Family

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

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

Holidays Without Our Parents

So,every adult child has to go through this at least once and some of us have to face it 4 or more times if you are married. It is the day you realize that you will not have a Mother or Father around for the holidays.That you are grown up and you have lost the one or two people in your life that you look up too.  This is the first full year after losing my Mother In Law and one of many years since Tom and I have both lost fathers. The Holidays feel different without them and we feel that we have lost the key to our holiday celebrations.

I think I was in shock last Thanksgiving.I do not even remember what we eat and even if we did  eat… some how I just blanked it all out from Oct 22nd to New Years day. I remember the tree and the kids opening gifts and making breakfast for my family but not much more. I was a stay at home mom then… what did I do for three months??

It seems that this fall the reminder of the loss is tangible. It is harder this year, I can’t call up and ask a questions about how to make stuffing, from the father who has been gone 25 years. The holiday craft making for Sunday School kids is just a distant memory. Christmas cookies and candy over flowing from my mother’s kitchen is no more and I wonder how we will continue as adults. Children suffer deeply with the loss of a grandparent or step grandparent,but I wonder if they feel the loss as long as the adults.The pain lingers for years as we share dinners, gifts and reminders that the person is gone. They are not replaced by thoughts of a new toy,an exciting movie or by the first boy friend or girl friend.

The reply to my heart-break most often is “make  your own memories and traditions” share them with the children. The logic seems to work until you realize how many of us do not have children or have only one.The family dynamic has changed and we don’t always have younger siblings or children share the traditions with.

In my case shopping at the mall is nothing compared to the years I spent making cookies with my mother in our kitchen.Tom still misses opening day of deer season with his Dad and Thanksgiving is not the same without having everyone together for dinner at his parents house. My husband and I still continue to share both of those traditions with our own children and try to pass down those memories to them so nothing is lost.

It is tough doing “Adult”sometimes.I guess we keep moving forward the best we can and at times just fall apart when we finally realize that times change and we can’t stop them.Loss is part of living and being a grown up is all we can do. As Dory says” Just Keep Swimming”.

I am finding it hard to be excited for the Holidays this year,even with the little ones around. I will do my best to make our home warm and inviting and we will have friends and family here.The kids will spend time together and we will eat well. But in my heart there will still be an empty chair at our table. I will spend a few minutes remembering and giving thanks for those we have been lucky to know and love,but Thanksgiving is going to be tough this year. empty-chair-at-thanksgiving

 

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Colorado, Family, grandma, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Carpal Tunnel and Cubital Tunnel Surgery Success

4 weeks into my husband’s Carpal Tunnel and Cubital Tunnel recovery we still have 4 more weeks to go. I feel a little overwhelmed these days. I am working away from home for the first time in a couple of years and this is the same few weeks that my husband was able to have surgery on his right hand and elbow. So between the new job, Christopher’s school work and having a husband who has no use of his right hand, I have been working over time.

It seems as if everything always happens at once in my life. There’s never a middle ground. Last fall I found I had hours with nothing to do and no motivation to do anything after the death of the mother in law that I helped to take care of. I felt empty and lost without her, even though I had my own sons and husband to care for. In December I vowed to myself that I would continue to serve others in some way. I applied to serve with AmeriCorps so that I could do community service in a larger way and found The Elkins Main Street program a great place to work. But little did I know, that my husband’s surgery we planned for May or June would be jumped forward to the middle of Feb. It was a good surprise,having the surgery so early in the year, but put my planning and organisation skills to the test. Finding babysitters and arranging my schedule to attend meetings and still finding time to cook a few family meals was always on my mind, while he was in and out of the hospital.

