ON THIS DAY, JESUS SHOOK MY HAND

A few months ago on April 20, 2019 We are blessed to have 12 grandchildren. Five of them live in Syracuse Indiana. For the last couple of years these 5 kids have been a part the CHRISTS PASSION, play that is a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus. It is an hour-and-forty-five-minute reenactment of the last week of the life of Jesus Christ. His trial, suffering and death.

We have heard them talking about all the rehearsals, combing thru Goodwill stores in search of pieces to make their costumes, and the late nights when they practice and perform the show. I’ve always wanted to go see them, just never have been able to make it happen. In April, this year I decided I was going to make it a priority to see their play. I brought two of our five granddaughters Allyson and Emmalynn, and we invited my dear friend Cheryl to come with us as well. Once we arrived at the large church, we stood in line to buy tickets, it was then I realized this was a certified real production company that travels all over putting on this play. They don’t just come in and perform the show, and take off.

They invite people from the surrounding areas to participate in the play. The are many openings of the play that a person can audition for, a seller of wool, a seller of grapes, a Shepherd, a seller of chickens, or sheep, someone who gathers wheat, and grinds it into bread, there are many townspeople needed. Its really an awesome procedure. From the moment we walked through the doors to the gymnasium, it’s almost completely dark and the smell of incense is heavy as you walk down a darkened funnel like isle to your seat. Tents line each side of the walls, and are set tightly side by side. People are walking about in authentically handmade clothes from that era. Some people are sitting in their tents, busy with food preparations, woman are tending children, making baskets, weaving rug, or spinning yarn. Others are weaving throughout the crowd shouting eggs for sale, buy my eggs, bread for sale, finest grapes for sale….they come up and ask you to purchase their product and explain to you why you should buy from them and not the other sell who may be circling up behind them.

There is a blind woman sitting alongside the streets of Jerusalem yelling at no one out loud. As if she is crazy. There are people selling fine jewelry, and livestock, hay, or grain. They are approximately 20 followers, supporters of Jesus and another 20 followers who are NOT supporters of Jesus. This whole production leaves you feeling as if you are really there, in person, just walking the streets of Jerusalem like everyone else. It gives you such a REAL FEEL for what it must have been like to be in that time and place. BIG, LOUD, BRUTAL looking men all dressed as Roman Soldiers are weaving in and out of the crowds of people. Suddenly they will shove someone and in a deep baritone voice yell, ” WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS HERE”..”GO HOME, GET OUT OF THE WAY”.

Sometimes they will slip behind your seat and suddenly yell STAND UP, WHERE IS YOUR PASSPORT, and if you do not answer in the way they want you to they call the guards and you are taken away. Obviously, the only audience members that literally are hauled away by the Roman soldiers are people they have agreed to this participate in the play this way ahead of time. Still, it is riveting to witness.

(On a side note, they did stop and do this our granddaughter Emmalynn, who did not think it amusing and she cried right away. What was precious about the situation is here is this actor who is suppose to be the big, tough, mean Roman solider and now with everyone watching he’s trying to tell her he is sorry and its just a play).

In the past years, these 5 grandchildren have always been able to have parts in the play along side their mom. They have been townspeople, sellers, and during the time of the trial and crucifixion they were all followers of Jesus. They supported him with chants of respect and admiration as they pleaded with the Roman soldiers to leave the Son of God alone, to spare his life. They shout prayers and pleas for Jesus to be spared. They sit and cry alongside Mary when her only Son is crucified.

This year, my daughter in law, and grandchildren said they had to play the part of the NON-supporters, hecklers, non believers of Jesus. The people who shouted for him to be killed, to be beaten, hung and crucified. Several times their mom Brandy told me it was the most difficult part to play, as it was so totally opposite of how they felt, and it made her cry. Still they all played their part. I watched in amazement as our oldest grandson Benjamin 14, played the part with such authenticity. He shouted and yelled; he was pushed back into the crowd several times by the ACTING Jerusalem authorities as he tried to leap forward towards Jesus. Benjamin preaches at his church sometimes, and he’s right good at, so again playing this kind of role wasn’t his first choice but he took it and ran with it.

(After the play was over, Benjamin and one other boy could be found standing at the exit doors handing out tracks from their church, all tired and sweaty.)

From the beginning of the play, through out several scenes a very sick man is laying in the middle of the street on a tattered wool blanket. He cries out now and then for help but everyone continues walks past him or steps over him. (Within the production He is the man that Jesus tells says to him “ You are healed, get up and take your bed with you) One of many healings Jesus performs.

Before the play begins, the large auditorium is dark except for a faint light over the stage. As the narrator begins to read passages from the Bible, Jesus appears from the right side of the gym and walks slow and deliberate with purpose towards center stage. He wears a faint smile and waves slowly.

The man playing Jesus looks so incredibly real. As he is making his way onto the stage, he side steps toward the audience. I quickly sent a bullet prayer upward and ask God to have this actor portraying Jesus to shake my hand. I cannot even tell you why. I think my entire surroundings made it all seem so real I wanted to take a part of it home with me. TO FEEL DIFFERENT WHEN I LEFT, TO HOLD ONTO THE REAL FEEL OF IT ALL. LIKE I WAS A WITNESS. Jesus stopped only in two places. An elderly woman in the first row, and then he stopped in front of me, I put my right hand up to shake his and he wrapped both of his hands around mine, squeezed gently and nodded.

I KNOW, I KNOW he is just an actor pretending to be Jesus. But I confess, it sent chills up my spine and I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of what it might have been like to touch the hand of Jesus, or feel the switch of air from his garments as he passed by me in a crowd. Honestly, WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE…but it still felt special. To me. After all, this was a play, and perhaps somehow God was allowing me to really feel for a fleeting more a scared snippet of the joy.

The rest of the play was too beautiful for words. I could write about it for another three pages. I cried several times, I grew angry and I hurt when they beat OUR JESUS, and when they crucified OUR JESUS. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling.

As a young mother, in church on Easter Sundays I used to think I could “sympathize” with Mary losing her only son, and in such a terrible way. I used to hold our own son a bit tighter during that story. (Let me make it clear here, that we had four babies, and we have been so BLESSED to be able to raise three wonderful people, great people. I loved our babies; I cherished every moment with them. You would have to ask to hold them…otherwise I never let them go. They were my salvation, my hearts delight and our whole world. They still are, and have given us 12 Beautiful Grandchildren, who are also our whole world).

Still I thought that I could sympathize with Mary. Oh My. When we witnessed the whaling and sobbing of Mary kneeling at the feet of her Son Jesus, losing herself in such a loss, it was pure EMPATHY I felt. When a few woman had to help Mary up on her feet and get her out of the way of the Guard, we all ached for her. When Mary and several other women race to the tomb of Jesus to anoint his body with oil and spices and instead, they are met by an angel that tells them that Jesus have been raised from the dead, the tomb is empty. You can feel the relief and hear the joy in Mary’s crying and you can see and feel her tears of relief.

This was just a POWERFUL play. Here is a precious reason why I wanted to share this whole story. Wanted to get it down on paper so as never to forget it.

Our youngest grand daughter Norah, is two. She has been so mesmerized by this man portraying Jesus. On one of the first nights, as her Mom was trying to gather up her five children to go home, as it was getting late, Norah stops her mommy and says “Wait Mom, I have to talk to Jesus, and tell him goodbye”. She was so in LOVE with JESUS.. To have the faith and love of a child is precious. No wonder in Mark10:14 Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

My words cannot do justice to how sweet Little Norah is, or how precious it was for me to witness the way she was always staring at “her Jesus”, sheepishly smiling at him. She never let him out of her sight. If he looked down at her to speak, she would just stare up and him and smile. My writing cannot capture all that this CHRIST PASSION PLAY is or explain a little girls connection to a pretend Jesus…BUT THIS PHOTO OF HER AND JESUS SPEAKS VOLUMES. As you can see, this was a group picture, but there is no mistaking the adoration she had for what she believed was “the real Jesus”. Perhaps our little Norah should bring home the Emmy, for her part was played with such honesty and truth…it moved all our hearts.

The Fire

As superstitions go, I have never been a believer in them. Now and again I will participate in some silly ritual like making a cross on my windshield if a black cat crossed the road in front of me, I wont walk under a ladder UNLESS its the only way around it, and I have been known to stop a rocking chair if it was rocking just because I guess.

On Friday the 13th of April, yes Friday the 13th, I spent the better part of the day with My Mom and My Dear Friend. We hadn’t done anything together in a good year so the three of us took off from my farm and just made a few stops at little junk stores. I remember that several times throughout the day I made mention that I was NOT a believer in the stigma that goes along with Friday the 13. I serve a bigger God, He is in control of my world.  We came home around 3:30 p.m.

At 9:30 I went to bed as the stomach flu has visited all our kids and grand kids and I was not feeling very well. I had only ate a few pieces of chicken strips the whole day and I just wasn’t sure if it was the grease from them in an empty tummy or the flu. Either way I wasn’t comfortable.

At 12:43 .m. I got out of bed and stumbled down the stairs for the inevitable.  It was going to happen.  And it did. Afterwards I was laying on the bathroom floor, so sick, my mind was not functioning at full capacity. After 20 minutes or so I was able to stand up without being dizzy and make my way to the living room. I laid back in my recliner and my head turned to the south windows. It was brighter than normal. I remember thinking “wow the moon is shining bright on this part of the yard”. I layed there a few more minutes . I heard a pop, but thought it was the damper on the outside wood burning unit. Then I heard another louder pop. I rolled my head towards the dining room and I noticed that lights were flickering on the windows that face the east.

