June - "Who Left the Door to Heaven Open?"
- Published on Saturday, 08 June 2013 01:38
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(June in Raleigh - 1994 - Photo by daughter Susan)
The title to this page is reflected in a popular old Hank Thompson country-western song of 1974:…“Who Left The Door to Heaven Open”…
I once seriously debated in my mind if June could be an angel…but this idea was discarded after I considered… that angels do not marry mortals and angels do not become sick with Alzheimer’s…however, perhaps June was walking in the footsteps of an angel...the below poem from an early English Norman church which I adapted for June tells it in this way…but first the story of why I think June fits this very rare mould…
Of course, June was also a mother, grandmother, and a wife…a world traveler who traveled extensively in the US, Canada and visited Europe many times on forensic science matters…Edinburgh, Oxford, Rome, Zurich, Moscow, Leningrad, Budapest, Vienna, Dusseldorf...London became her favorite city…June also visited the birth place of her mother in Norway...
June Doing God's Work
June was however, far more that these limited descriptions would suggest. June was a lady focused on doing God’s work…June loved her Redeemer Lutheran Church. June served on the Redeemer Lutheran Church Board. June taught Sunday school and was a Girl Scout Leader. June visited the Lynwood Nursing Home each Wednesday evening and had dinner with the residents. June was a part of the Redeemer’s afternoon ministry to the Fridley Convalescent Nursing home. June took her turn assisting with serving noon meals at the Marie Sandvik Mission in downtown Minneapolis. June delivered “Meals on Wheels”. June was frequently a Chair-woman for the church's “Ruth” and “Rebecca” circles and often hosted meetings in her home. June served on the Service and the Nominating Committee's of the (LCW) Lutheran Church Women's group. .June also assisted in the church kitchen, was a Sunday “Greeter” and a member of the Bell Choir. For six years (1992-1998) June participated in the International BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) that met weekly for Bible study at the church. (June later discontinued BSF when Alzheimer's became a part of her life.) June was paired in one of Redeemer's evangelistic teams that called on church members and others…Part of the church “Evangelistic Explosion” program. Dean, her team member described June:
“I remember for June, presenting the gospel was a very natural thing for her to do. People felt comfortable and not threatened by her because she was so genuine and related effectively with them. Her love for the Lord shone through her as she conversed with the people...she had a special spirit about her and always smiling.”
In spite of her many personal church activities, June gave little import to the work that she was doing. June always made light of and ignored her own achievements.
I have asked the question of How does one describe a person who is a very humble person…who is without any form of envy, greed or selfishness...loves unconditionally...that always appears to operate on the highest moral level...a person who is unlike most other persons that one is likely to meet in a lifetime?…and once you have met such a person, they would forever leave a footprint on your heart...and yes, June was such a person!
June was totally without guile or pretense. I know of very few persons in my lifetime that has or comes as close to the church description of the virtue of humbleness...often described as the "greatest of all virtues and the least sought after!"…June taught our children not to envy those who had more material possessions...Julie our daughter recalls June admonishing them to always "Be happy with what you have!" Julie also observed that June always placed family, friends and other's before herself.
June was once described by a young cousin as “The Lady with the friendly smile and the kind eyes.”
June’s million dollar smile was her trademark…one lady said“even June’s eye’s smiled.”
June’s personality never strayed far from that of the farm girl from Colfax, Wisconsin that I first met in 1951.
June's Incredible Honesty
June’s scrupulous honesty borders on the incredible…it can only be explained by a story…several years ago as June was driving her car in Fridley, she came upon a construction area at an intersection consisting of barriers and signs and rerouting…in the confusion she ran a red light…no accident took place and no police were around. June drove immediately to the nearby Fridley Police Department and turned her self in for “running a red light”…the police did not issue her a ticket, only told her since no harm was done she could go but drive more carefully in construction zones in the future. I am sure that such an event had never before taken place in the history of the Fridley Police Department…but then they probably never encountered a lady like June before either!
Why did God bless me by putting June in my life?…it was like winning the grand prize in a lottery of life. I will never know the answer to that question but I am sure it was a providential appointment and not a chance encounter!…Perhaps God knew that I needed June to turn my life around...perhaps God knew that June would need me later as she traveled into the shadows and the darkness of Alzheimer's...a twelve year journey with fear at every corner...
"June, In the Footsteps of an Angel"
“June, you did not wish for riches nor the glow of greatness,
but wherever you would go,
some weary heart would be gladdened at your smile,
or a shadowed life would know sunshine for a while.
