It was a cold, blustery day for a funeral today. St. Alphonsus Church, located in the heart of Lincoln Park, was filled with friends and family who came to remember Barbe Gurga, a deaf Rehabilitation Counselor. For 21 years, Barbe worked with countless deaf and hard of hearing clients to develop their careers and assist in finding jobs. In April, 2004, Barbe was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Even after getting round after round of chemotherapy, Barbe headed off to work as long as she could.
My first encounter with Barbe was back in 1989. I headed to her office from graduate school to shadow her on the job for several days. Each day, we went out to lunch and chatted up storm. I remember asking her, "Do you like what you do?" Barbe smiled and said, "Yes, I love my job and the people I help, I just don't like the paperwork."
I continued to see Barbe at meetings and advocacy events throughout the years. Then I had my kids and focused on being a mom and I saw her less and less. But each time I ran into Barbe, she always had a smile on her face and a positive outlook on life.
The Eulogy was given by Jay Blumenfeld and signed by Howard Rosenblum. Jay recalled some of Barbe's last days:
"She told me she wanted to get better so she could go back to Switzerland and ride her moped through the mountains and feel the wind blowing on her face with birds soaring high in the sky. I looked at her with a smile while she was telling me her dream, thinking that she would not be able to go back. But now I do realize her dream did come true--it's called Heaven. Barbe is now free and she can ride her moped anywhere and anytime her wonderful, beautiful spirit takes her!"
So Barbe, girl-- ride like the wind!