A Silver Valley Tale--The French Gulch Bear

One of the great things about being involved in the Sixth Street Theater is meeting new people. One of the people cast in our July show this summer told me her dad likes to write stories about the Silver Valley. She wondered if he could share some of his stories he write on my blog. I was more than happy to let him share his writings. So below is John Eisler's Silver Valley Tale about a former owner of the house he lives in up French Gulch. John has also written a book, and is working on another one. You can find out that information after his story.
Thanks, John, for the story. I think you are my first "guest blogger" I have had on Silver Valley Stories.




I live in an historic location up French Gulch in Kingston, Idaho. The original owner shared almost two hundred acres with his two brothers. The house I own (With the friendly cooperation of the bank) belonged to Oscar Johnson. Oscar originally operated a dairy. Over time he changed from milking cows to killing them and operating a widely known and well-respected meat processing operation. Even decades later, when someone asks where I live, all I need say is, “I live on the Oscar Johnson place.”

The responses are immediate. Almost as quickly they say, “My folks used to get their beef there.” Some alternate responses are, “I used to get my beef there.” That response usually comes from a senior citizen. The third response is, “Oscar used to process my deer, elk, or moose.” This comment was depending one what game they had taken.

Oscar was a wise businessman and he served his customers well. Many of those folks that commented also would say, “I used to cut meat there.” Or, “My mom used to wrap meat for Oscar.”

Now you have to remember that Idaho is a mostly rural environment and years ago that was even truer. Bears were a common sight and if you know anything about bears you should know that they are voracious eaters. Public Television often run specials on bears that break into vehicles and homes in search of food. Oscar was frequently troubled by bears coming onto his property to eat the hides from slaughtered cows that he sold to a tannery. To stop this pillaging, he would take the assorted fat scraps from the processed beef and walk across the gulch and dump it on the hillside. The bears would eat the scraps and leave his hides alone.

Many families that lived in the Silver Valley would plan an outing on Sundays to come see the bears on the hillside eating the scraps laid out by Oscar.

Bears like all animals, humans included, are creatures of habit. Bears not unlike many humans are also inclined to go the easiest way. There was one particular bear, “Old Faithful,” that had staked out a space on the hillside. He would show up about an hour prior to Oscar walking across the road and sit directly above a bare spot where Oscar dumped one of his meat scrap boxes. Oscar would walk up the hill to the bare spot and “Old Faithful” would sit quietly until Oscar dumped his meal. Oscar would go back to the processing shop for additional scraps and take those to two other spots on the hill. The other bears would amble down and occasionally engage in roughhouse play to claim their bounty. “Old Faithful” would finish his meal and walk off into the woods.

In spring, he was the first bear to show up for Oscar’s scraps and as summer turned to fall, he was the last bear there prior to going into hibernation.

It is a privilege to inhabit this historical home and hear the tales of time gone by. This tale was told to me by an older fellow named, “Claude.”

Claude went on to say, “I was just a little nipper and I would go to watch them kill the cows. Oscar always did the actual butchering. They would yank a cow up on the meat rail and Oscar would cut out the heart and then the liver. He would hand them to me and say, “Take these to your Ma.” My little arms would be full of the still warm heart and liver and I would arrive home all bloody from carrying the meat to my Mother. Oscar knew that we needed help with groceries and his gruff manner covered the true kindness in his heart. As I got older, I had a part-time job helping with the butchering. Even then I would go outside and watch “Old Faithful” when Oscar took him his afternoon meal.

Respectfully told by::



Author of:

THE TANNING BED MURDERS A work of fiction set in the Silver Valley and

Coeur d’Alene. Jake Lowry is assigned to work a murder case that is both diabolical and vicious.

Comments from readers: “Eisler knows police procedure. Once you pick it up, it is hard to put down. I lost multiple nights’ sleep trying to finish it.”


THE SEARCH FOR NORA WALLACE This is the sequel to THE TANNING BED MURDERS. Jake Lowry and his partner Bruce David are deeply involved in searching for KEN KUNKLE’S murderer. This book will take you throughout the Inland Empire and to Whitley Bay and Beamish, England.

Autographed copies will be available from the author by emailing him at the above address.


A Tribute to Helianthus annuus

I am a little behind. IEG gave us this sibling assignment last week, and I didn't get it done. It is:

" A Tribute to a Favorite Flower" using words and/or pictures.

