Friday, September 2, 2016

A Reunion and a Farewell

Lazy days of summer wreak havoc on my blog. Travel, visitors, gardening, swimming and such, keep me occupied so that I can't seem to find time for my blogging. I want to share one week of my summer—the events during the week of the much-anticipated reunion of the Nebraska Troutman family.  Then I will get back to the family history.

We met at Ta-ha-zou-ka Park in Norfolk on a hot, hot July day in an air-conditioned lodge. How many of us would have come if it hadn’t been air-conditioned? I wondered. I remember reunions when I was a child when we met on hot days like that, but outside at picnic tables. The day before or the morning of, my mother, grandmother, and aunts prepared bowls of homemade potato salad, Jello salads, sliced tomatoes, home grown green beans cooked with ham, home fried chicken, homemade cakes and pies. This time, we gave all the cooks a break and had our party catered. We feasted on all the above, except the green beans, and we supported a local business by hiring them to prepare the food.  Some of us brought homemade desserts and there were sliced home grown tomatoes from Indiana (my husband's garden). It was all delicious!

Troutman reunion, Norfolk, Nebraska, July 24, 2016. Photo by Roxanne Meyer.

You could say that “a good time was had by all”—and it was true: we laughed and talked and hugged and caught up on the past two years. But hanging over our heads like an ominous cloud was the knowledge that our cousin, brother, uncle, etc., Darrell Troutman, lay in his home in Lincoln spending his last days with his wife and children. After four years, cancer was about to claim his life.

Carl, Dorothy, Gary, Darrell and Judith, 1939.
Backtrack a little. The second son of Carl and Dorothy Troutman and my oldest cousin after his brother Gary passed away several years ago, Darrell has been one of my mainstays in keeping the family history and writing my blog. He’s also the tease. He added his mother’s line to our family tree, and he has faithfully read my blog, although he never commented, but I knew. He let me know in subtle ways. He kept track of all the contact information for all the cousins and their families. Not long after his mother died in 2009, he shared with me a treasure he found in a diary his mother kept on a trip from Nebraska to California in 1930 when she was fifteen. He asked for my input on how to share it with the family and how to edit it. He produced a beautiful keepsake of photos, maps, and footnotes added to his mother’s diary. I cheered.

First page of Dorothy's travel story.
In June, I sent him a message asking for information about his parents during the 1930s. He responded in his usual gracious manner with as much info as he knew. Then he added that he might not make it to the reunion in July because of “health issues.” I replied, “If you don’t make it, we may have to come to Lincoln to  see you.” I wish I had told him my husband’s comment: “He’s the one of your cousins that I like to talk with most at the reunions.”

We planned to visit him on Tuesday afternoon following the reunion, but his daughter called me on Monday morning to say that he could no longer take visitors. The next day, he passed away about the time we had planned to arrive for our visit. And so, on Saturday, we had a reunion of another sort when cousins, nieces, nephews, siblings, and Darrell’s wife and children said good-bye to him at his memorial service. His son offered a moving tribute, and the pastor’s homily inspired us all.

And so we said farewell to Darrell.

 Click on this link for Darrell's obituary. 

This link will take you to a web site that details Darrell's military service.

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