January 2001 Updates on

Mary Beth


The following page contains updates regarding Mary Beth's progress for January of 2001.

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December - 00 / February - 01

If you wish to contact Mary Beth's family, you may do so through contact us.

1-2-01 - Happy New Year!

We rang in the new year in by enjoying the inside of our own home with the fire going.  Visitors included Uncle Jeff and Nate, Elizabeth Gelpi , Amanda Millet, Gerilyn Goeddel, Jack and Liz Stapleton, the McNulty family and the Mower family.  For the evening, we fried and consumed two turkeys, watched the ball drop and made some noise.  It was very relaxing, uneventful, and wonderful.

The new year was relaxing as well with Uncle Jeff and Nate, Ann McCarthy, Megan Strout, Shannon Johnson, and Peggy and Dan Lane paying visits.  We enjoyed the lights at Tillis Park before we took Amanda and Elizabeth to Lambert for their flight.  We watched the Cotton Bowl, the only bowl game worth watching (in my opinion) and saw the K State Wildcats on to victory.

Today, we went to clinic for a visit for MB.  She is in good spirits and has received different medication to control her pain.  This afternoon Debra and Nikki, her hospice nurses, came to visit to start the process of home care for Mary Beth.  Mary Beth also had visits from Uncle Jeff, Gerilyn Goeddel, Ann McCarthy, Megan Strout, Jack and Liz Stapleton, and Joy Sterneck, Mary Beth's wonderful physical therapist.

We want to wish each and everyone of you a very blessed, happy, and healthy new year and thank you for your continued support of all of us.  We continue to feel the power of your prayers.

God bless you,


Mary Beth spent a relaxing day at home yesterday while her siblings went back to school.  Her visitors included Aunt Cathy, Aunt Patti, Vicky Mower, the McNulty family, Madonna Atwood, Bet Stapleton, Dr. Dave Hartenbach, Sara Clark, Father Tobin, and Amy George.  She truly enjoys the company of friends.  Her hospice group of J.J., Debra, and Deanne also paid a visit.  The pain medication Mary Beth received on Tuesday evening has been very effective in eliminating the pain she previously experienced in her legs, feet and back.

She received holy communion from Father Tobin and the entire family was here for a moment of reflection and prayer.  It was truly a fulfilling experience for all of us.  She also enjoyed watching her favorite movie, Tommy Boy, with Sara and had some good laughs during the process.

Thank you for your phone calls, cards, offers of assistance and prayers.  We could not make it through the day without feeling the love you show us continuously.

God bless you,


Yesterday was action-packed with a trip to Paint Me Pottery.  Mary Beth, Sheila and I each selected a project to paint.  Mary Beth and Sheila are going to pick up their projects tomorrow, while my project is almost half done!  Both of them had a great time giving me grief about my progress.

Mary Beth woke up to a fire started by her self appointed personal fireman, Patrick McNulty.  Her other visitors included Aunt Cathy, Uncle Jeff and Nate, Grammy and Poppy Kriegshauser, Father Tobin, Nikki, Bet Stapleton, Sara Clark, Rose Mary, Lory and Michael Cooper, Larry Tychsen, Dan and Caroline Sullivan, Nancy and Christine Marino, Tina McNulty, and Bonnie Bence.

This may seem like  a hectic schedule, but she gets energized by having people visit her.  I also need to share something that occurred at about 2:00 AM this morning.  MB was sleeping on one couch and I on the other when I heard the following words, "You know, the whole house could benefit from a 'Breathe-Right' on your nose."  Apparently, I had rolled on to my back and began snoring.  I got a good chuckle and rolled over on to my stomach so Mary Beth could continue to sleep.

Thank you for your continued love and prayers for a miracle for Mary Beth.

God bless you,


Mary Beth has had a very busy social schedule the past two days with more than 40 people paying a visit.  She was full of energy until last evening.  The disease is beginning to take a toll physically on her body.  Her pain intensified last night to the point that it was almost unbearable for about an hour.  We administered additional medication and she had a relatively restful night's sleep.  She spiked a fever of over 103 at about 2:00 AM this morning and it broke shortly thereafter.

