Death

Visting with Ghosts (1650 miles from WV to CO and back)

My trip home to attend my mother’s internment in my home town of Boulder Co. was like no other trip I have ever made. Returning to the mountains in Colorado, I not only said goodbye to someone I loved, but I spent much of my time revisiting childhood friends and reliving memories. I am not sure if everyone goes through similar feelings of joy and comfort when they experience a lifetime of memories and nostalgia but this trip was about visiting with the ghosts of my past and those of Colorado’s wild west history.

I am lucky to have found a man who also enjoys the history of the west, folk tails, museums, old houses, cemeteries and old friends. This trip was planned to incorporate visits to “Doc” Holiday’s, Kid Cassidy’s, Buffalo Bill’s, My Ex-inlaws and my mother and father’s graves and cemeteries. We road historic railways, we became silver miners for a day, we hiked to cemeteries, we toured historic homes, eat spicy Mexican food and laughed at stories of our youth. Several times I felt that we were in a movie about growing up in the 1980s when the only music on the radio was from my generation and faces from high school filled a table at a local pub.

Tom and I Colorado River

Tom and I resting on the shore of the Colorado River, Glenwood Springs, Co.

Somewhere between the kind words said about my mother at a toast in her honor, I floated away to a quiet place of sweetness and memories. A happy place where she was healthy, young and had a huge smile on her face. I like that image of her best, smiling and hugging me. Her ghost was there at the table with us, she was finally part of the parties that I was always going to in high school. She was the honored guest this time and took time to lean over each guest to let them know that they were always welcome to visit her as she played hostess like she always did in our home. Her ghost was happy and free and that night and so was I. The evening turned into a beautiful blending of the past and the present I will never forget how much love I felt in that pub that night! Thank you to everyone who took the time to come and those who sent well wishes during this challenging time.

Friends at Mikeoshea's

Some of my high school family. We are missing a few faces in the photo but I have never felt better about who I have called my friends over the years.

Memories and ghosts were tangible at the cemetery the next day. I looked for and found the family plots of my first husband, my aunt, uncle, and other extended family members all buried within yards of my parents.  It was nice to settle a debt that I had owed to them for the years that they all supported me through youth. It was wonderful to say thank you and place flowers and stones on their graves. Even the memories of my first marriage had less sting and more forgiveness for things that were never in my control. I said a prayer of peace to the crowd of ghosts that sounded me and the funeral of my mother. I knew I was surrounded by the love of my family and friends.

Family together at hotel

The Lowrey clan gathered together after my Mother’s internment.

During the service, my family joined together to say some wonderful things about my mom. We all shared memories of things we remembered about her. We placed things in her cremation box that meant something to us and sent her remains into the ground covered in her favorite flower, the yellow rose. It was not hard to let her go, it was the very best send off a woman who was trapped in a broken body tortured by Alzheimer’s could get. The relief we all felt about her transfiguration spilled into joy, laughter, and sweet storytelling.  It was the perfect afternoon with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild. We chatted as her spirit looked over our shoulders at photo albums and scrapbooks, she held her great-grandson on her lap and enjoyed his laughter. I even think I heard her laugh out loud at one of my brother’s corny jokes.  I hated to see her fade away as we walked to our truck after the gathering. With armloads of memories stuffed in overfull boxes, I stopped to say goodbye to my family. Fully knowing that the matriarch of my family, the roots, that kept us together, was gone and we could possibly scatter like leaves in the wind. I felt something shift and knew that I wanted to be sure that did not happen. She had worked too hard to watch the family get distant.

The following day we traveled to Georgetown Co. in search of silver mines and train rides. The day was full of historical adventures, Christopher got to spend time on the Georgetown Loop train and take an extended tour in the Lebanon Silver Mine. The Georgetown Loop was completed in 1884 as a way for miners and their cargo to move up and down the 2 miles of steep incline between Georgetown and Silverplume Co. In the end, the train travels 3 miles of track to reach its final destination only 2 miles away, with a short trip around the loop over the canyon and Clear Creek river. In between the two depots, there are two historic silver mines that visitors can tour to learn more about the lives of miners at the turn of the century. So this was a welcome cool spot on a 99-degree day in Denver.

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Georgetown Loop Train

High bridge of Georgetown loop

The high bridge over clear creek river Georgetown Co

We even learned about Tommyknockers and Dragon’s Blood, which were often found in mines.  Tommyknockers may very well be the spirits of dead miners looking out for living miners with their tricks. Christopher believes he heard one on our tour… poping and cracking the roof of the silver mine. We also found what miners called Dragons Blood. Where silver ore tarnishes and leaches through the walls. It is said that if you fallow the Dragon’s Blood it would lead you to his guarded treasure. In fact, the myth is somewhat true because often where there was silver tarnish leaking through the walls you would find a silver seam in the mine. It also meant that you might pay with your life if you tried to take the Dragon’s Treasure.

