As retold by Doug
Boilesen, son of Betty Ann Barr Boilesen.
For every visit there
is a time to go home...but not too soon.
My mother was a woman
who loved entertaining, whether it was hosting bridge, or a
family birthday, or a visit from relatives. She loved having
a visit be a special occasion and she looked for any
excuse to organize a gathering. Perhaps that is why it never
occurred to me that there was anything odd about my hosting
an annual birthday party for the phonograph.
In looking back I
know family get-togethers had the most meaning for her, but
for any visitor when it was time to go home there was always
a potentially long conversation at the doorway, and a long good-bye.
Even after coats were on another 10 minutes could pass before
everyone had crossed the threshold. It was this protracted exit
that became a trademark of our house, and at some point was
christened the "Barr Good-bye."
The origin of the
"Barr Good-bye" probably
has many sources. When my mother was growing up on the family
farm in central Nebraska the closest neighbor was one mile away.
My Great-Aunt Tay was less than three miles away. My Aunt Fay
and Uncle Andus's farm was less than ten miles away but into
the hills. I can remember in the 1950's and even into the 1960's
several Christmas Day attempts by our family to reach their
farm were unsuccessful. The rolling hills and drifts of snow
made the unpaved roads impassable. My mom used those occasions
to recall how many winters she could remember when friends and
relatives were snowed in for days and the telephone was their
only link. And when telephone lines went down the isolation
was complete. She often mentioned how lonely my aunt must have
been during those long winter months.
So where you live
and the mode of travel and communication technology available
are surely part of the story.
Our definition of
hospitality can also determine how often and how long someone
comes and stays. My Great-Aunt Tay used to say you're a guest
for the first day but after that you're part of the household
and share in the chores.
I heard many stories
about how much my grandmother loved visitors and how she always
had something extra on the stove. If the traveling salesman
was to make his monthly trip to their farm it seems he always
arrived just in time to be invited to join their noon-time dinner
which my grandmother always did.
Most visitors were
great fun for my mom and the anticipation was almost as good
as the actual visit. But there was one visitor who didn't get
the long "Barr" send-off from my mom and that was
the veterinarian. Mom knew that no matter why the vet had come
that he would be joining them at mealtime, probably seated next
to her, and he always smelled of cows and medicine.
These were meals
she never enjoyed and his good-bye couldn't come soon enough.
But the vet was the
I never heard any other stories about anyone rushed out the
When you visited
the Barrs you could always look forward to the "Barr Good-bye."