One of my favorite flowers, and the one I am going to pay tribute to today is the Sunflower.

How can you not help but smile when you see a sunflower?

I am planting some sunflower seeds in the garden today, and hope they grow and bloom. I'll try various locations, and hope I have good luck.

Here are all my packets of sunflower seeds to plant today.

Sunflowers touch our lives in many ways. Who doesn't remember sucking on sunflower seeds, and spitting the shells on the ground while watching a baseball game in the summer? I kind of got hooked on them during track season this past spring.

We put out sunflower seeds to feed the birds that use our bird feeders in our yard.

Helen Keller even had something to say about this wonderful flower:

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It's what sunflowers do." by Helen Keller

William Blake penned a poem about this cheery flower:

Ah Sunflower

Ah Sunflower, weary of time,

Who countest the steps of the sun;

Seeking after that sweet golden clime

Where the traveler's journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,

And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,

Arise from their graves, and aspire

Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

I'm looking forward to summer, and these cheery flowers blooming throughout my flower garden.

Those Handsome Guys and Beautiful Dolls

Saturday, June 6th this group, plus one other woman will be pairing up and singing their hearts out to raise money for the Sixth Street Theater in Wallace. The Guys in the back are Ken Bartle, Vern Hanson, Scott Hall and Paul Roberts. The Dolls in front are Carol Roberts, Joy Persoon and Shelley Hodgdon. The other Doll not pictured is Jennifer Fritz.
Here are our handsome Guys...Paul, Scott, Vern and Ken.

I love this picture of me and the two other beautiful dolls who will be performing next week...Carol, Joy and Shelley.


Sports Banquet

Tonight PKR, Z2 and I attended the KHS Sports Banquet. I hadn't attended one for almost 30 years, since I was in high school.

I actually enjoyed as the coaches got up and talked about their seasons, and recognized the athletes.

Z2 got the Most Improved Award for Cross Country. That was pretty neat.

But the most fun was listening to Rich Porter and Jeff Wombolt as the guest speakers.

They were both members of the 1959 Basketball Team that won the Idaho State Basketball Tournament, and were honored by the IHSAA with the “Legends of the Game” Award during halftime of the 5A state championship game at the Idaho Center in Nampa in March. (And I also found out my brother-in-law was the catalyst behing getting this team nominated for this award. I'm not sure I knew this.)

Growing up in Kellogg, you always heard about the great basketball teams of the 1950's.

It was interesting listening to Rich Porter talk about moving to Kellogg from Butte, Montana, and the pride he took in being a Kellogg Wildcat, and being the first class to come through and graduate at the current KHS building. I also learned that he lived with Ray and Mary Rae Faraca during his senior year, so he could finish high school at KHS.

But it was more interesting listening to Dr. Jeff Wombolt, because we have more of a history. To me, Jeff Wombolt was a man I visited once or twice a year to get my teeth cleaned and filled. He was the guy who would sneak up with a needle full of novacaine to deaden my mouth.

Tonight, he was a legend. Tonight, he shared about playing basketball during high school, and what wonderful memories he has from that time in his life. He shared about playing basketball in the YMCA uptown. He shared about working for Floyd Cassidy at the Chevron Station, and going up to the Y on his lunchbreak to play basketball, and how Floyd didn't like him returning to work with a wet, sweaty uniform.

Tonight, he shared a little bit about a basketball game that now one ever saw played, and that couldn't be spoken of for years and years. It was a game between the Kellogg Wildcats and the Washington State freshman basketball team. A game where the Wildcats beat the Cougars by six points. A game that has been a secret for years. A game that was an unbelievable memory for those 15 men on that legendary basketball team.

To see a photo of these men from when they were honored in Nampa in March, go here, and the story is here.

It was very inspiring to listen to these men's stories. It was really a nice evening and a nice sports banquet. It made me very proud to be a Kellogg Wildcat tonight.

Kudos to Gwen Johnson and the Booster Club for a very fine evening.


Debut Solo

Tonight at the Kellogg High School Choir Concert, Z2 opened the concert with two songs from Les Miserables. I couldn't be more proud, not only because she did a great job, but also this is the first time she has done a solo like this.
Way to go, Z2!!!
I hope you enjoy this as much as her parents and her two sisters.


