Category Archives: Family

Stepping into the Presence

Joshua and Sherri Zander

Joshua and Sherri Zander, of Fort Collins, stepped into the presence of Jesus on Sunday, August 21st in a motorcycle accident on Highway 34 coming home from a sunshine bright, Sunday ride to Estes Park. They were both 55 years old. Joshua was preceded in death by his father, Warren Zander, his mother, Joanne Zander, his brother Michael Zander. He is survived by his sister Mardie (Jay), sister Kris, brother David (Trish), sister Lisa and brother Carl (Chris). Sherri was preceded in death by her brother Jeff Thicksten and brother Mark Thicksten. Sherri is survived by her mother Nancy (Charlie), father Darrell (Deb), sister Tammi (Doug), sister Niqie (Kevin), sister Darlene, and sister Tammy. They both are preceded in death by their son Tyler. They both are survived by four children: Jeremy (Jen), Charlie (Jamie), Katie (Kevin) and Colby (Ruben). They are also survived by six grandchildren affectionately called “grandcuties”: Jackson, Avery, Logan, Braxton, Mason, and Lilly. Joshua was born in Chicago, Illinois, September 8, 1960. Sherri was born in Whiteside County, Illinois, October 28, 1960. Both families moved to Fort Collins when Joshua and Sherri were young. They met at Blevins Junior High in Fort Collins. Both graduated from Rocky Mountain High School in 1978. They began dating shortly after high school graduation, fell in love and married September 27, 1980. Josh worked for Larimer County as a Facilities Manager for ten years. He then became the Facilities Manager at Timberline Church where he served faithfully for six years, seeing the church through a relocation to Timberline Road. In 2004 he took a job at Platte River Power Authority in Site Facilities, became a Plant Operator and then a Laboratory Technician. Sherri launched and managed the coffee shop at Timberline Church, worked for Axa Advisors as an Administrative Assistant, then went back to work at Timberline Church as an Administrative Assistant and was quickly promoted to Office Manager. They had five children, each one loved for who they were. Those children were their whole world. On May 11, 2001 their son Tyler passed from this life as a result of neurofibromatosis. Josh and Sherri modeled what faith and strength looked like while living day to day through difficult times. In any conversation with Josh and Sherri, it was clear that family and faith were everything to them. They loved each other with an almost magical kind of love. They did almost everything together. They were filled to the brim with happiness when they were with their kids and their grandchildren. You could see the joy in their eyes and hear it in their laughter. These were parents who were delighted and energized by their strong family bond. Josh and Sherri had hearts that held plenty of room for loving and caring for their friends too. So many friends . . . so many stories shared of them showing up to help a friend in need. Woodworking projects, party planning, recipe sharing, thoughtful, handwritten notes. Both freely offering hands on help and words of consolation and encouragement, bringing light and hope to those going through rough times. It was easy to have fun with them too. A party at their place was quite an event. Everything a guest might need was thought about and planned for. Everything was just right, when they threw a party. Laughter and love shared in abundance, made being with them a time that would be remembered. Josh loved woodworking and cigars, Sherri loved crafting and decorating – especially for the holidays. They both had the wonderful gift of hospitality. They had a way of making everyone they met feel special. And they both loved to ride their motorcycle together every chance they could. They loved God, their family and their friends. They cared deeply about their work and those they worked with. They were dedicated and honorable people. The kind of people this world could use more of. We loved them. Our hearts are broken because they are gone from us for now . . . but we will see them again, and all will be right and whole once more. For that assurance, we give thanks to our God. Please visit Josh & Sherri’s online memorial tribute at www.allnutt.com.

Published in The Coloradoan from Aug. 27 to Aug. 31, 2016


This a selection of images – some mine, others from Tammi’s personal photos. I knew Josh and Sherry for roughly six years and knew they were incredible people. Sherry was a wonderful sister to Tammi and Josh was the perfect brother in law. I know they’re riding down the highway together still, just in a better place.

Smooth riding kids, see you at the big truck stop in the sky.

Tammi's wedding to Scott Hofferber
Tammi’s wedding to Scott Hofferber
Charlie's Graduation
Charlie’s Graduation
At the Sweet Shoppe
At the Sweet Shoppe
At the Breen / Deines Dutch Hop
At the Breen / Deines Dutch Hop
Sherry and Josh dancing with Tammi and I at the Dutch Hop
Sherry and Josh dancing with Tammi and I at the Dutch Hop
Telling stories at their anniversary party
Telling stories at their anniversary party
More stories from the anniversary
More stories from the anniversary
Josh and Sherry clowing around at their anniversary
Josh and Sherry clowing around at their anniversary
The Zander Family three generations - 2011
The Zander Family three generations – 2011

Bridges

On this seventh anniversary of Marilyn’s death I reflected on how our pets become bridges to the past.

When I met Marilyn she simply hated cats. So my dear cat Fran had to be rehomed to Albuquerque with my first wife. It was years later and an answered prayer when Marilyn finally decided she wanted cats in our home.

No dogs. But cats were now ok. It was a quantum leap in our relationship and her spiritual life.