We also learned the average life expectancy of a silver miner in Colorado in the late 1890s was 36 years old….Let that one sink in for a minute…. My husband would have been dead almost 20 years by now. Leaving many woman widows before they even turned 40. What sad dark lives the Welsh immigrants lived to come to American and start a new life for their children.

That evening and the next two days we spent in Glenwood Springs, Co. hunting down the grave and museum of “Doc” Holliday my favorite dentist, gunman, and gambler. It was a nice hike to the Linwood Cemetery averaging about and 1 and 1/4 miles all uphill. ( I thought I was going to die, not enough oxygen at about 5,800 ft above sea level).  With beautiful views of the town of Glenwood Springs and the Colorado River. The cemetery is old for Colorado standards many of the graves are from the late 1800s and many are miners. TheDoc Holliday’s gravesite is covered with coins, cards, cigars, and roses, making a testament to his popularity even today.

The only disappointment was the paid entry to what is called the Doc Holliday museum. With only one item that might have belonged to him (a derringer pistol), it was not worth the $5 dollars to see in my opinion. The rest of the room in filled with other information and items from the same time period. So we did read new articles written about him and see other guns from the time period but sadly nothing that really struck me as impressive.

While in town we did stop at a local history museum in a 1905 downtown home. We enjoyed looking at the antiques from the turn of the century and learning about local history. The Frontier History Museum of Glenwood Springs has a wonderful collection of items including one of President Teddy Roosevelt’s saddles that he used bear hunting in Colorado.

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Christopher and Tom look at the gravesite of William F Cody AKA Buffalo Bill. 

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Close up of grave of Buffalo Bill Cody

 

Then we headed to Golden Co. to visit with longtime friends and to see the gravesite of Buffalo Bill Cody and his museum. The collection of items here is huge and very complete for the same $5 dollars you get ten times the exhibits and information then at the Doc Holliday Museum. You also can walk to a Jefferson County Nature Center and visit the Boettcher Mansion. A 1917  Craftsman/ Tudor style home that is often open to the public and free. Where they rent the building for weddings and other large events.

The gravesite of William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) is on the top of Lookout Mountain in Golden, Co. It allows you a wide panorama view of not only Golden and Denver, but East into the grasslands of Colorado, and West to the peaks of Breckenridge and others ( my camera freaked out and I lost all the shots I took from the observation area of Lookout Mountain). The grave is part of a large poured cement patio with a grave covered in raw white quartz. Very traditional in the area to decorate an ugly cement topped graves with local stone and a granite headstone. My grandmothers’ cemetery has a couple graves marked this way. Buffalo Bill’s grave is usually covered in coins, most often a buffalo nickel. We added nickels without buffalos and a penny to the collection saying a prayer for Buffalo Bill and the cities of Boulder and Denver and those that surround the mountain for peace and prosperity.

By the end of our trip up Lookout Mountain, it was time to meet up with a friend for lunch. The amount of traffic and regional construction change made me wonder if I had ever lived in Golden at all. I was lost and thought we would never find our restaurant. Finally finding the El Amigo restaurant, I fell back into a time and place of wondering through memories and felt at ease. Laughter came easy and the warmth of my friend made me relax. I had worried that somehow I would be judged after all these years. I was in some way still being the scared high school girl that I had left behind 3 decades ago. The discovery was that I was not being judged at all but again supported in my dreams and passions was the most comforting thing I have ever experienced.

Nick and I

Nick Plumber and I out to lunch and sharing stories. 

I put to rest, so many worries, fears, and uncertainties, on this trip that I know that I will never be the same. I am better for knowing each and everyone one of my high school friends. I am healthier because I have a wonderful family, who supported me on this adventure of healing. I am stronger for letting go of the people and things I don’t need anymore. I am freer because I have finally become the person I worked for all these years to become.

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Jolynn Powers in front of a huge sagebrush plant. Glenwood Springs Co. 

So when I am asked if It was hard and sad to go home for my mother’s funeral I have to honestly say “NO!, it was a wonderful time. It was the best gift she has ever given me and I am so happy she is free!” I just wait for the confused look on the face of people who do not understand that I like visiting with ghosts and smile broadly.

 

Categories: About me, ageing, Buffalo Bill, Change, Christopher, Death, Doc Holliday, Family, family memories, Healing, historic locations, Home, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ferryman Silently Waits: An Allegory

So in response to my mother’s passing, this short story pop into my mind and needed to be written down. Hope you enjoy it.

The Ferryman Silently Waits

In the dark shadows of my heart, the Ferryman has come to collect his due. Staring at me from the shoreline, his faceless image reminds me that I still have not released her for this last passage. He is waiting for me to say goodbye to her, to send her broken bones across the river on his watery vessel. Frozen in my tracks I am unable to scream at him from my grassy hill, to tell him how much I hate his presence waiting on me. The Ferryman is always silent at the edge of the river, pacing, waiting, quietly. I try to ignore his presence drifting in and out of the shadows of the oak trees of my mind. I pray that he loads the ferry with someone else’s remains and crosses the river with them instead of her. My prayers go unanswered and he continues to wait and watch until I am prepared to pay his fee to release his ferry from the shore. His payment for crossing the river is the sacrifice that we all must pay. He gathers our tears. He collects the wailing of our hearts and mourning cries of our souls. His dark dirty hand collects our pain and suffering like gold coins as payment for the journey. Charon the ferryman needs this toll of pain and suffering to raise the veil on the foggy river, to deliver our loved ones to the other side.

