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"June - In the Footsteps of an Angel"

June in Raleigh 1994

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"June - In the Footsteps of an Angel"

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“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.”

 

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Bruces drawing of June

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(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.)

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June's Life and the Love of her Church

June was born on a dairy farm near Colfax, WI in 1927 and grew up during the “Great Depression” years. June was confirmed in the Colfax Lutheran Church. June had a lifelong faith and a love for the Lutheran church. June later became a member of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley for 50 + years.

June served on the Redeemer Lutheran Church Board, 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 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 hosted the church “Ruth” and “Rebecca” circle meetings in her home and often served as Chairwomen. June also assisted in the church kitchen, was a Sunday “Greeter” and a part of the Bell Choir. June was paired in an evangelistic team calling on church members and others. This was a part of Redeemer’s sponsored “Evangelistic Explosion” program. June's evangelism team member Dean remembers 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.”

June participated in the internationally acclaimed and sponsored Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) for six years. During the last two years she was in early stages of her Alzheimer's. Her last year of participation was very difficult for her as Alzheimer's was slowly asserting itself and attacking her brain. The weekly studies were becoming more than she could manage. I remember trying to assist her the last year and being impressed with the depth of the studies and wondering how she had come as far as she had with this terrible handicap. 

In spite of her many personal church activities, June always made light of and ignored her own achievements. June’s personality never strayed far from that of the farm girl from Colfax, Wisconsin that I first met in 1951. June was totally without guile or pretense. I know of no other person in my lifetime who has or comes as close to the Bible definition of the virtue of humbleness...often described as the "greatest of all virtues and the least sought after!"

I always considered myself well organized but I will never know how June was able to keep up her many church activities and still be a great wife, daughter, mother and grandmother. She did it all with out short changing of any activity and managed to always look bright, sharp, smiling and beautiful. I remember one of her neighbor friends telling me how much she admired June, wanted to be like her and how June was always so well organized. Maybe God was showing June the way!

For many years June traveled with me in the US, Canada and Europe to attend forensic science conferences as a part of my forensic science career and as my administrative assistant. I know that June while being perhaps a bit amused at my references to her as my Administrative Assistant, did at the same time appear pleased with this designation.  In reality, what would I have been without her and the support she always gave me? London, was a city we visited 8 times and it became June’s favorite city. June established a life long friendship with the Bruce family of nearby Bexley, Kent. June loved to dance and we danced the night away at such exotic places as the Rossia Hotel in Moscow in 1969. This was during the first ever Soviet-American Symposium in Forensic Science and at the height of the "Cold War." June later had a handshake with Pope Paul VI during an audience at the Vatican in 1973. I remember that the Pope did not take the time to shake my hand. June was a part of official receptions by Her Majesties Government In Edinburgh in 1972, the President of Italy at Rome in 1973 and at the House of Lords in London in 1999. June spent a week at Oxford University in 1984, residing in the student housing at the historic Christ Church College.

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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”.

 Angel book

(Photo by Keith Olson a Redeemer Lutheran friend of June and Mine)

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  June and Alzheimer's

June’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis came in January 1998. June had noted short term memory problems during 1997 and had asked her doctor of Geriatrics about them at her annual physical examination near that year end. As a frequent nursing  home visitor, June knew at a very early date, the blackness and the depth of the distant approaching Alzheimer’s storm clouds. June displayed a concern for me. I remember well that Sunday (Ca. 1999) when she brought home the “Care Notes” pamphlet from our church - “Handling Grief as a Man.” June said nothing; just left it out for me to find and to read. I remember the time that she detected one of my episodes of emotional sadness as I watched her illness progress. She tried to console me by saying “Don’t worry, I will be alright Stan!” I am sure at the time, we both really knew otherwise.

June 2002Thereafter, I lost June slowly, tear drop by tear drop during her long and exhausting journey into the shadows of Alzheimer’s that lasted almost 12 years.

For the first 8 plus years I took care of June at our home. The first 6 years were relatively easy years and only required accommodation for her short term memory problems. We continued to travel extensively and did the many things we had put off in past years. We completed our "bucket list"...In Years 7 and 8, the disease started closing in on us as we saw June’s personality changes and eventually hallucinations and behavioral changes. In year 9, June went into a nursing home. As the disease progressed she had seizures, lost ability to walk or talk, had difficulty swallowing, eating, and became incontinent. During the last year and a half, she rarely opened her eyes or even responded. Aspiration pneumonia, a common Alzheimer’s complication ended her life.

June gave me a lifetime of unconditional love during our 56 year’s marriage and a life with only the regret that it is now over and that June has had to suffer the horrors of Alzheimer's. I owe her and God an unending debt!

June's passing was as if a most beautiful symphony that has played during our life together, now ceased to exist!

