After an exhausting couple of days following the election, one has to get back on their feet and look to each day and what it means in the simplest sense of the word. Since I’ve been traveling to the United Trinity Parish in Baker, Plevna and Ekalaka, three weeks, I’ve had three funerals. Each one of these people was unique and because I didn’t know them at all, preparing for their final services was doing research of a very personal nature. The first death was a man who was 101 years old. Folks said he was the kindest, gentlest person. He took in children both to foster and then if they were going to school and lived in the country they could stay at his and his wife’s home in Baker. The second funeral was for a 98-year old woman who had lived for years in Ekalaka. When she was a child her parents had moved their family from Ekalaka to Washington. But when her mother died, three of the children went back to Ekalaka to live with their maternal grandparents. Two other children were adopted and they did not re-connect until fifty years had passed. This woman loved life according to those who knew her. She was active and funny and was always interested in people. Her resting place is in Beaver Lodge Cemetery, on a knoll covered with prairie grasses that looks out to the Ekalaka hills. The third funeral was for a bachelor rancher. When I asked people about him they smiled and then they choked up. Every response whether friend or family was an emotional response. He was much loved. They described him as generous to a fault. Always ready to help out someone who needed it. And he loved the high school team in his home town. He went to every game and yelled the loudest from the stands. The funeral procession from the church in Baker to the burial was a thirteen mile drive and cars stretched for miles.
Each day was absolutely gorgeous, blue sky, sunshine, and vistas across miles of prairie land. Many of the cemeteries are family cemeteries with multiple head stones with the same names. And people come when they hear there has been a death. It is a time for reacquainting one’s self with family and old neighbors, to share stories and to laugh and cry at the same time. It is the time of remembering that is so special and for each of these involved a long life, well-lived. They were the products of a simple philosophy of hard work and loving your neighbor. They were practical independent folks whose bodies will now mix with the soil of the prairies in which their forebears lie as well. The churches are far apart. The ranches are miles apart and folks live an isolated and difficult life that involves hard work. But it goes on generation after generation and there is an honesty and a pledge to the basics of life that one cannot find anywhere else.