So in less than 10 days I went from having a hardworking husband to having a new patient to look after. I can tell you that losing the use of your primary hand is inconvenient and limiting in so many ways…. Just think, you can not button your clothes, open a jar, or eating normally. It slows eating times to a crawl(unless your wife loves you enough to cut up your meat). There is pain and discomfort after surgery too. It makes the first few days even more challenging, I finally got to sleep in my bed a couple of nights ago. The arm that has the surgery gets wrapped from fingertip to upper arm in a wad of cotton and ace bandages and needs elevated at night.In the end it is just easier for the “Arm” to have my side of the bed. So sleeping was not something I was doing regularly, as I moved from bed to couch and back again trying to find a good spot to rest where I could still hear the alarm clock.

Tom Powers after one week check up and removal of half the bandages and packing Feb 2016

Tom Powers after one week check up and removal of half the bandages and packing Feb 2016

This is the second time my husband has had these surgeries. It has been 3 years since Tom had the same procedures done to his left arm and hand. We both agree with his Dr,these procedures are necessary because of my husband’s recurring work with things that cause hard concussions. In his case, years of working construction and hammering horse hooves and anvils has taken its toll. The surgeries will make it possible for him to go back to work and continue to do what he loves with a little more care and management to keep these injuries from happening again.

Tom is healing and he will be able to return to work in the middle of April. This time he is not allowed to run a Jackhammer … EVER! I am sure he will be more protective of his hands and arms in the future because no one enjoys having an injury that never heals. Funny, how everything has worked out for the best so far, I have been able to support Tom when he needed it, work has been more than understanding about the time I have had to miss and Christopher has enjoyed having the extra time with his dad. We are all also looking forward to getting our routines back to normal soon. We all are looking forward to  spring turkey hunting and trout fishing with a father/husband who is feeling well again. We all are ready for the longer sunny days outside and I am ready to have a normal routine again.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: blacksmith work, Elkins Main Street, Family, Healing, health, trout, Turkey season | Tags: , , , , , | 11 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

My Mothers Hands.

Funny, today I noticed that I in fact have my mothers hands, and I look a lot like her. I know you would think that at 46 I would have thought about this long ago. I think because my mother was 46 when I was 6  I have really clear memories of her at that age. Ironically, I am starting to see her presence in myself. It just started to sink in that the woman whom I call mom is here with me everyday and I am finding great comfort in it.

Veda Lowrey, with children Vernon Lowrey, Becky Lowrey Conda, JoLynn Lowrey Powers, 1976

Veda Lowrey, with children Vernon Lowrey, Becky Lowrey Conda, JoLynn Lowrey Powers, 1976

I am a hands person and any one who knows me very well knows that I can tell a great deal about you from the stories you hands tell. I this case I was slipping on a pair of sandals this morning and really looked at the hands that were putting on my shoes. I stopped, and looked at the short natural nails, the nearly transparent skin, the scratches from working with the bushes and the age spots. “Oh, those age spots”, I thought “Those are my mothers hands not mine.” Those are the hands that I spent 21 years looking at each time she put on her own shoes. The hands that were always so soft and tender. The hands that got covered with scabs in the spring when the roses and other bushes needed trimming. The nails that were never long or painted. The paint was never allowed when you spent most of you time cooking and washing dishes at you very own restaurant. Those hands spent hours mashing up meatloaf and tearing apart salads.

Jolynn Powers hand  working with transplants

JoLynn Powers’ hand working with transplants

As I sat back and started to look even harder, I saw my age spots that looked just like hers. Big round freckles of brown that always get worse in the summer time from working in the yard. None of my friends moms had freckles on their hands and nether did I at 6. I did not like them very much then and I don’t like them now that I have my own.But, this summer it will be different, those spots will remind me of her.

My mother always had rings on her fingers, she worked with them, slept with them, gardened with them and some day will pass them on to me. One is a ring that she had made when my father passed away almost 40 years ago with a mixture of diamonds and another was a gift of a beautiful tigers eye set in gold. The rings should fit as I have reached a size that she was all the years of my youth. But if I wear them,will I cry when she is gone or will looking down and seeing her hands and her rings make my heart fill with joy that she has not really left me at all? That part of her lives on in me.

