Obituary

How do you pen the life of a 100 years on a paper in black and white?

In the newspaper it goes like this:

“Was born, was baptized, was married to, and died.

Preceded in death, and survivors include….”

As if life could be fitted into a fill-in-the-blank formula.

There was so much more to her.

How do you include the way her wrinkly voice (yes, her voice was wrinkly too) would say, “Much obliged!” and how she would wave from the window as we left?

What about the way she loved her flowers and got up early to pick strawberries on dewy May mornings?

How do you tell how she would stay up late at night reading like a night owl?

How do you write about the years of farming, of eking out a living on a prairie riddled with drought?

Or the pink and cream mommi crackers she would always give us when we visited?

How do you write about her love for the birds and how she fed them faithfully and knew the names of each kind?

Did you write of the hours that she prayed for us, sitting in her chair on her orange and brown afghan?

Or about the time she chased the squirrel down from the birdfeeder with her rolled-up newspaper?

What about the years of the Dust bowl, how the storms loomed up over the prairie, and how the dust gritted in her mouth so thick she could scarcely breathe?

How do you include all she saw, from the Roaring 20’s to the Dust Bowl to World War 2 to the Vietnam War, to the age of technology and Covid19?

How do you pen a 100 years in black and white?

Born on the rugged prairies, a tiny Kansas sunflower.

A woman of prayer.

The essence of kindness, faithfulness, and generosity.

She lived. She died.

And she loved.

10 thoughts on “Obituary

  1. I’m so sorry you’re so far away.

    How about writing an obituary, including some of the things you mentioned? And then writing a separate tribute to be read at the funeral? and/or copies laid out at the visitation that people could pick up?

    Linda Rose

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  2. Lori, I thought of you when I heard that your mommi wasn’t well, and then finally got her turn to enter the heavenly gates. This is a beautiful tribute – I agree it would be nice to have this and Mommi available – ’cause I’d like a copy :). I’ve been thinking about Aunt Katie all day, but yeah, one can’t can’t pack her into a paragraph. I love your brevity though! I have yet to achieve that.

    I feel so, so privileged and blessed that I got to visit her the day before she died. I wanted to go on Saturday, because it was her 100.5 birthday (Mom was young when she got married so she’d say she was 20 1/2, so when she was 100 and 1/2 we told her Happy Birthday!) but Dorothea had shopping she needed to do (yes, she’s the one out-of-stater who gets to be here – they fly back Saturday afternoon) and the weather was nice on Saturday, so we planned to for sure go on Monday.

    On Monday I made a “Happy 100.5!” card with pretty flowers and bright yellow gold finches, and we had a delightful visit with a bright eyed Aunt Katie and cousin Barbara. Dorothea told her how Andrea (Calvin) once had such good caramel popcorn (for Christmas) and Andrea said it was Aunt Katie’s recipe in Love’n From The Oven. Dorothea told Katie she made 7 recipes this past Christmas, and she and some of the little girls that frequent her house passed out 20 bags one evening to the neighbors, and she passed out another half that many another time, and people liked Aunt Katie’s popcorn! was going to make Aunt Katie’s caramel popcorn for our family baskets for the Haiti sale. Katie’s face immediately lit up with recognition, and she and Barbara both said “We haven’t made that for a long time”. Last night one of your aunts said Katie used to make it for your Christmas.

    Dorothea got up to admire a little purse that was displayed on the bureau, and as she was thinking that it looked like it came from Thailand Katie quickly told her that Lori gave that, and they both remembered that the candles (I think – I didn’t see them up close???) were also a gift from afar. And I didn’t even remember the giving of the purse until I reread your Mommi poem. She put it to good use though, and on the day before she died it served as a reminder of a dear granddaughter far away, but close to her heart.

    I had last visited Aunt Katie just before Christmas and your mom was there, and then on Christmas evening Darlene was here and her family, Lorne, Grace, Tanya, Millard and Cliff and I caroled for your mom and mommi. We stayed outside but she waved to us through the window.

    On Monday she seemed to be mostly recovered from her RSV and contributed more to the conversation than sometimes. I would often skip over the handshake so as not to introduce too many bugs, but on Monday Dorothea and I both donned masks (there’s been much sickness in the community) and I shook hands when we got there, and I don’t think I was thinking about last goodbyes, but before we left we’d been talking about Roman, and I went back over and took her hand once again. I don’t remember what I said – probably just that it was so good to see her again, and then like usual I waved goodbye from the doorway. I’m so glad that I went back and took her hand one last time.

    I wish I had a journal of my Katie visits. Mom died the day after Katie’s birthday, so it’s been 1 1/2 years. I was able to visit Katie more regularly after that. In October my sisters were all here and a bunch of us went together, and we had so much fun asking her about a story we’d heard about some ornery boys having a contest to see who could eat the most bread when they had gma. She and Dorothy immediately knew what we were talking about! We met Roman and Kathy on our way out the back lane and Roman added more juicy details!

    Sometimes I would tell her some of Mom’s stories from long ago. I love the one about Katie walking around looking out the window at the snow without knowing what she was looking at because the wrong young man had asked her to go steady. Fortunately someone clued Abe in that this wasn’t a done deal, so he asked her and she was so relieved!!! Sometimes I reminded her about Abe in ICU, and her asking me to sing. I’m not a singer, but I sang “Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, oh, what a foretaste of glory divine . . .” and a tear rolled down his face” (he wasn’t responding verbally anymore). After Mom was gone I asked Katie about Mom’s story about Daudy sending them to the neighbor lady for music lessons – yes she remembered! Neither of them became singers!

    Your memory about her chasing the squirrel reminded me of the time when she fell, but she still got that cricket that she was after!

    As I think back I was there frequently after another family member had passed on – these goodbyes were hard on her. God has been so gracious in letting her transition so gently, and now she gets to be on the welcoming team. We shall meet again!

    I got to see your mom and your uncle and aunts Wednesday evening and my thoughts have been with you. All my love, Beulah

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    1. Hi Beulah, thanks so much for the memories. There are so many things about Mommi that I actually don’t know… and so many things that I wish I would have had the time to ask her, or that I would have taken the time to ask her. I love hearing about when she was younger, because I only knew her 30% of her life. The 70 years before then I have no inkling of. Also, it is very special to hear about that last day before she passed away! I had no idea you were there, and it touches me how she told you about the purse I gave her. My thoughts and prayers have definitely been in Kansas this weekend….

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