Most people are familiar with the song, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," made famous by Johnny Cash and others. For some reason that song keeps singing in my head.
When someone died in the old days, often their family and friends sat in a circle by a fire. In this song they ask the Lord if some day they will be reunited with them.
Maybe that’s why I keep thinking about circles - not just family circles, but friends too, with a place for each and every one. Does the circle get smaller as we lose loved ones? No, I think the circle gets larger as new people, friends and family, join us - not taking the place of loved ones lost, but adding to them. Everyone is different. The departed one’’ space in the circle isn't empty, for it holds many precious moments of things we shared.
One such person who comes to mind is my friend Alice Richards. Alice was everyone's friend. She was quick to visit, to introduce herself to others, and offer a smile. She was exciting, spontaneous, and never without words. In fact Alice could speak without saying a word.
She loved to sing and dance and made life fun. She left her children, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren with many happy memories, including her love of music and the silly songs she enjoyed, including her version of Chopsticks. She loved the family cabin and its many adventures. Did I say she was spontaneous? Someone would stop by her cabin to say "Hello" – and leave two days later.
Life was an adventure for Alice. If something needed to be tried, she wasn't afraid to try it. Like a trip to Alaska on a motorcycle.
This great lady was a nurse, and a good one. I am sure that her patients quickly felt much better having her take care of them. Once, leaving the doctor’s office after a visit which included some intensive tests, she remarked, "Now wasn't that fun!" Others would have cried and felt sorry for themselves. Not Alice!
Involved in a minor accident, did she get upset? Heck no! Instead she thanked the individual for giving her the opportunity to meet them.
Alice lived on her own terms. Every day was a good day.
When they announced in church that she had died, the entire congregation cried. Once when she danced at the alter during a local talent show, she wondered what God would say. I am sure he smiled.
If heaven has a popularity contest I am sure Alice could be the winner.
Love is real. Sharing it with others gives it value.
A lot of people knew Stella Langlie. Stella knew a lot of people, but not everyone knew the real Stella. She was quick and soft-spoken with nothing but love and admiration for her children and her grandchildren.
She was also a perfectionist, and her love for her husband, Eugene, was evident in the way she always wanted to make him happy, so she made sure things were always better than "good enough.” Like her cookies, everything had to be the best.
Stella was an excellent cook, baker and housekeeper and stylist, but she was still always afraid it was not good enough. She had happy days, but she was hard on herself too, and kept things inside that could have been shared.
She loved people, but she often stood back and let others be in the limelight. She was honest but not outspoken.
She was a granddaughter’s dream. She enjoyed her grandchildren to the fullest and shared their interests, and provided the good times most Grandmas can't provide.
She loved to shop. She enjoyed nice clothes and boy did she love her shoes!
One of two, she and her twin sister, Helen, were so tiny when they were born, they nestled in shoeboxes on the oven door as babies. No incubators back then. That warmth never left her, or the closeness that she shared for her sister and the rest of the family. Different in appearance, but they were close as twins could be all through their growing up years, marriages and children. Most of Stella’s grandchildren were girls, Helen’s were mostly boys. Together they were like one big happy family.
When I think of Stella I think of a tiny person filled with love and tears and thoughts of others. She always considered others before herself. A real-life Barbie doll, stylish, accomplished, fun to be with and loved by all.
Will the circle be broken? No. There will always be a space where Alice and Stella will be part of this circle, now filled with love and memories until we meet again.
Inside every person there is a heart that may stop beating but never stops loving.
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This week’s birthdays and anniversaries include:
• Thursday, Sept. 11: Geoffrey Stieglbauer, Andy Arends, Dawn Misgen Meier, Craig Torgerson, Matthew Mueller, Kathy Nelson, Mark Calverly, Paul & Jo Otto, Steve & Mary Bailey, Leanna & Jared Peterson, Tim & Angie Butler, Brian & Jodi Wayne, Richard & Linda Weckwerth
• Friday, Sept. 12: Porter Kuchenbecker, Stacy Kubiatowicz, Joanne Vanden Heuvel, Chloe Sue Walterman, David Wacek, Robert Kasper, Courtney Thostenson, Nikolas Zimprich, Eric Hunnicutt, Jennifer Wallerich, David Jepson, Tuyen Vu, Kris Klocek
• Saturday, Sept. 13: Jaelyn Elizabeth Mckinney, 2013; Reece Ellingworth Drinkall, 2013; Tali Wayne, Jaxon Richards, Russell Goette, Jason Ingvaldson, James Plunkett, Clifford Tue, Sherre Utpadel, Lisa Zamora, Andrew Zinke, Korey Peterson, Amber Stohr, Lisa Ritz, Ruby Troxel, Ann & Rodney Hamilton, Rhonda & Derike Shelton, Carrie & Brian Farr
• Sunday, Sept. 14: Rick Wangsness, Reece Breidenbach, Issac Wacek, Chris Hanson, Linda Pederson, Jill Peterson, Jack Jensen, Caleb Lunning, Ethan Lunning, Johnny White, Rick & Charlotte Miller
• Monday, Sept. 15: Korbin Wayne, Aiden McClasky, Daniel Hemingway, Ryan Johnson, Nancy Nelson, Tyrel Peterson, Wendy Schultz, Eric Nelson, Jarred Hanson, Dorothy Reichl, Roger & Patty Langlie
• Tuesday, Sept. 16: Evon Damon Lucas, David L. Christenson, Carmen Fetterly, Emily Laudon, Howard & Carrie Peterson, Shane & Kelly Christensen
• Wednesday, Sept. 17: Duane Edwardson, Karen Hemingway Core, Al Routh, Kara Ladlie, Allen Brandt, Sue Tasker, Brock David Routh, Terry & Marlys Van Kampen
• Thursday, Sept. 18: Torsten Wayne, Laura Groth, Carla Scripture, Kevin Christenson, Ron Farr, Chris Larson, Becky Axmann, Laura Davis, Julia Spande, Randy & Cindy Horan, Andrea & Nick Miller, Todd & Mary Wayne, David & Malinda Hanson, Jill & Brian Wolff, Nicholas & Katie Wayne
• Friday, Sept. 19: Vicki Hill Kress, Carol Anderson, David Deml, Ben Cerney, Dan Underland, Kristine Sorenson, Bill Hatch, Jennifer Johnson, Gerald Trandem, Cindy Morris Erickson, Scott & Tracy Tracy, Kelly & David Wacek, Jill & Dustin Johannsen
May your special day be filled with sunshine and smiles.