KENNY’S VETERANS DAY SPEECH

Several years ago one of my co-workers was a great guy with a fab sense of humor. I couldn’t have worked with a better man.  We remain friends to this day. I can’t date this writing, but i would guess 2003.

He was commander for an American Legion branch and was expected to give a speech for their Veteran’s Day event. He asked me if I could write something for him. After working together for quite a while and knowing his heart was in all the right places, it was pretty easy to write what I thought he would want to say. It was just what I would have said too, if we had exchanged places. I wrote:

It is an honor to stand and speak as a representative for all veterans today. We are not noted as public speakers.  We are noted for coming to the aid of our country. We are noted for doing whatever was asked to defend freedom and our constitution. We are counted on to protect our homes, our families, our communities and our nation. We have always been one of you. We are someone you know, someone you went to school or church with. We are a friend of your son or daughter, your boyfriend, fiancé or husband, your brother or sister, your son or daughter or your dad. We are all the men and women and boys and girls willing to do the right things in times of wrong. We have always helped the underdog,  stood for high principles and believed in our country…ONE NATION…..UNDER GOD.

We have thousands and thousands of veterans to thank and to remember, today.  We want to say thank you, with all our hearts, for all the brave and selfless deeds performed. We can never forget soldiers who gave up limb or life to protect us and our homes. Those soldiers of WWI and WWII and Korea bolstered the backbone of a young industrial country. They believed in duty and commitment and respect. They believed in the honor of proving themselves and their might for the safety of freedom and the future of our United States.

Thoughts changed during the era of Vietnam and soldiers weren’t held in very high esteem. I lived through that time ….participated and sacrificed…. through the criticism, indifference and resentment on my home ground.  Some of you, today, may feel we have cussed and discussed that era enough. It is not my intention to stir old wounds, but it is imperative that we use today, Veteran’s Day, to polish up the “thank you”s to those veterans and buff off the anger and discord they have suffered. We need to remember that through all the ridicule, the demonstrations, the lack of a united front at home, our veterans did, again, what was traditional and right. They presented the world with the UNITED states. They did all that was asked and more. They suffered the loss of innocence, dear friends, and comrades, even their own lives, following the example set by soldiers from the past. They were veterans in the truest sense of the word. It is always hardest to follow the least trodden path.

It is a wonderful display, in this troubled time, to see the renewal of patriotism for our fighting men and women overseas today. It is my belief that when war came to our shores, we finally understood what the soldiers knew all along.  War is brutal, it is awful, it is suffering we can’t ever comprehend and none of our veterans ever wished it to reach home.

The world is no longer faraway places. The children and families in the midst of war, today, are suffering much as we suffered from the 9-11 attack. How fortunate that we do not endure the pain day in and day out. Many, many people on this earth are not able to put war and terror behind them. Most have no one willing to commit to ending violence in their lives.

We can be proud, honored and humble, today, that we have had soldiers and the veterans with us, set the standard for what America means to the world. The United States owes its existence, its persistence and its leadership in the world, to our soldiers and veterans. They fight for all that we cherish. They comfort the children of war. They protect their families and your family, their friends and your friends, their church and your church. They proudly proclaim to the world ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. It is our duty, our debt, to say thank you. We keep you in our prayers, we bless your objectives, and we are overwhelmed by all that you do for us. Let us never forget and forever embrace our soldiers and veterans today and every day. May God bless and keep every single one.

FARMER’S WIFE 1930s

John’s Aunt passed away last month, at 88 years old.  She was a farm wife and mother, a quilter, genealogist, a community figure and keeper of tradition. She and her late husband had a great sense of humor and long lives, well lived.

The meal following her funeral was at her home.  It seemed the most fitting place to congregate for food, memories, laughter and love.

It was my first trip to this newer house of hers, built next door to the ‘home place’. It was built with her in mind and wouldn’t have been built with her late husband’s blessing.  He would have thought it wasteful and just unnecessary.  I could see that it was probably delightful for her. The main floor and garage were her domain; the basement belonged to her farmer son and family to be near ‘just in case’.

