My stepmother had asked me to help her with her obituary. I didn’t get it done. At least not when she and I could talk about it and be sure it came out the way she wanted it. She died last Sunday evening. So this week I have been trying to freshen and revise her words and add to them some of the things that only we can say. It is something of a communal project – which is its own kind of challenge – needing the input and approval of my father and brothers. But all that is helpful. It makes it stronger, clearer. And fresh eyes can see what we take for granted – like my daughter pointing out that our first “final draft” said when but not where the memorial service would be held.
Obituaries are great for some things, but they can only hint at the life that has been lived. They cannot capture the voice we remember, or the kindness we experienced, or the true bonds that weave lives together. It washes over the challenges, abbreviates the sorrows, and obscures the courage life sometimes requires. Nor can an obituary capture the fullness of joys and depth of friendships – which in one case for my stepmom stretches back to the first grade.
Life is amazing. It’s not a resume we build. It’s not a course to be run. It is a rich tapestry made of very simple things. My brother remembers a spontaneous footrace with his mom one day in grade school (perhaps because she beat him?).
What we weave into that tapestry matters. There was a songbird that made a nest in a bush in our back yard once upon a time, and filled it with eggs. We tiptoed as we came in and out of the house. But I came out after a rainstorm and found the nest destroyed and the eggs broken on the ground. The bird had used a piece of plastic in the nest that caused it to fill with water and collapse. Gloria wove well. Choosing kindness and care (and not a little patience with four boys) as her threads. I wish I had finished her obituary with her last summer, but I expect that she would still say whatever we have put together is wonderful.
January 4, 1931 – January 15, 2017,
Gloria Bonde passed away on Sunday, January 15, 2017, at Longmont United Hospital, the consequence of a long history of pulmonary infection. She died peacefully, late in the evening, surrounded by her family at the conclusion of a day of laughter and tears. Cremation was entrusted to Ahlberg Funeral Home and a memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Longmont.
Gloria was born January 4, 1931, the eldest child of Sarah (Rafferty) Cadieu and Cyril Cadieu in Robinson, Illinois. She was proud to have walked to school from first grade through college in Bloomington, Indiana, and graduated from Indiana University in 1953.
Gloria always said she had a wonderful life. She and her college friends had summer jobs in Yosemite National Park and, after graduation, she taught second grade in Fresno, California. Later she became a stewardess with United Airlines where she met her husband, P. K. Bonde, a pilot with the airline. During their 60 years of marriage, as PK’s career with the airline advanced, they lived in Manhattan Beach, California; Denver, Colorado; McLean, Virginia; Palos Verdes Estates, California; Chatham, New Jersey; Menlo Park, California; finally moving to Longmont after PK’s retirement in 1981.
Gloria loved her supper club group, gardening, hiking in England, being active in the Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Association, participating in PEO, doing volunteer work, and traveling the world. Gloria effortlessly made friends and touched the lives of everyone she met.
She was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She especially loved her dear grandchildren and cherished the time she spent with them. She particularly enjoyed their many travels together and visits in the summers.
Gloria is survived by her husband, PK; her son, Alan, and his wife, Kathleen, of Altadena, California; her son, Rick, of El Cerrito, California; her stepson, David, of Los Altos, California; and her grandchildren, Megan, Clark, Dillon, Troy and Tai. She adored them all. She is also survived by her brother, Ted Cadieu, of Estero, Florida, and numerous nieces, nephews, extended family members and friends. She is preceded in death by her stepson, Ken, and her granddaughter, Anna.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the PEO, (PEO Colorado Chapter CJ, 816 Wildflower Drive, Longmont, CO), Pi Beta Phi Foundation, or First Lutheran Church where she was a longtime member.