Category Archives: family

2017 Re-cap

While I had much family here for Christmas (some still here, till tomorrow), I didn’t worry about keeping to my blog schedule. So here I am, writing this post on New Year’s Eve, my birthday, for posting tomorrow. I think what I’ll do is just paste in our Christmas letter, perhaps adding a few comments at the end.

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Christmas displayDecember 2017

Greetings family and friends!

This branch of the Todd family has fallen into routine. Not a rut, for that has a negative connotation. Routine, on the other hand, can be good. It helps you to be efficient in your activities, and to effectively complete all tasks you need to complete. Yes, routine is good.

the four EsOur routine was broken a few times this year, three of them being extra significant. In June we drove, in caravan with our daughter Sara and her family, to the quadrennial General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene in Indianapolis. Richard was a delegate to one of the pre-assembly conventions. We went along to help out with the four kids, and, of course, to see old friends. Last time we attended general assembly was in 1980 when it was in Kansas City. The trip was good, without unsafe incidents of car trouble. It was indeed a good time. We saw those old friends, worshipped a great God with thousands of others, and were renewed and refreshed. Our accommodation was an older home rented by the week. We had a yard and parks nearby, so the kids had room to run.

Richard and SaraThen, on the way home, we spent a week in Branson, at a townhouse that is part of our timeshare company. We saw plenty of sights there. Branson has so much to do, for all ages. When someone wasn’t up to something, we just stayed at the townhouse. Miniature golf, Silver Dollar City, and a whole lot more filled our five days there. While we were gone for the almost two weeks, Lynda’s brother was here from Santa Fe to be with their mom. So we got to see him.

Another unexpected “event” came from Dave’s genealogy research. For years he has been trying to find out more information about his (supposed) maternal grandfather. Having only a name and a few anecdotal statements by his grandmother, he hit dead ends. Until DNA relatives showed up in 23andMe, and he was able to make connections. It turned out his grandfather had two other families, and he is now in touch with most of his previously-unknown first cousins from those families. Getting to know all these people, through Facebook so far, has been a delight.

And Dave had another “event” that broke up the routine. He’s been Corporate Trainer for CEI for eleven years now, and figured he’d stay that until his retirement at the end of next year. But, in early November his boss asked him to take on management of projects that have moved into the problem stage after construction. It started with three projects, is now up to four, and more are in sight. This has taken him back to his project management days. It has certainly been a change, as his hours have increased as he deals with the problems, leaving him almost no time for training. He thinks this new normal will take him right up to retirement.

Lynda has had some physical challenges this year. She’s had severe aches and pains show up in her legs, that caused her doctor to put her on a new medication. It turned out that med has some bad side-effects, however. She weaned herself off that med before things got bad. Now she’s wondering if other meds she takes have caused other problems, such as morning listlessness and what she calls “brain fog”. She does a lot of studying of health issues, and is hoping to gradually get off some meds and see if that helps. Meanwhile, she continues with stock trading, with Dave’s help from time-to-time. It looks like the year will turn out profitable.

We made several trips to Oklahoma City for grandchildren’s birthdays. They are growing up fast. The three older ones are in school, and little Elijah gets into everything when his sibs aren’t around. They teach him well. All three seem to like school, and to do well at it. Richard continues to split his time between pastoring the church and managing the R.O.C. ministry.

Charles at podiumCharles is now working two jobs. He continues as a dean for the College at the University of Chicago. He is also a dorm parent for an off-campus dorm. In both of these he stays busy. He will surely advance through university administration. The dorm thing is temporary. He plans on doing that for a year or two, then seeing where life and career takes him. Because his dorm job required him to be there over Thanksgiving, our family gathering is a Christmas this year.

EMB at birthdayEsther, now 92, continues as always, a little slower, a little farther removed from the world around her, but still kicking. She hasn’t had any new health problems develop this year. The biggest thing was the death of her sister, Faye, in July. We made the trip back to Meade for the funeral. So Esther, the oldest of four sisters, is the last still alive.

O Come O Come EmmanuelWe close this letter with a wish for the best for each of you. May God bless your lives, filling you with good things, and may they spill out with compassion for others.