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I refuse to bring her to the shore, refuse to load the casket on the wooden planks of the waiting pallet. I have not added the daisy chains to the deck of the ferry, nor the candles or candy for her voyage. It is not for me to release her into his care. It is not my place to send her to the other side. I dare the Ferryman to come up the shore and take her. I yell at him from the moss-covered hill. “She is still mine and you cannot have her.” In his dirty dungarees, he says nothing and only raises his hand as if the payment was already due. He knows that death has already come. The shrouded body of my mother is peaceful and beautiful. Like a spider, I have her cocooned her against the elements. She resides safely on the hilltop covered in moss and flowers. I have no strength to place her in the casket or load it on the wagon. I have no will to drive her down the hill to the river for the silent Ferryman.

cable ferry
The Ferryman does not care for me, he has no sympathy for the living, and his job is only to serve the dead. He does not have the means to bring death to the old, sick or those born too early. His only power is to transport his passenger from the land of the living to the land of the dead. My heart is broken and I fall on my knees in the flowers, pray. I pray for understanding, forgiveness and for love. I feel the heavyweight of my loss in my heart. I am not sure how to face another day without her.
A storm is brewing on the horizon. I watch, as the clouds turn gray and rise in heaping mounds. As the last member of her generation, she will join all the others that have gone on before her. The storm knows my mother is coming and wraps its icy breath around her. The Gail wind tries to raise her from her deathbed. A draft of wind moans through the trees and across the shore into the mist of the river. I know there is nothing more I can do for her in this world. As her shroud flaps wildly in the wind. The Ferryman watches the storm arrive and signals to me that it is time for the arrival of his passenger. I know that the fury of the storm will take her if I do not begin the painful parade to the river.
There is no escape from this journey. It is cruel to the spirts to delay their joyful reunion and I know that I am being selfish. I know that it is wrong to cause this suffering. However, suffering is a small price to pay to have one more glorious morning with her. I rise to my feet, lift the heavy remains of the woman who gave me life onto my shoulder. I lower her into the casket and place it on the wagon. I load the flowers, candles, and candy in the wagon until it is overflowing. I drive a team of grey, mute donkeys down to the shore. There I slowly lower her casket from the wagon onto the Ferryman’s pallet. With a faceless reach, he slowly pulls the rope attached to the pallet on to the planks of the wet ferry. The river rises to meet them as my tears shower down on the dark blue-gray water. I stand motionless, knee-deep in the cold water. Drained of all my strength, I stand watching as the Ferryman ties off the pallet and raises his pole to push the wooden vessel into deeper water. The Ferryman’s toll is paid, as I begin to shudder with tears. A shiny silver coin would have been much easier to part with then this wooden casket.
The Ferryman reaches hand over hand as he pulls the heavy rope that moves the flat bottom ferry into the current of the river. Slowly the mist turns to a white wall of thick fog. There is no noise except the sounds of rain hitting the river and the creaking of the saturated boards straining to keep the ferry afloat.
She is leaving me behind. She floats with a stranger to a new land. “Choran, do not leave her for the wolves”, I yell into the fog as the ferry disappears from my sight. All that is left is the sounds of the rain on the tree leaves and the creak of the wet wood in the distance. The Ferryman will ride with her through the passage, into the cove, where he will release her from all pain and memories.
Soaked and chilled to the bone I slowly slog back to the bank. My wet clothing weighing me down, I fall on my face in the soft slit of the shore. In the sand, I wish I could trade places with her, to stop my own pain and to find freedom in death. The cold finally drives me ashore back into the wagon where the team is waiting for me. Silently I promise to get them home to a warm, dry, barn. I spend the remainder of the night in front of the fire, warming my bones with a strong brandy until the storm passes.
The Ferryman never reappeared on the river near my farm. My mother’s remains never wash ashore downstream. I believe her trip was successful in reaching the cove and shore of Hades. I know that after the storm I found the sky more colorful and peaceful than I had ever before. The sun shone down on the flower-covered hill and the river returned to its gentle flow. I am sure that the Ferryman was paid that night and I will not see him again for many more days. Love comes at a price that no one is prepared to pay. However, I would not miss this adventure for anything in the world. To love and be loved is more valuable than any pain that the Ferryman can bring me.

 

 

Categories: Death, Ferry boat, Ferryman, fiction, Ohio River, short story, sickness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Leaving Life Behind

So I have avoided this post long enough. I have spent a little over a week trying to figure out how to write about losing someone I love deeply. My conclusion is there is no easy way. The fact that this love is the root of everything that I am, makes losing my mother all the more complicated. It is similar to the feeling I have when I speak about my father. It is a void, an emptiness, loneliness, and “A Hole in My Soul” as the band Aerosmith put it.  You carry the emptiness with you forever.

