A tribute to my best friend Myrna
When I was a teenager my brilliant mother arranged for me to spend time with her friend, our family beautician, Myrna Kempf. Mom asked Myrna if she would teach me how to oil paint. That's how our friendship began.
I spent a lot of time at the Kempf home. Myrna's daughter, who is my age, had friends who would wonder why she left me sitting there with her mother on a Friday night. Her sons saw me as a regular fixture and her husband would kid me, "Who let the varmint in?"
I remember as a teenager talking to her about a problem I was having in school. Myrna listened and said matter-of-factly, "Those who get used, let themselves be used." She hit the nail right on the head. She's gifted with a knack for problem solving whether it was an issue I was struggling with or thinking outside of the box to accomplish a goal.
Myrna and I would create together. We painted, etched glass, wood burned, marbled paper, did wood working and recently she helped me make my first quilt. We took art classes, porcelain doll classes and even a "welding for art" class.
We became so close that it didn't matter what we did together, it was about the time we shared.
Myrna planned and prepared while I was easy-going and along for the ride. She took me with her to run errands, to meet local artists and craftsmen, on her family vacations, even a trip to England!
One summer, Myrna's husband went on a hunting trip for a week and we pulled their garage apart, cleaning, organizing and insulating the walls. He came home, found items out in the yard and thought there had been a fire. From then on, if he couldn't find something -- it definitely was our fault.
Another summer we renovated my parents' upstairs. We tore out a wall and my brother thought it was a support wall and swore the roof was starting to sway. We pulled off the wall board, insulated, put up a new wall, sheet rocked and textured the walls. Myrna surprised me by making the window shade to complete the room. She said, "God is in the details." In fact, God was in Myrna.
Together we fixed up three of my homes and a couple of her children's homes throughout the last 26 years. When my daughter was a toddler I decided to lay carpet in her bedroom, prompted by Myrna's motivation and confidence in my capabilities. That day she was so sick but she came to my house anyway. She literally laid on the floor in the hallway and coached me to get the job done.
We went to movies, plays and concerts. We had game nights with family and friends. Bouts of laughter would break out and we would be holding our sides from the belly laughs. Myrna would say, "We're building endorphins."
Sunday, the Sebeka Red Hat ladies went to the play "Ole and Lena's It's a Wonderful Life" at the Long Lake Theater in Hubbard. Three ladies cancelled so Mom asked if my husband, daughter and I would fill the seats. When Myrna saw me, she boldly had the group rearrange their seating so she could sit by me. I showed her the hat and mittens I made this weekend. She was so proud and showed the ladies. Prior to this year, I vowed never to sew. She said if I can do that, I can sew anything!
During the show, we had some goods laughs.
When the character Ole thinks about jumping off the bridge, Angel Lars shows Ole how his life has impacted so many others, gently, Myrna patted me, gave me a smile. Without even talking, we shared a very special moment.
I can't express how much Myrna's life has impacted my life and the lives of so many others. To me, she was a strong, fearless, talented, opinionated woman with a "can do" attitude. She spent a lifetime of learning, teaching, creating, giving and loving.
Tuesday morning Myrna -- my best friend, my mentor, my support -- passed away peacefully in her sleep, just the way she probably planned it.