Her area had a quilting room full of sunlight and sporting a closet large enough for her abundance of fabric.  The room had space for supplies, machines and her quilting frame. It sat with a last, almost finished quilt designated for her farmer son – he would finish it himself.  She had another room about the size of a large bath room; I would call her library room. It had shelving of binders and ledgers, a lamp and small desk. It smelled like a library cubby and served her genealogy pursuits.  Higher ceilings, a harvest table, quilted projects, scores of family photos all welcomed you as surely as if she was there to do it in person.

As I wondered around visiting her home, I ran across a book in the quilting room. It was one that I had seen or maybe even picked up somewhere and I opened her copy and read a few pages.  I was hooked and here’s where my story is headed.

The book is The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird.  The Farmer’s Wife was a magazine began in 1903 featuring a wide array of topics aimed at the American farm wife.  Its early publishing rate was 100,000 + copies a month at a subscription rate of 5years for $1.00.  It grew to over a million copies a month and eventually was sold to the Farm Journal, still familiar to us today.

I am imagining a hard and sometimes harrowing existence for farm families in the beginning of the 20th century.   By the 1930s the depression was upon our land and hard work and perseverance wasn’t always enough to pull through.  I’m a reader and a magazine is as good as a book. For wives with limited funds, limited modes of travel, limited social opportunities and endless claims on their ingenuity, supplies,  hours-in-the-day and home and farm chores, I bet that magazine was absolutely precious.

This book, The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt, is a collection of 99 letters from farm wives, published in the magazine under the column ‘Letters From Our Farm Women’.  The author chose 99 classic quilt blocks with a woman’s name, or term like ‘Grandmother’, in their title, one to accompany each letter.  The blocks were then assembled into a Sampler quilt in their honor.  The book includes a CD of the block patterns to copy and build your own similar quilt.  I will never know if our Aunt had pieced all the different blocks at one time or another.  Maybe she just collected any interesting ‘quilt’ book.  She had a treasure trove of finished quilts and pieced tops waiting for quilting, so it is probable she knew most of these classic patterns.  Me?  I’m no quilter.  I might be a piecer. I am thinking about it.  I have tied a comforter or two and I am not nearly the perfectionist an expert quilter would be.  I saw a couple of ideas in her house that I will try.  What I found in her house, in this book, are the letters.

My kind of reading!  Real life lines shared with the world, about life on a daily basis during the hardest of times.   I first read for curiosity, but after a few letters, I was reading for the striking similarities between the stories of 1930 something and the stories and thoughts of 2019.  Oh My!

A lady from Wisconsin saved pennies, nickels and dimes till she could buy another book.  She was saving for A Lantern in Her Hand.  I’ve known this book intimately since 8th grade; have two copies, one of which is literally worn apart from rereading.  Some were young just starting life. Some had never been on a farm, till they wed.  Some left home for the city, to learn that they weren’t made for the city and going home really meant ‘coming home’.   Some were past 80 years and remembering lovingly how they got that old.

One lady had finally saved enough to get a radio in her home.  She felt connected to the big world with access to all she missed.  She learned that what she really missed was the connection to her home and community.  She was too enthralled to notice the loss of things she had taken for granted.  Doesn’t that sound exactly like the internet/facebook today?

There were women who immigrated to become American and cherished all that included.  There was loss of a son at age 16 and not knowing how to continue – I know that story.

The women talked of neighbors of generosity, children more important than chores.  They talked of men welcomed home at the end of the day, kids who helped willingly, work shared and blessings counted.

Their words offered me comfort and comradeship across the years, continuity and a better outlook on things to come, long after I have lived my due.

If I could offer you, my reader, a nice gift of encouragement and be able to point out the sturdy foundation we have built our own lives upon, I would ask you to head to the library or Amazon or a local book store and buy your own copy of The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt.

If you quilt, consider it a two-fer!