I jumped out of my recliner and raced to the kitchen. There are 3 large windows that face the west, and a bay that is over the sink and faces the west.  I looked up at the light over the sink, it wasn’t flickering. .I looked again fearing it had a short in the wiring. Still nothing. Suddenly, The whole kitchen was flickering and it seemed so bright for just one light over the sink on. I looked out the 3 windows by the table and I screamed… over and over I screamed.  Our entire barn was a blaze in flames. I have never witnessed such a fire in person. (Photo taken by our daughters,)

(Thirty five years ago, when my childhood home burned I was living up the road in my own place and when I walked down the house was completely  gone and all that remained was a lot of smoke and ashes).

While our youngest daughter and her hubby and children are building a new home across our 20 acre field in a wooded 5 acre lot they are living in a beautiful bungalow that we built several years ago for my elderly Aunt who is given the sad diagnosis of cancer. It room enough for a family for temporary headquarters but can be a bit tight after living in a real home with a lot more footage.  This bungalow, which  consists  of a  living room, kitchen, large bath and laundry room, bedrooms,  offers quiet living way  off the road  with a spectacular view of the woods. It is the west 3/4 of the structure.  On the east side is a 30 x 30 garage/shop that we make small farm repairs in.

Our Daughter and Son in law park their vehicles between the barn that burned and the garage/bungalow structure.  When I looked outside and saw the old open front barn on fire …I was so scared for our kids and grandkids.  I ran out our glass door without shoes or socks or coat. The wind was blowing so fiercely from the north and was pushing the flames across the driveway and into the cattle pen. The cattle were stampeding and jumped the fences . I ingested so much smoke while I ran as fast as I could. When I reached the bungalow, I beat on their bedroom window  hard over and over again and kept calling their names and yelling fire…get out.  Get out. Then I ran around to the west side where their living room door was and beat on it. They opened the door. Already they had discovered the flames because their outdoor German Shepherd was barking in a more alarming way than usual and Our daughter had gotten up knowing something was a miss.  Our Son in law had already ran out the door, and stared their suburban and drove it to the west side of the building. I grabbed three of their children by their arms and pulled them, barely allowing their feet to touch the ground and I did NOT let go of those arms until all three children were safely in the suburban. I shut the back passenger door. Our daughter was in the driver seat with her baby in her arms and they drove up to our farmhouse.

Our son in law, ask if I thought he could save his Bosses truck, that He drives as the main  crew leader for the company. The drivers side was all smoking and the flames from the building appeared to be the only dangerous part. So I said, “Maybe if you slide in from the passenger side. The moment He started that truck and drove it out from between the two building the wind hit it and the entire side of the truck was in flames. I was screaming for our son in law that it was on fire…..but as he is always a calm and collected man, he drove it to the water pump, put out the flames and then had the mind set to drive the truck out into the middle of a field just in case it still would blow.

Once our daughter was in the house with her children safely I then called 9ll. Carl was  standing outside watching the barn in his pajamas and was constantly walking behind our wood shed building, and the grand kids playhouse.  He was  throwing up. Now the flu bug had hit him. Between his vomiting sessions and mine we stood in shock, in tears as we watched ……

.24 years of hard work and struggling to make ends meet and trying  and acquire decent used, dependable equipment just  going up in flames. 

We had Four tractors, Farmall M restored and parade ready, A farmall 706 that ran but we had bought a motor to replace the one that was in it….a 1755 Oliver tractor, (my first tractor I ever bought of my very own) and  was our steady work horse. We were  just coming off of winter,  so we had all of our equipment stored in the barn and lean to additions to keep them out of the weather.   We had a New Idea EAR  Corn picker, a New International hay baler, a Gehl 95 Feed grinder, a beautiful Ponderosa  4 horse stock trailer, three John Deere lawn mowers, (2 Honda Recon 250 four wheelers, a Badboy zero turn lawn mower that belonged to our daughter. While they are  building they stored their outdoor things in our barn.) All our hand tools, hay and straw, wooden barn doors that I used for photograph props when I take pictures for families. All our yard ornaments were in there. Each fall I take everything out of the flowers gardens and rock garden and store them for the winter. 

We continued to watch as our chicken coop full of chickens scattered and screamed with no way to get near them to save them. A turkey coop was gone. The barn which was 32 x 64 and had a 15 x 64 additions added on to the entire back of it. Added to that, was a  8 X 15 X 12 foot high  corn crib that held 600 bushel of ear. It would have fed our cattle until late November when a new crop could be harvested. Now we will struggle to keep feeding our cows till fall 2018.  We lost 20 Isa Brown chickens that were layers every day, along with 27 small chickens that had feathers and were bought and being raised to increase our daily  egg production.

If the shock, and trauma wasn’t enough to endure try and adjust to,

Exactly 3 months earlier, to the day, Jan13)  On our way to our grand daughters birthday party we were in a head on collision when someone else crossed the center line and we hit  us . The claims adjuster from the Gauging Facility   said She was doing 68 and we were doing 41.  That was a  G force of 109 mph. We had multiple  injuries that we are still  healing from, we  lost a beautiful truck that we were unable to replace with same like qualities…..and a  fire to  our barn…

Whenever  we get into a vehicle and another car appears to get too close, we both  tense up. The force of that impact was so surreal. It haunts me all the time. I  lay in bed at the end of the day and the scene from the fire plays over and over in my  head. It just didn’t seem real.  We are grateful that no one was hurt, that the flu HAD ME UP at 1 in the morning.  And yet…

 

We were NOT prepared for the devastation of the visit from our “Insurance co”. They showed up on Monday morning….after we called 3 times. The “person/serpent”  arrived at 10 a.m. turned on his recorder and grilled us until 2 p/.m.  We had to sign for them to do a credit check on us, they made us answer questions about our mortgage, our utility bills, who we owed money to, did we have a drug or drinking problem, did we smoke…They would be diving into our checking account and our finances….what a total creep. Why. Because AFTER he got everything from us HE WANTED. He shut off the recorder, closed his little boy rule book and said..”None of your farm equipment was covered. You have no blanket policy.

Another hard hit. In 14 years the “AGENT”  has never been to our farm, never called us. I called him about 6 years ago and added the new barn/bungalow building and made sure it had replacement cost. Our home also has it when I opened the account 14 years ago. Why this agent has never been here not one time in all those years SHOULD BE A NEGLANCE act and there should be some severe reprimanding for it.  As of this writing he has still not bothered to call us or come by. Not that he would be welcome.  The adjust that was here that Monday made us feel like criminals and he meant to. He later chastised me a couple days after when he let me know how “Unfriendly” we were to him after he said they would not coverage.  Not sure what kind of world He lives in but I can assure you that I would not have his job of beating another person when they are already down, and I sure wouldn’t expect them to smile while I did it.  Dealing with this adjuster was debilitating  to both my husband and myself.  For two weeks and two days we have hit every plateau of emotions like a bad rollercoaster ride. We are shocked, angry, hurt, angry again, we cry, our insides shake, we run to the bathroom, our nerves are shot.  Our spirits broken.

The barn that burned is the ONLY building on our property that apparently did NOT  have replacement cost. It supposedly was Actual Cash Value MINUS depreciation. How does a building depreciate when you keep up the maintenance on it. We painted it several times. Its a metal building. We had the roof painted . We built doors for all four of the open fronts on it. And yet they say depreciation is 1 percent per year.  The barn was about 50 years old so they say that our payment will be  about  30K.   (after they give us 8 pages of drawing that the adjuster did, and shows us that it would cost about 64K to rebuild everything. Such a nice insurance company. INSURANCE is something you pay  and pay on for years believing that you have some piece of mind, when in fact they are NOT there for you, they are modern day PIRATES that rape and steal from you with their hidden clauses and constant new amendments.  That’s how they all get so rich and keep so much money that have their own credit unions and such.  Where is our govt…..in all this.  Well, again it wasn’t enough yet…then we were told that 7500.00 of the 30 will be sent to the township until the inspector says that we have cleaned up the fire mess to their specifications. Then we can put in a request for the return of the money. Had we NOT had insurance, we would have received a 90 day clean up notice.  Its the little extra kicks into our already seeping wound that you gotta love. NOT

As far as our personal belongings we are allowed to claim our mowers as lawn care equipment but NOT anything else. They wont cover a 24″ pipe wrench or a vise as they are deemed for farm use. Again by their SENIOR FARM SPECIALIST. What a joke….guess no one uses pipe wrenches on household plumbing and obviously we must all HOLD our mower blades in our hands when sharpen them with a grinder. Couldn’t use a bench vise for that…….They crossed off a pink  cozy coup car with matching trailer as a piece of farm equipment also. ITS A CHILDS PEDAL TOY.

All around this has been a bit of a rough patch for sure. While I tend to like the rodeo, I don’t care to live it and its been pretty tough to stay in the saddle and not let go.  My faith took a direct hit.

I understand that God is not a vengeful God, and obviously if HE were in charge of everything and everyone there would be no children beaten, raped, or sick with cancers……there would be no murders of innocent lives.  We wont ever know this side of  Heavens Gate why any of the bad things that happen to ANY OF US on this earth. We have to square our shoulders, damn the torpedo’s that others are firing at us, and walk forward at full speed.  We dare not take a moment to feel sorry for ourselves or sit down and wallow in the muddy puddles of life.  It will get us no where.  We will be covered in mud, dried to our skin, and still be just as sad and broken. We have to fight, we have to believe that things will get better, that beyond the rain clouds ..there will be  sunshine. Eventually.

