What a lovely person -- beautiful, unfailingly kind and thoughtful, with a wonderful sense of humor. She was a talented writer and teacher. She loved music and theatre. She was a marvelous cook. She was an enthusiastic hiker in the Rockies.
Her sense of humor was charming. When a question arose about what Scotsmen really wore (or didn't wear) under their kilts, Brenda shared several pictures that left no doubt as to the answer. One striking photo showed the Queen seated among a group of kilted soldiers, leaving nothing to the imagination.
Brenda had the unique ability to keep Joyce in line when it came to her Geordie vocabulary. When Joyce said something absurdly out of the ordinary in her north of England dialect, pretending it was standard English, she would look at Brenda for validation. Brenda would not hesitate to give us the true picture.
Two of the things Brenda and I did together were very special to me. One was music and the other was politics.
Brenda was the keyboard accompanist for many of our group musical activities. For example, she would accompany Bill and me on the recorder, with Joyce joining in occasionally on the drum or dust buster. But Brenda and I spent many hours sight-reading together on our own. We had a great time playing through Purcell, Bach, Vivaldi, and others. Because we didn't practice in between, we had to slow down in the difficult passages, thereby creating a new favorite tempo that we dubbed “allegro NOT! “
As for politics, Brenda was a dedicated Democrat, as am I. But while employed by the Times, I could not engage in politics. The week after I retired in 2008, Brenda recruited me to help register voters before the presidential election. We were once kicked out of our position in front of a Winn-Dixie by the store manager who obviously thought our activities were somehow nefarious. As the election approached, we went together into a variety of neighborhoods, including some rather sketchy trailer parks in Thonotosassa, knocking on doors to encourage people to get out and vote. We were threatened by guard dogs, rained on, and occasionally confounded by impenetrable address listings in apartment complexes. But we met interesting people and generally felt virtuous for doing our civic duty. This fall I will make phone calls to get out the vote, in honor of our Brenda. May the Democrats win!
Brenda kept her sense of humor through her last days. We texted back and forth about the hazards of hospital gowns flapping in the breeze. Brenda commented that "Gown indiscretions require constant vigilance!!! ... Could offer tutorials ... Gowns Around the World." She was thinking of OLLI, I'm sure.