Sunday, October 30, 2005

Two funerals...no wedding

Last Sunday, we buried my Uncle Henry, yesterday we buried Auntie Helen. This was just so sad. I mentioned that in my elaborate post last Sunday. I should seriously should keep things shorter.

About a week before Uncle Henry died, she had quit eating, and was put on IV's. Uncle Henry was taking care of her right to the end before he had his stroke. It must have been hard for him with her having Altzheimers disease, but he would not let anyone else look after her. So, the family decided that they would let her go too, as she had no quality of life left, and her soul mate was waiting for her. She died on Thursday.

I went back home to Altona, by myself, this time. Gord and my friend Janis had other plans and couldn't come again this time. I had a was a little worried about doing a road trip by myself, because I haven't done it for such a long time. But, when Saturday morning rolled around, I was looking forward to getting into that big horking old fart leisure van and driving. The weather was beautiful, it was a fall morning, with some fog rolling in from the river. I packed up my gear and headed South..back to my home, where the buffalo roam. No chatter, just me the road, and my thoughts. The flat prairie unfolded before of me. All the fields had been harvested, nothing left but some stubble and a vast landscape of land. The sunflowers had not been harvested yet, they were still waiting for a "hard" frost." Their shriveled heads were still poking up off the fields. The crops they grow in Southern Manitoba are mainly wheat, sugar beets, and sunflower. Of course there are many farmers who are now diversifying and growing "special crops," such as peas and corn, but for the most part it is wheat, sunflower and beet country.

I enjoyed the ride out, had a little fight with the cruise control, but we worked it out in the end. I won.

I got to the funeral 5 minutes late...because..well I don't drive as fast as other people, and I was paranoid with all the "road kill"...God that was ugly. And every few miles, the road signs would say "DEER CROSSING"..and I would slow down, because I didn't want to hit a critter.

So, all in all, I went back to the same church and we did what we had done last week. My cousins were right worn out I think. Now, they will have sometime to reflect and regroup. They have had a hell of a year. I was glad I went, and met with so much affection from that side of the family I didn't know that well. After the lunch I went out searching for my sister's grave.

I never knew her. She was born in 1941 and contracted meningitis at three months of age and died. Her name was Diana Carol Kehler. My mom never wanted to talk about her when we were growing up. I knew where the cemetery she was buried in was, and decided while I was there, I would try to find it. I spent over an hour trying to locate her grave. I almost gave up. After all, this would be some 64 years after she died, and some of those grave stones were not legible anymore. Then for some reason, I spotted a little tiny grave beside a lilac bush...I walked towards it, and saw her name, on a chipped makeshift headstone. It looked like someone carved it by hand. I found my sister! I always knew where she was, but was never allowed to go there. It was Mom's sorrow, and didn't want to me to go there or bring it up when we were young. One thing I will always remember...she told me that when Diana died, all the relatives and friends talked about Diana, and they said ..."in Low German"...."she was too beautiful to live." I am sure she always took some comfort in that. Parents never want their children to die before them. It's just not right. It changed her life. I think after me and my brother were born, she was so afraid we would die...she spoiled the heck out of us.

These last years when all my family have slowly been leaving me for better pastures, I have been thinking of Diana. She would have been the oldest sibling who usually is the strongest for the younger ones. Now it was left to me. I sure could have used a sister to talk to instead of trying to be the steadfast one all alone. I told her so, when I went to visit. I told her a lot of stuff. I sat there for about an hour. Then I got back in my van, and sped off home. I was very glad to get back. To many emotions. I will go back next year, and bring flowers to that forgotten grave so long ago.

When I was there I took a picture of it. You can tell by the headstone, that it was carved by a local tradesman in town. The "D" in Diana has been chipped away, it appeared that is has moved a few times as it's not now in the centre of the tiny cement plot it once was. I found the entire cemetery very interesting as well, there were so many old neighbor's I remember that are buried there. It's truly a little bit of history. Diana Carol Kehler.."safe in Jesus arms" is the bottom inscription.



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