Veda M Lowrey age 84

Veda M Lowrey age 84 Rolla Missouri

So the death of my mother was unexpended but not surprising. She lived 89 wonderful years, loved deeply, lived truthfully and honestly. She worked harder than just about anyone I have ever known and gave everything to her family. Her children and brothers and sisters were everything to her and she enjoyed spending as much time as she could with all of them. She was loving, stubborn and strong and you always knew where you stood and usually, that was under her grace.  I have often wondered how she ever spent 40 years alone as a single parent raising 4 kids after the death of my father. Now at 50 with two sons of my own, I understand that it was the best thing for her and us kids. I remember how proud she was when I graduated from college and disappointed she was when I got a divorce. How she warned me about not burning the candle at both ends and tried to teach me how to slow down and enjoy the ride. Lessons that I don’t ever think I learned, but I do try to remember them when life wears me out or people try to grind me down.

Veda Maxine Lowrey age 21

Veda Maxine Lowrey age 21

I am my mothers’ daughter for better or worse and I know she is still here with me looking after me and kids. I share her passion for reading, flowers, and peaceful quiet homes where you feel safe and loved. It was a pleasant life she made for me and my siblings and we knew we were lucky to have her.

Old age is not a beauty pageant. Nothing about it is pretty,  slick or shiny. Being smart, rich or kind, will not save you from the ravages of time. The process is painful, dirty, slow and humiliating. You lose everything you worked for and often the very people that you love most. It is not meant for the weak and to live 89 years means she was a fighter and wanted what was left in this world for her. I love that about her and only hope to be the same strong fighter in my future.

photo of Boulder Colorado and the front range by Alex Smits

Photo of Boulder Co by Alex Smits used with permission

Rest in peace mom, I will think of you often as I plant my flowers, when I find a good book that I just can’t put down, and when we are eating a well-cooked meal at home with the table full of laughter and wonderful memories. Gods speed on your journey and take my love with you.

I will be returning home to Colorado in a few weeks to place my mother by my father’s side in my home town of Boulder, Co. I will be spending lots of time with family, friends and working on what the future will be like without her. Forgive me if my writing is sporadic for a couple of months. I am not sure what I will be writing about or how often, but I know I  will be posting about our trip and the revelations I make as I search for my roots. 

 

 

Categories: Colorado, Death, Family, family memories, Healing, old age, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Headstones at Arlington are Still White.

I have been reflecting lately on the social turmoil cause by the Nike corporation,  the President, the state of  our nation and election over the last few days.  I keep going back to one image in my head, the image of all the head stones at Arlington National Cemetery.

The stones are still white at Arlington,with no indication of  what race, creed, color, financial status, or sexual orientation the person buried below them is. It also occurs to me that each and every one of them is burred with the same honor and dignity. Each is given the same size space and same stone marker. Each  service member is remembered on  the head stone in the same way. Each has served a greater cause for our freedom.

View of Pentagon from Arlington National Cemetery and the headstone Glory

Their service and sacrifice rolls around in my head when I remember the 64 acres of these white marble markers.  Everyone of them, (400,000 to be exact) has given to me and my country more than Nike, the NFL or even our president ever will. They signed away the rights to their lives the day they joined the United States military. They said that they would defend my home and my constitution with their very last breath if need be. They defended my life before I was born and created a safe place for me to protest if I choose to as an adult. It is their lives that allow us to vote for a president we may not like and to buy Nike shoes that millions across the world can’t afford to buy. Yet, some how this hollowed ground is forgotten…

It is forgotten that the flag of our country, our national anthem, our right to vote and our gift of personal freedom is all standing on the bodies that rest below these stone covered hills. The bodies that rest below the stones are white, black, brown, native and immigrant, female, male, gay, straight, religious and atheist, they are all still soldiers….one and all.

Row after row of head stones at Arlington National Cemetery with Kathryn Robinson

While standing on the hollowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery during a wreath decoration ceremony several winters ago, I was approached by a retired 2 Star General. She had spent her life as a United States Air Force Officer and Nurse. She asked me quietly while my friend Lt. Col. Katheryn Robinson Retired saluted a just placed wreath on a grave of a nurse, “Don’t you feel like saluting today?” The General had no idea that I was a civilian because it was not required to wear a uniform to the event. I turned to face her and replied, ” No Mama, I have not earned the right to salute these nurses. I am only the wife, sister and a daughter of a veteran”. I was at Arlington to only give thanks and experience the nation’s capital in a completely different way. I was honored to be placing wreaths on dozens of nurses graves. I was the least important one on the hill that day. Yet, I may have been the one who was most thankful for what these men and woman had given to me on that cool morning.

The salute Active Duty and Retired Air Force officers Arlington National Cemetery 2016

My friend Lt. Col. Katheryn Robinson and other US Air Force Officer Nurses Salute a grave at Arlington National Cemetery 2016.