Close Encounters

The family is here in Meridian this weekend. We came to attend a wedding yesterday, and will drive back to Kellogg tomorrow.

It has been a wonderful weekend, and I have had some close encounters with people I haven't seen in a long time, and it has been really good.

Often I think we are on auto pilot, and life just goes along, and we don't really pay attention to certain relationships in our lives.

Then we are confronted with some people, and it can be very awkward, or very healing.

I was confronted with some people this weekend, and the encounters ended up being very healing. Unfortunately, they had the potential of being very awkward. Hugs were shared. We got caught up on each other's lives. Laughter was shared. It was so nice.

Because of the wedding we went to, I saw a lot of people I hadn't seen in a while. We moved from Merdian nine years ago, and people's lives can change a lot in nine years. Some have struggled more than others. All have changed. But God continues to impact all their lives in one way or another, whether they want to be impacted or not.

PKR and I went and saw the new Star Trek movie with a group of people. That was a really good movie.

Tonight we had lunch with all his parents and siblings that live here. Then we went and had dinner with his best friend and wife, and had a wonderful time catching up as they shared about their middle daughter going to Hawaii to get married, and their youngest graduating from high school this week. Many changes going on in their lives as well.

It will be good to get home tomorrow, and finish up the school year, and get busy directing the plays for the summer.

Life is about close encounters with people, with changes, and moments of healing. I said in an earlier post, I don't like having conflict with people. It was very nice to easily have some comfortable moments with these two individuals, and feel the conflict melt away.

Hugs and laughter are wonderful things.


Please Hold

When I am home during the day, I rarely answer the phone. I just let the answering machine pick it up. My theory is, if it is important enough, people will leave a message, and I'll return their call later.

But, I am getting my car serviced this morning, and am waiting to hear when it is done, and I am waiting to hear from my mom about my brother's health (he went back to the emergency room last night), so I picked up the phone a few minutes ago.

The "person" or robot or whatever it was on the other end of the phone line told me that I had a very important call, but all the representatives were busy, and would I "please hold".

Yeah, right.

Would anyone in their right mind hold for a phone call like that?

Well, they must, or else they wouldn't make those calls.

We are often in a holding pattern.

Right now, news about my brother's health has put me on hold.

Here is what the phone call might sound like...

"Hello. This is a very important phone call. Your brother has returned to the emergency room because he is experiencing chills, vomiting, and other indiscreet activities. All our medical personal are busy at the moment, so will you please hold?"

Well, that phone call didn't happen, but when your brother is in Oregon, and you are here waiting for news, sometimes you just have to "please hold", for a while.

So I wait, and pray and pray and pray, and send good thoughts to my brother and his wife.

And continue to hold.


Guys and Dolls....Side By Side

If you are up for some first class entertainment, attend the next fund-raiser we are having for the Sixth Street Theater.

On Saturday, June 6th at the Wallace Elks, 8 Sixth Street Theater performers will be paired up, and compete against one another for the top Guy and Doll.

Each performer will sing a song on their own, then will sing a duet with their partner.

The cost to get in is $5.00. But you need to bring more money, because you place your votes for the winner by adding money to the basket of the singing pair you enjoyed the most.

The singing pairs will be:

Paul Roberts and Joy Persoon

Ken Bartle and Shelley Hodgdon

Scott Hall and Carol Roberts

Vern Hanson and Jenny Fritz

Come help support our local community theater and enjoy a wonderful evening of entertainment.


People Pleaser

About a week ago I was visiting with a parent of one of the 8th grade students I work with, and she described her daughter as a people pleaser.

I have been thinking about that comment ever since, and I realized I'm a people pleaser, too.

I don't want to rock the boat.

And, if I think I have made someone upset by something I said or did, I get a very sick feeling in my stomach, and it really bothers me.

I think many of my decision in my life are based on this principal...I don't want to make people dislike me, so I try and please them.

But it isn't as if I don't have opinions, or share how I feel about things. But I have to trust someone pretty well in order to share what I am thinking. And it takes me a while to get to that place with people.

I hold back quite a lot here on my blog. There are all kinds of things I could write about, but it is a little too open, and so I don't write about some issues people may find a bit too controversial. It kind of scares me.

