Tag Archives: death

Smoke, Heat & Memories

The day has me distracted. I try to remain focused on my job and the work I need to do. It has nothing to do with being Monday. It’s not because I had a tiresome weekend nor am fatigued or overly pained. It is not because I am eager to get back to the work on my company projects. It’s not because I have an upcoming trip planned and am looking forward to hitting the road. It is merely to do with the date and something I have in mind that I need to write. It’s a good feeling – that need to write, and even if the thought that started this is internally sad it is not a sorrowful post. Quite the contrary, and I always give in to the urges when they are this strong.

This past weekend was marked by a special event – the marriage of two wonderful people who I am proud to call friends. They both looked amazing and the ceremony was inspiring despite the heat and smoke – it was an outdoor wedding so both elements played a significant role in comfort. Even bringing the party into the shelter of the nearby community hall for the reception didn’t reduce the sweat factor. I am sure everyone dropped a few pounds that day…

Robyn and Joe

I am happy to have a beautiful event mark this weekend in my memories. It is not that new events ever mask or replace old memories that might have marked the days, but it is nice to have rejuvenation to the ones that marred the memory banks. July 13th, 3 years ago, was a day congested with heat and smoke in the air – I won’t forget it. It was a day I found out something that changed lives forever. Changes, whether good or bad, have an effect on one’s life journey. Sometimes it means you go it alone. Other times, it means you have someone to share it.

Best of luck and lots of love on your life’s journey – Robyn and Joe – July 11, 2015


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Filed under On Life, On Thinking

Birds of Spring


The love for spring and birds and all things beautiful prompted me to write this – the robin started it all and the progression to put the words to page ended up including thoughts about my mom. Both of us are spring babies and the appreciation she had for nature inspired me to follow paths where the wild things live. I am not brave. I fear death. Yet in my own way, I am an explorer and an adventurous soul. I am not sad. I am merely reflecting on beautiful thoughts that still bring tears.


RobinWe sat on the back deck under the umbrella and chatted. We cradled ceramic mugs adorned with images of birds. The hot tea warmed us and cool spring breezes washed over us like whispered conversation. We had grown comfortable with the sporadic comments and the pleasurable silence that punctuated our early Saturday morning visit. The sun was still to our right but would soon be to our backs as we sat in shade of the house. Bundled in large knit sweaters, we settled back in the canvas chairs, sipping green tea and warming our hands. Overhead, crisscrossing jet trails cut the wild blue yonder into slices of pie.

“Why do they have to mess up the beautiful sky?” she would ask. We always looked up watching for birds and small planes and whatever else the countryside might offer. I knew she loved the view from the deck at the back of her house. The jet trails were something we always noticed and talked about. It was something we often speculated about – was it weather related air current type stuff, or was it a conspiracy to create cloud when there was none, or was it just because it was what jets do at a high altitude. Whatever the reason, it would come to be my way of knowing she was always with me – perhaps, even her way of showing support wherever I might be and whatever I might be doing. The jet contrails and the birds of spring, both beautiful and meaningful in their own way, are a necessary part of how I was able to move forward without her.

Because of her love for nature and her little house in the country, I began to take more notice of those things around me that drew me to her. Yellow eyed daisies growing in white waves always remind me of her, because they grew wild in her yard and as the years went by there were more and more of them. I see every full moon and remember her calls to me, “Did you see the moon?” I watch for the geese and their return to the northern climes after a long migration. Then in the fall when they coo and swoop in large masses collecting their formations way up high amongst the clouds, I regret their leaving just as I regret hers.

Winter was beginning to be unbearable and the worry about her living alone is one thing that weighed as heavy as the snow on her little roof. She did not relish moving into the Park to be closer to the civilized world; it was not in her destiny to move into any kind of senior’s residence, either. The fates took care of that concern, although I would have shoveled her driveway forever and took care of her when the time came. It didn’t come, though. Her journey was not with that kind of finish.

This year I noticed the robins more and their activity around me. It seems there a few around who accompany me on my day. One makes its home in the eaves above my apartment window and you can hear it singing in the still early morning. One stopped for a picture on a post outside my cabin window while I was in Jasper and another hopped up to the truck for a picture while I sat in the parking lot at Miette Hot Springs. Yet another hopped closer and closer while I loaded the truck with books this past weekend.

Everyone deals with loss in different ways. Recognizing the little things we used to talk about and remembering the things she loved is how I am able to move forward. Writing these words helps, too – as I am able now to express them from my heart without pain tearing into them before I even have a chance to put them to the page. The test would be to read them out loud – although I am sure I could attempt it, one never knows how one’s emotions are going to interfere at any given time. The wound is deep and will never going to go away, but it is healed over, protected from outside exposure.


