Note from the Editorial Team: We were blessed to have Barbara sharing her Wagtoons here at RedState for the past year-and-a-half. Sadly, Barbara lost her long battle with cancer late last night. Barbara was a believer, strong in her faith, and though we are heartbroken to lose her, we also know she has gained entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, and we are thankful for that knowledge and the hope that was born in Bethlehem on this day. Knowing she was in failing health, last month, Barbara shared with us the obituary she penned for herself and we promised to share it upon her passing. Please join us in honoring the memory of a truly dear lady who will be sorely missed.
Barbara Black Fox
One of the things about having a chronic, long term illness is that death doesn’t sneak up on you. It’s expected. And so, with that introduction, I present my obituary, or auto-obituary.
I was born in 1951 in Southern California. In those days California was an almost idyllic place to live. My parents loved each other and they loved their children. When I was five my family was one of the first families to move into an Orange County housing tract. There were still orange groves all around us that would soon be removed to make way for more tract houses. Most of the families who moved in had children my age so I had many “built in” friends.
My best friend lived next door. She was a Lutheran (who later converted to Catholicism) and I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We never fought about religion. I respected her views and she respected mine. This friendship and the tolerance we shared for our differing views affected how I have treated others my whole life. I have evangelical friends, pagan friends, friends who follow Norse gods, friends who have no beliefs at all, as well as others. As long as they don’t try to pressure me into believing (or not believing) their points of view — we get along.
A defining moment in my life happened at the end of 8th grade. In my junior high, the English classes were divided into four classifications: remedial, average, enriched, and accelerated. I was in the enriched class. My English teacher called those of us in that class in to see him one at a time and explained that 9th grade high school only had 3 divisions. He had been asked to recommend which students should be moved up to the top level and which students would be dropped down to average. Most of our junior high English class curriculum consisted of spelling tests (I am a terrible speller) and diagramming sentences (a practice I never understood and hated. Why take a perfectly good sentence and mess it up so you couldn’t even tell what the writer was trying to communicate? I never did understand all the straight crossing lines, the curving lines, or how we diagrammed prepositional phrases or gerunds.) My teacher explained that I would be assigned to an average English class. And I would do very well there. I left his room believing him — that I was not that smart, but not in the bottom either.
The first day of 9th grade they herded us all into the auditorium and showed us these expensive boxes they’d just bought to teach all the English classes how to “speed read.” We all tested to see where we’d be assigned. (Back-story: I’ve always loved to read for pleasure. My best friend and I used to ride our bikes to the public library and check out 6 books — the maximum amount. Then I’d hurry home and read them as quickly as I could so I could ride back and check out six more. So even without this expensive new teaching system, I had taught myself to read, not a word at a time, but a page at a time, with very high comprehension.) Naturally, I was placed in the accelerated English class. Very soon thereafter, I was moved up again when an AP (Advanced Placement) English class was created. And at senior class awards assembly, I won the Rotary Club Senior award for English. I scored in the top 1% in the nation in English in my college entrance exams. And when I got to BYU and attempted to register for Freshman English I was informed that I was exempt. This taught me that people’s limitations on the abilities of others can be completely wrong.
I have always liked to draw. I was the cartoonist for my high school paper, The Troy High Oracle. I was the cartoonist my sophomore year for my college paper, the BYU Daily Universe. And I have had paying and nonpaying jobs cartooning for various internet sites. The last being RedState. (redstate.com)
When I was in my early 20’s I looked at my life and decided what I was doing (following the rules) was not giving me the results I wanted. Beer commercials, music, and “the world” told me I was unhappy because I wasn’t living with enough freedom. I decided to drop out of college — stop going to church. Eventually, I moved back to California and lived with high school friends in various apartments. I got a job and a boyfriend and changed my lifestyle. After a while, I evaluated my decisions and discovered that I didn’t really like the person I’d become. I realized I liked “me” better when I was doing what I had been taught. So I course-corrected. I will be eternally grateful that my boyfriend — later my husband — went along with me through all of this. I am sure it wasn’t easy for him. I was returning to my previous lifestyle. He was experiencing a totally foreign one.
I married in 1974. Both of our parents were not happy about that. His mother didn’t like me. And my father (secretly) told my mother that I’d be back home in 3 years with 2 kids (or 2 years with 3 kids — I’m not sure.) But surprise! We stayed married and he is my best friend.
I am survived by my husband, six children, one sister, and two brothers.
I also would like someone to point out that I had horrible self-esteem issues and that Jack was the one who helped me see my potential. I still remember, as a newlywed, I had been whining about how lacking I was in every way and him saying, “Can’t you see how that makes me feel? I picked you.” or something like that. By constantly degrading myself I was calling him foolish for wanting to marry such a person. My love for him and his love for me helped me learn to love myself. You can’t serve others when you feel like any offering you give is worthless because you are worthless. So any good I’ve done, any acts of service I’ve given, go directly back to Jack. And how he made me feel about me. Our personalities complemented each other.
I am thankful that I forgive easily. (I don’t easily trust, but I do take that New Testament statement “you will be judged how you judge others” literally.) I have made a lot of foolish and stupid choices and I am counting on my Heavenly Father forgiving me.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. I have fought it ever since. I was declared “cancer-free” twice — and it came back 3 times. It is a heinous disease. It took my health, my dignity, various body parts that I really didn’t want to lose, but it never took my sense of humor or my smile (permanently.)
Oh, one more thing, I have lived my entire life with Prosopagnosia, the inability to remember or recognize faces. I don’t hold images of family or friends in my memory. As a child, I thought everyone was like this. (I was always shocked when people recognized me. “How did you know who I was? I don’t remember you.”) I didn’t have a severe case, but it always surprised me when I’d look in the bathroom mirror each morning, “Oh. That’s what I look like now.”
I have had a blessed time here on earth. I have met many amazing people and have made lifelong friends. I purposefully haven’t mentioned them by name to protect their privacy, but each of my children is a friend and someone I would love even if I weren’t their mother. And as I have previously mentioned, my husband is my best friend — and the best choice I ever made was to marry him.
If you’re reading this I have passed. Please don’t send flowers or donate money to a cause in my name. If you want to honor my memory please make sure to vote for the more conservative candidate in all upcoming elections. Thank you.
Love, Barbara Black Fox