Coronavirus · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry

Why Do People Avoid the Topic of Death?

Death—a topic most people want to avoid, but lately it’s in the news everyday with the coronavirus updates. Because of so much focus on death lately, I wrote “Are ‘The Dead’ Dead?” this last week and “I Want You Back! Or Do I?” six years ago—two poems very different in topic and tone!

Personally, I’ve not shied away from this topic. Possibly because I was raised in a multi-generational community and saw significant elderly people die like my grandparents and life-long babysitters. I don’t remembering viewing the bodies, just the loss.

In my early twenties, we buried my first husband’s grandfather, a dear man I loved. I remember seeing his lifeless body and a new reality hit me—that was not the man I loved. It was simply the physical shell that housed his fun-loving spirit.

Later, I had the privilege of witnessing the death of my best square dance girlfriend, Kathi Raver. The hospice nurse took the small group of friends and family gathered through the death process which fascinated me.

In 2017, I published a grief and growth memoir talking about my parents’ deaths, and readers recoiled at the title! I knew it wouldn’t be popular, but the response shocked me. Nevertheless, I had to share my process about my losses.

A natural segue for me now, surrounded by the devastating effect of the coronavirus and the mounting death count, I wrote the following poem:

Talking about death
Are “The Dead” Dead?

July 8, 2020

In this coronavirus world,
            We speak
                        So often
                                    Of the dead,
                                                The dying
                                                            Death itself
 
My thoughts linger over
            My dead
                        My family
                                    My friends
 
A thought whispered softly,
            “Speak their names!”
                        Say it
                                    Repeat it
                                                Caress it
 
As I pondered
            This charge,
I realized
            I do this!
I mention my dead
            Their names
Every day
            In my prayers
                        Blessings for where
                                    They are
                        Support for me
                                    Like my personal
                                                A legion of
                                                            Guardian angels
                        Remembrance of
                                    Our connections
 
But the thought persisted,
            “Say their names!”
 
Why?
 
When I say a name
            Of the deceased,
They come to life!
            Memories flood me!
 
I chuckle as
            Dad and I glide
                        Across the wooden dance floor
                                    Doing his step
                                                No one else can imitate!
 
I smell
            Mom’s sweet aroma
                        And
            Giggle with her once more
                        Sitting on the couch
                                    Shoulders touching
            Souls and spirits connected.
 
I laugh out loud
            At Aunt Willie’s
                        Outrageous sense-of-humor
The twinkle in her eyes
            Mischievous and youthful
 
I lean back and marvel
            At Flippo’s memory and
                        Storytelling skills!
He got me again
            And again
                        And again!
 
I hug Scott close to my heart
            My lifelong friend
                        As we reminisced once more
                                    Of
                                                            childhood days
                                                            high school days
Carefree
            And
                        Powerful
 
Say their names
            And they’re no longer died!
They’re alive
            Vibrant
                        Active
                                    In delicious memories
                                                In my heart and soul!
 
Speak their names!
            Don’t Stop

In 2017, I published the following poem in A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir. After Mom’s death, I struggled with my loss, yet wondered about wanting her back here. She had polycythyemia vera which morphed into myelofibrosis, a form of leukemia, demanding repeated blood transfusion and a feeding tube.

I Want You Back! Or Do I?

January 27, 2014

I stand at that mysterious wall
between life and eternity
                        and scream,
"I want you back!"
 
I pound my fists.
I scream!
I cry,
but nothing changes.
 
You slipped
through my fingertips.
I grasped.
You were here one second
and
gone the next!
 
Nothing I could do
would hold you.
Where are you now?
Sitting next to Jesus and Dad—
                        smiling
                        youthful
                        relaxed
                        happy!
 
I hope so!
 
I am earth bound—
held in place
            by time and
                        my human existence!
 
I now know more,
realize there's more.
There has to be!
 
A small peephole
opened into eternity
                        at your death bed.
Surprisingly, a small kernel of hope was born that day for me.
 
Life ended here for you
so quickly!
Your shell of a body
lay limp and lifeless
in that hospital bed.
I saw your last breath,
but I also saw something else
                        slight
                        faint
 
Relief for you!
A passing
A knowing
                        that you are gone
                                    from here,
                        but will wait for me
                                    there.
 
In my solemn, desolate space,
I will still cry,
"I want you back!"
 
But today I know
that
I don't want you back—
I want to join you
                        there!

©2017 Larada Horner-Miller

Death is a part of this life, but I wonder—does saying the name of a dead loved one bring them back to life, for just a moment? Are the dead really dead? Are they waiting with open arms to welcome us home?

