Biancamarie (aka Beatrice to some who liked to yank her chain) Arenge is a woman who no matter what the atmosphere is when she entered a room, that atmosphere would immediately be changed to one filled with beauty, laughter, and fun for all around. I had the privilege to meet and come to love Bianca by way of my dear friend and her daughter Sandi LoBue in 2009. We have been friends everyday since and have spent Thanksgiving together and enjoyed each others company til the very end.
Bianca has two daughters Sandi and Silva, both of whom she loved with all her heart and who whether they realized it or not she worried more about them than she did herself. Bianca would tell me in our phone conversations how she was worried that Sandi wasn't getting enough sleep, how she was too stressed, always asking me to take care of her. Though up in age and health problems limiting her ability to move around Bianca made every gathering Sandi put together for her residents at Lighthouse Point, she played Poker every week with ladies at Crane Lakes (Bianca was a crude Poker player according to my sources) and like any good strong Lady (yes Bianca was always a Lady in everything she did, even when she put her foot down) she had made her plans on how she wanted to live and die.
About two years ago almost to the day Bianca had fallen in her home and was rushed to Halifax Hospital. I got the call from a frantic Sandi and rushed to the ER to be with Sandi who was absolutely beside herself because the Hospital had not taken her back to be with her Mom. I remember the look on Sandi's face when we were finally taken to the ER exam room as well as the look on Bianca's face when we walked in. Though in pain from a broken femur Bianca took her daughters hand and spent the next fifteen minutes or so comforting Sandi. Little did any of us know at the time that this day would be the beginning of setting Bianca's plan into action. From the hospital to rehab to nursing home and back to her house Bianca was as stubborn as she could be and it drove everyone crazy, but no one as much as Sandi. I often thought that Bianca was so stubborn and more so with Sandi not to a pain but to make her stronger and prepare her for the day that Biancamarie would leave us to rejoin her husband.
As hard as it was for Sandi to see her mother in pain and refuse to cooperate in rehab in the beginning, I know the hardest part was having her mother in a place other than her own home. Determined to keep a promise made to her mother to never let her waste away in a Nursing Home, Sandi LoBue became the strong determined woman her mother had prepared her to be. While it was not easy and many in the heathcare field tried to talk her out of it, Sandi made the arrangements to have round the clock care in her mothers home and took Bianca home. I want to tell this story because I believe we can all learn something and because I believe this is a story will touch hearts and make us all think how we might act in a similar situation.
Even before Bianca fell we would always joke about how she was crazy as a bat, but then again to have people like me around her she would have to be crazy as a bat. One of my favorite recent situations was here obsession with this gecko that had taken up resident in one of her outdoor floral arrangements. It got to a point where she was determined to have me go over and exterminate it which I offered to go shoot it and she thought I was crazy for that. The Gecko finally moved on it's own and then Bianca being Bianca started to miss the little guy. I never understand why Bianca cared so much about what I thought but I know she knew how much she and her daughter Sandi mean to me.
Sandi and Silva were with their mother just a few days before she had her stroke, Sandi tells me that Bianca called them both together and said "While I have both of my daughters together I guess this is a good time to tell you I have signed the paperwork and made arrangements to where I do not want any medical intervention or efforts to revive me." Sandi doing exactly what I would expect and I would do myself looks at her mother and says "And who was with you when you did this? And they determined you were in your right mind?" If truth be told I don't think Bianca, Sandi or I would ever be seen as being in our right minds, but Bianca was and she was doing what she knew she needed to do to let her daughters know this was her doing it her way.
When I was told of Bianca's stroke and her impending passing I had to say "Beatrice (I would call her Beatrice just to get her goat) you always said you lived life on your terms and you would leave this life on your terms, you did girlfriend." I sincerely believe Bianca knew she was ready to rejoin her husband Salvatore, and I know that she did everything she could do in preparing for that return so that her daughters would not have to agonize over decisions that Bianca had already made. Biancamarie passed away peacefully on August 14, 2015 at the age of 87.
In this past two years I have learned something that I think we can all stand to remember. Parents will always put their children's well being above their own, while remembering when you did those little things that you knew irked your parents, well when later in life you are taking care of them they will and I believe actually enjoy returning the favor and every now and then returning the favor and doing some of those very same little things just to get payback. Bianca loved her daughters with all her heart. There is nothing she would not have done for either of them. She loved her grandchildren, her nieces, nephews and her friends, yet she also had a great sense of humor and enjoyed every now and then doing the little things just to get their irk factor up a little and would laugh at the result.
I will miss her cards stuffed with scratch off lottery tickets, her making sure Sandi remembered to take her Birthday card to me, her love for Moe Joe, her never ending insistence that I join them for dinner and her saying me a piece of her Key Lime pie. While I know she is gone, all of those very things will live on in Sandi as Bianca is in Sandi and how she lives everyday.
To Sandi & Silva, while I know the pain of missing and loosing someone you love who made you what you are today, I think you will both agree that your Mother would want us to celebrate her life, throw a party and drink a toast to her than to be sad and withdrawn.
So to Biancamarie Arenge, I make this toast: "She was always a lady no matter what the circumstance, whose laughter is still heard by all of us this day and who if here today would look at Sandi and Silva and proclaim; well done, well done my beautiful darling daughters!