My Influential Distant Relatives

Perhaps you too have a person in your life that has always remained a fond memory, even after they have left this earth. Herman and Mary are two such people that touched my young life. Perhaps you will be the Herman and Mary in someone’s life today. I have no pictures to share, only memories. 

Life on the Farm

Have you a neighbor of your youth that you recollect with fond memories? I sure do. When we moved to the country it wasn’t long until we met our new neighbors on the hill south of our place. Mother said, “They are distant relatives.” I thought about that and wonder why she said that. It really wasn’t a great “distance” to their house. Heck, I could see their house from ours when the trees were bare.
Soon we went to visit our “distant relatives.”  Out came the most jovial couple you would ever want to meet.  And even then, small as I was, it seemed I knew them already. Have you ever experienced this? Meeting someone for the first time and immediately you connect?
“Sherry, this is Herman and Mary and their daughter Cindy Cornette,” Mother introduced.  Of course I was shy, but I knew my manners and said hello. As they chitchatted I surveyed my surroundings.  Unusual to me was that their house was on one side of the road and their barn on the other, but because of it, we kids would eventually learn how to properly cross the road (not a street) and we soon learned we loved being at their barn.  Herman won me over that first visit when he asked, “Would you like to swing in Cindy’s tree swing?”  Which he noticed I had been noticing.  Of course, I said yes.  And he pushed me high, high, higher into the air.
Inside their home, I remember very little except Mary collected salt and pepper shakers and had oodles of them. She had in her   kitchen a small water pump   and even when we weren’t thirsty we said we were just to watch her pump the handle up and down and draw water from it.   Cindy, being the only child, had her own bedroom upstairs with an old fashioned bathtub with no walls around it. We thought she was very lucky.
We kids became regulars riding our bikes up the hill to the Cornette’s place.   “Yes, you can visit but only for an hour,” Mother instructed,  “So as   not to wear out your welcome,” whatever that meant.
Besides, learning to feed the hens and “hear them talk” we loved to gather eggs and hear Mary’s laugh   when they pecked our hands as she anticipated they would.  We soon learned when it was milking time and arrived   excited to watch Herman milk the cow from his milking stool, a real treat. We anticipated the exhilarating moment when he shot the milk out of the teat to a nearby cat or toward us, just to hear us scream and run. And later we’d stand for him to see if he could hit our mouth. And laugh we all did.  And he had a great laugh.  
Then one day, right after the milking was done, the best day ever, Mary asked, “Would you and Robby like to help us feed the raccoons?” Of course we said yes.  They were nursing a litter of orphaned raccoons until they were big enough to turn loose.  We first watched, then Mary handed us a baby and a glass bottle, and it nursed immediately, wrapping its long fingers around my hand, guzzling the milk as it bubbled around its mouth. “I think I shall never forget this day,” I told Robby as we road our bikes back toward home.
And I haven’t forgotten the influence of the Cornettes.  Only a few years back, I learned the connection in that Cindy (Cornette) Cropper is actually a third or fourth cousin to me, no wait to Mother, well I’m not sure. Her maternal grandfather and my maternal great-grandmother were brother and sister. So however that adds up you can let me know. But we are glad the distance wasn’t too far for us kids to peddle our bikes home with a pocket full of farm memories during the summer of my youth.
So Here’s the Thing: You just never know how you might be touching someone’s life in a marvelous way. Herman died of a heart attack helping the fire department at the neighbor’s house just down the hill from his. Mary, died in the nursing home and I made it an appoint to go visit her and we reminisced about the things I learned from her on the farm. Memories live on. Make an appoint to make them good ones. 

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