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Goodbye, dear Della

February 4, 2020

George was seated across from me at Della and Lawrence’s table at their place in Hall, Montana, in the early 70s.

February 4, 2020

Day before yesterday at 8:30 a.m. I overheard Penny saying to someone on the phone how shocking and terrible the news was.  

You may have gotten calls like that, bad news of someone’s death.  Yesterday it was news of my sister-in-law, Della Jones,’ death.  Nearly 80, she had undergone open-heart surgery three weeks earlier to replace her mitral and aortic heart valves.  She seemed to be healing, but had trouble breathing.  She died in the night, shortly after her husband Lawrence visited her at the rehabilitation hospital at Big Timber.  Lawrence said he saw her winding and unwinding a skein of yarn, not speaking.

I am unqualified to tell about Della. She was nine years older than Penny and me, grew up in the “hit parade” years of bobby socks and saddle shoes.

But Della has always been kind to me and now we are grieving.  

I remember the first time we met, in 1970 or 1971, in a little old farm house near Hall, Montana.  The house was perhaps a couple miles out of town on a dirt road.  Della and Lawrence must have been working on a ranch there, and Penny and I were still childless.  I met P’s father, George Meakins.  He and I washed the breakfast dishes with water heated on a wood stove, while everyone else went to town on some sort of errand.  Then George took me into Hall and introduced me to the lady that ran the Stockman’s Bar.  George bought some candy bars and a couple packs of smokes.

I remember we slept the night at the small house.  It was heated by a wood stove in the front room that was cold by morning.

A year later, P., and our baby, Todd, and I visited Della and Lawrence at their new mobile home right in Hall, across from the Hall school.  Again, George was there.  I took a picture of him across the dining table.  

I have to leave the good stories about Della to those who knew her better than I did. I’ll remember her kind face, her laugh, her love for her family.

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