CHAPTER 60: AN ANNIVERSARY
It turned out that Mom didn’t have to take on Helen’s celebration. It took on a life of its own. As Harry and Juli related to us, the residents of the surrounding area like things the way they like them. These were people used to hardships and doing for themselves. In fact, it was so much of who they are that it might just be part of their genetic code. Generations of people fighting, scr****g, and clawing for survival in these harsh environments and conditions. Being a city girl myself, when I thought about these people, I marveled that anyone stopped here to stake claim to the land and struggle so much to survive on it. But, struggle and survive they did. And, since moving into this space next to Harry and Juli and coming into contact with the people out here, I have become enchanted with the stories of their ancestors who came and settled this harsh, unforgiving land. Land that I have come to love.
But, and I know this, my love of the land is only the tip of the iceberg compared to people who have generations out here. People like Harry and Juli. People like Stella. And, surprisingly, like Helen. She quickly saw something of value, something to attach herself to, and something to believe in beyond herself. It was why people liked her before they realized it, why they were attracted to her, and why they found themselves trusting her.
So, when these people were left feeling unsatisfied with Miss Stella’s funeral and remembrance, they wanted to do their own remembrance, and Helen was naturally and easily included. These people, who fight so hard for what they have and have experienced, celebrate the passage of things. They believed that Stella was a life worth celebrating. Many people knew Helen, from Stella, from Harry and Juli, or from Dr. Anna. Many people saw Helen as a fixture of the roads, first as the runner they saw, then as the rider they saw in the distance on the range. To many she became a part of the fabric, especially as the stories spread of her time with Stella, helping her, engaging her in life, and most significantly, supporting her in death.
As a result, one thing tied to the other. A desire to celebrate more for the memory of Stella was tied to a celebration for Helen. The death of a 90 year old woman tied directly and irrevocably to the birthday of a 19 year old young woman. Between Mom, Juli and me, we tried to do what we intended, but it became clear that we could only assist the larger need. So, wisely, we stopped fighting the inevitable and worked with it. Saturday would be the area wide celebration with photos to review, stories to hear, and interactions for the families of the entire region. Everybody was invited. If you saw the postings on websites, in the local paper, bulletin boards at stores, and taped to light poles, you were invited. Harry was right, the only place that made any sense was the Town Square Park in the nearest little town.