I’d Like A Cheesburger: Hold The Onions.

It’s not every day that I write one of these that I know will make my mother cry. So, in advance, Mom – it’s okay.

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A friend died on New Year’s Day. Her name is Connie Oace. I count her as a friend because she was more than a friend’s mom. Her children, Chris and Vicki, have been my friends for many years.

Connie Oace

Connie Oace

Connie got dragged into the friendship mess somewhere along the way. I’m not really sure when all of them became part of my extended family and circle, but inside “the ring” they are going to stay.

Connie was never quite sure what to do with me. I perplexed her in that I was a big barbarian (all of the Oace tribe are rather diminutive folks) with outspoken conservative views. She was pretty much the polar opposite. The fact that I would rationally discuss things with her (not possible with Chris – he needs a smack sometimes) and laugh at the stupidity of people who don’t think their positions through on either side seemed to gain me some trust and credence.

I would see her at baseball games, parties, church events (she displayed her work one time in a church and my wife and I went to view the exhibit) and other assorted venues. I would always give Connie a wide berth if I saw her coming down the road – she was as rotten a driver as she was a sweet person. I suspect Connie cut me a wide swath on occasion as well. But she always lit up when I saw her. And I lit up as well.

There are gentle souls you encounter in this life who leave you a little perplexed. Connie never left me perplexed. In awe, wondering how I got so lucky as to know her and her kids, and suspicious of her radio set in the attic she used to contact Moscow during the Cold War. Not really. I kidded her family about that over the years and it’s a great story that will be told some day. Heck, I doubt she even knew Morse code.

Connie will be missed. She leaves behind a pair of children who I count as siblings. Halvor, her husband, went on ahead decades ago. I was honored to be a pall bearer when he checked out. She also leaves behind a daughter-in-law, two grandchildren, and more friends and admirers than most people will ever number. Please keep them all in your prayers today. The roads will be safer, but the rest of the planet will be diminished.

My generation is now at the point where we’ve almost all buried one parent. I talked to my friends this evening and Chris told me that he was bringing mom to breakfast. I had to laugh. He’s going to pick up the remains and will have them with him when we all get together tomorrow morning. One last time for the four of us. The day I picked up my dad’s remains I stopped at McDonalds and grabbed lunch. It had been a long day and I was hungry. I ordered two cheesburgers without onions for my father. That’s how he liked them. They were mighty hard to chew with the tears in my eyes.

Thanks for the memories, Connie. See you at breakfast.

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