We are going to Camp Creek (near Bryan/College Station) today to visit friends. From there we will be heading to Saint Jo as a sister-in-law’s sweet father, Vernie, passed away rather unexpectedly yesterday. We don’t know the details of the services yet but will leave from Camp Creek when we do. It may be Wed or Thursday by the time we get back.
It’s an odd time – I was up there with Vicki and most of her family just a little over a week ago. The initial reason for going was because Vernie asked Vicki to ask me if I could come help with the Plein Air art weekend. The second reason for my saying yes was to enjoy being in the country with Vicki’s extended family (at one count 23) at their lake house (where it feels like home even though it isn’t).
Vernie was a busy, active, kind, soft spoken 85 year old Judge, and many more roles too, in the small Texas town of 1,000. He knew everyone and helped everyone everyday. And he always made a point to include me when introducing his family. Very sweet. Very gentle. I came to be known as “near-sister” which I just love (as you can only imagine). I didn’t particularly like the idea of “sister” without it involving Trudy, but near-sister is perfect. And a blessing that I had no idea God would bring.
The last night we were there, Vernie was going to take the trash to the dumpster. It’s a ritual of sorts – he loads the golf cart and drives to just outside the front, electronic iron gate of the Rod & Gun Club (where everyone knows everyone, you have to either inherit or get voted in… no buy-in’s by strangers). I asked if he wanted company, and of course he said sure. Vernie would never say no.
He loaded up the cart; it was near dark, with crispy air and honking geese flying over the Lake. Crunch, crunch goes the pliable rubber against the grass infused gravel and dirt. After we stopped by the dumpster, he drove on and around the back way, and told me how he and the Caretaker decided some years ago to use this small clearing as their shortcut. With only the sounds of near-night and small twigs and rocks breaking under-tire, we continued through the grass and weeds and slight inclines and talked easily about tomatoes and mosquitoes. And he thanked me for coming up to help him; the pleasure was all mine. By the time we got back to the main house it was nearly pitched black as only it can be in the middle of nowhere. The next morning as we were leaving he included me in the kisses, and goodbyes as we left for home.
I am a blessed woman to have these memories so fresh in my mind and heart. To have snatched a few quiet moments with Vernie on his secret path.
It was near-perfect.