Erika Langholf would have enjoyed the celebration of life that her children, family and friends put together. A crowd filled the pews in the funeral home chapel as rock music from the 1970s played over the sound system, such as “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart and “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen. A beautiful Himalayan rock salt urn held Erika’s cremated remains, displayed on a stand decorated with the chile ristras she loved to make.
Cese McGowan welcomed everyone, and surveying the crowd said, “It makes me think we should have had this party while she was still here. Words to describe her include bright, funny, talented, a good friend, and a great mom. And she had courage – she wasn’t even frightened of death.”
Erika died at the age of 53 of liver failure. A hoped-for liver transplant did not materialize in time.
“Erika was a comet – brilliant, intense, and only with us for a short while,” said Cese. “She’ll never be ashes, always a fire. Since she didn’t show up for this party, let’s gossip about her and leave here knowing her better than we knew her before.”
She was remembered as a great phrase maker and her sarcastic quips: “I’ll take the blame, but not the responsibility.” “I’m over shit that hasn’t even happened yet.” “Get over it.” “Just peachy.” Several speakers acknowledged lifting her lines for their own use.
David Tucker said “Erika was tough, smart and funny. She knew so much. She’s been to the fair and seen the bear. If I wrote down all of the times she made me laugh, it would be an endless list.”
“It’s hard for me to not see her here, but she’s here,” he said, patting his heart. “You don’t really die until someone says your name for the last time. She’ll be around for a long time to come.”
Husband Doug Lanholf spoke about how he was friends with Erika long before they began dating. When he first asked her out, they went to a steak house and she ordered her prime rib extremely rare, telling the waiter, “Clean its hooves, wipe its ass, and bring it here.” After dinner, they played pool and she beat him handily. She carried her own cue and played in a league.
Before he asked her to marry him, Doug asked her father for the okay. “If you’ve got the guts,” he replied. Honesty with a twist of humor runs in the family. “The girl could make you laugh in the most awkward situations,” he said.
She was remembered as a gardener, a skier, a hunter and fisher, a great cook, and a connoisseur of all things related to chile. She was a great sports fan of baseball, football and NASCAR, particularly Jeff Gordon’s car 24. She loved animals, and took in rabbits, cats, and an abandoned dog, and she had a passion for horses. Her children were always the center of her universe.
“Although her physical presence will be sorely missed, she will live on in my heart, mind and soul,” he concluded.
A parade of friends and co-workers from the post office described a savvy shopper who knew where to get all the great deals, someone who made work fun, and a gym rat who inspired others to join her at the crack of dawn to work out. She was an inspired costume maker who loved Halloween. She was a free-spirited woman who chose her friends, and she touched many lives with her humor and inspiration.
One speaker named Mary spoke about some great road trips she and Erika shared. “We got lost in Mexico twice and were stopped by policemen with AK-47s. She went there to get some dental work done, but she didn’t speak Spanish, except for a few words I can’t say here.”
When she worked at the post office in Santa Fe, she sneaked a few family members up on the roof to get a great view of the fireworks and burning of Zozobra at Fort Marcy Park.
And then there was the story about the buffalo she shot at the Ladder Ranch near Truth or Consequences. She participated in a hunting lottery every year. When she did get the buffalo, the family had quite the buffalo burger feast. The painted skull stood as a tribute to her hunting prowess.
Her daughter got up to speak and thanked the friends here today. “My mom lived such a great life and had so much fun. She touched so many.” Indeed, speakers even included friends of Erika’s children who came out in support.
After the open comments were completed, the closing featured some of Erika’s favorite songs. Friends were invited to continue telling stories at her parents’ house after the memorial service. Attendees rocked out to “Faithfully” by the band Journey, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” by Rod Stewart, “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum, and “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
In lieu of flowers, donations to your local Humane Society are encouraged.
May the memory of Erika Langolf burn brightly in the hearts of those who love her.