Barbara June Millender was one tough broad.
She demonstrated just how tough on Dec. 5, 1975.
While walking outside her Tulsa home that day, she bent over to pick up a newspaper and was sucked into a tornado. By the time she fell to Earth, she was more than three blocks away and practically dead.
Doctors jumpstarted her heart, but the twister had made mush of her body, fracturing her skull, breaking her jaw and leaving a board embedded in her hip.
Several surgeries later, Barbara left the hospital 29 pounds lighter with a story she could tell her grandchildren.
As well as her other “grandchildren,” Jake and Andrea Morgan.
Barbara became our babysitter in 1993. Out of the blue, we called some service, expecting the worst but getting the best.
“Grandma Bobbie,” as our kids used to call her, was part of the family for more than eight years. A retired nurse’s aide, she came two to three times a week to care for Jake.
When we moved from Tulsa to the suburbs in ’94, she came with us, making the 25-minute drive, even though she didn’t see well and was getting on in years. Andrea arrived the following summer, doubling Barbara’s workload.
It didn’t matter.
Doting on our children wasn’t a job to her. It was a passion.
I always called Barbara on Sunday nights to confirm her babysitting schedule.
One night I telephoned and no one answered. The following morning, her little blue car never pulled into the driveway.
Panicked, I traveled to her apartment complex and saw several newspapers lying outside her door. I knocked. Silence. So I summoned a manager, who let us in.
At age 72, Barbara was gone. Twelve years ago tomorrow.
Long live her memory.