For 10 days in June of 1998, Bog and I took our trusty (almost rusty from lack of use) bikes and toured the highways, byways and what turned out to be snowmobile trails of Michigan and Wisconsin. We tried to stick to Wildlife Refuges with the bikes and to paved roads with the car, but MI has a tendency to label snowmobile trails with county road signs and numbers. Fortunately, our Subaru Outback has all wheel drive so we never got stuck, and the only flat tires we got were on our bikes, which are easier to change. However, two sandhill cranes got stuck in front of us as we drove down a very narrow, snowmobile trail with dense woods on either side. The birds couldn't fly into or over the trees; all they could do was fly along in front of us. There was no place to turn around, so birds and Bogers just kept going straight. Finally, there was an opening in the trees and one bird took advantage of it. We chased the other for another mile or so until it, too, found an escape. Hope the two birds found each other again. We saw lots of other winged creatures on our bike rides, including tons of mosquitoes and deer flies. But mostly it was enjoyable. We returned in mid-June so Bog could start Summer Orientation and Registration.
On June 29th, 1998, Janie's 95-year-old grandmother died. The funeral was held in the Washington, DC area and attended by many of Allie's approximately 30 grandchildren and 60 great grandchildren. The procession of her descendants into the church must have been impressive, but there weren't many friends or non-family members to observe it.
Janie and Bog could not attend because they were enroute to Ohio, where Bog's almost 95-year-old uncle was in the hospital. He had been planning to die on his 95th birthday, July 5, but lasted 9 days longer. His funeral was quite the opposite of Allie's because Uncle Buck had only 2 family members: Bog and Bog's Mother. The widow had been in an assisted care facility for about a year and would have been unable to attend a funeral, although she did make it to the hospital to see him a few days before he died. Buck had expressly stated there were to be no calling hours, no services, no graveside ceremony - just cremation and burial of the urn. We don't know whether he even wanted an obituary in the paper, but he got a small one.
Much more time was needed to dispose of Buck's house and its contents. He had studied to be a doctor, but ran out of money. After graduating from Ohio State University in about 1933, he taught high-school chemistry in Dayton until about 1948 when he built a drive-in theater in Lancaster. He owned and operated that business for nearly 50 years. So the house was full of old textbooks, numerous engines and experiments and paraphernalia of a scientific mind, and boxes and drawers and stacks of account books, ledgers, receipts, etc. from Skyview Theater.
Much of the stuff hadnt been looked at or opened for decades; we had to wear masks to keep from choking on the dust and gloves to peel away the cobwebs and insect carcasses. It was an interesting trip down memory lane for some of us, but not all of the memories were good ones. Bog's parents worked with Buck building the theater after which they ran the concession stand, mowed the grounds, picked up the trash from the previous night's performance, and helped fix everything that broke. They even lived in a trailer that was parked behind the snack bar. Bog helped with the mowing and cleaning as soon as he was old enough, but was never trusted enough to do much of the fixing. Or else Bog got smart as he got older and moved away before he was roped into the more dangerous or disgusting repair jobs.
The more intriguing bits of memorabilia were pictures and diaries from road trips out West taken in the early 1930's. Bog and Janie complain about rough roads and uncomfortable sleeping arrangements and bad food during their travels today. Ha, Buck and his companions were traveling where there were no roads and no motels and no fast food joints at every freeway exit! But the places they visited were familiar, at least in name: Yellowstone, Cody, Shoshone, Delicate Arch, Grand Tetons
Trying to decide what to keep and what to discard was an education. We joked that as soon as we threw away something, someone would ask us for it, even though it might not have been disturbed for 50, 60, or 70 years. Sure enough, the woman at the Social Security office said first thing, "Where's the Marriage license?" It had been laying in a pile of "things we should keep" for a few days, then it got switched to the pile of "things a second-hand dealer might be interested in", then it went to the "things only a trash man would want" pile and finally it was thrown into the "get this stuff out of my sight" pile, which then got hauled away out of sight. Turns out that piece of paper more than doubled the benefits Buck's widow was getting in her own name. It is also very valuable to Bog's mother, who is the trustee of the estate, and therefore responsible for paying for the widow's board and care. Fortunately, Bog's mother remembered where and when the marriage had been held and the county courthouse still had a record of it.
We did all that we could think of to get the estate settled and finally returned to Naweedna. Bog and Janie had been in Ohio for 1 week, home for 2 weeks, then back to Ohio for 1.5 weeks, but Bog's mother had been in Ohio for 4.5 weeks and was more than ready to be back in her own home. All three of us vowed to go through our closets, drawers, nooks and crannies and throw out unnecessary stuff so that our heirs won't have to.
As they say in that old song, "Don't save your kisses; pass them around."
Enjoy whatever time you have on Earth. And remember: There's no gift like the present.