|L-R Brian, Me, and Walt: Cousins|
I had the privilege of spending some time this week with a couple of cousins I really never knew. Our fathers were first cousins. Actually, they were double first cousins. My grandmother was a Kadle who married a Williams and their grandmother was a Williams who married a Kadle. A brother and sister married a sister and brother.
Confused? Don’t worry. It was all on the up and up.
Our paths likely crossed through the years at family reunions and funerals but I can’t say “the boys” and I really played together or ever had a meaningful conversation. Our parents stayed in touch, though. When my parents moved back to Ohio, they reconnected with my dad’s cousins. They went to Lake Cumberland together and occasionally shared a meal.
A few years ago, the younger of the two brothers and I became Facebook friends. Brian and I share a love for family history. Although both Brian and Walt live “out west,” I knew they faithfully visited their mother after their father died. I knew they supported her when she remarried. I watched on Facebook as they travelled to be with her when her health was failing. I mourned with them from afar as they buried their mother last fall.
They have been good sons.
This week they were faced with the daunting task of going through her house; making decisions about what to do with her things. They are spending the week sorting, packing, cleaning, and reliving a life well lived.
My mother and I offered what little help we could.
I’ve walked a similar road. When Tom died I did nothing at first with his things. It was hard to let go. Eventually, I offered some of his clothes to my sons-in-law. I gave some of his better shoes to my grandson and made sure each of my grandsons had at least one of his ties.
|The Kadle Boys Childhood Home|
I couldn’t, for whatever reason, dump his things in a Goodwill bin. It felt disrespectful. I know Goodwill does good things, but they seemed like a “middle man” to get to the people I knew could use his shirts and pants and suits. When it came time to clear out the closet, I donated his good clothes left there to a homeless shelter. Helping others in need was part of Tom’s DNA.
(Okay, true confession: A few of Tom's favorite shirts continue to have a place in my closet. But I digress.)
Brian lives in New Mexico and Walt lives in Arizona. It isn’t like they can make a couple of trips back and forth with a few boxes on the front seat of their car. And they don’t need most of the kitchen things. They held tight to the photos and those items steeped in childhood memories but gave other things to family members and friends who had a use for them.
And they had a “yard sale.” Oh, it wasn’t like any yard sale I’ve ever seen. There were no prices on anything. If someone offered them a dollar or two for an item, they accepted it, but if the person obviously liked something and it was out of their price range, no problem. Brian and Walt would give it to them.
I watched as a little girl from a few houses away eyed a doll. Brian showed her how the doll transformed to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The little girl was delighted. “How many monies is the doll?” she asked. Before Brian could answer, the child’s mother said, “We just walked down here. I don’t have any money on me. I’ll have to go back to the house for it.” Brian squatted down and looked at the little girl eye-to-eye. He put the doll in her arms. “I think you should have this doll,” he said.
I watched time and again as the men gave things to people stopping by. A few things they sold, pricing them well below any sort of “fair market value.” Why? Because they aren’t greedy. The way they handled themselves through this most difficult time actually honored their parents.
The things their mother and father valued, they value. Those items that still have life and use in them will continue to be used by others in the neighborhood. They’re donating other things to community centers and gifting treasures to members of the family.
You see, Brian and Walt aren’t just good sons. They’re good men. And I’m honored to call them family.
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