Before her Alzheimer's diagnosis, our world and her character and personality were represented by a vast sea of bright and beautiful lights. After her Alzheimer's diagnosis, these bright lights all begin to slowly dim. As June slowly slipped deeper into the shadows of Alzheimer's, the lights gradually flickered out one by one. Eventually the time came during the last two years of her life, when the brightness that marked our world and June’s life was replaced by one of darkness.

June rarely ever opened her eyes to a world that was then alien and strange to her. June had become so tired, exhausted and weary that in the last year of her life she lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield. Early one Thursday morning, June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" God mercifully took June home on the 23rd of October 2008. June's passing leaves me with an emptiness that can never be filled! 

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Photo Notes

The top center photo of June was taken in 1994 and approx 4 years before her first Alzheimer's symptoms. The second top center drawing of June in the footsteps of an Angel ...using a photo for the head of June...The lower right photo above was taken in the year 2002. June at that time was into her 6th year of Alzheimer's but doing very well...this was also our 50th wedding anniversary year! The bottom center photo is described in the caption underneath the photo.

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       Upwaltham Church England

(Photo above is the old Norman church, (ca. 1100) "St. Mary the Virgin" at Upwaltham, England where historic old English writings were the inspiration for the above poem.)

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(This page was published in the honor and memory of June's 85th birthday anniversary on 8 Novmeber 2012 in the Sunday Edition, of the Minneapolis Star - Tribune's Celebrations Section on 11 November 2012.)

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Reader's Comments

Bernadette Brady  - Dublin, Ireland - (8 November 2012): "Thinking of June on her 85th Birthday, in heaven. Thinking of you too and sending you comfort and strength."

Michele Christie - North Carolina - (9 November 2012): "Remembering June."

Christine Pickard  - Lincoln, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom - (9 November 2012): "Wonderful ."

Dianne Cogar  - Springfield, Ohio - (9 November 2012): "Absolutely beautiful!!!...I hope you found some peace of mind as you sat there over dinner last night pondering some wonderful memories while celebrating Junes birthday yesterday. Though I know you felt lonely there without her by your side, I believe she joyfully shared the hour. What a beautiful gift in honoring your wife."

Merideth Sindel  - Sydney, Australia - (9 November 2012): "Anniversaries are not easy.  When those awful 'firsts' come along you feel as though you're the only person in the world.  To make this anniversary into a kind of party as well as a tribute/celebration is a big effort, Stan.  June is still there for others."

Linda Farr Borman  - Fridley, Minnesota - (11 November 2012): "I read it in this mornings paper. Your love shines through the words you write about June. Beautiful." 

Timothy Hayes  - Dublin, Ireland - (12 November 2012): "Very very moving Stan, beautiful photo...very well put together."

Bridie Breen  - Manchester United Kingdom - (6 January 2014): "That's so beautiful Stan. A lovely tribute . We are blessed in life to meet outstanding humans who love like Angels."

Cher Riley-Hart  - Bristol, United Kingdom- (6 January 2014): "Lovely poem and tribute Stan to your wonderful lady.  I believe for however long we are here, we are all here for a purpose, to learn something, along our journey we touch many other people and share a little in their lives.  I was not blessed to be touched by your lovely lady.  However through these pages she has been able to reach out to me and for that I bless you. Thank you for sharing her with us Stanton."

Marsha McKneely Ault  - Nacogdoches, Texas - (6 January 2014): "I love the poem and the drawing. . . honoring a beautiful lady that I hope one day on the other side of the veil that perhaps I will have the wonderful opportunity to meet."

John Stevens  - Twin Falls, Idaho - (6 January 2014): "Beautifully done Stan."

Terry Shepherd  - Warsaw, Indiana - (6 January 2014): "This is so beautiful  Stanton. I haven't seen you for a while, so good to hear from you."

G'Anna Martin-Dent  - Amarillo, Texas - (7 January 2014): "That is absolutely beautiful! I love it! She must've been one special lady!!"

Ann Napoletan   - Columbus, Ohio - (7 January 2014): "Such a beautiful lady, Stan."

Heather Pearson  - Southampton, United Kingdom - (16 April 2014): "EXTRA! EXTRA! Friends' Newsflash:   Stanton O. Berg link from a post in ' Facebook's  'Dementia Aware Closed Group'. A very poignant post about Stanton's darling wife at this Eastertide:"

Deepak Sondhi  - Dagenham, United Kingdom - (23 September 2014): "Love your Love for June, Stan. Amazing and out of this world. I am so emotional at this. God Bless."

Ena Castle - Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia - (8 March 2015): "The interiors of these little old churches would gladen your heart, Stanton. And there are so many of them in all the little villages."

 

 

 

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June's Passing

June 1994

After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one Thursday morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on the below link:

 

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam"