When my husband’s aunt, Helen Knox passed away on January 11, 2017 at the good old age of 99 years, her passing left her soul mate, Uncle Frank Knox to carry on alone…at least in that the love of his life was not longer with him. Of course, his sons are still here, and his grandchildren, one of whom I have had the great privilege of getting to know over Facebook since her grandmother’s passing. Yesterday morning, it was Frank’s granddaughter, Kate West who passed along the sad news that Uncle Frank had gone to Heaven to join his sweet wife, Helen. My thoughts immediately went back to the times that Frank and Helen came for visits, and what wonderful and interesting people they were. I wanted to write a tribute to Frank about the times I remembered, but then I read about Kate’s memories, and…well, I hope she won’t mind if I take a chapter from her Lifebook for this story. Her memories are so sweet and so thoughtful, that it became very clear to me and to anyone who read her words, that her grandfather was very, very special to her. Nothing I could have said could even begin to compare to the words of his Kate…or to those of her dad, Greg Knox, who told me that the date of Frank’s passing was the same date he and Helen married, just 71 years later. That is a very special day to Frank and Helen.
While Kate is very sad that her grandfather is gone, she is glad that he is with her grandmother again. They had lived long and happy lives, with 71 of those years lived as husband and wife. When her grandmother passed away, Kate found herself distressed because her grandfather was now without his other half. For Kate, the connection she and her grandpa had was the closest relationship she had with any of her grandparents. Part of the reason is that Frank and Helen lived with Kate’s family for 4 years, from the time Kate was 8 until she was 12. Helen was a little more quiet than her husband was. Frank was always very outgoing, and that made him easy to get to know. The relationship Kate had with her grandfather reminds me of the relationship I had with my Uncle Bill Spencer. Kate’s grandpa, or maybe her dad, taught her the game of cribbage, like my uncle did with me. After that playing cribbage became a ritual. The family used to go camping, and it always seemed to rain, at least one day of the trip. That was all it took for Kate and Frank to get out the cribbage board and pass the time in the friendly rivalry that cribbage always is. Those are the memories that will last Kate for the rest of her life…the memories that will keep her grandfather in her thoughts. She won’t pass a cribbage board without thinking of their games, or hear the rain without thinking of her grandfather. He will always live in her heart, as he will in the hearts of all of those who loved him.
Having moved to Spokane, Kate didn’t get to see her grandfather as often during those last years, and while she feels the regrets that come from a busy life and the difficulty distance brings to staying in touch, I can tell her that for her grandfather, the memories of the fun times with his cribbage partner kept a smile on his face, and she lit up his day with the love that showed on her face for her grandfather. While we may not realize what a huge impact we have of the life of another, they know it. Those around us who care about us, are the bright lights in our lives. That’s what Kate was to her grandfather. Uncle Frank will be greatly missed by all of us, who loved him. We look forward to seeing you again in Heaven, Uncle Frank.
My husband, Bob’s aunt, Esther Hein has always lived far away from the rest of the family, and I find that a little bit sad, because it means that we don’t get to see her very often. Being far away makes it hard on Esther too, because if anything is going on, she feels like she is completely disconnected. We try to keep her informed, but there is nothing quite like distance to make a person feel disconnected from a situation. I suppose that the phone calls, help…especially when she can talk to the person she was so worried about, but I know from experience, it is easier on the family to be in the waiting room of the hospital than a thousand miles away. Whenever Esther would came to Casper for a visit, it was always a big deal. It may not have been an official family reunion, but those mini family reunions are really nice too. It has been a number of years since Esther has been able to come for a visit, because of health concerns she has had, but I hope that someday soon she will be able to come for a visit again, because it really has been far too long since we saw her last.
Years ago, when she was a child, Esther’s family lived in the country, and during the hard winter months, when the weather in Montana was as harsh and unpredictable as Wyoming’s weather seems to be this year, Esther was sent to stay with her big brother, Walt Schulenberg’s family during the school year, to ensure that she was able to make it to school each day. As a little girl, I suppose living in town with her brother’s family seemed as far away from her parents, as the distance she is away from family now seems…especially for a little girl. Nevertheless, I’m sure it also seemed a little bit like a great adventure to her.
Esther has always been a crafty person. She makes quilts, curtains, and other sewing crafts. She is also an artist, and has painted everything from canvas to saw blades. Her favorite things to paint are landscapes, and that is cool, because that is my favorite paintings too. And were it not for Esther, my husband’s hair would look awful most of the time, because it was Esther who showed me how to cut it right…thankfully!! Today is Esther’s 76th birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!