Out Loud: Circle of Life

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I received numerous responses to my editorial last week, some very good suggestions, too. The primary reaction — and none of the responders said otherwise — was that they need and rely on the Town Crier. So, with that in mind, we’re going to try to figure this out. It may be a new model entirely but we’re going to hash this out to keep the newspaper in this community.

In the meantime, we experienced an interesting weekend with new and old family, particularly.

Kamila’s first birthday party Friday evening typifies the Wilson/Johnson/Clark relationship ever since Johnny and Halie married several years ago. We all celebrate many occasions together now because we all live here.

That’s a pretty special thing for Johnny and Halie’s kids to have two sets of grandparents and aunts/uncles around to help raise them. They also are close to our Johnson grandkids who live here, too, and are older so they help.

Halie was smart enough to bring a blow-up pool to set Kamila in when she ate. Baby wore a pretty pink dress and further properly colored herself more by smashing her little personal pink-iced cake with not only her hands, but her bottom. Then she laid on it.

After a thorough clean-up, she then, with children surrounding and cheering her on, opened her presents and played with them. It was quite the perfect first birthday.

My children’s grandmother died the week before last in Temecula. She was my mother-in-law for seven years. She left behind four children and more than 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The Johnsons are a large family and despite the usual infighting, they are close.

One of the sons used to bring his mother and, before she passed, her mother to our Thanksgiving dinners. I’ve stayed in touch. She was especially close to my daughter and her half-sister.

The two of them helped arrange an informal service Sunday at a house in Temecula. Family from as far away as Alaska made it. Jack and I were invited to attend.

When I was part of that family, most of the adults I saw Sunday were little nieces and nephews who remember me fondly as Aunt Becky. For the first time in nearly 30 years, I got to hug a former sister-in-law and catch up on our lives. She, too, divorced one of the brothers.

I met her grandchildren and she met two of mine. The event was a potluck and then we all went outside where vineyards surrounded us on hillsides — appropriate since Gramma Shirley loved wine.

Some wine did flow that day but more importantly, Shirley’s DNA flowed through the veins of the majority of attendees. She touched their lives and those of others, like me. Shirley was a world-traveler, artist and teacher, among other things. She was bigger than life and nearly every adult there shared how she had touched them. Along with wine and DNA, tears and laughter flowed.

The day before, Halie and Johnny attended a wedding reception. From first birthday to marriage to death, in that order, Halie said the weekend was a circle of life.

Becky Clark, Editor

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