Honoring Their Memory

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January 29, 2001:  A belated Happy New Year! I have been offline for a few weeks due to the demise of my modem. Titania, my computer, has been on life-support until this week when my new Starband Internet connection was installed. So many changes have occurred, my head is in something of a whirl. 

As you now know, The Lair web has a new home. I have obtained a lot more space so I can begin to add to my galleries. It will take me a while to feel comfortable with the changes, but I am glad to be back online, and online 24 hours a day, at that, with much faster speeds than when I had to depend on a modem and the local telephone lines and a local ISP. 

The weather here at The Lair the last few days has consisted of the thickest fog I have ever seen and precipitation ranging from mist to heavy thunderstorms complete with hail. I have not been outside at all to roam around the land. 

Christmas did not turn out quite the way I had hoped. We had a nice Christmas visit with Ed and Jene, and then the weather turned nasty, with predicted icy roads. Jene and Ed departed before the really bad weather came in and Tresa and Mitch managed to get here safely, but to our intense disappointment, Camilla's connecting flights were all cancelled due to icy conditions and she was not able to come; it took her sixteen grueling hours to get from Atlanta back to her home in Virginia.  I got sick, but managed for the most part to stay on my feet. We enjoyed Mitch and Tresa's visit. Then of course, the day after my computer guru Mitch left, my modem turned up its toes and died just because it wanted to do that. 

 I turned a year older, and then Tresa and I went to New Iberia, La., to meet Lynette to dismantle and clean out the house of our aunt Willa who died in November. It was very hard work and we shared lots of laughter and some tears. Lynette, Ed and I agreed we don't know what we would have done without my efficient daughter-in-law Tresa, who organized and problem solved and kept us from getting bogged down in sentimentality as we went through Willa's belongings. She worked circles around the rest of us. She also packed our boxes as Ed and Lynette and I divided heirlooms among us. We donated a huge number of boxes of goods and some furniture to St. Francis' Diner, an organization that feeds over 300 indigent people every day, for their fund-raising bi-monthly garage sales that support the Diner. I think it would have pleased Willa to know that she was helping to feed many people.

New Iberia is a lovely little La. French-country city that has all the charm of the deep South: moss-strewn oak trees and ante-bellum homes, excellent south Louisiana cuisine. While there I ate seafood gumbo, shrimp and pasta, crawfish stew and an oyster loaf. The only thing I missed was my favorite, fried soft-shell crabs. I felt so sad as we left New Iberia; I have been visiting there since I was a tiny baby, for our most significant extended family lived there. Now they are all gone, and I probably will not return. 

Most of my relatives there, including my Dad, were of the Catholic faith. We found several rosaries belonging to Willa and her husband Claude, her sister Lottie, and our grandmother, Anna Charlotte Erath Kramer. They were lovely, all with beautiful sterling silver crosses engraved with their names. Several had broken chains so while we were there we took them to Rosary House to have them repaired. Some of the women who helped us  knew Willa and we had a wonderful exchange with them, learning the meaning of the different kinds of rosaries, the significance of various styles and symbols. We are all protestant, and they were curious about why we wanted the rosaries. We told them how we remember our grandmother visiting us at Bend Field and that first thing every morning after breakfast, she would go out on the porch to the rocking chair and say her rosary and read her devotionals in her prayer book, and that we remember how Dad would kneel down by his bed every night as he said his rosary, and we treasure the rosaries as symbols of their faith and what they meant to us. Eva, one of the ladies repairing the rosaries said it so well, "So they prepared the way for your faith, didn't they?" Yes. They did just that.

When I got home I decided to set up a special sacred space in memory the members of my family who were Catholic and who were from New Iberia. They were devoted not only to Jesus, but to Mary, whom they called "The Blessed Mother," so I bought the most beautiful statue of Mary I could find and used a velvet cloth from my great grandparents' house and arranged my Uncle Claude's faceted jet bead rosary on one side, Willa's lovely crystal rosary with the exquisite sterling open-work cross and medal (a type that is no longer made, the ladies at Rosary House told us) in the middle, and Lottie's sterling silver rosary on the other side, along with a card displaying their names. Here is the altar:

Memorial Altar

and here is the card naming those I am honoring and remembering:

memorial card

Making this altar helped turn my sadness into sweet memories of those who had loved my brother and sister and me so very much.

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Last revised: November 26, 2010

Copyright 2001-2010 Rheba Kramer Mitchell. All rights reserved.