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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Foretelling the Future

© Another Day in the Country

It was John Heiser’s funeral this past week in Herington, where he and his wife had lived.

I remember John as being a Ramona boy. His family lived just down the road from where my father was farming at the corner of Pawnee and the Tampa Road.

The family asked Jess and me to sing at the service and as we drove over to Herington I was telling Jess about how those familiar family names that surround you as a child are something you remember the rest of your life.

I was about to go into first grade when my parents moved away from Ramona; and I will always remember the people that lived on the road that led into town. Next to us were the Socolosky’s, I knew Jim — he was about my age. It was the kids that I tracked — even if they were a little older. John Heiser lived next and then there was Susie Bruntz’s place by the railroad tracks — she wasn’t a child, she was my mother’s cousin, and then Duane Fike’s house at the corner.

If you turned left at the corner then, you’d be at my cousin Carolyn’s house and when you turned right, by the cemetery, is where Grandma and Grandpa Ehrhardt lived. And then it was into town to Strickler’s store, where Uncle Vern worked and across the road was Georgia Berger’s restaurant where Grandpa would often take me on a Saturday night to get an ice cream cone.

I knew my way to Ramona and I knew my way home. I never forgot either one.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like in life to know the future. What if, at the age of 5, or 6, or 7, someone would have said to me, “Many years from now, you and your sister will go to a Baptist church in Herington and sing at the funeral of John Heiser, this tall gangly boy that you think is so nice.” I wouldn’t have known how to take it all in, comprehend the idea of 60 or 70 years in the future.

At the service, I was so pleasantly surprised to meet children and grandchildren of the kids I used to know from that long-ago, long-gone, church in Durham — although I believe the building is still there.

Neva Heiser’s daughters were there. I remembered Neva at church because she would sit beside me and give me little things to play with, amuse me while oldsters talked.

Mrs. Bartel’s daughter came up and spoke to me. It was like Old Home Week. The Bartels used to pick my mother up and take her to church with them in Enterprise after we brought her back to live in Ramona 15 years ago. That friendship of old and trusted friends meant so much to my Mom.

That’s sort of what it felt like at John’s service — a bunch of friends gathering together to tell stories, cry and laugh together. It was wonderful!

Who in their right mind would say that a funeral service was wonderful? Once again, if someone had said to me, anywhere along my long life, “Some day you’re going to go to John’s funeral and enjoy the fellowship,” I would have said, “Right,” with that unbelieving tone in my voice. I guess that’s why we don’t know the future. We probably wouldn’t believe how terribly, wonderful, and surprising, it could be. It just taxes our imagination to think of being 80 and feeling young still. Or to go to what most would consider a sad event and smile at the blessing … especially for someone like me.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t even imagine ever having a sibling. In fact, I wasn’t sure I even wanted one by the time she arrived. She seemed to be a lot of responsibility when I was 12.

And if the fortune teller would have told me, “You and your little sister are going to move back to Ramona when you are lots older. You’ll even bring your parents back to live there someday. You are going to operate a Bed and Breakfast — in Ramona of all places — and you’ll have such fascinating guests. One day you’ll even be the Mayor of Ramona.” I wouldn’t have believed a word of it.

But we did it, and here we are spending another day in the country.

Last modified April 3, 2019

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