LOADS OF SISTERS
Sisterhood at its finest is what I aim to celebrate with each blog post. Typically, this means I write about my sisters, but sometimes we need to share the spotlight with other sisters.
This week, I have done just that.
Gail, Suzanne and I met Friday for Mildred’s funeral. Mildred, like a handful of other caring, thoughtful and loving matriarchs, opened her heart, home and holidays to us in our time of need.
Gail’s mother-in-law lived fully, loved even more deeply, and left an incredible legacy of peace, positivity and optimism to her entire family. On a beautiful November day with full sun, near record-high temperatures and—much to Gail and Suzanne’s chagrin—absolutely no wind, Mildred was memorialized in this small town where Gail, Suzanne and I were born.
Mom and Dad lived there from 2000 until they died in 2008. Both Gail and Suzanne had lived there as well. Tana and Amy (Swheat Girls Part Two, dated July 9th) were born there, and spent their early childhood years there, too.
The service left only a few dry eyes in the church, and the burial concluded with this spectacular sight:
We all returned to the church, and enjoyed the unparalleled cuisine of a small-town church potluck lunch, complete with homemade desserts. Gathering outdoors in the beautiful weather became the obvious order for the rest of the day.
Gail’s three daughters hadn’t been together for some time. They, too, celebrated their sisterhood today:
Lisa (right), who also married into the family, celebrated with her sister today too.
Mildred’s daughters, who weren’t old enough to lose their mother—no one ever is, if you recall from last week, are now the matriarchs of the family. My heart breaks for them.
When Mildred was just ten years old, her world was effectively rocked by the arrival of—surprise—twin sisters. She was an only child until then. Mary, Martha and Mildred became perhaps as close as Gail, Suzanne and me. They traveled, had fun, bent the rules, laughed, spread joy, and drew even closer as Mildred neared the end of her life.
Besides Gail’s three daughters, Mildred’s other granddaughters are left to help their mothers carry on her legacy.
Even the great-nieces will carry Mildred’s memory forward.
Mildred’s family didn’t let the beautiful November weather pass them by.
The window pictured in that small gap in the trees in the center of the above picture is the house my parents lived in, just across the street and across an open lot. Mildred, Mom and Dad couldn’t have asked for better neighbors in each other.
Suzanne and I were chauffeured to Osborne by my husband. We savored the beautiful Kansas landscape along the way, with next year’s wheat crop just getting its start.
We stopped in Lucas to partake of the sights, and to procure some of the locally famous bologna and cheese from Brant’s Meat Market.
In operation since 1922, Doug Brant is handing the reigns to his daughter carry this family legacy forward as one of the few remaining authentic meat counters in Kansas. Our dad was one of his regulars, and Dad’s local conversational legacy is still alive and well at Brant’s. He remembers Dad, and he remembers us. We remember how good his homemade treats are.
No trip to Lucas is complete without a stop at Bowl Plaza, voted second best restroom in the world on World Toilet Day in 2014.
The contest was sponsored by the United Nations and Cintas to increase awareness of worldwide sanitation. This free, public restroom has been recognized for its uniqueness and flair.
For me, it provides a welcome rest stop on my travels in this direction, but more importantly, it validates my favorite expression of art: mosaic art with all degrees of randomness included.
Life is often random, so art like this makes perfect sense to me.
Next time, I swear I will make time to stop at the other world-famous attraction there: J.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden.
The holidays officially begin this week. I know from heart-wrenching experience that this can be the hardest time of year for the newly grieving.
If it is your first year without a loved one, please consider this perspective: Although the pain never fully goes away, this first year is a blueprint. We have no idea what to expect on the first round of birthdays, holidays and anniversaries, but when we survive the first year of all those special days, we can say I made it. I will make it again. We now have a foundation of what to expect in future years, and while each year is different in its own right, each year you move forward makes you another year stronger.
I am celebrating Thanksgiving Day with my husband’s family, and then we will spend the weekend at Gail’s for her much-anticipated annual Turkey Party. It is a large part of the reason why I love Thanksgiving so much. Our signature picture at the beginning of each post was taken in Camp Gail last year on Thanksgiving weekend, and I plan to take another one this year.
My favorite holiday is almost upon us, and after nine years, I can say I no longer dread holidays. I welcome them, and savor the memories from so many blessed years with my parents. I still miss them, though.
If you are missing a loved one, I wish you this peace I now feel.
If your family struggles to find harmony on holidays, I wish you peace as well. Consider, if possible, seeing your family through their eyes for just a moment, or just for the day.
Give thanks. Be grateful. Express gratitude for the little things, as well as the big things. Because the little things, as you already know, are what the big things are made of.
In loving memory of Mildred. I am thankful I had the privilege of getting to know her. She left an incredible legacy of love for all of us to carry forward. May her family feel peace at their Thanksgiving table, and every day.
Any woman who was a sister to another woman posed for this impromptu picture.
Gail with her family.