After her death Kink helped keep my heart alive and then Tammi joined me. With Tammi came dogs (Kona and Sugar and eventually Dozer) and one of our cats simply couldn’t adapt (Chloe) and was rehomed. Kink hung in there and now is on a equals basis with the dogs. She’s also bonded to Tammi and there are now nights when my bed is filled with my lovely wife, my cat AND my dogs.

Blessings come wrapped in tragedies. I thank God for my blessings and give honor to those gone beyond who await me now.

God bless you all.

MLW_KinkyChinCuddlebest
Marilyn Bonita Wray cuddles with one of our new kittens, Kinky, soon to be renamed Kinkles. It was a wondrous moment to see her child heart take flame again. I will never forget it.
Tammi petting Kinkles 060914
My third (!) wife Tammi Jean Hofferber-Wray cuddles with Miss Kinkles surrounded by white. To see this sweet creature ever so wisely bridging the gap between my mates is deeply touching. People ask ‘why cats’ – this should help answer that somewhat.

Friend of My Heart

My uncle Mickey was one of the first men I met who was truly *gentle* with me and playful as I was. His hugs were so encompassing, like no danger or harm could reach me in his arms. All my childhood cares were swept away when I was with him and he made my soul rise up and catch fire. I thank God for his love, it was a wonderful gift to me and transformed my heart.

He was SO silly. I had not known adults were allowed to BE silly ( I did not know my Uncle Bob very well at this point, rest his soul! ) but oh my God he WAS. I remember on at least one occasion laughing so hard I peed my pants. And it was even FUNNIER. Mickey always gave you a warm feeling – sometimes in ways you didn’t expect – or know that you needed.

At my mother’s funeral his words of comfort were like a stone wall holding me up. Even at that dark moment his blazing soul was hard at work and his humor helped me cheer my sister Paula who was dealing with losing her avatar. With one short conversation he helped us both. That’s a moment I remember so clearly.

He was more than my uncle, he was my childhood friend and as I grew, he remained a friend of my heart. He knew well how much I loved him. His Light lives on in me and I give Thanks to God for it.

This poem is my final homage to him.

I love you Uncle Mickey.

M. Douglas Wray and William D. "Mickey" Rowe - Oct. 30, 2010 - Family reunion
M. Douglas Wray and William D. “Mickey” Rowe – Oct. 30, 2010 – Family reunion

Friend of My Heart

Through wind and fire
you have come –
done the things
that must be done.

Worked the Steel
that built our dreams,
fought the fight
and heard the screams.

Built a family
shared his joys –
his lovely girl
his two fine boys.

Gentle heart
devoted soul –
perfect for
a father’s role.

Always humble,
God’s own tool
he shared his gifts –
obeyed the Rule.

Consoled the hearts
of those in pain
and raised them up
to Light again.

Made laughter ring out
clear and sweet –
wit so clever!
mind so fleet!

Time has taken
my favorite clown.
Friend of my heart!!!
My Friend is gone!

To my Uncle Mickey
With all my love

M. Douglas Wray
a nephew
2015

William D. “Mickey” Rowe – 7/14/31 – 5/29/15

William D. "Mickey" Rowe - 7/14/31 - 5/29/15
William D. “Mickey” Rowe – 7/14/31 – 5/29/15

William D. “Mickey” Rowe, 83, of Vandergrift passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Friday, May 29, 2015 in his home.

Born July 14, 1931 in Vandergrift he was a son of the late William John and Lillian Emily (Barber) Rowe. Mr. Rowe lived in Vandergrift all of his life and was a graduate of Vandergrift High School class of 1950. He was employed as Utilities Dispatcher for U.S. Steel in Vandergrift where he was Past President of Local Union U.S.W.A. 1346 retiring after 38 years.

After retirement Bill worked for Walter Optical in Vandergrift and the Vandergrift Beer Distributor.

An Air Force veteran, Bill served during the Korean Conflict in the 43rd Bomb Wing of the Strategic Air Command (S.A.C.). He was honorably discharged in 1956 after four years of service.

Mr. Rowe was a member of St. Gertrude Church, Vandergrift where he was a charter member of the Men’s Club, and former member of St. Vincent DePaul Society and the Bingo committee. He also served his church as an alter server for funerals and as a Minister of Consolation. He was an Honorary Member and Past Grand Knight of the Kiski Valley Knights of Columbus, Council #3174, the Alle-Kiski Assembly Knights of Columbus #0928 and a member of the Assembly Color Corp. Bill was also a member of the Vandergrift American Legion Post 0114 and life member of the Leechburg Elks B.P.O.E Lodge 377.

Mr. Rowe volunteered for the Vandergrift Meals on Wheels for more than 25 years and enjoyed working at his church’s spaghetti dinners and at all of the Men’s Club activities. He was also a member of the PA Adopt-A-Highway.

He was the proud recipient of Citations from the State House of Representatives, Westmoreland County Commissioners and the Vandergrift Borough along with a plaque from Vandergrift #2 Fire Department for rescuing a 74 year old woman from a fire in her home in 1983.

Bill enjoyed traveling, working in his yard, but most of all loved spending time with his family. Although he was a lifelong resident of Vandergrift he was an avid Dallas Cowboys football fan.

