Advent December 22


Sun dropping into sunset about 4 p.m. on the day after the winter solstice.

Today was a fairly long day, but I had to extend it by pulling over on the side of the road and taking this shot with my iPad. I actually had a hard time driving because I just wanted to stare at the colors and the textures of the sky. The oranges were so soft and the way the clouds wrapped around the sun was so interesting. I kept wondering how you would replicate that with oils. I could almost feel how you would have to smudge the colors together.

I think this really hit me because of the funeral we had today. We buried our oldest member today, she was 102. I am not sure who is the oldest now. I suspect there are some close to 90 but I don’t know how close. I know that at least 6 and maybe as many as 10 of them are over 80. Considering we only have less than 50 members, I think this is significant.

So, I don’t want to post the message from the funeral, but I do want to share some of my points about the age of this woman. And by the way, the reason I noticed the colors and the texture of the sky is that she was a painter. Sometime after she and her husband retired from farming and moved into town, she began painting and writing poetry. I so wish we would have had some sample of her original work, but so it is.

Anyway, below is how I framed some information about her. I felt that I was grasping because I didn’t know her all that well, but her family felt that I had made it very personal, and for that I am grateful. I think having been a teacher and knowing the importance of doing a little homework, a little research has really helped in that regard.

Mary at age 102, fits into what our South Dakota born, Tom Brokow, termed, The Greatest Generation. Think about this: Mary was born before our country entered WWI. She wouldn’t have been in school before it ended, but she grew up in that era of time between that Great War and the Great Depression. Even more than that, as I went through some of the history books in the office, I realized that Mary was a first generation American. Her parents were part of that group of German-Russians who answered the call to settle this area, also called the Bread Basket, to grow the wheat that fed the country. Mary and her husband became part of that farming occupation after they married in 1937, just 2 years before the end of that really tough time in our history, the Dirty 30’s. My mother always said that living through tough times is always a little easier in the country because there you always have a better chance to do a little more on your own. And we can figure from what we read today that Mary with her big gardens and ability to cook and bake knew just how to do that. They must have been quite good at farming and growing things, since they started out renting, but soon bought themselves a bigger farm and expand it to a pretty large farm when they retired in 1963. The local history book said they owned over 1,500 acres when they retired. That is two sections or 8 quarters, which in those days had to be a very large farm.

I didn’t intend to go into that much detail, but as a bit of a history nerd, especially in local terms, I am always so amazed by the idea of knowing someone who touched so many generations.

Enough of all this today. Take care and stay warm!!


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