July 27, 2012

The Long Good-Bye…

Category: News — Ira @ 6:48 pm


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

—Dylan Thomas

She’s bedridden now, mostly, they tell me. She’d stay that way all the time, except they get her up every day. For at least a little while. Sit her in a chair, so her body position changes. And so the blood can flow. She smiles some. Eats, because they feed her. She doesn’t know a whole lot, if anything, that’s going on around her. Except she smiles sometimes, as if she grasps a bit of it. But then she reclines back to the bed and falls asleep. And she sleeps and sleeps. Through the night, into the next day. And they do it all over again. Wake her. Get her up. Clean her. Then feed her as a baby is fed. One spoonful at a time. Then she’ll sit for a while on the rocking chair, maybe. But always, soon, back to bed. That’s the current state of my mother’s long helpless descent into the cruel and darkening twilight that is Alzheimer’s.

Yeah, I know. There’s a million other stories out there detailing the brutal ravages of Alzheimer’s. But this isn’t one of those million other stories that I can shrug off because I’m not anywhere close to the people affected or involved. Nah, this one is personal. This is about my Mom.

We noticed the first little bumps in her memory about a dozen years ago, or so. You can’t ever precisely pinpoint the onset of Alzheimer’s, not when it’s coming at you, because it comes at you slow. An aberration, at first. A flash of anger so far out of character that you flinch back. What was that? Where did that come from? That’s not who you are. And that’s how it was with Mom. We look back now and see the first few times. It was hurtful to the person she spoke to. That could not have been my mother speaking. But she said the words, in all their savage meaning.

Her condition didn’t deteriorate that fast, really. But it was steady. And by 2004 or so, we spoke the dreadful word in our family. Alzheimer’s. Mom is coming down with it. I don’t really remember how I felt. Just a sense of foreboding, I think, along with a vague and desperate hope that she wouldn’t linger for years and years in that condition. Not like her sister Mary, who had silently suffered in a hollow shell for ten years.

They lived in Bloomfield then, she and Dad. In a cozy little Daudy house on my brother Joseph’s farm. Their house was connected with a walkway to his. Joseph had moved from the old home place north of West Grove. Bought Gid Yutzy’s dilapidated old farm along Drakesville Road, at public auction. A perfect place for his metal sales business. Two miles south of Drakesville. Right in the center of the community, right along a paved road.

And they settled in their little house, she and Dad. She still cooked back then on her wood burning kitchen stove. And on the kerosene stove in summer. Mostly did well, getting the meals together. The rhythm of her life was so ingrained that she walked her daily steps from habit. At that time, she kept a little flock of chickens in a tiny run down wooden shack. She walked out every day, rain or snow or shine, to feed them, talk to them, to gather the eggs. Fussed when the hens came up one egg short. Which one wasn’t feeling well? She’d have to look into it. Take care of the matter. And the chickens clucked and came running when she called. She smiled and chattered at them. Here’s your feed for today. Eat well now, and lay me a bunch of eggs.

And it seemed like that’s where they would end their days in peace, she and Dad. Right there in the cozy Daudy house in Bloomfield. Sure, most of the family had scattered now, moved out. Only two of their sons and their wives remained in Bloomfield. Joseph and Iva. And Titus and Ruth, a mile or so south and west.

And I remember the last time we were there, in that house, Ellen and me. During the winter of 2006-07, I’m not sure exactly of the date. We knew we didn’t have long to be together anymore, so we made one last trip home to see Dad and Mom. The roads were sheets of ice when we arrived. I remember the bleak dreary day, how the biting sleet swept sideways from the sky. The kitchen stove crackled, the little house was almost uncomfortably warm. Mom met us, smiling. Dad was sitting in the living room, pounding away at his typewriter. He got up to shake hands, then folded his arms, and he and I sat down to visit.

Mom welcomed us both. Ellen sat there in the kitchen with her, drinking coffee, and the two of them just chatted right along in Pennsylvania Dutch. Mom always completely accepted Ellen. That day she had a little gift. A little white home-sewn apron. For Ellen to wear when she’s cooking, Mom said. And I watched them and grieved quietly in my heart. The two of them together, laughing and talking. I knew this would be the last time. It was.

She went downhill rapidly in 2007, mostly mentally. And some physically, too. She was still active, though, still absorbed in her daily household work. That’s all she ever knew, and even though her mind was receding, her body stayed on autopilot.

