This weekend I visited the cabin up Ogden canyon where I was staying just prior to the stroke. It was the spot I was last normal. It haunts me like a ghost of life past. I never actually verbalized my inner conflict, because I was trying to remain in denial as long as possible at the time. (Sometimes you gotta use denial for self preservation!) However, the thought was always hovering in the back of my mind, even though I was welcomed with many with open arms.

Certain sights brought back memory vignettes of the days preceding my big change almost a year ago. Picture the ballfield, spotted with family playing softball. (With my mad skills, I got a hit everytime!) There’s the corner of the yard where the night before we watched (an old family favorite) John Wayne movie outside. (Popcorn included.) I recall scrumptious meals as we all gathered together to laugh and associate. And right before, (all those who opted out of river tubing) rambunctiously played cards with the necessary drinks and snacks. All was right with the world. We were encircled by trees and the babbling water. In the company of seldom seen extended family, we shared stories, memories, and experiences. Always laughing, we enjoyed the careless serenity of the crisp outdoors.

This was the scene from a normal life that would soon come crashing down, not just for me, but all associated with me. (Kablam!) 

It’s amazing to think of one event (like a stroke) rippling out to deeply effect so many. It just goes to show you it’s expedient to live your life to the fullest now and every day after. You never know what tomorrow will bring. (Seriously, you just don’t know!) How would I have lived those final normal days? What would I have done to prepare? I feel like I was in the right place, with family.

Here’s my unsolicited, but well-earned advice: Turn off the TV or put down the phone, and give your precious time to the people you love.

The cabin will always hold treasured memories for me. (Sorry, I was responsible for ruining a wonderful family weekend. It certainly wasn’t on purpose.) But instead of dwelling on the sadness this event caused many, I will focus on the good times. I will pull aside the veil of disappointment and desperation, and I will strive to only remember the happiness and joyful times. That’s my goal. (Wish me luck!)

30 Years Ago

It’s June 4, 1987. Synthesizers were flooding the airwaves. Gasoline cost .96 cents a gallon. (We were so modern and crazy.) Fluorescent clothes were all the rage. We seniors in high school were finally going to be free of these four walls we considered prison. The day had arrived. It seemed like it took forever!

I attended the post graduation party at the recreation center. We were signing yearbooks for the last time. Saying our last goodbyes to dear friends, and happy to be rid of some. I was free! The world was laid at my feet. High school was ending, and the dream was becoming real. 

I wrote myself a letter to be opened in the future with a Polaroid. (That was an instant picture you shook to develop.) The letter I penned to myself was a lot about boys! (I guess that’s what I was frequently thinking about.) I thought the guy I was with was the ultimate one. (Not so.) I was excited about college and a scholarship I won. (It didn’t last long enough.) Family was another thing high on my list. I was so amazed at how our family was growing. I had seven nieces and nephews that I was so proud of. (Now it’s 23 with 26 of their kids.) I remembered watching the Monkees reruns everyday at 4:00 with them while we ate Otter Pops! Life was just beginning. I thought I knew it all, but truly I was so naive.

I met my husband shortly after this. He was the one! We went to college together. I got my dream job! (At the time) We got married. (Yay!) We played. Kids came. (Ahh.) School was put on hold. Much happiness and hard times followed while we raised a family and dealt with the blows. (Kids and cows will bring those.) I look back now after 30 years. What did I acheive? Was it enough? I know I’m not finished, but I’m doing a lot of introspection. Did I accomplish all I thought I would?

My 30 year class reunion was a few days ago. After much convincing from various people, I decided to attend (with my wonderful husband.) I was curious most of all. Were these people different somehow? I had a great high school experience, but I was past the whole drama-filled production. I am not living all these years through those high school glory days like some people. I am not that outgoing extroverted life of the party anymore. Unwarranted attention is not what I wanted. What would they think of me now?

My sister did my hair and makeup, I was ready mentally. We entered through the back. Everyone looked. A few that didn’t know were confused and shocked. I am sure much hushed intergroup talking was happening. I cried a few times, but I held my own quite a bit more of the time. Some sweet friends and some acquaintances rushed up to wish me well and offer a hug. I know they meant well, but they all said about the same thing, “You’re doing great, hang in there, you’re are fighter.” I so wanted to stand up and be part of the group, normal, not an invalid being rolled around! I didn’t want to be pitied. I guarantee I’m walking into the 40th year reunion!

A little program was presented. Who came the farthest? Who lives the closest? Who had the most kids? Who had the oldest kids? (I won that one! Well out of who was there. Zack is 25!) They read the names of people who were no longer with us on earth. That was difficult for me. I was so overwhelmingly glad I wasn’t on there! (I so easily could have been!) Memories were shared of those deceased classmates. What memory would they have shared of me?

I wished I knew each of their life stories. So many experiences were in that room. So many life lessons learned. I know it would’ve taken forever, but I wanted to go around and share life’s experiences. I talked to many, but each one was with too quick of a passing, “Hey, how are ya?” 

Time is the great equalizer. It was amazing to see people from different high school social groups. Ones who would have never been seen together for a million bucks, now are hugging, laughing, and posing for pictures. It just didn’t matter anymore. Every person was sincerely glad to see the other. We all started from this place. High school was our commonality.

I did make good use of these thirty years. I may not have tons of diplomas or a fancy house on the hill, but I have six wonderful kids, an amazing husband, awesome friends, and I possess many years worth of life experiences (sprinkled with memories) to help me on my way. 

“I wanna be forever young…”

I am dead center.

Never Gonna Let You Down – 6/13/17

“Never Gonna Let You Down” is an up beat song by Colbie Calliat that just makes you feel incredible! I love her, and her songs are so inspiring. It’s message is of loyalty, love and hope. (Just what I need to hear!) This song makes me reminiscent of so many people in my life. It amazing and humbling that so many of my friends and family really stepped up and supported us through love and by deed when times were (are) hard. 

This song also holds inherent meaning to me. Two years ago, my four daughters and I performed this song at the Lewiston Fourth of July festivities in the park. I will always cherish our time practicing and performing. It is a fabulous memory I will hold onto forever. Isn’t music great for recalling memories? (You bet your sweet checks!)

Wood Creations – 6/1/17

I have an uncle, Burke Gunnell, who worked with wood. He was the kindest guy you would ever aquaint. He consistently said yes. We kept him busy often with our numerous crazy and far-fetched ideas. My mom reigned as one of the guiltiest. She was always hatching some sort of project. But he could not deny his little sister. (And he had many creative sisters!) He made puzzles and stools and shelves. (Oh my!) Some were utilitarian and some decorative. Me and my sisters were budding tole painting artists, therefore we were kept sufficiently occupied. Some creations were painted decoratively, and some were stained. 

Around Christmas of 2000, my mom decided all the cousins needed treasure boxes, and a fun family bonding project would be to allow them to decorate for themselves together. So we got the kids assembled, armed them with paint and brush, and the kids artistically attacked. (Messy, but fun!) Some embraced the idea, and some were just there for the treats. It was an entertaining day, and they all departed with a keepsake box for their little treasures. 

I recall many hours spent in Uncle Burke’s workshop assembling and sanding our assorted projects. (He put Santa to shame!) One very excellent project he built was utilizing a scroll saw. He created square lamps with intricate cutouts for the light to eminate through. We could replace the design to fit the season. Each lamp came with multiple inserts. (They were extremely cool!) 

Many cherished memories were created in his shop. (Thank you, so much, Uncle Burke!) He has passed on now, but I have learned from his kindness, willingness and happy attitude. We have countless memories and mementos of love he constructed for us.