Despite her physical ailments, Mary Beth is invincible in her strength of faith.  She talked about her pain and the pain and suffering of Jesus with Father John Caropi.  Fr. Caropi is based in the diocese of Sacramento, CA and speaks at conferences and parishes around the country.  He was in St. Louis speaking at a conference downtown attended by Dan and Peggy Lane who arranged his visit with MB.  Father performed his doctoral thesis on meaning of Christian suffering as taught by our Holy Father Pope John Paul II.

We continue to learn so much from Mary Beth each day that helps us spiritually.  Thank you all for lifting us up in your prayers.

God bless you,


Mary Beth still wears her beautiful everlasting smile each day although the left side of her face is experiencing a slight amount of palsy.  She has lost complete mobility in her legs but enjoys her visitors she continues to see daily.  It was very difficult for her to get in a comfortable position for sleeping last night because of pain in her back and sides.  After five hours of trying, she fell asleep in an upright position on the couch leaning on me.  Then a couple hours later, she laid down and slept for several hours.  She was tired today and her doctors changed her pain medication which really helped relieve the pain tonight.  We are so thankful for the gifts of talent and care her healthcare professionals continue to show.

Our favorite part of the day is a visit from Father Tobin who shares the Holy Eucharist and has very inspiring and uplifting words for all of us.  The love shown by all of you is truly felt in our hearts and brings smiles and laughter to our home.  Thank you for sharing with us.

God bless you,


Today we experienced something exceptional.  As you all know, Mary Beth missed a great deal of school during the first semester of high school at Saint Joseph's Academy.  Dr. Christine Wood visited today and brought Mary Beth's report card for the fall semester.  As noted on her report card, she missed 59.5 school days last fall which equates to 12 weeks.  Despite her absences, she received an "A" average in each class and earned a 4.0 GPA for the first semester.  She was informed by Sister Pam that she shares the number one academic position with 24 other freshmen, which is quite an accomplishment.  In addition to her report card, she received her Honor Student medal, which brought a huge smile to her face.

Her pain medication was changed and she was able to rest more comfortably.  In fact, she received more than necessary and slept most of the day yesterday.  This was very frustrating for her and her support team changed it again.  Today, she was still somewhat groggy but was awake for a five hour stretch.  We are convinced she will be more alert tomorrow as the medication takes effect.

God bless you,


Mary Beth is getting very tired and has requested that we reduce the number of visitors.  If you plan to visit, we ask that you phone ahead to see how she is doing and determine if she is up for the visit.  She had a very powerful visitation today by two nuns from the Missionaries of Mercy, Mother Teresa's order.  The visit was arranged by Tom and Peggy White and Tom's sister Mary and was extraordinary.  They presented Mary Beth with a medal touched by Mother Teresa and a holy card with rose petals from her entombment.  They sang Mother Teresa's favorite hymn and we all said a rosary that was very special with the sisters singing a hymn after each mystery.  We concluded the prayer session by receiving of the  Holy Eucharist presented by Sara Clark.

Mary Beth was very sleepy during this time but woke up to speak with the sisters and show her beautiful smile.  They informed her that they knew about her from hearing Archbishop Rigali's homily at the Jubilee midnight mass on December 31st.  Shortly after their departure, the St Louis Review came in the mail with the text of Most Reverend Archbishop Justin Rigali's homily discussing Mary Beth's faith.  We find great strength each time we hear of how profoundly Mary Beth spirituality touches the lives of others and we pray that we may someday emulate her.

God bless you,


Today was a very restful day for Mary Beth.  She was awake for a couple of hours this afternoon and visited with family.  Aunt Ellen and Casey Norburg left for KC today after spending a few wonderful days with us.  Mary Beth had the opportunity to speak with a fellow baseball fan today, our friend Bob Costas.  He paid a visit and presented her with autographed memorabilia from him and from Mark McGwire.  The gifts and conversation brought a smile to her face.  She was energized by the visit and shared this experience with other family members this evening when she was more awake than any other part of the day.

