Thursday, December 3, 2009

Losses and Gains, part II

The week of Dad's memorial service had many bright spots, namely the gathering of the clan. Well, most of us anyway. Kiley and Vivian were missed, but we get to see them at Christmas.

I'll admit, it's strange to look at a family photo with the patriarch missing; pretending that he's behind the camera works for the first few seconds then the reality squeezes in. I know this is part of the adjustment process but that doesn't mean it's welcome.

Having Ty and Caroline, and Bruce too, was a sweet bonus. I know well the feeling of separation that happens when you live across an ocean and there's a family crisis. My hat's off to them for putting up with the rigors of international travel for a short visit.

Bruce, getting to know Rowan.

We brought Ty and Caroline home with us and central Oregon didn't disappoint - there was some snow, a bit of drama on the Santiam Pass, brilliant sunshine and no wind. Goddy and Ty learned that a practice run with tire chains helps when it's cold and dark and the flashing sign at Santiam Junction reads "CHAINS REQUIRED." After a fruitless and surprisingly calm attempt, we drove off in 4-wheel drive, sans chains, and arrived unscathed. And had the snow tires put on the next day.

Ty, who previously complained about snow, claimed that getting rugged up and heading outside was bracing. It helps when you have sensible headgear.

Caroline hadn't experienced Thanksgiving before, so we did a typical feast. Oops -we neglected to share the story of the Pilgrims with her. Hmmm, so much for the educational aspect of it. Should have had my mom there...Sorry Caroline, you'll just have to come back for another one some day and we'll fill you in on the details of why we sit down mid-afternoon on the 4th Thursday of November and eat a big dinner.

When T & C were here three years ago, I'd planned for us to spread the ashes of my beloved Golden Retriever, Sheena, in the pasture at Camp Sherman. Ty ended up with the dog-loving genes and it seemed appropriate to share the moment with him. It never happened because we didn't locate the urn until after they'd left (it was packed in a box in the garage.)

All things work together for good, because in the ensuing years I'd written an essay about Sheena called "The Bond." It sums up the sweet relationship I had with her, a once-in-a-lifetime tie that even now, eight years after her death, brings me to tears. Ty, Caroline, Goddy and I walked to the back of the pasture, sat down under a tree by the river, and took turns reading the essay.

As I poured the ashes out of the urn, I thought about how she would have loved the pasture. It contains an abundance of her favorite things - water, trees and horse poop.

There was still some snow on the ground, so the kids lightened the moment by building the cutest snowman I've ever seen!

And no visit to the pasture happens without some face time with the horses.

Danny is quite the popular soul - he has a way of wanting to be with people that's very endearing.

Logan went riding with me the week before... another shining moment in a month of experiencing the highs and lows of being a mother and daughter of men.