Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Fresh memories from Memorial weekend

Wick's World


Early Friday morning marked the beginning of the first major holiday of the summer.

Memorial Day weekend is often celebrated by placing flowers on the graves of loved ones who have long since passed on. People attend ceremonies at their local high schools or parks. The rest of the weekend usually revolves around picnics, fishing and getting together with friends and family. This was our plan, along with some much needed rest and relaxation that were in order for my wife and me. A lot of attention to the lake home was also in order as we are trying to get ready to sell our family home.

This year, I remember my aunt who passed on last week, Ann Turgeon. Ann was my mom's sister and they could have been twins for as close as they were. I spent many summer vacations at her farm near Chamberlain, South Dakota, playing with my cousins and working with her husband, Seraphine. Thanks for the memories, Ann.

I also remember Allen Kapust. He was the husband of my wife’s longtime friend, Vicki.

When I first met my wife almost 40 years ago, we ended up living with Vicki in Austin, Texas, until we were able to find a home of our own. Over the decades, we always stayed in touch with them even though they lived almost 12 hours from us.

Four years ago, we took a trip to Colorado to reconnect with old friends whom we had not seen for over 30 years. I mentioned to my wife that we needed to spend one extra day and take the four-hour drive up to Casper, Wyoming. It had been some years since we had seen Vicki and Allen and this was a good opportunity to squeeze in a visit. Little did we realize at the time that we would never again see Allen alive.

On our overnight visit that year, we talked late into the evening, discussing everything from Allen’s remodeling plans to the state of his health. Allen had obviously put on extra pounds since I had last seen him, although so had the rest of us. He was concerned enough that he did go on a diet shortly after we left and over the months he had managed to shed 25 pounds. But evidently, during his cholesterol treatment, the doctors had failed to check the amount of arterial blockage to his heart.

Unfortunately for Allen, that blockage was considerable. He was working in his attic late at night last week, finishing some minor rewiring project at their second home, when his son left him around 8:30 p.m. He always checked in with his wife before 10 o’clock during the times they were apart. Shortly after 10, she called her son asking him to go back over to the house and check on his dad as he had yet to call. Twenty nervous minutes later, she got the call from her son.

When she asked if Allen was OK, her son replied, “Mom, it’s not good.” His son suffered the misfortune of discovering his 55-year-old father laying face down on the attic floor, showing no sign of life. Allen had died instantly from a massive heart attack.

His memorial service was packed to the hilt with friends from the school where he was in charge of "educating" the tough kids. The eulogies and testimonials were replete with stories that left no doubt Allen was the best youth counselor any of them had ever known.

The following week, we played out the same scenario in Kansas City with a wonderful woman named Jeannine, my wife’s cousin and friend of 60 years who also died over the Memorial weekend.

We are often gifted in life by the loved ones we just lost. We are also sometimes gifted in that person's death.

In Jeannine's case, we received one of the most loving gifts of our lifetime. After the ceremony, we were holding her miniature poodle when a family member asked us one of the easiest questions of our life, "There's no one to take Mae. Would you guys want her?"

My wife and I locked eyes only for a second before we both simultaneously answered, "Yes!"

Having been raised as a cancer patient dog, Mae has become the most loving animal we have ever known.

Lastly, I always remember Dale Wayrynen, who as a young soldier serving in Vietnam, jumped on a live grenade and saved the lives of his squad members. For this heroic action, Dale was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was buried on Memorial Day, May 30, 1967.

The lessons of this Memorial weekend? Live life to the fullest and reconnect with those old friends who may have slipped out of your busy life.


Reader Comments

VickiAndAllen writes:

Thank you so much, Wick, for your wonderful tribute. I happened onto it by accident. What a lovely surprise. I am so, so touched.


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