What do you think?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers on the hardback copies—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                        Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                      Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                     Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                    Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164(US)                    Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8         Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                   Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US) –https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography on Zoom on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm MST! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!~Visit my web site for all the information

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Coronavirus · My Thoughts

Poetic View: The Future As I Saw It in April

What does the future hold for us? Here it is nearing the end of May, and I want to share two poems I wrote at the beginning of April, more than a month ago. Not a lot has changed. The death count continues to increase daily with it nearing 100,000 in the United States.

My world & the future?

In the midst of this pandemic, people’s reactions shock me! One person posted on my Facebook page that this virus isn’t dangerous. Tell that to the families mourning 99,031 deaths. Tell that to the world whose losses stand today at 345,554 at 2:00 pm this sunny Sunday afternoon. I shudder at this callous response to this tragedy—it is dangerous and heartbreaking! Today, I choose empathy and compassion for the losses, for the pain, for the struggle, and I continue to wonder about our collective future.

In my circle of family and friends, I know someone who was diagnosed with Covid 19 ten weeks ago and is still experiencing symptoms. So some say it’s just like the flu? I’ve never had a flu that lasted that long.

My first poem contemplated the new post-coronavirus future.

Are Masks a Part of the Future?
Are Masks a Part of the Future?
What Do We Face?

April 1, 2020
 
The future always felt
            Predictable!
Not now!
            Not post-coronavirus pandemic,
                        Not after the deaths
                                    The insanity
                                                The world in turmoil!
 
What’s coming?
            Social distancing
                        ‘til April 30
 
More cases
            More deaths!
                        100,000’s dead?
                        1,000,000’s sick?
 
The uncertainty
            No one knows
                        For sure
                                    But why?
 
Our tech age believed
            We could control
                        Order
                                   Orchestrate the world!
 
But no!
            Here we stand frozen
                                    Paralyzed
                                               Isolated
 
2020—
            with all its advances
                        can’t contain
                                    this small
                                                tiny
                                                            enemy
It controls us!
 
The USA
            Ill-prepared
                        So sad,
                                    But so true!
 
Trump, a part of the problem
            Yes,
                        But China lied!
 
Would he have acted differently
            If he knew the truth?
                        Not 81,000 deaths in China
                                    But possibly forty times that amount!
                                                3,240,000
                                                            Oh, my God!
We will never know.
 
Where are we headed?
            Done and recovered 
                                    At the end of April?
                                                May?
                                                            September?
 
I haven’t even a thought
            About our financial losses
                        Not in the wake of the deaths
                                               The sickness and trauma
                                                            The despair!
 
We’re all in the same boat
            Headed somewhere,
                        Destination unknown
 
God, help us!
LaLa Land vs. reality for the future
Living in LaLa Land

My second poem did a reality check. Reality—different to different people? I’ve struggled with reality my whole life, wanting to live in a LaLa Land of my own making, but adulthood forced me out of that imaginary land into the territory of the REAL The coronavirus catapulted me farther—into a stark face-to-face encounter with reality.

Reality Check

April 2, 2020
 
The sun keeps shining
            The world spins
                        Night follows day.
 
On the surface
            Normal is constant.
 
Yet the massive choirs
            Of heartbroken cries resound
                        Across the plains
                                     Down through the valleys
                                                 Atop the mountains
                                                                Through the deserts
 
Human kind is under attack
            A virus war zone!
People die
            The number mounts!
 
Doesn’t matter his color
                                   Her Ethnicity
                                                His Religion
                                                                No immunity!
 
The coronavirus kills
            Has no prejudices
                        Is not judicious in its target
 
The massive grief grows
            The weight of the pain stresses
                        This world to its limit
 
A mother
            A father
                        A Daughter
                                    Die alone
                                                Not a hand to hold
                                                            No last kiss and hug!
 
And it’s not just the virus’ victims
            But anyone unlucky enough
                        To die now
                                    Like my dear friend, Jan Steel
 
Karen, Joan, and Julian stood vigilant
            Outside Jan’s door
                        No kiss
                                    No touch
                                                No hug
                                                            Only death!
 
Hearts break in unison
            Too many to count—
                        Exponential pain multiplied
                                    By this devastation!
 
Yet the sun rises
            Days melt into weeks
                        Pain from this horror lingers
                                    Forever
                                                An acrid taste in my mouth
                                                            And
                                                                        Heart!

You may wonder why I keep posting my poems. I struggled so through this pandemic and recorded it. I wonder if you relate to my cares and concerns. Let me know.


~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What’s One Person’s Value in this World?

