What a cute little town. I’m amazed by how much there is to do in this area. We will Definitely be coming back through next season.
We went to Custer so that i could get my South Dakota drivers license. Found a cute little RV park with fair rates. Had intended to stay a couple days but I’m super happy we stayed the week. I wish we could have finished out the month here actually. While the sights were fun and the surroundings were beautiful, the real treasure we found though was a little family. We met a little boy and his parents. Tembrook, Garland and Shirley. Our first introduction to them was Garland hurrying out to help Art park Serenity in the spot next to theirs. They moved here from the east coast to test out the location and see if it was going to make a suitable home. Lawyers were needed in the area and Garland was able to find a position quickly. Shirley says she felt led by God to this particular place. So they up and left family and friends just like we did but for very different reasons.
Tembrook is 6 years old. My heart goes out to his mother who is really kindof amazing to me. Shes opened up a little about her medical history and when she was done explaining a few of her procedures- she ended with ‘but its all good’. I looked at her and inquired ‘is it?’ She then chose honesty and said ‘no, actually, 2 years ago my oncologist gave me 3 years’. I really had no idea what to say. To add insult to injury Shirley was a Radiation Therapist specializing in the treatment of cancer patients. Giving and reading MRIs for cancer patients. Are you kidding me!? She didn’t even have the CHOICE to remain ignorant of the specifics of what is going to happen. The roller coaster of emotions she must go through every time she LOOKS at her son. She paused a minute then went on ‘but as my husband Garland likes to say, its all good, God’s got me’. We watched the kids play a little longer before we had to separate for dinner.
She goes about her life knowing she will leave her son, and likely soon. Shes amazing to me for her ability to just go about her routine. To keep making meals. To keep doing laundry (of all the awful things)!! But especially- she keeps her long term perspective of her son and her husband. I don’t know that I would have the strength to correct my child at all, but she’s a fantastic mom in the most difficult of situations. Tembrook is an amazing kid with a fun-loving personality who has already been through so much. From birthdays at the hospital, to helping shave his moms head before the chemo took it all. Shirley has helped her husband finish law school and find a position and a home knowing full well she may not be around to enjoy the fruits of her labor. She does it all fortheir future.
Garland remains strong and stoic as he hears his wife tell me (of what is likely only a fraction) of their struggles. Even changing the subject to something more frivolous and fun when he sees an opportunity. He gave us tips on what to do and see in the area as if he’s a long time native. Which by all accounts he seems to be. A more gregarious man you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere. The kind of man who makes his friends and his home wherever he goes.
To be fair, I only knew this family for one week. I have not been around to see them deal with all the difficulties I’m certain they’ve faced in the past two years. But by my estimation, if the proof be in the pudding, this little family is weathering their travails with the utmost of grace and dignity.
I was humbled and so very grateful for the time we had to get to know these lovely people. Leaving them was hard for me. Hannah asks about Tembrook almost every other day and I can only hope our paths cross again. Shirley assures me I’ll meet a lot of people like them in the camps that we will be staying at across the country. I didn’t know how to tell her how thoroughly I doubted that. This family is absolutely one of a kind.