sucks" and this is one of those times.

I am going to write more later as I have been asked to speak at the services.  My heart is truly broken.  And for my teacher friends who say don't  use the "s" word--sucks, I am using it today!!!

Friday, October 4, 2019


I have really been remiss on my writing on my blog.  Today I decided that I need to write more often about "things" instead of relying on Facebook. When I look back on my blog, I love reading about things that have happened.

Dave isn't much of a Mexican food fan so I have had to "train" him so to speak.  A few weeks ago, I made a big pot of beans and froze them in several packages.  Cameron will eat beans every day so I knew this wouldn't be a problem.

I was trying to figure out what to fix for dinner tonight and I realized that I had never made "gorditas" for Dave.  Mary taught me to make these and they were always popular with enchilada sauce and bean tostadas.  So I took some beans out of the freezer and decided that would be our dinner.

As I was fixing them, I had a moment that made me realize that there are signs out there all of the time.  I didn't even think about this when I decided to fix them.  My mom went into hospice Sept. 6, 2002.  She loved gorditas and so Mary made a lot of enchilada sauce. So during that time, I made gorditas several nights with Mary's sauce for my mom.  Thinking back, it was 17 years ago that I was making them for her.  I believe it was a sign from her that I thought about making them.  I don't know for sure, but it is my belief that we get messages.

They were delicious.  I am not sure Dave really liked them that much, but he will.  I made some cheese tacos, which he loves.  He has gotten to like the Mexican food I make more and more.   So it is definitely a work in progress.

I think there are about six left.  I am sure they will be gone tomorrow morning as Patrick and Cameron will probably eat them with just cheese.  

No matter what, it touched my heart.   And I am going to try to write more as it is important to me and it "documents" my life, which could be important to some people some day!!!!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Summer, 2019 Post 1

I am not sure why I haven't written much this year.  Writing is very therapeutic and fun for me and this past year has been wonderful for the most part.  Never in my life did I ever dream that I would find a partner in my life like Dave and that we would have the life that we have grown together.  Not only did I have to get adjusted to living with a man, but it has been 24/7 since we are both retired.  This summer it has been really that way because being in Montana meant that I didn't have any board duties to attend.  Although we have many couple of friends there because Dave has so many friends, I don't have "my own" friend.  Fortunately, we had visitors throughout the summer.

Our main goal for the summer was to get the house that Dave grew up in and his brother was living in, cleaned out, fixed up, purchased and rented.  This was a major project and Dave worked incredibly hard all summer.  We were fortunate to find a good estate sale company who basically either sold everything or was able to get rid of a lot.  But there was still a lot of work that had to be done.  Dave was only able to golf once a week because of all we had to do.

He bought the side of the house that we live in when he moved back to Butte in 2016.  His dad and uncle built the house in the early 50's and it was in an area of Butte called McQueen.  Dave and his family lived on the other side that we just bought and his cousins lived on our side.  Each side has about 3000 square feet which includes the basement.  When they were growing up the basement area was open so that the kids could ride bikes and play down there when the weather was bad.

In the late 1970's, the Anaconda company bought out all of the houses there and then sold them back to the families for $1.  The Uggetti's moved the house to the present location which is the old family dairy farm.  That is when they closed off the basement so that there are two separate houses.  

The location is absolutely beautiful and I love sitting on the deck and looking out on the Rockies and Our Lady of the Rockies.  I love going for a walk in the back up the hill. We have a little over 5 acres and he and his cousins own and additional 6 acres up the mountain behind us.  The pugs love being off the leash and getting to roam around.

We found a wonderful renter and she is going to help us with the snow in the winter.  

I love spending time there and we truly had a great summer.  Didn't get to do much traveling because of all of the work on the other house, but it was nice to be away from Arizona during the heat.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Music to my ears

I have had a hard time writing for the last several months.   This has happened to me over the years depending on what is going on in my life.  It should be that I can write things out when they are bothering me, but that isn't the way it is for me.

However, tonight things are a bit different.  After several months of worrying so much about Patrick, he came to Butte.  There was time a few months ago that I did not feel he would live much longer.  So much has happened and he came to Butte today.  We went to a couple of casinos and then to a wonderful dinner at this amazing Italian restaurant.   When we got home, I did a few things and then went to take my nightly bath (since I can't swim here).  While I was in the bathtub, I could hear Dave and Patrick talking the whole time.  Not sure what they talked about, but it was absolutely "music to my ears."  

