Sunday, July 16, 2017

In Memoriam of Our Fur Family Members

It has been a bad five months for pets in our family.  In fact, it has been a sucky year.  Anyone who has had a pet and watched it die, knows how horrid and gut wrenching it is.  Pets are our family.  They give us unconditional love.  They listen and don't tell.  They are happy to see you arrive home.  Well, sometimes cats like to be aloof, but those of you who have cats, know that their ways of showing love is a bit different than dogs.  Of course, if you have a pet, I am not telling you anything you don't know.

Ari and Sarah
It started at the beginning of March.  Linda's brother-in-law (I think of him as mine, too.  We are a close and blended family.) lost his cat Sarah.  I met Sarah a number of times because Sarah and her brother, Ari, (a golden lab) would travel across the country with Danny.  He lives in Eugene with most of his family in Ohio.  Sarah was a visiting cat in Birmingham that Danny got permission to adopt.  When they stopped by my sister's, Sarah was the perfect guest (as well as Ari) and played well with Linda's kitty, Amelia.  We miss Sarah.

At the end of March little Poppy died.  Poppy was a sweet Puggle, half pug and half beagle.  It was Thanksgiving 2004 that Poppy joined our family.  I had found someone who bred puggles and told Maggie.  The puppy would be ready for a home when we celebrated Thanksgiving.  This was Maggie's first dog and oh how she loved Poppy.  Poppy got twice as much love after Maggie married Mike.  They took Poppy everywhere, camping, hiking and bike riding.  Linda had gotten Poppy a small cart to attach to a bicycle and so she was able to enjoy being with Maggie and Mike while they rode the bike trails.  The one thing Poppy did not like was the opossum that wanted to take residence in their yard.  Maggie would always have to check to see if the opossum was in the yard before letting Poppy out.  We miss you, Poppy.

Abby and Beau
In June, my nephew's dog, Beau, died.  Beau was a rescue dog and joined the family as an adult.  He was the protector of the family, especially my niece, Abby.  They were such good buddies.  I don't know how old Beau was, but my guess is that he was around 12 or 13.  He had a long and good life for an English Bulldog.  I think the pictures will show his attachment to Abby and the family. We miss you, Beau.


At the end of June, my great niece, BreAnn and her brothers, Lukas, Dalton and Ethan lost their dog Stewy.  I don't know how old Stewy was, but he was the family dog when she was still in school.  She found him on line and convinced her parents to buy him.  It was a great decision.  He brought lots of laughs and love to everyone.


To make a sad week even sadder, the cat, Pouncy, who lived where BreAnn worked, died.  Pouncy was one of those cats that a business loves having because he was friendly to everyone and people would always check in to visit Pouncy.  This is just too sad.  We miss you Stu and Pouncy.


In July, my nephew's other dog, Spike died. He was 12 years old.  Nathan and LeeAnne got Spike as a puppy.  My mother drove with them to someplace in Michigan to get him.  She always talked about how he was just a little ball with a cute face looking at her as they drove home.  Spike loved everyone and loved to greet us with a warm, wet (very wet) lick, preferably on the face.  I remember one Thanksgiving (our house was where we gathered for Thanksgiving) Beau found Rosie.  Rosie was the bear that Audrey had created at a visit to Build a Bear the day before.  Spike was having a great time tossing little Rosie into the air, catching her and then shaking her with his wet slobbery mouth.  Audrey was such a little girl then, and was was mortified.  Nathan managed to rescue Rosie and after a trip through the dryer, Rosie was fine.  Spike also drove to Pennsylvania with LeeAnne, to keep her company at her new job.  He made being separated from the family a little easier.  We miss you Spike.
Pretty Amelia

And then, last night, Linda sent me a text.  I was expecting it but did not want it to be true.  Her little grey princess kitty, Amelia, died.  Linda had planned to go to her Pike High School 50th reunion that day in Indianapolis.  She called me and said she could not go.  Amelia was not doing well.  I offered to come and stay with Amelia, but I knew from Linda's voice that nothing would get her to leave Amelia.  Amelia was old.  She was fragile.  We are not sure how old she was because she wandered into Linda and Geoff's life as an adult.  Geoff did not hate cats, but he was not a cat lover like Linda and I are.  Amelia walked into their yard as they were talking to their neighbors, George and Lynn.  George loved cats and tried to get Amelia to come to him.  I am sure you know where Amelia went...she went straight to Geoff.  Later, Geoff told Linda that he should put some food out for that little cat in case it was hungry.  And you know the rest of the story...Amelia found a loving home and became Geoff's buddy.  She was a great traveling kitty, too.  They would take her to the cottage, a five hour drive, and Amelia was the perfect traveler.  After Geoff died, Amelia spent a lot of time on her Princess Pillow which was a pillow on someone's lap.  Usually Linda had the Princess Pillow, but Amelia also like sitting on Nana's (Maxine) lap purring as mother brushed her grey fur.  We miss you, Amelia.

