I have a lot of wonderful memories of her that I will hold on to. I don't know if my earliest memory is real, or it just feels real because I have heard the story so many times. I was sitting in the bathroom while Verna curled my hair with a curling iron (not her standard curlers) before we went to church. I said, 'Be careful Verna, there is a head under there.' She laughed and laughed. I think I was about 4.
Verna loved Christmas and planned for it all year long. She wasn't one for everyone quickly opening all of their gifts at once. She really enjoyed us going one by one opening each gift and having our picture taken with it (half of the photos had her finger in front of the lense once developed). Some years we would be up well into the night on Christmas Eve opening up the prizes she had been picking out for us all year long.
Just after college, after a particularly bad break-up, I decided to move to Colorado for a ski season to recuperate. Instead of skiing though, I had a better time spending every weekend taking sewing classes with Verna. I'm not sure if it was ever something she would have chosen to do by herself, but she took up quilting for me!
Verna hated the heat. Growing up in Kentuky she would get migraine headaches from it. I never saw her in a bathing suit and the beach was not her idea of a good time. Still, she spent a week in Tulum, Mexico to be a part of Jacob and my wedding celebration. Later she admitted that she was hot and sweaty and uncomfortable the whole time, but said 'I wouldn't have missed it!'
She did like a good adventure though and visited us in Alaska five times while we were there over almost 3 years. We saw the Iditerod, explored Sitka, Girdwood, and Anchorage and did A LOT of shopping. Verna loved to shop. Not being a very athletic person I would say her favorite past times were traveling, learning about new cultures, painting, shopping and spending time with her family.
The summer before we moved to Colorado Verna made one last trip to Alaska and took me and Jacob to Kodiak. She was 80 years old. We jumped out of a float plane into the ocean near the beach and hiked for 4 hours looking at the most amazing grizzlies. It was the trip of a lifetime!
She was also very supportive of our plans to sail. She moved to Germany with her husband, my mom and two aunts when the girls were still young. She believed it was an amazing experience for them and told me she was happy we were doing something exciting with our children too.
Verna taught me so much about being an accepting, non-judging, loyal, and generous person. I can only hope to be as good hearted and loving a person. She was the type of person you felt like you could talk about anything with. Even the hardest of subjects would end with a good laugh.
She was one of my best friends, and I will miss her forever.