No Means Everything. Parts 1 & 2

A story in 4 parts.

Part One

It was 1967. Iris lived with her mom and brothers on the California side of South Lake Tahoe. If you were standing in her room, you’d have heard any combination of rock and roll blasting the airwaves, including, but not limited to the Beatles, Paul Anka, Connie Francis, and the Rolling Stones.

She’d graduated high school the previous summer (’66) with her class, known officially and forever as the ‘Rebels’. After a wild and crazy senior year, full of class cutting, skiing, and hot springs soaking over the Markleeville ridge, she was delighted to be finished with South Tahoe High.

Iris got a work permit and a busgirl job in one of the casinos. Soon enough, before she knew it, she was 19, pregnant – and married. She hadn’t planned on being pregnant. She hadn’t planned on being married. But all those noes of hers, in the still quiet of a dark room, fell silent on Alan’s ears.

Six years older than she was, Alan drove a shiny black Mustang. He had striking blue eyes. He was her neighbor. Their moms were best friends. He worked with Iris’s brother. Iris was in love.

There were times, though, when she worried. She and Alan spent quite a bit of time in the house Alan shared with his mom and brother. It was during those family visits that Iris witnessed the man she loved being extremely cruel. He criticized, belittled, and blamed his mother for everything. His behavior, his words, his rage, gave Iris the shivers. She found no pleasure in recalling her own abusive household as a young girl. Iris did what most irresponsible young women did. She swept it to the back of her head. She kept quiet.

Alan told Iris he didn’t want a big wedding. She said that was fine, though secretly, she was disappointed. Alan arranged for a few days off work. He and Iris eloped to the Nevada ghost town of Virginia City, where the Justice of the Peace married them. The courthouse cleaning lady and the bar owner next door were the witnesses. Surreal, Iris thought. In the mirror behind the judge’s desk, she observed Alan, his arm wrapped tightly around her. Iris was in her favorite pale blue blouse and mini skirt. Alan was dressed in his typical every day black slacks, white short sleeve shirt, black shoes, white socks. No friends, no smiling moms wishing Iris congratulations from the mirror.

They recited their vows. Alan smiled with Iris’s grin as he paired the wedding band to her engagement ring. They kissed. Man and wife. They were married. They hopped back in the Mustang. They drove over the mountains, down to the ocean, to spend their honeymoon on Monterey Bay.

Iris ended up sick most every day. The fog was wet. She was cold. She just wanted to go home. Awake sometimes in the dark night, she worried over a conversation with Alan’s mother in which Iris had been warned to be very careful of Alan’s terrible temper.

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Happy Birthday, Lowell

 

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Dearest Lowell,

You’ve been on my mind a lot today. It’s cool and rainy in Napa, your son here is out back scrubbing the pool after a wet and dirty winter. I’m pretty sure I know where you are, resting in your recliner in you nice warm spot. I bet Rachel is right there with you.

Lowell -CCLowell, thank you for the amazing job you did with Rachel in raising up and teaching your boys to be the best human beings they could be. They are a testament to you. Loving, hard working fathers and husbands, always ready to lend a hand to honor, love, and support those in their grasp.

PopPop, you are the very best grandpa all our little grandchildren could ever hope for. Always ready to listen to their stories, find a treat, teach a new lesson in life or how to fix some thing or another, handing out a drum lesson, or taking them all, one at a time, on a motorcyle ride.

Thank you for being such a warm and strong beacon of light for Rachel. It wasn’t easy all the time, I’m sure. Falling head over heels as teenagers, growing into adults, and marrying the love of your life. Soon enough, picking up to move from your family farms halfway across the country to build a life in Arizona. 

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The Millers

I’ve heard you and Rachel laughing about the years you carried water jugs spilling over to your travel trailer while you slowly but surely built up a home of your own on your own patch of land. I always feel so comfortable in your warm, safe, and cozy home in the mountains of Show Low.

You have so many blessings. I know there were difficulties. And struggles.

I’ve heard about your many adventures. Motorcycle trips, motorcycle racing, drums beating in the porch room and with worship teams. Annual trips to the family farm where you pitched in with the yearly harvest. I also heard you were still sitting up in the driver’s seat this year.100_2628

I’m so very grateful for the long trips you made to California. So happy we all went to the ocean, over the hills and down onto Stinson Beach. Did you really mean it when you said you never wanted to ride on that road again? Come on.

It was pretty comical, I have to say, after all the years of you worrying about our earthquakes, that you would be here for the last big one that summer of 2014. I cracked up when you told me you woke up thinking that it was Rachel shaking the bed. Like she would get up and do that.

Thank you for being there to help Mollie and Matt build their first house. Thank you for the new roof you and Matt put on my house a year ago. Thank you and Rachel for all your help when we first moved into our little compound almost four years ago now.

100_8824Yes. This is how you roll. Always in service. Partnering with each of your sons, and their families, to assure them a step ahead in life with their own families.

I know that you know this latest trip around the sun may very well be your last trip around that particular fiery globe of ours. It makes me so sad.

I’ve watched you and Rachel give this last year the fight of your life. I know the cancer that invaded you early last year hasn’t given up either. I’m so grateful that Hospice is helping you and Rachel to assure your last days on this earth are as caring, supportive, and loving as your first few days of life when you popped in here decades ago, right behind me.

I’m so glad we’ve had this time with together, you and Rachel and myself, growing closer over the years. It’s a special blessing that your dear Rachel and I found each other. Having each grown in a house only with brothers, we each have a sister now in one another.

All in all, you and your Millers are one of the greatest blessings that has happened to my family, and to my life.2015-10-17 12.58.41

My heart is full of love, sad with grief, and happy with wonderful memories. I don’t want you to go. It’s one thing to know that each of us is going to leave this planet for another place one day in the future. It’s another to see it happen in front of us.

So, today, with the joys of your previous sixty plus birthdays brimming over onto Rachel, your boys, your sweet grandchildren, your extended family, church, friends, and your beloved dogs, love must be the frosting on your birthday cake of life.

I wish you could stay here for a hundred more birthdays. And. I know you’re looking forward to a new world of hope and light and never ending love in your next life.

So, Happy Birthday, Lowell. I love you and wish you a birthday of peace and love and happiness. I wish I was there to see the candles.

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