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For she will never be shaken,

For she will never be shaken; The righteous will be remembered forever. Psalm 112:6

Recently my husband was teaching our oldest the importance of showing gratitude for a kindness.  He said, “Son, you’ll find in life that very few people care about you, I mean TRULY care about you and your well being, beyond your family.  When someone does, you ALWAYS say thank you.  You NEVER take that for granted.”

His words were sobering, yet true.I was 19 when I met Barbara. I transferred from a private university studying pre-law to Western Carolina University to study nutrition and dietetics.  She told me to stay beyond my allotted time.   I watched her grumble over how to make my freshman courses fit into these curriculum requirements.  She took the time to make all my credits transfer. I doubt I grasped that very first act of kindness.

Over those next three years, I was pushed beyond my abilities.  I thought I was bringing my A-game from the competitive pre-law program, but this woman expected, even demanded more.  Many students groaned but for those of us who yielded, we flourished.

I applied to an USAF dietetic internship program.  I wasn’t the finalist selected and the recruiter gave me back the recommendation letters that had been written.  When I saw what she had written about me, I was stunned.  She saw potential I did not see.  When I thanked her, she was angry.  Those words weren’t intended for my eyes. She still had expectations for me to meet and she couldn’t risk me slowing down now.  Yet those words gave me a confidence that would carry me for years to come.

Life happens.  Circumstances changed.  I confided in her.  She leapt into action.  I have no idea what mountains she moved to ensure I could apply for overdue financial aid deadlines. 

As I transitioned to the graduate program, a chronic disease forced her into an early retirement.  I brought independent study projects to her house and a friendship began.

She changed my life.

My parents led me to Christ and as a young adult, Barbara dealt with my questions of faith and taught me the love of Christ.

She taught me the value of creative pursuit – she was skilled in photography, wood carving, stained glass making, quilting, basket weaving, and wood working, to name a few.

She taught me to stop being so stupid with money.  (One of her favorite refrains was – if I see someone doing something stupid, I’m going to love them enough to tell them.)She saw me through dramas and traumas of young adulthood.  And more stupidity of my own creation.  Always saying, remember I love you, and God loves you.

She pushed me to continue graduate school.  Through three graduate degrees, she encouraged.

When pain robbed her of sleep, she prayed for me.

When I met my husband, he was more nervous about meeting Barbara than my parents.  She vetted him and approved.  She always took his side in the newlywed arguments.

She held my babies.

She held them every chance she got.We talked almost daily year after year.

She beat breast cancer.  Such faith in God and optimism in her healing.I began noticing little changes four years ago. She began to repeat the same refrain again and again. 

A few Sundays ago, my pastor read Hebrews 13:7  and said,”If you have spiritual leaders in your life who poured the Word of God in your life, go thank them today.”

So I did.  I thanked her for everything.  It didn’t matter if her mind could retain it beyond the moment. She needed to know she made a difference.

I casually tell people she was a dear mentor but she was so much more. For I was one of her two daughters of choice.  A title I will always treasure.

When my husband heard the news, through tears he prayed, God you sent Kim to Barbara.  We are eager to see how you continue her legacy.

Father, remove my selfish pride.  Help me carry the legacy as one who truly cares.  I love you Barbara.  You were not shaken and you will be remembered forever.




Gina - This made me cry both for the beauty and depth of her love and care for you that grew into a life changing friendship and for the pain of loss. I know you will carry her legacy forward in a lasting and meaningful way.

Pat Borstorff - How beautiful. Thank you for the beautiful stories and pictures. Barbara would be so proud of you as I am.

Sarah Zalan - Beautiful beyond words, my friend.