At Heidi's request, her basketball team held hands with their opponents from Ste. Genevieve du Bois at mid-court today and prayed a Hail Mary for Mary Beth prior to the start of their game.  It was a very emotional moment for Heidi, me and all the girls participating and a very beautiful one as well.  If other teams would like to do this as well, we welcome the prayers for Mary Beth and welcome sharing her story with others so her circle of love is expanded.

Thank you and may God bless you,


Mary Beth slept the entire day today after a very restless night in which she was awake about every 45 minutes asking to be repositioned for comfort.  She is paralyzed from the waist down, can't move on her own, and has a difficult time finding a comfortable position.

Several people have called and asked if they could come by to visit Mary Beth.  Please understand that it is her desire to see people only when she is awake and able to speak.  The pain medication has to be maintained at a level high enough to keep the pain suppressed.  Often, the drowsiness and sleeping are the side effect from this level of medication.

Her cousin, Father Lawrence Kriegshauser, visited this afternoon and gave her the blessing for the anointing of the sick.  Our dear friend Father Barney Barry, S.J. celebrated mass in our home this evening.  Barney was ordained on December 22 and said a wonderful mass for us.

Thank you and may God bless you,


Sunday night was a rough night for Mary Beth in that she was awake often in pain and could not find a comfortable position.  We discussed changes to her pain medication with her healthcare team and have developed a plan for her sleeping peacefully tonight.  She was asleep the majority of the day again today and could not see visitors.

I told Mary Beth that her sleeping during the day and being awake at night reminded me of when she was born.  She was the biggest baby in the nursery at Shawnee Mission Medical Center at 10 pounds 2 ounces and the night nurses couldn't resist playing with those chubby cheeks.  They kept her up all night playing and she slept during the day.  When she arrived at home, she thought night time meant playtime.  Mary Beth got a good laugh hearing this story again, even though I've told it to her countless times.

We continue to receive cards, letters, calls, acts and e-mails full of love.  Please accept our apologies if we have not responded and know that we truly appreciate all you do.

God bless you,


The best laid plans are somewhat altered in the end.  Mary Beth had a more comfortable night last night but still lacked lengthy enjoyable periods of sleep early into her dreamland time.  She caught up on her sleep today and was awake and full of her uncanny wit this evening.  At one point she played "Sing That Tune" with her brother Will and the two of them sang everything from Britney Spears' "Oops... I Did It Again" to some Veggie Tales melodies.

Grandma and Grandpa Ricken came into town today to stay for a few days.  We were all very happy to see them and Mary Beth showed her bright smiling eyes and teeth when she saw them.  Mary Beth has been receiving greetings from across the USA and wants everyone to know how great it feels when she receives a card from someone she doesn't know who is thousands of miles away or from one of her very best friends just minutes away.

Our wish is that you experience as much happiness and joy in your days as we do.

God bless you,


Mary Beth took a stroll down St. Joe memory lane by watching the video from Mission Week that her dear friend Barb Behlmann gave her.  We all laughed at the acting abilities (or lack thereof - sorry teachers) of the SJA teachers as we watched them engage in the skits for Mission Week.  Mary Beth talked about how much fun it was to participate in this wonderful event which occurred during the first week she was able to go to school.

Comic relief is still present in our home.  William was wearing his tutu and multicolored clown wig today and was running around the house like a wild man.  Additionally, we continue to be reminded by Barbie daily of how many days remain to her 14th birthday.  The magic number is posted on our slick board daily (today's number is 10) so we won't forget.  Mary Beth told Barbie that an early birthday present would be allowing Barbie to wear to the Chaminade mixer this Friday the support hose MB is wearing for circulation in her legs.

Mary Beth's condition remains about the same with some paralysis appearing in her right hand.  She had a somewhat restless night last night but was awake the majority of the day and was really energized between 10 and 11 PM this evening by telling and listening to stories about every subject imaginable.  During this period of time, the old Mary Beth came out and you would not have known she was ill.

We count these times as blessings and realize how wonderful they are.  We would like to ask for a few special intentions this evening - for our dear friend Rachel Baumgartner as she re-entered treatments this week, for the Hogan family in their time of sorrow and for Liam Stapleton who is recovering from surgery at Children's Hospital.