In some ways, her condition was a blessing for me, I suppose. That spring, my world imploded around me. I hunkered down in the storm. All my siblings and even my father quietly offered support such as I had not expected and had never known before. But they never told Mom. She never had to endure or absorb the knowledge that her son had messed up his life to such a low point. And that he now was slogging through a tough, weary road. I’m glad she didn’t know. But with that blissful blessing of ignorance also came a sorrow, for me, a few years later. She never knew that I wrote of her, told of her world as it was, and so much of what she had endured. She never knew that I dedicated the book to her.

In December of that year, my brother Joseph moved with his family to Mays Lick, Kentucky. His reasons for moving are not important to this narrative. It was a choice, and when you make a choice like that, you make the best one you know. But my parents had no choice but to move with him. He set up a new double wide close to his own new house, again connected by a deck and walkway. And so they settled in this strange new place. Dad threw himself into the experience as he always did in life, walking forward, meeting new people, writing enthusiastically in The Budget of this great new place. Mays Lick. Mom mostly just quietly rocked and smiled. She spoke now and then, sometimes coherently. And she grasped that she wasn’t in her home in Bloomfield anymore.

Her children gathered around her when we could, at weddings, funerals, and sometimes over Christmas. And right up until recently, she always recognized us, and spoke our names. She wasn’t there much in any other way, but she knew her children. And with the passing of each month, it seemed, she sank ever farther into a world we cannot know, a world from which no one has ever returned to tell of how it was.

And it all got a little tricky, the care of them both. Decisions had to be made, decisions sometimes strongly opposed by Dad. His mind was still pretty sharp. Still is. But as Mom sank ever deeper into the fog, he couldn’t quite grasp the reality of it all, seemed like. And he had his own bright-line rules, the ones he had observed and followed all his life. He would not stay with any but his Amish children. If you left for the Beachy Amish or the Mennonites, oh, no. He wouldn’t stay in your home. So his options were severely limited to a very small group. Of his eleven children, only three remain Old Order. Rosemary, my oldest sister, and her husband Joe. They never left Aylmer. Joseph and Iva. And Titus and Ruth, who still reside in Bloomfield.

Mom takes a lot of care. And Titus and Ruth were never an option, because, well, a man in a wheelchair takes a lot of care as well. Plus, they adopted two rambunctious little boys, Robert and Thomas, about six years ago. Their home is full, their lives are busy. So that left only Joseph and Rosemary. Then a few years ago, Joseph came down with some serious health issues. He tires easily. And it was a tough road, for him and Iva to try to take care of my parents. But they did their best for a few years. It wore them down, stressed them out. And now only one place remains, where Dad will stay. At Rosemary’s home in Aylmer.

It all seems a little senseless, but it just is what it is. Every one of my sisters and my brothers with families would gladly take my parents for a turn in their home. Take care of them. Take care of Mom.

For the past few years, before it reached this point, they stayed with Rosemary in Aylmer over the summers. Rosemary’s children come to help take care of Mommy, as she is called by her offspring. And the Aylmer community kicks in, as well. When it comes to taking care of their own, especially the elderly, few systems are better than that of the Old Order Amish. No one ever goes to a nursing home. The elderly remain on the land they knew and loved, in comfortable and comforting familial surroundings. But still, to quote a line from an old Eagles song, “Every form of refuge has its price.”

And here, I honor all my sisters. And all my siblings, really. But my sisters stepped up. They scheduled family phone conferences, and you’d better show up. We all connected and talked. Vented, too. In the end, though, they stepped up to do what needed to be done. Joseph and Iva needed help in Kentucky. Who would volunteer to go for a week? And they stood tall, one by one. Maggie can go on this date, for this time. Rachel can go next. Then Naomi. And then Rhoda. And they went. Took the time from their own busy lives and schedules, dropped what was going on, and traveled home to be with Mom. To take care of her. And when my parents were in Sarasota during the past two winters, they all took turns again. Including my brothers, too. Joseph and Jesse and Stephen and Nathan all went down to see her, to be with her.

And during those times, something obstinate rose inside me. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’d been gone so long. I don’t want to go see her. Why can’t I remember Mom as she was, before she reached this state? I used whatever excuse was at hand. In 2010, I was writing my book. I want to be left alone. In 2011, the book was coming out, and I had places to go and things to do. And no. I don’t want to see her like this. No. I’m not coming. And they left me alone, pretty much, my siblings.