Love,

Dave, Lynda, and Esther

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Emmanuel has come. We had a good Christmas with much family here, and contacting many more by phone. Yesterday I spent a quiet birthday with my mother-in-law and brother-in-law, as Lynda is in Oklahoma City for babysitting. For the moment, all is well. 2017 was a challenge in many ways. May 2018 be better.

Assembling a First Cousin List

That’s what I just did. I put together a joint first cousin list for my wife and me. Later in the post, I’ll say how many are on it.

First cousin is a pretty close relationship. They are children of siblings, grandchildren of common grandparents. First cousins share grandparents. Few people don’t know at least some of their first cousins. Although, I remember seeing an obituary of a person with the last name matching some in my wife’s family. I checked with an uncle of hers, and he said yes, that’s my cousin, but either he’d never met him or barely knew him. I didn’t detect a lot of interest.

Growing up, I always felt our family was somewhat small. Mom was an only child, so no aunts and uncles on that side. Her grandmother had half-sisters, but they never had children, so no first, first or otherwise, there. My dad was one of six children, five of whom lived to adulthood. All together they had 14 children who were first cousins. Four of these lived out of state and we rarely saw them. Almost never did those ten who stayed in Rhode Island ever get together. But, that was the tally: 14 first cousins from my two sets of grandparents.

Then I married Lynda. I came to find out she had a somewhat larger family. On her dad’s side there were four children who had seventeen children, not including three who died in infancy. They would make a total of 20. On her mom’s side, it was two children producing five, plus two who dies in infancy. It would have been more, except two of Lynda’s aunts died in a blizzard while in their teens. So, if you put those two lines together, that’s 23 first cousins. Definitely more to keep up with than me.

Thus, put us together, and it was 37 first cousins. That’s starting to be a big number, the number I had up until 1998.

What happened in 1998? I began making genealogical discoveries. That year I learned about the large family in New York/New Jersey (and some who had moved west) that had been kept hidden from us three siblings for decades. That didn’t produce any first cousins for me, but a bunch for my mom, and a bunch of second cousins for me. Through all this discovery, Lynda’s total stayed at 23 in her blended first cousin group.

Then came 2014, which I learned about my half-sister, the daughter my mother put up for adoption. That added one to the group, now a blended group from two sets of grandparents, so I was one of 15 first cousins. My half-sister had two brothers, who were also adopted, so I didn’t count them. And Lynda’s first cousin group was…still 23, our joint group becoming 38.

Then came August 2017. As I reported previously on this blog, through DNA testing, along with a few statements my grandmother made, I was able to trace who my maternal grandfather was. As I had come to suspect, he had two other families: a small one before WW1 and a larger one after WW1. My mother wasn’t an only child after all; she had five half-siblings, all of whom had children—13 children, in fact, who were my half-first cousins. At that relationship level, it’s a bit silly to keep adding the “half” to the defined relationship. We were cousins, first cousins, having a common ancestor at the grandparent level. That mean my blended first cousin group went to 28. My wife’s…stayed at 23 (how boring!). And our combined group was 51.

Genealogy research took it from 37, a manageable number, to 51, starting to be unmanageable in terms of keeping track of everyone. Of those 51, 39 are still living. The oldest and youngest are still alive. The birth years span 1937 to 1970. Three died in infancy, and none others have passed on. I’ve yet to meet twelve living first cousins.

So, why have I written all this? I really don’ know. It was on my mind today, as I completed for two of the new cousins to take DNA tests to confirm the relationship. I guess I wrote this simply because this is part of my life. This blog is to share my life, more than just my writing.

I Moves and Clicks the Mouse

In looking back on my posts, I see it’s been quite a while since I wrote anything about research. When I did, it was mostly in connection with books I was writing. Yes, books do require research, even if you’re writing about a contemporary topic, but certainly if the novel is set somewhere in the past, or if you’re writing non-fiction. In actual fact, however, I see that some of my recent posts included discussion of research, so I’ve gone back and edited their categories to include it.

My research of late, however, is of a different kind: genealogy. I finished research for Documenting America: Civil War Edition in June. Before that I had research for Preserve The Revelation, which I finished around April, while I was writing it. Both of those involved pleasant research—research that was fulfilling.

But I never completely give up on my genealogy research. I’m always looking for that elusive ancestor. Several posts ago I wrote something about this: how I never could get information about my maternal grandfather; about how I thought I had finally found him. I still haven’t gone the route of seeking confirmation through DNA testing. That’s something I will eventually do. Meanwhile, I’m 99.99% certain that the man I found is indeed my grandfather.

