I have been wanting to go see my brother for awhile. I’d planned on going this summer. I had to wait because I’d used my travel funds already this year going to New Mexico at the end of February and the first week of March. When I returned home I was not home more than a day before I rented a car and went to Kansas to pick up my grandchildren and bring them to Nebraska during their spring break. It was during that week that the COVID-19 fufurah shut down most of the country. I did take them back at the end of the week and by then all the schools had shut down. The day that I was taking the grandchildren home I got a call from my brother that his dear wife had passed away after having had surgery earlier in the month. It was a very sad time especially because once she’d been taken to a rehab facility no one was allowed to visit her in the facility. She died there without the comfort of her family around her in those last days and hours. They could not have the typical funeral because of the virus scare. No true closure was available to the family. I wish I could have gone then but I just didn’t have the funds to make the trip.
So, as soon as my finances would accommodate a trip I scheduled a flight to Oregon to spend a week with my brother. While I was visiting they did have a virtual memorial service on Zoom for her. It was nice, but, not the same as an in-person memorial service. I’m glad I was there and could at least give some measure of comfort.
He lives on a pretty large piece of property along the southern coast of Oregon just outside of Coos Bay. His property is secluded and this time of year the lush, verdant growth around his place is beautiful and it’s quite peaceful there. But the cleared areas do grow up fast so while I was there he got on his Husqvarna mowing tractor to mow the property.
Now, my brother is an elderly man and not in the best of physical health. He is a bit stooped in the back and with post-polio syndrome has a difficult time walking even with his walking stick. But, he’s always been one to keep busy and maintaining the acreage around his home is one of the things he really enjoys. The property is not level except where the house is located in front and on the north side the land has been leveled. The rest is hilly. Down behind the house is a small fruit tree orchard he planted over the years. Behind the orchard is a steep hill with a clearing where he has a few fig trees and other things planted. Above that is another small clearing as well.
After he’d gotten the areas around the house and the small orchard mowed he went up the steep hill to mow that area. The mower got stuck because some of that area is a bit on the marshy side. He got off to try and get it unstuck. When he got back on the mower it wouldn’t start. The battery had died and he said it was the first time that had ever happened. So we walked back to the shop near the house and got an extension cord and battery charger.
He has a small tractor that has a front end loader bucket with forklift forks he manufactured for it and a small grader blade on the back. Because the mower was quite a distance from the house and shop he used the tractor to get back to the mower. I told him I’d ride with him but didn’t see a place I could stand to ride back with him. He said I could ride on the bucket; so he lowered bucket and I climbed on. We went back to the mower at a snail’s pace. I could have walked it faster. But I chose to ride. At the steep hill to get up to the mower he had to raise the bucket to keep the forks from digging into the side of the hill, I therefore had to lean forward quite a bit for balance. All the while I was thinking, “Aren’t we something of a pair for a brother & sister. A 66 year old woman riding on the bucket of a small front end loader with an 82 year old man driving the tractor.” To outsiders we’d seem to be a pretty eccentric old couple. It was fun. After we got back to the mower he plugged the extension cord in at his pumphouse and I drug the other end over to the mower. Once the battery was charging he parked the front end loader with the bucket in the shade and we sat there talking until the battery was charged. Then he finished mowing and took the mower back to the shop.
We walked back to get the tractor. I was a bit concerned about my brother and told him he looked like he’d used up his oxygen. He asked if his lips were blue and I responded, “Yes, they’re purple!” After getting the tractor back to the shop area we went inside and my brother got back on his oxygen. He has COPD and should have had his portable oxygen tank with him. His children and of his neighbors up the road chastise him for not using his oxygen when he’s out puttering around. Like many old men, though, he’s a stubborn old coot and leaves the oxygen behind. It’s too bulky and awkward in his opinion.
I had a wonderful time while I was there. Being there is relaxing and serene. The time passed too quickly. It was an emotional parting when I left, I suspect I may not see him again in this life. I think he suspects the same. It will probably be the last time I see that property too. He was telling me that when he dies he just wants everything sold and the funds distributed to the kids. That is too bad, maybe one of them will have the ability to buy out the property from the estate. I’d love to see it stay in his family. I guess that is what he’s drawn up in his will.
As we get older, more and more of those we love pass on and we are left to mourn our loss. They live on in our memories. Eventually it will be our turn and those who only we remember are forgotten. Maybe there is an oral account of their lives that is passed on for a generation or even two, but, eventually we all are forgotten for the most part and no one is left to remember who were were and what we were like. God knows each of us and in eternity, those of us who have come to know God and accept his plan of salvation will live again in eternity with God as our king. We will be known as we were known. I have that hope.
Blessings to all,