Just over a month ago, Edna, Joyce’s only surviving sister, passed away at age 93. Konnie and I were so thankful that we were able to attend the service. It brought back so many pleasant memories and helped me reconnect with my Reynolds roots. We were also grateful to have visited Aunt Edna in August to share some of Grandma Theresa Reynolds’ keepsakes. We found Edna in excellent health, “sharp as a tack” mentally and energetically looking forward to stacking two cords of firewood in her garage.
Edna’s daughter Trisa made it a habit to call Edna every day. When she did not answer the telephone, Trisa contacted Edna’s attentive neighbor. That neighbor discovered that Edna had died in her kitchen earlier in the day while to preparing to bottle apples.
We had the pleasure of visiting with her children before and after the service. A handful of Reynolds family members were also there: Uncle Joe and Aunt LaRae; Uncle Carl; Aunt Emma’s children Al and Gayle Harris, Lynn Harris and spouse, and Carol and spouse; and one of Aunt Helen’s children, Carl Allen. Excluding Edna’s twin brother Ed, who died in a B-17 crash during World War II, there were 10 children in the Bill and Theresa Reynolds family. Six of those ten Reynolds children were represented at Edna’s funeral.
I hadn’t seen most of these cousins since Joyce’s funeral, over eight years ago. How sobering to realize that at this point in my life, only funerals bring us together! It doesn’t seem that long ago since we gathered at Logan’s Willow Park for a Reynolds family reunion. These gatherings included Grandma Theresa Reynolds, Aunt Winn (Grandpa Reynolds sister), the majority of Mom’s siblings and dozens and dozens of cousins. The meals, although potluck, were a smorgasbord of favorite Reynolds family recipes. While the grown-ups visited, we children played in the park’s stream and on the playground equipment. It’s been decades since the last Reynolds reunion. If one was held today, I’d now be one of those grown-ups, huddled near the food table but mostly relishing the chance to visit with Joe and Carl and cousins I don’t see nearly often enough.
Aunt Edna’s funeral included a delightful life sketch delivered by daughter, Linda, and son, Jerry. Among the stories of Edna’s childhood was the recollection of Edna helping with the family’s newspaper route. Linda and Jerry related that the money earned from delivering papers was used to buy shoes for the nearly dozen Reynolds children. They stated that the children took turns getting new shoes so, if you did get a new pair, the shoes had to last until it was your turn again. Apparently, the paper route was handed down from child to child. Many of you will remember Joyce laughing about proudly walking the route in the new ice skates she’d received for Christmas and the resulting badly blistered feet.
I have many fond memories of Aunt Edna, her husband Heber Jensen (who died of cancer in 1973), great times spent with Linda and Jerry, and even a few extended stays at their Burton home west of Rexburg (ID). I remember helping Jerry check the irrigation dams and stabbing huge carp washed down the ditches with a pitchfork. Heber was a school teacher by trade, supplementing his income with farming, plus maintained the Burton cemetery grounds. While staying with the family, Jerry and I went to the cemetery with Uncle Heber to “help.” While he mowed the grass, we hand-clipped the grass around the headstones plus pelted the unwanted ground dogs with rocks.
How strangely familiar to return to that same cemetery in 1973 for Heber’s burial, then again 42 years later to see Edna laid to rest next to Heber.
After the burial service, we returned to the Burton LDS East Chapel for a luncheon prepared by the ward’s Relief Society. The meal featured the usual Mormon funeral fare of ham, “funeral potatoes” (each of the four glass baking pans featuring its own version), Jello and hard rolls.
As the meal and visiting wound down, I noticed dozens of grandchildren gathering in front of the recreation hall’s stage. Curious about what had captured their attention, Konnie and I moved closer. How delightful to discover that Edna’s children had arranged over 50 troll dolls along the stage’s front edge. Each grandchild, beginning with the youngest, got to pick his or her favorite troll doll for a special “Grandma Jensen” keepsake. Apparently, much like Granny Joyce’s infamous chickens, Edna collected those crazy-looking troll dolls. Although my personal favorite was the Santa Troll, none of the kids picked it.
I’ll miss Aunt Edna and vow to make an effort to visit with Uncle Joe and Uncle Carl again in the near future. Sitting here at my desk, I just have to glance up at the wall in front of me to see the entire Reynolds family in the photograph taken at Uncle Ed’s funeral. What an incredible heritage!