Found, not in the sense of him being alive, but in the sense of learning who he was, where he was, and confirming what little family lore I had. That has involved research. Since I’m not in a position of traveling, my research has been on the internet.

As I mentioned many years ago, research has tentacles. You research one thing and find it or learn it, but that only leads you to look at two other things. Then research and find those two things, and suddenly your research to-do list have five more things on them. Except, since it’s all a matter of looking for reliable sources on the internet, and steering away from unreliable sources, the research tends to go so fast you don’t even mess with a to-do list. You just move the mouse and click.

As I said, my current research has mostly to do with my grandfather. Born in 1882 (based on my research; some sources say 1881, some 1883; the most reliable say 1882), I’m finding tons about him. One of his sons, a half-brother to my mother, had written a family history based on interviews with his dad (my grandfather). One interesting item was that he had been in the militia in Canada before going on active duty in WW1. This family history, however, said that he was called up with the militia to take part in a peace-keeping action due to a violent strike, this taking place on Vancouver Island. The town he mentioned was Ladysmith.

Could this be true? If grandfather told it to his son, you’d think it would be true, end of story. Confirmation is nice, however, so I decided to look for history about this peace-keeping action. Who knows but that his name may show up in some official record. I usually start with Wikipedia. Much maligned, I find it is mostly reliable. Like any source, confirmation is always advisable. I looked for such things as “Ladysmith-strike” and “Canada strikes 1913”, and found nothing. I did find a page for Ladysmith, however, that included this entry:

Ladysmith has been notable in the history of the labour movement with significant unrest and violence during the major strikes of the 1913–1914 era. During this time militia were dispatched to put down unrest and protect property.

That’s sort of confirmation, but it was given in Wikipedia without any source citation. I decided to look for newspapers. Several large databases of digitized newspapers exist. They are all behind paywalls, and I have no access to them. I find, however, that some of the databases give a snippet of text with them. I hoped for that for a 1913 newspaper on Vancouver Island. I remembered I had already found one newspaper, the full edition as picture and text, at archive.org. I found it while searching for grandfather’s third marriage, which I found in a newspaper out of Victoria BC. Might more of it be on-line?

I went to my browsing history, found the paper I’d already seen, and brought it up. Following links at archive.org, I discovered that many editions of the newspaper on-line, including all issues between 1912 and 1918. Bingo! I searched through 1913, and found the stories about the labor strike (International Mine Workers, representing the coal laborers), the violence associated with it, unsuccessful police attempts to quell it, and finally calling up the militia in early August 1913—exactly the time given in my uncle’s family history.

I have much more to read in these newspapers, including going back to 1911 for some items. This will take much more time than I have right now. Hopefully these newspapers will still be there when I retire.

But I had another success. I wanted to find out more about grandfather’s first wife, the one who divorced him before he married (maybe married, that is) my grandmother in St. Lucia during the war. After many mouse movement, many clicks, and following my intuition, I found information on her birth, found her in the census, found a marriage index for her and grandfather’s wedding, found evidence that they were indeed divorced during the war (just as grandmother told me), and even found a record of her death, in Taft, California, in 1938.

I discussed this with my half-sister, who seemed surprised that I had been able to find that much. I told her “I just moves and points the mouse and the magic happens.” Sometimes I think that’s true. To some extent, it might be my ability to reason things out, anticipate the most likely outcome, and focus on that till I find success.

For whatever the reason, I’m glad for it.

Unexpected Change in Plans

So, Dorothy, just who was your father?
So, Dorothy, just who was your father?

Yes, this last week I had an unexpected change in plans.

Is any change in plans expected? Maybe some are, but I suspect most aren’t. Some are bad; some are good. Some result in a little change; some in a major change. This one, that began last Monday and extended through the rest of the week, was a doozey. A major change in direction for my extra-curricular activities, so to speak.

On Monday I received an e-mail from 23andMe, the DNA company, saying that I had new DNA relatives posted. Great; I get that e-mail from them every month. As new people have their DNA checked, 23andMe figures out who’s related to who, aggregates them month by month, and notifies you when you have new ones. I have new ones almost every month, but few are close relatives. Most are distant cousins, and we share 0.05% or less of our DNA. No way to tell how we are related, and not really worth taking time to try to figure it out.