Its not the manner in which a man falls that is important, but rather how he rises that shows his true character and strength and faith.   We temporarily lost our faith and hope,  but The GOD I CHOOSE to believe in knows our hearts and understands our state of mind during trials like these. Id like to believe HE UNDERSTANDS

 

OUR DAD, THE GRETSCH….THE LIVING LEGEND

Our Dad has been playing guitar since He was 14.  He comes from a musically inclined people. His Dads father played the Violin and His Granddad Fred played guitar.   My Dad  lost his own father when he was  ten years old. A terrible loss for a child.  .As He grew up, He was an honor student all through school, won Boys State and was among the top ten seniors for His graduating  class of 1955.

He held multiple jobs after school and on weekends and helped his mom with the two smaller children as his 4 older siblings  were already married or had moved out of the house. He bought the first television the family ever had, the first car, brought the “outhouse” inside. Added to an old shed that his Dad had built to make his moms kitchen larger.  His parents had seven children, half were married and having babies so his Mom  needed the space.  By the time he was a junior in High School He had  bought his first 40 acres of property just a stones throw up the road.

Merle is one of my Dads older brothers. In fact He was 15 years than my  Dad. One day Merle  was in search of some extra cash.  Their Mom (Doris)  told my Uncle Merle she would give him $5.00 for his old Silver tone guitar if he would show Jim one chord on it before he left that day. The deal was done, the dye was cast . From then on  My dad would go visit with his GrandDad Riley (Doris’ Dad… ) and he would teach my Dad how to listen for the changes in a song and  taught him other many other chords.  Time marched on.

Dad played that old Silvertone guitar for quite a few years. Then one day He  bought himself a New Gibson Acoustic /Electric Guitar for $300.00  made in Kalamazoo Mich. He played it a few years, and around the age of 24 or 25 He talked to a   man who was a  well known guitar picker and singer  in this area by the name of Lloyd Moore. Lloyd  showed my Dad his Gretsch guitar and what a beautiful sound it made, played easy etc.  Dad fell in love and had to have one of his own.  He went to Kalamazoo and traded his brand new Gibson in on this  used Black and White Duo-Jet Gretsch. They gave him 100.00  for  his NEW  Gibson and Dad financed another 200.00 on this USED Gretsch.  He was elated.

By 17 years old Dad was playing in country bands and most the time He played one or two nights a weekend and got paid for doing it.  That became the norm for Dad, and all the years we grew up He and mom were usually off to play music  every Friday and or Saturday night. Sometimes on a Sunday evening but those dates were rare. Today Dad is   80 years young as of this writing, and He still plays and sings beautifully. He is a very gifted man.

It would be difficult to come up with a total price for all that   Black and White Gretsch has  paid for over the years. It supported  our family,   helped stretch his weekly pay checks  so he could plant crops, trade tractors, buy groceries, school clothes, livestock, feed.  It was his PERMANENT second job that he LOVED.   He always said “playing a guitar was like  having an old friend just  waiting in the corner for you, and it could lighten up the darkest  days.                                            HE IS THE LEADER OF THE BAND

I am sure I heard his beautiful “Marty Robbins”  voice the whole 9 months my mom carried me.  As a toddler and up through the years until I moved out of my childhood home at 18, we four children could hear my Dad playing his guitar late into the night. It was no doubt the only time He had to spend with his “Beloved” guitar as He was a working man from 5 to 5 every day, and came home to farm the fields way past dark thirty every evening.  Also in His “Spare time” He dabbled in taxidermy, a craft He picked up around the age of   15, and today has more ribbons and awards than He can display on his walls. It too, is a hobby that has served him Proud.

Our Dad wears many hats and unlike some, He has worn most of  them with much success.  I don’t mean to make Him sound perfect.  As I know, no one is…however, I will confess that you will walk a LONG HARD MILE  however, I will confess that you will walk a LONG HARD MILE to find a man of such good character, honest and steadfast. His flaws, in any are few and far between.  He is just one of the last really great men.  An Icon.                                                              HE IS OUR FATHER, OUR DAD, OUR FRIEND, OUR LEADER

As young teens,  us four  kids would sit around the table in the old farmhouse and chat with Dad about school, work, etc and sooner or later He would ask “Hey have you kids heard that new  song by George Strait or Alan Jackson,  I need to learn it by Saturday night, people keep asking for it. And just like that our Kitchen table became a rehearsal stage. We would sit and tell him the words as He  strummed and picked  to get the tune down just right.  He  would glance in our direction every few moments  for an  approving nod that He had the tune right.   This was a normal in our home.

As we sang with Dad, we each would   listened to him so intently that we would mimic His exact way of singing. His exact way of putting a “marty robbins ending” to most country songs he sang,  and we would try to elevate our voices at the same exact part in a song that he did.  We would even toss our heads back or off to the side  same way He did when he sang.  Slowly it began to happen.   We “kids” starting  picking up Dads guitar and playing it during his absence. He didn’t exactly endorse the idea, but He didn’t rule it off limits either. Poor Man, He would reach for His  Gretsch at the end of the day, or a rainy day  to play it and it was ALWAYS  out of tune from one of us hammering on it.

(Side note:)

The farm house He was raised in since May of 1946 , and was still  living in, and all of us kids were raised in  caught fire on January 12, 1985.  It was a Saturday just about noon, and Dad was at National Guard Drill. I called the Armory to get a  message to Him over the phone  about the fire, that everyone was ok but ALL WAS GONE. To this day I cannot imagine what it must have been like for him to top the hill, almost home  and look down and where His childhood home stood for years , the large farmhouse  was  completely gone, except for the chimney from a new fireplace he had built in 1976.

He took it all in stride. I remember watching Him walk around the smoking pile of ashes in his army clothes .  He looked over at his brother in law  and said  “Damn Dale, I think I’m going to have to pitch a tent”.  He never cried about it, never yelled or cussed about it. It was done, it was finished,  no one was hurt, so we all moved forward .  BEHIND OUR LEADER.

I learned a lot about life from my Dad, that is  a given, all  four of us kids did.  Yet, this day , along with many other moments has remained etched in mind.   We walked together  up the road, to that same piece of property He bought in High School where now I lived with my little family in a old trailer.  He and Mom, and three brothers would set up camp with us  for the next 6 months. We had a small daughter and had just found out we were expecting another baby the day before the fire.   It was tight living for sure, but it was enjoyable and made many a good memories.   Dad continued to be  more touched by the generosity of others, all the food, and clothes, and offers of money then the loss of his boyhood home. That kind of thoughtfulness filled his eyes with water that threatened to escape down his face. Still,  He soldiered on in true JOHN WAYNE fashion.

There were a FEW THINGS, My younger brothers were able to salvage before the fire consumed the entire home. They pulled a mounted  Caribou and a mounted moose head from the walls of our living room, and grabbed 5 guitars and rushed out the front  door sitting them far away from the fire in a snow bank.  Dads Gretsch was one of the prized saves that day.                                      OUR LEADER STILL HAD HIS GUITAR

Did I mention Dad was scheduled to play music that same cold January Night.  He came home that afternoon in his army fatigues and it was literally all he had left . The fire had taken everything.  Between noon and 6 p.m. there was an entire   “tip out” in our 1972 New Moon Single wide trailer that was  packed with clothes and food.

In true Redneck style, there was such an overflow of everything, Dads resourcefulness was still in tact, and we used the roof of our trailer for an additional refrigerator for months. Dad ensured us all that frozen milk would thaw quickly once it sat in the cereal bowl. LOL

Dad went to play that night in black pants that were too short, a white button shirt that was too big and  cowboy boots that were too large for his size 8 foot  and left him slipping and sliding on the snow and ice, but He played that night just as planned.   He never whispered a word to anyone.  I remember telling myself  that evening  as Dad drove off to play, If He never shed a tear over losing his childhood home, I would not cry over losing that same home from my own childhood.  It was more his home than ours. He lost a lot of precious possessions in that fire. Some things that belonged to his Dad, things from his school days, a silver watch with diamonds where the numbers would be from a company that appreciated his dedication and dependability. Those things don’t come back and yet still  He continued to say “It was just a home and things , that family could not be replaced. We were fortunate”.

Dad came home that night, and told us how Ann, the band leader had secretly passed the word about the fire and it being a total loss. After midnight while he was packing up his Gretsch, the amps etc  Ann handed him  an envelope full of  cash . He was blown away and kept telling her that He didn’t need it, He was insured and we would all be fine, to please give it back to the people. Of course She could not do that,  and then the people who followed Dad and the band wherever they played began walking up to him and shaking his hand, offering campers, R V’s more  cash etc. “Whatever you need Jim, let us know” they all kept saying. He was  shocked and so incredibly  touched by these kinds of moments.  The following morning we all sat at the table,  drank coffee  together as we usually did, and Dad retold the events of that evening.

I used to joke as a young teenager that Country Music ran through my veins before the blood did.  As I married and had three children of my own they would often laugh at me when their friends were here as they said I could  come with a song  about anything. Our youngest girl would have friends over to spend the night and they would test me by saying  ” how about a song about this or that” and some old song  would come rolling out of my head and mouth like butter.

