I met Beach Cheryl thirty years ago on Brownie’s Beach in front of my home. She was there every Summer weekend with her Grandson and Daughter. Over time, we started to chat. Then we’d walk the Boardwalk and talk. And then we shared the stories of our lives.
I’d pop by without notice just to shoot the breeze. She ALWAYS made time for me. She could really make me laugh. She was intuitive and observant at an extraordinary, jaw dropping level. She was drop dead honest always. And burst out laughing, rib tickling funny getting you to see yourself and everything else. She could see you down to your soul. And love you all the way there.
She had a strength of character that was remarkable. She cared deeply for each and every family member with an unselfish, steadfast devotion. She was the family tower of strength. And a devoted, fun, involved Dog Nana to Ox and Dakota, Mugwa, Homer, Rudy and each of the family dogs. RUDY, the Rescue Dachshund, decided to trot on over and move right in after he lost PopPop. RUDY knew where HIS bread was buttered.
Every weekend she would visit her daughter, Lori, in the nursing home. Never one complaint. NEVER. She was the safe port in a storm for her whole family. She had cool nick names for each of them. Plus, be there for her Folks? I mean REALLY be there? You’ve got that right. It was the same kind of unselfish, devoted love I saw Tonya give her in the remaining months of her life.
She often said near the end that she was CONTENT. What a nice thought to leave us with. But how like her!
She created peace and harmony around her. The warm home decor, the beautiful garden, the fresh flowers, the “living room” like Porch, the soothing lighting and the fresh smell of coffee brewing...there was simply a peace about her despite any chaos elsewhere.
My Mom called her a HERO. When the plane hit the Pentagon, I unraveled into tears of relief when I finally reached her Mother on the phone to learn that Beach Cheryl was fine. Did she leave? No. She stayed to man the phones. HERO. A true Hero at work and at home to her family, friends and coworkers. ALWAYS.
Landon? I heard all about Landon. He captured her heart! Her description of her little Great Grandson was simply tender and endearing. Just like the lifetime of devoted, loyal and loving chatter about her daughters TonTon and Lori, Grandson Andrew...oh, definitely Andrew, her four brothers, TT, GooGoo, Garkie, Bubba and her Folks.
She signed her cards, “ Love, light and laughter.” How perfect.
She said several times over the years that she would always have a roof over her head because if something happened she knew I would let her move on in with me. Kind of like the way Rudy rolled across the street and moved on in with her. We just laughed. Actually I nervously laughed. It was truly quite a compliment from someone whom everyone else depended upon to be their beacon, their safety net, their refuge in a storm. But once she found, or actually Dennis found, the Neeld Estate Home ...and OX... I never heard her say it again. She found H O M E and she would tell me over and over how much she loved her home.
She GOT people. Really, really got them. She snapped some of my top favorite photos. She simply got me and she got YOU, too. She often mentioned she was raised with four brothers so you better believe she could hold her own with them and with everyone else. Fiery, disciplined, and a little temperamental? Yep, that, too. A true Gemini through and through.
Beach Cheryl was an Angel on Earth to her family and friends. The only difference now is that she’s got her wings. That is, after she FIRST got GREAT BIG HUGS from her Dad and Lori and Larry and Mark. And slurpy kisses from all the dogs, too. Rest In Peace, Beach Cheryl. May there always be sand in your toes, flowers in your garden and a heart filled with family and friends. And a great big Porch at the Beach to enjoy it all.
Cheryl Ritchie, RE/MAX Leading Edge, www.GoldenResults.com, 301-980-7566