This post was originally printed in our Summer 2006 Spotlight. It was written by our founder, Barbara Barger, to honor her daughter Beth's passing. Doctors originally estimated Beth would only live 14 years. With her mother's love, and the care and support of Helping Hands for the Disabled, Beth lived a fulfilling life for 42 years. We repost it today as a tribute to Barb, Beth and the rich history of DAHLIA.
,I want to concentrate my memories of Beth on the good times, but I must hold in my head that many of the bad times provided great learning opportunities for me and others along the way.
Beth had a lot of sickness and physical challenges in her life, but when she was well, she was the ultimate “Good Time Girl” in the purest form. She loved to laugh and no one could watch or hear her laughter and not laugh themselves. She had a wonderful sense of humor and was a long time fan of The Three Stooges, Tom and Jerry and other physical type comedy. She was a faithful follower of Sesame Street, and she had a huge collection of Cookie Monster collectibles. She loved every holiday and celebrated all of them. She always knew when it was time to put the decorations up and where they were stored.
She made many accurate animal sounds long before she attempted to talk and was particularly good at barking in places where dogs were not allowed. Her words were limited, but if you took the time to get to know her, watch her gestures and listen, her communication was excellent. She was honest, decisive, curious, brave and she had a determination to achieve that powered both of us to do things that I could not have imagined 42 years ago.
She was the baby in the hospital nursery with all the dark hair and long, long fingers that everyone was talking about and she was “My Baby.” She was the baby who spent half of her first five years in body casts, and she could destroy them within a few days on a regular basis. I wish I had filmed her young years, because she was amazing. Regardless of the position they cast her in, she could figure out a way to get around. She pulled herself on her elbows, scooted on her butt, used the palms of her hands and could move like a bullet. At times, she did a limited amount of walking, but at the age of 11 she got her first wheelchair. She had used wheelchairs at the hospital and some at school, but she had not needed it at home.
She was the little girl who made friends wherever she went. She was the girl who wanted to know and was never afraid to ask: “WHAT’S THAT?” She was the girl who never forgot people, places, games she played with certain people, and what she never wanted to do again. She loved going to school, and in 1976 she was Betsy Ross in a Bi-centennial play.
All she had to do was sit in a chair and sew the flag. I remember the teacher telling her “do not bark while you are on the stage.” She was a success and sewed the flag to her own dress. After she graduated from Northeast High School she started “working” at Community Enterprises of Issaquah. I know she occasionally worked, but mostly I believe Beth considered this to be one of her favorite social activities.
She was the girl that someone knew when we were getting off an air-plane at O’Hare airport in Chicago. When I inquired, the woman said that her son had been in Children’s Hospital with his leg in traction and Beth just wheeled into his room and asked, “What’s that?” and wanted to know about his traction. She could not pass someone with a cast and not be curious. When she had to have traction later on, she took the pin out of her knee and sent the weights to the floor with a bang. When she saw he boy with the traction, she was probably wondering why he was tolerating it. She was not very tolerant of going to the doctor or hospital, but she loved all the medical shows on television. I am sure there are doctors and nurses who remember Beth as a very challenging patient. She probably could be in some record book for the number of IV’s she’s removed and for the speed of doing it.