Besides his parents, Mr. Rowe was preceded in death by two sisters, Shirley Wray and Mary Barbara Walsh.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Lois Jean (Kane) Rowe of Vandergrift; daughter, Debra Jean Julian and her husband, Joseph of Pittsburgh; two sons, William D. Rowe and his wife, Jennifer of Broadview Heights, OH and Michael E. Rowe and his wife Beth of Leechburg; 3 grandchildren, Matthew R. and Angela J. Julian both of Pittsburgh and Edward J. Rowe of Leechburg; a sister, Guinivere Fleissner of Pittsburgh as well as many nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his special friends, Wilmer and Raffelina Shaner.

Visitation will on Monday, June 1st from 2-4 & 6-8 pm in the Brady-Curran Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., 429 Franklin Avenue, Vandergrift. Parting prayers of transfer will be recited at the funeral home on Tuesday, June 2nd at 11 am followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 11:30 am in St. Gertrude Roman Catholic Church, Vandergrift with Father James Loew OSB celebrant. Entombment will follow in Greenwood Memorial Park Mausoleum, Lower Burrell where full military honors will be accorded by the Vandergrift Veterans Honor Guard, Inc.

The family suggest memorial contributions in Bill’s memory be made to Heritage Hospice, 356 Freeport Street, Suite 200, New Kensington PA 15068.

Martha Maglocci 90th

My aunt Martha Maglocci turned 90 years old this past Sunday – Tammi and I were able to attend. My photos and an audio clip are included. Please leave comments!

Happy Birthday aunt Martha! I love you!

[sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://www.macwebguru.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/AuntMarthaRemembersPreviousBirthdays.mp3″] – Click this button to hear Martha speaking to her friends and family, telling about her previous birthdays. It’s LOUD so beware!

Click the thumbnails to enlarge. Note that these images are scaled down for web viewing. The full-resolution versions are in my Flickr account – you can also order prints online if you set up a free user account. If you have photos you’d like to add to my Flickr set, let me know and I’ll get you credentials so you can upload em! For those that leave comments below – note, they’ll be reviewed before appearing – depends on how busy I am.

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Spirit Abides

This is a poetic eulogy for my mother,  Shirley Jean Wray (1927-2001). It was printed on the back of the program for my youngest sister Paula’s wedding.

One of the decorative elements of the wedding was violets in many places, a tribute to our mother. I found it tremendously touching.

I miss you mom.

Spirit Abides

Though absent in body,
a spirit abides
we’ve only to summon –
it’s there at our side

Fire and steel
and a vessel of clay
brought forth a family
known proudly as Wray

But furnaces falter
and day turns to night
what once was so brilliant
is now gone from sight

So if there’s no answer
when her name is read,
let blossoms of violet
stand now in her stead

For Shirley Jean Wray
Beloved Mother

MDW 3/03

On the Other Side

On the Other Side

On the other side, the sun always shines
No minutes, no hour, there’s no such thing as time
Where the streets are paved with gold and
you never grow old on the other side

On the other side, everybody sings
there’s miles and miles of flowers and lots of pretty things
Where the sky’s pearly blue and everything looks brand new
on the other side

Chorus 1
Well I’ve never been to heaven,
I didn’t know what it was like
But God let me have a glimpse,
in my dream last night
And I could see you smiling,
you were looking right at me
For the first time in a long time,
on your face I saw some peace
I knew everything was going to be all right,
on the other side,
on the other side.

On the other side, do you ever see me cry
Do you know how much I miss you,
wish I could have said good-bye
Just one more I love you,
oh am I really getting through on the other side?

Chorus 2
Well I’ve never been to heaven,
I didn’t know what it was like
But God let me have a glimpse,
in my dream last night
And I could hear you laughing,
you were looking right at me
For the first time in a long time,
on your face I saw some peace
I knew everything was going to be all right,
no more tears and no more sad good-byes,
on the other side
On the other side

I’ll see you on the other side.

 written by: Tommy Dunbar, Kyle Vincent; Lyrics © Bob-A-Lew Songs, Cohen and Cohen

Memorial for Scott Alan Hofferber

Scott Alan Hofferber April 24, 1965 - April 10, 2003
Scott Alan Hofferber April 24, 1965 – April 10, 2003

Scott Alan Hofferber, 38, of Littleton, Colorado, suddenly and unexpectedly went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, April 10, 2003.

Scott was born April 24, 1965 in Grand Junction, Colorado and moved to Fort Collins with his family in 1968. Scott was a 1982 graduate from Rocky Mountain High School, Fort Collins, CO, and went on to continue his education at Aims Community College, Greeley, CO graduating in 1984 with an AA in Small Business Management. Scott was born with a very serious congenital heart defect; doctors said he would not survive past the age of four or five years of age. He had several close calls but proved the doctors wrong.

Scott truly was a miracle.

Scott married Tammi J. Lockman in March of 1986 and was blessed with four beautiful children, three sons and one daughter. He was a loving husband and father. He was very involved with every aspect of his children’s lives and enjoyed every minute he had with them. His wife and children were his life.

Scott was a member of Englewood First Assembly of God in Englewood, Colorado. He was very involved in the church and a leader of Royal Rangers Program.

