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A Neighbor's Passing

Posted 10/5/2008 12:02pm by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

I’ve written several times about our neighbors here in Shade Valley.   So many of them have family connections that extend back several generations.  Even though we’ve lived here for ten years, we still feel like the new folks in valley.  Last summer, (2007) I became a little alarmed when I noticed a green mini van driving slowly past our farm several times in one week.  Since our girls were often outside playing when the van went by I allowed my mind to assume the worst.  I mentioned it to Roy and he too had noticed it, so I decided the next time I saw it trundling slowly by the farm, I would very obviously stare at the driver and license plate.   I was quite surprised to find a little silver-haired lady smiling and waving back at me.   She certainly did not look like the predatory pedophile I was trying to intimidate.  Her pattern of driving slowly up and down the road continued and soon other neighbors were filling in the details.  “Oh, there goes Evelyn again! If they don’t take her license away soon, she is bound to cause and accident,” another mother fretted when she picked up her daughters, whom I had been watching that afternoon.   Charlie, the dairy farmer down the road informed us that her husband had died recently and she “live alone on that farm before the S-curve.  She is a sister-in-law to….”   By mid-summer we routinely stopped what we were doing in the yard or garden to smile and wave at Evelyn when her little mini-van drove by going about 30 m/h.  A couple times I walked towards her hoping she’d stop and we could talk but she seemed more comfortable just smiling and waving as she passed.  I imagine it was a reassuring break in perhaps a lonely day to drive up and down the valley she had lived in most of her life and catch glimpses of her neighbors, relive memories, or just wonder at the small changes taking place as new people moved in.   I hardly noticed this summer that her van was no longer making it’s daily pass until the other evening when Charlie called to let us know that she’d died over the weekend.  I didn’t really know Evelyn, but briefly sharing this narrow, beautiful valley, vibrant with its seasonal routines and predicable yet quirky characters, connected us in some small way and I suspect when our family reminisces about life in Shade Valley, the summer we had a daily “visit” from Evelyn in her green minivan will be a memory that will make us smile.