Friday, March 8, 2013

We The People

My parents, this month, left the frigid north for a visit to the warmer south.  They don't make the trip often. It was a granddaughter's wedding that got them moving but once out they get the most from their road trip.  I am stop number eight on their nine stop tour.

My folks live in a rural community where my father was born and grew up, thirty miles from where my mother grew up.   I lived in the same community until an industrial accident caused us to move when I was 14.  My parent's returned to the same homestead 20 years ago and retired there.

Their roots are deep; active members in the Congregational Church, the American Legion, Historical Society and the Seniors Association. They are a part of a close knit community that expresses a life dreamed of, written about, yearned for...and common in towns across our country.

They shared this story, a perfect reflection of the lives that knit the fabric of America.

Ed, 58, was a local truck driver, divorced and living with Ellen, 56, in the small town.  They lived on little spending their meager earnings and socializing regularly in the corner pub.  Ed died of cancer with only Ellen and a few dollars to mark his passing.

Jerry, a member of the community who knew Ellen's circumstances, called my Dad, the Commander of the American Legion and shared that Ed was a vet.  Jerry knew that Ed was never active in the local chapter but perhaps the American Legion could help out.

My father contacted Ellen and learned that the hospice chaplain would perform the funeral service. Through her grief he visited with Ellen about Ed's life in order to write an obituary and send it to the paper. He also offered the Legion building for the location of the funeral.

Phone calls to fellow Legion members procured a guitar player to provide music for the service. Women of the legion provided and served the meal. Another member searched the web and published a funeral pamphlet highlighting Ed's military career including the history of the ship he served on.

The Legion Honor Guard honored Ed 's passing with a twenty-one gun salute.
In a manner of those communities we idealize, they took care of their own.

There is often a caring community that counts us as a member but we don't fully realize what that means until those souls are the only ones who show up at our door with food, encouragement or the staples we need to make it another day.

Or perhaps you are the member that sees the need and steps up to offer your hand.  We all make up the threads that knit our neighborhoods and towns together.

What close knit communities are you a part of?

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  1. Sally, read this right after coming home from another funeral in that small community you wrote about. This time the funeral was for a life long resident, one of those men who quietly are the forces behind so much. He was only 71 -- too young. He will be so missed by the church and so many other groups.
    Miss your parents and pray they will return safely.

  2. What a wonderful story showcasing rural America. I too grew up in that kind of community and we all knew when someone had a need someone provided....

    Your parents sound like wonderful caring people and what examples for the young people of today....

  3. This is just wonderful....what we all dream of being a part of and yet it starts with us. We all need community...and the loss of it is felt by all.

  4. It's always nice to hear a good human interest story for a change. Sad to hear of Ed's passing of course, but glad some support came out of it for Ellen.

    Have a great rest of the weekend,