I should also note here, that I am a WORDSMITH of sorts. I have been journaling for 42 years.  I come from a long of writers, one being my great, great, Grandfather who kept a journal and wrote in it every single day during his years served in the great   Civil War. It amazes me still today to read his writings. We pick up a pen and paper and take it so much for granted but over 154 years ago, paper was scarce and a pencil was a prized possession. He would pull his journal from its  cold, wet,  dirty, leather pouch and write the days happenings, tuck it back away safely and eat his few bits of rationed food or pick up his gun and fight or walk , whatever the orders were.  I am still in awe of  the man, James Riley.

Words have  always captured my heart, songs are just  poetry just set to music.  I loved the stories and pictures a song could create in my mind. A song can describe so many feelings, and memories, and dreams.  The words of a song can change lives, bring people together, heal a wound,  and help you not feel so alone.  Songs  NEVER really die.  The words and melodies live on long after we are gone.

Fast forward to today. I am a 55 year old mother of three grown Kids who grew up listening to me play an acoustic Ovation guitar. The older we get it seems like the more hectic our lives become and though I have toyed with the idea several times of buying myself an electric guitar I have never done  so.  Figuring that it would play harder, or I just didn’t feel that something that extravagant was necessary for me. The acoustic was good  enough.

We have 12 grandchildren all under the age of 12 and its like a BIG HAPPY CIRCUS whenever  we are all together. The little children will see my guitars, ask me to play for them and then of course they want to play too. I let them pound or pluck the strings for a little while. They love to sing songs with me all the time…….but over the past  decade I have allowed some unfavorable, non encouraging words to put a halt to my playing or singing in front of anyone.  Except the grand babies or I generally play when there is no one else around.

This last September while  I was running  the combine picking soy beans I was listening to music with my headphones  and it just occurred to me that I am not getting any younger. I had run out of excuses and decided I am done with living my only life around what others think or say. We only get ONE LIFE. So,  I would buy myself that  Gretsch that I have been wanting for 36 years.

I jumped on Ebay.  I realized that Les Paul and Guild, Gibson  are all great brands of guitars  but my mind was set on having  my own Gretsch.  A ceremonial passing of the torch so to speak.  Like  My Dad, the                 LEADER OF MY HEART.

Guitars like his are Vintage, and not affordable for a “FarmHER” like me  of little means.   I opted for a gretsch that wasn’t vintage, but still affordable.   I hunted for the better part of two months.  Completed a ton of research as to the make and models, and how Gretsch even came to be. Thank God for Google. I can just educate myself all day from the convenience of my kitchen table while I drink untold cups of coffee.

Finally I found one. It was up for Auction, and it could possibly be affordable for this farmgal.  I did NOT bid. I waited and watched as the days closed in, the hours, and in the last fleeting seconds I posted a one time bid as high as I was financially able to go, I hit the “Confirm bid” button with 25 seconds left on the count down  and I watched the amount on that Gretsch rise and rise and the seconds counting down 5,4,3,2, and BAM……THE SOUND OF THE WINNING BID AND A LITTLE SIGN THAT SAID “YOU HAVE WON” FLASHED ACROSSED THE TOP OF MY PHONE.  I SCREAMED WITH DELIGHT AND EXCITMENT.  Our oldest daughter and grandbabies were here   at the time and they cheered right along with me though I know those little hearts didn’t know why I was celebrating.    DAUGHTER OF…….. THE LEADER OF THE BAND … finally has her own GRETSCH.

My three brothers and I  had the greatest privilege growing up. We were able to watch the day by day growth of another kind of legend.   Fashioned by years  of hard work, honesty, integrity, good humor most of the time, unfailing patience , understanding and love. The quiet LIVING LEGEND of  our Father    James Arthur Haas . He is one of the few GOOD GUYS  left in this world gone crazy.

This is Dad Playing his Newer Gretsch in 2017. The vintage Duo Jet has been  safely  retired.

This is me, playing with Dads Vintage Duo Jet Gretsch  2017

My 125th Anniversary Edition arrived Just before Christmas. 2017 My young Grandson who is only 4 took the pictures of me opening it and playing it for the first time…Good Job Drew!!

My Dad, playing  My Gretsch, what a beautiful, priceless picture this is for me.    I will treasure it always. ..He kept saying “its a nice  guitar, great sound, I like it”.

On January 13, 2018  someone crossed the center line on icy roads and totaled our white Ford F250 Super Duty, Diesel  King Ranch Truck.  There was injuries and lots of healing time.

In February we bought another Ford F250 Super Duty Diesel truck, when we arrived home and I was looking out our kitchen window at the truck , and  I thought  it looked like the same color as my Gretsch. Of course I had to find out. So I carried the guitar stand and my Gretsch outside and took this picture.  It’s pretty cool that all three of my favorite things are in this snapshot. A Ford, A Power Stroke 6.7 Diesel engine and MY FIRST GRETSCH.

There is a song called the LEADER OF THE BAND.  By Dan Fogelberg.

My brothers and I cannot hear it that we do not think of our Dad….(parts of the song) the words are as follows:

An only child alone and wild, a cabinet makers son, his hands were meant for different work an his heart was known to none. He left his home and and went his lone and solitary way, but he gave to me a gift I know I never can repay.

A quiet man of music, denied a simpler fate, He tried to be a solider once,  and his music had to wait, He earned his love through discipline, a thundering velvet hand. His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand.

CHORUS:

The Leader of the band is tired, and his eyes are growing older, but his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul, My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man, I’m just the living legacy to the Leader of the Band.

My Brothers lives were different, for they heard another call. One went to Chicago and the other to St. Paul. And I’m in Colorado, when I’m not in some hotel, Living out this life I choose and come to know so well.

I thank you for your music, and your stories of the road, I thankyou for the freedom when it came my time to go. I thank you for your kindess and the times when you got tough, And PAPA I don’t think I said I love you  near enough.

The Leader of the Band is tired and His eyes are growing old, but his blood runs through my instrument and his songs are in my soul, My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man…..I JUST the living legacy to the leader of the band.

WE ARE THE LIVING LEGACY TO THE LEADER OF THE BAND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Girls Are Home

Things here at the farm have gotten rather busy.  Crowded…. but a sweet comfortable  crowded might be a better use of the word.

It all began in March,  Our youngest Daughter ,  a professional gal with a wonderful hubby and four children decided they would like to build their own home . In 8 years of marriage they have  purchased two homes, renovated them and then another baby came into the picture and they really wanted some more space and since Hubby is a builder it sounds like a  perfect solution. We had a patch of woods that we hadn’t done anything with in 25 years so we offered it for them to build on.

They put their home on the market and it literally sold in two days. They packed all their belongings, bought a semi box “cargo trailer” had it delivered here to our farm from Chicago and they slowly moved everything from their home to that cargo trailer . In a neat and orderly fashion of course, as our youngest daughter and her hubby a slightly OCD, as are their children.

They have been extremely busy since they moved in here with us between working their jobs, raising their kids  , and planning and drawing and calculating house plans.  They have estimated the cost and projected  when the home will be complete. This is of course NOT mentioning all the work that goes into the mortgage end of a new build. Permits, fees, etc. Its so ridiculous . Why a person cannot build their own home anymore without someone governing their every move is beyond my understanding.  We have own our farm, and the ground and yet the govt still can dictate what we do with it, when and for what purpose.  Not to mention the township rules and regulations that are most the time motioned and carried without the knowledge of half the township tax payers. You cannot obtain a township book of rules nor can you get a clear concise  answer as to who sits on the board.

Then in May, Our oldest Daughter, her wonderful hubby and their three children  was here for a typical Sunday visit  at the farm.  When we  discovered that the neighbor down the road was selling his 80 acre  farm, house , barn, etc. She inquired as to what he was asking and of course in this day and age you can barely afford to live , never mind being able to afford 80 at almost 400K.  However , the farmer was enticed with the idea of selling the kids his homestead and 25 acres to start and down the road perhaps the option for more ground would be available. This farm is exactly 4/10 of a mile due north of the farm she was raised on…our farm… so everyone was beyond excited.

Plans began immediately for minor repairs to their current home and it was also placed on the market. Within 10 days , their home sold, and now their family was beginning the process of packing their home and moving within 30 days.

The farmer was adamant that they have their financing in order and ready to make the purchase by mid June. And they were. Apparently however when you live somewhere for over 41 years moving out when you and your spouse are in your early  70’s isn’t as simple as the previous owner thought it would be.

There were a few more glitches in the set up and suddenly it was time for our Oldest Daughter and her Hubby and kids to be OUT of their home. They had no where to move their things or themselves as they had been planning all this time to go straight from their beautiful , 3 bedroom, 2 bath home into a very neglected farmhouse, but live in it as they remodeled. Something a million farm families have done through the years.

They understood the clean up process and renovations would be massive from the word go but they were willing and ready to jump in with both feet. As life goes, things have slowed to a crawl, the previous owner has drug his feet regarding his end of appointments, appraisals, etc . and decisions had to be made rather quickly. So…..

I cleaned everything out of our two car attached garage, and Daughter and Hubby have moved all their worldly possessions into it. It is a tight fit to say the least but we made it happen. Everything they own is in there, and they tried to arrange things so they could keep their freezer plugged in and their dressers lining the outside edge of the garage so they can get to their clothes as they need them. After all its ONLY FOR 2 WEEKS.

