After Mullen, I headed down Highway 2 to Broken Bow. Although with a population of 3,500 or so, Broken Bow is a small town, it is the biggest town I had been in since Sidney. I filled up with gas, stretched my legs and bought a bottle of water. One of the things that I find interesting in these small Nebraska towns is that most of them have one or more large grain elevators. They look like skyscrapers as you approach the town. You can see them from several miles away. Many of these towns have been built around the grain elevators. At Ansley, I turned on to Highway 92 that would take me to David City and the Lovely Sharon. Arriving in David City I checked into the Rose Motel, the only motel in town. Sharon was staying at her parent’s house but I wanted to have a little down time in the evenings so she made me a reservation at the Rose. After a quick shower and a change of clothes, I drove to her parents’ house.
When Sharon opened the door, I got a little misty eyed. I had not seen her for some three weeks and not much since mid September. It felt good to hold her again. She had obviously had a trying week but she looked beautiful. Her father came to greet me as well. You could see the pain and loss in his 78 year old eyes. The three of us spent a quiet evening together. I was getting tired after the long drive and headed back to the Rose to read and then sleep. However, except for a single light in the corner of the room, all of the lights were either missing or burned out so there was no reading on Saturday night. The bottom fitted sheet on the bed was too small for the bed and every time I rolled on the bed, the bottom sheet popped off at the corners. I got up a half a dozen times to fix it but each time it popped off again. So I just left it. I slept like a baby in waddling clothes.
On Sunday morning the Lovely Sharon asked me to get a few things at the stores in Columbus, a town of more than 20,000 about 25 miles away. I drove to Columbus, had breakfast and did some grocery shopping. It seemed like I was the only person in the town that was not wearing a University of Nebraska shirt, hat, sweatpants, sweatshirt or coat. So guess what, I bought me and Sharon matching University of Nebraska tee shirts and I bought me a Nebraska baseball hat. So I am set, almost a native, “Go Huskers”.
Back in David City we dressed for the viewing and rosary. Sharon’s sons arrived just in time from Salt Lake. We visited with many family members and friends at the viewing. I didn’t know the friends but after three or four visits to Nebraska in the last 6 years, I was well acquainted with many of the family members. It was nice to see them again, hug them, and talk to them.
Monday was the funeral. We awoke to a foggy, cold, dismal looking day. It looked like a day for a funeral. The funeral was held at the 98 year old St. Mary’s church in David City. It is a beautiful church yellow brick with a tall bell tower and tall spires, warm and colorful inside, with wonderful stained glass windows. It was a lovely service at the Church and at the graveside. A luncheon was held after the service at the Knights of Columbus Hall. I spoke at length with the parish priest about life, dogs and other matters. After lunch, the extended family met back at the house for four or five hours of family time.
Tuesday morning I started my journey back to Salt Lake and arrived home on Wednesday to quiet and cold house.
A death of a loved one, especially a mother, is one of life’s saddest moments. But the events and interactions that surround a death are some of the warmest moments of life. Sweet goodbyes, a gathering of friends and family, and recollections of a lifetime of memories. Tears and laughter abound. The old photographs are brought out; black and white photographs with the pinking shear type edges. Some of the photos were hand tinted color photos of a beautiful young woman frozen in time 60 years ago, a girl with a full life ahead of her. There were pictures from a time when aged parents were children themselves. There were pictures of high school dances, pictures from a wedding more than 55 years ago and pictures of life on the family farm. This family is an impressive family of quiet strength, hard work and strong values. I am honored to be part of it.
During the last several weeks Sharon was able to spend extensive time with her mother, father and brothers. She was there to help make important and final decisions. She was there to provide strength and support at a time when strength and support were needed. I have written about Sharon in humorous essays about “The Boss” and other episodes of our life and I will not doubt do so again in the future, but I continue to stand in awe of my quiet, lovely wife.
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