Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Story of a Life

I have been away for a few days. I went to the Philadelphia area to attend the funeral of the mother of one of my best friends. It was a funeral for Mrs. Larson (to me) (Katherine D. Larson to most), she was 80 when she died. She was born in Albany N.Y. daughter of the late William E. and Anna Murray Drislane. She was a graduate of Manhattanville College in New York City and when she graduated she worked for the CIA in Washington D.C. She raised nine children (not counting me) and she had eight brothers and sisters herself so I guess she had some experience with large families. My friend Susie was the youngest in the family. Susie and I were the only girls our age in a pretty rural area. We had way too much fun together in her pool, in the woods, giggling, playing board games and watching TV. Susie's house was my other house (I still remember the phone number). Her mom was my other mom. In the 1950's Mrs. Larson was Kaddy English, a widow with four children and then she met Ed Larson who was also widowed and also had four children.

They married each other and had Susie (to have nine children all together). Those nine are: 
David Larson,  John English, Tom Larson, Anne English Barneby, Lori Larson Barrett, Steve English, Mary Larson Walker, Erin English Wisler, and Susie Larson Fleming.
Susie Larson Fleming
Susie's girls, Katie and Caroline
  I never heard the word step or half ever, never ever. As a child, I did not really know the situation, it was just one really big family to me and to them.  Kaddy and Ed made certain that each one of them received their bachelor's degree with no loans and they are all extraordinary, wonderful people, nurses, doctors and lawyers and not a screw up among them. All together they have produced 27 grandchildren for Kaddy and Ed, from 2 - 22  years old (even older I think and 25 of them attended the funeral). The two that couldn't be there were busy in Medical School and in the Peace Corps. 

Kaddy was born on the day of Mary's Assumption and it is an fitting metaphor for her life. Mrs. Larson was an amazing wife, mother and friend. I can only imagine what she and my mother talked about by the pool as they sipped cocktails and watched Susie and me swim. Mrs. Larson taught me to put my dishes in the dishwasher (at her house any way) not to take the name of the Lord in vain (at her house anyway) and to only use plastic dishes by the pool (always). I believe Susie's brothers put together my swing set for my sixth or seventh birthday and carried it all the way from their house to our house (about 1/2 mile down hill) so I would be surprised. Mrs. Larson also hosted my bridal shower and came to our wedding (for which Susie was a bridesmaid).

I have only wonderful memories of the Larson family and of my many days and nights at their house. I slept over quite a bit... and once we were awake in the morning we were not allowed upstairs again, and certainly never allowed in the parent's bedroom. The kitchen closed everyday from 1:00 to 2:00 to be mopped and cleaned (by Kaddy). Mr. Larson (Ed) fixed up a picnic table to be the kitchen table (as five people could squeeze on to each bench). Mr. Larson owned a number of Arby's Restaurants and I always got extra cheese on my beef and cheese and they served roast beef at their house all time. The Larsons also had all the Arby's give away character glasses. They even had a cement outdoor table from the Arby's by their pool, where we played hearts a lot. At different times of my childhood there were different adults and/or grandchilren living at the Larson's home due to different circumstances. Everyone was welcome, everyone fit, especially me.

I am grateful for a very wonderful friend, her amazing mother and father and the home they created that was open, loving and welcoming to so many. ( I will find more pictures).

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