It was World War 1, after all. Wartime romances can, I'm told, be intense. For sure your dad never saw this nice photo of you.
It was World War 1, after all. Wartime romances can, I’m told, be intense. For sure your dad never saw this nice photo of you.

But this month I had a guy added with the last name Penson. That’s significant because I’m related to another man (and his daughter) on there in a significant way. He was predicted to be my third cousin, and he was related to me and my half-sister, but not to some other cousins who are related to my through my grandmother’s mother. That meant this guy and I had to be related either through my mother’s father or her paternal grandfather. If this man and I are third cousins, that means we share great-great-grandparents as common ancestors. That’s close enough to pursue, so I asked for sharing with them. His daughter gave me what information she had for his great-grandparents. She had all of them, eight names for me to pursue, none of them a family name I recognized.

I need to back up. I haven’t know for sure who my mother’s dad was. My grandmother told me his name, way back in 1977-ish, but with her it was always difficult to know if she was telling the truth. Sorry if that’s a terrible thing to say about a grandmother, but it was so. She said he was married before, but had divorced his wife, and they were married. However, the marriage was annulled when her husband was found to be a bigamist. She described it as an honest mistake, him thinking his divorce was final when it really wasn’t. That’s how things stood for 40 years. I knew his name, which included only a diminutive for his first name. When I started to seriously research genealogy around 1998, and in the years since then, I would from time to time spend a little time looking for him. I thought once I found him, but couldn’t place the man of the right name and age in St. Lucia in 1917, which I was pretty sure was where he had to be for him to have a relationship with my grandmother and for my mom to be conceived.

It would have been nice for you to have known your dad. Alas, such are life's circumstances.
It would have been nice for you to have known your dad. Alas, such are life’s circumstances.

Back now to 23andMe. So on Monday I’m notified I have new DNA relatives. Among them was this man named Penson, who was predicted to be my 3rd cousin. The significance was Penson was one of the names given to me as great-grandparents of the other man. That told me I should be looking for a connection between Penson and Foreman, the name my grandmother said was her husband’s name (though she had never taken his name). An internet search turned it up almost immediately. A man of the right diminutive and last name was in a family where his mother’s name was Penson. Bingo!

I believe it was Tuesday that I found that. As I searched more for this man, I discovered he was Canadian (as I was told he was), and that he served in the military during World War 1—also as I had been told.  I just needed to put him in St. Lucia during that war. Further searching showed that Canadian WW1 records are scanned and on-line. I searched, found the guy, and saw he was in St. Lucia from November 1915 to August 1918—exactly when he needed to be there.

From that point the week was filled with confirmations, finding genealogy website that showed him with families before and after the war, and trying to find people of those names on Facebook. From various websites I was able to confirm much information those websites had, and even expand greatly on them. By Friday I was pretty sure who some half-first cousins were, and made contact on them on Facebook. With two of them I’ve had some messaging conversations. At this point I don’t want to give any names, even of the long dead. That may come in another post.

So, my forty year quest to know who my grandfather was is now over. Well, not quite over. I’m hoping some first cousins will be willing to take DNA tests to confirm the relationship. All the pieces have fallen into place, confirming what my grandmother told me. But so long as there’s a scientific way to prove it, why not? That will be the next step.

So, this week, I hope to return to normal off-work activities, such as writing, reading, stock trading, upkeep around the house. The saga isn’t over, but may have to go on the back burner for a bit.

R.I.P. Faye I. Pohl

Faye Moler Pohl spent most of her life in Meade, Kansas, and was a member of the Church of the Nazarene there.
Faye Moler Pohl spent most of her life in Meade, Kansas, and was a member of the Church of the Nazarene there.

My wife’s aunt, Faye Irene (Moler) Pohl, passed away on July 18, 2017, in Wichita Kansas. She had gone there for surgery, an extensive surgery for one who was 90 years old. She didn’t survive this, passing away less than a week later.

I first met Faye in October, 1975. I was dating Lynda at the time, things were getting a bit serious between us, so I was obliged to make the trip to the hometown and meet the family. After a late arrival and a night’s sleep, we walked the two blocks from my (then future) mother-in-law’s house to Faye’s. Her husband was in the midst of remodeling a large home in Meade. I didn’t see a lot of Faye on that trip, as there was much to do and many people to see. But we ate Sunday dinner at her house, and I could clearly see she was a gracious hostess and a good cook.

