Lorraine Marie Miller
Cakes, Pies & Smiling Eyes, That's Mommy! were the words on a decorative plaque displayed in the Miller kitchen for over 30 years, words that described Lorraine Marie (Bramlette) Miller perfectly. Indeed, she was perpetually sweet and happy, as she rarely uttered a cross word about anyone or anything. Make no mistake, Lorraine did not 'battle' Alzheimer's for a decade. In true Lorraine fashion, she invited it in for some tea and became friends with it. It never got the best of her, for the best of her was still shining right through until the end in her smiles, her giddy laughter, her joy-filled blue eyes and her ability to charm people with her loving presence. Lorraine gracefully excused herself from that extended cup of tea and this life April 17, 2014. She was surrounded by love and in the prayers of many both near and far.
Lorraine was born April 27, 1946, the third child of Tom and Hazel Bramlette. A gentle and peaceful soul, she spent her childhood in Little Lake, California. When she wasn't playing with her dolls or swimming, she was spying on her older siblings Bill and Arlyne. As the story goes, she caught them smoking and ended up with a smoldering cigarette butt down her boot, which brought tears to all involved in one way or another. She swore that was the reason she never smoked (okay, with the exception of all those turkeys, hams and bacons) and passed that aversion right on down to her children. We’re pretty sure a health nut was born that day.
After graduating valedictorian of Lone Pine High School in 1964, she became qualified as an LPN and married her high school sweetheart Hubert G. Miller in 1965. They moved to Salmon, Idaho in 1967 where they operated "Miller's Meats" for a few years before joining her parents on the ranch south of town.
On their ranch at Allison Creek along the Salmon River, Lorraine worked alongside Hubert in the cultivation of the land and the raising of their children: Jared, Coleen, Becky and Hubert E. Her homemade meals were delicious and ceaseless. Most of her time spent in the kitchen was a labor of love, as good food translated directly to love in her mind. She was a creative problem solver (twist ties, rubber bands and duct tape could fix just about anything except little Hubert's broken arm, but don't think she didn't try it first), an incorrigible optimist, a die-hard recycler and had the gift to nurture any ailing animal, plant or human who needed her. The gardens she tended with her parents were as beautiful as they were bountiful. The weeks of canning she and Hazel did each year kept the family content right through the winter. Lorraine also went on numerous hunting and fishing excursions, both for the enjoyment and the benefit of providing for the family. According to Dad, she had a "dead-eye shot" worthy of him bragging about on more than one occasion.
Her obsession with health food, vitamins and nutrition would scare the pee out of most people. It's true, we were only allowed to chew gum twice a week and could only drink a soda on designated holidays. Yet ice cream (because it was homemade) could be consumed by the gallon. She had cupboards and drawers full of elixirs and cure-alls and enough reference books to turn most herbalists green with envy. She treated many of our ailments successfully with herbs and strange potions she’d cook up on the stove. Just imagine, if you will, the shocking breath produced by a garlic poultice on the aching tooth of a third grader! Indeed, it didn’t provide any added benefit in the "friend retention" department.
Our mother was a crafty sort when she had the time. She enjoyed toll painting, cake art and sewing. Cake art - you know, when you take that 9X13 cake and with a few cuts and props, it magically turns into R2D2, a football, a butterfly or an angel? All that dyed coconut and marshmallow icing. That was pure, sweet love from above. Birthday cakes never tasted better. Mom even took the time to make some of our clothes with the oh-so-colorful patterned polyester from our grandmother, those patterns that often provoked motion sickness when stared at for too long. Yep, that was back when mothers were encouraged to sew homemade clothes for their children because when money is tight your polyester pants ought to be too! She did a beautiful job, but unfortunately, '70s fashion could not be helped nor healed, even with motherly love. She also churned out her own line of Barbie doll clothes for the girls. Somehow that polyester looked so much better on them.
Perhaps unbeknownst to some, Lorraine was an amateur scientist, naturalist and photographer. Sometimes she'd even scale rocky outcrops, risking her own safety, just to photograph raptors in flight. It wasn’t uncommon for her to set an alarm so we could all observe nighttime meteor showers and lunar eclipses clad in scrappy pajamas and sporting wicked bed heads. She reveled in discussing any news about scientific and medical breakthroughs with a twinkle in her eye, hoping we'd beg for more. Our mother had more National Geographic, Discover and other science-based magazines than should have been legal in those days. Thankfully, her passion for these topics shaped the developing curiosity of us children in our endeavors to pursue a higher education, as well as our common sense in knowing when to say when on magazine subscriptions. We're quite sure Mom wasn't trying to win millions through Publisher's Clearinghouse. She was just optimistic she'd have time to read all those magazines in her golden years. Instead, we've considered using them to build our own version of the Great Wall someday soon in her honor.
Lorraine worked off the ranch for a short time at the Lemhi County Ag Extension Office during the mid-80s and spent about 20 years working at the U.S. Postal Service in Salmon, retiring in the spring of 2006. She loved her co-workers like family and had a sincere joy in greeting the patrons who would stop in each day. It was through her friendships at the Post Office that Lorraine was introduced to bowling and fuzzy navels. Both brought a great deal of fun to the last years of her life. Many thanks to her teammates who made it possible for her to bowl as long as she did.
Though above all, Lorraine should be remembered as a true humanitarian. She chose to see goodness and beauty in everyone, always offering a smile and kind word to those she encountered each day. She made no exceptions. She volunteered her time, her love, her food and her constant support to countless people over the years. Many who knew her said she was an angel here on earth.
She is survived by: Jared (Karon) and grandchildren Allison and Samuel (Meridian, Idaho); Coleen (Ron) and grandchildren Kai, Haven, and Morgan (Eugene, Oregon); Becky (Kyle) and grandchildren Ben, Jon, Korben, and Noah (Genesee, Idaho); Hubert E and grandchildren Maren and Hubert G (Salmon, Idaho); her sister Arlyne (Phil) Lopez (Trona, California) and her sisters-in-law Mary Alice Miller (Lone Pine, California) and Wilma Bramlette (Salmon).
We are eternally grateful to Molly, Dana and Amy of Gentiva Hospice whose loving kindness for our mother during her last eight months cannot be described in words. At her request, Lorraine was cremated. Her ashes will be joined with Hubert's in a private family ceremony later this summer.
To honor Lorraine's loving legacy, the family hopes you can perpetuate goodness and kind deeds right where you are. Bake a cake or pie and share it with others. Help a new father get the hang of diaper changing. Take a meal to a sick friend or elderly person in need. Invite a friend in for tea. Read a book to a child. Take the time to smile and wave to those you meet each day. Alternatively, make a donation to your local nonprofit Hospice organization in Lorraine’s memory.