But Lula came and rescued those four children from their motherless state, and their father from his widowed one.
And respecting the mother she herself would never biologically be, she folded those four children of another's womb into her own heart and soul and became more than a mother to them.
She learned the ways of their father's people, learning even to prepare delicacies of a different culture.
Her husband told his children, after the marriage, that they should start calling her "Mother", and they obeyed and did. For awhile, at least. But soon "Mother" gave way to "Lula", which is how it ought to be. For "Lula" is as she came to them, and she remained "Lula" to all four of them until her dying day.
There have been a lot of great women out here on the prairie over the generations, and there are still some great women out here: but there has never been another woman on the prairie quite like Lula, and I do not believe that there shall ever be.
There is only one "Lula". No one else could have raised her husband's four children quite in the same manner as she did.
And no one else could have become grandmother and great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother to their children, their grandchildren, and their great grandchildren in quite the same manner as she.
The story of Lula is a tale of almost Biblical proportions, filled with delicious details about angel food cake with whipped cream; kluckenmus; scalloped potatoes made with cream and butter; cream, vinegar, and sugar on fresh garden lettuce; eggs, greasy bacon, sausage, and homemade buns dripping with fresh butter; and filled with presents...new pajamas for the grandkids every Christmas; and games, Bingo and pinochle (she was good at the game, even shooting the moon now and then, perhaps; and on occasion she couldn't help "peeking" if either of those on either side of her got too involved in the social aspect of the game and failed to properly conceal their hands.)
She came to the farm up by Crocus from her home in Rugby with nothing much except a suitcase full of clothes, and one or two other precious possessions, just short of her 31st birthday...and last Wednesday morning she walked over to the other side of life as rich as that Hebrew mother who was paid wages to nurse her own child in the royal palace.
It is a remarkable story, Biblical almost, the stuff of which legends are made.
Some people might look at a story like hers and think its just another story. Such people are to be pitied.
For it seems to me that the two main characters in this story are not Lula and her husband, or Lula and the children, or Lula and her friends.
It seems to me that the tow main characters in this story are Lula and God.
Who else could have given shape to such a gracious Lula, a woman with beauty beyond wind and dust, and a heart bigger than the sprawling Devil's Lake?
Today I thank God I have had the privilege of knowing at least a piece of that story, the privilege of being a marginal character in the heart of one of its main ones.
I love this story, you see.
It is one of the best Dakota stories I have ever seen. And the wonder of it all is this: every on of you who are here is a part of it.
Unfortunately, I did not get to know Grandma Lula as well as my father went to engineering school and moved to the plains of Kansas where jobs were more plentiful. I do recall a few trips up north; of loving, welcoming arms; of homemade sausage, mashed potatoes and sour kraut; and I do believe I recall that sugared lettuce as well!
It is my hope that when my time comes I will have made an indelible mark on this world such as Grandma Lula had done.