The blessing is that hands that cradled me as a baby and rocked my own children are still here to show another generation the tenderness that I remember about her hands. That those hands worked at home to teach me how to read and write properly even if I still can’t spell. They made brownies for birthdays and candy for Christmas and even let me eat the cake batter off the beaters. Those hands were strong as steel when they spanked me when I needed it and sometime stung my cheek for being disrespectful. But, they LOVE ME, HELD ME and HUGGED ME when I needed it most.

I am proud to have my mothers hands and a little shocked that I just now noticed them. It seems that they have waited 46 years to remind me of how much influence my mothers hands have had on me. That somewhere in the future maybe someone will remember and say ” she hand her mothers hands” and smile.

Happy Early Mother’s Day Mom. I hope to send you a copy of this in the mail as you do not have a computer and hope that it make you smile. Know that I love and miss seeing you everyday JoLynn.

Veda M Lowrey age 84 Rolla Missouri

Veda M Lowrey age 84 Rolla Missouri

 

 

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Family, family memories, Memories, Mothers Day | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

The Results are In and I am Not Sure How to Write About It.

As some of you already my Mother In Law was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer last year at this very same time. I was a long road for her with surgery, radiation, and months of recovery time over the summer and fall of last year. Things were looking great back in Nov. She was free from any Cancer and ready to get back to her normal life at her home and enjoying the holidays even if she still was not eating well. This spring things were still looking bright when she just kept telling me she was so tired and run down after a move to a new apartment.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I think we all just thought that the move had worn her 77-year-old body down and that she would rebound. She was not sleeping well and seemed to have some sort of UTI infection that would not go away. Finally we talked about when she was going to see her Ears, Nose and Throat Specialist again. The appointment was in about ten days and she did not want togo any sooner than need be. So we waited until the appointed date to get her check up and what did they find but that a tumor had returned. Holy Crap! NO NO NO ! Seated there in the chair across from the monitor of her scope, I watched as the scope slowly went through the nose to the throat to the voice box. Their on the wall of her throat,just above her voice box sat a lumpy mass of almost white speckled tissue shaped like a Lima bean. The Dr looked me in the eye and said “This does not look good” and I knew then and their the situation of her recovery was over.

The Dr went on to let us know that we needed to plan for a CT scan of her neck and a biopsy of the tumor. As we sat in the office getting those appointment made a nursed asked if she would like to just get the pre-operation testing done this day and not have to drive the 1:30 back the following day. She agreed and we spent a few more hours getting blood drawn, a chest x-ray and EKG done to make sure all was well for her Biopsy.

Well the results showed a spot on her lungs, and the CT scan was then cancelled as they now wanted to get a full PET scan with the Biopsy. Her Daughter and Son spent two days with her while all the tests got finished, a long couple of days of driving and waiting for everyone.

Well the results are in and it is not what anyone every wanted to hear, the Cancer is back, it has also moved to the lungs. Disappointment fills my heart to over flowing. The families hopes are devastated. The dreaded cancer is back and now spreading. With Wanda reaching her life time limit of radiation treatments it looks as though the main treatment now will be Chemo Therapy. What kind and if their will be surgery to combat the lung issue is still up of discussion. The next couple of months will be more trips to seem more Dr’s  and Surgeons. Then a trip to see a panel of Doctors who review her treatment plan. Then a time for prayer….and reflections for Grandma.

At 77 she has total control of her mind and body and this comes as a major set back for her. She has expressed that she is ready to met her “Lord and Savor”, “that it is His plan that we all fallow” and that she will need time to pray about her future choices.

Many times while driving Grandma to do weekly chores, I have witnessed her strength, courage and love. She never complains, she never shy’s away from the pain she experiences. She never blames God for the situation. She instead glorifies what she believes by witnessing to everyone around her. Grandma says to every person she talks to that “This is not the end, but only the beginning.” ” That life here on earth is really the hard part, that death is finally freedom from pain and suffering”. She glows with knowing that her freedom is real and that she has time to remind people that death is only a simple transition from body to spirit and nothing more.

