Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Just Good People!
The past eleven days of my life have been very sad, very upsetting and thus, to whatever entity is in charge of handling my day-to-day experiences, please do not deliver any reruns of this time in my life. You see, I've been to three funerals in the last eleven days. Two were expected but that still doesn't lessen the loss factor any, does it? First, there was a cousin of mine who had dealt with COPD (or maybe it was emphysema, I'm not sure which exactly, just know it was a very bad lung issue)for the past fifteen years with the last 18 months of having hospice care present. The third was for a lady who, along with her husband and family, had been good friends for well over thirty years. She had just this past spring been diagnosed with cancer that I was told began in her lungs but unfortunately, rapidly moved to other organs in her body. She and her husband had both been the kind of people who saw all things in the most positive manner possible and with as much humor as could be mustered up too. Their children -all five -grew up to be outstanding individuals and well, "just plain great kids." Their oldest son has a place of honor in my older daughter's mind though as she has said for many years now that he was the very best babysitter ever to stay with her and her brother when they were younguns! And, yes I think I'd have to agree with her description of him in that manner because he was a very good sitter, great at entertaining both my daughter and my son back then. My memory is a bit faulty right now as I can't remember exactly how many of those kids babysat for me -I know the oldest boy did, as well as the oldest girl but not sure if either of the two younger girls ever babysat for me. I know the youngest of the family -a son -didn't because he wasn't all that much older than my son was back then. And the other funeral -which actually was the second one in this line -was one for the oldest son of one of my neighbors here in town and his passing was a total shock to everyone! Only 48-years-old and his mother found him in his house, in bed and dead of a heart attack. Totally shocked the entire community and I find myself still in a bit of a state of shock over his passing. He was a year older than my older daughter -the eldest of five siblings. A very hard worker he was too having started early in life -probably by the beginning of his teens, maybe a little before that even, as the local paperboy, delivering the local daily newspaper as well as weekly copies of the GRIT. During his high school years, he started spending much of his free time during the warmer months mowing lawns for various people around here. After graduation, he got a job working at a local service station just off Interstate 80 here and worked there until not too many years ago -less than 10 years though I think since he left that job and got hired on the Janitorial staff at our local school system. All the while he worked full time he also built up his network of people whose lawns were mowed by him as well as maintaining the grass at the local Catholic Cemetery (which is fairly large) and also, a cemetery by a church about 5-6 miles from here that was a little bit, but not that much, smaller. If you were to talk to anyone who belongs to either of those churches though, you'd hear nothing but compliments on the work he performed in both places. Some other things you'd most likely hear about any of these three individuals would be that each of them would be considered to have been "just good people!" Most certainly that I agree with wholeheartedly. My cousin, the lady friend and the younger man -all three of them were alike too in that whenever you saw any of them, they always had a smile for you and good words to share. All three of them would do anything they could for you if they knew you had a need for help of some kind. Generous, giving people they were. The younger fellow had been a member of our volunteer Fire Company since he was old enough to join so over 30 years of service and commitment he gave to the Fire Company and the community. He also had a very strong sense of humor much of the time too and that was totally evident the Sunday back in May of 1994 when my daughters and their boyfriends had the great idea to tear down the old garage in the backyard here. Their game plan was to tear it apart and then, using the wheel barrow they wheeled the wood across the backyard to the back lot adjacent to this one and then, they were burning the old wood, bit by bit. Sounded like a decent enough plan to them and to me. But a little backstory is needed here now as I have to explain that 3 years earlier my son had managed to catch our house on fire and as a result, the second story interior was very damaged but thankfully, it didn't reach into the attic nor was the roof damaged at all either. But on the day of the demolishing of the garage, there came a point in which the only part of the garage still standing was a section that was completely locked together, creating a block of timber that would have taken another full day to rip apart so I told the kids to just pull that down into the lower part of our back yard, which was at that time a virtual swampland, and burn it there. That then is what they did and it seemed to be going okay until the wind picked up a bit of speed, sending sparks flying into the air like crazy and it looked like they were all heading for the branches of some very large oak trees down there. Enough so that it scared my daughter and she came running up to the house yelling for me to call the fire company. Okay -I called the fire company and we were standing in the backyard when the guys came trouping down to greet us with this young man leading the pack. As he came up to me he came out with this comment to me, "So, Mrs. Ertmer, you are now a frequent flyer with the Grassflat Fire Company!" And he frequently would tease me too about that fire at my place. Considering that and how he did love to tease and joke with people whenever possible, you can now also understand why, when my little old jeep caught fire while I was driving it about 28 months ago and the fire company had to be called out for that too. My biggest worry while waiting for them to arrive on the scene was that he not be responding to the call because I knew, if he was on the truck, I would never live down the harassment he would dole out to me! Thankfully, he wasn't on the truck though and I said to one of the firemen present I was so glad to see he wasn't there. That guy asked me why I didn't want him to be on the call and if I didn't like the guy and I replied that it wasn't that at all but just that he would have had a field day poking fun at me over the whole scene. All in good humor I know it would have been but in a small town like this, well, you can understand I really didn't need any fodder to give him for sure! But my kids and I as well as this young man and his youngest brother, who is one of my son's closest friends, still have had a lot of laughs shared over both of those fires! And as a tribute to each of these three individuals, the churches from which each funeral was held were each packed for the respective funeral service. To me, seeing that many people show up to pay their respects for the deceased and to the family members speaks legions of what type of person each one was! "Just Good People!" Yes, indeed, that is exactly what each one was and they will most certainly be missed not just by their families but by the entire area here. Rest in peace, Jackie, Ricky and Donna! You will not be forgotten for your works over the years you shared yourself and your talents within this community.