Despite all of the sadness, there is a positive.  In walks Felicitas.  (I love the name.)  Last month while my sister was visiting Nathan, a stray cat came to his yard.  When you see her picture you will understand why beautiful is an understatement.  Linda and Nathan put pictures on line for lost and found animals and also checked the neighborhood to see if anyone had lost a cat.  Nathan could not keep the cat because at that time both of their dogs were still living.  They were also in the process of moving, so another animal in the house would not work.  Linda said she would take Filly home until a permanent home was found for her.  No one could believe that this beautiful, friendly kitty would not have a home.  Linda took Filly to the vet to get checked and also check for a chip.  No luck.  But I think it was luck...or maybe it was the mystery of cats.  Filly found a new loving home and Amelia was able to die knowing that Linda would have another kitty to watch over her.  I have not met you yet, Filly, but I already love you.

Felicitas (Filly)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, Rae.

Rae sitting at the Firefly table before we built
the structure for it.
Hi Rae,
Today, July 2, 2017, would have been your 80th birthday.  I miss you.  Ray misses you.  Your family and friends miss you.  I am not sure you ever knew what a positive impact you had on so many people.  Today I have a birthday present to celebrate your life.  We have the perfect structure built at Cuyamungue Institute where people can go have a smoke.  We have named it Rae's Firefly in your honor.  I have already written two posts about this building so I won't say anymore about it.  Today I want to share the pictures we took showing Zac all of the places you loved when you would spend time at Cuyamungue Institute.

I invited your grandsons, Zac and Shane, to come to Cuyamungue and experience the place you loved.  Shane was unable to come, but hopefully will make it next year when Zac returns.  I can not speak for Zac, but I do think he was able to feel the energy of the Land.  He even spent the night sleeping in the Casita which was one of your favorite places to sleep.  Later, just like you, he moved down to Cities of Gold where he could take a 'real' shower.

This is the Casita where Zac spent the night.  Rae, Stephanie and I would put cots out on the patio and sleep under the stars
looking at the constellations (and sometimes fighting mosquitoes).
This is the Thunderbird Lodge.  I am showing Zac the small shrine for the Owl that watches over the entrance.
This is the Bear statue that some artist built for Cuyamungue Institute.  We have the Rae's Firefly sign on display for this picture but it will be posted at the structure.  These are the board members and Zac, Bruce and Ray.
We did not stay here (Buffalo Thunder) this time (no rooms available) but Rae, Stephanie and I would sometimes get a room there with a balcony. Zac and Ray are saluting the art of Buffalo Thunder.  This sculpture was created by George Riviera. 

This is the back of Cities of Gold where we often stayed.  It is a few (well quite a few) steps down from Buffalo Thunder (a Hilton Hotel) but has the basics we need and the WiFi is free.  Rae loved it here.  We took Zac on her usual walk to the Cities of Gold Casino across the parking lot, and we all played a few slots for about fifteen minutes and then headed to another of Rae's favorite, The Big Rock Casino in Espanola.  I forgot to take a picture of us there.  It has a big rock out front.  Rae, Stephanie and I would touch it before going in, hoping it would bring us good luck.

Here is Rae posing with the rest of us a few years ago.  She loved the bear sculpture.
Rae, Stephanie and I are at the ridge after greeting the sun.  We look to the east and wait for the sun to rise above the mountains  Rae loved sitting on this bench soaking up the morning sun.
Zac is looking west from the ridge where we greet the sun each morning.  I think we all felt Rae's energy.  This was another of  Rae's favorite places.  The wind seemed to whisper to us as Zac spread some of his Grandma Rae's ashes at the ridge and I swear I heard gravely laugh.

 Rae, I wanted to end this post with Zac looking at the Land, the place you loved so much.  I know your spirit was with us as we stood on the ridge and that it was your laugh that I heard in the wind.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sign of the Firefly

We just returned from our annual trip to New Mexico so I could attend the board meeting of The Cuyamungue Institute.  Last year I was greeted by a new structure (almost finished) that Paul had built with the money donated by Rae LeCompte's friends.  I wrote about this structure, Rae's Firefly last June.  This post will be the second part of the story.

If you had read the other post, you know that Rae's Firefly is a structure built for people to have a place to smoke.  This is the only place smoking is allowed at the institute as it is a desert area and at high risk for fires.  Rae would sit out at a table under a raggedy umbrella when she wanted a smoke. There was never enough shade to protect people sitting with her as the umbrella was usually hanging to one side never wanting to click into place.

 It was quite the pathetic area, and yet, that is where people gathered.  Rae was a people magnet and there were always vibrant conversations, colorful language and lots of laughter.  Too often though, the brutal sun caused short discussions during the day.  Once the sun set behind the Jemez Mountains the Firefly was the unofficial meeting place.

I was afraid that in a few years people might forget the story of Rae's Firefly and that it would become just a place where people could smoke.  What we needed was a sign.  This is where my two talented friends saved me.   April 28th is when I got the idea about a sign.  Who could help me make a sign?  Well, no....who could make the sign for me. Bambi and Pottsy!!  I sent them a text asking if they had time to do this.  Within a few minutes I received answers from both that they would love to make the sign and would donate it.