CHRISTMAS LETTER – 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

In order to keep you entertained, we are resuming our annual holiday newsletter.  There are exciting things happening with the Schmalshofs in GA.  Following the sale of our house and retirement to the lovely land of campfires and cheap living, we traded our years-long, tangle-fraught relationship with DirecTV in favor of no-commercials, instant-choice Neflix [cheap also].

We became obsessed with medicine before we realized what had come over us.  We started innocently with Nurse Jackie.  Following 60 plus episodes we were no longer innocent, in every way.  Wow, those TV medical professionals have a lot of on-the-job leisure to “engage”, so to speak.  Next we took a sampling of British medicine with Doc Marten.  His bedside manner really appealed to Deb. She is not your first choice, or second or third, for sympathetic medical attention.  Following an ambitious run with Grey’s Anatomy, then Private Practice and Royal Pains, we realized we had actually earned an Associates Degree in Medicine virtually by osmosis.

We were delighted at all we felt qualified to offer any time an emergency occurred.  You can imagine how relieved the paramedics, called for John, became when we gave symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for the drive to the local ER.  If you had seen their faces, you would have really enjoyed their enthusiasm.

As we immersed ourselves in Royal Pains, we came to realize that all those expensive hospital machines were as portable as a power tool but quite a bit more expensive.  It was a light bulb moment for us when we decided to DIY the ones we deemed most useful.  I mean we ARE project people.  Why not build our own mobile units?  No need for manuals or training, we can just adjust as we build, trial and error.  [trial and error – MAGIC WORDS].

Our defibrillator is fantastic [and they use them so often on all those medical shows], one of John’s new favorite tools.  Deb wasn’t as enthusiastic during the trial phase, sort of on and off, so to speak.  She’s more enthusiastic now……well, more alert.  The design is quite simple for any DIYer.  You need a 12V car battery [Any brand is fine. John adds that for kids, you probably should use a lawn mower battery – size is important], jumper cables modified with metal kitchen spatulas [the BBQ kind are great, again find smaller versions for the kid size unit], in place of the alligator clips, an adjustable volt meter wired between the jumpers and the battery and a tester.  Deb recommends an inanimate object if at all possible.  Once you have it adjusted, it works great.  I mean it really makes the patient jump up and take notice.  We can ‘save’ several people at a time if we lash their wrists together ‘in series’.

We are currently [don’t you just love puns!] working on a portable Xray machine.  It is not fine-tuned, but close.  John used some microwave components, an oscillator from one of his golf club greens fans, a couple of small hydraulic cylinders and just for visual effect [no help to the patient, but they are a bit dazzled] a portable strobe unit.

We have resourced a large animal vet sling to modify for our mobile CAT scan.  We are searching for a used global altimeter/boat propeller/gyroscopic potentiometer John can incorporate onto a ramp style open trailer for portability.  We thought of using an enclosed trailer, but realized right away that the radiation wouldn’t be able to escape, so an open trailer was the answer.  Just need to think these things through and we are great at that.

We had Joan and Robert [cousins on the Schmalshof side] visit this summer on their way to Florida.  Knowing they were coming, we were excited to try a couple of our DIY devices on them – just for demo purposes.  Surprise, surprise, Joan explained that they were the ‘perfect picture of health’.  Most people have an ache or pain somewhere, but she was right.  We took them out for Thai food and to get ‘ions’ off some huge waterfalls while driving the most curvy mountain roads and they didn’t even get a tummy grumble.  Sadly we didn’t get to show off our projects.

We are going to finish the mobile CAT scan and take on a couple more things.  If you are traveling and feeling poorly [or want to], please stop by.  We will be ready and waiting.  We are DIY specialists and cannot take insurance. Cash or personal check is fine.

Merry Christmas,

Lots of Humor and Love……Lots of Love,  Deb n John

WARNING ! – Nothing Subtle Ahead!

