Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Saying Goodbye

A dozen of us gathered on what passes as a hill just west of Stafford. It was one of those deceptive days at the Stafford Cemetery - bright sunshine but a December chill in the air in a location not sheltered by trees, only gravestones.

There was no green mortuary tent. No shiny hearse. No extra mourners. No minister.

It was a memorial service like many other families have opted for during this global pandemic - just a few relatives gathered around the family plot. 

 Randy's brother, Lyle, died on September 17. A niece's birthday will now be a death day, too.

Randy and his sister, Kathy, decided to wait until all our family members could gather.  So December 5 it was.

The family - plus me as a shadow!

 Kathy wrote this on her Facebook page later that night:

A mixture of emotions today as we laid my brother's ashes to rest next to my parents in Stafford this morning. Lyle was the younger of my two older brothers and he passed away in September. Today was the opportunity for my oldest brother, Randy, and I to place our loved ones together where they can rest in peace. While this was sad, we also took advantage of being together to celebrate an early Christmas and reminisce a bit. I'm thankful for family, time together, good health, happiness, and an act of kindness for which I will be forever grateful. My heart is full.

Lyle was a guy who would prefer an outside gathering rather than a stuffy, traditional service in a church sanctuary anyway. Kathy had asked our local florist to capture an outdoor, woodsy mood with the grave decorations. 

Thanks to Freund's Crafts 'n' Flowers for the beautiful grave decor.

After their dad died, Lyle had left the flat Plains of Kansas and purchased a small motel in Cascade, Idaho. The mountains and abundant waters were his happy place.

Warm Lake near Cascade, Idaho

Even after a health scare a couple of years ago, Lyle preferred to stay at Deadwood, S.D., where he was nestled in the Black Hills, rather than moving closer to family back home.

So the cool, outdoor gathering was just as much about what Lyle would have wanted as a response to Covid-19 concerns.

Afterward, we gathered as a family in the church basement where we could spread out a bit more. We shared a lunch of homemade pizza and fixings. It was a nod to my late mother-in-law, Marie. Just a week before, a cousin had mailed us a copy of Marie's pizza recipe. She'd found it among some family photos while cleaning out memorabilia. (I guess that's one positive of Covid - a bunch of us have undertaken some deep cleaning!)

I knew the pizza recipe had been part of a column I wrote for The Hutchinson News, At Home With Kim, so I dug through those columns to find the whole thing. 

It was just another way to honor family ties. So was the banana cream pie Kathy brought as one of the dessert selections. Kathy remembers sliding her mom's freshly-made meringue topping off of the hot banana pudding filling onto Lyle's plate. Marie protested that she should eat it herself because meringue was hard to make. 

Snippets of memories like that filled the day. Randy said the burial was harder than he thought it would be. But he's grateful for the time together with family.



  1. Such a very special final farewell for Lyle. My dear friend and neighbour farewelled her Mother last week. Your sunset at Peace Creek photo and words are just perfect for her.

    1. I'm sorry for her loss. It's never easy to lose someone, but these times are particularly challenging.

  2. This is a beautifully written piece and you shared so well the day honoring Lyle. He will always be remembered. I am so sorry for your loss. Lyle was a fun, cheerful high school mate and is dearly thought of. Thank you for sharing this sad but special time.