Friday, September 11, 2009

My Miracle Year: The Farm

(To the left: me & Shirley, my mother's namesake) There are many cousins I would like to spend more time getting to know; one of them is Shirley, named after my mother. A strong self-reliant survivor, she’s another one who lost a parent way too soon.

Shirley’s Dad, Dean, was the third oldest child after my mother (the oldest) and her sister Rhoda. A career Army man, he died of pneumonia when he was only 39 years old; Shirley was 15, a terrible time, I think, for a teenager to lose a parent. (I know because my own stepchildren lost their mother when they were 14 and 16.)

Divorcing her husband when she found out what he was abusing a child, Shirley bought a small Minnesota farm near Long Prairie and Swanville and raised her three children there, mostly on her own.

(To the right: Shirley, her husband Ken & several of her 11 grand kids) One day in the late 80’s, she saw a car with Washington plates come up her driveway. An older white-haired man get out of the car and begin looking around. the yard. Curious and a bit apprehensive, Shirley went out to confront him. When he saw her, he asked if he could look around the place as it was the farm he had been raised on. “The rock I played on is still there in the yard,” he said pointing.

Shirley introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Shirley Husom.” The visitor turned deathly pale and she quickly sat him down. Suddenly she said, “ I know who you are, you're Arnold Harnack. I’m Shirley, Dean’s daughter.” Hearing someone introduce themselves by the name of his long-dead wife was quite the shock for him.

Because it turns out that the farm Shirley had purchased was the same farm on which my father had been raised. Uff da!

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