[Preface: Living away from the home and family crowd has it’s share of missing out on a lot of things. It has it’s perks too. I’m a pretty happy person and I spend time wondering about the lives of people in my circle. Are they also happy? No worries? Are there big life events like new twin babies this week? Are they excited, successful, even missing me?  How do I connect? Well I read FB and message some.  I mail pillowcases or small gifts that make me think of them. I wonder if something I know will help them with something they are struggling about. Should I say or not? How will they know I think of them, if I don’t say.  I was brought up short this week by a pronouncement that apparently “I think I know everything and always have”. At almost 70, I know a little about a lot, but not everything about anything. I know how to be helpful and KIND and honest and truthful. I also know that saying you’ll do something is a far cry from doing it. I know that I was raised with “you’re in charge” and “work everyday [there was a list]” and I often wish someone had offered some advice or a good book, that might have saved me grief.  Advice offered is not advice taken. But it might be ” thinking of you” advice. I’d rather someone thought I cared enough to spend some time on them as opposed to never giving a rat’s ass [as Carrie would say].

Oh, and I learned that BE KIND is way more “crap” than caring!]

 

So……

“In  a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

“You never know what people are going through. Just remember to be kind.”

“Be thoughtful, be genuine, be thankful, be kind”

“Life is difficult for everyone…just be kind”

 

BE KIND ….  is code word for  “Say ONLY what I want to hear!”

BE KIND – I’m having a bad day, so pat me on my back and whisper platitudes of adoration. [ You spent time thinking of me and wondering about me? And you think that counts? Wake up!]

BE KIND – Encourage my bad behavior with abundant and gushing pride in me. [ You don’t think I’m great when I can’t tell the truth or keep my word, so what!]

BE KIND – Shower my inexperience and stumbling with praise so i can ignore any outside help or concern. [Better yet, who are you to help me?]

BE KIND – because being kind is a one way street and I will mow you over if I don’t think you are “kind” or “kind enough”!

BE KIND is plastered on Facebook. I see it on billboards, shop signs and marquees. “Be kind, you never know what someone is going through.” It’s a plea. It’s a reminder. It’s a request. It’s actually a WARNING! BE KIND or else!

It pretty much means, coddle me, stroke my ego, pamper me with praise and comfort, don’t say anything that might offend me today or yesterday or tomorrow …. or else!  Be Kind doesn’t mean “that’s what I can do for you”, it means “that IS WHAT you can do for me!”

On the Phone:  I’m not interested in you as a customer. I’m not interested in your service need. I’m not interested in even returning your call and I am not interested when you are upset with my lack of concern – BE KIND!

On Facebook:  I’m having a rough week, life is cruel, I’m not going to even post the details, but believe me, I need help and prayers. You just need to hear me whine cause life is sooooo hard and no one understands what i can’t talk endlessly about – BE KIND!

In Business:  I’m a professional but i expect exceptions for anything that goes wrong. I know exactly how things work on my terms. As a customer, you have no idea how hard this is. I’ll get it right when i get it right and DO NOT offer help or concern – BE KIND!

In Families:  Sure we’re related, bottom line, but that is all. I can lie to you about anything AND everything and you don’t get to call me out. I make no apology for my insincerity. I can hurt you, exaggerate, dismiss and shit all over you and you ….. you can just BE KIND!

See a pattern here? I do!

BE KIND, the latest catch phrase, means YOU BE KIND and I’ll dictate the terms and parameters and if you get it wrong, I certainly won’t remember the term “KIND”.

BE KIND….my ass!

 

MY FAVORITE SEASON IS FALL – IN ILLINOIS

What I miss most about “home in Illinois” is Fall.

It is marked by the turn of the crops and the maple trees flashing their riot of color. Fall means farm equipment moving about in preparation for harvest. Fall is long sleeve mornings that turn to t-shirt afternoons.  Wagons and combines move from field to field. Lights glimmer in the fields, late into the night, as the harvest pace holds steady. Farm wives hold supper or carry it to the field.  Farmers no longer tarry at the café for lunch. Parts lines are long and sometimes short-fused. Hurry is in the air and you can smell fall as the crops being to fill the wagons. Drivers wave as they sit in the elevator lines. Fall means happiness when things are dry and breezy and nerves when the rain is endless or the wind is mighty.