Last summer, my parents stayed as usual with Rosemary at her home in Aylmer. Mom could still walk a bit back then, and one day she was outside with her daughter. There was little conversation, as Mom was beyond that now. But she suddenly walked out toward the road. Rosemary stayed close to her. Mom shaded her eyes with her hand and stared southeast, across the fields. And she spoke. “Something looks familiar, there, in that place over there,” she murmured. She took a few more hesitant steps forward. Still staring intently. “That place looks familiar,” she repeated. Something had triggered in her mind, and called her back to at least some awareness of the present moment. She was seeing and recognizing our old home place, the place where my family had lived before we moved to Bloomfield in 1976.

Last winter, they spent three months in Pine Craft. January through March. Dad rented a nice house, and they settled in. They took Mom out and about in a wheelchair, and she seemed to very much enjoy her surroundings. And again, my siblings took turns going down for a few days or a week, to help take care of her. My cousin, Fanny Mae Wagler, traveled down with them to take care of Mom for the first month or so. One evening, as they were sitting around the table, Fannie Mae gave Mom pen and a blank sheet of paper. “Do you want to write something?” She asked Mom. And Mom took the sheet and tore off bits from the edges. She dawdled for a while. And then, after some time, she picked up the pen and clearly wrote two words. Thank you.

January 29, 2012. Mom, Nathan, and Dad in Pine Craft

I last saw her close to two years ago. She was frail then, but walking. She knew my name and spoke it. And now there is no more to be said about not going to see her. Sometime in mid August, I plan to travel up to Aylmer, probably over a long weekend, just for a few days. Inside, I shrink from the journey, as I have for the past few years. But now it’s time. So now I will go.

We have prayed, all of us, her children, that the Lord would take her, would release her weary wasted body from this earth. That she would go to Him. That may seem strange and wrong, even, to some. But it’s not. There is little in this life for her anymore. Except only life itself, which of itself is always a rare and priceless thing. But still, to human eyes, there comes a point when that single factor alone is not enough to wish her to stay.

A couple of times in the past few months, her breathing slowed so much as she slept that they thought she had left us. But she was just a in a state of deep, I don’t know what. Something triggered by the Alzheimer’s, I suppose. In any case, she still remains, and we cannot question that. However senseless it seems to us. The Lord’s ways are not our ways. The Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts. His timing is never wrong. And one day, perhaps soon, perhaps not, He will call her home to Him. She has suffered and endured a great deal in this life. She still endures. I like to think she doesn’t suffer much anymore.

I remember back in the early 1990s, when Nathan and I headed home to Bloomfield every year at Christmas. How Mom always welcomed us, excited and smiling. Her boys were home. And then, a few days later, as our departure loomed, how she smiled still. Bravely. The sadness shone from her eyes. Good-bye, she said with forced cheer. Good-bye. Drive carefully and take care. Come home again. And she always pressed some little gift into our hands.

And we spoke awkwardly to her. Good-bye, Mom. We will. We never hugged, because the Amish don’t hug, mostly. At least not in any world I had seen up until that time.

I wish there were a way to say good-bye to her one more time like that. Not as I’m leaving her. But as she’s leaving us on the final leg of her journey home.

And I’d like to go back to those days and say good-bye to her one more time like that. This time, I would hug her.

July 13, 2012

The Sansburn Farm (Sketch #15)

Category: News — Ira @ 6:57 pm


For this will always be one of the immortal and living things
about the land…whose only permanence is change.

—Thomas Wolfe

It sat pretty much smack dab in the heart of the Aylmer Amish community, about a mile west of our home. On the main drag. An old house, covered with burnt-rust asphalt siding. A gaggle of dilapidated old unpainted outbuildings, including a huge old swaying barn, guarded on the north side by a poured concrete silo. On the south of the barn stood a complex of crumpling cattle pens and an even larger silo. And that was the place. A little odd, yes, compared to the proud, painted buildings on surrounding farms. But not as odd as the man who lived there.

His name was Carl Sansburn, and he lived there with his mother, at least during the early history of the Aylmer community. I have no recollection of her at all. She must have died before I was born, or when I was too young to remember. Some scattered fragments of who she was remain in the shadows of my memory, as tales told by my older sisters.

