Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Very Roloff Sunday

Faithful Reader, I told you yesterday that this morning would be an early one for me, and now I'll tell you why: the girls and I got up around 5:00 A.M. to head north and visit my relatives' graves, and decorate my mom's, for Memorial Day.  Each year my sisters and I take turns providing flowers for Mom's grave, and this year was my turn.  Susan stayed behind to attend the commencement ceremony this afternoon at the school where she teaches (and is a senior class advisor), so it was a trip for just the girls and me today.  In addition to visiting cemeteries, we also visited out-of-state relatives who are in Williston for a few days.  All the details--and photos, naturally--are here:

The girls and I picked up some hot chocolate and coffee on our way out of town and hit the Interstate in order to take Hwy 85 north.  Normally we'd drive on Hwy 22 straight north of Dickinson, but a section of that highway has slid away (!) due to intense oil field truck traffic and high ground moisture from a very wet spring.  Getting around in western ND these days is always an exercise in guessing which route will have the fewest number of trucks traveling it and the fewest number of potholes or sections of severely broken pavement to contend with.  We opted to drive west to Belfield, north to Watford City, west and north to Williston, north and east to Tioga, and then north and east to Battleview, where my mom's cemetery is located.

North of Grassy Butte but south of Watford City, the beautiful Badlands of southwest ND offer gorgeous sights no matter the season.  We snapped some pics of the clouds floating near the tops of the hills.  Click on this photo to enjoy it in greater detail.
Just south of Williston, Hwy 85 crosses the Missouri River, which is currently flooded with extra water from unusually high amounts of rain and melting snow coming in from MT.  Click on this photo (and then click on it again to magnify it) for a larger version and look for the red arrow, which marks where the actual river bank is . . . and then you'll understand how much of this water is not where it belongs but is instead covering park land, fields, pastures, etc.

The Misouri River feeds into Lake Sakakawea, from which the Army Corps of Engineers must now release water to control damage to the Garrison Dam . . . and downstream from the dam lies Bismarck, ND, whose residents are bracing for flooding that is expected to last for two to three months!  It's not pretty.
On the east side of Mom's headstone, we placed this wreath (with a banner that says "Mom") and two pink bouquets.  Then we walked around and visited the graves of other Mobergs and Aunes (my paternal grandmother's family) before returning for some final conversation with Mom.
Here are Mom's granddaughters posing at the west side of Mom's headstone (our flowers are on the other side).  We shed many tears as we talked about our regrets (wishing that Mom had lived to get to know her grandchildren) and our happy memories (they like to hear me tell about what kind of mother she was).  They like to hear stories, too, about the other relatives as we walk around the cemetery.  We spent maybe an hour-and-a-half walking around, examining headstones, admiring flowers, asking questions, and telling stories.  That might not seem like everybody's idea of a good time, but it's a good way to teach the girls to honor the deceased and to inform them about their ancestors.
After we left Mom's cemetery, we took the gravel roads to the cemetery at Scandia, a country church at which my maternal grandparents and other relatives are buried.  On the way there, I pulled over and traded places with Suzanna, letting her drive several miles on the country roads.  At home, she has been practicing backing out of the garage and driving into it, but this was her first experience actually driving.  The traffic was minimal (we met one oil field truck), but the roads were a wreck (again: the high volume of oil field truck traffic), so Suzanna got a little practice dodging potholes, managing ruts, meeting oncoming vehicles, turning corners, and parking.  She did very well!
After we had walked around the Scandia cemetery and shared stories about those relatives, I drove us back to Williston, where we ate fast food for a late dinner.  Then we drove over to my aunt Lucille's house to visit my mom's sisters.  Lucille lives in Williston, so we see her occasionally (see this and this).  It is rarer to see Marcella, who lives in WA, and Adeline, who lives in KS--so, because they're both visiting Lucille for a few days, I phoned Lucille last week and arranged to stop by today.

Abigail, Shirley, Hillary, Duane, Adeline, and Suzanna.  Adeline is the second-oldest of the four Roloff sisters, and she is married to Duane, who is a brother of Shirley, who was once married to Adeline's youngest brother Lawrence.  The girls' minds were boggled when I explained in advance that a brother and sister from one family had married a sister and brother from another.  "Isn't that illegal?" asked Hillary.
And here I am with Shirley (who is not only my aunt but also my godmother), Duane, and Adeline.
Abigail, Hillary, Lucille, and Suzanna.  Lucille is the second-youngest of the four Roloff sisters (my mom was the youngest).  She has lived in Williston or Tioga most of my life, so I have seen her more frequently than her sisters.  Lucille's son Jerry lives in Williston and stopped by for a bit this afternoon, so we got to see him, too.  Her daughter Jane passed away some years ago but had given Lucille some pretty baby-sized dolls, and Lucille asked the girls to take those dolls home with them today.  So generous and thoughtful!
And here I am with Lucille.
Hillary, Abigail, Marcella, and Suzanna.  Marcella is the oldest of the four Roloff sisters.  She and her family used to live in Williston, so I saw them a lot while growing up.  For many years now, they have lived in WA.  The older Marcella gets, the more she looks like her mom, which makes it a double-treat to see her (because it's almost like seeing Grandma Roloff again).
And here I am with Marcella.
We had a very nice visit this afternoon.  The girls enjoyed re-meeting my aunts and uncle and hearing stories as they and I shared memories.  Here's an unusual detail: my aunts (and my mom) all have similar hands--fingers shaped the same, equally soft and warm to the touch--so holding their hands brings back sense memories for me of holding Grandma's hands or Mom's hands.  I also see in their facial features or mannerisms hints of Mom's appearance or actions, so it's an especially warm feeling to be in their midst.  Plus they're very caring and funny women.  After a pleasant afternoon spent with them, the girls and I hit the road to return home, driving through light rain the entire way--melancholy weather that was appropriate for reflections on my deceased mother and other relatives and on the passage of time in general.  Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. Awwww! GREATTTT pictures! And you're right. Marcella does look alot like Grandma R. It's only been a few years since I saw Adeline as I had been to Wichita in 2008, twice, for the weddings of her granddaughters, Sandi and Kari.
    But it's been many more since I saw Marcella, and only last summer since I visited with Lucille. Love to catch up with them!
    The flowers were very pretty on Mom's grave.