And so your path is like a track of light,
as an angels’ footsteps passing through the night.”
(The idea for this poem about June came from some early day archaic English writings on an old Norman Church wall in the Hamlet of Upwaltham, (St. Mary The Virgin) Chichester, West Sussex on England’s South East Coast. The church dates to ca. 1100 AD. The moment I read the words, I thought, here was an excellent description of June. Her humbleness, her kindness to the sick and elderly and her signature smile. I simply added the title, and rewrote the original wording into a poem about June using updated English and revising as I thought appropriate. - Stan Berg -2011.)
(Drawing of June in the footsteps of an angel by our English Friend Gordon Bruce - June 2013)
June - a reflection of God’s Love
June was a Christian all of her life. June loved her Lutheran Christian Church and the church was a focal point of her life…Christianity is the Religion of Love and June was one of the churches most enthusiastic ambassadors… while Angels are heavenly creatures and not earthly beings, June was an earthly replica of those heavenly creatures… June walked in the footsteps of an Angel…
In the living room of our home at 6025 Gardena Lane, June has a quotation on the center coffee table that reflected her philosophy of love…it has been there as long as I can remember.
Encircled in pink Roses the quotation reads:
“Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things…”
1 Corinthians 13: 7(ESV)
This quotation was certainly June's philosophy of life and her reflection of God's love.
Stan’s Gift to June of a “Little book of Angels”
This little book (approx. 3” x 4”) is entitled “A Little Book of Angels” and is only 75 pages long and contains numerous sayings, quotes and commentaries on Angles by poets, writers and philosophers. This gift to June from Stan was dated around the time of our 44th anniversary in August 1996…the inscription on the title page suggests that I thought of June as my ”Angel”. This was just one year from the time that June started having her short term memory problems and two years from the time that she was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's!
(Photo by Keith Olson a Redeemer Lutheran friend of June and Mine)
Nancy Carrillo - New Bedford, Massachusetts - (8 June 2013): "I describe her as truly your one and only soul mate."
Melissa Vaughan - Indianapolis, Indiana - (8 June 2013): 'Unconditional love."
Veronica Perrusio - Morris Plains, New Jersey - (8 June 2013): "Such a beautiful tribute!"
Merideth Sindel - Sydney, Australia - (9 June 2013):"That is a wonderful tribute to your beloved wife, Stan."
Dave Glesne - Fridley, Minnesota - (9 June 2013): "What a great tribute to June! I feel like I get to know her better when you write about her. I did not realize she was involved in so many of Redeemer’s ministries. And that story about running a red light – this is incredible!!...Pastor Dave"
Maura Buddy Bear - Dublin, Ireland - (10 June 2013): "Stanton this is so Beautiful, June had such a Beautiful smile and laughing eyes."
Annette Beseman - Blaine, Minnesota - (10 June 2013): "This was a nice way to start a Monday. I served with June as a greeter way back when…usually it was married couples doing the greeting, but June and I were a “couple”! I enjoyed the time chatting with June in between “greets” as much as the greeting. And yes, I count myself among the many who have already commented about June’s smile—ever present and made you want to smile right back. I loved the story about going through the red light. If that isn’t honesty, I don’t know what is! Thanks for sharing Stan."
Dianne Cogar - Springfield, Ohio - (10 June 2013): "It's beautiful, and it is absolutely the highest tribute a man could give his beloved wife. I only hope June was always aware of your deep and profound love of her throughout your marriage. ...but then again, I'm sure she was…Her tribute "after life" is a wonderful and commendable gift "to others" who knew June…I'm certain that feeling of being appreciated, in part, played a small role in the amazing drive June had in all she so charitably gave of herself throughout her life…appreciate all you do to keep June alive in your heart, and remembered by many. "Wow! "… Even though your heart aches to this day... how you go about, everyday, showing your love and respect for June, and educating others on the crippling disease, Alzheimer, and also displaying your gentle and caring and giving kindness…you must know that we are all learning from you, and this is such a beautiful thing. But please keep in mind, as you journey on in your life, especially now without your beloved June, you have to believe that you have a continuing purpose in life that God expects You to fulfill…I know you get lonely Stan, I know you miss June, but I also know that your life has a special importance right now. And It's a "purpose" that comes with pure happiness believe it or not...(1 July 2013):"And in this rendition of June walking in the footsteps of a heavenly angel, I see the depth of her lasting fame reflecting her usual kind and tender ways in bringing a ray of sunshine to your daily rounds through memory, and all your blessed encounters through real experiences."