God bless you,


Touched by an angel.  This simple phrase had a very special meaning for Sheila and our entire family this morning.  Sheila represented us at Saint Joseph's Academy at a prayer service for Mary Beth offered by the entire freshman class.  It was truly a beautiful and inspirational time for Sheila.  Before she left for the service, Mary Beth was fast asleep.  At about the same time the service commenced, Mary Beth woke up and was full of energy like we haven't seen her in about two weeks.  She was in that same frame of mind for the entire day and had a wonderful day with no pain and without taking a nap.

This may not seem like much of a happening, but it was truly remarkable from our perspective.  You see, last  night was probably the least restful night that she has had.  She couldn't get comfortable and was in pain in almost every position she attempted.  All told, we estimate that she got about two and one-half hours of restful sleep last night.  We are convinced that she drew her strength from the prayers being said by her classmates.  Today she was truly touched by an angel . . . make that 160 of them.  Thank you to ALL the Saint Joe Angels and to all who have blessed us with your prayers.

God bless you,


Mary Beth had the most restful night she has had in weeks.  With the aid of some medication, she was asleep for a six hour stretch and woke up at 7:15 AM.  There are ups and downs to this medication, however because its effect lasts longer into the day.  She was very groggy for most of the day but rallied this evening to spend some quality waking moments with us.

This morning we celebrated Dad's mass at Pillar which was a very special experience.  All involved did a wonderful job and especially the entire student body when they all sang a blessing for all of the dads.  The love and support we feel each time we attend such an event is awesome.

Mary Beth asked that we pass on a special message to all of her fellow Saint Joe Angels.  Several years ago, she adopted her favorite saying as, "Life Is Short, Laugh Hard".  She wants everyone to live this saying in her absence.  She heard that the mood around school is somewhat somber because of what is happening with her and Rachel.  She asked that everyone have fun at school and not be saddened by the condition of her health.

Thank you for your continued love, support and prayers.

God bless you,


Last night was a rough night for Mary Beth starting at 3:15 AM.  She became very anxious and couldn't sleep.  The medication we gave her was not effective in inducing sleep and she remained awake until around 7:00 PM tonight.  During her waking hours, she was very anxious and had a very difficult time relaxing.  Her medical team changed her medication and she is resting comfortable now.  Paralysis is beginning to creep into her arms and hands, making it difficult for her to hold things.

She remains strong mentally and spiritually.  Her wit was ever present today despite her anxiety.  Always thinking about others, when we were praying this evening, she said a very lengthy prayer asking Jesus to watch over her entire extended family in the event he called her home.  She spoke of her youth when everyone seemed to be healthy and asked for a return to those times.  She requested a special blessing for her Uncle Ken Ricken's family by asking for God's healing of her 13 month old cousin, Clayton Ricken and for a healthy delivery for her Aunt Linda Ricken and Clayton's new sibling in May.  We first noticed her desire to put everyone else first when she was 13 months old when Barbie was born.  Instead of jealousy, she was full of affection for her little sister.  As she matured, her love for others continuously increased.  It is great to see that some things never change.

Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you as you continue your loving support for all of us.

God bless you,


Mary Beth's pain medication was changed yesterday, which resulted in her sleeping virtually through the night except for a brief awakening around 3:30AM.  Unfortunately, the dosage she is on has caused her to be asleep for most of today.  When she was awake today, it was for short intervals and she spoke very deliberately.  She would wake up and begin talking then fall asleep in mid-sentence.

While Dr. Dave Hartenbach was visiting, Sarah Duval came to the door selling Girl Scout cookies, so I bought cookies from her like I do from every young lady who has the courage to ask.  Mary Beth proceeded to speak with Dr. Dave about the importance of scouting and how much fun she had as a Girl Scout.  When he was leaving, she made him pledge never to turn down any Girl Scout when they asked him to buy cookies, even though his own daughters sell them.