Carl was always old to me. A tall lean man in overalls, always dirty, his wrinkled face frozen in a half grimace, half smile, puttering about his farm on his old green Johnny popper. He was a kindly man who would help you out if he could. The children never feared him, nor were they intimidated by him in any way. I don’t know if he was born on that farm, but he lived on it for most of his life, I think. He’d probably never heard of the Amish before they settled around him. But he was one of those rare outsiders who somehow connects with the pulse of the surrounding Amish community.

His farm was like so many others in the area. Rich and fertile ground. About two fields wide, and very deep. Half a mile or more, it went back, the fields separated by a traditional farm lane with gated fences on both sides. He kept a few head of ragged cattle. Farmed the land faithfully, by the old conservative methods. Never put much money out, for seed or spraying. And his crops reflected his efforts. The fields produced, just not as much as they could have. And all that was fine with him.

From the right, the first unobscured face above the item the man is holding.
That is Carl Sansburn. (November, 1968)
The Amish guys, from front to rear: Abner Wagler, Alva Eicher, Stephen Stoll

Carl was a mumbler. A guy who talked to himself, didn’t matter if anyone was around or not. And actually mumbled when he actually talked to others. This came from decades of living alone, I suppose. He was pretty much irreligious, as far as I know. Never attended church. Maybe he was just very private about his faith. He may well have communed with God in his heart. I don’t know. I try not to judge such things.

Looking back, I’ve wondered. What it meant to him, to be able to connect, to participate in the life of the Aylmer Amish. I doubt that he thought about it much, or processed it at all. He just accepted life as it came at him. And to their great credit, the Aylmer Amish accepted him, too. Not as one of their own, no, of course not. Maybe even with a good bit of judgment. He was English, so he was probably lost. But still, they accepted him as he was. He was Carl Sansburn. Eccentric. Alone, on his farm. But connected loosely with them, simply by his farming methods. And maybe because he was so alone.

I’ve wondered, too, how life would have been for him, had the Amish never shown up in Aylmer. What was his social status, growing up? He went to public parochial school a half mile east, in the old school house the Amish bought in the mid 1960s. The same school house where I attended my first day in first grade. He went there for eight years, at least. But what happened then, in his adolescent years? Did he go to high school? Did he ever date a girl? And why didn’t he ever get married? Was he an outcast? Was he lonely? Was he too shy to approach or express himself to a woman? Or did he get burned, maybe? Was he rejected, scorned by the love of his life? What were the circumstances that made him who he was? I don’t know that anyone ever asked those questions, or even thought them. And why should they? But still, it’s a legitimate thing, to consider them now.

All these thoughts are pure conjecture, of course. But you don’t grow up in a community, you don’t go to school with your peers, you don’t live through your teenage years without some sort of social exposure to those around you.

I don’t know when his father died. But when the Amish arrived, there was Carl, on this ramshackle farm, right in the midst of them. Living there with his mother. And the place was falling apart. The barns were decrepit even then. And his fences, well, let’s just say they were barely worthy of the name. Old leaning posts, rotting at the base, falling over. Strung with rusty barbed wire, so old that you could twist it in your hands and it would crumple into rust. The place had once stood as a proud example of what a farm could be. Someone had done that, improved the land. Someone with a vision, someone with hope for the future. That someone was gone now. And now, the farm lay shriveled, decrepit, decaying. Along with the man who lived on it.

He farmed like we did, except with a tractor. He cut his oats in sheaves and shocked the bundles in his fields. Come threshing time, Carl joined the threshing ring. Arrived in his old car with a pitchfork. He walked the fields all day, a “pitcher” who only helped load the wagons. Pitching was the toughest job in threshing, because you didn’t get any breaks. The wagon drivers could relax while driving the loads from field to barn. Pitchers could never rest until the field was cleaned of shocks.

I don’t know what Carl ate at home. It wasn’t much, and I’m sure it wasn’t that healthy. He sure enjoyed the threshing meals, sitting there as one of us, devouring great mounds of home-cooked food. When it was his turn to thresh on his farm, the neighbors always came only in the afternoon. So Carl wouldn’t have to worry about feeding anyone. It was different, but everyone made it work.

He was frugal to a fault. Pinched every penny before buying anything. And mostly didn’t buy anything, because the money meant more to him than the stuff he should have spent it on. That’s why his farm was falling apart. He wouldn’t maintain it. His old ramshackle car finally collapsed one day, and the community beheld a great wonder. Carl Sansburn bought a brand new car. A Chevy station wagon, painted an ugly avocado green (The 1970s: the decade of that awful color). It took a while for us to get used to seeing the shiny new car swooshing up and down the gravel roads with Carl behind the wheel.

