His Last Visit

C’mon, let’s look at the big rocks.” She says hoping to pull his attention away from the small rocks he was focused on. Nearly 2 years old, rocks are so awesome that they’re one of the words in his limited toddler vocabulary. He lifts his head and moves in the right direction until he sees the small playground behind the Lutheran Church’s 2-room schoolhouse.

He was familiar with this modest playground consisting of one slide and a couple swings all on a wooden frame. After all, it hadn’t even been 3 weeks since his great-grandfather was laying in a coffin inside the Bell Lutheran Church. Where he swung along as 2nd cousins-once-removed played alongside

They weren’t there today. Not everyone could make the trip again just 20 days later. But like the little boy, most who came earlier to see the old farmer’s funeral were at least able to visit his wife that early August as she lay in a local hospital very ill. Too ill to even make it to her husband’s funeral. A funeral she had planned down to the flowers on the casket. To the songs that were to be sung at the service. To the one that had to be sung twice.

“Okay, let’s go see those great, big rocks” his mother says, leading him by the hand to the cemetery just yards away from those glorious swings. By then her own father had joined her and the toddler. He knew where to find the ‘rocks’ she was seeking. Not the grandfather that was laid to rest 3 weeks ago. Not the grandmother she cried for just hours ago, just minutes ago. Before the family protested the church’s decision to decide who was ‘godly’ enough to have a space in their own cemetery by finding their own plots elsewhere, the Kohlhoffs were laid to rest just outside the church. in view of the ice cream social building that hadn’t been used for its intended purposes for decades.

Reinholds, Stankes, Wendts, ah… There it is. Ruben and Lily Kohlhoff. She first notices the gravestone. The exact same as what her grandparents have, Ruben’s only son. His only child. Lily wasn’t fit to have more children. Some wonder if she was fit to even have the one.

The toddler is entertained by this big rock with markings. He puts his small rocks down on its ledge, as he needs both hands to climb this tall, narrow rock. His mom seems displeased by his attempts, but mostly ignores him as her own father uses his foot to sweep aside a marker in the ground that honors the man below for his efforts in a war.

The young boy uses his new word “help” with little result. And heads back to his mother. He grabs her hand but not her attention. He doesn’t yet know that they won’t be back. That there is no longer a reason to come back again.



3 thoughts on “His Last Visit

  1. I always love your writing Stephanie. When I hear the Monday tornado sirens, I always think of two things: Setty, and the post you wrote about said sirens at her funeral. In an odd way, I guess I think of your writing weekly. That seems creepy. I promise it’s not.

  2. Wow, I’m catching up on your life and I’m so sorry that you lost both your grandparents so close together. Loss is hard, loss on top of loss is really really hard. I’m so sorry. 😦

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