                  What kind of design would look right?  Here is a picture of the structure.

Paul and I playing guitars at Rae's Firefly
 The sign would have to fit the area.  Most of the pictures of fireflies that I found were either cartoon characters or pictures of actual firefly bugs.  I was getting frustrated until I discovered this picture.

 (I don't know who designed this and would love to give them credit but I can not find it now.)  It was perfect!  Rae always wore a Zuni bear necklace and also carried a small bear fetish.  There is also a bear statue at the institute where we often go for group pictures.

One side of Rae's necklace.

This is the side Rae always had showing.  If you
look carefully, you can see some of the stones
are missing.  

Bambi and Pottsy set to work.  I knew I had not given them much time, but they are miracle workers and soon called to set up a lunch date at Henry's in Kenton, OH where we often meet.  It is a halfway point for us.  After a fun lunch and getting updates on each of our lives, I finally got to see their creation!  Oh my, it was perfect!

Bambi, Pottsy and me holding Rae's Firefly sign.
 They also had a cute cartoon firefly on the back corner that said, "Snuff your butts."  They told me that coyote sneaked in when they were making the sign and "made" them put that little cartoon firefly on the back. (Coyote is known as the Trickster in many legends.)
This was just so cute I had to post it twice.

How fortunate am I to have two talented friends like this?  Of course, they knew Rae and loved her like so many of us do.  Thanks to Bambi and Pottsy, we now have a sign for Rae's Firefly.  I have to disagree about the Coyote energy though.  I think there was also a bit of Rae's energy guiding you to paint that cute little firefly on the back of the sign.  I can hear her gravelly laugh now as her spirit smiles at Rae's Firefly, happy to have a place where friends and students can gather to tell stories and share tobacco.

We are standing in front of the structure, Rae's Firefly.  Paul, Zac and I are holding the sign.  Zac was able to join us this summer, at the board meeting, to see the place his Grandma Rae loved.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Remembering Bobby on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day we honor those who have died in service to our country.  So why do I  post one of my mother's wedding pictures?  I know, it is blurry, but I do not have the energy to sort through all of the boxes of Mother's pictures to find a better one.  So, why do I use this picture for Memorial Day?  My parents were not married on Memorial Day and my father survived World War II.  You have probably figured it out by now.

The little boy, the ring bearer, was my mother's cousin.  He served in Vietnam and did not return.  I am posting a newspaper article that state the facts.  The facts are secondary to the family, though.  I have to admit that Bobby and I only saw each other  a couple of times a year (if that) while I was growing up. It was a long six to seven hour drive to visit my mother's side of the family.  He was nine years older than I, so we really did not hang out together when we would visit.  I do remember that I had admired him.  He was always kind and put up with his little cousin.  I am sure, that at six years old I could be quite a pest. By the time I was ten, Bobby was in college and later got married.

My grandmother kept us informed about all of the aunts, uncles and cousins through letters that she sent us at least twice a week.  So, when we received a call from her on a February evening in 1968, we knew it was bad news.  Bobby was missing in action.  Missing in action?  He was a pilot and his plane was shot down February 14th.  My grandmother told us that the same thing happened to her when my uncle was missing during WWII for a few days.  We all hoped that we would hear good news about Bobby, maybe he parachuted out of the plane and would soon be found.

Missing in action has no ending.  Each letter we received from my grandmother ended with these words, "Still no news about Bobby."  I often would open her letters before my parents got home and would just go to the last page hoping to see a different message.  But I knew that if there had been good news we would have gotten a phone call.

When the Viet Nam Memorial was built those who were missing in action were noted with a plus or cross sign (+) after their names.  Bobby's name is engraved on the wall, Panel 39 E, row 6.  A plus sign was next to his name...missing in action.  Year after year...missing in action.  When my grandfather died, Bobby was still missing in action.  My grandmother died and still....missing in action.  No end, no answer.  My father died, still no word. Was he alive?  Was in a prisoner of war?  If he was alive, what was happening to him?   No end,  no answer...missing in action.

I often wondered, "If I am feeling this way, how are Bobby's parents and brother and sister, and his wife feeling?"  I could not imagine the sadness.  When the war was over, Bobby did not return.  Bobby was not among the prisoners of war.  Bobby was....missing in action.  War is cruel and this is the cruelest.

Nearly twenty three years later, Bobby's parents received word that his remains had been recovered. On November 29, 1990, U.S. officials announced that remains repatriated in September, 1990, had been positively identified as those of Robert C McMahan. After 22 years, McMahan had come home.  Now the grief could begin.  No more wondering, no more hope.  But now the truth, no matter how sad.

When the remains of a Missing in Action soldier  are found, the plus sign on the Memorial Wall is filled in to  look like a diamond.  Now Bobby's name has a diamond shape after it.

On this Memorial Day, I honor my cousin, Bobby, and all of the other men and women who have died or are missing in action in the service of our country.  One death touches so many, not only immediate family members, but also pesky little cousins.

The article below tells the facts and also touches on the sadness of the family.

Here are some links with more information about Bobby.
The Military Honor Roll