“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” ~ Langston Hughes



Filed under On Life, On Thinking, On Writing

Writing and planning and all that goes with it…

To me, the statement “life goes on” is such a broad and general expression. It is a phrase comprised of words said as confirmation, in consolation, or for situations where we don’t know what else to say except to state the obvious… but it’s the truth and it does go on even if in a different way or a dramatically changed manner. We all have, at one time or another, experienced events that rock our world and change how we forever view it, leaving only memories, if we are so lucky. So as I move beyond the hold of raw grief into the confusing realm of memories and newly discovered freedoms, I work through the debris in the best way I can, dealing with the uncontrolled emotional outbursts and equally disturbing contented quiet, grasping in both instances, tangible objects for grounding or intangible feelings for comfort. I continue to do what I’ve always done – take on too much, keep too busy, and devise and  dream of all kinds of plans. It is the opposite of depression where one wants to do nothing… instead, I want to do everything. I want to feel happy, I want to experience the depths of love, the heights of exploration, the vastness of this journey – I want it all; I want to live. But, as with most things, even life takes some modicum of planning unless we are drawn to the up and whatever of spontaneity – totally acceptable, yes, but a scheduling nightmare when one is working, running a company and a volunteer organization, entertaining a renewed relationship, freelancing, connecting with friends and family, and spending valuable time with a daughter who will be moving out of town.

All acceptable. But all need planning and juggling (see this blogger’s post for more on the coping with the overwhelming as a writer). Even though there is an emptiness that will persist, I feel as if I can move beyond the past year’s stress and emotional strain, to look at having some fun and creating happiness for myself. The planned writer’s retreat in May was decided in the fall and looks to be a wondrous 3 day delve into writing and relaxation and inspiration. The getaway in April (Easter long weekend) is something that has been brewing and stirring inside of me… growing over time, spurred by need, driven by passion… and as if the gates were opened and I was offered the open field, my spirit will venture to the place where the wild horses run. Finding and booking accommodations in a B-and-B in the exact area was like serendipity – synchronicity at work. I always contend the things that work in that way were just meant to be… timing, it’s all about timing and taking time.

I know that accomplishments lie ahead – I welcome them and strive toward them. But I also know, many of those achievements will be bittersweet as I share silently with one who will be forever missed. I think about how she would have loved to hear about all these adventures and how she would have worried as we ventured off on each and every one of them – she was like that and it is something I try not to do when my daughter is away, despite her claim that I am always worrying… (I’m not. Really. Do I?)

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ~ Oscar Wilde 

Photo: Wild horses near Socorro, N.M. Credit: Associated Press



Filed under On Dreaming, On Life, On Writing

Family Day

He picked me up in the blue Tucson – the one that used to be Mom’s, and he drove the first leg of the trip out to my sister’s for coffee. We talked about work and weather and the state of things within our family dealings. At one point I felt scolded, as if a child, just because my views don’t match those of others. I feel like a rebel as they may never be the same and I hold independence and freedom of thought close to my heart. I said I didn’t care but that was taken out of context – it is not that I don’t care, but rather, I care too much to let the numbers overshadow that which is truly irreplaceable – her. I am not oblivious or swayed by what others know to be their truths realizing we should all decide for ourselves and hold true to your own. I am me – and there were tears. But he had his tears, too. Dad stated bluntly that no one could know the extent of his loss – she was his life and now he just exists.

We talked of subjects I feared would be hard to broach; but, in all honesty, they were easy once the emotional trench was dug. I flooded it with inquiries, comments, and questions so he would be aware of the things we already knew, already had in the works – we, being those I have spoken to about the subjects we discussed. There is cause for concern but we found truths and revelations in our conversation. But, there were also things that need further clarification. What one chooses for their last resting place is personal yet it cannot be so personal that no one else is privy to the preference. At one point, he admitted he would have chosen cremation and the spot to rest – now he chooses to be by her side forever, and we have that covered.

