Keeping a 27 year old “promise” in Great Bend
As “Memorial Day” approaches: many of us think about our deceased loved-ones and friends, and often people decorate graves with flowers as a token of remembrance. The holiday was originally known as “Decoration Day”. Around the year 1985 or so,I first made contact with my mother’s second-cousin, Virgil Kober, Sr., of Great Bend. He and I are both descendants of Petrus “Peter” Kober who was born in Moravia, Austria (now part of the Czech Republic), and who is buried in a rural cemetery southwest of Olmitz. My mom and dad were both living at the time, and we came to Great Bend regularly back then for my parents’ attendance at their I.O.O.F. Odd Fellow State Grand Lodge sessions and Ladies Rebekah Assembly State meetings, which were sometimes held at Great Bend. Great Bend was also my mother’s birthplace in the year 1922 and we still have Riedl and Hampel relatives/descendants still living there. Anyhow, I never dreamed it would take 27 years to keep my “promise”. Just a few days ago, finally in May 2012, I finally kept my promise and met my relative Virgil Kober. He was a gracious gentleman who showed me around his acreage, his greenhouses, his farm machinery, his vegetable and flower garden, his wheat-land, and what I enjoyed most of all, being on the 4-wheeler to see his cattle, including a new red-Angus bull.
When I first made the promise to Virgil in 1985, I was recuperating from a bout I had with cancer in 1984, plus I was a university student, so it wasn’t easy to “get away”. I am just thankful that God gave me a “2nd chance” and I finally got to meet and shake hands with Virgil. My message to everyone for this Memorial Day: Let us all pay tribute to our Honored Dead, especially the military people in our families. Continue decorating the graves at cemeteries. But don’t forget your LIVING “extended families”. Pay your respects to those people buried “beneath the Tombstone”, but also take time to interact with those family and friends (especially the elderly shut-in’s ) who “are alive & well”. Life is short. Life is precious. And, Time is fleeting. Grab an opportunity while you can to “make new memories” you can cherish, alongside the faded old memories of yesteryear. You won’t regret it.
James A. Marples