Memories to fill a lifetime

Miriam Nelson

“I’ve known her since I was born.” Those are usually words you can say at someone’s funeral when you grow up and live in a small town. For many, that means that they’re related; for others, it means they were good neighbors or friends.

I hadn’t gone to many funerals when I lived in Minneapolis during my adult years. I had never been able to say that at any of those I attended.

On Saturday, I was able to go to the funeral of a woman who had known me all my life. For the first eight years of my life, our families lived on the property where my dad and her husband worked.

With acres of countryside to roam, we kids had a glorious, seemingly unsupervised playground. I’m sure she and my mom kept a watchful eye on all of us kids as no one ever seemed worse for the wear. Maybe a bandage for a scrape or two, but no broken bones, as I recall.

Back then, I think more people embraced the “it takes a village to raise a child” attitude. Rarely was there a parent hovering over us because there was always someone nearby to keep us in line or to go to if we needed help. Parents seemed a bit more interchangeable.

It has been almost 15 years since I moved back home. In some ways, it feels like I never left. In other ways, it feel like I’m still catching up on those missing 25 years.

One thing I hadn’t thought much about before moving home was having the opportunity to get to know all of these family and friends as adults and away from the mother and father figures so important in my childhood memories.

Going to a concert or out to lunch, or taking someone to a doctor appointment were things I could do now that I was home again. It’s fun to be able to make new memories as an adult to blend with those from your childhood.

At the funeral, one of the daughters spoke on behalf of herself and her four siblings. She shared special memories of family and friends. She’s an eloquent speaker and wove in a lot of good humor, a beloved family trait.

I know it’s not always comfortable for some to share stories in front of a lot of people, but I always appreciate those who do. When pastor opened up the service for a time of sharing, I knew I wanted to be a part of that experience.

As I was making my way up to the lectern, the daughter who spoke whispered I had a “captive audience.” This triggered a muffled giggle from me. I tried to concentrate on what stories to bring up and passed another sister who whispered, “We’re in trouble now,” so now I’m in a full-on giggle and had to explain myself before I even got started!

It’s not everyone who can say, “I got heckled at a funeral.” But when you are fortunate enough to have friends you have known since birth, it’s as good as it gets, and that good is some kind of wonderful.

Go with the flow, dear Rachel, and let the wind blow.