Brumley Forever Valentines – when I think about this title the first couple that comes to mind is my Aunt Marlene and Uncle Jerry Brumley. They were two people that I idolized while growing up. My mother Nancy Gertrude Brumley Weik always shared many stories about them.
He was called Jerry all of his life but his birth name was Gerald Raymond Brumley and her name was Marlene McGraw. Jerry was my mother’s youngest brother and they always looked out for each other. She always called him, “my little brother” when introducing him to people and she always did it with a sense of joy you could see in her smile.
Back in the ’30s, ’40s and, ’50s the place to go to meet people in Kansas City, Wyandotte, Kansas was the roller skating rink. It was a place to go to just enjoy yourself and skate to great music of the time and if you were lucky enough to meet someone to skate with that was even better. My mother, her sister, and brothers went often to roller skate.
Jerry had come home from his tour of duty in the Navy in 1947. He was settling back into civilian life and with that came going to the roller skating rink to catch up with family and friends. One day he meant a young girl named Marlene and it was love at first sight for both of them.
They dated for a while when Jerry proposed he was twenty-two and she was only sixteen years old. It made no difference to them and on St. Patrick’s Day March 17, 1950, they were married. They bought a house in Shawnee, Johnson, Kansas and began their life together.
They wanted to start a family but it was not to be. Jerry and Mar instead enjoyed their nieces and nephews like they were their own children. They enjoyed the holidays with family and every Christmas they hosted the Brumley family Christmas. Lots of good food and drink and the presents they would give us. My family missed those Christmas get-togethers sometimes because we lived in Illinois. There was a time when my family traveled on the train to Kansas City and Jerry and Mar was there to greet us.
They had a chance to buy a house on the Lake of the Ozarks and enjoyed making improvements on the house and having family down to share the lake experience. I always enjoyed sitting on their deck or by the water listening to stories they would tell about when they were young. My mother enjoyed going down to the lake and reminiscing about their days as children in Kansas City, Kansas.
I always looked at Jerry and Marlene and envied the unconditional love they had for each other. I never saw them getting older right before my eyes – to me, they were forever going to be young. They enjoyed water skiing, traveling and enjoying one another’s company. I never heard then speak a cross word to each other.
When the time came for me to leave home in Illinois they were the first people to welcome me with open arms into their home to stay until I could find my own place. I remember in January 1971 when I had a fire and lost almost all of my belongings – who helped me – yes Jerry and Mar. My parents retired back to the area as well and they enjoyed having my family back to the Kansas City area.
I wanted my own daughter to know her great aunt and great uncle like I did and they loved her as they did me. She loved going to the lake and swimming with their fur babies. Time was starting to show on their faces and for the first time, I knew that they would not be forever young or forever with me.
Jerry and Mar moved back to the Kansas City Metro area to live the rest of their lives with their fur babies. They always had dogs in their lives, Springer Spaniels, Yorkies, Peakanise, and many more. They even adopted my mother’s Terrier when she died. They were just loving and caring people who were devoted to their families.
Jerry had health issues and in January 2014 he died at the age of eighty-five. Of course, Marlene was devastated at his passing, they did everything together. It was hard as I watched Marlene say goodbye to her best friend, her soulmate, and her husband of sixty-four years. She went on with her life but it would never be the same for her without her Jerry. Marlene died three years later in November 2017 and they are both buried in Shawnee, Johnson, Kansas.
I loved them both very much and they were my second parents when I moved to Kansas City and I will be forever grateful. They were the real meaning of love and that is why I write about them on Valentine’s Day because they will be forever valentines.
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