Scott was Manager at Crown Trophy in Littleton, CO. Scott loved to camp and be outside as well as riding horses – his latest passion was watching NASCAR. Go #24!!

Scott is survived by his wife, Tammi, four children, Zachary 16, Jeffrey 15, Skyler 13 and Kylie-Jeanne 10; his parents George “Andy” and Maryann Hofferber and a brother, Steve of Fort Collins; a sister, Kimberly of Rio Ranch, NM; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Services will be held Wednesday, April 16, 2003, 11 a.m. at Timberline Church 2908 Timberline Rd., Fort Collins, Colorado with interment at Grandview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Scott A. Hofferber Family Fund at the Colorado Business Bank of Littleton, Colorado. Donations may also be made at Allnutt Funeral Home in Fort Collins, Colorado.


I had the good fortune to meet Scott’s widow Tammi eight years after his death. Even at that huge distance of time I could feel what a good man he must have been. I wish I could have met him but I’m grateful that his legacy has come to me to preserve and protect. It’s an honor to be associated with the Hofferber family. Rest in peace Scott, you are fondly remembered and greatly missed. – MDW

Life with Dad

Transcribed from this image on imgur

4 years My Daddy can do anything
7 years My Daddy knows a lot, a whole lot
8 years Dad doesn’t quite know everything
12 years Oh well, naturally Dad doesn’t quite understand
14 years Father? Hopelessly old-fashioned
21 years Oh, that man is out of date! What would you expect?
25 years He comes up with a good idea, now and then.
30 years Let’s find out what Dad thinks about it.
35 years A little patience… must get Dad’s input first
50 years What would Dad have thought about it?
60 years I wish I could talk it over with Dad once more.

For my father, George Wray. You are sorely missed this season.

1st haircut

7:45am this morning I was bound for Niwot with my pal Dozer – going to his first grooming.

I think I have a faint grasp now of what that first haircut day must be like for a parent. One difference, your single-digit aged child can’t rip someone’s arm off if they panic and go bonkers.

It takes a really special groomer to be able to deal with a dog like this compassionately – I’m thrilled to say that Debbie Yarrusso is that degree of groomer – artist. (Full disclosure, Debbie and I traded services – I built her website ‘Puppy Paws Pet Spa’ for her Niwot-based dog grooming buisness. I used one of my photos of Dozer in it.)

We got to the shop and there were no distractions, just a gentle pleasant greeting from Debbie and her office-manager mom. Dozer was no more apprehensive than he usually is and in short order we had him in the tub washing. He dealt with that part pretty well – pulled hard on the tether but Debbie was all business and very soothing so he sat still for the rinse/soap/rinse and scrubbing. Afterwards some hand-drying with a hose dryer (Doze hates blow-driers at home) which went ok, then the big test, the cabinet dryer. I should have taken a photo – he looked so pathetic. An hour later he was dry but I’d spent the whole time with him so he’d at least realize it was me imprisoning him.

He complained.

A lot.

Then toenails and deshedding/brushing and ears cleaned. A final touch of scented spray (not just any fragrance, something specifically soothing to dogs).

As you can see from the lead photo he looks grand.

Here’s a close up:

Dozer - November 2011

God really blessed me, first with Tammi and her family, now with this lovely dog. Marilyn simply couldn’t handle dogs, I’d gotten her to give in about cats (and it was good for all concerned) but she would not bend when it came to dogs. It was a sad thing for me. So now that I’ve lost Marilyn I get to have this wonderful boy in my life. Blessings come wrapped in tragedy sometimes I guess. It was hell ‘unwrapping’ this one but it’s so sweet in the end.

Faithful Friend

Faithful Friend

In my heart you shall always live
eyes aglow and eager
quivering with excitment
ready to play

My child soul rose up in joy
when we first met
for surely I knew you
from lives before

Now you’ve gone to heaven
and live only in a field
that I keep verdant
– for you alone,
my faithful friend.

One day I’ll greet you again
when life has had enough of me
and we will spend eternity
at play.

For my lost friend Cody,

rest in peace.

MDW June 8, 2011

Dreams are more precious

Dreams Are More Precious

Come see, high above.
Come see, high in the heavens.
A new star shining bright.
Out of the darkness, comes a light.

Come here, midnight chimes
Come here, bells that are ringing
And from some distant shore
Sounds of a journey, echo on

This is the night
They say,
Everyone wants a dream.

This is the night
They say
Nothing is as it seems.

Come sleep, close your eyes.
Come sleep, give me your sorrow.
And I keep watch for you.
Until the dawn is, breaking through.
Until the morning wakens you.

Da, Da, Da…

Come dream, through the night.
Come dream, and then tomorrow
They’ll see who, what will know.

Dreams are more precious than gold
Dreams are more precious than gold
Dreams are more precious than gold

– Enya

David C. Hill Eulogy

David Claire Hill
March 26, 1948 – April 18, 2011

Photos from the funeral service and reception can be found here.

My eulogy for David C. Hill:

Somewhere David is walking.

He’s feeling good.

Better than ever.

The sun is shining down – it’s a beautiful day.

There is no pain, only rejoicing.

People gather around –
long-lost family,
comrades and friends,
welcoming him.