One of Mary Beth's fears early on was that she would be forgotten, especially by her little brother and her younger cousins.  We dispelled this notion and convinced her that this would not be the case.  Sheila and I informed her yesterday that her memory will live in perpetuity through a not-for-profit foundation we established in her honor.  Mary Beth has had an interest for years in assisting children that were less fortunate than her.  Her foundation will have as its mission providing help to such kids.  Her dream was to become a pediatric oncologist and help cancer kids through her work.  Her volunteer efforts would be directed to helping other children around the country and world.  She is particularly concerned for the impoverished, orphans, the homeless, and all sick children.  We have chosen a name that we believe honors Mary Beth and each of you who have helped her and our family during her illness.  The foundation will be known as "Mary Beth's Angels Foundation".  We can't think of a more fitting tribute to you and Mary Beth.

Tomorrow is the feast day for Blessed William Joseph Chaminade.  We ask that you join us in asking God for the miracle we seek through the intersession of Blessed Chaminade.

God bless you,


Based on the past 24 hours, we know that our time here with our precious Mary Beth is getting short.  We have each had a conversation with her to remind her of how much we love her and that it is okay for her to go home to Jesus because it is her just reward and the ultimate goal for all of us.  Some have asked us if William understands what is happening and we can safely say yes.  He prays for his sister every night and a few nights ago he said, "Jesus, please help my Mary Bethy and get rid of her cancer.  If you can not make her better, please make her one of your best angels.  Amen."

We will miss her dearly and when you see me, I guaranty you that I will be crying.  Please don't feel sorry for me.  The tears will be tears of joy because of the outpouring of love you continue to show.  We want to thank each of you as you say prayers for all of us during Mary Beth's final moments with us.

God bless you,


Mary Beth is on her journey to be reunited with all who have left this earth before her.  She closed her eyes this morning at 10:45 after she said she loved all of us.  Sheila, Barbie, Heidi and I were at her side when she left us.  It was a very beautiful moment and one that we will forever cherish.  Our dear friend Mary Fava brought William home shortly thereafter and he was all smiles when I told him that Mary Beth was now one of Jesus' angels.  He was very happy that his Mary Bethy was going to be seeing another one of our angels, Aunt Joanie.  He came in and gave Mary Beth a kiss and said good bye then went to the kitchen and started to draw angels on post-it notes.  He gave the pictures to all of us so we would be happy and stop crying.

We wish to thank each and everyone of you for your devotion to Mary Beth and our entire family during her fifteen month battle against cancer.  Mary Beth's friend Archbishop Rigali will be saying her funeral mass, assisted by Father Jim Tobin, Bishop David Ricken, and Father Barney Barry on Friday at 10:00 AM at The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.  Visitation will be at Kriegshauser West Mortuary on Thursday from 2:00-8:00 PM.  In lieu of flowers, we request that all efforts be put forth in carrying out Mary Beth's life dream of helping underprivileged children with donations to Mary Beth's Angels Foundation, 43 Chaminade Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63141.  We love you all.

God bless you,


As I sit here this morning, I am reminded by all of you how blessed Sheila, Mary Beth, Barbie, Heidi, William and I really are to have such a wonderful circle of friends.  Since we informed everyone yesterday of Mary Beth's achievement of reaching her final goal of heaven, your outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming.  We truly are blessed to know each of you.  We had the opportunity to spend fifteen years, one month and sixteen days with an extraordinary person.

We always knew Mary Beth was special, but had no idea she had touched so many lives in so many ways.  We continue to hear this from everyone.  While we didn't receive the miracle of Mary Beth's full recovery, we have received and will continue to receive numerous miracles through Mary Beth's life and death.  A few days before she left us, she had high doses of pain medication which allowed her to express many things aloud while in a state of being asleep.  One of the things she said was, "It's funny how I am helping people, even though it's bad".  She knew that through her suffering, she was saving others.  God's will be done.

God bless you,


Yesterday was one of the most fulfilling experiences of our lives as we attended an all-school mass at Our Lady of the Pillar said by our dear friend Father Tobin celebrating Mary Beth's life.  She loved every minute she was at Pillar and developed countless life-long friends during her five years there.  These life-long friends were not only hers, but friends of our entire family.  Friendship was something she never took for granted because she knew there were people in the world who were very lonely with very few friends or no friends at all.  To see the love and admiration displayed yesterday truly enriched us.

