Friday, August 30, 2013

Visiting My Roots

We had Grandpa's funeral service back at the family farm in Wisconsin. My grandpa actually came from Illinois, but Wisconsin is where my grandma was from, and where they both taught early on in their marriage. My grandparents are buried side by side in a beautiful country cemetery overlooking the fields my grandma walked across as a child, to attend the same school at which she would one day teach, and my grandpa would be the principal.

After the ceremony, we had the now-famous balloon release where the wind blew the balloons into a tree. It was a fittingly humorous send-off for a man who loved to laugh at the absurd. Even if the funeral staff probably did think we were a few eggs short of a dozen as we cackled hysterically!

It was a beautiful, restful time of family and reminiscing, visiting all the old spots and chatting with relatives we get to see every decade or so. And of course, stopping by the farm--not my grandma's farm, which burned down years ago---but the farm run for years by her niece, Dorothy, and Dorothy's husband, Charles.

My cousin is in her 80's now and most of the work is done by her children and their children, but Dorothy still comes down every day to help. While we were visiting, I was wandering around the farm taking pictures and saw, in the dim barn, a farm hand spryly mucking out the gutters. It was only later, when I saw her up close, that I realized the "farm hand" was my elderly-in-name-only cousin.

This is Exhibit A as to why I never wanted to be a farmer's wife---I'm not tough enough! Unless I had 20 kids to take over the work so I could retire early---and after 20 kids, I'd NEED to retire!

However, the farm is a lovely place to visit, especially for kids. My grandparents would always visit there on furloughs, and for my mom, "exotic" meant cow pies in Wisconsin, not the humdrum beaches of Waikiki. She passed that same attitude onto each succeeding generation and we all wear our visits to the farm as badges of honor.

Whenever I visit the farm, I always visit my namesake, descendants of my cow-sister, Tina. When I first visited the farm in the 90's, the family named a cow in my honor. She's long-since passed to her reward, but her daughters' daughters' daughters are still there and producing children every year. This year's crop was especially cute, and I do think there's a resemblance....

Going back to one's roots is a time for personal development and self-discovery. I discovered I am NOT the cow-whisperer, because young Tina would have nothing to do with me until I bribed her with some hay. And even then, you could see she considered the whole affair iffy business.

I also got to pillage a few small items from the spot where my grandma's old home used to be. My cousin owns it now, and he generously game permission for me to forage a bit. This is the old stone foundation of my grandma's barn, the selfsame rocks on which my mother mashed her foot, when the horse got too close to the wall.

 I came home with an old rusty bed, the battery case from an ancient car, and 3 classic soda pop bottles.

  Tiggy was thrilled to be able to carry the bed frame out of the jungle.

Thrilled, I tell you. (I'm training her to be a sherpa)

The whole family had a wonderful time, even my mom, who broke her foot 45 minutes before the funeral was due to start. A very big thank you to the wonderful friends and family who took such good care of us and generously opened their hearts and homes to us (not to mention feeding us such delicious food!). We really will have to do this again soon, preferably without someone dying first!


  1. Beautiful photographs, Tina. It was so much fun getting to meet you!

  2. Glad you were able to back to visit the old place so there were good memories as well as the sad.