By Doris Schroeder
It has really been a special time to go through some old things this winter and remember “the things that used to be!” I came across an incident that took place in the year 2000 and remembered my favorite cousin. It began with a phone call from my cousin Lewis, telling me that his sister Della had died.
The news was a shock. She and I had been close in our younger years and in many ways had grown up together. We were only 9 days apart, but had lost track of each other after we were out of school.
Memories came flooding back of our childhood days. My first memory was the night of my sister Luella’s death in August of ‘36. After I saw “Lulu” hit by a bullet at the neighbors and some of the men had driven my Mom and sis to the hospital, someone else must have taken me to my aunt and uncle’s house on 11th St. Lewis and Della didn’t say much that evening and I wondered why. At three years of age, I hadn’t witnessed death in my life and couldn’t understand what had happened. It was late in the evening when my Dad came to pick me up and told me Lulu had gone to heaven. This was a whole new concept to me and I set out to find the answers.
My Dad had to work long hours at the Sam Schneider Oil Co. and my Mom did not drive so Della’s mom, Aunt Martha, would often pick up Mom and me and take us along to church on Wednesday night. I remember one night in particular, I was prone to visit the neighbors and they had invited me to try their new concoction they had made…something called sherbet. It took a little longer so when I started to come home from their house on the corner, I saw Aunt Martha’s car backing out of the driveway with my Mom! I was shocked that they were leaving without me! They told me they were just teaching me a lesson. I think I learned it well because I sure came home on time after that!
Della’s and my mom made us dresses out of some red silk with a white satin collar and we thought it pretty special. We played at each other’s house a lot. We made a playhouse in the basement at Della’s house. Sometimes we’d watch her mother bake bread and I was horrified to see Della eat the dough. I just knew her stomach would rise! But she did it anyways!
We moved to our grandparents’ farm when they moved to town. Della would sometimes stay a week at our house in the summer. We had a gold mine of stuff to play with in the five vacant upstairs bedrooms of the old farmhouse. Many of our aunts and uncles had left some of their stuff and we had fun dressing up and then doing little skits we made up. Our favorite was “the almost deaf old lady and the hobo.” Funny how it rings a bell of truth to it, isn’t it?
Sometimes we’d play the old phonograph that we had to wind with a hand crank. We had one record so all of our plays had the music “Blest be the tie that binds.”
It was great fun to get into Aunt Esther’s trunk and try on all the old clothes she had stored.
Time passed and I dreamed of the day I would attend Buhler High School and Della wanted to go also. When we moved back to Hutch, my dream stayed with me. It must have been catching because Della had it too. She even went to Buhler grade school for the 8th grade and stayed with our Grandma Kroeker. My high school freshman year, I stayed with my Grandmother Lange. Della and I were both students our freshman year. We took our Home Economics Class together and were on the same cooking team. One of our projects was to make a meal. We made a ham loaf, potatoes, corn and for dessert, orange jell-o with pineapple and carrots molded in a pointed paper cup.
Our paths began to separate when she had a high-school sweetheart and I dated John. She decided to go to Hutch High her senior year to be near her boyfriend and I inherited her job at the Nyal Store in Buhler.
We both got married after high school and were each other’s maid of honor. In the beginning we did get together and discuss our homemaking abilities from our little apartments but then we began to lose touch.
Then, as I met her children the night before her funeral, I realized how much we had missed by not staying in touch. Her daughter Debbie was such a joy to talk with and her sons were interesting. How much we had missed by not staying in touch!
But then, I will be seeing her in heaven some day since her daughter assured me she was a Christian, and we’ll make up for lost time. We will also be young and healthy again.
Let’s remind ourselves we need to make every minute count because God has a special purpose for each of us on this earth, even in things that used to be!
Doris welcomes your comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org