Archive for May, 2012



I am so proud of this boy!  Yes, my oldest son is now 15 years old.  He has changed so much this year, and I love, enjoy, and appreciate him more every day.  When he was a baby, I remember one of our O’Brien relatives telling me, “Oh, I know you love and enjoy that little baby.  But just wait!  It  gets better and better!”  That is so true! It is such a blessing to see my kids grow up and follow Christ–there is nothing better than that!

John has really changed this year.  He is not the quiet, self-conscious boy that he used to be.  I think I will always see the last few months as a time when John started settling into himself–feeling comfortable with who he is.  Part of that might just be growing up, but a lot of it is Christ working in his life.  He will always be a quiet person, but he is also a person with a lot to offer!  He is funny–oh, sooo funny–and talented in many areas.  He is a very conscientious student and does his very best on every test, every paper, every report.  He loves music.  That is one area that he discovered about himself this year.  He has learned the joy of sitting down at the piano to play “for fun”  (i.e. not just to practice a lesson).  He has felt the satisfaction of playing in groups and performing for others.  And, he has tackled growing musically on his own.  Not only is he keeping up with me on the cello just because he wants to (we are both currently beginning level 3 after 5 months of working on it), but he is also tackling the viola and its notorious alto clef!  He reads deep books and understands profound truths.  We have many discussions every day, and I am always amazed at how he is growing in wisdom and spiritual depth.  So, to sum it up, John is just a wonderful young man, and I am proud to call him my son.

John has a busy summer planned.  He is going to continue doing his volunteer work with the summer youth program at our local library and will be helping with various aspects of our VBS in June.  On top of this, he is working towards getting his learner’s permit and hopes to start driving soon.  Like I said earlier, he spends a lot of time each day playing the piano, violin, cello, and viola.  Some of it is serious, and some of it is just messing around, but I can tell you that he is growing by leaps and bounds musically.  He has a right to be proud of that viola too; he saved his own money to buy that new instrument.  Quite a feat for a teen, and I think that speaks well of him.

John, I love you.  You are a treasure to this family, and we couldn’t be prouder of who you are!

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Mike O'Brien

A Funeral Mass for Mike was held on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Helena’s Catholic Church in Grafton with Father William Holoubek officiating.

Visitation was held on Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Farmer & Son Funeral Home in Geneva. Rosary was held at 7:00 p.m. at St. Helena’s Catholic Church on Thursday. Memorials are directed to the family to be designated at a later date.

Michael R. O’Brien was born to George L. O’Brien and Sara T. (Britt) O’Brien, on the 11th of May, 1931 on the land that his Irish grandfather John O’Brien homesteaded in Bennett Township, Fillmore County, Nebraska. His father passed away when Mike was six years old and he always revered his mother for being able to raise seven children in a fine manner in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Mike attended District 61 country school and graduated from Geneva High School in 1948. He played football and participated in track where he went to the State Track meet placing second in the mile event. He enjoyed all aspects of his life and dearly enjoyed his friends and making new friends. Within five minutes he would know where someone was from and what he or she did.

After high school he took over the farming operation with his mother. He farmed until 1953 when he was called to serve in the United States Army. He took Basic Training and Leadership School at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was assigned to Korea, where he served in the 24th Infantry Division for more than a year and a half. He was Honorably Discharged with the rank of Tech Sargent in February of 1955. He then returned to farming until his retirement in 1994.

Mike attended St. Helena’s Catholic Church in Grafton where he was baptized, confirmed and married. Mike married Donna Galusha of Fairmont on February 11, 1956 at St. Helena Catholic Church in Grafton, Nebraska. They enjoyed 56 years together. The union of Mike and Donna was blessed with six children: Dan, Kathryn, Teresa, Paul, Mark and Britt. In 1967, they built a new home on the farm for their family. In 1994, they moved to Fairmont. Mike still helped his sons Paul, Mark and Britt whenever he was needed and it was a great day when he was called on to do field work. He enjoyed all aspects of farming; helping his neighbors, raising livestock and seeing the crops grow to harvest.

Mike was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post Commander for four years and served as District #16 Commander of the V. F. W. He was also a fifty-year member of the Fairmont American Legion Post 21, where he served as Post Chaplain, and he served as County Legion Commander for eight years. Mike also joined the Knights of Columbus where he was the Grand Knight for 4 years.

He was elected County Supervisor in 1970 and served for 16 years, two of which he was Chairman of Fillmore County Board of Supervisors. He represented Fillmore County on the Region V. Human Services Board, which provided care for mentally and physically handicapped individuals.

