Jan G. Otterstrom F.

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I often think of returning from Logan
and Jean Brown’s funeral and burial
in a late frosty Fall night with great uncle
Brown and his wife, in their post war
automobile. As we made it out of the canyon
And onto the valley floor, he stopped, on
The side of the road to rest in the dark.
I was a college freshman, lacking patience
and understanding but I waited as he rested
before driving on into the black chill.
I remember sitting alone in the back seat
of his Plymoth with its motor running
to keep the heater going, while he
rested, reflected, memories flowing through his mind
of his sister, their lives and death, as he too stood
at its portal.  She was a very special lady, my grandmother
Jeannie, scholar, lover of poetry and birds
probably the most important early influence
in my life.  Sitting in a dark car, the motor running
to keep us warm.  John Brown rested from
the emotional ordeal of the funeral of his
beloved sister Jeannie, who in spite of a very
painful later life of arthritis, inspired us all
with her kindness, intelligence, generosity
scholarly approach to life. Always cramming for
life’s final exam, I was her Yan Yan.  A long moment
of silence for Jeannie who maybe accompanied us
as she loved me so much too.  Time is in charge of
placing past events in their true transcendent spaces. 
Our past is a dynamic panorama changing
as we grow older.  What Jeannie’s death meant
for her brother and what she meant to me were
very different, his view, an entire life, mine but 19 years.
I can see uncle John’s kind wind weathered glow;
Feel his leather reined thick calloused hands and hear
the sure timbre of his voice.  He was a sheep rancher
who had sat countless crisp nights in the dark
under the vast spread of heaven, its starry dome
gleaming, over the cedar breaks of southern Utah
pondering life’s mystery as his sheep huddled
waiting for dawn, their lambs, in close, to keep warm.

c)Jan Otterstrom
    February 12, 2009
    La Habana, Cuba