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Nothing random about Norma's thoughts

You think you’re ready for the inevitable but when it happens, sometimes you find you’re not.

When word reached the Record Thursday morning that our faithful columnist, Norma Hannaford, had passed away, we were surprised. We knew there would come a time when Norma would die but we weren’t ready yet.

She had written a wonderful column this past week about her move to her new home at the Living Center and how she was looking forward to meeting new people. I couldn’t wait for her next column to read about her new experiences — but it was not to be.

Norma was dedicated to her column and she had a faithful following. Whenever Norma missed a week or two because she was on a trip or under the weather, we would receive e-mails and phone calls from readers, worried about her.

A familiar face at community events, Norma was the ever-faithful Marion promoter. She was the first to pat someone on the back for a job well done and the first to speak her mind, taking on any topic of concern.

I have watched many people as they have aged — my grandparents, my parents, friends, and others. I have always been amazed and impressed by Norma’s ability to continue her daily life, well past the age most cannot. A voracious reader, Norma always had a book on a table by her easy chair in the living room of her home on Elm Street — one she was reading or one she was going to read. She often wrote her column about the books she read and how they affected her and her way of thinking.

Nearly every week, Norma’s son, Bud, faithfully delivered her columns to the office — handwritten on yellow, legal-size paper. When her health sometimes prevented her from writing some weeks, I told Bud she didn’t have to write every week. I didn’t want Norma to consider her column a chore.

“It’s what keeps her going,” Bud said.

And, each week, there would be a sticky note from Norma, often commenting on the weather, something she read in the Record, or the state of affairs locally or nationally. I looked forward to her notes, appreciating her support and marveling at her candor.

One thing I came to appreciate the most was how her random thoughts weren’t all that random. Typically, there was a purpose or wisdom we should live by.

Yes, there is no one else like Norma and probably never will be. She was one-of-a-kind, the grand lady of Marion.

On Friday, the UPS delivery woman Teresa Riley came by the office and asked, “Who’s going to write ‘Random Thoughts’ now?”

That’s a good question. Any suggestions?

All we can do for now is to be thankful. Thank you, Norma, for your support of Marion and for being such an important part of this newspaper. We will dearly miss you but know it was time for you to move on to a much deserved reward.

— susan berg

Last modified July 14, 2010

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