Isabel Harper - Belfast, United Kingdom - (10 June 2013): "This is a beautiful tribute Stanton to your beloved June. Your stories of her leave the reader in no doubt as to how special a lady she was and of how devoted you were to her, and still are. I don't think you two met by chance, God intended it so. You shared a remarkable life together and that does not happen very often, only once in a lifetime, for a few. The work you do in memory of June to raise awareness of Alzheimer's is commendable and testimony to how much you loved her...Stanton, you and June were made for each other, two halves of a whole, soul mates."
Beth Ann Doucette - Lino Lakes, Minnesota - (10 June 2013): "Always beautiful, Stan."
LA Voz DE Los Recuerdos Alzheimer Antofagasta - Antofagasta, Chile - (10 June 2013): "The lady of the smile and kind eyes. - A great tribute"
Jane Moore - Camelford, United Kingdom - (11 June 2013): "Makes nice reading Stanton!"
Nancy Burton - New Brighton, Minnesota - (11 June 2013) "Beautiful, Stan! The part about the “running a red light” made me chuckle!! Good for June! I wish I would have had the privilege of meeting June. I feel as though I do know her through this website and your stories."
Christine Pickard - Lincoln, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom - (12 June 2013): "June, was a Wonderful ,kind, caring ,loving ,very special Lady, I wish I had met her, I feel it would have been an honor to be with her, she would have made me welcome, and of course telling me interesting things. Thank you June, with love."
Stephanie Grier Bunker - Tehachapi, California - (16 June 2013): " I never knew June and I've never met her personally but I feel I've come to know her and I would consider her an angel."
Gill Denman - Essex, United, Kingdom - (16 June 2013): "Strange that you should put this post here today. We have amazing cloud formations, the weather has been very changeable with horrendous dark grey cloud banks looming over the horizon. One of the cloud banks had the sun above it with a layer of gold coating the top of the grey, it went from a rich gold upwards to pure white light. As i saw it I thought of an old film, I think it was 1940's where the RAF pilots are going to heaven. As i stood by the window watching it was very easy to visualize people standing up there looking down, it all looked so solid. I like the idea of our loved ones being there, almost a projection of what is in our own hearts and souls and memory. I think angels could get dementia, it is a transitory thing bridging one place to another, maybe on the path to being an angel. It is rather like a caterpillar becoming a beautiful butterfly with the transitory stage in the middle."
Karen Breimeister - Fridley, Minnesota - (19 June 2013): "I'm finally getting caught up on email and did want to let you know how much I appreciated this beautiful tribute to June. I love the "red light" story, which I had not heard before. As I've mentioned in Grief Share, I think June was the official greeter at Redeemer before we had designated greeters. She was so kind and friendly to everyone and there was always a smile on her face. I know she was not able to smile as her Alzheimer's progressed, but I hope you continue to see that smile every time you think of her."
Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador Inc. - Mount Pearl, Newfoundland - (25 June 2013): "Thank you for sharing such a variety of resources with us. Your experience is valuable to us. - Amelia White, Events Coordinator."
Stacie L. Zamora - Hibbing, Minnesota - (1 July 2013):"Love the pic... that is so fitting and look at the smile on her face as she follows that angel :) ahhh made my morning!"
Vivienne Davies-Quarrell - Chester, Cheshire, United Kingdom - (1 July 2013): "Beautiful uplifting story Stanton."
Martina Kaut - Furtwangen, Germany - (1 September 2013): "Thank you Stanton... I love the poem !!..."June, In the Footsteps of an Angel."
Sylvia Sharon Ferguson Helton - Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada - (5 September 2014):"I have seen a lot about you an JUNE...she looked like a angel..you loved her as one...we can only hope our own loved one feels so about us...My Harold does with me...he holds me up...an says I am not fat..that is a BIG Lie....but out of his Love for me...he only sees the good in me...a true blue wonderful husband..as you also have been Stanton...God Bless you."
Louise Ann Howard - Batemans Bay, New South Wales, Australia - (5 September 2014): "So touching Stan. Love the picture too mate."
Bridie Breen - Manchester, United Kingdom - (7 September 2014): "Some very interesting and heartwarming reminiscences Stan."
Deepak Sondhi - Dagenham, United Kingdom - (23 September 2014)):"I Love your Love for June, Stan. Amazing and out of this world. I am so emotional at this. God Bless."
After an almost 11 year struggle with Alzheimer's, God took an exhausted June to her heavenly home...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label - Click on: