And so it goes

“A casket is like a church: none will get you into heaven, none will keep you out. It is not about the accessories. Do the essentials right, and the rest will take care of itself.” (thomas lynch)

You may remember that The Bud and Jan Show had been going around for some time, planning how they would wrap up the loose ends on their lives. These conversations weren’t particularly doleful, just opinions stated in between Hardball with Chris Matthews and Emeril Live. And because they have both been strongly opinionated people and not always shared them, sometimes the conversation got lively. Ever the ardent conservationist, my mother-much to Bud’s chagrin- went to town and made pre-arrangements with Affordable Funerals to be cremated. No fuss, no muss. Bud, from some residual fragment of his German Lutheran upbringing, thought that was just not right. Beyond that he’s been swearing to build a private crypt on the only perkable piece of land at Lost Loon Lodge. He went so far as to get permission from the state department of public health to declare the place a private cemetery. Then, sometime last fall my mother had a tearful week where she exerted a lot of pressure on Bud to also sign up for the 1,000 Affordable Funeral plan and because, ultimately, Bud would do whatever it took to make Jan happy, he went to town himself, plunked down a thousand bucks and signed on the dotted line.

Yesterday I spoke with him on the phone and I continue to be amazed at Bud. With Bud, what you see is what you get. And it’s all good. He is at once simple and incredibly intelligent. He says what he means and so forth. So when I talk to him he says simply how very very sad he is. He misses mama. He cries a little. He is eager to have his children and grandchildren around him. He is starting, with Laurel’s help, to fold up some of my mother’s things. Lots of people have called and dropped by. The place isn’t the same without mama.

These conversations break my heart and touch at the fringes of how much I miss her and want her to still be here but I haven’t let myself fully go there yet. I’ll probably wait until I get on the Saab prop plane Thursday and let loose again over beverage service.

Then Bud said, “You know, today is a very hard day.” I was about to ask harder than yesterday or tomorrow? when he said, “Today is the day your mother is cremated and I don’t like that.” That’s how he says things- “I don’t like that.”

I said, “I know you don’t, Bud. and you’re a good man to respect her wishes.” And Bud said, “Oh well, of course I do. But you know when I had to go sign some last paper about something at the funeral home today, I took mine back.”

I knew exactly what he meant because he had already told me months ago that if my mother died before him there was “no way in hell” he was going to be cremated and he just signed that agreement to make my mother happy. Plus, he told her that, too. So I said, “Well, that’s okay, because we know that’s how you feel and we’ll respect your wishes, too. But between now and then there’s a lot to do, including your class reunion this year and so on.” And Bud said, “Oh, ya. Lots o’ stuff.” Sometimes, a little Yooper slips into his speech.

My sister Laurel is still there at Lost Loon Lodge, feeding and cleaning and cheering him on. My other sister, Betsy, tried to head home after ten days so she could get back to teaching at WMU and her own cats and husband and bed, only to drive east for 3 hours and get stranded in a snow storm in- you can guess this- Marquette. Home of the ICU marathon. This is where my friend Roxanne would insert “bless her heart.” Indeed, bless her heart. At last word she was still in Marquette but due in class today; I hope she made it.

Who has their obituary in The Daily Mining Gazette? That sounds like such a- what? Small town, ends of the earth, whoever heard of it newspaper? My mother, for one. It’s the newspaper of the Keweenaw Peninsula, stretching out into the heart of Lake Superior. And that’s where her heart was.

Janet Morrow Avery

GRATIOT LAKE – Janet Morrow Avery, 79, of Gratiot Lake,
Keweenaw County, died Saturday, March 11, 2006, at Marquette General
Hospital, after a valiant fight, from complications of pneumonia.

She was the beloved wife of Eugene “Bud” Avery; and mother of
Bruce Aller (Alison) of Upton, Mass; Vicki Bennett (Rich Luker) of Ann
Arbor, Betsy Aller (Andrew Kline) of Kalamazoo; and Laurel Avery-DeWitt
(Ian) of Oshkosh, Wis. Her dearly loved grandchildren are Daniel and
Abigail Bennett and Max Avery-DeWitt. She also leaves her former
son-in-law, Ed Kraai; her half-sister, Mary Ahlin; and her
half-brother, Edward Morrow.

Born December 3, 1926, to Richard Joseph Morrow and Elizabeth
Woodward Morrow in Waterbury, Conn., Janet graduated from Harbor High
School, Ashtabula, Ohio, and attended Kent State University before
moving to the Detroit area. She received her BA and MA from Wayne State
University, and she taught English and journalism at Liggett School and
Grosse Pointe North High School in the Detroit area. Later she taught
composition and technical writing in the Department of Humanities at
Michigan Technological University from 1981 to 1991. She was a
conscientious and caring teacher and was much loved by her students
over the years.

From childhood on, Janet longed to live near Lake Superior and in 1980,
she and Bud moved to their summer cottage on Gratiot Lake in Keweenaw
County. For the next 25 years, she worked to protect the environment of
the Keweenaw. Janet was an active and articulate citizen at local land
use planning meetings and she was instrumental in the early phases of
protecting Bete Gris from overdevelopment. As founder and president of
AWAKE (Association Working Against Keweenaw Exploitation), she
vigorously sought integrity and accountability for mining activities
proposed in the western Upper Peninsula and in Wisconsin.

Janet was an avid gardener and enjoyed literature, cooking, politics,
writing, and classical music. She cared greatly for her animals, and
her cats, Robert and Lady Jane, are adoptees from the Keweenaw Animal

Cremation was arranged by the O’Neill-Dennis Funeral Home and a
memorial gathering in her honor will be held in the spring. Expressions
of support may be directed to the Janet M. Avery Memorial Scholarship
Fund at the Gratiot Lake Conservancy or to the Keweenaw Animal Alliance.

The family wishes to extend heartfelt thanks to Ray and Donna Peck and
to Ed Kraai for their support and friendship during this time; to the
outstanding and caring nurses and doctors at Marquette General
Hospital; and to all those who kept Janet and her family in their
thoughts and prayers during this time.
(Daily Mining Gazette, March 14)

24 responses to “And so it goes

  1. A great lady, Vicki.

    No chance you might lure Bud away to sunnier climes?

  2. Your mother sounds like a great woman Vicki.

    My heart goes out to Bud while he deals with Jan’s loss. It’s love like theirs that makes me realize true and real love can exist.

  3. I hope your sis arrived safely. Weather is so unpredictable this time of year.
    You’ll feel everything when you are ready. I am proud of you and your family for following your mom’s wishes. I’m also glad to read Bud’s wishes will be followed too, but hopefully not for a very long time. Keeping you in my thoughts. Lois

  4. …and let the people say “Amen.”

  5. The more I read about your mom, the more I am touched by what a remarkable woman she was. It is easy to see that she was so well loved, and that she will be deeply missed by her family and her community.

  6. Vicki, I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I’m touched and thinking about you.

  7. All I can say for your sister besides “Bless her heart” is “thank goodnes she wasn’t out on a road in the boondocks with nothing for miles around when she had to stop.” I hope they are understanding and that she can have a couple more days to rest.

    Personally, after reading about Jan and Bud and your sisters and brother, all I can hope is that my life has made a difference to others in even a small way. I’m sure she knew how much she influenced her community, Bud, and her family. It is obvious that she knew how much she was loved.

    Cry as much as you want, whenever you want, even if it is the same little flight attendant. Know that as we read your loving words of tribute, our eyes brim with tears as well. Tears for your sadness, but also tears of joy, for your family really is bonded in love and much of this is due to Jan and Bud.

  8. A very nice remembrance. I am so glad your mother was an ardent environmentalist. Every time you pass through a forest, see the wildflowers bloom, or hear the rustle of a bubbling creek, you can think of how your mother worked to protect them all. It’s an enduring legacy, her’s to share with you, and all of us.

  9. Thanks for sharing this. I hope all is as well as it can be. Take care.

  10. A lovely obit and Bud is fortunate to have such loving family around him. You are all fortunate to have each other.

  11. A lovely remembrance. I think I would have liked her very much.

  12. What a remarkable woman your mother was. Thank you for again for sharing this with us.

    I don’t have to tell you that you’ll feel this loss when you’re ready… but if it will help, I’ll hope that the flight attendant is out of white wine again on Thursday.

  13. Thanks Vicki. What a lovely woman your Mom was. It would have been such a pleasure to have known her.

  14. She was a journalism teacher! No wonder you have such a way with words, Vicky. I feel so bad for Bud at this time, and I hope in days to come he will find some peace and solace in the rich memories of your Mother.

  15. What a vivid person your Mom is! And what an impact she has had on people and place. I’m thinking of you and of Bud. I can understand how sad he is.

    Thank you too Vicki for your warm and comforting post to me. In the midst of your personal sadness, you are so able to reach out. Your mom shines through you!

  16. What an exceptional woman. I understand the loss you are living with.

  17. Beautiful obit, though, as always, they can only capture such a small portion of the person and a life lived.

  18. No wonder YOU are such a lovely person, Vicki. With such a mother, how could you be otherwise? God bless you.

  19. You are your mother’s daughter, indeed!

  20. Lovely tribute to your mom. My thoughts and prayers are with you all–take care.

  21. She sounds like a special lady who did a lot of good.

  22. Vicki, I send my deepest sympathies. I also send a salute to the memory of your vibrant mother.

    I’ll bet you feel her all around you.

    Many blessings to you and your family,

  23. I am just catching up here, Vicki… much love to you. Losing a parent is hard at any age.

  24. Beth Ann Choate

    Thank you for sharing. My friends that I stay with in Monroe are from the UP and Charlie is a yooper at heart. Your Mom sounds like she was finally free to be who she wanted to be – it’s a good thing!!!

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