I really did come downstairs to my computer to blog Wednesday night. But first I checked the emails, and there was a paragraph I wrote to a speakers’ newsletter that had been picked up by another writer. (The speakers’ newsletter is free, but we are supposed to “pay” for it with a tip occasionally, and I had sent my first tip to the newsletter.) Excited that someone had liked it, I forwarded it to our kids.
We have a family yahoo group, where all of us get our emails. A couple of our children were online and started emailing in response. This is one of my favorite things because usually it is late at night and everyone is a little slap happy. Naturally I think my children are very witty, so I love it when they start emails flying back and forth amongst us that crack me up.
After a couple funny responses, suddenly our son came online and asked if we knew that Mark Mocaby had had a massive stroke and died in Tupelo, Mississippi. The flurry of emails increased but went from being silly to being very sad. Mark, 47, was in Jeannie’s class, and she had thought so much of Mark. Evidently everyone did—the kids in the classes above him and below him in age. Mary Ellen remembered that all through high school, Mark had been in love with Mary Ann from Mississippi—much to the dismay of the local girls.
Once again I was tired and now sad and I forgot all about blogging. Our email grief expression was still continuing today. Mary Ellen, who had wanted to come to his funeral, had found out it was in Mississippi tomorrow, but Mark would be buried here at Mt. Pleasant up in the Poor-Do neighborhood, but we don’t know when.
Then as Gerald and I were finishing lunch, our next-door neighbor Scott phoned. A terrible accident had happened in our neighborhood. Scott and Sonja saw the fire truck, ambulance, and Air Evac helicopter go by, but Gerald and I had not. They had followed and like several other neighbors had been led to our dear friend Chester Turner’s farm. Chester, a widower who lost who only son shortly after the Viet Nam War, is a community favorite.
At 90 plus years, he still rides his horse to the Sikeston Rodeo over in Missouri each year. (Of course, he has some assistance and watch care from his very special horse-riding buddy Robin Roberts, who despite having her hands full with her in-laws’ illnesses and her photography studio, cannot stand the thought that anyone can not still ride if they love to do so as much as she does.)
Estes Hosman, a friend of Chester’s son and now like a son to Chester, had come over to help Chester cut down a bad limb from a tree in the back field. Chester was urging Estes to stop and let the wind complete the job when Estes said he would make one final attempt to cut through. He succeeded, and the limb somehow someway bounced up and hit him and killed him.
Neighbors and friends were pouring in throughout the afternoon knowing they could do nothing to ease Chester’s grief but at least he was not alone with it. Some, of course, were going to be with Estes’ wife Cheryl. Our neighbor across the road, who had gone through school with Estes and Cheryl, phoned sobbing to make sure we had heard the sad news.
In a small rural community like ours, one of the things I have observed is that everyone has so many connections to everyone else. Thus, when a tragedy like this happens, a multitude of people are deeply affected. Not just Estes and Cheryl’s classmates, but all of the classmates of Estes and Cheryl's two daughters, Jamie and Lori, will be grief-stricken for their friends.
Just as the entire community was devastated a few decades ago when Estes’ father was a victim of a coal mine disaster. Other miners in our community risked their lives trying to get his body out until they were forbidden to continue. He remains entombed there. And then we were grief stricken when Chester and Maribel’s only child was killed in a car accident after safely surviving Viet Nam. Later the community was saddened when Estes’ mother died of cancer. The ties and relationships between people in a rural community are varied and deep.
Our Mary Ellen had to call her friend Stacia in Oklahoma because Stacia used to baby sit Estes and Cheryl’s daughters. Of course, she was saddened for her classmate Bruce, Estes' nephew. Our son Gerry, who was friends with both Chester and Estes, immediately said he must arrange to come home even though he was at the airport getting ready to depart for California and fly back tomorrow. Oddly, before he got on the plane, he had a text message that the tournament was called off, and suddenly he was free to drive back home and absorb this loss and see if he can work it out to come up.
Crab Orchard community is a sad place tonight, and I am only too aware that life is often short and very precious to those who love those lives.
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