Cousins, there's nothing quite like cousins!
They are built in friends for life!
They are laughter and tears!
They are smiles and hugs!
Cousins, you just can't beat cousins!
Cousins, there's nothing quite like cousins!
They are built in friends for life!
They are laughter and tears!
They are smiles and hugs!
Cousins, you just can't beat cousins!
When we first got to Blacksburg - around 9:00 o'clock in the evening, Dad called to tell us to come first to the Grandparent's since everyone was awake! My first thought was that I was amazed that Grandaddy was awake, but he was and so I went in to kiss him on his forehead as I have done for years. And he said with a grin, "I hope you didn't leave any lipstick up there!" Of course, having just been riding or driving for the best part of a day, any lipstick that I might have had on was long gone! I then went to Grandma's room to see her and I kissed her too and told her what Grandaddy had said. She said, "He just likes to show off his kisses!" You can be certain; I was never without lipstick for kissing his head the rest of my visit! She told me, "I am awfully spoiled - I wish my sister were here to see it!" - meaning Evelyn, of course!
Later on while I was standing next to Grandma's bed, Mary was asking about Joshua and Matthew and I told her how big they are. Without missing a beat, Grandma looked up at me and said, "I guess they get their height from you!" That has been her standard line for as long as the boys have been taller than me! And then that was always followed by "And how tall is Craig?" or if he was in the room she ask him "How tall are you?" Craig's height has always fascinated her - I guess because he towers over me by so much! Grandma began to get sleepy so I left her to go to the doll house for the night!
The next morning, I went straight to Grandma's bedside, after leaving bright lip prints on Grandaddy's forehead. I found that sitting in the seat of the walker, made me high enough to hold her hand over the railing of the hospital bed that the McPherson's had moved into her room before she came home from the hospital. Every time I took her hand, she said to me, "You have the hottest little hands." It reminded me of how I used to love to hold her hands while growing up and she would rub them and say, "Your hands are so soft, don't ever let them get wrinkled and spotted like mine." Whenever, I look at my hands these days and see the lines, I think of her telling me that all those years ago.
Daddy had the Beyer's cd playing, but it was too much for me, so I changed it to a cd of hymns. After a little while, Grandma said, "Is that Reggie singing?" I said, "I don't know, does Reggie sing?" And she chuckled, "Not much!" Later on, I started reading to her from a book about Grandparents! As often happens, something I read touched me and I started to cry. She said, "You cry so easily, you're just like your Grandaddy!"
When the home health nurse came to bathe her, I went to the living room to sit with Grandaddy for a while. He was telling World War II stories to a friend from church. I just sat and listened. These were stories I had never heard before and I was fascinated. When he told the story of one of the only two deaths by members in his company, he cried. He is such a caring man that 50+ years have not softened the blow of that loss. Amazing. After the man left, I said, "Grandaddy, I had never heard those stories before!" And he said, "Mindy, when I came back from the war, I didn't talk much about what happened. Not because I was ashamed of anything, but because this is my home and I didn't want to bring that war into it." I asked, "What is different now?" And he said, choking on tears, "There aren't many of us left!"
Later on I pulled out my computer to see if the internet signal from Dad's house would reach theirs. Amazingly it did, and so Grandaddy Skyped with Beth. I thought it was so cute when after talking to "Beffy" for a while, he asked if Jonathan was home. Beth said he was and ran up the stairs to find him. Grandaddy said, "Well there she goes!" Jonathan said "Hi Greatdaddy, I love you!" and that was the end of that!
Pastor Reggie came for communion and Grandaddy, Barbara Jean, Daddy and I all gathered around her bed to share it with her. When he was getting ready to leave, he said to Grandma, "I love you!" and she responded, "And, I love people." He said, "No, that's not the response I was looking for, let's try that again. I love you." She responded with a bit of that old twinkle in her eye, "I like you an awful lot." He shook his head and said, 'No, still not right. I LOVE YOU!" To which she said, "And I love you, but I wouldn't want anyone to know it!"
