Another death in Broadwater, a town of 128 people. That is four in three weeks. The walk across the street from my house to the lone church is becoming too regular.
Once again the village's streets were packed with cars; the church full of people, as the wife of the Korean War Vet who passed away three weeks ago herself passed away Tuesday.
My wife (the town Public Library Director, as well as other non-assigned hats like Information Minister and assistant without-portfolio to the Interim Village Clerk) says she fears going to work. It seems every time she goes to the Public Library someone else comes in with news of a death here.
More below . . .
Monday, the previous owner of the home my wife and I now own passed away in Colorado. The news hit our neighbour behind us particularly hard as they were good friends. She was well-liked by all, and when she fell upon hard financial times our former Village Clerk Brandi Livingston even went as far as to pay Mrs. Johnson's water bills for her from her own money.
The wife of the Korean War veteran who passed away three weeks ago or so died Tuesday from health complications. The general consensus around the village is that she and her husband (who were married longer than I have been alive) were supporting each other as their health declined. She passed away from her long-term health issues.
My wife and I had visited her only two days before; she has been intermittently staying between a nursing home and her own home. We spent about an hour with her, while many people shuffled in and out to visit.
She lived across the street from the Village Hall/Public Library. My wife runs the village bookmobile (that is, she walks around town delivering books to those who have difficulty getting to the Library). Mrs. Stopher was of course her first stop.
When Mrs. Stopher was feeling well she would ofttimes walk across the street to the Library to spend the afternoon reading, chatting, and visiting.
Then suddenly, my wife heard the news at the Library: she was gone.
Wednesday, her identical-twin sister called me at my house to ask that the Village Hall be opened for the monthly meeting of the irrigation canal board. She also asked that my wife pass on the information that she would not be at the board (because her sister's death had not yet been announced). She is the chairwoman of that board. When she did pass that information, the board was stunned: they'd not yet heard.
Most of her family, almost all of whom live out-of-state were back in town yesterday only a few weeks after being here before. Several came to the library Friday asking directions to the Starr Street Diner (which happens to be next door), where the village was holding a private dinner for her family.
The service was moving as the minister recounted humorous vignettes of her life. The church was packed, and the Village Board of Trustees and employees of the town were once again in the back of the church as we said good-byes in our own ways (four trustees are Christians, my wife and I are atheists, as is the interim village clerk and maintenance mechanic).
Afterward the church held a pot-luck luncheon for those that attended the funeral; people from across the Nebraska Panhandle and Eastern Wyoming were on hand.
Of note, the husband of our recently-deceased Village Clerk was on the serving line with foodstuffs brought by his own family barely two weeks after her own funeral in the same church. The village rallies around its own, even those that are still hurting from recent loss.
Our neighbour and her son were both devastated: Mrs. Stopher was her best friend in town. Her son (also on the Public Library Borad) has been helping with her gardening and lawn care for years.
Afterward I called my step-father, a veteran of the Vietnam War, to unload my own pain over her loss and seek guidance. He noted that ofttimes people of the same cohort or graduating class or age group in a community will all pass away at the same time; he also noted he graduated the same year as she did.
The issue also put me in mind of my own mortality afterwards, as I am the second-oldest living person in my family (only my mother is older). My remaining direct family consists of my mother, myself and my wife, my sister and her wife, and my son from my first marriage.
The village will in time heal; for now though, the loss of four people in such a short span hurts all. Lorraine Stopher will be missed. Her obituary is in the Scottsbluff Star-Herald