(Editor’s note: Jim Best’s mother recently passed away on the day his grandmother was scheduled to celebrate her 100th birthday.)
The Sun’s editor, Jesse, had agreed to print the stories about a young man spending time in Springfield and the people who would influence his life forever. The birthday plans were in place and had been in the making for many months, as the last few weeks closed in on 100.
The silhouette of the old farm bell, visible through my window shade, serves as a reminder and tribute to the past. Times that are growing dim in the rear view mirror, along with the faces that graced our presence, seem to spring back to life each morning.
Mayor Cecconi presented the centurion with a proclamation from the town council and a framed key to the city. He told us about working with D.R. McMurtry on the Lincoln Trail project, the Lions Club, the bi-county airport and others. The group from Texas remembered my other grandfather, “Mr. Henry,” and “Ms. Leola” serving lunch for students at the school. I suppose they left their legacy in the hearts and minds of the children from the watershed of the Beech. The old black and white photographs brought back memories to share at every table.
Most of you know the event could have been overshadowed completely by the culmination of a life just six days prior. Instead, the family chose to honor Mom’s wishes and continue the celebration of life…not for a solitary reason, but for two. I believe a historical perspective may lend some understanding about how we go forward, in stride, immediately following such painful news.
Jesse Stuart, the well known Kentucky author, wrote about early pioneer traditions and the customs that surrounded the passing of loved ones. He captured their thinking and kept the promise of faith alive through his description of the “wake” and the community celebrations that followed. It should not be a distant thought for believers and certainly a consideration for everyone in modern times. In my opinion, they correctly concluded that life should be celebrated!
So we kept our promise and went forward with the 100th birthday party that Saturday. The friends of the McMurtrys turned out in great numbers to share the joy and blessings of two life times. The party room at Mordecai’s was filled to capacity with the receiving line extending down the hall at times. Renee and Wanda Akers worked tirelessly to pull off a grand afternoon filled with flowers, balloons, punch, cake and outstanding food. Laurie Smith graciously offered to draft the proclamation, accompanied by letters from: Congressman Geoff Davis, Willard Scott, President Barack Obama and others.
Mrs. Mc was honored to have John and Joanne Bramel (previous occupants of their farm home), who captured images of the 100th; along with Rose and John Hayden, the current residents. Members of her well-documented coffee group were out in full force. The nature of Springfield’s combined good will toward Loraine is only matched by the magnitude of friendship a century can muster.
Some of you saw my last article titled, “Quiet Heroes,” and I was encouraged by your comments to continue writing. Loraine’s daughter, Bernice Ann (my mother), will forever be my first quiet hero. She provided steady encouragement and is the inspiration for a poem titled, “Close to Your Heart,” which will be shared at a later time. Many of you will remember her singing and playing piano at church, but her inner talents went further. She wanted everyone to know that “God’s Presence” is everywhere and that we are to always, “Look on the Bright Side,” through her own writings.
Whether you were present in person or in spirit, we sincerely thank you for joining our “celebration of life."