Friday, 15 November 2013

The larger than life Barbara Ann Hanger

Barbara Ann (Frye) Hanger
1937 - 2014
On Saturday November 16th at St. Stephen's Parish  (Episcopal) in Pittsfield MA Barbara Hanger will be remembered, mourned, and committed to God's eternal care.
Life often brings us unexpected gifts which enrich our lives beyond all measure. Mine was to be Barbara's Rector and Pastor from 1984 - 2000, and beloved friend for the next thirteen years.
I think of her as being faithful and feisty.
She was faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ in whom she had a deep and abiding trust.
She was faithful to the Episcopal church in Pittsfield where she was deeply loved, trusted and respected as a leader.
She was faithful to her heritage and community as a tireless worker for civil rights and justice.
Above all she was faithful to her children: They were three by birth and five by adoption. And then there were the approximately 100 children to who she gave love and care for shorter or longer periods over (probably) 40 years, and scores of Pittsfield children who wished that she was their Mom, or "Nonnie".
Barbara was utterly feisty (and fearless).  She would rage against injustice and unfairness. 
She was like a fierce tigress when her children were treated with disrespect, disdain, bullying or hatred.
She was feisty enough to badger the immigration authorities and various hospitals so that a boy with a hole in his heart who we met in Honduras could come to this country for life saving surgery (gratis).
She was feisty enough to take on school-teachers, the school committee, the city council, and the aforementioned Rector at St. Stephen's when we I stepped out of line. That of course is one of the many reason why I respected her.  All Pastors need truth tellers, and she was one of mine.

And she was fabulously funny. I will always grin when I remember our last exchange, some three weeks ago.  She was in the hospital and very ill. She was communicating with me on Facebook via a mutual friend. I asked him to assure her of my love and prayers. She responded via this friend "tell Michael to get his pink and pimply ass up here".
"God bless you Barbara.  Love and tears from your pink and pimply assed friend"
Montage by Natasha Latini.

The bad news is that after the suffering, we wait at the empty tomb for a while, the body of our beloved gone, grieving an unsurvivable loss.
It's a terrible system.
But the good news is then there is new life.
Wild flowers bloom again.

 Anne Lamott  (via my friend Elizabeth Harding)


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