My Aunt Pat passed away last week. She and my dad’s brother Bob were the latest of that generation to feel the pull of the Ozarks. And while, for some members of my family, the draw is more compelling than for others, she stayed.

Her decline was swift. Her family took her north for care and looking after. And once the end had come, it was time for her last trip here, to be placed near Bob, my dad, my mom, my grandparents.

Her four sons, her daughter, and their extended families all came down. It was a tough time, as only the realization that both your folks are gone can be. We wanted to a way to help; a way beyond platitudes to remind that our passed ones stay with us as long as our memories of them do. And for that reminded, we called upon the house.

The little house on the White River, once the home of my mom and dad, has always had a magical aura. Blindfold someone who’s never been there before, bring them there, and they’ll feel the peace rising out of the land. And that’s what happened on Saturday.

25 people or more, all of whom we hadn’t seen for years, many we had never known as adults. A glass of wine. A plate of pasta. And a chair with a view that has calmed and healed my family for 25 years. These were the elements of magic.

Tears dried. Tension eased. The rhythms of breathing slowed and settled. Friendships were renewed. Bonds were re-established. The land gave a saddened family the gift that it has always, with remarkable and wordless generosity, given me: the understanding that we continue in the air, the water, the land. And in the wonder of memory, long after the person herself has gone.

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