It has been an incredible season of passing, literally… coupled with our Christmas celebrations. Counting obituaries, I have reached eight as of yesterday, Dec. 28, when my mother told me her long-time friend Gladys Wittmayer died.
As youngsters, we spent a lot of time with Gladys and Harold and their three boys – Harold Jr., Kevin and Timmy. They lived south and west of Fredonia in an old white house that if I recall correctly didn’t have indoor plumbing for a time. There was an old red barn and a three-legged dog that didn’t like me very much with plenty of room to run. What a grand place to grow up.
Big Harold was a storyteller. We called him that because his son was Little Harold – although neither one was little. Big Harold promised that we would dig up an Indian grave some day as he pointed out the piles of rocks around the pasture surrounded by cow pies. Harold wasn’t too serious about anything and dabbled in different types of livestock and business ventures. The best story he ever told was the one about how my dad and he followed some thieves to Minnesota and recovered that old faded tractor that used to reside on the south side of the barn. Harold, when he smoked, told of lighting a cigarette on the old tractor’s manifold one time, too. Harold accepted his passing some 20 years or so ago as the way God intended. Now, he is joined by his wife of many years, Gladys.
Gladys was a great cook and has an outrageous laugh. My mom and Gladys baked together on Saturday mornings; our families butchered chickens together; and we shared many meals together. It was Gladys that told me that we must be careful sprinkling the topping on the kuchen because we wanted the finished product to look as good as it could be. These two women shaped my life in ways they will never know.
It makes me sad that I did not have the opportunity to sit down and reminisce with her before her day of passage. But, I will never forget her as long as I live and bake.
I could only locate a couple of photos of her. The missing shots were of my twin brother’s baby shower. Gladys was dressed up in long underwear and had balloons pinned all over her. I don’t recall much else about that day… I was only eight. She took care of us when my mom went to the hospital to give birth. She was with us for so long, we began calling her mom. I will miss you my friend.
Eight people I knew and loved have traveled to what life lies beyond this world. I can only have faith that someday we will be together again and can talk and laugh and maybe even bake together once again. God rest your souls…