Melanie Hungerford
Melanie Hungerford

Obituary of Melanie Ann Hungerford

Melanie Ann Hungerford, 38, a beloved sister and devout Christian, died peacefully August 9th, at her brother’s home in DuPont , Washington of cancer. Melanie was born in Cincinnati , Ohio and raised in North Carolina , Virginia and Florida where her step-father was a military contractor. Melanie enjoyed Irish culture and nature. Despite falling ill 16 months ago, she consistently displayed an indomitable spirit and unwavering appreciation for life and the world’s beauty. In May of this year she visited Ireland ,fulfilling a life-long dream. Melanie was a friend to all. She was surrounded by her loving family during her final year,where she particularly enjoyed the affection of her nieces. She will be remembered for her gentle, loving nature and ability to see only the best qualities of those she knew. Her beloved mother, Marijon Culpepper, died in 1988. It is an enormous consolation to the family knowing they have been reunited in heaven. She is survived by her brother and his family, Haydn, Frankie, Makenna, Madison and Meaghan Hungerford of DuPont , Washington ;brother John Hungerford and family, of Hamburg , Pennsylvania and fiance, Gene Lynch of Fayetteville , North Carolina . A private memorial service will be held for the family. Memorials may be made to Multi-Care Hospice, PO Box 5296 , Tacoma , WA 98415 . Melanie Ann Hungerford March 4, 1970 -August 9, 2008 Samuel Clemens wrote; “There has never been an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of (every)exterior there is a drama, a comedy and a tragedy.” Melanie Hungerford’s life, like all human lives, followed the design described by Mark Twain over one hundred years ago. To those who did not know Melanie, to observe the unfolding of her tenure on earth might seem uneventful. But, to those of us who did know her, we recall the complication, the amusing times and now, unfortunately,must acknowledge and gain personal reconciliation in the “tragedy” of her passing. In this singular instance,there truly exists a “tragedy.” Not only due to her relative youth, but because it seemed that the difficulties and challenges propagated by God, nature and society combined to make Melanie’s time on earth a challenge throughout. Perhaps,physical challenges, childhood hardships and the loss of both parents at an early age hindered her ability to do those things many of us take for granted;such as driving a car, raising a family or holding a job. Though it is true these were all things Melanie did not do, let me tell you what she did do, and how the forgiving nature and innocence of her spirit served to set her apart from anyone I have known. All who knew Melanie knew of her love of Irish culture, nature, cats, flowers, fairies and mythical lands and creatures. She also possessed an uncanny memory and a passion for music of all types. What many did not see, however, was that despite falling ill some 16 months ago, she consistently displayed an indomitable spirit and unwavering appreciation for life and the world’s beauty; never failing to thank God and to put her trust in His hands. It was quite fitting then,that shortly before her passing; she visited Ireland and in the process fulfilled a life-long dream. Melanie will be remembered for her loving and gentle nature, as well as her ability to seek out and find the best qualities of those she came to know. My earliest recollections of Melanie were as a child in Cincinnati , Ohio , where we spent the formative years of our youth. I can clearly recall my brother and I arguing with her over her incessant desire to comb our hair. Melanie, about 1 ½ years of age at the time, would descend upon us like a little brown haired locust with a comb whenever we were stationary for an instant. As my brother and I grew into adulthood, she, of course, remained our little sister. Although we defended her from all antagonists,she was subjected to her share of sibling torment. After each malevolently conceived attack and despite how angry she might initially be, Melanie would always (most always) eventually appreciate and share in the humor--and forgive. Melanie was in fact the most forgiving person I have known. She sincerely saw what was best in people by either looking past their inherent flaws, or more likely she was simply unable to clearly discern them,a sort of “spiritual blindness,” perhaps. Therein lies a lesson for us all, characteristic is not predicated on knowledge, as this wisdom or intellect, but on love. We know that the Bible frequently refers to”love”,but not in the carnal sense we so commonly envision. It speaks to a deeper and more universal concept of love; one that transcends physicality and personal relations. Perhaps the verse most applicable to the love Melanie showed us is from I Corinthians 13:4-8, which says; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.” Melanie lived her life in this very fashion. She did not achieve this through personal discipline, but as consequence of the person she truly was. In 1988 our mother, Marijon, died while Melanie was practically a child. This event had a profound affect on Melanie, one she never really overcame. This was, of course, a tremendous loss for us all, but for Melanie it was as if a part of her died with our mom. For the remainder of Melanie’s life, her conversations would frequently be laced with comments and recollections of our mother. Nothing could bring a smile to her face quicker than for her appearance or actions to be likened to those of our mother. In 1996 Melanie moved to Fayetteville , NC to be close to family. There, she would establish the most enduring relationships of her short life. These friends all served to help her adjust and cope with the challenges of life. As my family prepared for yet another assignment, Melanie decided to stay in Fayetteville and cultivate these relationships. Though she had few friends, those she did have were indeed genuine. One individual in particular enriched Melanie’s final years and helped to provide focus in her