The blue icing skies were smeared with fluffy white marshmallow clouds. The warmth of the mid-February sun at +2 kissed the snow-covered fields making them shine like meringue, rich sweet and browned in patches with winter wheat or grasses or weeds peeking through the snow. Crows and coyotes plump with an abundant taking of winter road kill watched from the ditches as our vehicle passed by… We encountered a quizzical little animal on the highway and in the wondering “what it was” realized quickly that the vehicle next to us determined what it wasn’t… alive… so quick a life can end. It was puzzling until we saw one right outside muskratmy sister’s house under her truck. We determined the little animal to be a muskrat – and we wondered of its frequency in sightings (there were plenty for the crows and coyotes along the highway) and did it hibernate? A search provided the answer – no – but it usually sits at home content to feed on the stores built up for winter survival. It ventures out at first sight of spring…

As nature takes its course and one is lost leaving others to go on, we must embrace the life around us. Take time to smile at the sunshine, wonder of the creatures, and feel pleasure in the company of those still here. We must let those hurtful things go that bog us down with anger or bitterness; accept that your views don’t have to match those around you to be just as viable. We must also venture out into the big world to discover what it has to offer – no matter our fears – and appreciate life in the moment.  


Filed under On Life

Creating a Memory

It is November 4th and many of those adamant about the NaNoWriMo November craze are well into the word count with 50,000 the goal by the 30th. There was no arguing whether or not to write this post although it would take precious time and perhaps 500 words or so that don’t count towards the NaNo goal. But I couldn’t help myself. I needed to write about the past day, the past week, the past year… and in doing so, I feel I will create a memory I can live with to bring forward on my journey. You see, I lost a fan last year when my mom died. I know she would encourage me and, I am sure in my heart, she is watching from wherever it is you go after you leave this world. I have to believe, like everyone else, you will see again in some other space those who have left you behind, or vice versa – they will see you again if you leave first. My writing is important to me – this is when I feel alive, no matter what I am going through. If I leave it, I am ill. If I write, I feel happiness – okay, not jump up and down for joy happiness, but contentment in my choice because I am doing what I was meant to do. There is a discovery somewhere along our journey when we realize “this is it” and our passion confirms our choice (…although I believe the choice was never really ours to make – it is an inherent part of us… we just had to discover it.)

Yesterday marked one year of her passing – the week up to this day was emotional for me as I remembered back to “what was happening at this time last year.” Some were personal times I can share with no one because I was the only one there. Others are common to family members and friends, a sadness shared as we deal with this loss each in their own way. But no amount of crying, no prayers, or denial will bring her back. There is an empty hole in my heart, sometimes a void in my spirit, often an emotional depression, but I will fill them all with words. My NaNo project is a continuation of Novella I, A Journey of Brothers, released in the summer of 2012 as an EBook, dedicated to my mom. She loved the book and I told her I would be writing more to follow up – Novella II – A Journey of Truth, and Novella III, A Journey of Desires, are now in the works.

In much the same way, my 2010 NaNo novel “Power Struggle” came to be started at my dad’s hospital beside – the Journey YA series will be part of connecting good things that come out of what we perceive to be not so good. The new work will be dedicated in my mother’s memory and it is in this way I can leave a legacy and a lasting memory.

In memoriam - Mom


Filed under On Life, On Writing


I will premise this blog with a short note to readers: I am fine. I will be okay. I am doing what I need to do in order to deal with things. YOU are the reason I will be okay for I am blessed and lucky to be part of such an amazing group of people – family, friends, co-workers, fellow writers, lovers of life, dreamers, believers… there have been many developments since last year, some good, some not so good – all are part of my journey.


The traffic is light but increasing as the dawn creeps into another day. I am awake and the coffee is brewing. It’s a cool mid-fall -8 and the snow from yesterday is still on the ground. It makes me wonder if it will stay again … like it did last year. By Wednesday this week last year we had a storm that dropped several inches and it was cold – winter stayed this week last year.

There is no reason to be up this early as I begin a vacation week. Days that are mine, time taken to allow me to get done some stuff yet undone, to do some things abandoned, to deal with emotions still alive and raw and welling inside. This week will mean to each of us something different, yet for our family it also means something so common – the pain of loss.

This day started early after an uncomfortable sleep, if I could call it that. This day begins, promising to be productive, but not without discomfort. My memories do not rest easy in my mind nor do they soothe my heart. For I – this day, last year – called an ambulance to take my mom to the hospital. It was to be a one way trip.

I have written only a few things about her over the past year – I feel I have neglected my words in many ways yet have continued my journey as a writer in others. So much has happened – many good things, even though they are tinged with sorrow. Dealing with the loss has been a rollercoaster and I know people deal with death in different ways. I have no presumptions of its glory and where we end up; who really knows? I don’t believe in things that some people turn to during these times – it was a choice made long ago. But, I honor my mother and her beliefs; those give me comfort, small as they may seem at times… it allows me to think she is okay and with her own mother again.