It is in my saddest moments that I think of what she has allowed me to share in. Much like the movie ” Driving Miss Daisy” I am not the real person in charge in our relationship, she is. I am a humble driver, medication giver, house keeper, that is her friend and family. I would not say that I am in any way  religious, I have to many misgivings about any group doctrine. But I am a deeply spiritual person, that knows what she says is true. With her kind and loving wisdom she has brought comfort to hundreds of people across our area. She reminds them to “Trust in a power greater than ourselves and know that we are not alone”. That statement gives me and hundreds of others the comfort we need to get through another day with Cancer.

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Family, grandma, health | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

My Brothers Gift of Memories

I know it maybe a little late for talking about Christmas gifts but this one just keeps me thinking about my childhood. The gift is really nothing of great value and  would not have any meaning unless you had grown up in a plant and flower loving family. My older brother who is now in his 60’s sent me a package in plain yellow envelope with a simple letter. The letter was short but made tears come to my eyes. The letter folded in half and on the interior page was  8 small hand-lettered packages. Each packet contained seeds. Really who in their right mind cries over seeds, I guess I do. As I read the letter from my brother it informed me that many of the seeds inside the letter were seeds from plants that grew in the yard of my childhood home. The home in Boulder, Co. sold in 1994 and I had already moved here to West Virginia.

letter with seed packets on the back

letter with seed packets on the back

My garden loving brother had for several years lovingly transplanted, split, graphed, stolen, seed headed many of the flowers from my mothers gardens. So when the house that we had all lived in almost 40 years  sold the flowers had moved to his home. He worked for years to cultivate and love them into mature plants and trees. Years passed and I had only randomly thought about her gardens and the love that my mother had for her rose gardens. It was a ritual to go see the Home and Garden show in Denver every spring. We talked with vendors and eat fun food and spent just a little money on fresh plants for the yard that every year. I had forgotten about many of them, until this Christmas.

While talking with my close friend Alex recently, I asked him about his collections and why do we even have collections. We debated about the need for all of us in some form or another to have physical things to recharge our memories. That some objects can bring about very strong memories responses, good and bad. That as humans we hold on to things that are meaningful to us. In my case my brother had the for thought to save plants and seeds. I on the other hand was raising a young child and taking care of a farm full of animals. I had no time to worry about what was being left behind at the house at the time.

As I opened one of the packets, a flood of memories flowed through my mind. The long hot Colorado summers with a yard full of flowers, bushes and trees. Where every other summer the money plant bloomed in beautiful purple flowers and by fall the flowers had turned into seed pods. I would ask my mother to pick and play with them with great joy. The seeds inside these paper pods look like penny’s between thin transparent paper. I would spend hours pealing the pods apart and collecting the seeds for play money or tossing them into the wind to sprinkle the world with new plants. I loved these flowers and missed them later in life. My eyes tear up at the thought of asking my mother if I could play with the pods. I am sure the she knew that I would eventually bring a huge spray of the flower pods into the house for her and  I would also destroy most of the others as I “played” with the delicate paper pods.

 

money plant, lunaria

Money Plant, Lunaria, flower catalog photo

The other packets held the seeds of other memorable flowers such as Oriental Poppies with Their huge orange flowers. My Mother had a bird bath garden surrounded by the blazing orange blooms. I loved that they were the only flower bed in our yard that never needed weeding. The flowers were so tightly packed that you could not see the soil between stalks. I loved to fill the bird bath and water the poppies. We watched as the huge buds would form in the heat of summer and as if they knew the hottest day of summer they would pop open shining their faces back at the sun. Their would be hundreds in bloom at once, drawing bees and birds alike. I would watch the stalks all summer as the blooms would fade and the petals fell to the ground. I would wait until the tall thin stalks dried and the seed pods would open and collect 4 or 5 in my hands and shake the tiny black seeds into my hands. Hundreds maybe thousands would fall from the hallow shell into my sweaty palms. Amazed I would wonder why one flower could produce so many life-giving seeds.

