THE FAMILY ALBUM: Great-aunt Bonnie Barmes

BONNIE REDMOND BARMES: 12 October 1944 – 27 February 2022

It was around 2:30 PM on a warm Saturday, 27 June 1992. I had just bid farewell to my grandmother, Donna Clary Barmes, who died of colon cancer in an Indianapolis hospital. I took the stairwell, two floors up, to let my grandmother’s sister-in-law, Bonnie Barmes, know that Grandma had passed away at 2:15 PM.

Aunt Bonnie had married my great-uncle, Danny Barmes when I was three years old. I still recall their wedding at the Markleville (Indiana) United Methodist Church and the reception held next door at the parsonage. Uncle Danny has always seemed more of a regular uncle rather than a great-uncle as he was only nine months older than his niece, my mother, Diana Barmes (Jolliff Haas). Danny’s second niece, Judy Smith (Hallett) was born a month after Mother. I’ve always loved this special arrangement of nieces and their uncle who was so close in age.

Aunt Bonnie began her long 40+ year battle with cancer when I was in junior high or high school. In all those years, when we would steal away a moment from the crowd to chat, there was never any mention of cancer. She was a busy woman and had her mind on other things. When Grandma Donna passed away that June afternoon, Aunt Bonnie was in the same hospital for a bone marrow transplant. I stepped into the preparation room to don my gown, gloves, mask, and slippers before walking through the mist to disinfect anything dangerous I may have brought with me.

Aunt Bonnie looked up, smiled, and said, “I know she’s gone.” I figured my presence was the alert. No. She had watched the television station that listed the hospital’s admissions. “I kept watching the screen and about 2:20 (PM) Donna’s name wasn’t on the list when it rolled back around.” Also, the hospital staff had prepped Aunt Bonnie to take her downstairs in the middle of the night so she could bid farewell to her sister-in-law.

This entire scenario was just so “Aunt Bonnie.” Practical.

When I began adopting, Aunt Bonnie’s Ball State University social work degrees (BS and Masters) were generously applied in giving tips on how to handle “damaged goods.” She was also of great assistance to my sister whose eldest son developed Autism.

I am now down to only one great-uncle, Uncle Danny Joe, surviving. I was so blessed with many wonderful folks as uncles and aunts, and down to three additional generations of uncles and aunts who were siblings of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents. That’s a lot of family history, history of life as they shared it, and tons of love.

The warrior aunt, seemingly fearless of that hideous disease, can now rest, hopefully knowing what a true model of being a good servant she demonstrated for family and friends.

Sending much love to Uncle Danny, Dana, Dan, Dama Jo, spouse-cousins, and cousin-children.

Know you are loved…

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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