Monday, July 4, 2011

Blog 15

Deb and David Durham
In all of our trips around the country we always visited my cousin Janet and her husband, Jerry Masterson. Janet & I had known each other since we were quite young. Her family would come to Vermont for vacations as we were growing up. Janet & I were closer geograpically than my other cousins who lived on the opposite side of the continent, and, because we were the same age, we were closer personally, as well. By the way, I am using the term cousin here in the normal sense meaning of 1st cousin. Most of the cousins I meet on these trips are more like 3rd or even 4th cousins, some several times removed. So in the first week of our trip when Janet's husband, Jerry, emailed me to say that Janet's heart was failing, it came as a complete shock. In our previous trips we always had stayed the night with them and had wonderful conversations punctuated with frequent laughter, but now Jerry was suggesting that we should count a only a brief visit.

Denis, Denise & Elizabeth May
Then, just a few days later, came the notice of her death. Valerie and I quickly sent off a card of condolence. Jerry replied with thanks, but also wrote that he was having considerable trouble with his grief, and it was decided we should plan on at least one night with him. Now, I am among the least qualified to help people deal with grief, but I looked to my father's example that showed me that ones physical presence is more important than what one might say. Being there is what is important.
So we were there in Edinburg, Illinois, in the afternoon of July 3rd. Janet's son David, whom we had never met, came over to join us, and we had a wonderful night of laughter—Janet would have joined us—and tears. The next morning Jerry & I went to the cemetery to stand by Janet's grave. The marker is marvelous in that it is engrave with images of the things she love best. 

Deb, and her sister
David joined us again, and Janet's youngest son Denis and his wife and their new baby joined us as well. This, too, was a first for us. Denis, among other things, is a very talented musician. He also has an interest in family history, and so the two of us talked a bit about what we were doing in music, went through his mother's collection of genealogical material including some wonderful photographs. And then it was off to David's house for a late breakfast. There we met David's wife, her sister and her best friend.
We could have stayed much longer and would have enjoyed every minute of it, but we needed to push on. So we said our goodbyes and embraced our new and old friends and set up camp on the shores of the Mississippi across from Davenport, Iowa. Our route out of of Edinburg took us past the grave of my cousin, and we had one more remembrance of her which brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.
Best wishes to this wonderful family.

Jerry at his wife's grave.

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