We even took time on the way to visit the old haunts where Mike and his closest sister had so many adventures together in the summers he spent at his Dad and step-mother Rose's place in Reighmoor, a little neighborhood on Lake Butte des Morts.
|The little house as it looks today|
Lake Butte des Morts behind
Mike has a sweet memory associated with this house. When he was small, Rose, his step-mother, had a surprise for Milt one day when he carried the groceries in--little Mike popped out of one of the boxes.
The older sisters remember that, when they were quite small, Mike followed Carol around wherever she went.
Other memories of summers together in Reighmoor:
Mike recalls her beautiful voice as she sang when he pushed her on the swing.
As youngsters, perhaps pre-adolescent, they would wait for Milt and Rose to fall asleep watching television and then sneak out unnoticed and walk the two and half miles to the sand pits, eating apples they picked along the way. Dad and Rose would still be asleep in their easy chairs when they got back in the wee hours of the morning,
It was all important to revisit those haunts. We had to ask someone in order to locate the large area of sand dunes and water, now overgrown. We were told that when the owner died, the two heirs did not get along, so they divided it by bringing in truckloads of rocks and dirt to make a road down the middle.
|New houses and wildlife--sandhill cranes|
Among the first we met at the Celebration were Terry, Mike's older brother, and his wife, Sandy. We are so grateful for the growing closeness over the years. Most of their young lives, the brothers lived with a different parent--Terry with their father in the Omro/Oshkosh area and Mike with their mother in Oak Creek/Milwaukee.
|Sandra and Terry Koch|
Carol's three sons: Melly, Ricky, and Dean, as we remember them:
|Tammy and Malcolm Davis Richard Davis (with cousin Kathy) Vicky and Dean Jenss|
From one of the great aunts, I heard this: "Rick raised four boys on his own and did a great job. He said, 'If my mother could do it, I can.'" I was told his growing family, including a grandchild, were all seated at the long table, but time did not allow to meet them individually.
The photo of Dean and Vicky is one I took on our last visit with Carol a couple months ago. They lived with her and were her caretakers till the end. And they were busy hosting the Celebration, maybe that is why I did not find an opportune moment for a together-photo.
Carol's aunts, Rose's three living sisters, were delightful sources of family stories and information.
|Loretta, Sandra, Yvonne|
|Ronnie and Connie Koch|
Another noteworthy grouping: Carol's Walmart friends, where she worked the last 15 years. Patty, her best friend, was the first to introduce herself. All loved Carol. "She kept us together," one said. They arrived early eager to play cards before work and then again during lunch break.
|The Walmart Gang|
|Nancy, Judy, Carol (when?)|
Now, the two older sisters remain, both live in Oshkosh.
Judy. . .
|Judy and Dave Butt|
|Don and Nancy Rumlow (left) Don's sisters and granddaughter Alyssa (above right); son Dennis and brother-in-law (below)|
After a full day, remembering Carol and reconnecting with family and friends and meeting many who loved her, we waved goodbye to Rumlow's beautiful home and drove six hours to our own.
Illness, aging, and death--these sobering realities cause us to reflect on how to prepare for when our turn comes and for eternity.