Use the “good” soaps and the fancy “guest” towels.

I know it’s not appropriate to stomp your feet and yell, “No, no, no” upon reading the obituary of a 92-year-old woman. But that didn’t stop me.

My mom sent me the obit for our family friend Bea. The Cliffs Notes version is that Bea lived life to the fullest and 92 years is a good, good run. We should be celebrating her life.

And I am. But there’s more to it.

Back in the day, Bea finally got me to try online dating. First of all, she wanted to set me up with her ENT doctor. That didn’t quite work out – something about him being not-quite-divorced and the dad of, like, 17 kids. But Bea led by example … and met a man when she was in her 80s. Her exact words were, “I’m just over the moon! We don’t have a lot of time, and I don’t want to waste any of it!”

Bea’s son walked her down the aisle. And I figured if Bea could find joy, I could, too. So I got off my couch and started interacting with the world again after a long hiatus.

My memories of Bea are of lipstick and laughter and being involved. She was on a committee with my mom. She helped out at the church with my grandma. She made my dad laugh with her funny stories.

Today, reading her obituary? I learned that Bea’s mother died when she was just 4 years old. She was eventually sent to live with a cousin. But what could have been a heartbreaking situation was a house filled with love, a home where Bea was welcomed as a sibling and as a daughter, not as a stranger. I’m so thankful. They helped fill her tank for a lifetime of loving everyone she met.

I can’t help but think of the Erma Bombeck column, “If I had my life to live over.” Bea burned the fancy candles and used the “good” soaps. And I feel like that’s the best way to honor her. Live it up. Use it up.

I always found it comforting to know that Bea was in the world. I think now the task is to be the Bea. If you need me, I’ll be out with the girls, enjoying fou-fou cocktails and wearing an outfit that’s a little too fancy because, well, why not?

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  • Reply Cinny November 5, 2016 at 5:03 am

    I'm in tears. My friend Bea would be so very pleased and honored by your beautiful words. Thank you for this tribute to her!

  • Reply Kari Wagner November 5, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Bea sounded absolutely amazing and she is now my new role model.

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin November 5, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    In honor of your friend I'll break out the "good china" tonight for dinner. We have much to learn from our wise elders. Sounds like you had a good mentor in her. I'm sorry for your loss of a friend.

  • Reply Becky November 7, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    What a lovely tribute. I completely agree with Bea – use it up. Live it up. It's the only way to go.

  • Reply Violet November 9, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Yup. A lovely, tiny spitfire who was a member of the organization I work for died unexpectedly last January. She was wicked funny, outspoken, and the embodiment of love. Before she passed away, I said I wanted to be like Marilyn when I get old. Now I say WWMD – What would Marilyn do?

    We simply have to be the Bea.

  • Reply Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen November 21, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Be the Bea! I love this idea. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend, she sounds lovely.

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