Winter Journey – Return to Montana – October-November 2016

Dead Horse State Park, Utah

Thursday October 27th our friends leave and we move to a different site, but are still in Dead Horse State Park. Finally this morning I am able to talk to Mom and we have a good conversation. I tell her I am working on getting a bus ticket so I can come see her and she tells me about her ride to the hospital in an ambulance.  We say our I love you’s and our good-bye’s, hoping that it is not the last time. In the afternoon, one of my daughters calls: at the meeting with Mom’s doctor today, the game-plan was changed from a plan for rehab to comfort care only. I know it is time for me to go and I finally talk to a human being at the bus depot in Missoula to get the information I need. Tomorrow morning Clifford will take me to the nearest bus depot that we know of – Green River, about 60 miles away. I pack a couple of bags with enough clothes for a week, laptop, journal, camera, and snacks for the 22 hour bus trip. In the afternoon, Clifford and I drive out to the Dead Horse Point, which is a very scenic view of the canyon and Colorado River below. I try not to think about the bus trip and what lies ahead, but just stay in the present moment and enjoy the grandeur of the landscape.

Dead Horse Point


Utah as sen from the bus heading north

Friday October 28th to Thursday November 10th: My mom knows I am coming, but sadly, she passes on before I get to the hospital. Her body had been failing since her 90th birthday, but her mind was sharp and her faith strong to the end. She was surrounded by her family whom she loved and who loved her; she was ready to go and left peacefully. But her going creates a void in my life – a huge indescribable void. I wonder how it is for all who were close to her. Are they tempted to explore the void to see if there are treasures there to be discovered; are they tip-toeing around the void, afraid if they fall in they will be swallowed up never to return; or will they turn their back, walk away, pretending the void doesn’t exist?

Photo taken with Mom’s little camera that I had helped her pick out; suits my mood.

I stay at Mom’s house, walking from room to room looking at her stuff, feeling her presence. I help my siblings in regard to planning the funeral, writing the obituary, and am one of several people who speak at the funeral service. I am very grateful to all the family members who contribute their time and effort to make the funeral a special event.

The flower arrangement on the casket made by one of Mom’s nieces

My brother Rollie plays at the Sunnyside Cemetery

In the days that I am here, I begin the process of organizing and preparing for an estate sale. Coming across her Christmas tree and ornaments that she had collected or made, I decorate the tree, recalling how beautifully Mom always decorated our Christmas trees when we were kids..

The Christmas Tree

As my siblings and all of our families come to the house in regard to disposing of Mom’s stuff, a spirit of generosity and helpfulness prevails. There is no fighting over this or that, rather everyone is thoughtful and considerate. Most of my kids are around, at least part of the time, even those who have come from afar. It is a special time of closeness with both my siblings and my kids.

Sunrise from Mom’s front steps – she would have loved seeing it

I stay for a week after the funeral, having done as much as I can to make things easier for my siblings, knowing that the greatest part of the burden is still on them to prepare the house for sale, while missing the regular interaction that they had with our mom. I am torn in that I would like to stay and help them, but Clifford is in southern Utah waiting for my return. We are fortunate that the weather has been moderate for this time of year, but it is time for Clifford and me to head further south for the winter, so with heavy heart, I say good-bye to everyone and board the bus, heading south once again.


3 thoughts on “Winter Journey – Return to Montana – October-November 2016”

  1. … I am saddened to read of your Mom’s passing. With time and grace, may the heaviness in your Heart lift, allowing a lightness of space there, that good memories of your Mother can come and fill, giving you peace.

    1. Thank you, Daryl, for your kind and thoughtful comment regarding my mom’s passing. What you say is how it should be, and I trust that it will, in time.

  2. It is so difficult to lose your parent. So far it’s been the hardest thing ever for me to bear. But I believe that their spirits live on and that their DNA is always with us. I don’t know that time heals. But you do learn how to move on and treasure the memories and love that you have from them.

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