Don and Janel Farr

I came across this photo of my grandpa's youngest sister and her husband today. My grandpa passed away my sophomore of high school. I was 15, he was just shy of 82. He passed away in his sleep on January 4, 2001; it was a surprise. We'd all been waiting to hear news of his brother just older, Denzel, and his other sister just younger, Nathel, as they had been ill for quite a while. Two days after my grandpa died, Uncle Denzel died, and a day after that, Aunt Nathel was gone too. The three oldest siblings in a family of six children. In 2003, two more siblings passed away, Cloyd and Gail.

(Agness Macdonald Lund with her three oldest children: Denzel, Irl, and Nathel)

Janel has been holding down the fort for quite some time. They were all born between 1916 and 1927 - Nine years to come together makes fourteen years a part seem like a mini eternity.

I was lucky growing up. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and, in so doing, I spent a lot of time with their siblings. My great aunts and uncles are giants in my childhood, and some were even my neighbors for a while. I love when my girls get to spend time with my aunts and uncles (and Jake's too), not only because that generation is so important to me, but I know how rare and lovely it is to be close to so many in a generation beyond that. I like thinking that I'm helping my aunts and uncles be the greats my greats were to me. In that sense, I never get to spend enough time with any of them.

But the sweet photo of Don and Janel. The women in my family are fiery. They are sturdy stock who are filled with wit and humor and stubbornness. And they are strong. On an afternoon when I was 18, Aunt Janel gave me one of the greatest compliments of my life during a casual conversation. I keep it tucked away with a handful of other compliments I've received throughout my life that haven't really transformed how I see myself, rather, they've illuminated how I see myself - glimpses of who I am through the eyes of someone else.


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