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‘Til we meet again December 31, 2011

Posted by Barbara in Art.

She was headed up into the mountains when I first met her.  She and her husband had come for a wilderness fishing trip with my parents – a pack trip with horses up into the San Juan mountains to one of our favorite lakes.  It was secluded enough that my father once threatened to move on because he saw smoke from another campfire at the far end of the lake a mile or more away.    If she was fearful of bears or snakes, or handling a horse on the trail, I never knew it.  Her 4 ft 11 5 ft 1 in stature and soft smile may have misled some folk about the steel that lay beneath.

A few years later, I decided in my 20 yr old wisdom that I should leave my parents New Mexico ranch for the big city.  I planned to try California, but my father convinced me  Houston would be just as exciting.  He knew Paul and Sybil would be near to look after me.  They were.   Paul found me a starter job at his company and Sybil welcomed me to weekends and holidays at their home as though I were one of the family.  I thought of her as a southern belle.  Her gentle grace and hospitality helped fill that empty place within me that my lust for self-reliance couldn’t quite manage.

She and Paul reared three boys – each of them strong willed and independent – but also equipped with a strong moral compass and a deep kindness that I now know are rooted in her and Paul’s steadfast example.  When I fell in love with the youngest of the three,  my world was set on a new and wonderfully fulfilling path.

Of course, we had  our share of misunderstandings.  Having a daughter-in-law is, after all, a unique experience.   Over the years, I began to see the childhood that gave her that strength and the mother’s heart that led her and we came to terms with our differences.

She met life’s challenges with grace and intelligence and faith, and that never changed even through the years alzheimer’s disease took its toll.   And Paul was there with her for the whole trip – all 69 1/2 of the years they spent together.    That all three of their sons shared the effort as they made sure she and Paul were supported and loved up to the very end of her adventure speaks highly of who she was.

She built a real family.   I’m grateful to have been a part of it.

May she rest in peace.



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