Fall in Illinois is piles of leaves of every crayon color. Fall is mounds of snap, crackle and pop, raked and raked and raked to be scattered by kids and winds, in a burst of delight, during cool weekend afternoons. Fall is sitting on the steps or rocking on the porch in the early evenings.

Fall starts when the high school band spends practice hours outside before or after school. Fall is homecoming and festivals, parades and hot dogs and marshmallows and pumpkins and bales of straw and roasting sticks. Fall is the last few tomatoes, crisp red apples and piping hot chocolate. Fall is football and bundling up to watch the game.

Fall is all I love about home and my heart is there come harvest season.

The last two mornings in Georgia have been cooler – it’s a sign to start missing my Illinois Fall days

 

OUR FRIENDS, MARCIAL & MARIA

This is a hard story to tell. There are so many bits and pieces that are essential to understanding how things came to be. The bits and pieces are pertinent to the understanding, in our house, of the current immigration crisis.  I’m not sure where to start and all my facts came to me in no particular order.

Before we moved to Georgia in 2004, we lived in central Illinois among farm fields of corn, soybeans, winter wheat and alfalfa hay.  We weren’t particularly living in a diverse culture, but we were and still are, thoughtful and compassionate people.

When we settled in Georgia and John found his dream job as equipment manager for a private golf club, his workers were a blend of American and Mexicano, mostly Mexicano.  Most spoke little English and John spoke nothing but “Midwestern farm boy”.  His personality and non-judgmental ways melded both nationalities into a working team.  They liked him and he liked most of them. Like people everywhere, a few bad apples get sorted from the crop of genuine keepers. As he worked daily with them, their stories emerged; how they came to the USA, how they got to his golf course, who was left behind, a tapestry of illegal life with, for them, American abundance.

I met them and his favorites became my favorites.  It’s hard to admit, but early on they were all one. Since I didn’t work with them and saw them only periodically, they seemed to pretty much look the same. They wore the same work clothes, had the same swarthy dark tan, mostly black hair and of course, they sounded the same, either speaking Spanish dialects or attempted English.

Some facts:  Most of them weren’t interested in speaking English fluently; they learned enough to get by or used a buddy who was better at English as their personal interpreter.  We have never met a single illegal who wanted to become a US citizen and become American.   They simply wanted to earn their pay to send home for family or their future when they could return home.  If they do want to stay in America, it’s because they have a child born here that they wouldn’t want to leave behind. They don’t mind that their child is American, but it doesn’t entice them to become American for themselves.

Most have family in Mexico – wives, children and / or parents, family they haven’t seen in years.  The phone is their lifeline home along with their wire transfers on paydays.

Their underground system in the US allows them to buy vehicles, secure license plates and produce documents when necessary.  If they are stopped by the police for a traffic violation, fines are high at $750 for a minor infraction.  They have a network of connections to pool cash, pay up and be released.  One of our acquaintances was sentenced to community service hours. So as not to lose his job, he hired a friend to work his service hours.  Either our police knew and didn’t care or they weren’t efficient, to say the least.

One of our friends told about his first impression of the United States. He thought all our trees had died and that it was a very desolate country compared to his home in Mexico – he had arrived in winter.

His brother came a few years later with a 15 year old girlfriend. This brother wasn’t the hard worker of the two. When his girlfriend became pregnant, he shipped her off to her mother in Pennsylvania [how that came to be, I have no idea].  After the baby was born and a few months old, she returned to him in our area and we met his ‘family’.  The father was most impressed that ‘all babies in America are given a Snap card with money deposited every month”.  We explained, probably to deaf ears, that most babies in America are taken care of monetarily by their Mothers/Fathers, NOT by the government.  [How many people in Mexico believe by word of mouth, that America pays for all new babies – milk n honey – tell the world?]

John sold one of his co-workers a 1994 Chevy pickup. John had taken great care of the truck, it had high miles, but several years later this amigo got his truck and himself back home to Mexico to stay. He is still driving the same truck today.

To say that our immigration system is broken is so understated – fact is we have a broken government system and the hope for repair is beyond expectations.

