Winter of 2016
“Ante in!” My husband, Ken, and I were still glowing with our newly married pride and we were over at Sam and Cindy’s house playing cards. We didn’t have a lot of money, since I was going to grad school and Ken was working for his dad at the feed mill, but we had fun the old-fashioned way before laptops, cell phones and the internet. We sometimes went into Iowa City for a movie or a dinner at Carlos O’Kelly’s, but primarily we played penny poker or “Up and Down the River” and sipped wine coolers till we were too tired to think. We talked plenty. I was studying the great poets like Wordsworth and Yeats, and Sam, although the youngest of the group, listened intently and added in his love of Greek mythology. But change was coming and we talked about how Ken and I were planning to move east. As the evening fell into the morning, we gathered our coats and headed toward the door. As we were walking toward the door or perhaps even the next day when we saw each other in town, Sam asked, “Do you still love us?”
I thought of this recently when I traveled 30 years later to Kalona, Iowa for Sam’s funeral. I visited Cindy and her now two grown children and we remembered our carefree young married days. We had stayed in touch, especially when our oldest children, Patrick and Sharayah, were born 4 months apart. Cindy and I had commiserated over the long pregnancy and the late night feedings, sending each other pictures of our bundles of joy. I know this because I saw the pictures in her photo album a few days ago. I also saw the most extensive coverage of Ken and me kissing that could ever exist anywhere. It must have been one of our last nights together back in 1986 when Sam asked if we’d still remember them when we moved and became a part of the Eastern ways and culture. And yes, Sam we do still love you and Cindy. I can attest to the fact that we will never forget those times we laughed together in that Hillary tent and ate Entennman’s crumb donuts, the times we sat around your card table and discussed the future of the church, and the times we came up with a Sunday school class called “Basileas.”
Rest in peace, Sam, we will always love you.