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Someone must have told Mom Nature how becoming the colors and blooms of spring were to her as she flipped her unpredictable mood to create a perfect for Easter weekend in our area. Lawns of homes, parks and churches bloomed with flowers, colorful eggs and children who were happily gathering them in bright baskets. It was what we like to think is a typical Missouri spring day, but often isn’t.

I wasn’t among those hunting for hidden eggs last Sunday. Instead, I was driving along highways and country roads admiring the beautiful day and the woods that bordered the route filled with dogwoods just beginning to bloom peeking around the edges of full redbud trees. Many of the homes I passed had children hunting eggs and adults playing ball. It made the trip enjoyable catching these small glimpses into the lives of others.

The travel was also filled with the scent of baked ham which I carried in the trunk of my car along with a crock-pot of green beans. It had become a tradition that I prepare these two dinner staples and take them with me to the farm near Hillsboro of my cousins, Ed and Belinda to share with family and friends for the Easter dinner.

I love going to their farm as it always so serene and the views from there are like old pastoral paintings no matter the season. The original farm home stands sentinel on the side of a steep hill overlooking distant fields with black cattle and young calves contentedly grazing or resting. A river with its full tree lined bank edges the border. The yard around the house and barn is filled with flowering shrubs and plants. Oh, and animals. They have, at last count, at least six or seven cats and five dogs that all coexist happily together as they roam freely about the grounds. There is even a very large, old, black pig who considers himself part of the dog pack. The pig, cats and dogs were all either abandoned or rescued and found their way to the farm and a pet haven.

It's a delightful place to visit as Belinda, her husband Ed and their adult son Ben all have the same relaxed, comfortable-in-their-skin and lives attitude as the resident animals.

There were 15 gathered around the table this year as Belinda and Ed don't limit their hospitality to just animals, as they also gather in all the stray people for the holidays to spend the day with their family. The ham I had prepared was a whopper: 17 pounds! Since I had delayed my shopping until late in the week, it was the smallest of my preferred brand I could find! Belinda now has lots of leftovers even after the guests each took home a few slices. I’m certain not a scrap of it will go to waste, as her family and probably other friends will be the recipients of several ham dish variations.

I wouldn’t miss these wonderful holiday gatherings for anything. As an only child who has now reached a point where I’ve quit counting birthdays, they become more and more important. But I did promise Belinda and her daughter, Rachel, that I would write out a detailed version of how I prepare the ham and the glaze that goes with it, so they can soon take over the “Ham Lady” title.

Now I just have to remember exactly what it is I do, as it’s usually a by guess-and-by luck method! Well, I’ll start the list with rum and an Ozark Pride ham and figure out the rest as I go along….rather like remembering all the places where you hid the eggs for the children! Terribly important, especially on rainy days when you hide the eggs inside!

Another long-time former resident, Carol Jones Saylor, died in a tragic house fire in Illinois last week. Services will be held for her here in Farmington this Friday.

Carol Alice Jones Saylor, 86 of Columbia, Illinois, formerly of Farmington passed away April 18, 2019. She was born May 12, 1932 in St. Louis. She was a member of the FHS class of 1950 and of Memorial United Methodist Church. In her younger years, Carol worked as a dental assistant for Dr. Paul Newman and later ran the Wishing Well Gift Shop in downtown Farmington for many years. She enjoyed bowling, painting and had a knack for interior decorating. She was a devoted and loving mother and grandmother and loved spending time with her family.

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She was preceded in death by her parents, Ernie and Genevieve (Stevenson) Jones; husband, Earl Leon Saylor; son, Dennis Leon Saylor; grandson, Justin J. Koppeis; and son-in-law, Frederic Custer.

Carol is survived by four children, Kathryn E. Custer of Gulfport, Mississippi, Patricia A. Koppeis and husband Joseph of Columbia, Illinois, Mary E. Banes and husband Ron of Sunset Hills, Missouri, Kevin E. Saylor (Lisa Hammack) of Farmington; two grandchildren, Carol-Ann Custer and Kayla Saylor; four great-grandchildren, Addison, Reagan and Harper Koppeis and Bryce Raby; sister, Elaine Miller and husband Jim; brother-in-law, Bill Saylor. Several nieces and nephews also survive.

A memorial visitation will be held Friday, April 26, 2019 from 10 a.m. until the time of memorial service at 11 a.m. at the C.Z. Boyer & Son – Taylor Chapel in Farmington with Deacon Mike Burch officiating. A private internment will take place at Hillview Memorial Gardens at a later date.

Carol’s sister, Elaine Jones Miller of North Carolina, will be here for the services and plans to return to her home on Sunday.

It is inspiring to read the words Elaine sent to a friend, that express her thankfulness for friends, family and even strangers to herself and her niece and nephew, Patty and Joe Koppeis, in the wake of the tragedy that resulted in the loss of her sister and Patty’s mother as well as the couple’s home. Following are words from Elaine’s letter that show her strong faith, and the goodness of people who band together to give comfort and help.

“The support of our friends, our church congregation, and our new friends and staff at The Crossings has almost overwhelmed us,” Elaine wrote, “We are so grateful.

“My niece, Patty and her husband, Joe Koppeis now retired, were small business owners in their small town and model boosters and citizens who bonded with other small business owners through the years. One of those owners is in construction and is in the process of building six condos. He and his crew worked frantically over the weekend to finish one of those units so that Patty and Joe would have a place to live. The furniture store owner brought in essential pieces of furniture, including beds. Church groups have provided bed and bath linens, and kitchen essentials. The local car dealer has provided them with a car to replace one that burned and has also arranged to have the car they left in Florida to be returned to them in Illinois.

“So much goodness! You can imagine how grateful we all are and how it warms our hearts to see how blessed we are when such love rises to ease the impact of this awful tragedy.”

Those words well sum up the very essence of the Easter lesson: Humility, steadfastness, gratefulness, loving one another and strong faith in the sureness that God is good and does care about us.

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