My mom’s picture stands on my shelf at my bedroom doorway where I can see her every day. I talk to her and visit her grave. Those physical things I clutch in a desperate attempt to hold her close. The thought that makes me cry, every time, is how I miss her hugs – I always got one when arriving and another when I left. That emptiness – that hollow in my heart – will never be filled. Others in my life – family and friends – will surround it and make it better so I can go on, but no matter how much time passes, that deep wound will not heal. They say time does that but I don’t believe it for one second.


Photo by Linda J. Pedley (c) October 27, 2013


Filed under On Life, On Writing

Where Inspiration Grows

awesome lights

We follow our journey through life – sometimes lost, sometimes exploring, sometimes determined and in a hurry to get to where we think we are supposed to go. Often we don’t even know where that is… but through trial and error we persevere and, by and large, we end up following the path we were meant to take all along. Choices along the way challenge us; some work and some don’t which is a testament to what was supposed to be all along. If it works, then it’s meant to be. If it doesn’t, we have a decision to make in order to get back on track. My journey has led to writing and the writing life, and I’ve been slowly inching my way to into the publishing industry – helping others while I help myself. I have been told I inspire others to follow their dreams just by being true to who I am and following mine. I have not done what I would classify as great things to change the world. I have not discovered a cure for anything; I hold no great wealth to attack poverty or provide homes for homeless or orphans or even stray animals. I sometimes barely stay afloat knowing my lot in life is not wealth; I do what I do not for fame; I don’t stand out as a beauty – based on common misconceptions. 

Everything and everyone around me shapes my writing journey by molding it to their influences and the effects they have upon my life. I have 3 inspirational influences I want to share today. Unlike my obsession with William Shakespeare, these people are a real part of my life. The first is my late mother – feelings are still raw about this and no matter how much time goes by the differences are too noticeable to ever be the same. I am finding ways to deal with the emptiness her leaving created. I know she would want me to continue building my company and her acceptance of my own writing inspires me to do more. I will continue to see her life, and her death, as something I must weave into my work in order to heal and move forward.

The second is my dear friend – Mandy Eve-Barnett. As fellow writer and co-conspirator on many projects and events, she came into my life fairly recently if you look at the big picture; but as we all know, for a reason.  She is a rock of stability and reality in my dream-filled, high hope world. Not that she doesn’t have dreams and hopes of her own but it seems she is able to keep them grounded and does so in much the same way my mother did. Mandy’s writing goals are an inspiration to me and others- she is creative and inventive and meticulous in her plan. She has built in a short time a dedication some take years to develop. You can follow her blog (one a day from the beginning of this year!) at the following link: http://mandyevebarnett.com/

The third person I would like to acknowledge, but by no mean the last, is my daughter, Kelsey Hoople. My little dynamo will shock you with her life advice yet in a short time frame of life she is wise beyond her years – but as she would say “what’s age got to do with it…” It wasn’t a life planned, raising her as a single parent, but one that contributed to her journey and upbringing as well as mine as a person and a parent. Together, we have climbed many mountains and continue to deal with life as a pair. She recently started her own business and aspires to doing great things for those she is prepared to help and the community in which she lives. Her words are posted on her web site under the Let’s Talk tag. http://www.kelseyincorporated.com/lets-talk.html

There have been and are many others and will be many more ahead – people are the greatest influencers in our life. My reminder to this is the saying “a reason, a season, a lifetime.” Good, bad or indifferent, for a short time or forever – lessons are learned, shared, and our stories grow as we live. True inspiration comes to those who are good to one another while being true to who they are and respectful of the journey they travel. 


Filed under On Life, On Writing

Reality of Life

I think that the power is in the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done. ~ Robert Downey Jr.

I write this and want the focus on my direction to be different (outlook positive) – I want to look back and see what I’ve done and had, not what I’ve neglected, or lost (accepting limits and cherishing memories). I want my writing to go somewhere and mean something more. I want my life and my writing journey to encompass all these principles in a confident manner. I write this while I am feeling control and lucidity and not overwrought with my inevitable emotions. Why? I guess I just want to prove to myself that in me exists the ability and strength to continue, no matter what – move forward, so to speak. I understand and accept that my life as it was will never be the same but that does not mean it is a bad life. I am loath to say it will get better. But it could, right? People tell me things will get better and time is the factor. Things happen and we question their relevance (the what), we question their timing (why now), we question their reason (just why, why) and, in dealing, we look to those things that are supposed to give us comfort. If they are things (or people) we hold dear, they certainly will provide some kind of comfort, yet they cannot give us the answers we may seek. It is almost impossible to verbalize what it is I want to say for I know in my heart the answers are not there, at least, in any way I want to hear. Finality is hard to deal with…