Grandma had several visitors and she was so alert most of that day! Grandaddy also was so well that day. Margaret, Leroy and Lee came to spend some time with her and that was special for her and she really seemed to rally. After going back to the doll house that evening, I called Craig and told him that Grandaddy was the best I had seen him in three years!
The next morning, I followed the pattern of planting a kiss and then going to Grandma's bedside. That day Daddy had Andy Griffin's CD of hymns playing and it seems to be restful for Grandma, so I left it on. I would rub her hands and she drifted in and out of sleep. Every time she nodded off, I would watch her chest to see the rise and fall, it was comforting to me. Sometimes, I would sing or hum quietly along with Andy. She opened her eyes and I told her I was sorry, I didn't mean to wake her. She said, "I wasn't asleep!" (How many times has she said to us over the years, "I'm not asleep, I heard every word!") I said I hoped my singing didn't disturb her since I don't have the best voice, and she said, "That doesn't stop other people from singing, don't let it stop you!"
Later in the morning, I pulled out my computer and got enough signal to pull up Dad's blog. I read to her - the stories that Dad had written about Grandaddy and her. - the story Beth wrote about Grandaddy. - And the stories Anita and I wrote about Mom. Through most of these, I read through tears and sometimes I had to stop to sob. At one point, she said "Your Mom died too young." And I said, "She did Grandma, but she knew you were here to take care of us." She patted my hand and said, "I think you all are big enough to take care of yourselves, now." And so I sobbed some more.
I spent a lot of time talking to her that day, telling her things that I remembered doing with her or for her that were special to me! I talked and she mostly just smiled or patted my hand, sometimes she would have a little response but nothing very lengthy. I talked about how she and I had gotten up at 3:00 am to watch the Royal Wedding. She said, "Why did we get up so early?" and I said, "Because they got married in England and with the time difference we had to get up that early to see it." She replied, "Well, that wasn't very considerate of them!"
Evelyn came to see her and said, "I tell Jean she is so spoiled!" and Grandma said, "And she is right! But I love it!' Evelyn only stayed a short while; she said "I just came to look at her!" I thought that was so sweet!
Sometime that day, Kaye and I were the only ones at the house - Kaye was in Grandma's recliner, sleeping and Grandaddy was sleeping in his. Hearing light snoring coming from the living room, Grandma asked who was at the house. I told her and she said, "Where's Kaye?' and I said, "In there sleeping with Grandaddy." And without missing a beat she said, "Don't tell your Daddy!" I laughed and laughed.
Grandma slept more this day and when she wasn't sleeping she was uncomfortable, not that she complained, she was just fidgety so we would move her pillows or her legs and rub lotion on her skin or sometimes I would just rub her back. She always said, "Now that feels better." Even though I am not sure it did, I think she wanted us to feel like we were easing her discomfort in some small measure. That was just her way.
Throughout my time there, Grandaddy would come in for short little visits or stick his head in the door on the way to or from the bathroom. Whenever I would know he was coming, I would say, "Grandma, your boyfriend is coming to visit!" and she would say, "Well comb my hair" or "Straighten my gown" or some other such preparation. They were always so gentle with each other, Grandaddy always checked her hands whenever he came in and would comment on how cold or warm they were. One time he came in and Janice was standing by the bed feeding ice chips and she said, "Sir Bill, I will move out of the way so you can come talk to your lady." When Grandaddy got to Grandma's side he said, "I don't know what she wanted me to talk about, I just came to say I love you!" Yes, I teared up yet again!