Over the years, I’ve had many chances to be with and see Faye, always at family times. We made trips to Meade, she and her husband Leonard made trips to where we were, and I got to learn much about her. Her gifts as a hostess I saw demonstrated many times, in meals large and small. She always had a nicely set table, a balanced meal fixed, and desserts at the ready. She also always urged second or third helpings on me. Yet, I’m not going to blame my lingering though shrinking obesity on her. I did that all on my own.

Faye’s life was spent mostly in Meade County, Kansas. She was born in Meade, the county seat, but the family soon moved a few miles north of town to the silica mine, where her dad, Millard Moler, was the crane operator. Her first seven years of school were at the Artesian Valley School, a one-room, rural schoolhouse. The family moved back to Meade in time for Faye’s 7th grade year. She lived in Meade, or on a family farm south of Meade for most of the next two decades. Briefly the family moved to Colorado then Idaho, but was back in Meade by 1973, stayed there until the late 1990s, when Leonard retired and the moved to Hutchinson Kansas. After Leonard’s death in 2005, Faye moved back to Meade for the remainder of her live.

Faye is the one in the middle. This 1936 (or possibly 1937) photo includes her three sisters, and one other, unidentified girl.
Faye is the one in the middle. This 1936 (or possibly 1937) photo includes her three sisters, and one other, unidentified girl.

For those of you who don’t know the Kansas high plains, it’s bleak, dusty, and windy. Part of the so-called  “Great American Desert”, it’s devoid of trees except where the town folk plant and nurture them. It’s farming country, traditionally for winter wheat, though more recently for corn, always with other crops mixed in. If you aren’t a famer or farmer’s wife, you are working to somehow support agriculture. The land isn’t quite as flat as you might think. It’s gently rolling, with a fair amount of true flatland. Farmers have done some major earth moving and flattened miles and miles to make the land more suitable for easy farming. Despite the bleakness, I fell in love with the Kansas prairies a long time ago.

That was an aside to say that Faye learned to be prepared for weather on the prairies. I remember stopping at a cemetery in Spearville, Kansas, at Faye’s request. We were taking her from Meade to Hutchinson sometime after her husband died. She and Esther had an uncle buried there, who had died as a boy in an accident with some horses, before the family moved to Meade. She wanted to see his grave, which she hadn’t seen for a long time. We found the cemetery, on the prairie north of Spearville. The minute we got out of the car that wind hit us hard—not a storm; the wind just blows constantly. I noticed that Faye already had on a clear-plastic rain hat, to protect her hair from the wind. She must have pulled it from her purse and put it on before leaving the car. Yes, she was well prepared for what the prairie would throw at her, that time, and every time.

Faye was active in her husband’s accounting business in Meade, as well as on the farm for the years they lived there. She was a life-long member of the Church of the Nazarene, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, and taking various positions of service within the church. Faye demonstrated the heart of a servant in all she did. Her ministries extended beyond the local church. She served as treasurer of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and was active in Country Gospel Music Association events, singing with other family members.

Faye will be missed much. She enriched the lives of those she met and interacted with. She lived her last twelve years as a widow, and survived cancer during that time. She’s now singing the old hymns and choruses in the celestial choir—with maybe a little country gospel mixed in.

A Long Vacation

Mel's Diner has singing wait staff. They were very good.
Mel’s Diner in Branson has singing wait staff. They were very good.

Every now and then I see something that says that Americans take shorter vacations than we did 40 years ago, or whatever timeframe yo want to pick. I suppose that’s true. Many people never take a week-long vacation these days, let alone two weeks. They opt for four and five day weekends. Which is better: the long vacation or the long weekend?

Lynda and I were just on a two-week vacation (almost) with our daughter and her family. They arrived from Oklahoma City late on June 19. The next morning we drove east, in two vehicles, to Indianapolis. Strange place to vacation, you ask? Not when it’s time for the Church of the Nazarene’s quadrennial meetings. Three general conventions of the missions, youth, and educational organizations, followed by the General Assembly, the governing body of the denomination. Richard, our son-in-law, was a delegate to the missions society General Convention. They asked us to go along to help with the kids, as they decided to make a family trip out of it.

