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Otto’s Memorial Service
For those of you who weren’t here, I can tell you that Christmas in the mountains lacked something this year. To be sure, we had the big windstorms around the 14th, and some snow, so we had the white Christmas we always expect but sometimes don’t have.
The Post Office is, even more than usual, the center of our lives around Christmas, as we send and receive packages and cards. But without Otto to greet us, it just wasn’t the same. Christmas wasn’t as much fun as it was last year.
The memorial service was held at the Fire House, and, for Allenspark, it was a big crowd; standing room only for the nearly 100 folks there. Danny St. John did a fine job as the first of many speakers, and for almost an hour people who had known Otto for a couple of months or more than three decades shared their memories with the group. Some stood. Some sat. Some cried. We all laughed at some of the stories.
In a community known more for its factions and disagreements than its solidarity in any cause, it was a remarkable experience, as so many of us joined together, for what may have been the very first time, in a common purpose.
Otto would have liked that.
The day was beautiful, with a cloudy, blustery morning, which gave way to the startling Colorado blue winter afternoon sky of the sort that seems to appear only in our valley.
Afterward, we had cookies and coffee and conversation, often with people we hadn’t seen in years. I hadn’t spoken to Carol Angevine in more than 20 years, even though we have winter homes less than a mile from each other. I could see many others greeting people they hadn’t seen in a long time, renewing old acquaintances and promising to keep more in touch.
Otto would have liked that, too.
For those of you who are summer people, and who were denied the pleasure of this occasion, I can only say that those of us who were there included you in our thoughts and our memories as we celebrated Otto.
It’s true that he would have been ambivalent about it; he would have been pleased that we had a memorial service, but he would have told us, finally, “Get out and get on with it.” He would have said that because that’s how he lived. He was a number of different people at different times, as we all are, but he was always getting on with it, and in the end he left Allenspark a better place because he was a part of it. We could all hope someone will say that about us when we’re gone.
So we’re getting on with it. But, at least for the time being, it isn’t as much fun as it used to be.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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