On the morning before I left, I spent a couple more hours with Grandma. I knew this would be my last visit with my grandmother, whose life has had such a profound effect on mine. I didn't want to leave but knew I must. She said, "Thanks for being such a good granddaughter." and I said, "Well, thanks for being my grandma!" "I didn't have any say about that." she replied. "Thanks for being a good grandma!" I answered and she said, "Yes, I had something to do with that!" After I told her I loved her and she had responded appropriately (I didn't even have to coax it out of her like Pastor Reggie!) I was standing at the foot of her bed and said, "I'm leaving Grandma, I love you!" and the last thing she said to me was, "Don't speed!" Yes, my Grandma knew me! "And, that's the truth!"
|Our Dad, Bill Absher, turned 90 on Wednesday 9/29/2010. Many friends and family let him know how special his life has been. I think I know Dad pretty well and I'm sure he did what he thought was right to do and not actions that would bring him praise. However, Dad, like everyone else, appreciates it when people remember that he did something that made a difference in people's lives.|
We were reminded of something that Dad was a part of several years ago by a friend, Pat Berger, who came by the house to wish Dad a Happy Birthday by singing to him. And then she reminded him of a special memory she held dear.
Pat is an African-American soloist that is often asked to sing at Christian functions around Blacksburg. The time she told us about was several years ago when she had been asked to sing at an Easter Sunrise Service. The weather was not fit for an outside service, due either to rain or snow. Thus it was held at the Blacksburg United Methodist Church. Dad was very active in the BUMC at the time and as he thanked her for singing he followed with a request that at any time her church needed anything to let him know. She said she just felt like the Lord was talking to her since they had just learned that the furnace had gone out at her historically segregated church. She shared that with Dad and before long they had heat. I remember something about him organizing support from BUMC for this project.
I'm sure there are many more stories of how Dad was a part of meaningful projects.
He led from the side!
I'm always reminded of the phone call Mom made to the church office. She told the secretary that she had a few jobs at home that she wanted to add to Bill Absher's list.
Other touching moments:
I think Anita mentioned that it was fun to be together in the summer and I have to agree. Being together, without having to worry about running off to someone else’s house for a holiday celebration or other obligation was a special treat.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes I forget how much fun it was to grow up in a big family. I am glad that every once in a while, at least, my children get to experience big family life while spending time with their aunts, uncles, and cousins, not to mention the grandparents !
Photo credit: Anita Absher Beyer with Kathlyn Rose Beyer's camera
|Celebration # 1 was in Branson , MO with the Beyers, Tim and Sara.|
|Celebration#2 at home in KY. The 70 looked right to me.|
|I had to share #2 with you know who, the birthday snatcher, Mindy her family, Nancy, Dan, Roberta and...|
And Ian (since we actually celebrated on his birth date).
#3 was in Blacksburg with parents, Karen, Evelyn and Donna Jo. Barbara Jean left the cake for me and probably selected the special candle.
When you get to be 70 I think it appropriate to celebrate until you are 71.
I'm writing this for my own record, but elected to share this with you since you might appreciate my observations about Wendell. Wendell Berry might be
's best known writer. You can google him to learn more, but he writes as a calling to remind people and society of simplified ways of life, the importance of family and community, and reverence and conservation of the land, farms and forest. He is an advocate for sustainable agriculture and sustainable communities. My contact with Wendell was because of my work in sustainable agriculture and Partners for Family Farms. Kentucky
Wendell, Bonnie Tanner and I were charged as a committee to think of a way to honor Sue Weant, who retired as Ex Dir. of PFF. Bonnie and I went to Wendell and Tonya's farm in
Wendell and Tonya live in a simple frame house perched on a steep hillside overlooking the Ky River. Bonnie knew that it was best for us to park at the road and walk up the steps to the house. Wendell greeted us from the porch and offered to come get us in his pick up if the climb was more than we needed. We climbed. Port Royal, KY.
One step into the living room revealed that Wendell lived the way he writes. I don't remember a TV set anywhere, but there were walls of filled bookshelves. I wish I had taken the time to browse at least the spines of his library collection. The home was cozily furnished with furniture of the 20th century and warmed with two small but efficient wood stoves. We met around a round table in the kitchen/dining room. I thought of the many discussions that had probably taken place around that table. As we sat there, Wendell mentioned that the new governor's office had contacted him to see what he thought about their efforts to "green" state government. I'm sure the official got more than they expected when Wendell gave his list, after hearing the list of what Wendell called token efforts.
