Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Thursday, November 21, 2019
In the last couple of years leading up to when Rickie was supposed to retire he said to me many times “if we can just have 5 good years retired together, I’ll be happy. No matter what happens after that. Just 5 good years.”
On November 3, 2012 I posted this on Facebook -
“Opening day. Rickie in deer stand. I'm trying to be quiet in the cabin. Remembering back to the early days on opening weekend when Rick and his friend John C used to come out & occasionally our son John. We had the tiny trailer then and most of the time not hunting was spent around the campfire. I didn't come; it was just the guys. Those are good memories for them. Now we're all 20+ years older and have more comfortable quarters. But still. Who knew time would pass so quickly.”
The thing I feel luckiest for with these memories of the horrible camper we had then and of the times spent at the ranch in the early days, is that even then we knew we were lucky and blessed with what we had and with the opportunity we had to be there. I don’t have to look back and say “I wish I had known then how special those times were.” We all knew. And I still try to realize the wonder and the opportunity we have now with the Colorado home. Both then and now I know, in spite of the heartbreak, that we lived our dream and not everyone gets a chance to. Though I have to say also we took advantage of the chance. None of it was an easy choice and we sacrificed a lot to make the dreams come true. I don’t regret a minute if it.
This time of year when so many memories of family times at the ranch come up, I’m always sad for what we lost when Rickie died. And wonder if I should have stayed and just died of sorrow there. But I’m reminded of an old joke I heard years ago. A man was on top of his roof with flood waters all around. Someone came by on a raft and asked him to get on and he said no, God will save me. Then someone in a little boat came by and tried also to save him. Again he said no, God will save me. A third time someone in an air boat came by and asked him to get on. He replied as before, God will save me. Then he drowned and went to heaven. He asked God why he didn’t save him. God said “I sent a raft and two boats, what more did you want?”
Sometimes we have to save ourselves whether we think God had a hand in it or not. And here I sit in Colorado watching the snow softly fall outside, having walked with Bixby to the bus stop, fixing to work on unpacking boxes in our new home, hearing from new friends this week, meeting new neighbors, having Colorado friends help me with the move, and looking forward to Nat and Austin and their friends coming over tomorrow.
We know what’s behind us but we never know what’s ahead of us. In 4 days it will be 5 years since Rickie died. We didn’t get one day together of the 5 good years he hoped for. And sometimes when I think of that I can’t breath. But I’ve survived the 5 years, some times just barely. I didn’t stay at the ranch just to die of sorrow. And I’ve made some wonderful memories and spent some treasured times with the people I love. Was it 5 good years? It was 5 bittersweet years and I have treasured every one. As we did in the early lean days, I know I’m lucky and blessed to be here.
And I’m glad I got on the boat when it came by.
Friday, September 6, 2019
Bixby’s got his Pampaw’s naturalist gene. He said “whoa!” yesterday when he stood beside this 3’ tall grass on the hill. He wanted to know why the seed heads hadn’t fallen off, as he ran his fingers along them gathering the seeds. I told him it wasn’t their time yet. I told him turkeys like to eat them but our turkeys here have more unpopulated areas to go to so we don’t see them in the yard.
This morning, heading to the car to go to school, he took my binoculars to spot the robins in the snags, on their way south. Yesterday we saw flocks of Canadian geese and talked about how they’re headed south too.
I was out early this morning putting the recycling out. The temp was 56 but it felt cooler. Those wonderful mornings when Autumn starts to slowly roll in, like fog over the ocean. Next week we’ll be in the 40s at night with highs in the 70s.
The scrub jays in the Gambel’s oaks by the chicken yard gate were raising a ruckus about something. A couple of nights ago a skunk sprayed one of Bixby’s dogs in that area so maybe the jays were fussing and cussing at a skunk.
