11-01-2018 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal


The yawning abyss My Webster’s says a yawning abyss is a deep hole that opens wide in front of us. And that’s what we were looking at. We were standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. I have pictures to prove it. There we are… The Chief Accountant and I leaning against a fence, behind us the deepest hole I’ve ever seen. Leaning casually against the fence and smiling for the camera. Hah! If you look closely you can see my knuckles are white I’m gripping it so hard. We didn’t know it then, but it was a last trip we would take with my sister and brother-in-law, Ron, before his untimely death and later hers. I guess that is tied in with the title above. Because I awakened this morning thinking long dark thoughts… about where we are all headed. Back in the day, we were living in Hartford and the Chief Accountant was working as an office nurse for Dr. Carl Boothby. She worked evenings and I put the kids to bed. When she got home we always had something to eat before we went to bed, and a cup of coffee. Did that keep us awake? Nah! Not back in those days. One evening when she came home she told me she had talked to a lady we both knew… a salty old gal who would call a spade a spade. This lady had just lost her husband and Marion was offering her sympathy. At this point the bereaved widow said, “That’s all right. He went out the same way he came in… bare as—d and hungry!” I guess that’s the way it is for all of us. And the unknowable gnaws at us. We worry about it and think about it as I’m doing here. We come into this world with nothing, and we leave the same way. Beggars and kings all have to go through it. We are born, we live, and then we have to die. And if we are blessed (or cursed) with an over active imagination, we have to think about it. When we lived in Ann Arbor we attended St. Mary’s Student Chapel on The University of Michigan campus. I have always enjoyed talking with priests, ministers, and rabbis in the campus ministry. They have to be sharp to deal with those young inquiring minds. It used to be we thought Heaven was somewhere ‘up there.’ But one time when I had become friends with a young priest there, I asked him, “Where is Heaven?” The Chief Accountant and I had been talking about it, and she said, “I used to think I knew where Heaven was, but after we went into space… now I’m not so sure!” The young priest said, “Perhaps after we die it is like before we were born… a place of perfect contentment, light, and peace.” Then he recommended that I read some of the writings of Martin Luther on that subject. Well, after all, he was a good Catholic boy! So then I was thinking about Ron… brother-in-law, friend, companion in many of our travels. We first became friends when we were in middle school. I can’t believe how nerdy we were in those days. Several of us in our group decided we wanted people to notice us more, so we all dressed up and wore ties for several days. Nobody noticed. We double-dated for our senior prom. I took Marion and Ron took the girl from Marion’s class that he was dating at the time. He had not yet gotten interested in my sister then. We both went into World War II. Ron was injured in a Jeep accident in France, and spent a lot of time in the hospital. After the war he got home before I did. Ron and my sister, Wilma, had started dating. They were married shortly after we were and thereafter we had many adventures together. Ron slipped into his final illness shortly after I retired from teaching. He and Wilma had two daughters and a son, all grown. She took good care of him, and we brought our travel trailer up to their home at Grand Rapids and parked it in their back yard. They greatly appreciated Marion’s nursing experience. I remember one of the last times Ron and I talked. We had been gone for a few days, and I came in and sat on the edge of his bed to talk. He said to me, “Well, Bud, I’m not going to make it!” I tried to comfort him, but I really didn’t know what to say. I did tell him none of us gets out of here alive… most of us just don’t know when. I wish I could have been better at counseling. I still don’t know where we are all going finally. But perhaps it will be what we think it should be. The nihilist (who believes in nothing) could get nothing… I don’t know what the agnostic (who believes maybe) would get. And those who believe would get to see the face of God finally! One of our daughters says she thinks the hardest part is this… right now! Well, let’s hope for the best and work toward that as we continue to weave Golden threads into the tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Watervliet Library News International Games Day Nov. 5, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Board games, card games, digital games – table top games will be out throughout the week! “The Business of Murder” Nov. 8, 6 – 8 p.m. Back by popular demand, the library will once again become the scene of a crime, this time involving members of a prestigious school of finance. All hams and sleuths are invited for this murder mystery. In Stitches Knitting Group Nov. 9, 2:30 – 4 p.m. Limited supplies are available to beginners. Third Monday Book Club Nov. 19, 7 – 8 p.m. Great books, fabulous conversations! November – “There There” by Tommy Orange. Yoga Monday 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesday 7 – 8 p.m.; Chair Yoga – Wednesday 6 – 6:30 p.m. Teen Table Projects: November Stone Loom Weaving; Make it and take it! Children’s Programs: thru April Story Hours Wednesday 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. & Thursday 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.: Picture books, crafts and fun designed to inspire the love of reading! For ages 3 – 5. Book a Social Work Intern Thanks to an LSTA grant through the Niles Library, Watervliet District Library will have a shared intern for help with on-line applications, unemployment or housing. Call 463-6382 with questions on any Watervliet Library activity.

Coloma Library News A Crude Awakening: Sea Otter Rescue Program Join the library on Wednesday, November 14 at 6:30 p.m. for “A Crude Awakening”. It’s been 29 years since the Exxon Valdez spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil in the pristine Gulf of Alaska. Most affected were the sea otters. Concerned about these animals, Tom and Sherry Miller of Coloma volunteered to help rehabilitate them at the Sea Otter Rescue Center in Seward, Alaska. With the Keystone Pipeline making headlines, a giant spill last year that dumped 210,000 gallons of toxic tar sands oil in South Dakota, and plans to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to drilling and oil exploration, Tom and Sherry feel the topic is relevant even today. To share their experiences they are reprising their 45-minute family-oriented slide presentation. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, November 15 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Templar Legacy” by Steve Berry. Call 468-3431 with questions on any Coloma Library activity.