July 5, 2012

Remembering Well

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

As a young teenager, I longed for the freedom to drive the car. Growing up in a small town, there wasn’t always a lot to do; by the time I turned 16 and had my driver’s license, I was certain that there was a whole new world to explore. And I was ready to explore it.

Of course, my early driving experiences were limited to using one of my parents’ cars. And when I say “limited,” that’s exactly the way it seemed to me: “limited.” Very limited.

My Grandma Deuth lived in a little neighboring town about 10 miles away. More than once, I managed to get myself out of doing the dinner dishes by quickly leaving the table before everyone else had finished
eating so I could “surprise” Grandma with a telephone call. Now with my driver’s license in hand, I reasoned that perhaps some trips to visit Grandma might warrant the use of the car.

This approach worked quite well for me early on. Then, like most kids, I got a little too comfortable with my privilege and started cruising around town on the way to Grandma’s. Some towns have a “strip” for cruising; we had “the square.” And a full trip around the square was close to five miles. So, four or five times around the square on the way TO Grandma’s…and four or five times around the square on the way BACK from Grandma’s…eventually left little room for explaining the 40 or 50 extra miles than the usual trip to Grandma’s house should require.

Then I got my big break: we planted a big garden in Grandma’s backyard. Soon, I discovered that the garden required watering and weeding and, of course, harvesting the vegetables. I quickly volunteered to go and do the work, so I could get my hands on the car keys.

I loved that Grandma’s house was right near the village fire station. Three times each day, like clockwork, the fire siren would sound to let everyone in this otherwise quiet little town know when it was 12 Noon, 6 p.m. or 10 p.m.

Just a little slice of Mayberry, RFD.

While working alone in the garden late one afternoon, the most ominous, deep growl I had ever heard emanated from right behind me. Starting low and loud, it escalated rapidly…and I was thoroughly convinced at that moment that a very large bear was charging toward me. And I was about to become his dinner.

To this day, I am positive that my feet left the ground by three feet or more, as I spun around in stunned and startled amazement. Fully expecting a wildly charging bear heading toward me – and trying to figure out where I would go to escape from him – you can imagine my continued horror when I could still HEAR this bear but could not SEE him. As the growl continued to escalate higher and higher and louder and louder, I soon realized that there was no bear at all: the fire siren had just sounded to let the villagers know that it was 6 p.m.

My hands were still shaking as I fumbled the keys into the car’s ignition. Starting the car, I vividly remember locking all the doors. Just in case.

I drove home with both hands on the wheel, hands at 10 and 2. Didn’t turn on the radio. Didn’t cruise the square. Went straight home. And completely forgot to bring the vegetables home for dinner. . . which, doggone it, was another opportunity to grab the car keys and head to Grandma’s house.

Remember Well.