When first learning the history of this area, it’s natural to focus on the big events as being those that tell the story of the past. The bloody conquest and banishment of indigenous people who had roamed these plains for centuries. The first ranches, some so vast that their founders, who might have been common men in other places, became, in this place, a new kind of king. The settlers rolling in, with circumstances more humble but dreams that were just as big, building towns only to move them again and again in pursuit of the location they hoped would guarantee the prosperity they sought. The arrival of the railroads with their endless miles of track that would change a land that had been unchanged since time immemorial. Lines appearing on maps that proclaimed counties. Counties, once proclaimed, that demanded governance. These are the events that, for most of us, tell the tale of the taming of the Great Plains of the West.
Before Pastor Delbert Beard left Eads for Oklahoma, he said he felt completely comfortable with the man who was taking his place. “He’s going to do just fine,” Pastor Beard said. It appears he was exactly right.
Pastor (“people can just call me Mark”) Imel came to Eads on the 20th of June, and already he seems to be fitting right in. “I’m very excited about getting to know the people,” he says with a youthful kind of energy. “I’m just happy to be here, serving the Lord.” He also is extremely grateful for getting to know Delbert Beard. “I have the highest respect for him,” he says. “He’s a very good man to follow.”
In a week, the Denver Broncos will be playing in Super honor for the team, but their hunger will not be satisfied until they have acquired the Lombardi trophy. Although it play in the Super Bowl, we all know the sacrifices, hard work, and dedication it takes to have success in athletics.
“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.” -T.S.Eliot
For a baby still inside its mother, the end of pregnancy is the beginning of life in this outside world of air and dust, water, birds, and prairie. To see and feel the Sun’s Light for the first time. This is where a new story begins.
The old year has passed, and a new year begun. We regard this passage as a transition, and so we should. The Sun makes its way higher in the sky each day giving us much-anticipated Light. (Who likes so much dark in winter? Not I.) We look forward to wheat sprouts and other greenery in the now-brown fields.
Among the passings, here in the community of Kiowa County Hospital District from last year to this, is that of Dr. Jeffrey Waggoner. I still expect to see him ambling down the hall – hat on head – and ready for another expert consult about a patient situation, but that is not to be. No more explorations of the eclectic range of his intellectual interest and knowledge. We are left with his picture on a tapestry hanging from the waiting room wall in the Eads Clinic. We are left with the fruit of his work and with the memories.
Jeffrey Waggoner was a great physician, a friend to many, and a man of the prairie. He loved the stories he heard of the lives of the people he served and also the interactions he shared with them. The pictures still hanging in his office: a distant flock of huge wheat harvesters moving across a vast field like barn swallows picking flying insects out of the air, a deep ravine cutting across prairie, “Doc” as a young physician comforting a bandaged child on the Ship Hope anchored off the Colombian coast, an old physician (Dr. Ernest Ceriani) still in scrubs pausing after a challenging day. Half of the lawn in front of his Kerr Street home was planted in prairie wildflowers and grasses like those on the prairie south of Eads where he wanted to live in a new-built home. That piece of prairie still stands empty and quiet.
Our dear Mary Eikner ended her formal nursing career at year’s end and began a new life of travel and freedom to pursue what new she wants in her life. The same for Bonnie Lessenden who worked for years as a laboratory technician at Weisbrod Memorial Hospital. Their familiar presence we can still enjoy, however. The patience and dedication of those we worked with informs our future efforts. It is something we learn from and carry forward.
This column may have the opportunity to address more topics that have to do with the health and well-being in our lives on the High Plains. At this point, it seemed like a good time to acknowledge these transitions and what we can take from them. Go with God.
Dr. Lenderts is a practicing physician with the Kiowa County Hospital District in Eads, Colorado.