The gentleman who bought the truck had a wife and family in Mexico. One of his children followed in his father’s path, paying a coyote to get into the states…..at 15 years old.  [We don’t have a dozen 15 year old males anywhere that I can fathom who could traverse thousands of miles alone – I am amazed at their courage]

Somehow this boy made his way to South Dakota [what a dramatic change from Mexico]. In South Dakota, he was picked up by the police as an illegal…..but somehow [remember we are talking government here] they learned his father was in Georgia and so they sent him by bus to his father. [I find this so governmental – illegal means illegal, probably son AND father. On a bus….like they expect him to just STAY on the bus for the duration? When they could have sent him home? Question after question?]  How was he picked up in South Dakota? He was sitting in a parked car, in a driveway, at his girlfriend’s house, trying to fix the car radio?  And this warranted an arrest?  Who knows!

Anyway this boy arrived in Georgia and went to work at John’s golf course. He went to night school to learn English. He worked hard and he and John [the Mechanico] become good friends.  He learned a lot from John and we learned from him.  His Father returned [with his truck] to Mexico and Marcial stayed here and along came his cousin, Alonzo, to work at the club also.  His girlfriend, Maria from South Dakota, moved to Georgia too.

Illegals have a great comrade system, pooling resources to conserve money and look out for each other.  Marcial, Maria, and Alonzo shared a small apartment. She worked, the boys both worked and probably like clockwork, they all called home each week to stay in touch with loved ones.

When John’s golf club was in the throes of being sold, he took on another private club looking for his talents and he, in turn, took Marcial and Alonzo along to work at this next golf course.  We are sort of always looking out for them all; John, as the father figure, working with them every day. He diagnoses truck troubles with them and offers advice and teaching moments.

Marcial and Alonzo had plans to return to Mexico at some point, but only just plans. One evening in 2012 a torrential rain came as everyone was driving home from work. The boys, who rode to work together, in Marcial’s truck [which was in Maria’s name – she being a US citizen] lost control on a mountain curve and ditched the truck. Someone stopped to check on them and routinely called 911.  When the police arrived the boys identified the driver as Alonzo [NOT] and he was promptly ICED away.  Alonzo wasn’t on the police radar up to this point, as Marcial was when they sent him to Georgia.

ICE planned for Alonzo to be returned to Mexico within days. No opportunity to collect his belongings, no chance to say goodbye – just gone. He could have visitors while in ICE detention, but probably better not be another illegal seeing him off!

This put Marcial and Maria in a bind immediately as they couldn’t afford their rent on two incomes.  Marcial came to John with his dilemma. John came to me and we agreed they should come and stay with us. We had spare rooms, extra bath and Marcial could ride to work with John, keeping him off the roads with no license.

We certainly enjoyed having them.  Maria hardly ever spoke except to answer any question we put to her. We invited them to join us for meals and they did, rarely! They had a private bedroom and bath, use of the kitchen and laundry – it was like having kids again and we loved having them. They came and went in their free time, and we were happy to know they were safe and looked after.  We also knew that Marcial really belonged back home with his family and we encouraged his plans to return.

I don’t think Maria ever planned to go with him. We didn’t ask. It was a private thing for them to determine. They were a sweet young couple, devoted to each other, making monumental life decisions. What could we possibly know to offer advice to youngsters who had defied huge obstacles and faced the same again?

As months evolved, Marcial set a date in November to reach Laredo, TX.  Their network of information allowed him to know where, when and who in Laredo to secure the documentation required to pass across the border to Mexico. He just had to get there. Maria’s mother was coming from South Dakota to take her back home. That left Marcial with the task of getting his [her] truck to Laredo without getting stopped by police for any reason. Another local amigo had signed on to travel with Marcial back to Mexico. Driving the truck to Laredo was going to be dicey. Should they be stopped for any infraction, there would be two Mexicanos with no official id in a truck licensed to a girl in S. Dakota…..not good, not good, not good.

