I Love You, Barbara: A Tribute
I knew it wouldn’t be easy but how do you pay tribute to the love of your life— your soul mate—the mother of your children—a woman who never gave up and fought trauma and illness for the last 27 years of her life as a champion, in a few short paragraphs.
Barbara’s final breath came in our home late Saturday—a place she loved and was so proud of. Barb had a knack of creating beauty with her handmade decorative pillows, her wall designs, her color schemes. She was a master.
Not many people can say they took their intended spouse to a high school prom. I was fortunate to have that opportunity and three years later in 1965, Barbara Marks became Barbara Gross.
Barbara loved to read and toil in her garden. Her interests were never really local, yet, she often attended firehouse dinners and other events to recognize my work.
Barbara taught for two years in the Carmel School District and was on the faculty when the George Fischer Middle School opened its doors in 1970. That year she became pregnant with our son Andrew and after he was born, Barbara took a hiatus from the classroom to become a full-time mom and housewife. Kim came along three years later and when our daughter began kindergarten, Barbara landed a job in the North Salem School District where she was employed as a reading teacher until her retirement last June.
In 1984, our lives changed forever, when Barb was involved in a horrific crash in North Salem. She suffered brain injury, was paralyzed, lost her speech, and almost died.
After spending weeks in intensive care and months at a rehabilitation hospital, Barbara returned home and continued her work as a mom along with her teaching responsibilities.
In 2003, Barbara was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer—the kiss of death for most people. Barb underwent surgery and after months of treatments beat the odds and was cured. Last June after developing a sore throat that wouldn’t go away, squamous cell carcinoma was the diagnosis—a cancer that we were told was easily curable. Unfortunately, my love’s luck ran out. The dreaded disease metastasized in the lymph nodes. Once again Barbara refused to give up. She spent two agonizing months last summer in the hospital but gained enough strength to return home in late August. Life returned to almost normal through Christmas, but in January a case of double vision indicated the tumor had grown and was spreading. Back in the hospital for another five weeks until in mid-February, Barbara made the decision—no more treatments!
She returned home and with the love and caring of her family, close friends, and some of the finest practitioners affiliated with the Putnam Visiting Nurses group, Barbara was able to live out her remaining days in her home with Magoo (our Yorkshire terrier) at her side.
There are so many people to thank for their love, caring, and desire to help during our ordeal. Our daughter and son were always there as was my brother Henry, his wife Ginny, dear friends, Deborah, Anita and Joe, Marilyn and Martin, Sarah, Monica, Vinnie, Maria Elena, Loretta, Lynne, and Terri and the list goes on and on.
I can never begin to thank Barbara’s oncologist, Dr. Robert Cooper of Danbury, for his love and compassion—truly unique in the medical field.
Barbara relished the role of being a grandmother and we have been blessed with four wonderful grandchildren—Carter, McKenzie, Alex, and Juliette. Unfortunately the grandkids will only have distant memories of a woman who loved them more than anything.
I can’t imagine life going on without my Barbara—weekend breakfasts together, summer excursions to northern California riding along Highway One with the top down on a Sebring convertible, Thanksgiving feasts with the family, Christmas- Eve dinners with Anita and Joe and celebrating New Year’s eve with Dimmy and Al.
Barbara: You have been my rock. Everything I have accomplished I owe to you. I miss you and until we meet again, I love you. I will always love you!