He always headed to the Aylmer Sales Barn on Tuesday afternoons. Just hung out there. And if my brothers or any other Amish youth wanted to ride along, all they had to do was show up, tie up their horse in Carl’s barnyard, and they had a free ride to town. Carl always smiled and mumbled pleasantly, and never asked for a penny for the bother.

In 1973, Carl let it be known that his farm was for sale. He was ready to retire and move to town. It was a strange thing to contemplate, that he would no longer live there in the community. “Carl was a good man,” the children said. He would move out of our lives, we figured. We were very wrong.

And that spring, Dad bought Carl’s farm. I don’t remember if Carl even bothered to hold a disposal auction. His stuff was mostly junk. I don’t remember, either, just when he moved to town. But I do remember that we farmed the place that year, while Carl was still living there. So we were over on the farm a lot, while Carl puttered about on his tractor, wrapping up his affairs.

One fine summer morning, my brother Stephen and I were there, working in a field doing something, I forget what. Carl’s old tractor appeared from behind the woods way to the south. He wasn’t pulling anything, just driving his tractor. He slowly popped on down the lane toward us. And somehow, a large chunk of splitting wood lay there, right in the middle of the lane. I have no idea how it got there, probably it fell off the wagon Carl had been pulling earlier. It was a magnificent specimen as chunks of wood go, round as the tree trunk it had been cut from, probably two feet long and about as wide, with a few protruding knots.

From across the field, we looked on with great interest as Carl and the tractor approached the chunk of wood. He never saw it and drove right up to it. The narrowly spaced front tires pushed the chunk off to the right. And then the large rear tractor tire nudged the chunk down the lane for about ten feet or so. We gaped. The chunk must have hit a little incline then, because it resisted. Stubbornly dug in. The large rear tire treads gripped the wood, and the right rear of the tractor abruptly lunged straight up into the air, as the tire clawed its way over the obstacle. Carl’s upper body was flung violently to the left. But somehow, the man managed to keep his grip on the steering wheel. And then the tractor plopped back down to earth, two feet straight down. This time Carl was flung somewhat less violently to the right. Again, he hung on, and somehow kept his precarious perch on the tractor seat.

The tractor puttered on as a startled and shaken Carl looked back over his shoulder to see what in the world had just happened. Mumbling at top speed to himself, I’m sure. Stephen and I just couldn’t help ourselves. We doubled over with helpless laughter. We howled until we couldn’t any more, until the tears came. Carl never looked our way, never saw that we saw. It was just one of those moments, frozen in my mind. The man could easily have been killed, or at least seriously hurt. But he wasn’t. And that’s why the whole scene was so uproariously funny. Or maybe our sense of humor was a little warped.

Sometime that summer, Carl moved to Aylmer. Bought a little house in town. And we stepped in to clean up the place he’d left. My brother Joseph and his bride Iva Mae planned to live there. Joseph had traveled down to Honduras, where Iva’s family had migrated with the Peter Stoll group a few years before. There, a simple wedding was held. I’ve always felt a bit bad for Joseph, because his parents and most of his siblings were not present on his big day. Not that Dad and Mom had anything against the marriage. But Honduras. It was halfway across the world, almost. And traveling down there by bus was just a bit too much for my parents to undertake.

Carl’s old ramshackle house was simply beyond filthy. Reeked of mold and rot. Legend had it that anytime Carl was of a mind to, he just hocked and spat randomly, right in the house. From the look of it, I don’t doubt those stories. We scrubbed and painted and cleaned and scrubbed some more. Tore out walls to combine little rooms into larger ones. There was one tiny bathroom, downstairs. I think we left that as it was, just cleaned it. We never did much with the big barn and outbuildings. The place swarmed with rats. You could walk into the old garage or the barns at any time, day or night, and see the vermin scatter. They weren’t that wild, really. More than once, I stood in the doorway of the garage with my rifle and picked off a few rats with .22 shorts.

Carl moved to town, but he did not go gentle into that good night. Instead, he became an even more important part of the Amish community. He merrily began hauling Amish in his now-dusty, increasingly creaky station wagon. He couldn’t see that well, and was far from a safe driver, but that generally doesn’t faze the Amish much. The man had a car, and was willing to do local taxi work. That fact alone was more than enough to keep him as busy as he wanted to be. So he trundled about, his car sagging under the heavy cargo of people and groceries.