 

It seems to me that we need to take more of our teenagers to Arlington just about sun rise when the only thing you hear is the birds chirping and let them see a funeral precision with a horse-drawn Hurst rolling up the road through the thousands of white marble stones. Have them walk behind the flag covered casket and watch the 21 gun salute that rings for miles across the cemetery. Let them see a crying widow and child who have lost a loved one to the War on Terror, so that they can live free. I want to remind them what it means to be an American…. Funeral pression at Arlington National Cemetery 2016

I send all of my heart felt thanks to my family and friends who have stood on the wall and drawn the line in the sand to say this county will always be free…. It is because of you my dreams in life have come true. May we all thank a veteran for their service today!

 

Categories: American Veterans, Arlington National Cemetery, Cemetaries, Death, Memorial, Memories, Veterans Day, Washington DC | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Emotionally Drained and Ready for Change

The Month of November has really hit my family hard. It has brought us through a whirl wind of emotions and challenges and changes. The days have blown by with funeral activities and children’s parties. With our time spent comforting grieving family and friends,followed by happy school children in costumes, and a sick body fighting a cold. I spent my 47 birthday watching the episode of Barnwood builders that I helped to create holding my breath. Trying not to cry at the wrinkles and lines on my face and the heavy body that I still have not dealt with after my foot surgery. I have felt the deepest most satisfying happiness and the most painful sadness, all in a matter of days…and I am tired.

Christopher and Paige Halloween 2015

Christopher and Paige Halloween 2015

Most of you already know that over  a year ago I quit my outside job and went home to take care of Grandma Powers around July of last year. I then followed that with a foot surgery to remove a bone that would not heal after 13 months in a cast. We then moved over Christmas and started a remodel project in the end of April and spent days filming with the Barnwood builders. Then we also got the news that Grandma’s cancer was back and things looked bleak for the future. We finished our remodel and the filming of our show in Aug of this year and watched as grandma’s health began to fail, knowing that we would only have a few months with her. Then as Nov came and went we lost Grandma… I was supposed to celebrate Halloween ( my favorite holiday) With little Christopher at his school with a party and Saturday night take him trick or treating…I just could not do it. With a cold and broken heart I just wanted the comfort of my home and time with Tom. We  handed out candy and enjoyed the beautiful night air on the porch. My faithful son Cody took his little brother out for Halloween tricks and treats and made memories of their own. Then my birthday and the show airing. I was so thankful to have family and friends celebrate with me. Yet… I worried, so nervous, that somehow I would look like a fool on national TV. I would some how not be “Me”. In the end it was good. It was more “Me” then I care to admit, I look my age and I love these mountains and it shows right there on national TV. So I laughed along with the boys at the end of the night. I really might be just a Hillbilly at heart.

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

I know I have had more adventures in the last two years then some have in a life time. I have felt more in those two years then I ever thought was possible. I have laughed,cried, felt peace and the hand of God working in my life. I have hugged my children harder and been blessed more than my imagination would let me believe.I have sacrificed my time and money to be a caregiver and a mother. I have worked for no one, but for everyone, and not received a penny and it was all worth it in the end.

Grandma Wanda Powers Mowery, Paige and Christopher Powers, Dec 12 2014

Grandma Wanda Powers Mowery, Paige and Christopher Powers, Dec 12 2014

Some people think riches come in the form of a paycheck or money stored, but it doesn’t. Riches are experiences… and memories…… and dreams shared. They are the only thing that is left in the end. Money can not be taken to the other side… only love can. I have spent the last few years of my life making memories that I will never forget and shared love that I can never get back. I have forgotten about the “Me” and focused on the “We” and have reaped what I have sown in heaping amounts. These years have not hardened, but softened me, softened my heart towards God, my Family and My Friends and even my body. It has been a wonderful time of learning and growing as a person, a woman and mother. 

I am tired now, I will rest a few days, maybe a month, the days will slowly be filled again with work and school and children. I will let life lead me for now, to a new career, to new schooling, or who knows where, but I am ready for a change. That will start me on a new adventure with new memories and more love.

people who love us dont see our disablities just our ablity to love

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love

Categories: About me, Barnwood Builders, Death, family memories, Friendship, Halloween, Holidays, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Concentric Circles of Life and Death

Well it should come as no surprise that things here on the mountain are changing again. The spiritual head of our family is making the slow transition from the world of the here and now to the land of forever. It is a shaking off of the old skin and the trying on of the new freedom of the spirit that we are watching. It is emotionally stretching everyone in the family to the limit. This transition into the concentric circles of life and death, where there is no beginning or end.twirl-bluegrey-web The cancer has moved to the bones and a hip fracture has made her bedridden. So with other complications to her overall health the Dr’s know that she will not recover. The body worn out and now only a cocoon for the vibrant, fiery, giving, helpful, spirit that is still very much alive. It is a slow and often painful process to see the soul finally be released from the body. Yet, as amazing to watching as a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. This experience has only one drawback, this butterfly will one day fly off with out me……

There is no time line of events. It is day by day, hour by hour,breath by breath. It is ups and downs and moments of clarity and others of total delusion. The pain comes, then the drugs, then the weakening of the vale between the worlds. She talks with those she loves who have departed, she sees them and knows they are close. The chorus of angels then fades and the drugs wear off, she is with us, clear, focused and even agitated with us. She is happy to see the men of faith that come to pray with her. They remind her that it is only for a little while and she will be healed. Healed and free from pain…. free from being trapped in a broken body…….. Ahhhh the final release.