large orange poppy. thanks to the burpee catalog

large orange poppy. thanks to the Burpee catalog

The letter also contains Sage, with the purple flowers that love the hot weather of Colorado. The White Anemone that grew under the eve of the car port along with Larkspur and Columbine. Chives and Garlic that grew out back in a garden that my brother started while I was in 8th grade. He was 25 and just beginning to discover his love of gardening. All these flowers/ plants are over 30 years old and I knew them day in and day out. I know them as well as I still remember my first address and phone #.

As I fished up my conversation with my friend Alex, who collects toys and other nostalgia from our childhood, I realized how wonderful it is to travel back to those places and times. We talked about shucking peas, how many times we had watched Batman, what songs and music made us remember the “good old days”.  I shared with him my plan to not only plant these seeds but share my love of gardening and flowers with my son and  grand-daughter. They are the 3rd and 4th generations of my family to see, love and pick these flowers. The seeds were not only a gift from the past but a gift to the future. The future that started with old seeds and will end with this Grand MaMa having little hands bring her bouquets of fresh flowers from my yard.

I can never express how wonderful my brothers gift is, but I thank him for holding on to a part of my childhood that I hand almost forgotten. I love you Bill Lowrey and am so glad you are my brother.

 

Peace rose my mothers favorite rose from the Jackson and Perkins catalog

Peace Rose my mothers favorite rose from the Jackson and Perkins catalog

 The future is all held in the power of just one tiny seed.

Money Plant seeds

Money Plant seeds

Categories: About me, childhood memories, Colorado, Family, nostalgic, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Making a gift from the heart

My sweet little grand-daughter turned 4 this month.If any of you have small children in your family you understand the problem with giving them gifts. It seems that small children attract people who love to buy gifts. As they grow older the pile of gifts slowly shrinks until at 19 or 20 you are lucky if your own parents remember your birthday. So as this young lady is so loved I had to really think over what we wanted to give her. I didn’t want to add to the pile of toys that she already had and some how I wanted to give her something that would last past her fickle little girl loves of Minnie Mouse and the movie Frozen. So after talking with her mother and my husband we came up with the idea of making her a toy box.

We wanted to make one that hopefully would stay with her until she at least reached her preteen years. So while I was out-of-town Tom was able to get the supplies and assemble the box portion of the gift. Then when I returned home I painted the box with several coats of white enamel paint.

white toy box freshly painted

white toy box freshly painted

I talked with my son and his wife about what they wanted on the toy box. I could get stencils and put images of Disney Characters or even just put a decal on the box but I quickly realized that they thought that a painting of a horse would be something she would grown into and that it would be so nice for her room. Well that opened up a whole new idea for me.

I do like to paint and have a back ground in art, but the one thing I have never painted or even tried to paint was horses. It is hard to believe but they are my greatest fear in all the subjects I could attempt. I spent years raising, grooming, feeding and caring for loads of horses. I have spent hours photographing them but never ever drawing or painting them. I have no idea why.. I just never thought I could do them justice. They are so amazing and powerful just thinking about it I get over whelmed. So how do you over come a fear that has lasted over 20 years? You have a 4-year-old tell you ” I want ponies MaMa” and you just jump in and hope to not drowned.