It isn't that I don't welcome criticism. But, again, there has to be that right attitude. I have a group of people who I like to share my writing with on the book I am writing. But they are a handpicked group of people who I know have the right attitude, and criticize me and give me pointers because they want me to be a better writer. So I welcome their comments.

But I find it hard to be criticized by people who don't have that attitude...yes, it happens, but I don't like it. I have actually become pretty good at creating a life that has me doing things I can do fairly well, so I don't get a whole lot of criticism. It is almost as if this people pleasing mentality has driven certain choices in my life.

It is interesting to think about. Why do we make the choices we make? What is our motivation behind those choices? Yes, I can tell you, people pleasing as well as not wanting confrontation are two big motivators in my life.

But, then again, there is nothing I enjoy more than healthy debate....sharing with someone opposing views, but in a manner where you can disagree, but respect one another's opinions. I love being involved in these exchanges. But, again, I only open myself up to doing this with people I trust....I don't let just anyone know my thoughts.

So, I hope this gets you thinking....why do you make the choices you do? What is your motivation behind your choices. It is an interesting notion to ponder.


Mind Games

It is funny how you can put yourself into a very bad place with the games you play with yourself inside your head.

Today I had my final review for my job, something I do each year.

I was preparing for it at home last night, and I was able to do everything but focus on getting ready for the final review.

Then I started getting down and not wanting to write comments about my failures over the past year, and what I hadn't accomplished. I went and laid on my bed, and didn't want to get up. PKR came in, gave me a pep talk, and told me to go write about the good things that I had accomplished over the year.

For a few brief moments last night, I sunk into failure mode. I felt like a failure. It didn't matter all the things I had accomplished with the students. There were things I hadn't done, and that is all I could focus on last night. All my failures.

I think God knows we tend to lean that way at times. That is why He gives us verses in the Bible like Philipians 4: 8-9

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Today, at my final review, my regional coordinator and members of my team tended to focus on whatever was true, and noble, and right, and lovely, and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. I came away feeling much better about the job I do, and that progress was made with the students this year.

Now I feel much better, and more motivated as I prepare for next year.

Thank you, Lord, for your words of wisdom that can be applied to our lives each and every day.


A Picture of Thankfulness

This week, Raymond Pert got back in the Sibling Assignment Game by giving us this assignment:

1. Go out and take a picture of a subject you do not remember having photographed since we started doing our blogs and using digital cameras.
2. Try to align this photograph with your mood at the time you are taking the picture.
3. Write about the subject of the photograph and how the subject and the way you shot it reflect your mood/feelings at the time you took the picture.

Here is IEG's lilac picture reflecting her mood
, and soon we will see Raymond Pert's photo.

I realize this may seem an odd picture of thankfulness, but today, as I was driving home from the airport through Spokane along I-90, and the traffic started crawling along, I was thankful.

Thankful that I live in a slow, sleepy town that doesn't have traffic jams. Oh, well, I guess there is the occasional back up of three or four cars if the delivery semi-truck is backing up into the Yoke's Grocery store, and we do have to wait a few minutes, but this is very rare.

I think being in Boise this past weekend brings this out even more, the slower paced life, the slow traffic, and lack of traffic.

I don't envy people who have to commute to work in heavy, slow traffic. My commute is about three minutes.

So, my pictures reflects my thankfulness for living in a place with no traffic jams.

It also reminded me of this James Taylor song. Enjoy!!
(It's James Taylor, of course you will enjoy it!!)


Flying South

PKR and I flew south for a few days. (And boy are our arms tired.....)

We are now enjoying the sunshine of Meridian, Idaho.

I think I am finally thawing out after being cold for the last nine months.

We attended an outdoor wedding this afternoon, and it was absolutely beautiful. It was fun seeing our cute little great neices and great nephew in their pretty little dresses and little tuxedo.

It is interesting returning to a place where we used to live, and walk around our old neighborhood. Some things have changed, and some have remained the same...almost like entering a time warp.

Meridian has grown, but parts have remained the same....in a way.

I enjoy returning for a visit, but this area isn't right for me anymore.

My home is now in Kellogg, and it feels right.

But flying south every so often does have its' advantages. Nice restaurants. Good shopping. Wonderful visits with friends and family. And did I mention how nice the weather is here?

Good Day, Sunshine!!