 

 

Its been a wonderfully loud, chaotic experience. Seven of our 12 Grandchildren are here for  breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday, as it is summer and school hasn’t begun yet. They all  play together, they all  fight together, and they all beg to have sleep overs with each other though they live on the same piece of  property at the moment.

Everyone has worked together, and worked tirelessly to make the renovations happen quickly so they can move into their dream home. Unfortunately their dream home has been hiding quite a few things behind walls, under floors etc and the home has basically been torn down to the studs and built back up INCLUDING the studs themselves. We have broken and removed several layers of a kitchen floor which included 4 inches of concrete poured over 3 layers of wood flooring.  The main box plates of the home have been cut out and replaced in some sections. Windows have been replaced, entire walls have been torn off the exterior of the  house, re built and replaced. It has been a huge undertaking but the kids have continued to plugged away at it, morning and night, after work, on weekends, in the rain and heat and now the  winter snows.  It has been just over 7.5  months, and it looks as though their move in date has arrived.

In time,  everyone will laugh about all this  major renovation.  They will “REMEMBER WHEN”  they did this or that to their home. Our oldest Daughter,  will fill photo albums just as Her Father and I did 24 years ago  with  tons of before and after pictures, and one day her own children will see those pictures, and  barely  recall the moments. Our own three children were 10, 7, and 6, and though they had to endure all the renovation process here at our farm for their entire lives, its surprising how much of it they don’t recall. They were young kids, turned loose on farm, and spent their days entertaining themselves. And that is how its suppose to be.

Its Life. History does repeat itself in the most comical ways, and the circle of life continues to spin.

For almost 8 months we lived  with dressers in every room, extra dogs, a cat, and three young  kids about our feet.   We all endured mountains of  laundry and dishes,  and endured everything from  screams of delight to  screams of frustration.  All in all, we know this is probably the last time either of our girls will “Be home” at the same time . Our oldest daughter will be living 4/10 of a mile north of us and our youngest daughter will be living south of us just across the corn field .  All that is left to do, if eventually talk our Son, his Wife and 5 children into moving into our little township.

This is OUR family township. Just due north about 3 miles My  Fathers parents   bought a small farm in  1946 when my Dad was ten years old.

Dad has lived on that same farm for 70 years now. It is the same farm that He also raised myself  and my  three brothers.

Interesting side note is that all 4 of us kids live on this same stretch of road, in the same township.  It Wasn’t planned that way,  two of us bought farms on this  road and two bought property from our Dad to build on.  Its how God planned it to be.

Now 2 of our 3 children are doing the same. Yes, we must surely make room for our Only son and his family one day soon.  We are BLESSED.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Table

ITs just an ordinary table.  It’s oak, its solid, and it holds more memories, more words, more pictures that a human brain or even a computer could recall if you wanted it to.

There are folks that have gone on to Heaven now, but they once sat at our table. They were once a part of some  beautiful conversations that took place there. Secrets of the heart were shared , along with countless cups of coffee. It was a teachers table as the children were  learning the combination of school lessons as well as life lessons. We as a family had hundreds of conversations around it. We made decisions about our  farm, about our crops, about our  finances,  about our children. We talked and planned and talked so more.

Most every Sunday now  our children, and  their spouses and all their children come to our home for breakfast.  The meal  normally consists of southern made biscuit that fill at least four large cast iron  skillets, and we  fry up about 3 or 4 pounds of whole hog sausage , 3 dozen eggs and multiple kinds of jams and jellies adorn the table.  There is lots of chaos, lots of laughter and lots of love.

About the time that the breakfast debris is cleaned up , dishes are  washed and put away and then its time to  begin thinking about lunch. We  figure out an impromptu menu that will be enough to feed the hungry masses, (depending on the days work project) and then we get started.  Again, once lunch is cleared away and dishes done, we begin trying to figure out  what’s for supper .

Through the winter months  on Sundays , the men folk gather together to  cut and split and stack firewood for the outdoor burner we use to keep this farmhouse warm. The women work on meals and keeping all the children in check. Winters are hard on the kids, not to much outside play and no matter how large the rooms are they never seem large enough when there are 12 grandchildren racing about. If the older kids want to play a board game, the smaller kids steal cards, and checkers and they tend to be a bit of an interference. When the  weather permits, they all  go out side and build snowmen, and snow forts.

Once Spring arrives, the farmstead is alive with activity. Each grandchild has a bike here and there are bikes flying up and down the driveway ,  around the barns, between the other out buildings and any people who may be in their way.  Sometimes we play baseball, which gets better every year as the children are getting older. Sometimes we play soccer.

There are usually baby sheep, a few calves, some baby pigs, baby chickens,  lots of fun stuff to keep a child occupied and keep them grounded in family values and life.

Its good stuff, that we all learn how to work and eat together , its good stuff to learn to turn the other cheek, to grant forgiveness for the small things as well as the larger ones and this life on our family farm is  just plain “Plain good Stuff”.

 

The Vintage Camper

MARCH 2012 —-Became a member of  THE SISTERS ON THE FLY CLUB   (member # 3513)

This is a group of ladies that travel all over the Country in a caravan so to speak in vintage trailers. No Men, No Kids, No pets.  Just woman having fun. It looked like a fun NEW thing to try. So I became a member of THE SISTERS ON THE FLY.

MARCH 2013

I bought a vintage camper  ( 1967 De Camp)  from a young man that received it from his grandparents and had been living in it –in their back yard. I looked it over, paid the young man and  pulled it home. To say it needed some help was a total understatement , but it was what I could afford …so THE DREAM BEGAN.

MARCH 2015

We pulled it out of the fence row where it has set for two years and pulled it into one of the garage stalls attached to our home.  There my “great” friend Cheryl and I began to gut the old camper. It was a fun day  as we ripped and tore and entertained the idea of a girls weekend when the restoration was complete.

 

TODAY–FEBRUARY 2017

You cannot move a mountain in a day, or maybe a year, or two.. that’s a given,  My original concept was great, but implementing  the time and attention it would take to make this restoration happen is something i sorely underestimated.

Life can be crazy busy. Mother Teresa said once “we all have that same amount of hours in a day, its what we choose to do IN THOSE HOURS that matter”.  Between Three grown children with spouses and 12 BEAUTIFUL GRANDBABIES……(and i do mean beautiful, there isnt a throw away in the bunch…. lol) time for working on this ” trailer dream” is slim to none .

AS YOU WILL NOTICE IN THE PHOTOS BELOW, THIS TRAILER HAD FAR MORE EXTENSIVE DAMAGE THAT WE ORIGNALLY ESTIMATED.  ONCE WE BEGAN TEARING DOWN TO REPAIR…..WELL THE “TEAR DOWN” KEPT GOING DEEPER AND DEEPER.

This January (2017)   We began yet again.  We tore it all apart….literally down to the frame. up to a point, all systems were a go, then while i was attempting to cut  the side walls separate from the roof with a reciprocating saw… and smash and cut  my index finger between the neck of the saws hammer head  and the trailer.  Pinched the finger and then blew the whole under side of it out and open. I saw the blood and about one inch of the bone and felt pretty sick.  Quite painful, throbbed for days   and took 3 weeks to heal.

As you can see, its almost not worth re modeling. And I admit that while I can have the tenacity of a wolverine once I sink my teeth into something, I have contemplated several times of just throwing in the wrecking hammer, chopping up the frame for scrap and just “buying” someone else’s dream.

However, at this point it is our goal to have this back together and in useable shape by Memorial Day 2017.  We will make repairs to the walls, and once we sand the frame, spray it, lay it, insulate it….set the new walls and run new metal on the exterior then the interior will begin.

This vintage  DIXIE STOVE  came from the Masonic Temple (Masons) in my township. When I helped moved the old lodge to the new one almost 18 years ago this gem was headed for the scrap yard. It is my intent to use it in my camper. We come from 6 generations of biscuit makers so its important to me to be able to cook biscuit in this stove one day.

I began a quilt almost 30 years ago of a Dresden pattern …made with the clothing from our three babies. I have  made  many quilts through the years but this one has lingered in a tote far too long. I was waiting for the right purpose.  Over 22 years ago ” a friend”  at the time  told that me these little “material wheels” were ugly, didn’t match and she wouldn’t make anything out of them.

My Lemonade today to her lemons is….I am going to sew them strategically together on pieces of distressed muslin and then when I have large enough  pieces of them all sewed together, I will cut our curtains and they are going to be the curtains in my camper. I know every piece of clothing in these wheels. I know which was our first daughters dress, or jammies, our sons shirt, and our second daughters little dress, skirt, flannel shirts that belonged to my Dad etc.   I hope to  surround myself, and fill my camper  with the all the BEAUTIFUL treasures from my own life’s journey

I will leave this writing for now….  with Gods Blessing and a lot of family labor I hope to update it soon with more photos and share the continued progress of our vintage camper restoration.

 

Remembering Mom..

YOUR LIFE AND LOVE CONTINUES

Six years have come and gone now

And still we wonder why;

Through lots of prayers and memories

We think of you Mom, and cry.

 

God has HIS plan, HIS purpose

Of this we are quite sure;

But the emptiness we feel without you

There simply is no cure.

 

Our photo album is overflowing

From the wonderful times we shared;

The Holidays, the vacations, the yard sales

Your smiles showed… how much you cared

 

I miss the days when we drank coffee

Half the morning long;

Or sat and sewed matching shirts

While you taught baby Tonya a new song.

 

The hours we spent decorating cakes

A mess to this day…. I am not a fan;

But our family has grown and multiplied

And now  I baked cakes  for the entire clan.