Friday, March 15, 2019

St. Patrick's Weekend in Butte

For some reason I haven't been able to write lately.  This has happened to me through the years and I never know what it is.  There are other times when I can write something every day.

Since my last blog post, so much has happened and most has been extremely wonderful and that is why I can't figure this out.  Anyway, I hope I am over it and can continue to write about the adventures that Dave and I have had and will continue to have.

One of his best friends, Craig, lives in Eureka, Montana.  We visited them last summer.  His daughter teaches in Tempe and wanted to come to Butte for St. Patrick's Day.  So we planned a trip for this weekend.  We flew into Missoula and Craig and Connie picked us up and we drove to Butte.

I can't believe all of the snow.  It is absolutely beautiful, but there is so much. Although it has warmed up (by Butte standards), it is still really cold.  But the beauty is unbelievable.

We have a lot planned for the weekend and I will hopefully be writing about it.  

Here are a few pictures from yesterday around our house:

And of course, we had to go have a couple of "dirty girls."  I had to introduce them to Chelsea and Connie.  They are on sale all weekend.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Very Special Lady--Jeanne O'Neill

We got home today from our cruise.  There was an incredible thank you note from Dave's cousins, Chuck and Maura, which has made me cry a lot tonight.   I met Jeanne when I was in Butte at Easter and totally connected with her.  I thought I was looking at my Aunt Teresa with her beautiful white hair and her saying her prayers.  I hugged her several times that evening as she reminded me so much of Teresa and my Irish roots.

I have felt a very special connection to so many of Dave's relatives as they are so much like our family.   However, Chuck and Maura will always hold a very special place in my heart.  Chuck was the best man at our wedding and it was so important to both of us that they came to Gilbert last May.

Maura and I talked about the similarities in our families.   When her mom died in September and she let us know, I knew that a very special lady had left this earth.  However, she left a legacy that I can relate to so much.   Although she reminded me so much of Teresa, she was a lot like my mom.   Maura told Dave that as she was saying her last words to her kids, she reminded the to always vote Democratic.  My mom would have loved that!!

Maura included the information from the funeral in the note she sent us.  Here is a picture of what was written.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!

It is so much what we would have said, but didn't.   "Everything I need to know I learned from my Mother."

Vote democrat, eat like a bird and exercise, listen to and care for other and love will come back to you in a million ways, turn to God in all things, pray the rosary and go to Mass, love your husband and treat him well, bring ranch dressing to all gatherings, plant a beautiful garden, celebrate with ice cream, hang sheets in the sun, watch PBS and learn, honor your roots and write down your memories, be able to laugh at yourself, set a nice table and never place a carton of milk on it, give donations as gifts, feel good and help others, stay involved and growing, Love your children and let them live their own lives, have tea ready for guests and serve it with ceremony, enjoy nature and books at all times, save old paper, cut into squares and reuse as notepads, no bake cookies are the best, don't be afraid to fight for what you believe in, stop, smell the earth and savor the moment, afternoon tea with apples slices is the best pick me up, when stressed, take a walk, take the high road, be grateful for friends along your journey...treasure others and they will treasure you.

Powerful words from a wonderful lady that I feel blessed to have met.   Thank you for sharing her with me for such a very short time!

And then Maura's beautiful words to Dave and I is really what meant the most to me.   And that is why the tears........

Dear Sheila and Dave,

Thank you for your remembrance of Mom through the Butte Education Foundation.  Like you,  she was such a proponent of education.

Sheila, she loved  you the moment she met you and was so thrilled that you married Dave.  She felt it was a true love story.

Times like this we realize how lucky we were to have such amazing women in our lives and we can only hope to follow the guidance they laid down for us.

My hope is that I can continue to be guided by the incredible ladies I had in my life for many years and for the guidance of this wonderful lady I only met a few months ago.

Jeanne O'Neill inspired me and I am so grateful to be a member of the Uggetti Family and their extended one in Butte.   

In the words of my favorite author, Carmen Agra Deedy, "those we love are never really gone, as long as their stories are told."  And Jeanne, I am honoring my roots and writing down my memories!

What an incredible legacy and I am so blessed to be a part of it!  And Jeanne, I love Dave and I treat him well.  Thank you!