Sunday, February 8, 2015


I’m sitting here today watching the play of sun and clouds on the hillside across the way. It’s not a pretty area but sometimes – as now – it’s stunningly beautiful. On this warm winter day I ponder springlike thoughts of renewal and resurrection. I’m actually reminded of Easter.

My brother-in-law, Bill Reece, passed on Friday, February 6, at the age of 89. He had been in declining health for several years. I suppose we can’t say his passing was unexpected, but neither did we know that Friday would be the day.

Kathy with Bill and Harriet, 1953
I just can’t let Bill go without remembering the good he brought our way. Fact is, I was not yet four the summer that Harriet and Bill were married, which means I really don’t remember when Bill wasn’t a member of the extended Walrath / Portfors / Dobson family.

It might be said that as Bill ambled along through life, he solved problems in simple ways. Together with Harriet, he took my parents on trips, drove my uncle to doctor’s appointments, called on the sick. My mother was never ready for the Christmas Eve reunion, and Bill and Harriet would show up early to vacuum (and maybe stash some clutter). Bill loved children – and they loved him back. And there were jokes and pranks with the nieces and nephews -- what I call the cousin group. I was too old for that particular fun, and my children were too young, but one of my sons says he remembers Uncle Bill as always jovial. Uncle Bill always had a smile for him, he recalls.

Bill had general building skills, and he helped my dad remodel the bathrooms in our house. Let’s see – that must have been 1958 or so. It was a do-it-yourself project involving several do-it-yourselfers. As an aside – because I truly don’t remember who was there and who did what -- I recall that someone (possibly me) flushed the toilet in the upstairs bathroom before the plumbing was connected. Not being channeled through a pipe, the water was held in a pocket of wallpaper and paint on the ceiling of the room below (my dad’s studio) until, of course, that bubble broke. We heard the unmistakable sound -- a splash and then dripping water -- as we were eating supper. Mother’s crocheted white straw purse was obliterated in the deluge. Well -- it’s kinda funny now.

Anything I could say is just not enough. "Words are not adequate," as they say. It’s impossible to summarize in a few words what one person’s life means to the whole. We don't even know the whole of it. The generations just pass slowly, and that’s a good thing. KW


Hallie said...

I love that photo--everyone in it so beautiful. I suppose a favorite memory is Monica's wrapping of the Uncle Bill gift in 18 (or more) layers of paper and him taking his sweet time unwrapping it to the amusement of all. Good bye, Uncle Bill.

Becky said...

Thank-you Aunt Kathy. This is so nice. Brought tears to my eyes. You depicted him so well. :)
Becky (Bill's daughter)

Keri said...

Thanks for sharing that Aunt Kathy. I don't like that I was so far away geographically from you all. I would have loved to have known him better. Good bye, until we meet again.

Chris said...

I, too, appreciated this post. Somehow, of your three brothers-in-law, I was least acquainted with Bill. I also love the picture. I didn't realize until I read the obituary in the paper that he was born the same year as my mom.

Kathy said...

The family has asked me to read this post at the service. Monica's gift was a good example and I added it.

There's no question but that it's one of my favorite pictures. I remember quite a bit about that day. The pictures probably help, but I also remember my thought processes.

Yes, Keri -- time and distance take their toll, together with other responsibilities that life brings our way. That said, you're welcome any time.

And Christ -- That's right -- Harriet and Bill are of your parents' generation, though I'm sure we didn't think of that so much when we were growing up.

Keri said...

Thanks Aunt Kathy. Maybe someday I will make it up that way.