He’s filled with joy, not sadness for those left behind –
he knows we’ll be along shortly
and together again
one day.

David gathered all the titles a man accrues from a well-lived life: first he was son and brother, then uncle, then husband and father, then grandfather and great-grandfather. He was a steadfast friend and upright citizen. When his country called he answered and served willingly, bringing honor to himself and his family. As a firefighter he put himself in harms way to save his fellow citizens. He never stepped back. Thank you David. Thank you.

He was a literal pillar of the community, always leaning into the task, always giving more, always lending a hand, supporting the people around him in every way he could.

He was my brother-in-law by marriage to my sister Bonita, whom I know he felt aptly named. He was loving father to Deana Jo, father in law to Philip and proud grandfather to Alicia. I’m proud to say he was part of my family.

His thread is woven through the fabric of all our lives, a distinct and vivid line that shines out clearly, combining with and adding its color to ours. His thread was strong and resilient, strained by adventure, frayed by injury and finally, broken by illness.

I find great peace in the Latin saying:
non omnis moriar (not all of me will die)
for every time we remember him,
his laughter,
his playfulness,
his indomitable will,
his boundless energy
his loving heart,
– in those moments he still lives.

See you soon Dave.


My sister Georgia Leslie “Missy” Wray’s Eulogy for David Claire Hill

Have any of you ever wondered how Dave ended up in Wyoming?

Well, each and every one of you have me to thank for that because had he not drove me out to be with my parents who had moved to Boulder my senior year of high school you would not have had the pleasure and the honor of knowing the man who I will call my brother in law until the day I myself pass.

My parents, Dave’s in-laws, were moving to Boulder and I wanted to stay in Pennsylvania to finish my senior year in high school so I could graduate with my friends.

Dave went to my dad and told him let her stay with us then when she graduates we will drive her Boulder.  Myself, Dave, my sister and Deana Jo who was just a baby drove across country in Dave’s 1973 bright yellow jeep.

What a trip,  but we had a blast.

Deana Jo, you spent most of the time in the tiny back part of that jeep with Aunt Missy.

Dave loved it in Colorado hence the move to Boulder then later to Wyoming. Even though Dave and I had not had contact in a lot of years he always remained close to my heart.

My parents are buried in Apollo, Pennsylvania and to get there when I visit them at the cemetery I pass the road where all those years ago we started out on that long trip so Dave could fulfill his promise to my parents.

Growing up as a teenager and having Dave as my brother in law was like having another brother. He would always let me tag along for 4 wheeling, bow and arrow shooting, shooting the guns, sled riding, bowling all night on Fridays at Lee’s Lanes in Leechburg and he was always there after I got off work so I didnt have to walk home to where we lived.

All these years he has stayed in my heart and I will miss him but I also know that he is in heaven with my parents and when my time comes I’ll meet my brother in law and get to thank him for watching over me when my parents couldnt.

Rest in peace Dave.

Love, Missy – always your sister in law in my heart.

Jolly Copper

Preface

Listening to Randy Newman’s Jolly Coppers. Visualizing the lyrics. Thought of circus clown routines. Thought of clowns. Remembered my father was a Shriner clown in his later years. Remembered he was ‘Sherrif’ of the clowns (quite presitgious among the flappy-shoed).  Remembered this photo:

George Parker Wray 3/9/1928 - 5/21/2008

 

Jolly Copper, indeed.

Miss you dad.

1 MeV

JEOL-1000 High Voltage Electron Microscope

One of my favorite places at the University of Colorado was the High Voltage Electron Microscope lab in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology building.

I spent a lot of time there helping my father and the techinical team while in high school, then later when I worked at CU as a lab technician I ran a project that used the HVEM – full circle!

Sitting at its console, looking into the vacuum behind the viewport at the phosphor screen, my hands on the controls for the sample stage and the magnification I literally could see the unseen on the glowing surface. Being fully aware that there were million-volt x-rays bashing around just inches from my treasured brain, held back by inches-thick leaded glass and metal added to the thrill. The click of relays and the faint chugging of vacuum pumps mixed with the curls of vapor from the liquid-nitrogen oil trap completed the atmosphere of super-super-high-tech. And I was driving!! Hard to forget being at the controls of a building-size microscope.

Heady stuff for a young man very taken with science fiction – this was science fact! I’ll never forget the faint, high-pitched whistle the high-voltage system generated. I’m sure it still echoes in the walls even though the massive machine itself has been disassembled and gone for years now.

Further Away

Long ago, like yesterday
she warned me
“You’ll miss me
when I’m gone”

Now the grief lies frozen
beneath my feet
till something breaks it
and casts me in

All the strength I took from her
washes away in a moment
the icy knowledge crashing in
that I will hear her no more

Small silences loom large
stopping my voice
the silence bursting with absence
of a love that defined my life

The days pass
the sun keeps rising
the ice seems thicker
and safer to walk across

The pain stays the same
fewer cracks in the ice
the truth still beneath my feet
just a little further away.

MDW 11/98
For Marilyn
on the loss of her mother

Unseen Homeland

This is from Marilyn’s friend Kris via her friend Karen and thence her friend Paula to me. I confess I have been remiss in posting this. Each time I looked at the pictures the pain came back – so I filed the message away ‘for another day.’ That day has come, it’s time to say goodbye to my dear wife.