Elise, posing as a Chines opera performer, at the Indianapolis Children's Museum
Elise, posing as a Chines opera performer, at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Richard was tied up the 21st through 23rd with the convention. I took him to downtown, to the convention center, from the rental house we had three miles away. It was an older, three-story house that was nicely restored. The floors creaked, but the house functioned quite well. The Wi-Fi and coffee maker worked, as did the microwaves, and it had a nice front porch with chairs and table. What more could you ask for?

I won’t go into all the activities we did. Needless to say, with four children, and with me getting sick one day and Lynda not feeling well on a couple of days, we probably did less than we thought we could. On Friday we went to see the expo hall associated with the general conventions. The kids had a good time in the bouncy play place. Lynda stayed with them while I walked the exhibits. I bought one book, saw a couple of friends, and had a good time. We al

Worshipping with 25,000 others Sunday morning at Nazarene General Assembly
Worshipping with 25,000 others Sunday morning at Nazarene General Assembly

so went to the Sunday morning service, and met up with a friend from more than 40 years ago. It was all quite enjoyable.

 

Then, on Monday, June 26, we drove from Indianapolis to Branson Missouri for the second leg of the trip. Here we stayed in a condo we were able to book using points from our timeshare: same resort company, but different resort from where we own. So, we had no out-of-pocket expense for the accommodation. It was two story, with two large bedrooms (one up one down), and two pull-out couches. It is central to just about everything in Branson.

The week was interrupted, however, because we had a gap in having someone to watch Lynda’s mom. So on Tuesday afternoon I drove to our house, only two hours on back roads, and spent that night with her. Wednesday afternoon I drove back to Branson with her, and she was able to spend a little time with her great-grandchildren and eat dinner with us. I drove back late that evening, and left early the next morning for Branson. That was the day we planned to go to Silver Dollar City, so I was on the road by 7:30 a.m.

I was last in Marvel Cave in October 1974. The tour is now much longer and much improved.
I was last in Marvel Cave in October 1974. The tour is now much longer and much improved.

For those reading the blog who don’t know about Silver Dollar City, it is truly amazing. It’s a theme park, with clusters or rides appropriate for all ages. It’s a crafters’ location, with such things as blacksmithing, candy making, glass blowing, and more. Of course, there are many, many opportunities to be separated from your money. If you avoid, those, and concentrate on the rides and crafts, it is really a lovely place. I was last there in October 2014, and have been there (I think) three other times in my life. There’s still much I haven’t seen. Lynda and I are thinking of going back sometime this fall, though we’ll see.

We played miniature golf twice. The first time we didn’t keep score, the second time we did, and I beat Richard by one stroke and Lynda by two. Sara was only a couple behind that. The three older kids enjoyed it a lot, though they were certainly rambunctious, and keeping them where they were supposed to be, and not bothering other players, was a constant battle.

I won’t mention everything we did in Branson. We did quite a bit; not always the whole group of us, but everyday saw some activity. Then, on Saturday July 1, we made the two hour drive home. That afternoon, the kids rode bikes, Ephraim caught two snakes and several toads, the parents rested, and I took the kids blackberry picking. The boys grew tired of it and went back to the house, but Elise stuck it out. The next day was church at our home church, and an afternoon of more snakes, toads, play, and blackberry picking.

Miniature golf, with four kids, three of whom are players. What's not to love?
Miniature golf, with four kids, three of whom are players. What’s not to love?

The OKC group drove back last night, through a rainstorm, and got home around 11 p.m. The Bella Vista three took the occasion to watch a movie, and just read. I kept thinking about those that left us, and they there is no quiet for them, at least not for another 18 years.

So, all the posts over the last two weeks were written ahead of time and scheduled to go live on my regular posting days. I’m back in real time now. Back to the daily grind on Wednesday, back to my writing “career” today.

Relaxing?

I’m writing this post ahead of time, to go live Friday June 30. At that time, I’ll be on vacation with the family in Branson, Missouri, the day before ending our trip. The question is, will I be relaxing or not?

From June 20-25 we were in Indianapolis, where our son-in-law, Richard, was a delegate to some of our church quadrennial meetings. Since Richard and Sara decided to make a family trip out of it, Lynda and I are along mainly to help. I write this before we even left. Our preparations for the trip are stressful. I can only imagine what Richard and Sara are going through.

