Friday, May 25, 2007

Ancient faces: Tillis Miller

Memorial Day, in addition to honoring the sacrifices of men and women who have died in the service of their country, also is a time to remember family members and friends distinguished for us at least primarily by our love. In my parents' day, it was called Decoration Day, and my mother used to speak of her parents loading children, gardening tools, fresh flowers and food into a buggy or spring wagon --- later, a car --- and setting off on Decoration Day for the Columbia Cemetery. First, they cut the grass and straightened up the family lots (country cemeteries as a whole rarely were maintained in that day and age), then the flowers were placed and finally, a picnic and visiting with others who had come to the cemetery on similar missions.

Those days have passed, and many of the loved ones once remembered clearly are fading from our view. Tillis Miller is one of the almost-forgotten.

She was a daughter of Francis and Josephine Miller, called the "Swede Millers" to distinguish them from their neighbors, my own substantially larger Miller clan who were just "the Millers." Obviously, Francis was of Swedish descent; my own family, not so obviously, Scots-Irish.

A beautiful young woman, Tillis was a friend of my great-aunt, Cynthia (Miller) Abrahamson --- and that probably is why this elaborately printed remembrance of her was among the hundreds of photographs and bits and pieces of memorabilia that once belonged to my grandfather and now are mine to preserve and share.

Tillis is buried in the Oxford Cemetery in Lincoln Township, Lucas County, with many other members of her "Swede" family. My Miller great- and great-great-grandparents rest there, too.

So blessed be her memory!

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