 

One day we cut up your wedding dress

To revamp it for your 25th anniversary define;

I was scared clear down to my feet

But you kept laughing and saying “It will be fine”.

 

We sewed the dress back together,

Removing all the pleats that we could;

Then altered it more here and there

And it fit you…just like you said it would.

 

With the left over pieces of fabric

We stitch a duplicate dress just right;

It was made for two year old Tonya

To wear beside you…..on  that  Special night.

 

Today, that little dress is priceless

And a heirloom worth more than gold;

From our Mom,  our children’s  Grandmother,

And now great grandmother is Ten- fold.

 

You have 14 Great Grandchildren now

And we hope that from Heaven you can see;

Each one is so precious and beautiful

A part of YOU, and YOUR family tree.

 

YOUR LIFE AND LOVE continues

In each of those little hearts;

And daily we all remind them

Of where they got their start.

 

And we pray that somehow through “Heavens- Sight”

Your generous heart has learned;

All the LOVE you gave, and INVESTED in us

Has been ten thousand times returned

 

The Precious Jewel of a Mother

Surely God gave us all in thee;

We love you still, we miss you more

Than any amount of water in the sea!

 

SHS 8/2016

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THIS APRON OF MINE

THIS APRON OF MINE

Tie me to your apron strings,

A song as old as time;

Yet, today I heard it differently

It wasn’t just a rhythm.

 

The song describes happy times,

upon a mommas  knee;

Where she sang to  them, And wiped their tears,

A place they always…. liked  to be.

 

If she ties them to her apron strings,

She can protect them day and night;

They will never be too far from  help,

Or from  their Momma’s guiding light.

 

Today, there  is never a sunday in our home,

That I am not wearing an apron to cook;

Preparing  the meals, or gathering eggs,

there’s an apron  in every nook

 

There is a pile of them in the cabinet,

for each of our granddaughters to wear;

They dig through my stash with such laughter

The aprons get tossed everywhere!

 

But soon they find their favorite one

And it makes their chores seem light;

They are “Helpers in Omies Kitchen” today

And they hearts are filled with delight..

 

I wish I could tie them all up safely

And yet , still  give them wings;

Its just a yard or two of LOVE wrapped around them

But it teaches so many things.

 

I have never seen an apron

With “12” strings hanging from the back;

And I’m sure none of us could move forward

If we were all tied up in a “pack”

 

I  TRUST THE GOOD LORD  for their Keeping

That HE will  Bless their lives all the time;

And I will hold them within  my  “Imaginary Strings”

Always tied to this heart….and…this  Apron of Mine.

 

Not too long ago, my Oldest Grand Daughters Leah and Savannah wanted to make some aprons for their Fair entries. They just went upstairs and picked out some of the material I had on hand and they were ready to begin sewing them together. They have both sewn some before with their mom, so this was a pretty simple task.

I invited them to use some of my great Aunts handkerchiefs on the front of their aprons for decoration and for a remembrance of her as they had all known her also. Though she was their Great Great Aunt Carole.

Within no time at all the girls aprons were finished and they loved them. At the fair they both received “A” and proper points for them .

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They chose their own color combinations and even though they both know how to sew, and were awake for their project..it delighted me to see their surprise of how pretty their aprons were when they had finished. Both the girls were so impressed with what they had made from old pieces of cloth.

Now we fast forward to last week. I have some younger Grand Daughters and they were in awe of their older cousins and their aprons and now they wanted one of their own also.

Again, we make the trip up to the material dresser and they picked out the material they wanted to use and this time they chose their hanky before they were certain of the material. Either way they wanted to follow Leah and Savannah and what they had done.

(Note here: Leah and Savannah are what we called the Older grand girls, they also have two little sisters Carly 3 and Norah almost 1. Older Brother Ben is 11….. We refer to these little ones as the younger grand girls.  Our Middle group of Grand girls consists of Allyson 7, Alaina, 5 and Emmalynn 5. ) Our Grand Sons are the same way. We have the Older boys Benjamin and Matthew, and then we have what we call the Younger boys….Logan, Andrew, and Jacob.

So Allyson sewed an apron, and then Alaina sewed her aprons and last was Emmalynn.  The same pattern repeated itself. Each girl did the work, though this was their first time sewing and I thought they did a really good job as sewing and listening to me. Go forward, slow down, follow the line, now push the reverse button but keep your foot going.  It was a good time, and we laughed much.

Alaina is much like me. When I was about 12 my grand mother tried to teach me how to sew. She was a magnificent seamstress and I mean anything from suits, to prom dress, evening gowns, costumes for Walt Disney …she was amazing. There fore teaching a little far tomboy like me must have been taxing for her. I remember her saying over and over again..

“SLOW DOWN ,  SLOW DOWN,   God help you when you start to drive a car, that all I can say”.  Today I laugh at that memory and how working with our girls triggered it back to my mind . I am still a fast mover today. I Don’t do many things at a slow pace and I see that in Alaina as I told her a few times that day  ” Slow Down Girly…..you’re not driving a car”.

What a treat to share in this apron making circus. We laughed and learned from each other . And I am so grateful that they wanted an apron, grateful that I was here to teach it to them and grateful to GOD  for the beauty,  and love,  and laughter,  that each of  OUR Grand daughters  and grand sons  bring into our lives..

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SOLID GOLD

Back in 1975, my Dad worked for a small plastic injection  company. The owner ,  Mel,  was a real penny pincher from way back. Our Dad said, He would pay his electric just before it was to be  disconnected so he could  keep his money as long as possible. And, He was known to  break pencils in half rather than give anyone a whole one. He was an odd, RICH man.

Mel, had a mini-motorhome. He wanted to trade it in on a newer larger unit  but He said the Dealer ships were hesitant to trade it as the miles were too low on it.  Our  Dad had been planning a family vacation, and  wanted  to take us all out west to see the Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Rapid  City, etc.   So,  after a lot of coaxing from  Mel , Dad finally agreed to take  the mini  motorhome on our trip out west.

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Early one summer morning, with the mini motor home loaded up with our clothes, light groceries  and a few essentials,  four kids and two parents we embarked upon the journey.  My Dad was 39 that year, Mom was 33… Older Brother Stan was 14, I was 13,  brother Bryan was 10 and the baby of our tribe Jimmy was 5.

Let me begin,  first by  explaining  that when it comes to men, you wont find a better man, more intelligent , with super common sense, honest, steel blue and blade straight  than my Dad.

He does however have the faintest little sin. He can cuss like a blacksmith when he’s frustrated or angry. They are only words to him…..its what he does when he is fed up with the  set up. When he’s fighting time or animals.  He never calls people these names, I have NEVER known him to belittle anyone, and He doesn’t beat on people or animals….In fact the older I get the funnier the moments seem  sometimes when I look back on them now.

I will confess,  as a child that it would scare me, I would get all nerved up and pray for bedtime because that was the time everything was ok.  In my child like mind, I thought if Dad was THAT  upset surely the sky was going to crack open and fall down, or something equally  serious was about to happen.  With years comes wisdom and knowledge, and with years I have  learned that not only was this  Dads  way of dealing with things, but all four of us kids would come to “deal” with things that  same way as adults ourselves.

We are somewhat proud of it actually, like it was right of passage or something . And if this  is our biggest sin, well then bully for us in a world gone mad.

Dad gave us children the quick run down of the motorhome and how we needed to be very  careful with it as it wasn’t ours, and what a privilege it was to be able to travel is something so wonderful. The gas mileage of course really was atrocious. And gas was pretty expensive that summer. We heard him talking, we saw his lips moving , we even nodded in agreement, but we were kids, country kids going to the big city.

So the trip began, and we weren’t 6 miles down the road,  the boys got to scuffling around and busted the gold plexi-glass that separated the kitchen sink from the couch. DAD WAS SLIGHTLY  IRRITATED BUT KEPT DRIVING.

We traveled  during the days, parked in KOA camps at night, used bathhouses, and explored everything and anything whenever Dad would stop.

A trip out west from Lower Michigan is a bit of a haul. With four kids on board, we colored, read comics, fought, and ask a million times “Are we there yet”.  Our oldest brother Stan, was the ring leader of our circus. He loved to have fun in quiet ways, and so one morning early,  while we were all stretched out in the sleeper over the drivers cabin He came up with a brilliant plan.

He  ripped the back cover off of one of our coloring books, with  red crayon he  wrote “HONK IF YOU ARE FROM MICHIGAN.   My part in HIS  brilliant plan  was to put it in the back window so people could see it. I jumped down , went to very back of the motor home to the bathroom, lifted the blind,  placed the “poster” in the bathroom window using  a band Aid for tape and put the blind back down.

Us kids would count as the cars would pass and honk…there weren’t that many trust me. What’s funny about this story is…. if you could have seen it through the eyes of the man driving the motor home.

As per most kids, as time passed we forgot about our funny little prank. Now and then We heard Dad saying things to Mom  like:

“What the hell is wrong with people, why are they honking.  Do you think we are dragging something?  Maybe we have a low tire, or He would even comment and say things like

” Look kids that cars from Michigan too”.   This went on the entire day.  Every now and then Dad would pull the vehicle over, get out and walk around the motor home checking tires, looking underneath it.  We were kids. We had already forgotten what we had put in the window. We thought there was really something wrong with the motorhome and we would have to go home and not be able  finish the trip.