You never got to see Ireland or Scotland as we’d hoped, so I’m hoping your spririt got to see this lovely place. I’m missing you terribly just now hon – and so are your friends.

Here’s the photos and words from her friend Kris:

Across-Dunsappie-web

Loch-Dunsappie-web

This is where I spread Marilyn’s ashes.  Will you pass them along for me?

City-of-Edinburgh-from-Dunsappie-web

Overlooking Edinburgh was taken from the end of Loch Dunsapie where I spread her ashes.  This looks over the city and on to the Firth of Forth.  At the other end, the road circles around to Arthur’s Seat.  Oh, this Loch is in the Queen’s Park, adjacent to Hollyrood Palace.  It’s full of birds and Swans.

Swans-nest-on-Dunsappie-web

The Swan’s nest is again taken from the spot where I spread the ashes but looking across the Loch.

Google map

Written in Sand

writteninsand1

From our last vacation. Half Moon Bay in California.

Marilyn was as happy as a little girl. She wrote that in the sand with her finger and was literally chortling with glee.

writteninsand2

My homage to my beloved wife, written on the same beach.

06-22-09-mlw3-copy

Taken by my friend DJ as I scattered some of Marilyn’s ashes.

Just as I threw them into the surf a seagull swooped by, inches away.

I watched it sweep, crying into the sky.

Fly high little bird.

Fly high.

Lighthouses

One of the sights DJ and Martha took me to see was Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

WOW.

pigeonpointlighthouse-sm

Reviewing my photos so far I was struck by this shot most of all. (More of this location here)

This has been an incredibly stormy period in my life and were it not for the ‘lighthouses’ manned by my friends (Marty and Kate Beier, DJ and Martha, Todd and Rita Lockwood, etc, etc, etc!!) I would surely have crashed on the rocks.

God bless everyone who’s ‘manned the light’ and given me guidance.

The weather is clearing and I feel that soon it will be safe to raise sail once again.

Dear Dad

I refer you to this post.

Now that you and my beloved wife have all the time in the universe to get acquainted, I hope the two of you can see how much I cared for you both.

Both of you taught me lessons about courage and honesty – and how they’re inextricably linked. You both taught me about love and honor – and how one can’t flourish without the other… and how they transform your life when both are present in large measure.

I’m a better man for having had you in my life. It wasn’t always easy, but the uphill path never is. The altitude you helped me achieve has given me the persepective to see the arc of my life up to now and informed my choices going forward.

Of all the gifts I’ve received in my life, that is truly the most precious.

I wish you were here Dad… and the wishing tears at me.

I hope you’re happy wherever you are and I’m trying to be happy here without you.

The sun’s shining from a clear blue sky as I sit here in a maelstrom of voices and clattering dishes.

Life goes on, just like a river. It’s paddle or be paddled.

Rescue squad

Working from home this week, trying to re-establish the rhythm of my life.

I have a photo of Marilyn above my home office desk and more than once I simply sat and looked at it. More than once I just sat and wept.

Feeling miserable, about to call for help I saw my friend Jim Harris pull up in his battered white Toyota pickup. I didn’t see his dog Cody, but he did have a passenger:

jimandtag_2009

This is ‘Tag‘ and he’s an English Shepherd.

Wonderful.

This unbridled bundle of joy was just what I needed to see. Life literally ‘springing up‘ – right into my face, licking me and biting at my beard. I literally laughed out loud and my heart rose up like a flower after a storm.

I hear you Didi. I hear you and see you everywhere.

Update – August 2nd, 2010

Tag mated with a dog at Conifer Hill (a Great Pyrenees / Anatolian Shepherd cross) and puppies resulted!

Tammi and Dozer - July 31, 2010
Tammi and Dozer – July 31, 2010. Dozer was born May 14th, the one-year anniversary of Marilyn’s death.

Here’s the one we adopted: Dozer

Mirror and candle

releasingthespirit

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. Edith Wharton, Vesalius in Zante
US novelist (1862 – 1937)


Note – everything in this photo is significant: The chalice holding the candle is one that’s been in Marilyn’s family for generations. The candle itself from the supply she used to heat essential oils to fragrance the house. The red-framed mirror a heart-shaped ‘Safelite Sweetheart’ promo she’d had since teens and carried in her purse. The mirror is resting on a ceramic butter dish – Marilyn adored butter. The silver frame has a grapes motif – echoing the poem on the kitchen wall that I wrote for her the day of our marriage. Everything is resting on the top of a glass-top stove she’d gotten a bargain on – she loved that stove.

Marilyn Wray 1951 – 2009

marilynwray_2008

Marilyn Bonita Wray (née Lawrence)
June 16, 1951 – May 14, 2009

Born to Clyde and Geraldine Lawrence (née England) in Caldwell, ID.

An active equestrienne in her youth, Marilyn was a trained vocalist and enthusiastic guitarist, an active church member and beloved babysitter. She attended Boise State University, graduating with a Masters in Criminal Justice and a second Masters in Social Work. She volunteered in schools as a family services social worker.

