Friday, March 06, 2009

Don't let the turkeys get you down

You may remember, back in October, the professor and I went to the upstate New York family farmland to do some apple picking. We picked 400 lbs of apples from the old abandoned orchard on the property. Most of those apples were donated to a foodbank, but I baked some pies, made some applesauce, and fed family and friends with a few of those apples.

Two pies went to our friend Esther. Esther and her husband Dave lived down the road from the professor's family farm. When he visited during the summer, or on weekends, he always saw Dave and Esther. They were there, good friends of the professor's parents, sharing important life lessons like how to milk a cow and get up on a horse--farm knowledge the professor needed as he grew up. They were the kind of family friends who appreciated and admired the professor's turkey photos.

(You see, as a little kid, the professor had a camera, and he was allowed to take photos, but not to cross the road or stray too far from his mother or the farm house. He chose the next door neighbor's pet turkeys as models. He shot many, many rolls of turkey photos. It was an obsession. We still have quite a few snapshots of turkeys, shot at grade school kid height.)

I met Esther and Dave after we got married. This was after Dave gave up dairy farming. It was even after Esther had stopped working as a nurse at the local hospital. They were still busy, running a trucking business and helping folks in the community. Esther had a knack, in particular, for nursing strays. Animals, people--she took loving care until whoever it was? was healed. Esther had that skill. Once healed, those three legged dogs or sad barn cats became her best mates. Her horses and her friends--we were all cherished, hugged and kissed.

After Dave passed away a few years ago, Esther was often sad..life threw her a lot of curve balls. However, she had this way of telling crazy, heartrending, unbelieveable (but true) stories with a big smile on her face. Whatever the story was, sometimes it was so horrible that you knew she had to laugh, because otherwise? We'd all cry.

This week, I couldn't help it. I couldn't laugh. Had to cry. We got an early morning phone call from Esther's son about this news story:
Body found in rubble of Fort Edward home that was destroyed by fire: lone occupant still unaccounted for

When we heard about the two dogs that perished in the fire, well, we knew the dogs too...we played with them in October when we visited. Today's paper (the one that's the local paper at the farm) posted Esther's obituary.

Whenever Esther would smile and tell one of these basically awful stories, she'd remind us that life was short and not to let those turkeys (the crazy people, the upsetting things) get us down. She was right--but when we're going away this weekend, I'll be thinking of Esther. We may well see some wild turkeys on the trip...we're going to a rural wilderness area. You can bet I'll be thinking of her patience, her joy and appreciation of children and animals, and her healing love.
Rest in peace, friend. We'll miss you.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Deb said...

joanna,
I'm very sorry for your loss. Esther sounds like my kind of lady :)

Cherish your wonderful memories - my condolensces to the Professor.

March 7, 2009 at 5:23 AM  
Anonymous Deborah Robson said...

You had mentioned your loss without particulars. I'm glad you wrote the tribute. How incredibly sad.

It's time to honor and applaud a life well lived.

March 7, 2009 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger weebug said...

I am sorry for your loss, but I bet she is chuckling like crazy at the newspaper headline. I sure did!

March 7, 2009 at 1:29 PM  
Anonymous AlisonH said...

Oh honey. I'm so sorry.

March 7, 2009 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Romi said...

Oh, Joanne. I'm so so sorry. {{{{{Joanne}}}}}

March 7, 2009 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Willow said...

Oh, I'm so sorry!

March 8, 2009 at 1:39 AM  
Blogger Geek Knitter said...

My heart goes out to you and the Professor, and to Esther's family.

Peace to you all

March 9, 2009 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I'm so sorry!

March 16, 2009 at 8:40 AM  

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