Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tragedy in North Dakota, do I tell mom?

Today I learned that Mom's home town was burned to the ground - the WHOLE town. It was a little wide spot in the road surrounded by farms.  There was only a grain elevator, a small Lutheran church and a few old houses left. The school, small shops and half the houses were abandoned and turn down long ago.   The heart breaking thing is that two homes consumed by the fire belonged to my great grandfather and my great aunt and uncle.  The homes were old and sat near large old barns, corals and small out buildings.  It was like going "home" for my mom and for me.    Though the town had seen more prosperous times, we could still go there and feel the presence of our elders.  A few years ago when my husband and I drove from the mid-west to the north-west we stopped to see the farm. Though the house was locked up, we sat on the front porch and had a picnic.   I could see my great grand fathers hat and jacket hanging near the door like it had for the last 25 years, as though he'd just left.  For supper we traveled to my cousins to have "hot dish" and salad.   That won't be possible any more, there is nothing left at either place.

My brother and I spoke a bit tonight about whether we should tell Mom. I think she'll probably know all about it soon. She watches the news and reads every syllable of the paper so it won't escape her.  I know she'll feel so very badly and she has no one to discuss it with; she's the only one left of her immediate family; all of her aunts and uncles have passed and most of her cousins.  She can't hear on the phone any longer so I can't even console her that way.  I think I'll call a former neighbor who sees her weekly and ask if she can let me know if Mom's heard the news.  Then I can send some flowers and a letter and see her soon to talk about it.  I'll plan a trip to see her in a couple of weeks.

In the mean time, I'll grieve some myself for the little town.  Like  Mom, I'd probably never have gone back to visit again, there was something that made me feel good to know it was there, just as I remembered, just as my grand parents and aunts and uncles left them.  It was like a little bit of them was left too but now it's truly gone for good and that makes me very sad.