She met M. Douglas Wray in 1997, and they married June 28, 1998 at Hoverhome Mansion in Longmont, CO – the first couple to be married in that historic location. They had no children.

Marilyn worked at Lyons Elementary in the after-school ‘Kid Zone’ program and did organizing work for Boys and Girls Clubs of America. She attended Lyons Methodist Church in 2004. Unable to work full-time due to health issues, she was a dedicated wife and helpmate to her husband Douglas, managing his personal affairs and private consulting business with distinction and skill.

She was a gifted seamstress who created innumerable embroidered works including quilts and custom clothing. She loved sewing and her workroom was filled with excellent tools, fantastic material and happy voices. She lived to garden and do yardwork, cook and entertain her numerous friends. Hiking in the mountains was her second passion and she was famous for ‘marshalling the troops’ for a walk.

She was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma in October 2008, underwent chemotherapy and was declared in remission in April 2009. Approximately two weeks later cancer was detected in her spinal column and her condition deteriorated rapidly. She made the decision to spend her remaining time surrounded by loved ones, and departed swiftly and mercifully at 11 PM on May 14th at her home in Longmont, CO under Hospice care. Her ashes will be scattered in places dear to her, her friends and family.

She is survived by her husband Douglas, her sister Tanya Johnson of Carmel, CA, brother Vernon Golden of Boise Idaho, niece Ruth Hendrix of Rockvale, TN, brother Sonny Lawrence of Hope Sound, FL and uncle Leon Robertson of Nova Scotia. She was a proud member of the Robertson clan of Scotland and a living embodiment of their motto: Virtutis gloria merces.

Preceeded in death by her parents.

Contributions can be made in her name to:

Hospice Care of Boulder and Broomfield Counties
2594 Trailridge Drive East
Lafayette, CO 80026

and

Rocky Mountain Cancer Center
7951 E. Maplewood Avenue, Suite 300
Greenwood Village, CO 80111

A chronicle of her final days can be found here.

Private services will be held on June 14th in Rocky Mountain National Park where she and her husband dearly loved to walk together.

She was a devout Christian and true believer. Carrier of the Cross – now wearer of the Crown. She is sorely missed by all.

Lights

Marilyn was the light of my life. Things got so dark when she went.

Today my Uncle Les called and we talked about life and how things went in his life after his wife Bobbie died. It was wonderfully reassurring and comforting.

Thank you Uncle Les. You’ve always been my image of the perfect husband. I’m so happy I had such an outstanding reference.

That’s all, just wanted the world to know.

Marilyn’s Room

20081208-kinkyguardsmarilyn3-sm

December 11th, 2008

Marilyn got a hospital bed for her back, which had been really acting up before her diagnosis with lymphoma. She had been using the oxygen concentrator for some time and I’d just had cable service installed in her room. Looks just like a hospital room.

I’ve said how much -I- didn’t like being in the hospital, but the truth is, for months, she *lived* in one. And never complained.

You can see Kinky, her favorite of our two cats, ‘on guard’.

Folk Song

I’m a geek. No apologies. Weird stuff gets stuck in my head.

The StarTrek: The Next Generation episode “Family” featured Picard and his brother singing a French song together after fighting and then reconciling / drinking. The refrain was all I could remember:

Auprès de ma blonde, qu’il fait bon, fait bon, fait bon…

SO… a few Googlicious moments later I’ve got the tune:

http://www.macwebguru.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/aupres_de_ma_blonde.mid

and the lyrics:

Auprès de ma blonde (next to my girlfriend)

Au jardin de mon père les lilas sont fleuris
Au jardin de mon père les lilas sont fleuris
Tous les oiseaux du monde y viennent faire leurs nids.

Refrain
Auprès de ma blonde, qu’il fait bon, fait bon, fait bon,
Auprès de ma blonde, qu’il fait bon dormir.

La caille, la turturelle, et la jolie perdris
La caille, la turturelle, et la jolie perdris
Et la jolie colombe qui chante jour et nuit.
Refrain

Qui chante pour les filles qui n’ont pas de maris
Qui chante pour les filles qui n’ont pas de maris
Pour moi, je chante guère car j’en ais un joli.
Refrain

Que donneriez-vous, belle, pour avoir un mari?
Que donneriez-vous, belle, pour avoir un mari?
Je donnerai Versailles, Paris et St. Denis.
Refrain

Les tours de Notre Dame et les cloches de mon pays
Les tours de Notre Dame et les cloches de mon pays
Et ma jolie colombe qui chante jour et nuit.
Refrain

Cross references from Wikipedia

and this history taken from Everything2:

Auprès de ma Blonde

This well-known French folk-song (also known as The Prisoner in Holland) seems to date from the reign of Louis XIV, when France was at war with the United Provinces – the present-day Netherlands. The Netherlands were ruled by William III of Orange, who also became King of Great Britain. The wars were bloody and largely inconclusive, but form the backdrop to various songs and stories. Some refer to the Duke of Marlborough, who rose to prominence under King William and became one of the main allied generals under Queen Anne, as the War of the Spanish Succession unfolded. Alexandre Dumas (père) used the siege of Maastricht for the final scene of The Man in the Iron Mask. This song has a mournful tone, especially in the verses, as you will see. I’ve liked this song since before I understood the words, hearing my mother singing it as she worked. Knowing the words, and their themes of love, separation, and loss, has only increased that liking.