It’s the time of year when the bears go into eating overdrive, the time called hyperphagia. Piling on the weight in preparation for the long winter sleep. They’re very active now. A realtor friend of mine went out to look at some property this week and was lucky to see a mama bear crossing an open field with 3 baby bears running full speed to keep up with her.
Soon the aspens will change, as will the cottonwoods along the rivers and creeks. One yellow, one more golden. I’m reminded of a night in Albuquerque years ago when Rickie and I were there. We had gone out to eat that evening and as we came out we faced the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande, lined with golden cottonwoods. A full yellow moon hung over the mountains and the cottonwoods shined like billions of gold coins in the light. The beauty overwhelmed us.
Later this year I’ll take a drive over to Chama and turn north. The mountains there are full of aspens and it’s a beautiful drive. A train runs up into that area from Chama. I understand they serve a turkey and dressing meal halfway on the trip. That ride’s on the wish list for one day. Friends here report it’s a great trip. Rickie and I had a good life and experienced many wonderful things, but here in Colorado I find myself wishing he could see all the things I now see without him.
And maybe he can, maybe he sees them through his grandchildren. When Bixby takes the Durango train to the pumpkin patch, when Natalie rides her pink board down the mountain, when Lexi runs out into the falling snow and holds her face up to catch the flakes, when Zac rides a horse high in the mountains, when Jeremy hikes to the edge of the ridge. When we all gather around the campfire in the snow with the stars brilliant overhead, making s’mores as Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas plays softly on Celia’s phone. Maybe he sits beside us, marveling not at the world’s wonders, but at the wonder of these grandchildren he loved, that they find the same joy and love he had in things both big and small.
Maybe that’s where the the true wonder lies; the generations, as the seasons, ever so softly easing into a new one. Carrying some things with them, leaving some behind, adding their own beauty to the change. I hope you take some time to enjoy this season, the ending of one, the beginning of another, when everything slows down. It goes by fast. Don’t let it slip away unseen.
Monday, July 29, 2019
Saturday, July 6, 2019
I spent July 4th moving stuff to the storage unit. It wasn’t a happy day for me. I wasn’t feeling the holiday and selling and buying houses has been more stressful than it should be. It was 5 years since my son-in-law’s mother Miriam had died, and 5 years and a week since my brother David died. I was wondering why in the hell I’m not tossing out some of this stuff I’m moving, and handling things I brought from the ranch just made me sad. Every song that came on made me cry and think of loved ones lost. When Zane Williams’ On A Good Day came on I played it over and over. Sometimes it helps, sometimes not. I’ve played it a million times since Rickie died. I was thinking I should ask my brother Andy to learn it so he can sing it for me when I’m gone instead of I’d Like to be in Texas for the Roundup in the Spring. I’d asked him to learn that a few years ago. That’s the kind of mood I was in.
Then something happened. It was a little thing, and in the way little things often are, it wasn’t. As I was waiting to turn out of the storage facility onto the highway there was a couple with a motorcycle stopped across the highway on the shoulder. They weren’t old but they weren’t kids either. I’m not sure why they were stopped but as they got back on and took off, the woman held onto her cowboy hat with one hand and gave me a little wave to say thanks for letting them go first. I had to wait on 3 more cars coming behind them before I could pull out.
We were down the road a ways and I saw the cars in front of me were all swerving to avoid something in the road. I couldn’t see what it was but it was moving in my lane like an injured squirrel or bird. As I got close and also swerved to avoid it, I saw it was the cowboy hat the woman on the motorcycle had been wearing. I looked behind me and vehicles were still swerving to avoid it. That made me smile and the whole day suddenly changed. Up ahead around the curve I saw the couple on the motorcycle just moving on, never looking back for what was lost.
And I thought I ought to do the same. At least for a little while.
“....And on a good day, the steam from my cup
Rises in a ribbon like a prayer going up
And I can close my eyes and not see your smile
And I feel like myself again for a little while
And the mountains breathe, just like they did before
On a good day I don’t miss you anymore”