She is my best friend, she is my spiritual rock, and the cancer is taking her away from me. I find some comfort in the words of the great writers, thinkers and spiritual believers.For generations we have survived this awkward step in understanding and some have left words for us to fallow.This is just one of many quotes that I have found some comfort in:

“The Prophet” by   Kahlil Gibran

from the section on friendship,

“And let your best be for your friend.”

“If he must know the ebb of your tide,

let him know its flood also.”

“For what is your friend that you should

seek him with hours to kill?

“Seek him always with hours to live”

“For it is his to fill your need, but not

your emptiness.”

“And in the sweetness of friendship let

there be laughter,and sharing of pleasures.”

“For in the dew of little things the heart

finds its morning and is refreshed.”

 

Our relationship has always been more than “married into the family” we have always been friends. So as I finish this post I am waiting on word that she is released from the hospital to go home. To spend her final days in the place she feels most comfortable and safe. I will sit with her when she settles in and read to her while the hours pass. So I can share the last few days or months that we have together, before she flies away.

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Categories: Cancer, Death, Family, family health, Friendship, grandma, poem | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Beginning and the End

As the truth of the news sets in I fill with a choking pain. I do not know what to say and I have no idea what is going to happen in our families future. They don’t give instructions on how to deal with the cancer process. The results from Grandma chemo are the worst you can get. The Dr.’s see no improvement from the 6 Chemo treatments that she has received. There is nothing left that they can do.

As we hear this my husband and I look at each other with eyes that are wide open. The future was never a proven fact, only a glimmering hope on the horizon and try as we (the whole family) might the fact is that we had one good year and maybe a few more months before the cancer starts to change our lives again. I got word from the Dr that we would see the cancer return in about a year and we would be lucky to have Grandma here with us at the three-year mark. That seems all seem like a dream now as the tumors have doubled in a matter of 6 weeks. The first year is already gone and we are now looking at maybe having months with her not years.

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

She has gone and made her funeral plans and picked out the casket and song that need played. Her plot has been saved and the final paper work is almost in order. The fact is that she is going about this transition in the most honorable way possible. She is thanking everyone and saying the words that need said to make everything “Right” before it is too late.  It is an important time for my family and I hope all of you understand that in the coming months I may or may not write my weekly post. I will try to share things I love when I can and when the mood strikes but not unless it feels right.

We are about finished with the remodel just in time for all of this to happen. The Barn Wood Builders are coming back to finish up the filming of the house the 28th of Aug so we have time to get all the details done by then. At some point around that time I will be getting Grandmas room ready and she will move back in with us at some point in the future. I am ready and willing to make her last days as comfortable as possible with Gods help.

So as Grandma always tells us this is really not an Ending but only the Beginning. That death is not the worst part,it  is being trapped in a broken body that is terrible, that the spirit is free at death and can finally return to the unending love of our creator. She is so wise in all of her 78 years that I must believe that what she says is true. That death will only be a better beginning for all of us. That her freedom from pain and suffering will also release the rest of us from our suffering also. That somewhere in the future I will be able to breathe freely again but this time it will be for her.

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virigina  The old and the new

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virgina The old and the new

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Death, family health, grandma, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Cancer sucks! /Know One Gets Out of Here alive

Most everyone has experienced  Cancer in some way.We all know some one who has it, is recovering from it or has passed away from it. I have even owned a dog with it. It is a ruthless killer and if you are lucky to know, or  be some one who has survived it, you are a miracle. My life is up side down due to my dearly loved mother-in-laws diagnoses with throat cancer. If all you were not following to close this maybe the first time that you have seen me write about it. I was trying to let the terrible words sink in and not totally put a damper on my husbands 50th birthday party the last time I wrote about it. March 26 we were given the news that she had stage 3 throat cancer. It was a hard couple of days and my husband had a large birthday party planed 3 days later. How to celebrate the life of one loved one and stifle the tears for another one. It was a hard couple of days.4 generations of the powers family 2014 This is not even the first time I have dreaded hearing the words cancer as my X-husband passed from stomach cancer about 7 years ago at age 41, his mother soon after was also treated for cancer and survives to this day. I have seen my aunt fight to keep her breast for as long a possible fighting a little lump that would change her life. Cancer is part every species, race, age group, nation and living creature on the earth.We all fight the same battle and none of us is going to get out of here alive.

Cancer seems to either bring out the very best in people or the worst. I am proud to say that most of our family has come together in support of my mother in law. We all have heard stories about wives or husbands walking away from a sick spouse or a families falling  apart when a child becomes ill. It is a strange  thing to observe who hangs in their and who walks away. My husband and I are in the stay and fight camp. We along with his brother and sisters are all standing our ground in her fight against cancer.

