Of small town life . . . and love
I married a city boy who became the poster child for small town life. Bing grew up in suburban Chicago, worked for two years in Kansas City, then jumped at the chance to practice law in my hometown. He never looked back.
When we’d go out for coffee and run into friends to sit with and visit, he would always comment afterwards, “That wouldn’t happen if we’d stayed in a city.”
He was right, of course. While there are many advantages to living in a city, they pale in comparison to the friendliness and – for lack of a better expression – TLC that abounds here.
He thought Algona was a very special place.
He’s been gone a year now, and he would be so pleased to know that he was absolutely right. The friends we have here have made sure to call me, include me in their plans and, in general, live up to Bing’s expectations of small town “nice.”
Even though our five children now live in cities away from here (Los Angeles, Chicago and Minneapolis), they treasure their growing-up years here. More than once, they have described their childhoods as “idyllic,” and I think they were – just as my childhood here was.
When we first moved back, Bing loved to be able to walk home for lunch. Often, our first three offspring would run to meet him and he would arrive on the doorstep with a child under each arm and one dancing around him, demanding that he pick her up, too. As our family grew and we moved to a larger house, farther away from his office, he still managed, when he came home, to sweep the younger ones into his arms and swing them around. Later, he delighted in going to their school events and visiting with the parents of their friends, most of whom were also our friends, or at least, acquaintances. Again, the charm of small town living.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since he died. Sometimes it seems like only a week. But the wonderful memories he left with us are so strong – and often really funny – that we have found laughter beyond the tears. Like the Christmas he thought that the children would love to create a gingerbread house from a kit he’d ordered. There was great enthusiasm to begin with but as the gingerbread pieces kept breaking and the icing got runny, one by one the kids deserted him.
Finally, he sat alone at the kitchen table, determined that they should have a gingerbread house. He did manage finally to make something that resembled a house but, alas, it was inedible since he resorted to coating it liberally with Elmer’s glue to hold it together. We have a picture of him, smeared with icing and crumbs, proudly displaying what has to be the funniest looking gingerbread house ever.
It would seem that the more a person is loved, and gives love, the harder it would be to lose them. But I’ve found the reverse is also true. When a love is so wonderfully strong, it doesn’t go away with death. There’s an ache, of course, and sadness, but there is also the joy of knowing that, as a songwriter once penned, “We had it all.”