Bobbie Rice Passes Away

David Weber’s mother-in-law Bobbie Irene Wilson Rice died November 27. His e-mail announcement assured everyone that his wife (Bobbie’s daughter) Sharon Rice-Weber, and the Weber family are doing fine “but they all still miss Bobbie.”

David Weber’s appreciation about Bobbie appears after the jump.

[Thanks to Tim Bolgeo for the story.]

David Weber Writes:

I’d like to tell you about a remarkable lady.

Her name was Bobbie Irene Wilson Rice, and she was my mother-in-law. She was born February 29, 1928, she saw three quarters of the 20th century, and she was one of the finest, strongest people I have ever known.

She was never wealthy, never one of the great and “important” people . . . except to those who knew and loved her. In a time and a place where it simply wasn’t done, she ended an abusive marriage and raised two children: Robert Michael Rice, who gave the United States Marine Corps 22 years of his life, then went into law enforcement, and Sharon Lynn Rice-Weber, my wife. Bobbie’s daughter. Megan and Morgan and Michael Paul’s mother.

I met Bobbie when she was in her mid-sixties, and I remember what she told me then about all the terrible things that would happen to me if I ever hurt her daughter. That was typical of her. I don’t believe I ever once, in all the years I knew her, heard her put herself first. She defined her life in terms of her responsibilities to those she loved, and she did her level best to meet those responsibilities. Oh, she had  a temper! And there were times when she could be cranky, grumpy, and downright irritating. But that wasn’t what made her who and what she was to all of us who loved her. What made her who she was was love, humor, courage, stubborn determination, and kindness.

I don’t think she ever really  understood fandom. She thought it was cool (although she did have just a few concerns about having her daughter going gallivanting off to conventions with me before we were married), and we actually got her to World Fantasy in Providence, and to ConDFW in Dallas, this past February. She always wanted to hear about the conventions, and I think she was both perplexed and amused by some of our friends and their (and our) . . . oddities. But, overall, she approved. I like to think she approved of me, too, despite the fact that I wrote all that strange stuff. At least she came to our vow renewal last April, and having her there, which we hadn’t really anticipated, given her health, was one of the great joys of that day which we also shared with many of you.

Over the last few years, her body began to fail her. She had several strokes and heart attacks. She had a hip replacement, and her scoliosis and osteoarthritis got progressively worse. She had pneumonia, and we saw her being stolen away a little bit at a time. She rallied again and again – she was always a fighter – and we were deeply blessed to have her clear and strong and alert for our trip to Dallas for ConDFW, but eventually it began to grind down even her indomitable spirit. We who had known and loved her for so long felt her slipping away from us, and we didn’t want to let her go.

I won’t be talking to her again – not and hearing her response, at least. She died Friday morning, on November 27, 2009. It wasn’t easy letting her go, but much as we loved her, we realized that there comes a time when love means releasing the hawk, freeing the dove, allowing the weary traveler to go home at last. She was tired, and she was lost, and we loved her. And because we loved her, we said goodbye.

I’ll miss her. I’ll miss her humor, her smile, the love she had for those about her. And I’ll treasure her, for the very same things. And my world will be a little poorer for her absence. But I’ll also look into her daughter’s eyes, and that’s where I’ll see the echoes of Bobbie Irene Wilson Rice. There and in my son’s red hair and freckles and blinding smile. And in my daughters’ huge brown eyes, sandalwood complexion, and beautiful faces.

We are the people we touch. Our reality is the echo we send down the years of our families and loved ones. Our touch is in the memory of children and grandchildren, passing on the hugs and kisses we gave them. My mother-in-law touched a lot of people, including me, and I celebrate her life and every day I got to know her. I rejoice for her, for her freedom from pain and fatigue, for the greater joy I truly believe she’s found in the completion of that journey we all must take. And I grieve for her son, for her daughter, for her grandchildren, for her great-grandchildren, and for myself, because of what her freedom has taken from us.

Goodbye, Bobbie. We love you.

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