I know today and tomorrow will be very difficult for Sheila, Barbie, Heidi, Will and I, as well as our extended family.  I also know that we will be surrounded by the deep love of all of you as you carry us through on your wings.  When you see me crying, please understand that I am doing so because I wear my emotions on my sleeve and that I am touched by your outpouring of affection for Mary Beth and our family.  We are very at peace knowing that Mary Beth left us for a reason and that she has and will continue to perform loving acts beyond our imagination.  Let's all celebrate with a smile and laughter like MB would want us to.

Please ask everyone to listen to KMOX 1120 AM tomorrow morning at around 6:50 AM for a special birthday greeting for Barbie.  You may to have a box of tissues handy like I will.

God bless you,


It is only fitting that we are experiencing wintry weather this morning.  Mary Beth's favorite time of year was the winter and she loved snow.  Please remember that this freezing rain and snow is a gift from MB as you are making your way out today.  She was so happy when it snowed and she loved to ski in the Rockies at Steamboat.

We experienced a great tribute to Mary Beth last night with an outpouring of love and support like we have never seen.  She was loved by all, even those she hadn't met.  It was so touching to get so many hugs and hear the impact MB had on others.  According to the many Angels there last night, a pilgrimage to Saint Joseph's Academy is in order to see and experience her locker, which has become a loving tribute to her.

We wish to thank all of you for always being there for Mary Beth and all of us.

God bless you,


Happy Birthday Barbie - We Love You!

A celebration like no other!  Mary Beth's funeral mass yesterday was the most glorious event we have ever attended.  It was absolutely beautiful, from the Saint Joe honor guard, to Archbishop Rigali's homily, to the angelic choirs, to the eulogies, to the final blessing.  I cried several times, but the tears were tears of joy for Mary Beth as I was touched by the countless tributes we experienced.  When we arrived and saw all 600+ St. Joe Angels and Mary Beth's special friends and former classmates lined up outside the cathedral and continuing all the way to the alter, it was a sight that truly filled our hearts with joy.  As we entered, walking behind Mary Beth, I looked to my right and left and did not see an empty pew, but saw people standing four deep behind the last pew.  That was an unbelievable feeling, knowing that the Cathedral Basilica holds 1,800 people.  When we sat in the front pew and realized that Mary Beth's mass was being celebrated by our archbishop, our cousin bishop, and eight wonderful friend priests we each thanked Mary Beth for being so special.

It was very difficult for me to feel saddened yesterday because Mary Beth worked very hard to earn her ultimate reward of entering his kingdom.  Her faith, acceptance and trust in God has filled me with a sense of inner peace like I have never felt.  As the proud father of my Angel, yesterday was the happiest day of my life.  Thank you Mary Beth and thank you all for giving me that gift.

God bless you,


In celebrating Barbie's birthday yesterday we were surrounded by family and friends and had a wonderful time.  After we sang and ate our ice cream and "Barbie" cake, we all took a pilgrimage to Saint Joe to see Mary Beth's locker.  It was an incredible scene and was very moving to walk up and experience the touching words her fellow Angels had inscribed and placed there.  It brought overwhelming joy to me as I smiled and cried.

The most special moment of the day came when the doorbell rang yesterday morning.  It was a delivery of flowers for Barbie and Heidi sent by their older sister, Mary Beth.  A week ago, she knew that it was likely that she would not be present to celebrate Barbie's birthday, so she planned with her wonderful nurse Debra to send her flowers.  She didn't want Heidi to be left out so she selected the arrangements for both of them and asked that they be delivered yesterday.  It was so typically Mary Beth.

We had one of the most stomach upsetting nights of our lives last night beginning as we were going out to eat for Barbie's birthday.  She was the first to be afflicted, then Sheila, Heidi, and William.  Our house looked like a make shift hospital with emisis basins everywhere.  Gerilyn spent the night and played the role of head nurse as someone needed assistance through the course of the evening and this morning.  I was fine until 4:00 AM when I had a special father-son bonding moment with Will when be both got sick at the same time in the same bathroom.  I laughed aloud at that point because I know MB was laughing with me.