Grandma is now receiving  her first round of radiation and is fighting infections of all kinds. It seems that when the cancer started to really grow in her body she was just worn down and infections of all kinds set in. It is as if one break down lead to another, some are even mental and spiritual. It has been a long hard fight but there is some light at the end of the tunnel now. The tumor is shrinking and she is slowly healing and gaining strength. At this point we are just hoping that  she will get to go home and spend some time with us. It is a simple wish from the heart with nothing flashy or brash.We know that with this type of cancer our time maybe limited so we make the best our of what time we have. grandma Wanda Dec 2013 Living surrounded by so much beauty here in the country you forget about what really happens in life sometimes. We all do, we all focus on work and dinner and paying bills, we just don’t always think about what happens at the end. It is our nature to not think about it, we are human. Then something makes you look at it again and you can only embrace the fact that it is part of the plan that we are born into, we are babies, we live, we die and the cycle begins again. This is what I see in the country every day. The farmers, the ranchers, herders live with it day in and day out, with death and birth, over and over again. I look out my kitchen window and see the hay that grows and watch as it gets mowed down in its prime, just so in the cold of winter something will live again. It is a perfect undisturbed system. I have been so lucky to share this country life with my mother in law for so many years. We lived only yards apart on the farm, we shared in the planting, growing and harvesting together. It was on the family farm that I learned about her and cycle of life that she loves still today. She taught me that every thing on the farm was a gift and that gift needed shared.

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

My family and  I know that what seems like an ending is really just the beginning.  A new beginning for her no matter where it takes her and for all of us who get to learn to step forward and teach others about what she has taught us over her 76 years. Cancer sucks,on that we can all agree, but it is really only a step towards the next phase in the journey. One that she is prepared to take and we will stand by her all the way.

Spike buck horns in the woods

Spike buck horns in the woods

 

Categories: Death, Family, family memories, Healing, health, old age | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Photo review of 2013 with Mountain Mama

I just can’t help the fact that I love where I live and the people around me. I take thousands of photos every year and some never make it to  my blog and others are only uploaded on to Facebook and or sent to friends and family. So, I thought  I would take a few hours and let you see what it is that make my world go around and share in some of the best and worst moments of my year. So hers goes… GOOD-BYE 2013 and hello to a fresh new year.

Birth place of General Stone Wall Jackson, Jacksons' Mill, West Virginia  January 2013

Birth place of General Stone Wall Jackson, Jackson’s’ Mill, West Virginia January 2013

I started taking photos for a photo challenge this past year and it was fun to really push myself for ideas and places to photograph.. I did pretty well until they put my foot in a soft cast where the cold and wet and lack of being stable on my feet made me drop the challenge. This was one of the first locations that Christopher and I traveled to and explored in the very cold 18 degree weather in Jan of 2013. Jackson’s Mill is a State Owned property where they hold 4-h camps, state conferences and have saved historic buildings like this one, home of General Stone Wall Jackson. This large property and air field are only about 2 miles from my home and include a grist mill that I hope to write about in the future.

Snow on the plow at General Stone Wall Jackson's home place Jackson Mill, West Virginia

Snow on the plow at General Stone Wall Jackson’s home place Jackson Mill, West Virginia

The for the month of February Christopher and I made a photo tour of one of our favorite places in Lewis County  our historic Library.This is the location of our local book club that I help to start in the month of Feb. I love the old building and wish If I ever had the money to change the world this would be the place that I would put my money to work for my small community.

a 4 story mansion donated to the city of weston  for use as a llibrary

a 4 story mansion donated to the city of Weston for use as a library

Christopher hamming  it up with me when we found a not so used bathroom on the third floor.

Christopher sitting the bath tube of the Lewis Bennett Library of Weston West Virginia

Christopher sitting the bath tube of the Lewis Bennett Library of Weston West Virginia 2013

Spring was slowly creeping into the mountain state in March and we were  so happy to start to see life again that I started looking outside for more ideas  and this is what I found.

Tom Powers working with horses at Cross Creek Farm

Tom Powers working with horses at Cross Creek Farm

One of the few days that was really beautiful in March with temps in the 40’s  and warm enough to get started on the spring trimmings again. While Tom worked hard on getting these lovely animals ready to head back up the mountains Christopher and I wondered the country road near by to find things of interest.

Christopher walking along a country road in Lewis County West Viriginia

Christopher walking along a country road in Lewis County West Virginia

April is always a mixed bag of events at our house Tom and Cody have birthdays at the end of March and the first of April so it is always a time of celebration.  We try to adventure some where to shake off the dust and dirt from the long winter spent inside and this year was no different. We headed to Kentucky and had a ball at Makers Mark Distillery, the Kentucky Horse Park and Historic Bardstown, Ky. I hope to return to Bardstown it is one of the most beautiful and friendly towns I have ever visited and this is the “off-season” the Derby would still be a month away and the city is really alive then.