Ever Been Hit By A Ton Of Bricks?

I haven't either.

But the way I have felt the past few days, it may be a similar sensation.

Saturday, I was fine. We went to watch Z2 in the District Track tournament in Spirit Lake, came home, went to Mom's for a wonderful dinner that my sister Inland Empire Girl made, went to see PKR's students perform some original plays at KHS, then back to Mom's house for dessert.

Then I woke up Sunday morning. Where did this sore throat come from? Why does my head feel like it is about to explode. Why don't I feel like moving from my bed?

I made it through church, and when I got home, I crashed. PKR said he would have Mother's Day dinner ready by 4 p.m., so I went and laid down until then.

I enjoyed being outside for a few hours, then went back to bed, and slept all night.

Got up, went walking, then went to work, and was in a fog most of the morning, and made it til noon. Then back home and crashed all afternoon, stayed in bed throughout the evening, then slept good all night long.

Today I felt better. Except now I am at Kellogg Middle School explaining test scores to parents, and my voice is about ready to give out. But I do feel better.

I'm not sure where this came from. But I hope it goes away soon.

I have to fly to Boise on Thursday, and I hate flying with a cold.

But I will survive. I will survive...HEY...HEY!!


Happy Mother's Day To My Mom

My mom is a never ending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.
~Graycie Harmon

I assigned our sibling assignment for today, which was to write a tribute to our mother for Mother's Day. IEG's will be here, and RP's here.

Today as people across the country celebrate and honor their mothers, I was fortunate enough to spend some time this afternoon with my own mother.

Unfortunately, I spend most of the afternoon in bed with a sore throat and stuffy nose.

So it was nice to get out into the sunshine for the hullabaloo going on in the backyard in the later afternoon.

PKR fixed me barbecued hamburgers with Z2 sauteing some mushrooms for them, too. YUM!!

I received a mug I picked out while in Spirit Lake yesterday, at Sondahl's Pottery.
Sondahl's Pottery Shop in Spirit Lake, Idaho
Here is the mug I picked out.

I also received a cast iron planter in the shape of a tricycle to put in my garden.

After dinner, Mom and I went to check out my yard, while PKR and the girls played some volleyball.Mom is checking out my basil in the wall o water.

Mom is a little envious of all the things already coming up in my garden, because she hasn't planted anything yet. This is a first...me getting my garden in before her!! But, if it wasn't for her, I would know anything about gardening.

The volleyball match was heating up across the yard.
Here we have team Kiki Aru and The Princess.
Watch out. The Princess has her game face on.
Here is Z2 and PKR, taunting their opponents.
The Princess asks Grandma Mary if she want to join the team.
Grandma Mary serves an ace!
Ah, here are three reasons why being a mother
is one of the best things in the world.

A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories. ~Honoré de Balzac


Laughed a lot at Spamalot

Last night the family went to Spokane and watched "Spamalot".

I don't think we stopped laughing once it started.

If you aren't familiar with this show, it is a musical based on the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", which is a quite popular movie around this house.

They took the movie, and made it into a musical.

We were fortunate to see John O'Hurley in the role of King Arthur. If you were a fan of the show "Seinfeld", he played Mr. Peterman.

In fact, I don't think there was a weak performance in the whole production. It was very clever, and very funny. There were times were they could have crossed the line, and the humor could have become vulgar, but that line was never crossed. It was just bawdy and fun.

Here is a little taste of what we saw last night.


Warming Walls O' Water

So my newly planted tomato plants, basil and cilantro plants don't freeze, I surround them in the warmth of a wonderful invention called Wall 'O Water Plant Protectors. You can find more about them here.

These plastic round, tubular "mini-greenhouses" protect plants and keep them warm until chance of frost has passed.

Today I planted my two Early Girl, two Roma, one Early Goliath and one Sweet Million tomato plants and surrounded them with these little water-filled enclosures. As the water in the tubes warms up, they create a small, warm area for the plants to thrive.

I also covered my Basil and Cilantro plants.

Checking my other beds, it looks like I have some pea seeds sprouting, and also some radishes coming up.

I know spring weather must be close with the arrival of my red geraniums from an annual fund-raiser I am involved in every year, where we sell geranium baskets and geraniums in pots. There is something so cheery about a geranium hanging basket.

