Pieces of Shambala in My Memory Bouquet

I was going to let mom and dad have the last word but as you can see I didn’t.  Plus, as my family would say, letting someone else have the last word would be out of character of me.  But what do they know?

A family like ours does not happen by accident or by luck.  So, thanks to mom and dad for creating the foundation our family grew from.  It is not without its cracks and pitfalls, but its strength is evident in that we all made it back from this trip in one piece.

Thanks to all my siblings who let me slightly embellish, and I do say slightly…much of this was true.  I couldn’t make up this stuff if I tried.  We are fortunate that we can be friends as well as siblings, that we choose to spend time together even when we don’t have to.   We used to go camping nearly every summer…and I think one time when mom and dad could not go camping we kids went without them.  Now that is something you don’t see very often.

Thanks to my family for the laughter, tears, and memories I will cherish.  I believe I am most fortunate to have all of you in my life.

Thanks to those who read this blog and let us know that it made you feel, whether it was happy, nostalgic, or sad.  When we feel emotions we know we are alive.

So, did my family meet my expectations and bring the Shambala?  Absolutely.  Was there any question they would?  Not really.  I had no doubt they would not only meet but exceed such a challenge, for we are beings of laughter and love and joy must surely follow.

And Steve, never the chatter box or one for small talk sums it up and gets straight to the point, “It was a great trip.”



What a joy it was to spend 6 days with our immediate family.  How many parents have the privilege of doing that with their adult children.  Not only that but we still liked  each other when we got home.  To experience the travel, the wonderful sights in Yellowstone, to eat meals together, laugh with and at each other, to joke and kid and sometimes cry a little.  I am sure Steve thought he had four mothers and one father but he survived all of us wanting to take care of him in spite of his “please I would rather do it myself.”  Our incessant questions: “are you okay, are you comfortable, do you need help, can I help you, are you tired, are you hungry, do you want something to drink, etc.?”  All this must have driven him crazy but he handled it with style and grace, although we kept careful records of the times he yelled at us and who got it the most. He was even brave enough to ride in the Honda CRV with his three sisters while sight-seeing in Yellowstone although he admitted at times he was scared.  We all were so blessed to be able to do this together.  Thank you Lisa for the idea that maybe we could make this an all immediate family trip.  It couldn’t have been better.   
Mom & Dad

The Family


The Kids (Holly, Becky, Steve, Lisa)

Fresh legs, fishing and giggles

FRESH LEGS: One morning Steve said his legs felt fresh.  We did a lot of walking each day we were there, and whether it was a fresh leg day for him or a day his feet wouldn’t cooperate, his determination to keep going was amazing.   If anyone knows me they know I hate to exercise.  I don’t even like walking up stairs.  But thinking of Steve’s perseverance to get where he is going every day motivated me to keep moving.  I won’t say that I will be as active as he but I will be more active, and I will remember his strength and desire to see and do all he can, fresh legs or not.  

FISHING: Early Monday morning Steve and I went into the park before the sun came up.  I wanted to take some time by the Madison River without cars and people around, and maybe take some pictures as the sun came up.  We drove around the park some, and sat by the river (in my car) and waited.  It was very peaceful. 

When the sun came out, Steve, forever the fisherman, looked for places he would pick to fish.   Steve would take anyone who wanted to go fishing.  Even me when I was little, even though he had to take time to teach me, even though he said I scared the fish away by talking too much.  Fishing is in his soul, and he always freely shared this part of himself. 

GIGGLES: One of my favorite sounds in the world is Steve’s giggling.   We are a family that laughs a lot, some of us laugh loudly, some softly.  To me, Steve’s laugh has always been a giggle.   When he tells a funny story or makes a comment, if he starts giggling I start laughing before he even says anything.   We had lots of laughter on this trip, some tears and frustration, but I think the laughter out shined it all.  As much effort Steve has spent in his life making people laugh, it was fitting that we let it flow.


My Brother

A couple of nights ago Steve and I were up 4-5 times in the night (too much root beer Steve says).  Each time I helped him get back in bed I could not position him correctly or push him up towards the top where his pillow was.  He still thanked me and said it was Okay. But it was not Okay. Nothing about what is happening to him is Okay. I watch my brother as he struggles with every simple task.  He is more patient with himself than I would ever be with myself.  He lives his life with very little complaint. He finds humor in many situations.

This trip has been full of conversation, tears and laughter.  It has been such a gift for me to share this experience of great beauty with my beautiful family. I will cherish my memories of this trip just as I cherish my brother.



Tonight  in the peaceful silence of the evening as we drove a side road along the Madison river emotions ran deep. A fly fisherman was standing in the river silhouetted by the setting sun. He was moving with such ease and grace as only a gifted fisherman can. All appeared well with the world. The tragedy is that all is not well with our world. I desperately wanted that fisherman standing in the river to be my brother as he had done so many times before. A river his first-born is named after. Instead my brother is a passenger riding on a road along side the Madison river bound by his failing body. No longer is there the carefree ease of movement and balance and the freedoms that follow. Looking in the rearview mirror the face reflected was my fathers, also a fisherman. In his eyes my emotions were reflected as rivers of tears welt up, spilled over and ran freely in the silence of the evening.



Little Hands, Big Laughs

What is family for if not to make you face things that creep you out. Call it character building. Plus, we get a good laugh at the same time.

Hol is creeped out by a character on Saturday Night Live that has little tiny hands and talks in a high voice.  So of course we have to exploit this all we can.  I came up with the idea, mom bought dolls and we used the hands, dad executed with style. 

Our last night at Yellowstone dad came out to greet Hol with creepy hands and voice and tried to stroke her face and as he stated “little hands solve big problems”.  Hol did her best to keep the creepy hands away, but with much trepidation she did reach out to shake the tiny hand, proof that being forced to face your fears does work and is great entertainment.

Birds Are Animals Too.

Mom tried to get us kicked out of the park Sunday by trying to feed the birds during lunch.    

So, first it was a flagrant toss of a chip on the ground.    

Then she tried to act casual about it.  I don’t know how standing like a one-armed scarecrow would convince anyone that feeding the birds was an accident. “Really Ranger Rick, I always stand with one arm outstretched holding one chip.  It’s not my fault the bird took it from me.”   

Bec tried to tell her that we could get kicked out of the park, but she did not believe her…of course it would be wrong to feed the bears and wolves, but it is just a bird right?  Then as we were leaving mom noticed the warning sign, right by her car door…and what was on the sign?  A bear, a wolf, and what’s that in the corner, Oh right, a bird.    

A couple from Texas caught her on film but promised not to turn her in…who knows, we may see her on a wanted poster yet.   

We did get some great pictures of some birds.  Ah, what a mother won’t do so her kids can get some pictures.   

Mom's defiant face, I am your mother and I will do as I please.