life. This was Gene Lynch. Their friendship developed over a period of a few years and resulted in an enduring love. They effectively became a family--the 3 cats their children. Gene and the cats were among the most important things in Melanie’s life. After being diagnosed with cancer Melanie reached out for help and her family readily accepted the responsibility. Despite the grim outlook given in April 2007,we hoped for the best, knowing that ultimately God, not doctors, would decide her fate. After months of treatment and prayer, it appeared the cancer had gone into remission, and we collectively breathed a cautious sigh of relief. This,however, would only prove to be a short respite provided by God. For the next several months, however, her quality of life, both in terms of her physical well-being and demeanor, reached unprecedented levels. One day after therapy she related a passage she had read: “Your cancer is a gift from God,” and indeed it was. In the time that followed we frequented the symphony, toured and camped at majestic sites such as Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, Cannon Beach, the Olympic Peninsula, kayaked in the Pudget Sound and, as mentioned,traveled to Ireland. In January 2008 our brother John flew to Washington and the three of us visited Seattle’s landmarks (Pike’s Market, the Space Needle) and later, Canada. This would be the last time she would see him, but the memories of that trip will last forever. For the first time in years she went to the zoo, to amusement parks, to movies and to restaurants in an effort to provide Melanie those life experiences previously denied her. When taken to her first symphony, Melanie was astonished at the clarity and beauty of live classical music and after a few minutes exclaimed, “Oh my goodness, Hadie, this is beautiful!” Several members of the”regular” crowd glared at us. And despite repeatedly informing her that it was unacceptable to talk during a symphony, she was simply overwhelmed by the music and could not contain her excitement. I tolerated the outbursts, rationalizing the minor interruption to the other patrons by knowing that they would likely have the opportunity to see this again next season. Melanie, however, may not. So, Melanie continued to proclaim her appreciation for the performers that night, oblivious that she was doing anything out of the ordinary. Throughout this period her love for Gene and the cats never diminished. In fact,rarely would a day pass where she did not mention them. She coped with the separation by frequently speaking with him and repeatedly watching the Disney movie “That Darn Cat.” It is said that familiarity breeds contempt,but Melanie’s stay with us over the past year actually solidified my family’s love for her. She became a sort of companion in different capacities to us all. To the girls, she was the kind and eccentric Aunt whom they could talk to and joke with. To Frankie, she was a friend who helped as much as she could with household chores and management, and to me she was my sister as well as a friend. Aside from her acute memory, Melanie had superb taste in not only music but movies as well (at a minimum congruent with my tastes). Rarely were we in disagreement on one. I looked forward to returning from work to find Melanie waiting to watch a movie with me. We did this often and it served as a great opportunity to simply share time together. Truly, despite a legacy of hardship that plagued her life, the past 16 months have effectively served to mitigate these difficulties and ensure her final days were pleasant ones. Sadly, and despite the wealth of medical attention and prayer afforded her, we would learn that Melanie’s life was rapidly coming to a close. Throughout all of this, my wife, Frankie, bore the mantle of not only home stewardship,but that of caring for Melanie. These needs became increasingly numerous and required countless hours of labor and planning in order to meet a variety of demands generated by a host of doctors and a complex medical system. If anyone displayed the unconditional, unrequited love that characterized my sister, it was Frankie, whose selfless efforts ensured Melanie’s final days were made easy. If we would stop and envision the firmament of the faces of people we have known, we maybe apt to judge them each by utility and accomplishment. Melanie, though not imbued by God with many of the characteristics we hold as metrics to human achievement, accomplished much more than one may glean at first glance. Simply put, her existence was characterized by an innocent and honest approach to life that is most often confined to children, and lost at adolescence. The Bible teaches us that children are akin to Heaven. In fact, Jesus said, “suffer the little children to come unto me,for such is the Kingdom of Heaven .” It is my sincere belief that in her passing we have been shown the gentle hand of God, who in His infinite wisdom never challenges us beyond our capacity. And as such, recognized that despite the joy she brought to a select few, He required her presence elsewhere. God ensured Melanie’s passing from this earth occurred in the best circumstances possible; looking into the eyes of a loved one while being held. And while this transpired upon her physical body, God painlessly ushered from it her soul. It is not hard to imagine that her short time on earth was due to the innocence and love she has shown--insofar that God recognized these innate qualities, and perhaps determining in His great wisdom: here is one worthy to reside in My house. At 2:12 pm, on 9 August 2008, Melanie slipped the troubled bonds of earth to touch the hand of God, and in doing so has at last been reunited for eternity with the mother for whom her love has never waned. In her passing, Melanie has left us a unique and poignant example of an innocence that represents what is best in us all. If we were to but for a day embrace this unconditional manner in dealing with others, we would most assuredly move closer to God.
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