We were just as concerned and worried as Dad was. Every few hours He would pull off again  and check out the vehicle again to no avail.  Late into the afternoon, we stopped for gas and to get  a few things that Mom could cook at the KOA camp  once we checked in a few hours up the road. Dad was pumping gas. Us four kids were above the driver cabin talking and reading books, rolling around and fighting over silly , small things.

All the sudden the back door of the motor home opened up  instead of his drivers door.  Cussing as he climbed the metal steps Dad went to the bathroom, pulled up the blind, and ripped the sign out of the bathroom window.  He told us kids that every time he heard someone honking he thought something was wrong with the vehicle and ask us why we didn’t tell him about the sign.  We just stared at him. We were kids…….. we forgot it ten minutes after we did it.

DAD WAS SLIGHTLY IRRITATED BUT KEPT DRIVING.

Through the years,  Dad would tell this story to others, or just be remising about it at the supper table and we all would laugh.

As we travel along, there were always signs that said,   “Wall Drugs 1300 miles,  visit Wall Drug South Dakota.  We kept asking Dad what is this place called Wall Drugs and he would just say “you will see when we get there”.  And we did.

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It was here, that I got my absolute first pair of Levis’  . I had never heard of them prior to this. I was 13. Dad told us kids he was buying us all a pair of jeans, and  that we should take a few pairs into a changing room  and try them  on . To this day, I can still feel the way they felt, new and dark, crisp, with shiny silver rivets and the infamous  red tag . They fit me like they were made for me. I loved those jeans, and I  wore them for years and years. When I  married I  still had them.

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Also that day, my Dad was buying one of my brothers a pocket knife and told me I should pick out a turquoise ring. Talk about a spoiling. Us four kids were LOVING Wall Drugs in South Dakota.

I chose a ring that looked similar to a class ring. I wore that ring and never took it off. At my wedding I wore it, during the birth of our three children I wore it, and I still  have it today and though I don’t wear it much , it is one of my most prized possessions. It is from the “Fred Harvey Era Collection” and has thunderbirds  imprinted on both sides and a perfectly square turquoise stone on top.  It cost the same as my age then…I remember. 13.00 . Today I found it on ebay and it is a collectors piece and values for around 96.00.

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We had lots of fun on that trip. On January 12, 1985 our old farmhouse caught fire and burned completely to the ground.  Along with other memorabilia were the photos from this trip. Sadly lost forever, but In my mind I still the pictures we took.

We stopped at the BADLANDS. Where my Dad told us kids to stay up on the trail but he wondered way down in between all the curves and twists that the  boulders made. Always looking for some ancient treasure. There was Dad way down at the bottom, holding a Styrofoam cup of coffee  up in the air as if to say “cheers” .  I snapped that  photo.  Later, we read signs all along the route that  specifically stated  NOT  to cross the rail and to  stray on the path due to  rattler snakes  were everywhere.

We traveled to Mount Rushmore. Dad talked about the history of it all off and on all the way out west. We were all so excited to be able to see it in person. On the  morning we arrived so did about 400 bikers.   Dad wasn’t comfortable with the amount of people there, they had taken up the whole parking lot and were not friendly or willing to move or make room for others.  So,  we viewed MT Rushmore from the motorhome windows and we moved on down the road.

 

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We stopped at CRAZY HORSE in the Black HIlls, of  Custer Country , South Dakota.   It is a  Memorial on a mountain still under private construction . It is suppose to depict “Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota Warrior, riding a horse pointing into the distance. A man named Korczak Ziolkowski began the work in 1948.  When it is complete,  it will be the largest mountain carving  in South Dakota and the world. It is an awesome sight to behold, emerging from the granite and iron is the likeness of a legendary leader, Crazy Horse is said to be pointing towards a dream of commitment, a fervent legacy and proud future.

This stop was a blast for us four farm kids from Michigan.  We were able to get out and walk, explore and see movies on how the man was using dynamite to blast the monstrous rock formations.

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We traveled through and around mountains that Mom claimed you could go around with the front of the motorhome and see your tail end coming around as you made the turn. She did not like the mountains at all, and at one point she laid down in the isle of the motorhome so she couldn’t see where Dad was driving.

One tunnel we went through was sooo tight, that even with a MINI motorhome Dad was afraid we wouldn’t clear and He sure didn’t want to scratch up Mels’s vehicle.   So Stan got out and climbed up the ladder on the back of the unit, and rode that way through the tunnel.  I stuck my head out the bathroom window and repeated to Dad whatever Stan said……..hold it, slow, slow,  to the left, back to the right…. total redneck thing to do, but the memories here  are SOLID GOLD.

One of our last nights  out west, at a KOA camp, a storm came rolling in fast and hard. Lightning, lots of thunder and wind……our motorhome bounced and rocked back and forth. We had all gone to the cement bath houses for showers.  Mom and I were last. While Mom  was showering, I was waiting with a towel wrapped around me and all the sudden the doors blew open and the shower curtains went up in the air and mother yelled for me to shut the doors….when I tried to get BOTH  the bath house doors closed, the wind was so fierce it stole my towel and flung me naked out the door and on to the cement apron.  No one else was outside at the moment, in fact , normal smart people were tucked  away safely in their motor homes.

Not us country folks, we never would let a little storm stop us……. oh my goodness today it hilarious to write about, at 13 I assure you I did not find it funny at all. I was mortified over and over every time my mother HAD to repeat the story to someone.

As a family, we took a several short trips through the years.  One year  up near Grayling Mich when Dad was in the National Guard and at Summer camp , we rented a cabin near by and fished for sun fish all day and saw a log church built deep in the woods  with a glass cross in the peak of the building….some fun times.

Nothing ever stands out in my mind as much as our Trip Out West as a family.  My first pair of store bought Jeans…(Levi’s) and a small sterling silver/turquoise ring from my Dad….a man that I still deeply respect, and love and cherish. I am the person I am today because I tried so fervently to emulate his ways. His wisdom, His kindness towards others,  His self reliance ,  His honesty and  the integrity he uses when dealing with people.

 

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Standing Behind our Ring Leader,  our older Brother Stan

Bryan, Myself, Jim, Our Dad

 

 

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My Dad and I   2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Real Cowboy

Today is your birthday (June 20)…all that I want to is to sit in here on my deck, and sort through this box of pictures, and notes,  till the day is gone.

As long as I live, there will always be “question marks”  on some chapters of my  Life.  I KNOW that I will not understand on this side of Heaven why things  go the way they do, or happened the way they do.  Good and Bad things. Its sort of strange to me how when something really great happens to us, and I mean like a really BIG …once in a life time thing, we accept it and move forward to the next station of our life and rarely revisit that good fortune. We live in , and we are  better for its happenstance but we continue walking the paths of the daily grind and don’t give it a lot of thought.

Alas, this cannot be said about a rough time, a bad thing,  a moment that broke our hearts in two. Those moments live inside of us daily. They never go away, and only time eases the intensity of the pain or brokenness but it never removes it completely.  Its the circle of Life.  We learn from the tough times, and appreciate the good times…What doesn’t kill us makes us more alive.

Larry is my cousin.  He was born 13 years before me.  On June 20, 1949.  By the time that I was 5 years old … Larry had been draft into the Vietnam War.  By the time I was 15…I saw him once or twice at his parents house, just up the road from our house,  but stayed my distance as the family had been informed of his fragile state upon returning from Nam. If you started a vacuum sweeper without warning him, or a loud noise would send him into DIVE mode under a coffee table or BEHIND  a chair. Larry would not speak of the horrors that He saw over there. It was evident they  took their toll on him.

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When I was 16, He had a wedding and married. A little boy was born of that union.  Another marriage to a different  gal and  two little boys followed shortly after that one.    I believe their were 2 other marriages after those two.  Eventually Larry moved out west to Nevada and bought a mountain. His own mountain and he was pretty proud of it. It had no electricity, no running water, but he LOVED it.  He used generators for power and He carried a 300 gallon tank in the back of his black Ford Ranger pickup that once a week, after work  he would fill up in town at his Brothers home and drive it out to his mountain  and unload it. He used a gravity feed system to supply his RV park model trailer with water for showering and such.

I saw him in 1989 He flew home for the  funeral of his sister in law .  We spoke a few words to one another but nothing long or meaningful.  In the summer of 2000,  through another cousin I was given his email address.  I touched base with Larry then and we began to visit via the net on a regular basis. Larry invited us to come out and see his Mountain and where He worked, how  he lived and all the beauty of the west as He saw it.   By March of 2002 , I was making plans to visit Nevada with my 18 year old son.

June 17, 2002 We landed in Reno.  From the moment we saw one another Larry and I instantly became “like Twins”.  We were so similar in our actions, and thoughts and feeling. We used to joke and say ….isn’t it funny how much alike we are,  do you think its our spirits meshing  or just the fact that we have the same DNA. We would be talking about our childhood, memories  and suddenly be reminiscing about the same room at Grandmas house, or the red hip roof barn that we were not suppose to go into, or all of Georges Rose Bushes  in the garden that we were forbidden to enter.  Our memories were the same but a 13 year span between them. Sometimes I would shake my head and realize only after hearing Larry’s stories or memoires that He was talking about my Grandma too……the years between made it feel like it was two different families but it wasn’t.

While we were there, we visited many of the area sights. Silver Springs, Fallon, The Ponderosa and BEAUTIFUL , HISTORICAL Virginia City.  Where we walked on old, weathered,  board sidewalks. I loved the sound of boots walking across it and just about everyone man out there wore spurs that jingled when He walked. I was mesmerized by the sound. My Son spent a lot of time missing his girlfriend, and that cell phone bill when we got home is something we laugh about today.

