Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Mid 40's are in the Books

For some reason I never got around to writing about traveling to National Parks numbers 44, 45 and now 46...!

Back at the end of June we visited Olympic National Park (#44) in Washington.  There are actually two parts: a rainforest/coastal part and then the more alpine mountain park.

Both have their own intrinsic beauty.  It was amazing to be able to spend time in both places.

Then we drove north to catch a ferry to get us across the waters of the sound...

The next day we arrived at Cascades National Park (#45).  The visitor's center wasn't much but the drive through the park was full of large vistas of mountains and trees.  Lots of small streams and rivers.

Then there was this:

I called it Heaven on Earth.  Almost as beautiful as the first time I saw Glacier National Park... almost...

Then, this last weekend I met my best friend from medical school, and we spent the weekend at Rocky Mountain National Park (#46).  It was the last national park I had to check off my list in Colorado.  So worth the wait... and the trip!

As my friend said, photos in no way do justice to the beauty of the scenery.

We saw so many animals including a moose and baby.

Elk on the slopes of the mountains.

Meadows reaching up to the skies.

My friend is a fan of waterfalls, so we did a bit of hiking.
Kinda rough given the base elevation was about 9,000 feet,
but with her encouragement I tramped on and up.
So glad I did.

Another beautiful place checked off! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Extremely Playful

"Extremely Playful"
That was the sign I missed next to the cage at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago back in June of 2003 when I went to pick out a kitten as a playmate for another kitten I had found.  He was alert, active, and I put in for his adoption.  Several forms, a class on correctly "disciplining" your cat, and all the usual checks to make sure my landlord approved, I had the appropriate income, and confirming payment of the neutering and he was mine.  
That's when I noticed the sign... and he lived up to that warning.

I chose the name Winston Churchill after the cat in "Pet Semetary."  Although, unlike that cat, I called him Winston instead of Church.  He was more of a Winston.  And, I like to say his name suited him because he was a pistol.  At that time, he was 11 weeks old and I introduced him to Sofie who was the same age.  They became friends and have been life-long companions.

He was my source of joy and frustration during that intern year.  Mostly joy; although I didn't appreciate finding my figurines and picture frames being knocked over when I came home after a 24 shift at the hospital.  But, he was always there with a purr and a head butt.  His spot on the bed was right behind my knees.

My husband taught him to jump up on his shoulder.  He was also the one to introduce Winston to the first snowfall every year.  Winston did not appreciate the snow plunge but somehow always came back for more.

White Bear Lake, MN

Winston was well-travelled having made the move from Chicago to Boston to Minneapolis and the suburbs outside of St. Paul, to Buffalo and then finally here to California.  We almost lost him in a truck stop about 2 hours outside of Chicago.  I was transferring the cats to the car because they were starting to get agitated in the moving van.  Winston panicked during the transfer, escaped the cat carrier, and ran through the lot.  I found him under a semi hiding in the tire well.  Thirty minutes later, both of us covered in dirt and axel grease, I had my cat.  I wasn't going to leave without him.

Buffalo, NY

Ferndale, CA - now an outdoor kitty at last...

I called him my "big brute" because he was such a large cat...
and because he would push Sofie out of the way to get the cat food
whenever they were fed.

At 16, he was still the "greeter" and came out to see everyone when they arrived, but his age was showing and he wasn't doing well.  We knew it was time to say good-bye.

A couple of days ago, I went looking for a spot.  I picked out a place just off a grove of pine trees.  It's at the top of a hill leading up from our house.   I call the area "Nori's Grove" after a friend who died.  I have memories of her coming out of the trees carrying an armful of mushrooms.  So it's named after her.

Yesterday, I climbed onto the tractor and learned to use the back hoe.  There's something cathartic about digging a grave.  It gave me an outlet for my grief while creating the place for Winston.
I know even my husband got kinda misty while we dug.

This afternoon I wrapped Winston in one of Momma's soft blankets and together my husband and I carried him up the hill.  Despite his recent illness and weight loss, I couldn't believe how heavy his body still felt.  Even in death, he was still my big brute.

We set two log stumps on top after flattening out the dirt.  My husband is going to take one of the planed boards he has and is going to make a bench.  I'm going to make a marker with a cross with Winston Churchill's name on it.  We joked about using some of the cat food cans that he loved and making a sculpture or art piece of some kind.  We'll see what I end up doing, but 
I love that it can be a place for rest and quiet reflection.

Winston has crossed that Rainbow Bridge where 
I'm sure he was met by Lacey who died last year.
I can only hope 
I gave him a good kitty life.

Winston Churchill
March 2003 - August 2019

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Four Monthiversary

They're still sitting there:  a rose from my mother's burial wreath and her handkerchief that I had in my purse on the day of her funeral.  The funeral planner made boutonnieres for the pall bearers from the white roses in her burial wreath.  This is the rose my husband wore.  After the funeral, as we were driving back to the house, we took the flower off and for a while it sat with the handkerchief in my center console.  Then I moved them to the door where they still sit. 

Four months.... can it really have been four months?  Some days it's fresh in my mind, like it just happened yesterday.  Other days I don't think about her at all as my mind is filled with the events of the day, but then something triggers a thought and it all comes rushing back to me.  

There's mornings where I wake up earlier than my alarm and my thoughts are filled with her, with the choices I made, with her final moments.  And, I find I can't go back to sleep.  There are nights when I am saying my prayers which always include a special prayer that Momma is in Heaven and that God continues to watch over her.  Then I can't sleep thinking about that last week, that last day, that last hour, that final moment when she breathed her last.

How can she be gone...?  And why do I feel like she's really gone, like there is no after life, like she just blinked out of existence... When my uncle died I could feel him around me... the same with my grandmother as if she was just out of sight watching over me... but now, I don't feel like I feel or sense her at all.  Is it because I can't visit her grave easily?  Is it because I don't have a sense of her presence?  

There's a part of me that wishes she had been cremated then at least I'd have something physical and tangible;  something to carry around and talk to.  Maybe that's why that rose and handkerchief are still sitting in the door of my car.... in a way it's a part of her that's still around... 

As for her room and clothes and things... that will still have to wait a while longer too... her smell is still there, at least I have that as well...

Featured Post...

The Mid 40's are in the Books

For some reason I never got around to writing about traveling to National Parks numbers 44, 45 and now 46...! Back at the end of June...