I embrace a poetic view of life—that’s me. I grew up in a ranching community where we valued and celebrated life, babies, the elderly and rain! We valued older people and children equally! We also placed value on life in any form, and in the spring, a rancher’s delight centered on spring time calving season and the birth of the new calf crop.

I watched my dad labor over a cow struggling to give birth, and if she died, then I witnessed his tender care for an orphan calf, bottle-feeding it to keep it alive. Each season offered a reason to celebrate life and nature and respect death and loss, so the environment fostered a deep yearning in my soul to look at this world in a different way. It also encouraged me to wonder about the good and the bad—the heavy summer thunderstorm that filled the reservoirs and the loss of that momma cow. Life offers me opportunities to look, to see, to wonder and that’s what I’ve done in our current world situation.

So, it was a natural reaction for me to write poetry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Over a month ago, I wrote this following poem pondering the value of human life. As the numbers have increased, I can’t become immune to the horror. Thousands of people have died daily because of this pandemic, and it forced me to think about the value of each of those lost.

            In this past month, I’ve watched bizarre behavior on the news and wonder, “what about empathy first for the dying? For those who have lost someone in this tragedy?”

What’s One Person’s Value?

March 27, 2020
 
How do we value one person’s worth?
            How do you gauge a life?

Do we honor each other?
            Treasure each other?
 
One individual’s death
            Sends ripple
                        Across the sphere!
Angels celebrate
            With cheers and tears
Humans lament
            Their loss
These two worlds collide
 
How do we value one gone?
            You had a life
                        A family you loved
                                    Who loved you
                        A spirit
                        A soul
 
Your color doesn’t matter
            Your ethnicity
                        Your religion
                                    Your gender
 
You mattered
            To someone
Their hearts broke at your death!
Mine did, too!
 
Instead of becoming
            Immune to loss
                        During this pandemic,
My heart hurts
            Wide and deep
                        For loss
                        For disruption
                                    For you.
 
Chances are
            You died alone
No loved one held your hand
            Kissed your brow
                        Whispered sweet memories
                                    Into your ear.
 
The horrors
                        The Aloneness
The deaths
                        The losses
Gone
            Never to return!
 
What did we as a world lose
            When you died?
                        What contribution?
                                    What impact?    
          
We will never know!

What do you think—do we value the individual? Does our behavior match our words? I would love to hear your thoughts!


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 234 PRE-ORDERS!  Release date: mid-May! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Coronavirus · Grief · My Thoughts · poetry · Spain

What Does a Month Bring in Our Unusual World?

The numbers increase daily. Today, Sunday, April 26, 2020, at 10:58 pm MST, the world has identified 2,994,349 coronavirus cases! Nearing three million!

World with Stay Home Yellow Sticky

One month ago, today, I did what I do when facing a problem in my world—I started writing poetry to defuse the feelings—to get a perspective. Also like during other tragedies I’ve faced in my life, I didn’t start immediately. I needed time to identify and process the feelings before I could look at a blank sheet of paper and commence! When the words came, again like so many times before, they tumbled out effortlessly, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Woman writing

I wrote the poem below two and a half weeks after returning home from Madrid, Spain and deciding to self-quarantine for two weeks, a month from today. We left Spain on March 8th, and the coronavirus exploded there on the 9th, so Lin and I felt uneasy about the possibilities of our exposure. If exposed, we wanted to be sure not to spread it.

Those two weeks, I didn’t write poetry, but I worked on my current book project. I focused and used this time provided to do various tasks I needed to do to finish the book. But I didn’t capture my feelings in words through poetry—I couldn’t yet. My world was spinning! A friend spoke the word “Fear.” I looked deep inside and realized, “Yeah, that’s it!” In stressful times, I do—whatever needs to be done, then I feel. Yes, I recognized fear as it coursed through my veins. My hands shook; my stomach hurt. My restless sleep left me tired and the repeated dark space during sleep I fell into each night didn’t refresh me. Yes, I dreamed, but no detail remained the next morning—only a feeling of despair and darkness.

Fear, okay, and what else? It took time for me to arrive at other feelings: faith, devastation, panic, empathy, and grief. As you can see, what a mixture I felt scattered wildly, but isn’t that being human? As complicated feeling human beings, we have the capacity to feel a wide range of feelings, and all at the same time!

So, in the coming weeks, I’m going to share my poetry with you. You may be saying to yourself, “Oh, no! I don’t do poetry!” Let me share a suggestion—look for the feeling conveyed then see if it resonates with you. Maybe yes, maybe no, but if you give just a chance, it just might get you!

Fearful woman
Coronavirus Scares Me!