Mike enjoyed telling Irish jokes and shared many with his numerous good friends. He was proud of his Irish Heritage. He looked forward every year to the annual O’Brien Reunion. He enjoyed doing things with his family and friends, trips to Vegas and the boats. He always said that going to school activities and coaching baseball with the sons and softball with the daughters were the most enjoyable years of his life. The final years were a challenge with his health problems, but he and Donna made the best of them.

He was preceded in death by his parents, George & Sara O’Brien; a stillborn infant; sisters, Helen Jennett, Mary McCarthy, Kathleen Bender, baby sister Teresa O’Brien; brother, Lawrence O’Brien; mother and father-in-law, Edna and Don Galusha; brother-in-laws, Gayle Galusha, Eugene Jennett, Darrel Fessler and James McCarthy.

He is survived by his wife Donna of Fairmont; children, Daniel M. O’Brien and wife Lois and their children, John Michael, Brock Daniel, Cosette Faith, Luke Jarrett, and Kara Joy Mincui: Kathryn A. Renning and husband David and their children, Jason Michael and Michelle Trudi; Teresa E. Anderson and husband Dale and children Brittany Ann and Shelby LeAnn; Paul G. O’Brien and special friend Nancy Chaney and her children, Jill, Kelsey, Paige, Austin and Cody; Mark D. O’Brien and wife Shaunna and their children Brielle Dawn and Ashton Nichole; Britt T. O’Brien; Tonia Stassines O’Brien and her children Kirstyn and Korbin Cowan. Also surviving are sister, Frances Fessler of Sutton, brother John O’Brien and wife Mary of Geneva, sisters-in-law, Nancy L. Galusha of Fairmont and Chris O’Brien of Yankton, S.D, Brothers-in-law, George Bender; brother-in-law, Del Galusha and wife Jan of Fairmont; and many nieces and nephews, other relatives and a host of dear friends.


Dad, Grandpa, we love you and will miss you dearly!  You have enriched our lives and will never be forgotten.

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A few months ago, our local food bank asked if I would like to be on their board.  I am ashamed to say that I had never considered such a thing and really wasn’t sure it was something I’d be interested in or not.  After thinking it over, though, I decided to give it a try.  I had no idea how much I would love this! It has brought me so much joy, and I have never regretted it.

Of course, one aspect of being on the board is helping with food drives and stocking the food bank’s pantry.  There have been a couple of food drives in the last few weeks, and for the first one, Cosette and Kara volunteered to help sort the donations.  This ended up to be quite a project.  Our little community college had collected over 1,000 pounds of food, and there just weren’t very many people available to help that day.  So, even though this was our first drive, we took off running!  We were tired after it was over, but we all agreed that it was really a lot of fun and were looking forward to the next food drive.  By the time that one arrived, John had also decided to help out.

Yesterday, the food bank again got over 1,000 pounds of food donated by the Postal Service’s Stamp Out Hunger program.  Unfortunately, it was raining yesterday, and I think that may have put a damper on some of these donations. It’s kind of hard to set out food sacks by the mailbox when it is raining!  I was still surprised at how much came in.  People are really generous, and that is such a blessing to see.  Again, it was a lot of work, but we all left agreeing that it was fun and worthwhile.  All of the other volunteers are so nice to my kids, and just keep helping them along the way.  It’s really great!

I am looking forward to this summer.   In July it will be my turn to join some of the other board members to stock the pantry for that month, and I know it will be a lot of fun.  My kids are looking forward to it too.  We are all learning a lot, and it’s good to see my kids working like that with such enthusiasm and joy. What a blessing!

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This clock has quite a story.  I have no idea how old it is, but I know it sat on the mantel in my grandparents’ house since long before I was born. Its ticking and chiming were the sweet sounds of their home, sounds that were cherished.  I remember my Grandad taking meticulous care of this sweet clock, carefully winding it each and every week, and it faithfully kept right on ticking.

When my grandmother’s health was declining, and she knew her days on this earth were nearing their end, she asked me to come over to visit her in her home.  It was quite a painful day because she was completely honest about her intentions:  she wanted to give me some things to remember her and my grandad.  She had several things in mind, really, but she asked me if I could pick one thing from the house, what would it be.  I told her that she didn’t need to give me anything, but she insisted on knowing what she could label as mine. Finally I told her that if I could choose one thing, it would be the chiming mantel clock.  I told her that it’s comforting noises would always take me back to their home and the wonderful memories that it held.  She said, “then it’s yours.”  She went on to tape a piece of paper with my name on it onto that clock.

