Loss offers reminder of highest treasure

By Kay Braddock

  Small town life in Eastern Montana is a unique existence. It’s a style of life that not everyone can appreciate. 

It most definitely has its disadvantages. Shopping is limited. Isolation is a mainstay. And change is anything but well received. 
But there’s more. Cliques are prevalent. Outsiders will most likely always sense an outcast sentiment. And word gets around fast – generally increasing with each account shared. Variety is practically non-existent and even the contemplation of being a nameless face in the crowd is a preposterous impossibility. Workloads are increased. Whether it’s volunteer or paid labor, fewer resources require more tasks handled by less people. And bumping into foes is a predictable dilemma. Accidently waving at them is even more commonplace.
All that being said, the charm that dwells within these tight quarters is renewed during just as many peculiar and special moments. 
That specialness was described to me shortly after moving back to Terry 11 years ago. 
“Terry is like a small family,” she told me as we stood in her backyard. As I listened Ann Wolff went on to explain. “You have those relatives you really like and others you don’t, but you care about all of them.” 
Her words stuck with me and the message behind them rings true.
That sentiment reverberates each time Terry loses one of its own. 
Although he may not have been a native of Prairie County, Keith Gumm’s contributions to the community he came to call home are truly countless. With unflinching clarity, he made his opinions and loyalties known. He valued the relationships he established, demonstrating that by offering continual behind-the-scenes support. 
As polarizing as some of the chemistry elements he taught, Mr. Gumm may not be a favored family member among some. But he’s  unquestionably family.
Life in Terry has offered more blessings than curses and more riches than can be monetarily gained. Chief among those riches has been establishing mature relationships with those who attempted to guide me through youthful indiscretions.
And isn’t that what life is really all about? Establishing relationships. Maybe those of us living in small town America have the highest treasure of all - the leisure to offer support to those around us.

April 28, 2010

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