Fond memories recalled about beloved resident
The line snaked along the hall, around the corner and back up the wall opposite. The wait to greet the family and bid Jim Coleman a fond, bittersweet farewell was an hour or more. No one complained, rather spent the time reminiscing and telling stories; some of which I overheard, some of which I could only imagine and long to hear more.
They were stories about the long life of an ordinary man, who lived an extraordinary life and touched the lives of an inordinate number of people from all walks of life. I was sandwiched in between a woman and her husband in modest dress, a retired educator in a suit, and two fellas in overalls and ball caps, one of who whistled and gabbed his way through the wait. Two of the men, who worked for Jim as farm hands, told stories about the 1951 flood, how Jim was in a boat over in Wilder taking people out of a flooded home.
If memory serves me, Jim and Marion Vaughn, along with some other community people, were instrumental in having dikes built here to prevent the river overflowing again into farmland and peoples’ homes south of the river. They were instrumental as well in promoting the building of dams farther up the river for water containment and further flooding.
For some reason when they were talking, my mind went to the pump house and Macy’s on the Kaw located on the riverbank. Macy’s on the Kaw was kind of like a yard sale on the riverbank. You could find almost anything to buy or swap.
Macy’s on the Kaw identified the riverbank, like the Saturday night dances, with a live band identified Bonner for a whole generation of people.
There were discussions about main street in Bonner — nobody from here ever calls it Oak — where the feed store was originally located and when it moved across the river; where the car dealerships were located on main street — not sure of the history of those businesses.
It was a balmy day that turned to snow overnight; like the passing of a man — warm, springy, full of life one day; then the season’s change and with it the coming of winter.
Like the life of a man fully lived, on a weekend filled with sunshine, heavy snow and sunshine again, memories flow back to the beginning, middle and end of his story.
As with the seasons, his life goes on, reinventing itself through children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. His leaving is bittersweet; his timing perfect — the season of redemption and resurrection. In loving and being loved, the circle of life is born anew. The blossoming of the seeds planted, an ordinary man, an extraordinary life.