On Thursday she wrote, "Angel Mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend, Bee Morris left this earth life this morning to join loved ones beyond the veil. She will be dearly missed, but her heritage will live on in the many acts of service and love she selflessly performed. There was a great feeling of peace and rejoicing that lingered after her passing."
On hearing of her passing my oldest daughter Meridith Anderson Watson published the following message, "My great-aunt Bee passed away today. She was a surrogate grandma to be when I was young because my own grandparents lived so far away. She was a bright, cheerful, happy woman who always welcomed us into her home. I remember fantastic gingerbread houses, singing, and a house of miniatures in a magical attic room. She will be dearly missed."
In her personal papers, Aunt Bee requested that Keri Anderson Hughes, my youngest daughter now residing in Atlanta, sing at her funeral. Because of distance, advanced pregnancy and 3 small children at home, Keri was not able to make the trip. She was distraught over missing the opportunity to pay active tribute to someone she admired and loved so much. She delighted in listening to Bee sing with her sisters, Dola Harris Hofeling(my mother) and Delsa Harris Asay (the youngest of the trio of sisters).
In a 2009 letter to Bee, Keri wrote, " It was wonderful to spend some time with you when we were visiting Utah this summer. I am always amazed at how you seem lit up from the inside all the time. It was so generous of you to pay for lunch for all of us! I've been thinking a lot about you lately and I want you to know what an important part of my life you have been. My memories of time with you are always of warmth and comfort and love. The times when we would get together with the Great Aunts and all the cousins and sit and sing are some of my most treasure memories. I loved to sit and listen to Delsa on her concertina and John play his guitar and everyone sing together, You Can't Get to Heaven on Roller Skates and How Great Thou Art.
From as early as I can remember, I recognized you as the kind of woman I wanted to be. A 'gracious lady' are the word that always come to mind when I think of you--so gentle and loving, full of goodness and humor and light. I know you've meant so much to my mother and I thank you for blessing her life and always giving her so much acceptance and love. I've watched your family and your children and the closeness they share and the goodness that literally radiated out of all of them and that is the kind of family that I am working to create every day. Thank you for being such a wonderful example.
I can't find enough words to communicate what you mean to me and the difference it has made in my life having you in it. I wonder if you are surprised to know that you've had such an impact on your great-niece, and I wish I could really explain it--all I can think to say is that you have made me wasn't to be better, you have inspired me, you have been a source of comfort and hope when things in our family have been very difficult. Even though I didn't see you often, I always knew that you loved me and that I would be welcome any time. And that has meant more that I could ever say.
I'm thinking of you and praying for you. I love you,. I love you, I love you."
Everyone I know who knew my Aunt Bee found her equally memorable. Was it the things she could do? Her fabulously delicious meal (we always said left overs from her fridge were better than many a carefully prepared meal we'd had)? Her story telling? Singing? Homemaking skills? Sewing? The paintings she did in the early years of her marriage? The way she cared for an aging mother-in-law? Or cared for her aging and ill parents? Her faith? Her love of family and her pioneer heritage? The service she rendered to friends and families alike? Her ability to make and keep friends? The way she raised her children to be honorable, loving, and productive adults? Tending grandchildren and great-grandchildren with delight? Yodeling (how we loved it)?
It was all of those thing. But it was also something more. It was her delight in loving. She loved whole-heartedly and happily. And that love and delight and happiness and joy graced everyone who came in contact with her. I remember discussing the Morris and Asay clans with one of my children after attending a huge family gathering in the back yard of her son John Morris's home on Claybourne. We were reading the galleys of Fannie's Dream, a book written by Bee's daugher Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by her husband Mark Buehner. People were playing games, sharing food, laughing, hugging, and singing. My child said,"I know what it is. They love each other and they know how to be happy."
To those of us in families who were struggling to define much less live those principles, that afternoon was a revelation. And that, Dear Precious Aunt Bee, was your gift to us--a living example of how to love and be happy. What more could any of us ask of those we love?
So farewell to the last of the great Harris women. We miss and honor them. May they be wandering the Clear View Farm in heaven and yodeling as they go!