March 26, 2020

I sit here
            In quiet solitude
            A peaceful spring scene
                        Out my window
 
And the world falls apart!
            500,000 cases of the
                        coronavirus now!
 
Jesse, my elderly cat, snuggles close
            Nothing has changed
                        He eats, he pees, poos and
                                    sleeps
 
And the world falls apart!
 
Deaths—
            100’s of them
                        faces of pain fill my thoughts
                        faces of grief flood my heart
                                    Losses too sizeable to count!
 
A world turned upside down
            No, I haven’t lost someone
                        Yet!
 
Will I?
            Who might it be?
                        An elderly dancer?
                                    A young friend?
                                                A relative?
                                                            Me?
 
We all stand at the door
            Of this possibility
                        Who will it be?
                                    I dread that first!

How do you process stressful situations? Create a space place in your world? Share your remedies! Is it poetry? Walking? Artwork? Dancing? What do you do to deal?


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 234 PRE-ORDERS!  Release date: mid-May! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Life Lessons · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Ranching

What Should I Write About This Week?

Sorry, readers, I’m changing horses mid-stream! I’m in the midst of writing a travelogue of our British Isles cruise, but these last couple weeks have been full. I don’t know what the word “bored” means! So. . . here we go! The trip will have to wait a week.

Flippo and Me at CALLERLAB in Albuquerque, 2018

First and foremost—Monday, September 2 is Marshall Flippo’s birthday. He would have 92-years-old this year! Two years ago, Lin and I were with him in Paris, Texas at the annual Chaparral square and round dance weekend, and he was calling for the last time. Flip had called at this event for years! He was on his “Farewell to the Road” tour which would end up in Abilene, Texas to finish up his successful career where he started at the Wagon Wheel Square Dance Center. What a memorable time that was for sure!

I’m writing Flippo’s biography, and I had hoped to have him here to see the finished product, and he so wanted to do that! What a joy this project has been! If you knew Flip, you know he was a storyteller supreme, so I’ve had to drastically cut out some of his stories from the 37 interviews I did.

They are not lost though! I plan to put them on my website for people who buy his book to read, so stay tuned!

Happy birthday, Flippo! We miss your raspy voice, loving heart and quick wit!


On that same vein, yesterday I attended the funeral of John Clark, a dear 98-year-old neighbor, who lived across the street from me in Branson, Colorado. I witnessed my rich heritage in being a part of a loving ranching community that remembers and honors its own.

Yes, 98-years-old is quite elderly, and John had seen the world change unbelievably, but he was ready “to go”—to be with his Lord and loving wife, Betty who passed a couple years ago!

The gathering at his memorial touched my heart. Being a Navy veteran of World War II, two sailors in dress whites unfurled the flag ceremoniously, then refolded it and handed it to John’s youngest daughter with admiration and respect for John’s service to his country. Attendees listened as one of the sailor’s played taps on a bugle which brought tears to my eyes and many sitting around me.

John’s four daughters and their children celebrated his life with many friends from the surrounding ranching communities. I saw mostly cowboy hats held in hands or stashed under chairs and boots, cleaned up and proper to show respect for John.

During an open time to share memories of John, I heard platitudes about his rich, full life. One friend shared one specific story about John almost getting killed during the war if he had been standing where he normally was!

Others told humorous tales. Many honored the work he did for many ranchers in the area—John ran a bulldozer, fixing roads through dangerous canyons and moving miles of dirt from reservoirs. My Dad said watching him work was like poetry in motion!

Grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces shared memories of a man who stood center in this fun-loving family. They talked of regular game nights when they were together in Branson; John didn’t participate but sat in his chair close by and enjoyed the activity, laughter and love that surrounded him.

It was a privilege to be present to see a man weep as he shared about his relationship with John–honest emotion that validated his loss.

After the service, I visited with friends I hadn’t seen for years—a great time to reconnect and remember.

What a heritage I have where I can hear a 91-year-old woman who went to school with my Mom tell an 89-year-old woman, “Say hello to my younger friend!” Laughter exploded at this statement, but it made me think about the reality here! A celebration of age and longevity!

I drove home, marveling at the spirit of unity and love present at John’s service. After Dad died, John and Betty helped Mom. When Mom died, they did the same for me. At night when I locked the front door and saw the light in their bedroom, I always felt safe and secure and knew help was close.


One last musing—my brother, my husband and I attended the 6th Annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering in Cimarron, New Mexico August 22 – 25. We have only missed the first year!

