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Cornerstones, Or It Takes a Village

May 30, 2015
Shot this several years ago leaving from a visit with the Wittmeyers. It was the cover of my book "Getting By: Lessons From a Rural Past".

Shot this several years ago leaving from a visit with the Wittmeyers. It was the cover of my book “Getting By: Lessons From a Rural Past”.

It’s been a long night of memories. Last night my dad called with word of two losses to our community. Neighbors – second family, inspiration – all of those fit.

Parenting wisdom of it takes a village isn’t new…the difference is the village. In rural areas neighbors may be a half mile, or a mile or two miles away but they’re still neighbors. We knew if we got in trouble at the neighbor’s we were bound to get in trouble at home too. There were cornerstones that we were welcome and one of those was at the Wittmeyers. I don’t remember any particular visit or conversation or what we did, but it wasn’t uncommon if we weren’t at their place they were at ours. There were dirt bikes, horses, walking through the timber, playing in creeks and ponds, snowed in during blizzards.

There was the Peeds where Andy always greeted with a hug. Andy’s been gone for years now, but Norma carried on, never letting his memory fade.

Yesterday Joe Wittmeyer and Norma Peed separately passed away. It’s a dark day of missing with rays of sunny memories that I can’t help but smile.

We kids have stayed in touch, though there’s families of our own and we’re scattered to the winds in some ways. And there’s not a thing that I can do that will ease the loss. There’s no minimizing. The Heavenly reunion with the spouses they vowed to love always is there, and there is no more pain for them.

The village has a loss, and we all feel it, but don’t all feel it the same. So much wisdom and so many stories silenced. Time catches up with all of us, and for all the laughs and good times – and there were many! – it accents the life denial of adding more, and having but memories to rely on. Photographs. Pictures in our heads that we hope we don’t forget.

The reminder that both had long relationships that don’t seem as common today isn’t lost. Certainly over 25 or 50 years there were disagreements. There were times it’d be easy to quit. So many now walk away when things are tough or when it’s not flowers and rainbows. Love is an action to repeat.

Listening to stories from the past gets harder every day. These things are lost as people die and their stories are silenced. The trying to get a quarter for fuel on a date and going to the Maidrite, but not knowing how much he had to spend, so ordering little. Today it seems often the “how much will you spend on me” takes priority. The consideration and working together – and solid marriages and families – were there because it was woven into LIFE.”

The Wittmeyer barn

The Wittmeyer barn

The above story of the date was shared by Joe and Jean Wittmeyer on a visit many moons ago, sitting on the porch swapping stories. Both are gone now and I know they are very proud of the true legacy they left – their family, I’m proud to call friends all these years after high school. I know that without question because they’d say it often.

We get what we look for…what our expectations are. Life passes too quickly.

What a loss for those in the community…and a living loss for those who cannot relate to it. How sad it would be to have no village, even with the hurt from loss.

Someone posed a question recently would I do without internet, cell phone etc for $3million…that wouldn’t be hard. But without a community, a village, a network of pretty awesome people and memories…that is priceless. Some say we reach a point where all we have of value is memories – priceless. Record them, keep them, treasure them.

Because Little House on the Prairie wouldn’t be recorded on the internet. People are a major influence on us – who we are around. Who is your village? Mine’s much smaller than social media lists.

And it’s a bit smaller this morning.

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