We want to thank you for your continued prayers as we reach the next days, months, and years ahead.

God bless you,


In cleaning up this morning, I found one of Mary Beth's prayer cards in my suit pocket before sending it to the cleaners.  Sheila and I selected these words because  we thought each sentence reflected Mary Beth so appropriately.  For those of you who have not had the opportunity, please take a few moments out of your day and reflect upon these words:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying each moment at a time.  Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.  Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.  Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to His will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You in the next.

God bless you,


When Mary Beth was nine years old, she became keenly interested in the Holocaust and went on a quest to read as much about it as she could.  She read The Diary of Anne Frank by the time she was 10, followed by dozens of books on the Nazis and the Holocaust.  She simply could not fathom how such a terrible event could occur in our modern age.  She had the following poem published when she was 12 years old:

Answer My Prayer

God, please free me from my chains.

  Please cause the Nazis' hearts to change.

My prayers, Yahweh, please do hear,

  And free me from my ever-present fear.

The no-Jew signs in the town square,

  Powerful God, I beg you tear!

The youth who stone and do me harm,

  Will you help, their hands disarm?

From the death camps - steer me clear,

  For I know my turn is near.

But I pray most, my watchful God,

  For such great hate to be outlawed.



When Mary Beth's Uncle Michael Kohn spoke the following words in eulogy of Mary Beth, it made us reflect on how special she really is:


"525,600 minutes . . . how do you measure a year in a life?

Measure in daylights, in sunsets, in cups of coffee?


In inches, in miles, in laughter, in smiles?


Over the course of Mary Beth's last year of life, those of us who love her, continued to ask ourselves the same question, over and over again . . . Why?


Not that it was fair or even appropriate for us to ask . . . after all, God has a plan . . . we just didn't know what it was . . .


Last night I learned what the plan for Mary Beth's life truly was . . .


To bring us closer, “to do justice , to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.”


Last night hundreds and hundreds of people stood in line, some outside in the cold, just to tell Mary Beth's family how deeply Mary Beth's life had touched them, how they will never be the same.

For those of us who loved her, 100 years would have been too short a time to have her with us here on earth.  But again, how do we measure a life?


Emerson once said: 

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better.  Whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. ... This is to have succeeded.


Many years ago, in another time and place, another young woman facing her own death once wrote:

It 's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out.  Yet, I keep to them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart.  I simply cannot build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.  I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness.  I see the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too.  I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, when I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again ... in the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.


Anne Frank was exactly Mary Beth's age when she died.

What we can take from this time and place is what we learned from Mary Beth.  That we don't measure life by years or days . . .

We measure life in love,

In seasons of love.

How blessed are we to have had her light among us for so many seasons and her spirit with us forever."

God bless you,


One of my proudest moments of my life came when Barbie, on the eve of her 14th birthday, courageously gave the following eulogy at Mary Beth's funeral:

"My sister, Mary Beth, is my hero.  She has taught me everything I know.  She has shown me how to live life to the fullest and enjoy each day as if it were my last.  I am so honored and proud to be her sister.

         I have so many happy memories with Mary Beth that I will cherish in my heart forever.  Some of my favorite times with Mary Beth were those spent every day.  Whenever I was having a bad day, she would smile and immediately I would feel a lot better.  From bubble baths to Barbie’s and dress-ups to mixers, we grew up together as not only sisters but also best friends. 

From the second I was born, Mary Beth treated me as if I were her own child.  She was the most loving, caring and compassionate big sister in the world.  She did her best to watch out for me and protect me.  She is the best big sister I could ever hope for. 

Every family vacation, snowball fight, sandcastle, and snowman we built never meant as much to me as they do today.  Every time we would fight like sisters do over the small things was never as special to me as it is to me today.  With time we grew closer instead of further apart.

To me, Mary Beth has done more than win the Oscar; she has stolen the show!  She has done more than play the game; she has become the MVP!  She has done more than just fight the battle; she has earned the Purple Heart!  Mary Beth is my hero! I will miss her forever!  She will never be forgotten!


I love you forever,

I like you for always,

As long as I’m living

My sister & best friend you’ll be!"

I need say no more.

God bless you,

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