(He married the girl and they have 5 beautiful children today. ( 1 Son, and four  girls.  )

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We were there for Larry’s 53rd birthday. One particular afternoon Larry told My son and I that there was a mountain he had still never climbed since he moved out west almost 20 years ago and he wanted to drive out there. So the three of us did just that. Out west, its always dry and everyone has a cooler in the back of their truck or car. It will have water, beer, pop, tea, etc but no one travels without a cooler because it is hot and dry out there. Out West  EVERYONE wears a gun on their hip. Each morning when we would head to town Larry would tell us to grab one of the holsters hanging on the light pole outside the house , make sure it was loaded and strap it on.  And we did.

On our way out of town,  we stopped at a gas station  and with holsters on and guns loaded we walked into the gas station and picked up a few more drinks and snacks. It was just the oddest feeling to me to walk around armed….in public….lol.

We travel closer and closer to the distant mountains and then began our climb around and around a large mountain. The road is too narrow at times and very nerve racking to look over the edge but we continued our pilgrimage up this un claimed mountain that Larry had always wanted to conquer.  When we arrived…We got out to stretch out legs and Larry hopped around  and hollered like a teen ager.

The view was so beautiful and you could literally see for miles and miles and miles.  There was a large rock formation that would make a cool picture but there was about  a 3 foot wide crack we had to jump to get to that rock. If we fell or lost our footing it would have been an absolute death sentence. No way to save anyone from that kind of fall.  Ask me today why I ever made that jump and I could not tell you. I wouldn’t allow my son to jump it, but I did. I was 40 years old….should have known better but thought I had already had 40 good years. It wasn’t a smart move as now I realize how awful it would have been for Thom to have to find his way back to a town some 98 miles away and live with what he might have seen. I wasn’t using my brain that day at all. I will blame it on the elevation in Nevada and lack of air. Thom is standing on the safe side and snapped this photo for us.  Larry’s 53rd Birthday would be captured forever on top of the mountain, across a dangerous divide.

Suddenly the clouds began to gather and lighting was beginning to show and it was imperative as Larry said to get down off this mountain a.s.a.p. That out west, a flood can come up and wash you over the side in a matter of minutes when down at the base of the mountain the sun would be shining and no threat at all. We navigated out way back down much to the relief of Thom and myself.

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On the way home from that celebration, Thom and Larry wanted to get a rattle snake hide for Thoms hat, so we all stopped at the Carson River and Larry and Thom hunted for rattle snakes from the banks of the river. They poked in holes and around rocks with a long sticks.  IT was crazy to me….but the two of them were having a blast. (they never did find a snake that day). AND I WAS THANKFUL.  Not sure if I could have continued video taping if they found one and the mere thought of it scared me to pieces.

Larry and I  spent a lot of mornings drinking coffee and talking. We tried to catch up on one another’s lives, what we had done as kids, as adults, as parents.. We talked about the family reunions at our Grandmothers house or Aunt Mary Helens  home.  He had more fun stories to tell  about our family as he was older than I.  We were both amazed at how similar we were in our thoughts and opinions. Looking back it was  pretty uncanny actually.

One morning, He started talking about Nam and told me several stories of that place that haunted him on a daily basis. I stayed as still as if a rattler was crawling across my boot. I didn’t move, I didn’t speak, I didn’t interrupt. I could see it was hard for him to talk about it all but for some reason He was  recalling the events, and they were spilling out of him like pouring water out of a pitcher.   A little while later Larry stood up and walked over to the kitchen sink, crying and wiping his nose  and said         “I have never told anyone those stories. I cant believe they just came out like that…….  Its  so hard to talk about them, hard to remember them,  but it feels so good to let them out, its such a relief”.  I stood up, walked over to him and just hugged him.

I understood after that why He Ask God to NEVER give him a daughter if he had children. And GOD never did.  The images he carried in his mind haunted him on a daily basis. He turned to drinking to dull the pain and bury the memories but he said after he would pass out and come to the memories were always still there, haunting his mind. When He had finished his tour in Nam and came home, it was  NOT to a heros welcome. He said people spit on them when they got off the plane, and chanted at them, calling them murderers and baby killers.   It was sad. America dropped the ball that day on ALL OUR VIETNAM VETS.  Those young men didn’t ask to go there. They were FORCED into that situation.

The rest of the day we did more exploring and now and then he would shake his head and say “I cant believe I told you all that stuff about Nam”. I soaked it all up and still today I feel that God placed me there, at that time, in that moment, so Larry could release and heal from the PRIVATE HELL that kept him a captive prisoner in his mind. HE needed to be able to speak about it, lay it down once and for all and move forward.  And He did. From then on when he would call me He would tell me little things like…”I haven’t dreamed of Nam in months, or he would say I stopped seeing the horror movie in my mind. He felt the relief and he was grateful for it.  I was thankful to be able to be of some help to him. He also told me that he had mailed letters to his siblings, that hadn’t talk to him in years  and was in hopes that a few of them would respond and they could re connect as a family. His youngest sister came back around  and stayed in his life. She flew out  every summer to visit him and he loved that.

GOD didn’t give Larry a daughter but He did give him a  Granddaughter.  And one day while we three were in town Larry wanted to stop by and show her to us. He stepped inside that door and yelled “Haylie Marie come see your Papa” and just like that a little 4 year old girl with long brown pig tails wearing only her panties and a little t shirt came running down the hall and leaped into her Papas arms. It brought tears to my eyes watching it.

Larry and I quickly became the very best of friends. There was no subject we couldn’t talk about….and we loved so many of the same things in life.  Thom and I left that weekend to return to Michigan…and it was an emotional, sad  good bye. It felt like I had just found a long lost brother and now I had to leave him.

We talked via emails and letters every day . For a short 15 months Larry and I shared a beautiful, powerful, deep friendship and then late one night  on November 14, 2003 ,Larry was killed in a car accident.  He was turning into his driveway , (which was over two miles long and curved and made twists  up to where his homestead was).

According to his wife who survived with minor injuries….Larry paused to make a left hand turn, saw nothing and began his slow methodically turn as he did everything……. when a young man going 95 miles an hour in a Jag topped the hill. He was on top of them before Larry had a chance to get across the road.  Both drivers were killed instantly. And just that fast…Larry was gone.

I felt like someone had just crushed my chest. It was impossible to believe and impossible for me to breath. It was opening day of Deer Season here….I sat out in the woods that morning, against a tree and cried for hours…I couldn’t have shot a deer if the largest buck in history  walked right up to me. Couldn’t have lifted the gun. I was too  devastated.

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I could have missed this kind of hurt if I hadn’t gotten to know Larry, but  I WOULDNT  have missed knowing him for the world. Before our friendship …He would have been a distant cousin like we all have, that we sort of know, understand the blood connection but its not a spirit felt connection.

With Larry, it felt like He walked right up to me…face to face…toe to toe…used both his hands and pulled each side of my chest open, stepped inside and we both simultaneously exhaled and were breathing for the first time, together,  but separate bodies.

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FIFTEEN  months wasn’t long enough, why did it have to happen, why did God create it so that we would be so close just  BEFORE  he passed.  I don’t know. I do know I miss him, I miss his smile, his laughter, the sound of his voice when I would call  and he would answer “Hello this is Larry”.  He LOVED my soaps and kept himself and half his workers at ALLISONS TRANSMISSIONS stocked up with it.  He heard me when I spoke, there was nothing too silly or ridiculous, or unimportant to him…He wanted to hear anything and everything I wanted to talk about. Oh the beauty of the memories, the strength of the bond.

Whenever we walked down the street , He would never say a word but would just step behind me and end up on the “Street Side” of me, saying ” Out here, woman don’t walk on the curb side of the road, same with planes. No matter what the ticket says….the women always give a man the isle seat.”.

Larry Served His country proud in Nam, and he truly is one of the last REAL COWBOYS I had the PLEASURE and BLESSING  to know. He fit the bill of everything a cowboy was.

I flew out to Nevada one last time for his funeral. My Dad and Uncle also flew out with me. Nothing,,,,,,,prepared me for seeing him laying in a coffin.  I stared at him, till it hurt to bad to breath and took the nearest exit out of that little white church. It was hot and dry outside and his sister was standing outside smoking a cigarette. It was the only time in my life that I wished I smoked. Cant even explain why…I just remember wishing i did at that brief moment.

In the hot Nevada sun we attended his memorial service.  Through a flood of my own tears I had to laugh and whisper   “OH Larry, you would get such a charge out of seeing all these woman here crying over you”…and the men in wranglers and Stetsons never stopped walking up to the graveside. It was an awesome site. Couldn’t help but  wonder if this was the same scene that we would have viewed   at the funeral for Wyatt Erp or Tom Mix.  It was that real, that authentic, that true blue western saga. The stuff that legends are made of and books are written about.

Larry died at 54. He was much too young to leave this world.  Much to young.

Today He would have been 67.

HAPPY HEAVENLY BIRTHDAY MY DEAR COUSIN. I love you always…look forward to having another cup of coffee with you one day. Save me a seat, and get a large table. I am sure that our friend Burt and your Dad and Mom, our Grandparents   and our uncles and aunts will WANT to join our circle.

Larry Karl Haas   June  20, 1949 – November 14, 2003

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