Saturday, April 3, 2010

Irene & Owen Barnhill...a couple in love forever....

Irene was a dear friend of mine, and one I will treasure always.  We had known each other for about 17 years, when she passed away last week, at the age of 81.  Irene loved her husband Owen, and although he had been in a Veteran's Home because of Alzheimers, she was faithful and always went to visit him when possible.  I also had the honor of knowing Owen, myself.  I knew him before he became ill, and  I remember Owen telling me about being a distant cousin of Hank Williams many years ago.  I thought that was so unique!  Owen was a man of humor and loved to joke. He also loved to tell about his experiences in the Navy.  Irene and I traveled to Alex City a couple of times together to visit Owen.  Had I not been so busy with 4 kids and grandkids, I would have taken her more.

Owen passed away on March 24, 2010, and Irene followed him 4 days later.   What a remarkable love story!  The Prattville Progress told about their unusual passing...4 days apart, in today's paper.
 61 years of marriage...they did everything together, until Owen became too sick for Irene to care for him by herself.    I remember those days, and would talk with Irene about the struggles and sadness she experienced as a caregiver for an alzheimer patient.  She bravely battled days of exhaustion and days of sheer worry over Owen's illness.  His eating habits; afraid he would walk off down the street, and she wouldn't know where he was. I know she was hurt when he became too ill to recognize her.  Some days he would, but then there were the days that came, when he wouldn't.  I personally can't imagine how horrible that would be to have spent that much time with your spouse, and then to watch an  illness come and rob you of  the wonderful memories you shared  together.  I talked with Irene several times about methods of treating Alzheimers, and the advancement of drug treatments.  She was always looking forward to those visits with Owen when she would go to see him in Alex City.  It was a pleasure to me to see the devotion between the two of them. 

Irene and I shared many memories, and many laughs together. She was instrumental in helping me with my oldest daughter's wedding. She prepared the flower arrangements, and helped me prepare the food. She was such a God send to me then, because it was a wedding that was planned in a 2 week period and at a very low period in my life. She truly made the wedding a success! There were many little visits that Irene and I had, including dinners together, court proceedings, (both on her side and mine), and Democrat meetings. We had a well rounded friendship, both on the phone and in person. She was truly a remarkable woman, and I will miss her greatly!  When I visited her last Thursday, a week before her funeral, I saw her in a different light.  She was always such a feisty and spirited woman, and she was just so quiet and gaunt.  I told her I had missed her, and that I loved her.  She told me she loved me too.  She said, "Debbie, I'm dying".  I told her, that noone is guaranteed a specific amount of time on earth.  I told her that she was dearly loved by her family members, and that Jesus loved her so much.  she said, "I know it".  I truly believe that she was ready to go.  At that time the family had not told her of Owen's passing, and I wondered which would be better...her knowing, or her not knowing.  I'm glad they told her, so she was at peace with knowing God was watching over Owen, and she wouldn't have to worry about where he was,...she knew.  

fountain provided by Irene...and Ivy

church front & pew floral arrangements by Irene


Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Deb, You have lost some dear friends. I am so very very sorry.. My love and prayers are with you.

My inlaws will be married 70 years in May. They are also very close. When one of them dies, the other won't be far behind I'm sure.

Hope you have a Happy Easter, Deb. God Bless You.

Deb Murphree/Alabama Politics said...

Hi there my Betsy Boo LOL...nice to hear from you on Easter..HAPPY EASTER TO YOU AND GEORGE!! xoxoxoxo