Friday, December 30, 2005

Echos of the past

We attended the memorial for my great aunt this afternoon, Anna Edwards. Born 12/10/1919, died 12/19/2005. A sad and somewhat melancholy day: sleeting rain and wind all day, as if the weather itself mourned her passing.

She was a kind and gentle woman; as one of her grandaughters said: "She believed that everything and everyone had a purpose and place". Housewife, mother, service nurse (USN, WWII). She rafted in her mid seventies, rode an elephant for the first time at 82, became a clown late in life, survived 6 months later than the doctors gave her.

She was a link to an increasingly disappearing past: Born a gold miner's daughter, one of six children (her next oldest sister, Edna, was my grandmother), raised until age 11 on a ranch 2 miles from the nearest town (in this case a slowly dying gold mining town) at 3500 ft., growing up without so many of the conveniences I take for granted (Her younger sister Claire said that they didn't have many toys to play with, but they had hillside!). She and her suriving sisters, are a link to a increasing dim echo of the California past; indeed, my past.

I have been up to the location of the Ranch, where they grew up. I have stood where there front porch was, walked down in the meadow where the barn was and my grandmother's donkey, seen the glory of the American River Canyon in the sunset played out before me, had the fleeting thought (as did my forefathers who mined before) that there was gold to be had there.

Anna Edwards, one of the keepers of that flame, was buried in body today. Her soul rejoices even now in the throneroom of heaven, where Christ himself serves her for all her faithful labor. The world is lesser for her going.

But we, the survivors, have a job to do as well.

I think perhaps this year I will go up, maybe hunt for the gold, take my daughters with me, and see if we can all hear the echo and make it go a little longer.