It wasn’t long after that that Grandma was no longer able to live in her home, and she and Grandad went to live with my parents.  True to her word, that clock came to live at my house.  Soon thereafter she went to live with Jesus, and Grandad joined her a few years later. I was happy to have the clock still ticking in my own house.  I remember sitting up at night with my newborn babies listening to the clock ticking and chiming.  Special memories….

When Cosette was born, we moved into a bigger house and put a special shelf on the wall for the clock.  I went to wind it up, and a horrible TWANG came from the precious piece.  I was devastated knowing that a spring had finally given way after so many years of faithful service.  My Grandma, though, had told me what to do if anything ever went wrong with that clock.  She told me there was only one place to take it for fixing, so that very day I took it to that place for repair.  The shelf was empty, no chiming, no ticking.  It was a sad day.

Weeks passed.  Years passed.  Five years.  Ten years.  We checked on the clock from time-to-time.  We were told specialized parts had to be ordered.  We waitied…..and eventually gave up that we would ever get the clock to work again.   We bought a new clock for the shelf, but it did not tick or chime.  Then one day recently, Dan decided to check again on the clock.  It was brought out of the shop’s basement.  He said he didn’t care if it worked or not, he just wanted to bring it home.  I knew nothing of this.

A few days after this, I got a surprise telephone call from the clock shop.  They told me they had my clock running!  I thought it couldn’t possibly be true!  So, the next morning, I went to pick it up.  It wasn’t working.  It no longer chimed. Sad…….  The clock repair man said he’d keep trying, though, and later that day, he had us come back for the clock.  This time it ticked!  It chimed!  It ran!

So, we brought it home.  Now it is sitting  in my living room ticking and chiming. It has gotten steadier and stronger as it has run.  It was a little hesitant at first, but now it is back to it’s old self.  My kids love it.  Dan loves it.  I love it! And just as I had hoped, every time it chimes, it takes me back to Grandma’s house.  I think the 10 years without it has made it even more special.  It is a treasure!

Here is a video of its beautiful ticking and chiming:

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This coming Sunday is the Pride of the Prairie Orchestra’s final concert for the 2011-2012 season.  It has been a very good year, and I have so enjoyed having John and Cosette join me in the violin section!

This concert’s theme is kind of odd.  It is Science and Nature.  I must say, though, that this is a very loose theme–not all of the songs fit into science or nature, but most of them do. Some of the highlights that we will playing are The Don Giovanni Overture, Into the Storm, Spider Dance, Mars and Jupiter from Holst’s The Planets, and The Thunderer. There are several other songs that will fill out the program.

We’ll have the summer off, and it will be good to have a break.  That being said, I know that we’ll be all ready to start up again in the fall.  (Hopefully I’ll be ready to start doing some songs on the cello by that time!) ***There MIGHT be another Prairie Family member who will be able to share some of the cello parts by fall as well!  Now there’s a cliff-hanger for you!  🙂

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April 21 was my parents’ 50th anniversary, and to celebrate, we had a family get-together to honor the special day.

To begin the party, we had a nice dinner with lots of food that was brought by my siblings and me.  We had roast beef, grilled teriyaki chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli rice casserole, dinner rolls, and salads.  My brother’s wife has a real knack for decorating (which I don’t have!), so she was in charge of decorating the tables.  I don’t know how she does it–she can take the simplest of things and arrange it in a very tasteful, beautiful display.

After supper, we had a time of family sharing during which my kids and I did several musical selections on the violins and piano.  My brother had a nice devotional honoring my parents for their years of devotion to each other and our family.  We also showed a slideshow of my parents’ wedding pictures–it is neat to see those pictures, and I used the opportunity to try to identify most of the people in the pictures to document for future generations.

We ended the evening with cake and punch.  I ordered the cake from the bakery in our local Dillons store, and it sure was good!  They have two different frostings to choose from, and their whipped frosting sure is delicious!  We tried a new punch recipe called Green River Punch.  It was good, but it sure was bitey at first!  Adding sugar to the recipe helped that out quite a bit.  I learned something from that experience, though:  it is always good to try a recipe before breaking it out at a special occasion!  🙂

After visiting for awhile, my parents left, and my brother and his family helped us get everything cleaned up.  My kids enjoy being with them because Uncle Cory is pretty silly!  Also, Kyleen is a pretty special Aunt–she is  not just a sister-in-law to me, but  truly a sister of my heart.  Their son recently moved to our town to work in our local hospital, and his apartment is just down the street from our house.  We are delighted to have him here–he is a really neat guy.

So, we had a nice celebration.  I will post a slideshow of the celebration with this entry.  My next entry will be the slideshow of the original wedding photos that we put together for the 50th Anniversary party.

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