While we got our work done it was fun to meet with the
. Wendell could illustrate about every point of our conversation with a story. At one point he told a story and said "I might have written about that." Not only could he tell stories, but he was an eager listener. While Wendell is serious about his mission, he is quick to burst into a chuckle that turns briefly into a belly laugh. The tall man that he is keeps that belly laugh from reverberating long. Berrys
We finished our work quickly so that we could tour the farm. Out front, between
River Roadand the river, was a narrow pasture where his flock of Cheviot sheep were grazing with their guard donkey and a llama. We went by his team; one white and one black gelding that Wendell had purchased from an Amish friend when they were colts. He broke them to a mowing machine (and tore up one when low flying jets spooked the young team). He said his son would come get them to plow, since they worked better than his own horses. Wendell pointed to a steep cleared field and said, "it's a work of art to mow that field. I lay it off in several lands (sections) so that the horses don't have to do so much steep work."
We drove through a wooded area and he described the timber that had finally gotten above the water weeds and was beginning to "take off ." He named the varieties of trees in the stand as if they were children and then said, "there is one Walnut that I can't see just now."
He took us to both his children's farms. A son farms several acres and had a big turning plow and a large cultivator in the barn lot that were pulled by horses. Fields were all laid out on a contour and in a specific rotation that returned them to sod frequently.
At the Smith-Berry winery we saw the vineyards, with Wendell's sheep cleaning out the weeds between the vines. "They've removed the need to cultivate the vineyards, but Chuck needs to get them out before the sugar comes up in the grapes." We saw the tobacco barn that was serving as a storage shed, but could be readily transformed into a stage for music groups that help make this a diversified farm. The stage was such that the audience could enjoy the music from an adjoining field or, if weather dictated it, from inside the barn. I recognized the site as where I think the first Extension-sponsored "Sustainable Agriculture Field Day" was held with Steve Moore, Henry County Ag Agent, as the organizer. I remembered that this was probably where I first met Wendell. The then Governor Brereton Jones and Libby attended as farmers and asked not to be introduced.
It was a great trip through and around
Port Royalwith Wendell as a guide and historical commentator.
We saw Wendell's "factory." It was a small, one-room building built on stilts to keep it above the raging Ky River at flood stage. It had a porch facing the river, a chimney to
out the wood smoke, and an outhouse out back. Wendell goes to his river cabin most every day to ponder and write. carry
|The jam session at Brunner is held at a school house that celebrated its 100th birthday this year. It has been 50 years since it was used as a school and it had to be renovated by neighbors to make it a pleasant community center. We found it with about 15 musicians jamming a very friendly audience.|
|Their church met in a beautiful chapel, The Chapel at Integrity Hills. The chapel overlooked Table Rock Lake and was built to the Glory of the Lord by Rob Voss, a former Executive Vice President of Walmart. The message that Rob heard from the Lord is printed on the wall.|
|The visit to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial was a very emotional Experience. A feature of the memorial is a reflecting pool with "doors" or passage ways on either end. On one the time 9:01 is inscribed: on the other, 9:03. In the narrative it is explained in that brief passage of time|
168 people lost their lives and all of our lives were changed forever.
|The somber mood of the trip was brightened by the spectacular art at the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and a fun time at Discoveryland back in Tulsa. At Discoveryland we had a great steak, saw the OSU mascot, a black Quarter Horse, and enjoyed the singing/dance troupe as they performed a sample of the musical, Oklahoma and other Western classics.|
Our surprise discovery was an excellent restaurant spot on 2nd Street just up the street from our hotel. We wouldn't have gone in without a recommendation but the Blue Dome Diner is now on our recommended list!
While the side trips were great, a highlight for Curtis was to be present when his major professor from Oklahoma State, Dr. Bob Totusek, received the Service to World Agriculture Award. He accepted in his humble way and made some significant remarks that implied useful guidelines for Land Grant Universities. He expressed dismay that he received awards for jobs he was paid to do. After he was my major professor he served as Animal Science Chairman. A former student reported that Dr. Totusek introduced every Animal Science teacher at the start of each class. His wife of 62 years accompanied him at the presentation.
|Dad, Bill Absher, really was a master gardener.|