In Memory of Barbara Ann Bryant Havens

Today we come to celebrate the life of Barbara Ann Bryant Havens, a beloved mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, and a dear friend to too many people to count. Although she is no longer with us, her memory will live on in our hearts for eternity. We feel your lively and beautiful spirit with us today, and we hope you sense our love for you in this room. We not only love you, but have learned much from you, been inspired by you, and been made to laugh and be joyful in your presence! We will always remember you!

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember you
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter, we remember you
In the opening buds and in the rebirth of Spring, we remember you
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of Summer, we remember you
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of Autumn, we remember you
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember you
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember you
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember you
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember you
So long as we live, you too shall live, for you are now a part of us,
as we remember you.[1]

Each of us will carry in our hearts those special moments that will help us remember Barbara.

My wife, Karen, and I are fortunate to live on the same floor with Barbara for almost five years; I remember the day we moved in, there she came rolling down the hall to welcome us to the floor.

That was so Barbara!

Exuberantly extending her hands and heart to everyone she met. That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship, . . conversations at her place and dinners at ours; we will always remember, and miss her terribly.

We come together today from the diversity of our grieving,
to gather in the warmth of this community,
giving stubborn witness to our belief that
in times of sadness, there is room for laughter.
In times of darkness, there always will be light.
May we hold fast to the conviction
that what we do with our lives matters.

John and Parker feel the loss of a mother, Betty a daughter, Beau and Nola and Willow a beloved grandmother; we all feel their pain. To Parker and John, we ask ‘how do we let a mother go?’

How do we let a mother go?
How do we say “I’m ready now to go on without you”?
How can we ever have a clue of what that really means?
And all of a sudden, the moment is upon us, and there’s no turning back.

And then we know what grief is, . . .
and guilt
and love
and things undone.

But there is peace too. Peace and acceptance and overwhelming love that we maybe weren’t aware of, waves and waves of conflicting emotion,
And laughter too,
and memories we hadn’t bothered lately to recall come flooding back in shared company.

. . and it is all about you, Barbara!

And there’s gratitude. . .
so much of that, that we had you, such a wonderful mother…
Bright and shining, nobody’s fool, independent, but humble too;
Smart, and kind, and fun.


A part of you has passed away, but much is carried everyday within us, and will as long as we are here.

This may be a final tribute,
A day to celebrate your life and say goodbyes;
But it is not final![2]

Your children, grandchildren, and friends will keep your memory, and that zest for life you taught them and us. When met with difficulties and challenges, we will all simply ask, “what did Barbara do”? and we will gain strength and courage from your example.

When kindness and generosity are lacking, we will be reminded of what Barbara did – even amidst pain and physical limitations – and we will try to be kinder, more generous, and more loving to each other.

Every day we’ll celebrate in some way, just by the virtue of how you shaped our lives,

The absolute and incredible fortune that we knew you.

As a mother, a friend and a woman.

We are told in an oft-heard scripture from Ecclesiastes:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)

We are grateful that you have broken the bounds of your beautiful but weakened body,
that you feel pain no more,
and that your boundless energy has returned.

Barbara is now standing tall,

with that red hair flowing in the breeze,

lips bright red,

nails always perfectly polished in red,

and those brilliant red shoes,

ready to take on the universe in her own personal, and vibrant way.

Denny Fultz and Tom Queen, two of Barbara’s longtime friends, will share some memories, followed by John, speaking for the family.

In closing, I would like to read a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye, written in 1932, for a young German Jewish woman, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who was staying with her and her husband. When Margaret’s mother fell ill and died, she was distraught that it was not safe to return to Germany. The heartbroken young woman told Frye that she never had the chance to “stand by my mother’s grave and shed a tear”. Frye found herself composing a piece of verse on a brown paper shopping bag. Later she said that the words “just came to her” and expressed what she felt about life and death. This reminds us that death is not all there is:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there.
I did not die.

Barbara, you have left us wiser, happier, and enriched – and we thank God for sending you to be our daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. And now in your honor and memory, we will go forth today in life – to do what you so fully lived – have a wonderful party and care for and love one another.

And so, although Barbara Bryant Havens no longer walks this earthly realm,

she is still with us, . . .

loving us, . . .

ever present in our hearts and minds.

To paraphrase Frank Sinatra’s famous song:





Let us pray:

We lift up those who have lost loved ones. We see images of families in celebration; but their emotions are far from happy. There are empty places in their hearts where loved ones have been called from life. We lift them up to you that you might give them strength to get through their mourning. We ask for your grace to comfort them in their time of need. We thank you for their faithfulness and fear, hope and doubt, sorrow and joy. Amen.
[1]      Adapted from Yom Kippur Service, Michelle Markert Rubin
[2]      Unknown source
The Rev deniray mueller, Schoedinger Northwest, Columbus, OH; 10 February 2018