Sunday, December 06, 2009

My dear friend and neighbor, Vivian (Rayma Marian Morrell) Knutson, has crossed over the Great Divide. She was 84. A week ago she was as vivacious and nimble as a cat, buzzing around her house listening to Christian talk radio and taking notes. She reminded me of a pioneer woman. From my porch I would often see her hauling two sloshing five-gallon buckets of water for her tomato plants. She was a bona fide cowgirl until the end.

From her obituary:

[Vivian] thoroughly enjoyed riding her horse, Snip, to and from school and had other horses throughout her youth, including Fleet and Coalie. Part of her was a daring tomboy who was thrilled to be her dad’s farm/ranch helper. She loved trailing cattle to and from her father’s homestead in the Little Missouri Badlands. She loved to reminisce about her youth and especially enjoyed growing up with her Kling cousins.

Vivian had a heart as big as Dunn County and spent most of her life serving her family and others. She loved family trips, camping at Voigt’s Bay, her father’s cabin at Lake Ilo, family reunions, history, holidays and picnics. She pursued her passions with gusto and will be remembered for growing cherry tomatoes year-round, baking delicious buns and taking photos of everyone and everything that touched her heart. She enjoyed studying God’s word, was an avid Christian-radio listener and freely shared her faith with anyone. She loved half cups of hot, hot coffee and the challenge of serving good, hot meals to horseback riders moving cattle to or from the Badlands.
Vivian has been woven into my life since I was in first grade, when she was my first Sunday School teacher. Earlier this year I volunteered to drive her to Bismarck for some errands. When we arrived home, she handed me a check to buy two wooden rocking chairs for my front porch. When I protested, she told me to think of the chairs as a housewarming gift. She said she wanted young people stay and flourish in Dunn Center, and she hinted that a second rocking chair might help attract a partner into my life. Perhaps I have her to thank for my girlfriend!

Hana and Vivian became friends immediately when they met in June. Vivian hired Hana once a week to clean her house, organize pictures, and curl her hair. Hana and I are both very sad this week. We wish there was still a light on in the old house across the street.

The funeral will be this Wednesday. I'll be trucking and, unfortunately, will miss both the wake and funeral.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chris - your words are so kind and honoring to sweet Vivian...

-cousin Jen

Kirby Sand said...

I didn't recognize the name, but I certainly recognize the face. Sorry for your loss Chris.

Kirby

love23 said...

Hey Sandman, It's been awhile, for sure, but wow what a touching nice little story for my morning. I am glad there is a Hannah in your life. I don't have time to read back to where she began, but I am happy she did. Off to pick up my little granddaughter Ember later this morning, and a friend's 2 year old Josie for a play date with Ember. It's darn cold in these Bisbee parts! Love you, KATE

Sandman said...

Thanks, Kirb and Jen.

Mary Sand said...

We will miss Vivian--her kindness and warmth, her love of community, her generous and welcoming heart.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. What a sweet memorial. I feel like I knew her.
All the best,
jessica

Marsha said...

Hi Chris. What a lovely tribute to Viv. When I was a child, Viv and Gilman gave me a teeny tiny kitten. I named him Boomer and he grew into this gigantic fatty. She would hire me to do all sorts of little jobs, such as bake cookies and organise her family photos. She was such a friendly, happy soul. Sad.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your loss! What a beautiful life!

"Spud"

Charlene said...

What a beautifully written tribute to your lifelong friend. She sounded like quite the common-sense pioneer woman, indeed. May she rest in peace.