We love this event hosted at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, a beautiful venue. Again, the poets and musicians entertained us Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night. We laughed; we cried. We enjoyed those we had seen before and celebrated new comers who brought a refreshing new flavor to the event.

There’s no way I can list all of my favorite singers/poets—I tried, and I was typing everyone’s names! One new entertainer I enjoyed was Barry Ward, who spoke to my heart with his song, “That Old Barn.”

It’s a relaxing weekend in a slow-paced community. On Friday before the Gathering started, we drove to Eagle Nest to the Flea Market and had a blast shopping and listening to music! They had a one-man entertainer there singing old time songs, so we sat and enjoyed the beautiful Moreno valley scenery and the live music.

Look at a couple photos taken at past Gatherings:

Here’s the website for the Cimarron gathering in case you’d be interested next year: https://www.cimarroncowboygathering.com/

So, you can see—I have a rich, full life where I witness and celebrate life where I can which can be in the midst of death and loss. My country blood rages through my veins, directing me to slow down and enjoy this moment, these people, and this place.

Join me on the front porch!

So, join me on the front porch with a glass of ice tea for a chat! I would love to talk!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

family · Grief · My Thoughts

Aunt Willie Almost Made 99!

Can you imagine living to be 98–a few short weeks of being 99? Think about all the changes you’d see in nine decades.

Me, AW, Jan & Mom Branson
Larada, Jan & Mom Standing & Aunt Willie Sitting

On October 12, 2018, my dear Aunt Willie Urbanoski passed away at 4:20 am at 98 years old. She wanted to make 100 but her God had different ideas. Over the last few years, we referred to her as “The Ever Ready Bunny” because she had been on the brink of death several times and came back to us full of vim and vigor, but when I got the text this time from my cousin, something inside of me shuttered–it didn’t feel the same.

As a child, my brother, Harold couldn’t pronounce Aunt Willie, so he called her “Aunt Wee Wee,” and it stuck. That was her name my whole childhood.

At twelve, I spent a week with her and Uncle Hughie fishing and then on to Albuquerque. She toured me around town to all the sights. I’m sure my love for Albuquerque began on this visit.

The Urbanoski’s attended very major event in my life and my brother’s–graduations,  marriages and more. When I was princess representing Branson High School at the Trinidad State Junior College Tournament, they came and supported me–always they were there for us.

Aunt Willie’s delicious humor kept us laughing right up to our last visit on Sunday, October 7, 2018. I had the habit of talking to Mom every Sunday night on my drive to a meeting, so when Mom died, I asked Aunt Willie if I could call her; she agreed with a twinkle in her eyes.

We anticipated our weekly phone date. We’d catch up on our lives and seasonally, we talked about the success or failure of the Denver Bronco’s. Aunt Willie loved Peyton Manning and wanted the offensive line to protect him more. Other times we’d talk about the dancers on Dancing with the Stars and moan and groan if our couple got kicked off. She loved to hear about Lin and my travels and dancing adventures. She also loved to talk about her three granddaughters and two great grandsons.

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She was my Mom’s older sister by nine years. She had no trouble telling my Mom that she had it made in their family until Mom arrived–Aunt Willie was the only grandchild until then. All my life, they had a close relationship, but I loved to watch these two sisters together, especially later in life after they were widowed–they lived about 20 miles apart for several years and spent as much time together as possible. I marveled at their mutual support during this part of their lives.

Aunt Willie had a special love affair with my husband, Lin. It started the moment they met with lots of flirting and carrying on and lasted even until our last phone call with lighthearted bantering going back and forth between them.

Her life was full and rich–she grew up in northeastern New Mexico in a small community, Des Moines, which she loved. For many years, she organized a yearly reunion for classmates.

She married the love of her life, Hugh Urbanoski and they raised the joy of their lives, Janet, in Albuquerque, NM. Aunt Willie worked and retired from payroll office at Sandia Base. As soon as they could after retirement, Uncle Hughie and Aunt Willie moved to Folsom, NM to be close to their daughter and her family.

For the last few years, I visited Aunt Willie monthly in Pueblo, CO and asked lots of questions because I enjoyed hearing her retell her stories–how she met Uncle Hughie, how she played basketball in school and was accused of drinking alcohol once, how much she enjoyed being a waitress in Raton, NM and so much more.

Losing her has been really hard. As I viewed her body this last Wednesday, I was reminded again that our bodies are temporary homes for our spirits. She looked peaceful, but that lifeless form wasn’t my Aunt Willie–vibrant and giggly and so affirming of me. I will miss her terribly–Sunday nights won’t be the same.


Death is a part of our lives. How do you handle it? I would love to hear your comments!

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