John decided the best plan was to drive them himself. He had Maria sign and notarize a note authorizing John to use her truck. He would drive the boys to Laredo and fly back to Georgia. It was a working plan to safeguard them as best we could.

The morning arrived when Maria’s Mom drove in to pick her up. Our hearts were seized with the enormity of their loss, their irrevocable plan of parting as it played without any cover of privacy. We could only watch and sob and hurt for them as the break was wrenched from their hearts. [I cry again just remembering]. I so wanted her to go with him and I so knew she belonged where she was heading. Such a grievous weight for all our hearts to endure.

After packing and repacking the truck a number of times, all of Marcial’s American life was secured and the travelers left under the care of Marcial’s Mechanico for their last trek in America. He had been gone from home 15 years. I cried for his leaving and cried for his Mother’s reunion – pain and joy of immense proportions.

John arrived at the Laredo airport around 6AM making Georgia late afternoon. As it turned out, it took the boys longer than that to cross the border even with all their ‘official’ paperwork. They had to empty the truck entirely for inspection and the red tape to pass back was daunting.  The hardest part was Marcial’s unfamiliarity with the Mexican side of things after 15 years in America – the driving, the signage, trusting the right authorities, recalling the dialects etc. etc. They had some questionable obstacles before arriving home safely.

As it turned out, he was probably adjusting for a good year or more to his native life. Maria must have suffered the same anguish for months and months herself. Was he safe? How was he fairing? Did his heart hurt like hers? Phone calls were probably reassuring and heart rending.

We see their lives have recovered and progressed. We see  photos on FB and we instant message from time to time. Each has family. Each has married and welcomed babies. We know they both have a secure place in their hearts for each other.

Each is missed dearly in Georgia every day. We were so blessed to be part of their life journey. We will love them always.

 

FOR AUNT LOIS [and Don]

There’s a large old farmhouse.  The paint is worn away in places on the wood siding, other places it peels.  The windows, both upstairs and down, haven’t been washed in a real long time. The open porch has a washtub on the wall and some of the porch floor cracks are much bigger than cracks after all.  It’s surrounded by a grass yard of rolls and dips, with scattered  beds of  flowers on their last leg of blooms to seeds. There’s a weathered gray chicken house over there. In that corner is an open shed that ends the gravel drive where the car gets parked inside. The truck can park outside.  There’s a garden shed and a root cellar with a scattering of canning jars and an old kettle on the broken and crusty shelves. The steps down to the cellar grow up in random grass clumps.  There’s a fuel tank on its frame legs.  A  pump handle stands over an old concrete well platform. You can remember the taste of the cold cold water. Some scrap metal sits in a pile mixed with a cluster of old bricks.

All this life is surrounded on three sides by fields of tall corn, tassels dark and ears full, as the color drains and the testing commences. You peel back the shuck; are the ears full? Are there two to a stalk? Does it feel too wet? Is there rain in the forecast? Did we have a good breeze today?

Good looking ears make it to the house.  Three steps up to the porch, open the screen door and never notice the familiar hinges creeking. The chore boots aren’t noticed like the sweater and jacket on pegs aren’t noticed, but the aroma of supper amid a lazy movement of air from the fan in the open window draws you into the kitchen, corn in hand, to pause together and consider what’s to come at harvest.

Hands are scrubbed, food is dished, the blessing said and the meal commenced. The day is winding down, nowhere near done, till the clearing and washing  and drying  are finished, but getting there.

This only sounds familiar, achingly familiar, to a farm generation who have become orphaned with the loss of their final parent, either the matriarch or patriarch who has been keeping things as usual, as possible.

We long to know it all again and know that the longing is for something that would never be the same.  We have to know  it and learn it and grow with it so that it becomes a part of our soul,  a part of our being.  We might long to know it all again, but we do…..know it as well as we ever can….now….today…..for always. We can’t teach it or pass it on or tell of it enough to reach another soul.  It’s lonely because we each hold this picture differently.  It’s  a comfort like nothing else that will ever comfort us.  It  is reaching  into our hearts and holding  a living  whisper of eternity.