On August 13, 2004, my
stepfather passed away. My Mom had passed away almost 5 years
earlier, so the last tie to my home base was now broken. My
siblings and I gathered at the house for Thanksgiving to say a
private goodbye to our parents.
My parents bought the house on the edge of Walker Valley in 1976,
when I was 12. My Dad loved to sit in the dining room, looking out
over the valley. On winter mornings following a snowfall, he'd look
out at the trees covered in hoar frost, and ask, "Have you
ever seen a more beautiful sight?" At other times, he'd notice
riders or snowmobilers in the valley and wonder why he hadn't gotten
a call, asking permission to play in "his" valley.
We spent most of this weekend packing up a lifetime's worth of family
treasures, waiting for my sister to arrive, and tearing up the deck
before it fell apart on its own. On our last day together we climbed
down into the valley to scatter our parents' ashes. My Dad had suggested
putting his and Mom's ashes into the blender before scattering them
over the valley, but we decided on a more dignified approach, mixing
them in a ceramic pot my Mom had made years earlier. Because my brother,
Jim, couldn't make it out from Toronto, we called him so that he could
be part of the ceremony.