We leave (or left, as you’re reading this) for Branson on June 26. There’s plenty to do there. Silver Dollar City will be on the agenda, as will a show, and probably a movie. Maybe even relaxing by the pool. Possibly the grandkids will allow us time to get a little reading in.

But, will I be able to relax? It’s been a busy time at work and home. I certainly need to decompress a bit. I’m just not sure this vacation is going to do the trip.

I’m scheduling this to post on the 30th. Possibly I’ll find time to come back and edit in some things about the trip, and report on my being able to relax.

Unwinding From The Weekend

I’m at work, at my desk, trying to figure out how to be productive today. We spent the weekend in Oklahoma City, on a dual family event. Ezra’s birthday was March 1, and we celebrated this weekend. Elijah’s dedication was Sunday. So all four grandchildren have been dedicated to God’s care and service.

Since these were two family events, and since some people would be driving in for them but wouldn’t want to spend the night, both took place on Sunday: the dedication during the normal worship service; and the party right after at Incredible Pizza. This is 50,000 sq. ft. of mayhem. Noisy, crowded, chaos. The kids liked it, and that’s what matters. We were there a couple of years ago for Ephraim’s and Elise’s birthdays.

So today it’s back to the grind, at work and at home. I had my manuscript with me over the weekend, but only managed to look at 30 or so pages. That will be my main writing focus this week, that and re-publishing Doctor Luke’s Assistant. My proof copy should arrive this week. If it’s good, I’ll get the print and KDP and Smashwords editions republished this week.

Mourning—It Never Gets Easier

Snow is always beautiful, but not always enjoyable. It can be deadly with the right combination of circumstances.
Snow is always beautiful, but not always enjoyable. It can be deadly with the right combination of circumstances.

Feb 10, 1948.  A beautiful, Spring-like day in southwestern Kansas. That evening, three young people headed from Meade to Fowler, adjacent towns between Dodge City and Fowler in Meade County, to attend a dinner among friends. Alas, weather predictions being what they were in 1948, they didn’t know a massive blizzard was just over the horizon. It started snowing while they were eating dinner. Later, around 10 p,m., the three decided to drive the 10 miles back to Meade. They didn’t make it; all three perished in the blizzard.

Saturday just passed was the 69th anniversary of when the first of the bodies was found. I think. Records aren’t clear, memories of things that old are few and fading. Most likely the three died on the 11th, though their bodies might not have been found until the 12th or 13th.

Esther, almost 69 years later.
Esther, almost 69 years later.

Two of those who died are the younger sisters of my mother-in-law, Esther Barnes. I had heard bits and pieces of the story over the years. About 18 months ago I asked Esther if she would talk with me about it, and let me write the story for the Meade Historical Society website. She said yes, and I interviewed her in our house over a couple of days.  It took me a few months to complete and sent to the Historical Society for them to upload. You can read it here. If for some reason that link doesn’t work for you (looks funny to me), try this for the index and click through to the story.

When I interviewed Esther it was 67 years after the event. I knew it would be painful for her, and it was. But she gave me the details she knew about, most of which she heard from someone. She lived in Fowler at the time, newly married and with a 9 month old son. They had no phone, so she only heard about it days later as the news got around.

Two of her three sisters are gone, but she has her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Two of her three sisters are gone, but she has her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Saturday was the 69th anniversary of that event. At the supper table, Esther said, “I still think about the girls,” by which she meant the sisters. Several times during our meal she teared up. 69 years, and still the mourning goes on.

I understand this. It’s been 51 years since my mother’s death, and I still think of her most days, and wonder what life would have been like if she hadn’t had the terrible illnesses and died from them at age 46. It certainly would have been different. Yes, the years have deadened the mourning some, but it’s still there.

I’m not sure there’s really a point to this post. It’s just something that I want to share.

Oh, if you get to the Meade Historical Society site, you’ll notice the article is listed at the “Buzzard of 1948”. I just notice that, and will ask them to fix it. If you read the article there, you’ll find a number of typos and an some awkward formatting. I remember fixing those, so I must have sent them the wrong file, because I remember fixing those items. Just suffer through them. I’ll find the right file and send it for re-uploading.