It's my life and I love it...most of the time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Traditions and Other Life Experiences

This week my family said good-bye to a very special women in our lives. To me, she was Aunt Dorine - maker of hugemongous popcorn balls and a most gracious women who always had a smile for you and a kind word. She would have been 93 years old this year, and was approaching her 70th wedding anniversary. She was the wife of one of my favorite people, my Uncle Lloyd. They farmed not far from my grandparents. When I visited during harvest, the majority of my time was spent attached to my grandmother. I do recall stopping by one of Uncle Lloyd's fields to see how things were going, and finding Aunt Dorine in the field in the heat of summer. I will never forget the image of her in shorts and cowboy boots! This amused me greatly. Maybe because I could never imagine my own grandmother dressed for the field like this. But mostly because this was in such contrast to how Aunt Dorine looked the rest of the year when I would have the chance to visit her. I believe she was not only  gracious, but confident, smart, and practical.

After the funeral, we made our way to the cemetary to lay her to rest. As we traveled to the small cemetary in a nearby tiny, country town, it reminded of the last time I traveled Highway 54 to this same cemetary. That time, we were saying goodbye to my beloved Great-Grandmother Josie. As we made our way East out of Greensburg, we traveled along Highway 54 just as we traveled West along the same highway for Aunt Dorine. In Kansas, there is a tradition of pulling over to allow funeral processions to pass. Even on this major highway through Western Kansas, people pulled over. I don't really know how this began. Perhaps it was for safety, in some states I believe it is a law, but in others you don't see this at all. I think it is a sign of respect. It meant so much to see even the busy truck drivers pull their 18-wheelers over as we passed, many removing their hats. My grandmother deserved that. As did Aunt Dorine.

I witnessed the same thing all these years later on Friday. I can safely say that not everyone stopped, however. I hope that this is not a sign that this will be another simple show of respect that goes by the wayside because we are all so consumed with our own lives and how busy we are. I hope we never allow ourselves to be so consumed that we can't take a few minutes for this simple show of compassion.

I was also blessed to see my Uncle Lloyd the last two days. I have to be honest and say this was hard on many levels. Just as my grandparents are forever in their 40's in my mind, so is Uncle Lloyd (we won't go into how old I am now!). I can recall many a time growing up experiencing his honeriness first hand. Sometimes it was teasing, sometimes he would grab my knee and squeeze to set me gigling. Needless to say, Uncle Lloyd is not in his 40's anymore, in fact he will soon turn 95. Age has caught up with him, as his mind has slipped and now his body is weakening. He doesn't remember many things any longer, including who I am. As I sat next to him in the nursing home today, though, I saw a glimpse of who he has always been as he winked at me. And as he squeezed my hand - hard! This is the man he will always be to me.

This weekend is yet another reminder to not let opportunities pass. Although the days weren't always easy, I cherish being able to see my uncle and to say good-bye to a most special aunt. I am greatful that I was able to spend time with my grandparents, and other family members.

Make memories that will last a lifetime. They are much more important than a mopped floor, or a folded basket of socks.


  1. shorts...I don't recall her in shorts in the harvest field....so true, she dressed much differant when not in the field. I thank the truck driver who put the breaks on FAST and pulled over, I think he got stopped about the end of our line of cars :) the pickup behind him to, decided to pull over...those things mean so much! I also remember when we laid Aunt Orel to rest...at 17th and MacVicar there was a worker who was working on the gray box at this corner, he turned to us, stood, removed his hat and placed it on his heart till we all had passed. I so wanted to find this person and thank him. Lisa Tillotson

  2. One of the things I have loved in coming back to live in KS is that pulling over for funeral processions. They don't do that in Oregon. I drove to Howard, KS yesterday where my grandparents lived when they were alive and found their grave marker (which had been set since I last visited yrs ago). I took photos of their house, which looks little like it did when I was forming many wonderful memories visiting there, and of the church across the street that hasn't changed at all.

    I also had a favorite uncle who farmed and was such a tease. My cousin's birthday was right at harvest time, so I was often invited to spend the week then. We usually took lunch to the field each day. You brought back many memories I feel so blessed to have. Thanks.