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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Something About a Mule...and an Angel

Williamson, Iowa Main Street
Williamson, Iowa is one of the tiniest towns in Southern Iowa. In the 1930's it was a coal mining boom town. When the coal mines closed, they even moved most of the houses out of Williamson. It has since continued to shrink in size from several thousand inhabitants to less than 200 today.

They would've looked a lot like this, only dirtier, I'm a guessin'
Williamson wasn't the sort of place that most people would've ever visited because there wasn't much to see or do there. I probably wouldn't know much about it myself, except my Dad's childhood neighbor and lifelong best friend lived in the town at the end of a an old gravel road. We went there all the time and I called the man my uncle.

"Watch the hands, pal."

I don't remember it of course, but my uncle's wife had a sister who lived just up the road in Williamson. And that sister had a little baby girl who was born just four months after I was. The two mothers would see one another from time to time and they'd all compare the babies. One was small and beautiful and perfect and they named her Lorri. The other one had a giant head that was three sizes too big for his body, and he weighed ninety pounds at birth, and as if all that wasn't bad enough, they named the poor little bastard Buzz. 

Lorri, if she were alive in the Depression era and wore dresses as a child instead of her signature bibs (bibs, by the way, that being children of the 1970's and having particularly cruel parents, were probably plaid AND corduroy).
My uncle had a boy about my age too, and when we got a little older, we'd walk the three blocks to the thriving metropolis (a tiny grocery store at the time and a tavern) to buy some candy, or visit his grandparent's house on the other side of town (five blocks total). On our way, Lorri would stand out by the road and ask us where we were going. My "cousin" always told me to ignore her (his real cousin), but I'd watch her over my shoulder anyways. She wasn't allowed to leave the yard, I guess.

She still gets me to do stuff for her with this look.
When we didn't answer her, she'd get upset. Sometimes she'd skulk away...

And if I don't do it, then I get this look.
...And other times, she'd get mad and yell stuff at us, or chuck a rock our way, or throw a mud pie (when in season, of course). 

An adventurous spirit, it didn't take Lorri very long to discover that while being permanently grounded to her own yard alone, if she took her father's hunting mule with her, she was (inexplicably) allowed to go anywhere. Oddly enough, they must've reckoned that she wouldn't get into any trouble with that old mule in tow to protect her.

If it were up to Lorri, the mule would be INSIDE the house
After that, any time we'd go to Williamson, we could see her riding that mule. She rode that mule everywhere and her dad complained relentlessly about wearing out the mule's feet on the pavement because she loved to hear the sound of his hooves clickety clacking down the road. When she wasn't riding the mule, she was selling mule rides to other kids for a quarter a piece (or on credit if you couldn't raise the funds).

From that first time we walked by her house when we were all still very small, I've always turned my head to look at her again. Through the years, each and every time I saw her, she turned my head and took my breath away.

It must have looked a lot like these two, except I was seldom lucky enough to get this close. Until one day, a miracle happened and she simply stopped running from me.

Which brings us to today, forty years to the day after my angel was born (a few short months after I came into this world). If anything was ever meant to be, it was we two together, planting flowers and vegetables and caring for mules and horses on a little piece of ground just outside of a town that few people have ever heard of before called Williamson (she still loves the clickety clacking sound of their hooves).

And while she might have turned forty years old today, to a part of me, she will always be that same little girl, standing in the yard chucking rocks, or riding her mule down the only stretch of pavement in town.

And every day with her has been a blessing. The world is full of miracles when she is with me and she has reminded me that the greatest things in life are the simplest. From sunsets to hummingbirds and the awestruck surprise of watching something grow from the earth that you have planted together, every day with Lorri is full of miracles.

Looking back, I have come to believe that some angel had been watching me come into this world. She knew that I'd be a handful, and that I'd need some taking care of and guidance and watching over (sort of a special needs soul, if you will). It was too much of a chore to take care of me from way up there and from so far away, so she followed me here instead.

And I met up with her, my angel, in a tiny little town that nobody ever heard of before called Williamson. And she was, to me, the most amazing and beautiful angel that I had ever seen. And I can't wait to spend every day of the next forty years of our lives together, because with her, every day remains a miracle.

Happy 40th Birthday Lorri!




  1. What a beautiful, touching tribute, Buzz. She's sounds like a special girl. Cheers to the next 40 years together!!

    1. Thank you, Megan. I am rather looking forward to them myself. And "special" does not begin to describe her. Thanks again for stopping by, and as always... thanks for reading!


  2. Happy Birthday, Lorri. The first 44 years with an Irishman are the hardest.
    May you have long lives together and know the joy of each other's company. And may there be such a closeness between you that when one weeps, the other will taste salt.

    1. She said many heartfelt thanks to you, Doc. You're a swell fella. We might just let you come visit us on the island after I win the powerball tonight.
      Thanks for reading and for the sentiments, Doc, and you're right... there's nothing easy about living with an Irishman of any age.


    2. Yep, real love affairs are hard work. They aren't for sissies. But nothing compares. Nothing else is worth as much.

  3. Happy Birthday Lori! Buzz what a beautiful story...I believe you were made for each other:)

    1. Thank you Hally! It's particularly convenient since nobody else would put up with me anyways. Thanks for stopping by!


  4. I have awarded you a blogger award! All the details are in my post here: http://littleblogoflettinggo.com/2013/05/20/more-awards-oh-my/
    You have been a true inspiration to me, and I feel fortunate to be able to promote your wonderful blog. Thank you for doing what you do! =D

    1. Carrie,
      Thank you so much for the Award. Like the leg lamp from the movie A Christmas Story, I promise to cherish it always! And thank you for the work that you're doing over at http://littleblogoflettinggo.com
      If anyone is an inspiration, it's you!
      Thank you for reading!