There are friends, there are acquaintances, and then there was Arlene Oberg.
Arlene, her loving husband Russ and my wife, Victoria, were friends long before I came along. They were part of the Ballard Norwegian mafia, that embraced their heritage, making frequent trips to Norway, singing together in the local Norwegian choruses, hosting Norwegian events, etc.
When I arrived on the scene, Arlene was quite protective of Victoria. I believe she just wanted to make sure I was good enough for her. The fact that I was always holding her hand or giving her a kiss seemed to bother her and she let me know.
In time, I think I grew on her. She was the one who arrived at the house with a bottle of Scotch in hand, asking if I’d consider becoming vice-president at the Sons of Norway lodge. Apparently, Arlene could read me like a book.
She’d ask me occasionally for help with her computer. Arlene so wanted to adapt to today’s technology. I remember one time when we were invited over to her house, she had music in the background playing on her iPod. No one else noticed, but she had the same song playing over and over the entire night.
Every year that Victoria and I knew each other, we spent the Opening Day of Boating Season with the Obergs. At first, going out on their boat tied up to the logboom. Then, as taking it out became more and more challenging, we just had a breakfast on board their yacht, the “Nordic Lady”, then walked over to watch the parade of boats.
This year, Arlene wasn’t able to walk over to the parade and her health was beginning to slide. She told Victoria that this would probably be the last year she hosted an Opening Day event. Little did she know how right she would be.
I’ll remember the time we went out with you and Russ to see the Christmas ships up close. I’ve only used the Heimlich maneuver on one person in my life and that was when Arlene choked on something at a memorial service. You always hear the cliché when someone passes away how “their spirit lives on”, but that is going to be so true about Arlene Oberg. With every Norwegian Ladies Chorus performance, event at the Leif Erikson Lodge or the Queen City Yacht Club, she will be there. Singing, laughing, rolling her eyes at me and being that character I came to know.
Thanks Russ and Arlene for all you’ve meant to us over the years.
Arlene, you will be missed, but remembered always.