It wasn’t safe to ride with him. One morning, he was taking Sam and Katie Yoder and a few of their children somewhere, maybe to the chiropractor in St. Thomas. A soupy Lake Eire fog had settled in, and visibility was near zero. They approached the railroad tracks on Glencolen Road. The warning lights were flashing; a train was coming. At that time, the great CN freight trains swooped through the land at 60 mph. Carl carefully braked his station wagon to a halt. They waited. And waited. And waited. The fog was so thick they could see nothing. They heard nothing, either. So finally Carl put the car in gear and slowly edged over the tracks. The car had barely cleared the tracks when the train came barreling through at full speed. Literally a second slower, and they would all have been killed. Carl mumbled excitedly. The Yoders requested to be taken home straightway. Katie, who had a history of health issues, was so emotionally distraught that she took to her bed for a week. At least that’s how I remember the story as Mom told it to me later.

After moving to town, Carl became a fixture at the Aylmer Sales Barn on Tuesdays. Kept a vendor’s stand inside, which was stocked with “antiques” that were mostly junk. I don’t know that he ever sold much there. But for years, he kept the stand, probably to socialize as much as anything.

Carl nurtured his friendships even with those who moved from Aylmer. In 1972, Bishop Peter Yoder and Homer Graber, both of them my uncles, moved with their families to Marshfield, Missouri. Both had been close neighbors to Carl, and both had befriended him. Periodically, right up to the final decade of his life, Carl teamed up with another Aylmer character and good friend, Charlie Newland, and the two of them set out to visit their old friends. They even stopped by in Bloomfield after we moved there in 1976. Keeping the old connections alive, that’s what they were doing. And those they went to visit were always delighted to see them.

Back on the old Sansburn farm, Joseph struggled along despondently, farming and milking. Like me, the man was not a farmer and would never be one. Besides, the old dilapidated barns of the Sansburn farm were enough to make anyone depressed, even a real farmer. And then, as 1976 rolled around, the whole scene changed dramatically. My family abruptly uprooted and moved to Bloomfield. Dad sold our old home place. And he sold the Sansburn farm to Alvin Fisher of Somerset, PA.

Alvin did not sojourn long in Aylmer. Never fit in, quite. Maybe it wasn’t the heaven on earth he’d figured it would be. And after only four years or so, he decided to retreat to where he’d come from. Somerset. In 1980, he sold the farm to the Jantzi brothers, Dan and David, who moved down from Milverton, Ontario with their families. The place no longer looked the same by then, though. Born of solid Pennsylvania stock, Alvin Fisher could not long abide on a ramshackle place. After moving onto the Sansburn farm, he had promptly spruced up and re-sided and re-roofed the old barns. Made them look fresh and new again. Improved the place pretty dramatically. He had flung out new fences and remodeled the house.

And the Jantzi brothers split the Sansburn farm into two parcels. Dan took the home buildings, and David built a long drive to the back of the place. And there he erected a whole new homestead.

I last saw Carl Sansburn at my uncle Homer Graber’s funeral in Kalona, Iowa in May, 2001. I recognized him immediately. Just much older now, stooped and bent from the long weary years of living a frugal, lonely life. And I have to admit, I stared at him, appalled. The front of his suit jacket was literally caked with layers of dust, now hardened into dirt. He had no one, no one to look out for him for even the most basic things. I shook his hand and smiled and spoke my name. His eyes sparkled as he saw the child he used to know in the man standing before him. We chatted for a few minutes, then I drifted on into the crowd.

He passed away a few years ago, I’m not sure exactly of the date. Left his modest estate to a niece no one even knew he had. And so he’s gone, the memories of who he was fading ever more rapidly into the mists of the past. Today I speak his name and write of him for no particular reason, really. It’s just a thing that came. Maybe because no one else has ever bothered to tell it.

In the end, I suppose, this post is more about Carl than it is about the Sansburn farm. But it’s about the farm, too. Dan and David Jantzi and their families settled there. David still remains, his roots firmly planted on his “new” homestead. Several years ago, Dan sold the old Sansburn home to Reuben and Dorothy Eicher, who now live there. The generations will move on, will come and go. Fifty years from now, maybe, someone might peer back in time as far as I’m peering back now.

And write of the same land called by a different name.