So after a few days I found what I thought would look good. No ” My Little Pony” stuff on this box.I got approval from mom and dad and started the hours of covering the front of this toy box into a horse-box.

blocked in colors of horse toy box

blocked in colors of horse toy box

The process took about 10 hours from sketching to final clear coat. Several times I thought I had a total mess on my hands as I progressed through the layers of paint. I would paint a while and let it dry and walk away for a few days and try another coat and another fix. Each time as I sat at my kitchen table with the huge box on top of it I would think. Horses? Why Horses? I have no experience at this and I am sure it will look like I have no idea what am doing.

final coat of paint close up or horse toy box

final coat of paint close up or horse toy box

So the finale painting will pass as for a 4 years old toy box. I can still see my mistakes but, I am so glad that some how a 4-year-old was able to make me stretch my skills. She was able to make me face a fear I have had for years. I am so glad that we made this gift for her and that maybe she will keep it and some day share it with her little girl. It is truly a gift from my heart and made me so happy to see her love it !

Paige A Powers 4th birthday

Paige A Powers 4th birthday

 Happy Birthday Paige you Ma Ma thinks the world of you!

Categories: Art, Birthday, Family, gifts, heirlooms, Horses, Paige | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Count Down Begins, The Future With Out My Cast

Many of you already know that I have spent most of the last 12 months in a cast on my left leg. I was actually placed in the cast on Dec 9th of last year do to a tiny bone being fractured in the bottom of my foot. I started out being told it was 8 weeks in the cast and then that turned into 13 weeks and then surgery and then recovery. So all of this added up being 5 days short of a year for the recovery from a fractured bone that is the size of a dime.

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

So as I write this, I am days from finally being free from a 5 pound weight that I have drug around, walked around, stumbled over and fallen with for so long that I have almost forgotten what it is not to have it. I have actually walked through three casts in this time period. I some how just walk the rubber off the bottom and get a new one and keep on moving along.

Some how even with my limited mobility and at times high levels of pain. I knew that their was some lesson  that would be learned from my prolonged disability. I would emerge with some sort of insight that I did not have before. I have spent more time at home over the last year than in all my life. I have felt more crippling pain than I would wish on anyone.  I have gained more weight than with both of my pregnancy’s and am still gaining. But in truth I have learned and gained from being unable to live my normal life but it is not what I thought I would find at the end of this year.

Over this year of healing and being home, I learned about empathy, sympathy and love. I spent my time caring for some one who was suffering more than me. I spent much of my recovery helping my mother-in-law in her transition from cancer patent, to a weak woman in rehab, to a woman who is slowly taking back her life. I found that setting aside my pain and trying to ease the pain of someone else was a gratifying way to spend the long months that I was not able to work due to my own broken bone.Even just days after my surgery, while still on crutches, I got a call to please “help”. Somehow the two of us managed, sometimes with her courage and some times with mine,but always with the strength of some power greater than us both.

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

So as my health returns and my healing is about finished I watch as my Mother-in-laws health is also returning. We are both less dependent on each other and of those around us. She will be losing  her home health nurse in a few weeks because of her recovery and I will be returning to work soon. It is as if their was some divine reason that I had limited mobility, that I had the time to take care of her and that we could support each other through these difficult times.

I am looking forward to life with out my cast. I should be able to return to a life that  I love and be as active and healthy as I once was. The first step is only a couple of days away and I am so excited to take my first walk around the park in my brand new Tennis shoes( after wearing only one shoe for a year… I needed to buy new ones that I had not worn the sole off one shoe). I am looking forward to walking safely  through the snow this winter.

It is with new eyes that I look at recovery from any kind of health issue. It has made me thankful for the people who dedicate their lives to restoring us to health once again.I am blessed to know nurses, home health aides, physical therapist, occupational therapists and the volunteers who spend countless hours doing chores and running out to stores for those in need. It has made me rethink my career goals. In the next few months as my foot regains the strength I may discover that I am not able to return to the work that I have done for years,  a retail store merchandise auditor. I may need to think about the life experience that I have just gone through and see if my feet lead me down a new path?  Hopefully down one that supports both my Mother-in-Law and my recovery.

Air cast with other shoes

Air cast with other shoes

Categories: Cancer, Family, foot pain, foot surgery, grandma, Healing, health | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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