Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Room With a View

This is the view from my motel room in Fremont, Nebraska
That's a soybean field--and there in the distance, the curve of the Earth.
It's flat here and the eye travels easily to the horizon.

I spent the 30 years of my marriage visiting my in-laws here at least once or twice a year. It's surprisingly different from the countryside in Iowa where I grew up. But I've spent most of my life in big cities, so I can see the Nebraska countryside through city-dweller eyes too. It can look mysterious. Even a bit eerie.

It's a great place to contact aliens.
Or imagine animatronic dinosaurs or skeletal insects devouring the earth.

But I didn't come here this trip to write stories. I came to bid final farewell to my ex-mother-in-law. I made a terrible first impression in 1975. Braless and in short-shorts, I was wild girl with even wilder hair cavorting with the son that was meant for the seminary. 

She and I found common ground though and I treasured her. She was one of the most likable people I've ever met. 

Today after her funeral, after witnessing her ashes put into the ground in her husband's grave, I gave myself a tour of her yard. She gardened with both a reverent and a fanciful hand. She loved "garden junk,"especially and I do too, though most of my own treasures now come from the beach. 

 There's a row of towering evergreens that she planted as tiny saplings.

One summer she requested custom stepping stones with the handprints of her grandchildren.

She burned her trash--but only what could not be composted or recycled. 

Her hard work yielded much beauty. And while the yard certainly is not at the pinnacle of its glory years, her hand is still evident. I stood in front of her tool shed for a bit this afternoon, wanting to open it, but I didn't. She put me to work there during my first visit post divorce. I remember the smell of dirt and oil, but I can't remember what it was she had me do, only that I felt safe there in that small dark space that housed the tools she used to create her art.

Mildred was the most fervently religious person I've ever known. I may have been one of the most irreligious people she ever knew. Yet, somehow I believe that she resides now with her God, the angels and the saints. May she rest in peace. 


Anonymous said...

Hey, Denise,
I remember Mildred well, and she left a strong impression even though our acquaintance was brief. It is very cool of you to go pay your respects, and I am sure she treasured you. My condolences to you, and thanks for the words about her. To travel back to 1975 is a long journey. Love to you.Kath

Ms. Moon said...

I think she will rest in peace.
Oh Denise. One more death for you to go through. I am so sorry.

Elizabeth said...

I'm sending you love, Denise. I'm sorry for your loss.

Joanne said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Peace.

37paddington said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. You honor her with your walk around her precious garden, and your memories.