To the left of the magazines, in front of the customer service desk, where patrons can ask for cigarettes.
Can you picture it? Checkout lane 15 in the Jasper Walmart store, where the carousel holding the plastic bags sometimes sticks and where Virlee spent most of her working hours as a cashier for the past 17 years.
Albert told me on Friday that with Virlee's death, he'd lost his shadow. I reminded him about the times he'd sit on a bench near Virlee's checkout lane while she worked — and I asked him who really shadowed whom.
I'm Martha Rasche, Albert's first cousin.
Albert and Virlee met through Linus and Bernice Kluemper, Albert's uncle and Virlee's sister. Albert recalled when he was an over-the-road truck driver and Virlee would go with him. They went to California together, Florida, Chicago. With Virlee along to take and make the necessary phone calls, Albert didn't have to bother to wear a Bluetooth or other headset. Virlee called herself the dispatcher.
Prior to working at Walmart, Virlee worked at other jobs. She had a factory job or two, but the jobs she liked best were always the ones where she could interact with the public. When she worked the graveyard shift at the Shell station by the Y in Jasper, her daughter, Donna, sometimes would go along on nights when she didn't have school the next day.
At the Dutchman Inn, Virlee was a waitress. Sometimes she'd take Donna there to swim in the hotel pool.
Virlee worked at the Holiday Inn busing tables and delivering room service. For several years in the 1990s, Donna worked there, too, and mother and daughter were scheduled for the same shift if two workers were needed.
When Donna was younger and didn't like to ride the school bus, Virlee would drive her to school. And for some reason, Ninth Street Park in Jasper was Donna's favorite and she often got insistent that she go there; her mother took her.
Virlee would laugh at Donna's silly jokes and tell her she would make a good comedian. When Virlee's sister Anna Mae celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary, Donna and Virlee wore matching yellow dresses, and before Donna got married, Virlee spent a day in Louisville going to as many stores as necessary to find the perfect mother-of-the-bride dress.
Donna will cherish the one-on-one time she had with her mother and will remember that those times were limited because Virlee always worked. Many of VIrlee's co-workers told Albert in the past few days what a hard worker she was.
That's the way their parents raised them, said big sister Anna Mae Lampert. The family of seven children — six girls and a boy — grew up on a farm near Celestine. At a young age, the girls' chores included doing the dishes and feeding the chickens.
Sister Betty Stapleton remembers family trips to Fountain Ferry in Louisville, Santa Claus Land and Spring Mill State Park. The kids would pile in the back seat of the family car. One day the nine Hasenours nabbed Santa Claus Land's prize for being the biggest family at the park. Betty remembers all seven kids running around to gather together to prove it.
If Virlee would have gotten such a prize later in life, everyone would have known about it, said Donna, who often was her mom's guest at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary's Mother's Day party and who shared membership with her in the Jasper Circle of Daughters of Isabella. "When Mom won a prize, the whole place knew about it. That there is a very important thing. She almost embarrassed me." Can't you just hear Virlee squealing in delight upon winning a bingo game, a door prize or an item from the annual Lions Club radio auction?
Virlee, Albert, and Albert's sister, Betty Johnson, played bingo at the Older Americans Center in Jasper, and Virlee went with a friend to play cards at the Huntingburg Senior Center. She liked to play cinch and low-point rum with family members, too, including Albert, Donna and her husband, Joe Mehringer, and Virlee's sisters Rosie and Anna Mae.
Since 2012, Virlee survived breast cancer and uterine cancer. (She always hated her very curly hair, by the way, and hoped that it would grow back straight after she lost it to chemotherapy; that didn't happen.) She died with advanced pancreatic cancer. During the two weeks that she was in the hospital before she died, Albert spent many hours with her, usually leaving home before daylight and returning long after dark. He sometimes stayed at the hospital overnight. "She was a good woman to me," he said.
What Albert and Donna want us to remember is Virlee in no pain, as the happy, friendly, outgoing person she was.
"She was a character," her sister Betty said. "She just wanted to have fun." She recalls Virlee's spirit and pep. Donna remembers Virlee always got a kick out of dressing up for Halloween. Virlee's sister Laverne Mosier and brother Ron's wife, Jan, recall Virlee as optimistic, positive, outgoing and friendly. Laverne called her "a really good person, a giver."
Another example of Virlee's good-natured spirit came from her son-in-law. Several years ago Joe named one of his nanny goats … Virlee. She laughed about it, he said, and he has since named another nanny Donna.
Virlee left her job at Walmart this past August; she planned to go back if she got well.
Walmart has more than 11,000 stores in nearly 30 countries. If it happens to have a store in heaven, Betty Stapleton said Virlee surely has already found a job there. If she has a choice, she'll be the cashier at Register 15.
In Memory of Virlee T. (Hasenour) Rasche
Sept. 14, 1951 - Dec. 16, 2014
Funeral: Dec. 22, 2014