Ann Richards died, but so did Harley Oldenborg.
Hilary Clinton spoke at Ann's funeral, and my grandma wrote about Harley to her grandchildren.
But she didn't have to. We knew him.
Ann inspired all aspiring women. Harley maintained the land and entertained children.
Harley pushed me high on the tire swing on his farm in Minnesota which neighbored ours. Hands down (or hands up) it remains the greatest tire swing of all time. You can follow Ann and Amy's and eventually Emily's progression in age as each year new pictures were taken during the summer on Harley's tire swing. There was hardly time to unpack our bags and clean up the farmhouse upon arrival before the grandchildren were begging to run to Harley and Evelyn's.
Grandma writes of a time before grandkids when the Makers and the Olderborgs raised their own children together and farmed the land. I love the story of when they had to dig the turkeys out from underneith the snow after one Minnesota blizzard. And grandma just sent me a story of one Palm Sunday when a late blizzard came making it "impossible for them to get on the road to church. That afternoon [grandma] looked out the window, and here down the road trudged the Oldenborgs, in a line, Harley carrying the youngest – all bundled up, and the blizzard raging. [They] spent an otherwise lonesome afternoon together with them."
I would have liked to make the trek up to Minnesota for the funeral, but that was impossible. ACL tickets, friends flying in, college worship service, regular worship service, sunday school, children's sermon. Impossible.
But I said good-bye six years ago when I accompanied grandma and grandpa up to the farm for one final farewell. Our farmhouse was un-livable by then and we stayed with the Oldenborgs. I took lots of pictures of our farm, the old schoolhouse, the Oldenborg farm and old Minnesota friends. Harley pushed me one last time in that tire swing, he in his 70s and me in my 20s . . . and the rope broke.
I fell bumping to the ground and Harley and I looked at each other astonished and apologetic. And also a little sad, recognizing the symbolism in the event.
Six years later, Harley has been lowered into the ground, the earth he spent so much time nurturing.
Thank you Harley for taking the time to nurture us too.