In each verse, the last couplet of the previous verse is sung twice, and then a new couplet sung once, and then the chorus. The first verse is written out in full, and after that, I’ve just added the new couplet. The English translation is not intended to be at all poetic, but it is intended to fit the tune, more or less, and to be an accurate reflection of the French meaning. I have not been able to replicate the rhyme-scheme, which is somewhat irregular in any case. In sung French, terminal ‘e’s which are silent in speech are often pronounced to improve scansion, and this is the case here.

Dans les jardins de mon père
Les lilas sont fleuris;
Dans les jardins de mon père
Les lilas sont fleuris;
Tous les oiseaux du monde
Vient y faire leurs nids.

Auprès de ma blonde
Qu’il fait bon, fait bon, fait bon –
Auprès de ma blonde
Qu’il fait bon dormi.

O, in my father’s garden
The lilies are in bloom;
O, in my father’s garden
The lilies are in bloom;
The birds of all creation1
Come there to build their nests.

Ah, near to my blonde lass,
It’s so good to sleep, to sleep –
Ah, near to my blonde lass
It’s so good to sleep.2

La caille, la touterelle,
Et le joli perdrix;

The turtle-doves and quails,
And bonny partridges;3

Et ma jolie colombe,
Qui chante jour et nuit.

And my own pretty stock-dove
Which sings both night and day.

Qui chante pour les filles
Qui n’ont pas de mari.

Which sings for all the lassies
Who haven’t got a lad4.

Pour moi ne chante guère,
Car j’en ai un joli.

It scarcely sings for me now,
For I’ve a handsome lad5.

Dites-nous donc la belle,
Ou donc est votr’ mari.

So tell us then, O beauty,
Where your fine husband is.

Il est dans la Hollande –
Les Hollandais l’ont pris.

He’s gone into the Netherlands
The Dutch have taken him.

‘Que donneriez-vous belle
Pour avoir votre ami?’

‘And what fair thing would you give
To have your husband back?’6

Je donnerai Versailles
Paris, et Saint-Denis;

O, I would give Versailles
Paris, and Saint-Denis;

Les tours de Notre Dame
Et le clocher de mon pays;

The towers of the cathedral
And the belfry of my land;

Et ma jolie colombe
Qui chante jour et nuit.

And my own pretty stock-dove
Which sings both night and day.


Notes on the translation:

  1. Literally, ‘All the birds of the world’.
  2. The chorus is the refrain of the prisoner, while the verses are for his wife and her companions.
  3. The French has singular birds here; in English, the plurals scan better
  4. Literally, ‘Which sings for all the girls (or daughters) / who have no husband’
  5. This verse doesn’t have a noun in the French. ‘J’en ai un’ literally means ‘I have one (of them)’.
  6. ‘Ami’ means ‘(boy)friend’, not ‘husband’. It’s not clear whether ‘belle’=’beautiful’ refers to the prisoner’s wife, or to the things she mentions next.

Don’t Mess With Les

From my cousin Joe in PA: (note, all images click to enlarge)

Les saves the girls from a poisonous snake
Les saves the girls from a poisonous snake

While camping in the Adirondacks last week, a rattler made the mistake of landing on our campsite. He learned real quick, you don’t mess with my Dad. Even at 79, he’s a force to be reckoned with!

My uncle Les is such a man. The passage of time has not dimmed his fire one bit.

God how I love him.

Les Walsh, 2008
Les Walsh, 2008 - Man among men!
He must have read that comic book - <br>no sand kicked in HIS face!
Les STILL gets all the girls! My cousin Joe identifies the bevy: Laura my bride, daughter Annie, daughter Casey, Dad, Tammie (Bobbie Jo’s daughter), daughter Megan, daughter Leslie, and Tracy (Casey’s friend)

Thanks for the great story and pix Joe!

Eulogy for My Father

GeorgeWray_working_on_electron_mic

George Parker Wray 3/9/1928 - 5/21/2008

George Parker Wray

March 9, 1928 – May 21, 2008

He was:

Son
Brother
Cousin
Uncle
Husband
Father
Grandfather
Great-grandfather

and

Craftsman
Technician
Mentor
Friend.

In his life he walked many roads, from the unpaved roads of Spring Church Pennsylvania to the bustling streets of numerous cities; Pittsburgh, San Diego, Denver and more. He lived through the worst of times as well as the best. Down the halls of industry as well as science, always leaving his mark, making friends and doing his very best.

He was a strong man, possessed of an iron will but also a compassionate heart. He was my father, my mentor, my colleague and my friend. I know he loved me and he knew I loved him.

I can no longer call him with my latest news, share a laugh or just commiserate over aging issues. He delighted in hearing how I was passing familiar milestones. Each time we shared a laugh, we grew a bit closer each knowing the other truly *understood*.

I’ll miss that.

But…

Each time I sneeze, or cough, I hear him.

Each time I look in the mirror, I see him.

Each time I do a task well, I hear his praise in my memory.

For those gifts, I give thanks – for it means he will never truly be gone – and one day we will surely meet again.

Till then Dad