Wednesday, October 6, 2004
FALLS CITY -- Nels Olsson Jr. sits at a bistro table in Home Town Grocery. He is remarkably composed.
The store is filled with the smell of fried deli food, the sounds of crackling cash wraps and the tension of a weighty loss.
Outside, community members have piled flowers, teddy bears, and candles along the building's front edifice. They are mementos and trinkets of love for his mother, a woman who left a chasm in her wake. To the right, a lone cross presides amid the cluttered affection.
Ann Olsson was a pivot for members of the Falls City community. Her loss has addled everyone.
"We're all beside ourselves, we don't know what to do or how to help," Annette Siegfried, a long time friend said.
"She was a sweet lady. It's really sad. She always treated me with the utmost respect, and whenever anybody needed anything she was there," Falls City resident Joanne Potter said.
Ann's family has been reeling since Oct. 1 when the car accident occurred. The shock is deep. The loss not quite real yet.
Her husband, Nels Sr., is expected to fully recover from his injuries and return home soon.
People stop in at the store to sign the memorial and offer assistance. They seem helpless as they file past the mounting shrine.
"We have people stopping by every 30 minutes or so. A lot of them have offered money, but we tell them to hold off and give it to the dental van fund in her name," Nels Jr. said.
The NW Dental van was a special project that Ann and Siegfried were working on together. They were raising money to have the mobile dental unit visit Falls City at least three times.
So far, it has come twice. Each visit costs $600 and is paid for through donations from the community. Siegfried, who works at the Luckiamute Clinic in Falls City, said that Ann saw there was a need for dental services in the community, so she found a way to provide them.
The NW Dental van provides dental care to people who would most likely never see a dentist. People whose income is at or below the federal poverty level; people who have no other funding; people who are in dire need.
Ann especially wanted to see kids go in and have their teeth examined.
"Mom loved to see kids smile. She used to tell them to smile big, and then she'd say how pretty they were," Nels Jr. said.
Ann's family wants to see the NW Dental van return to the community for years to come as a legacy from their mother to the citizens of the town she loved.
"On behalf of our family we do appreciate all the prayers and support of the entire community," Anisa Olsson-Jones.
A memorial for Ann Olsson is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, at Dallas Alliance Church in Dallas.
To make donations to the dental mobile fund in memory of Ann Olsson, send checks to P.O. Box 10, Portland, OR 97207.