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Memories pile up with losses

Feb 23, 2012 - By Betty Starks Case

On occasion, I've written tributes in this column to people who've specially touched my life. But what does one do when friends move out of this world in quadruples?

I know. You do what you can for their families. Then buck up and move on.

But four in one week?

That's when memories move in and pile high.

First, there was Larry Annan, only two years older than our son. I remember his parents coming to visit with a healthy, chubby little boy about age 3, full of mischief and laughter.

In later years, I didn't see Larry often, so occasionally at a family gathering he'd call out as though deeply offended, "Betty, you didn't recognize me!"

Yes, I was duped. Gullible, in fact, when I saw him later in a wheelchair. Then I'd hurry to offer a hug and enjoy the mischievous smile.

Like many people around this area, we shared deeper ties. Larry's uncle was married to my sister. His family members were Ned's and my lifelong friends, along with both our families.

The relationship grew further complicated when that brother-in-law of mine (Larry's uncle) introduced his close friend to my sister. Another brother in-law.

You have to be careful. You could become your own grandpa around here.

Then it was time to bid farewell to Riverton's own Bill Eichler, a friend of our later years.

I always thought Bill came to Earth with a built-in smile. It seemed it was always there to make you wonder if there was another bit of humor about to break through.

We enjoyed many evenings with Bill and Jean and mutual friends eating and dancing and visiting at the Senior Center and other local places.

We are privileged to have shared, along with the benefits of Bill's generous public service, the friendship of that all-around fine man.

Then Georgine Lee left our world. And took her grace and sparkle and creative sense of this Earth with her.

Well, not completely. She left behind three daughters in whom I see many of her traits and talents.

Being a bit of an artist myself, but not nearly so productive, I've always appreciated Georgine's urge to create. That vivid sense of the beauty in our world continued to shine through her to the end of her earthly life.

Georgine's daughter Sharon became one of my loved "other sisters" when she married my brother Earl many years ago.

A faithful reader of The Ranger and this column while wintering in Arizona, Georgine sent a note I'll always treasure.

"Thank you for your thoughtful valentine to all of us scattered about," the note reads. "My favorite single sentence is, 'Open the drapes of your lives and let the sun shine in.'

"So I went to an entire concert of pipe organ music," she wrote. "So beautiful -- all the tunes -- waltz and polka and even marches.

"Then what did I do? I cried, as I mentally danced again with Gene."

Georgine loved memories of the times she and her late husband had danced the nights away, their footwork as artful as her many beautiful paintings.

The night of Georgine's passing, we received a phone call from the daughter of our Texas friends, Dean and Bettye Kennedy, saying that Bettye had passed the same night.

Dean went to high school with us in Pavillion. Later, he married Bettye, a sweet lady with eyes as blue as the Wyoming skies. On regular summer visits to Wyoming from their home in Texas, Bettye often said she felt as if she'd graduated from Pavillion High School with the rest of the friends she'd made here.

Saying farewell to all these special people in one week brings to mind a suggestion I once read that "God invented time to keep everything from happening at once."

And I wonder: Could time short-circuit out in these high hills?

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