Easter and Kentucky Derby hats in a window store front in Bards Town, Ky

Easter and Kentucky Derby hats in a window store front in Bardstown, Ky

 Historic John Rowan house. Old Kentucky State    Park, Bardstown Kentucky

Historic John Rowan house. Old Kentucky State Park, Bardstown Kentucky

With spring in full force May is always focused on our gardens, yards, flowers and ramps. I did some blogging about the wild onions if you want to learn more about wild onions and how to use them. Our family loves to spend the day in the mountains with a picknick lunch and a bag full of ramps.

Spring ramp digging Christopher holding a the first ramp

Spring ramp digging Christopher holding a the first ramp

I also start to see the wonderful spring flowers appear and could not help myself for taking a few photos of them.

white Peony at the Stoneley Farm

white Peony at the Stoneley Farm

June 20th is our celebration of state hood here in the Mountain State.  This year Tom and I spent the day working on customers horses.Were lucky enough that afternoon to find thousands and thousands of wild flowers in bloom along the long-deserted road between farms. My favorite is the wild roses that have  a million tiny thorns and are in this hot pink color. The smell fills the air for miles and you just want to stop and enjoy the warm sun, the sweet smell and a long country road.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Terry Washborn's shed with wild roses and trumpet vines

Terry Washborn’s shed covered in wild roses and trumpet vines

July found us Camping near Canaan Valley  in the mountains of West Virginia. We found a remote camp ground where the water of the Potomac was warm and clear and the weekend was lazy and we found time to act  silly and share family time.

Tom and Christopher wearing the big bear hats just being silly

Tom and Christopher wearing the big bear hats just being silly at Smoke hole caverns

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

August found us looking for wild mushrooms and boy to we hit the jack pot all summer and fall. I was over whelmed with the variety color and size of the mushroom we and our friends found. What a great way to spend a hot humid afternoon. Head for the cool shaded woods and come home to a feast of wild West Virginia mushrooms.

wild chanterelle Mushrooms found in Harrison County, West Virginia

wild chanterelle Mushrooms found in Harrison County, West Virginia

Wild mushroom, Hen of the Woods, found by the trunkful

Wild mushroom, Hen of the Woods, found by the trunkful

wild Bollete cap

September started a new stage to our lives as Christopher started school. We said good-bye to my little guy and said hello to a student. We also said good-by to Christopher’s  Step Grand father and shared in losing someone from Alzheimer’s and the destruction that it has put my family through.

Christopher'd first day at school Sep 2013

Christopher’s first day at school Sep 2013

Honor guard the funeral of Minter Mowrey

Honor guard the funeral of Minter Mowery

The fall was creeping in and Oct is one of my favorite months if you can miss the rain that begins to fall.  We found a beautiful weekend and took off to take photos in the northern part of the state and see an abandoned State Penitentiary in Moundsville. I found its structure breath-taking and it history ominous. It was one of the most interesting places I have had the opportunity to photograph in years.

veiw of Moundsville State Penitentuary, Moundsville, West Virginia

view of Moundsville State Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia

Christopher and I on top  of the Indian mound in Moundsville West Virginia

Christopher and I on top of the Indian mound in Moundsville West Virginia

The next two months are a total blur. Hunting season begins and the holidays  add to  the already busy time so it seems I must have forgotten to take any beautiful photos.  But my family  had a successful fall with many happy evenings telling hunting stories and me and the kids processing the meat for the long cold winter. I also am happy to report that my little book club has reached its 9th month of  continuous reading and we are still going strong.

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck

Janice, Sandy and Christopher at our Thanksgiving Book club meeting

Janice, Sandy and Christopher at our Thanksgiving Book club meeting

Then as I was just getting ready to decorate for the Holidays I finally gave into the pain that I was experiencing in my foot and came to find out that I had broken a bone in the bottom of my left foot . This is what Santa gave to me about the 13 th of Dec.

My New air cast and 6 weeks off work

My New air cast and 6 weeks off work

I am currently off work  and feeling better. I hope to get things back to ” normal” what ever that is in a couple of weeks. This was also the best time for me to have this happen as work is slow and I could spend more time with my family over the holidays. I also learned to slow down and sit still a little better from this adventure and that was a lesson I found very hard at first but it is growing on me now. I plan  more rest in the new year and learning about that  not pushing my ageing body quite so hard.

fire works over the West Virginia State Capital 2013

fire works over the West Virginia State Capital 2013

 HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERY ONE !

may I see and hear from all of you through out 2014.

Categories: About me, Appalachian Mountains, Death, family memories, Holidays, Kentucky, Louis Bennett Library, Maker's Mark, Mushrooms, photo review | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Peaceful Death

snowing in a pine

 

When I die take me home, to cold mountain air and songs that sing through the pines.
Take me home, to  a wide  open sky and crisp freshly fallen snow.
Spread my ashes across a high range and let me blow in the wind.
Take me home so I can join the deer and elk in their migrations.
Take me home to join the circle again.

Losing my father in law yesterday was hard, but I am relived to know that he died at home in his town with his family around him. I feel comforted that he was at Peace.

Categories: Colorado, Death, Family, poem | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

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