Then I cleaned out my flower bed next to the house, raked the leaves out, trimmed the Clematis, and pulled some weeds. Does anyone want to come over and clean this mess up for me, please?

Peaches said she would if she could.

I'm hoping to get more done on Sunday, if the weather is right. Yes, I know, it is Mother's Day and I should be pampered. But, after being holed up all winter, spending time outside is being pampered.


Gearing Up With 8th Graders Today

Today I accompanied over 100 8th graders from Kellogg Middle School to North Idaho College for a campus visit. We arrived at the college, had a welcome session, went to a class, had an outdoor activity and campus tour.

I had a group of girls interested in Nursing. The girls had fun with all the mannequins in the Nursing Lab, especially the newest mannequin, a state of the art mannequin called G3.

Traveling to the U.S. all the way from Norway, this state of the art mannequin is the only one of its kind in the country. Costing a mere $80,000, it is about as human is it can be, with the ability to blink, pupils dilate, listens, talks, it has all bodily functions, has seizures, throws up.....pretty amazing.

Here are some of the 8th grade girls with G3.

After lunch we went out for an outdoor activity. Looks pretty nice at the moment. Within 10 minutes, the rain started pouring, then we were pelted with hail. Gotta love North Idaho weather.


The Royal Family

Tonight the Choir Department at Kellogg High School held a Renaissance Dinner, and PKR, Z2 and I got to be "The Royal Family".

Do we look like we were transported back in time?

It was a wonderful evening of great food, music, readings and dancing.

A fun time was had by all.


The Laughing Policeman

I am starting to look at music to plan the Kelly's Alley Revue for this August's show at the Sixth Street Melodrama in Wallace.

The show will be based on music from the 1920's, so I have been looking at different videos of music from this era.

If this song doesn't bring a smile to your face while listening...you are way too grumpy today!!


May Humidity

IEG gave us our 96th sibling assignment this week:

1996 was a year filled with life-changing events in our lives, both joyous and sad. Write about an event of 1996 and why it was significant to you.

May 1996 was like experiencing really bad humidity.

I only experienced really bad humidity once, and it was while living in Glendive, Montana. PKR and I had just driven from Kellogg, across the rather large state of Montana, and arrived at our apartment in Glendive. We opened the door of the car, and I was blasted with a stifling, warm, suffocating, atmospheric phenomena.

At the beginning of May, I received a call from someone in my family that Dad had gone to the doctor, and had cancer and only had a month to live.

The air started getting thicker. I decided to make arrangements to travel to Kellogg to be with my family, and be with Dad before he died. I remember borrowing PKR's parent's car, and driving to Kellogg with my three children, who were 8 months, 20 months, and five-years-old.

We arrived in Kellogg, and took over the bedroom upstairs. It was hard to know how quiet to keep the three girls, and how much quiet Dad needed. It was all a bit overwhelming. I was starting to suffocate. I remember feeling like a never got a break from the kids. But who could I ask?

PKR had some family in town, but they were dealing with another problem. PKR's grandpa had a stroke, and was in the hospital, and not doing well.

Things were starting to heat up.

PKR did come for a weekend, and was able to see his grandpa before he died. I think Grandpa died the following day.

Meanwhile, back at my house, Dad's health was slowly deteriorating. It got especially bad when they started putting him on morphine, I believe it was.

I was now enclosed with a very thick, heavy and moist blanket of suffocation.

I wasn't sure how to breathe. PKR came back for his grandpa's funeral, which was a wonderful celebration of Grandpa Taylor's life.

I think he returned to Meridian, and I stayed a while longer, but it was finally time to go and say one last goodbye to Dad. The girls gave him a big hug and kiss, and told him goodbye. I told him I loved him, said goodbye, and walked out the door, knowing I would never see him again.

It was still rather hard to breathe.

I was back home in Meridian for a week or so, I think, when I got the call saying Dad had passed away. He died at home, in his own bed, and was finally at peace and out of pain.

There was a change in the weather...a bit of a shift in the barometric pressure. The air lightened up. It was easier to breathe.

Dad was gone, but so was his pain. He was in a better place.

I returned to Kellogg for a celebration of my dad's life. It was hard. Many tears were shed. But there was also sweet remembrances, love and laughter.

The air was clearer, and lighter, and I could breathe once again.