Grief on this level is new to me. My maternal great-grandmother died when I was in high school during the early ‘70s. We weren’t even allowed to go to the service and/or funeral but I remember my sadness as I walked home in tears from the tennis court having been delivered the news. My maternal grandmother died in the mid-‘90s and by then I was a single working mom – it is a more vivid memory because I said a tearful good-bye to her at the viewing before the cremation, but, then again, only remember vaguely the service and reception to follow. By that time we weren’t really close to all the relatives we grew up with so distance allowed a certain separation from heart and emotion to build. Relatives died, for whom I felt sadness in their passing, but because of the distance there was nowhere the devastation of a loss of this magnitude. I have not really attended a lot of funerals and only one other graveside interment – that of a child. (To me, the loss of a child is/would be a whole different grief.)

The reality of life is that we eventually die. You don’t have to believe in anything big and ominous, or unknown, to know this is the course of our direction upon earth. It’s part of life, albeit, a part that sucks. Belief in faith of a hereafter does not diminish the finality of death, in the here and now. It might ease the passing to know you are going to something better but it does not lessen the grief in those left behind. My mom believed in God and was incensed by my declaration of being an atheist ~ she wished I would believed, prayed I would believe ~ I believe I am safe and what I am because of her prayers. But I tried and could not find salvation in that attempt. I truly believe in something and I believe in my mom. Her acceptance of all that is me is something I will always hold dear. I know she didn’t like some of my choices but in the last few years a change was evident – she accepted what was and who I’d become.

I write because I must. I write because I believe in the power of the written word. In my words I will find strength, I have confidence and I have the will to move forward. Sometimes… I might just cover my head and cocoon, but don’t worry ~ I’ll be back soon.


Filed under On Life, On Writing

A Bittersweet New Year’s Story

It was just before midnight on New Year’s Eve and the traffic was light through the intersection at Whyte Avenue and 99 Street. A Google search reveals the night was the coldest of the year with a bone chilling -35 C in Edmonton, AB. It’s the last day of the year 1951 and a young couple smooch while waiting for a bus heading downtown. Him – with the bad boy “James Dean” leather and denim; her – with the beauty of a movie starlet – black coiffed hair draped in a sheer scarf, ruby red lips, a warm wool swing coat in passionate pink. The passing New Year’s Eve of 2012 would have marked 60 years for my Mom and Dad and a love affair cut short by the death of my mother in November. They had made plans to return to this spot to renew memories of the time together which began so long ago as young lovers. My Dad shared his intent to go on their “date” and wondered aloud if he was just being a crazy old man. I assured him he was not – in fact, it was a beautiful, loving way to remember despite his sorrow and deep loss. We all feel the gaping hole her passing has created but none, I am sure, more than the man who never stopped loving, remembering, and believing.Mom and Dad photo by Keith Kinloch 2


Filed under On Writing

12-12-12 Musings

The date really has no significance to me other than the cool repetition of numbers and the realization that this date will never, ever appear again in our lifetime as it is most unlikely we, meaning the we collectively here on earth as of this date, won’t live to see 2112… Well, there are always those exceptions – newborns who live to be a hundred…

If we are to believe the prophecies of the past and it was more than the Mayans just running out of carving space, we have a matter of 10 days to get our lives lived. I am not going to make this post about “what would you do if…” but instead, I am going to use the 12-12-12 as a launching point for doing what I’d do despite it all – write.

There is no doubt to me my words are a soothing balm in my emotional state. There is also no doubt they come directly from my soul that emits an eternal desire to create while drenched in the spirit of those here, and those no longer with us. My spirit is my muse, therefore, those who hold a piece of my heart, become my muse’s essence and this encourages me to go forth in whatever manner I can muster.

Yesterday, my new day off from my job, I was overcome with an internal ill while at my office that festered early in the day, forcing me to consider canceling evening activities. I endured, making difficult calls and writing more final letters, taking care of paperwork in my mother’s affairs. I held out for an author appointment to pick up much awaited books. I rode the wave adnauseam – wondering if breaking would be failing. I hated the feeling and conceded with – I need to go home after at least making an appearance.

But, as with words, my writing friends are a comfort and a much needed source of medication – I am fine as a loner but the social interaction with my literary counterparts gives me the boost I need to continue. My malaise waned; I enjoyed my stay. I heard comforting assurances throughout from people who truly care. I heard this would be a “year of firsts” and the suggestion to find a way to remember over this coming year was a valuable offering from one dear member’s recent experience.

It will not be easy for me but I deeply appreciate the fact you are all “write” there with me…

splash in time


Filed under On Life, On Writing