Recently I went to Wisconsin to attend a memorial service for my niece, Teri. The trip up was during winter storm Peggy [another of my nieces is named Peggy], but the trip up and back wasn’t as tricky as turning into entrances, where I had to be towed after getting stuck. Maybe my Civic wasn’t the best choice for winter driving. The sliding and driving on some snow-packed roads was still worth it. I heard from two pastors, during the service, how Teri really had accepted Jesus and the changes in her life because of this commitment. Attending a memorial service for a person who accepted Christ often is more of a celebration of life and filled with hope.
Since moving from Wisconsin many years ago, my number of trips back each year have decreased, especially since the deaths of my parents and in-laws. Trips weren’t always timed around the times my relatives and friends were available, so I often didn’t see them for years, even decades. So, it was a time to catch up on how their lives had changed. I was happy to hear that of Teri’s two girls, one just opened a beauty salon, and the other was one semester of school away from becoming a registered nurse.
In a past Write Team column I had said that a title I prize greatly is that of uncle. I have a different set of activities that I do with each of my nephews, and am pleasantly surprised with the characters of my nieces. My great-nieces and nephews sometimes follow the pattern of interaction that I have with their parents, but not always. Teri’s two girls and boy had been taken away from her due to neglect when they were fairly young. The wonderful foster-mother [Donna], who adopted all three children after agreeing to be their foster parent, was also at the service. This kept the three siblings together. I hadn’t seen Donna or the three children in many years.
Donna allowed family to see the kids before and after she adopted them. So, I also got to know her two biological children. They were as wonderful to my great-nieces and nephew as Donna was.
When I visited, I tended to get a quite a few cookies from a cookie factory and bring them the treats. During one visit, I also brought a ream of lined paper that children used to use to learn to write their letters. Both of the girls remembered this, and especially referenced me by the cookies.
With the virus spreading in Wisconsin, and the considerable number of my relatives having contracted it, I decided to go up without my wife Marie. The storm hitting after I left concerned me, but she reassured me that she would leave the shoveling to me when I returned. Easily making it in our driveway and to our garage was a relief. Reuniting with Marie made the trip even more special.
Rodney Verdine, hated a little less by his brother-in-law, but loved by his wife, Marie, can be reached at tsloup@shawmedia,com