My Aunt Jean died today. She was my Mother’s younger sister….the seventh of eight children. She was a Mom to six great kids. I remember her being perpetually pregnant and working on the Nebraska “home place” farm with her husband, Bernard. She was jolly and giving and beautiful both inside and out. Her husband Bernard died earlier this year, so we all knew that Jean wanted to leave and be with him again. Her death today was bittersweet because although we’ll miss her dearly she was probably ready to leave us.
Jean and Bernard were one of those couples who were “joined at the hip”. You never said one name without the other. They were married forever and started dating when they were in high school. They were made for each other. You could see and feel the love between them and being around their family was an honor.
It’s funny how weird memories come up at a time like this. When I was a kid all of my Mom’s family would get together especially in the summer time. We would all congregate at the family farm where Jean and Bernard farmed. They lived in the big drafty house where Mom’s family grew up. The front door was a beautifully etched glass picture of a milkmaid. The front yard was perfect for campfires and wiener roasts. The mosquitos and flies were ubiquitous and the smell of farm animals was always pungent…more matter what season.
During one of these family kid-fest, we let Bernard’s milk cows get loose. They jumped the barbed wire….it wasn’t a pretty sight. Bernard had warned us not to take the dog if we went for a walk in the pasture….he also gave VERY strict orders not to leave the gate open to the pasture. Someone, probably me, didn’t close the gate and the “full” milk cows got out. The dog chased the cows and as I recall one or two of them jumped over the barbed wire. The next thing we knew Bernard had called the vet and ordered all of us kids to line up to take our punishment. He had the bullwhip in one hand and pointed us into a straight line with the other. Our parents were kinda lined up too…..and off to the side of this fiasco was Aunt Jean laughing hysterically! I never walked a pasture again or got close to any cattle. But I did get close to Jean and Bernard and their family.
Jean, we will all miss your wonderful laugh and smile…your warmth and giving spirit. Rest now.