Friday, July 15, 2016

Eulogy for Margretta Larson (1952-2016)

Eulogy for Margretta Larson (1952 – 2016)
by Gregory E. Larson

          We all honored Margretta on the day of her funeral. With the church so full of friends and family, I imagined that those who passed by must have thought the service was for some business titan, a CEO, or well-known public figure. No, it was a farewell for a simple, private person, Margretta, who touched so many people with her smile and kindness. She caringly made her connections one person at a time. It is a reminder that our daily interactions do have an impact on others in this troubled world.
          I want to thank all who came to the service and I give the most heartfelt thanks to my friend, Kirk Gastinger, who so eloquently read the eulogy that I wrote for the one I will miss so much.
           The loss of Margretta is incomprehensible. The void is immense. I want to rend my shirt, raise my fists to the sky and scream, “Why, God, why?”
          Why is she gone? God only knows.
          How will we cope with the loss? God only knows.
          Every morning, my heart sang arias and a Jamaican love song, just knowing that I could reach out and touch her. She meant the world to me. Our love, which had many facets, grew stronger each day. We wanted it to last for 10,000 years and have Douglas our dog with us, too.
          The mutual trust and admiration fueled our love and made us believe we could do anything. All was in balance. We each enjoyed our own personal hobbies and time with friends, and we also loved the time we spent together.
          I admired her figure-skating ability and was amazed at her persistence and tenacity while she practiced in the early mornings. She was a gutsy gal, physically strong, yet she had such a sweet, feminine side with her smile and her caring nature.

Margretta shows her 'joie de vie'
            Although she competed in national figure-skating competitions, many people didn’t know that the competitive side of her took a back seat to the pure joy she had on the ice. Once she learned how to figure skate, her coaches begged her to compete because her skills were so strong. She crafted her skating costumes and glued every sequin onto the fabric to make it sparkle when she moved on the ice.  The judges didn’t miss her Cheshire-cat grin while she glided past them during her performances.
          When we rode bikes together, I marveled at her ability to keep up with riders twice her size. Once in Wisconsin, I watched her stand up on the pedals as we rode up a big hill in the rain. I said to myself, “She is one tough woman.”

Margretta made me feel like a king on the tandem
           On the tandem bike, we rode all the side streets in Kansas City. I felt like a king as we pedaled to Brookside or the Plaza for coffee. We found any excuse to ride: picnics, visits to see friends, and trips to our favorite restaurants and specialty stores. Children would see the two-seater bike, then point and yell, “Hey, look!” Margretta always rang the bell and gave a big wave as we sped past.
          Our travels in the U.S. and in Europe brought out the best in us. During the journeys we’d have unexpected twists and turns. When things got bizarre, we’d look at each other, smile and laugh, knowing everything would be okay. We relished every trip and had so much fun along the way.  She was my Audrey Hepburn, and I, her Cary Grant.
Margretta at Cathedral Rock - Sedona, Arizona
          We wasted no time during the fifteen years we spent together, finding adventures around every bend and corner of our journeys together. During her cancer we were able to travel to Boston, Phoenix, Santa Barbara, and Switzerland.
          One of our traditions was afternoon coffee. She said the Germans called it Kaffestunde. Her preference for strong coffee with a cookie or pastry treat fueled our discussions. Many times our short chats would extend into hour-long discussions filled with laughter. She often shared what she was reading for her book club, the close-knit group of friends that meant so much to her.
          Margretta was a linguist at heart, and she spoke fluent German, Italian and French. She was very precise with the grammar rules of each language and was a master at verb conjugation. Her attendance at La Causerie classes were a tradition started by her mom decades ago.
          On her last day at KU Med Center, a doctor asked her a question. She responded, speaking fluent French. The doctor said, “I’m impressed with your French, but I only know how to speak English today.” Then he asked, “How do you feel?”
          She paused and spoke with determination. “I am really tired, but my French is very good.”
          I just ask God to help all of us in the days ahead. I pray that he’ll ease our pain and give us a litany of thoughts and memories to get us through the loss. We are all truly blessed to have seen her strong heart and spirit.
           Why is she gone? God only knows. How will we cope with the loss? God only knows.
          But I am convinced of one thing. There was only one Margretta, and her memory will brighten the lives of those she touched.
Margretta is miles from nowhere in Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado

Margretta Larson (1952-2016)