The Great American Eclipse Trip part 3

Sunday morning came and we were up early, wanting to get started before the crowds. We had places to visit and things to do—A National Monument, a historic site, a state park and the city of Idaho Falls were on the list for the day. And what a beautiful morning for exploring!

We drove north on a 2-lane road, heading toward another out of the way National Monument. The drive took us through farmland, fields of potatoes and hay glistening in the early morning sunlight. As we drove we spotted something standing in the field, and then another….and still more….and then we realized that they were hawks, hunting in the early morning, standing in the cut hay fields. Magnificent site. We saw more hawks on that stretch of highway than on any other road trip…..simply amazing….a sweet surprise.

We drove through small towns, whose populations were 400 and 600…..yes, we were back in rural America. And then we came upon a town with a gas station and we stopped. The gas station had a small seating area and every chair was filled with one of the townsmen…..the older gentleman gathered there on a Sunday morning to talk and drink coffee. This scene made me smile. Life in a small town!

The fields and small towns, gems in our nations crown jewels.

We continued our journey, finally arriving at our first stop for the day, Craters of the Moon National Monument. It was early, but there were a lot of people already in the park and more would be coming….we needed to stay ahead of the masses……

Craters of the Moon National Monument was like entering another world. The lava flow covered everything. It was surreal….eerie…..and I thought about those early emigrants and how foreign this landscape must have seemed to them….how many wanted to turn around and go back to where they came from? Could they imagine a world beyond this barren, rippled, black landscape?

For thousands of years this land has been covered by this volcanic lava. This must be what the moon would look like……

A harsh land.

And in this harshness there was beauty….created by a flowing river of lava……and weathered over time. Beauty could be found even in the destructive forces of nature.

And life grows….finds a way to continue to flourish even in the harshest conditions. Here plants grew, flowers bloomed and animals roamed. Trees grew tall atop high cinder cones. Yes, life continues even in under extreme conditions…..

I found Craters of the Moon national monument fascinating, delighting in the flowing lava field….taking it all in. Here was another jewel in our nations crown jewels. Another example of the diversity in this country I love.

The British have their crown jewels, preserved and displayed in a tower for all to enjoy…..and we too, have our crown jewels—the diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires—found in the diversity of our country…the diversity in our land, our people and our cultures. Our jewels are found in the mountains and the valleys, the rivers and the lakes, the oceans and the plains, the cities and the farms, the parks and monuments, the battlefields and the historic sites, in the people and the cultures all across this great land. Our crown jewels are on display and preserved for all to enjoy….we just have to see them, experience them, respect them, understand them, and embrace them so that we never lose our gems!

I am forever thankful that I live in a country that is as diverse as America is. And I am grateful for a husband who loves this country and exploring it as much as I do. Together we have seen many of our nations jewels…….

One more jewel was discovered on our trip.

One more National Monument checked off the bucket list!

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The Great American Eclipse Trip Part 2

We were off on our adventure…. The eclipse our goal—full totality. But for us, well, we like to pack as much as we can into the little time we have and this trip would be no different.

As I wrote in part one, my husband was already planning on traveling to the path of totality for the solar eclipse a year out. My husband likes to plan trips. He likes to explore. So, I knew when he said we were headed to Idaho that it would be an adventure….. and he made sure it was!

We left home Saturday morning and flew to Salt Lake City on a flight filled with others migrating north for the eclipse.

We arrived in Salt Lake City in the afternoon and headed straight to the rental car agency. We needed to be on the road as quickly as we could….there was lots to do and see on our drive north to Idaho.

The line at the rental car agency was long! I was surprised, despite the warnings, that so many people were doing the same thing as us….off on the great adventure to see a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Okay, so maybe the hype wasn’t too far off…. maybe we really did need to be prepared for anything! With hundreds of thousands heading toward totality, maybe the media hype and the dire warnings warranted paying attention to.

Finally, we were in our car and headed to our first stop, the store. We needed to stock up on water and snacks and get a gas can, just in case the predictions came true and gas stations ran out of gas. After all, we did need to make it back to Salt Lake City in two days to catch our flight home.

With supplies purchased and lunch eaten, we were finally on the road, driving north toward Burley, ID, where we were staying.

But first a slight detour on the way….

Yes, my husband likes to explore and often finds off-the-beaten-path, out-of-the-way, you-REALLY-want-to-go-there places to see. And I LOVE that about him. It makes our life interesting, traveling adventurous and gives us views of the world, specifically this wonderful country we live in, that we would not otherwise see. (Thankfully this trip did not involve any river fords!!)

We left the interstate before crossing into Idaho and headed west on a 2-lane highway. We were now amongst fields….ranches….farmland……all dotted with tiny towns that had no stores, no gas stations and no stop lights. We were in rural America and we loved the beauty and serenity.

As we drove down the road we wondered what life was like for these families, wishing we could just sit and talk and learn about this life that was so vastly different than where we lived… our life where there is a store or gas station on almost every corner, and restaurants to satisfy any desire. Out here, in the middle of fields and mountains there were homes that were surrounded by trees, islands in the midst of enormous fields and the nearest neighbor miles away. Strange to me to imagine life this way, yet the beauty and peace of this wide-open space invited me in. This life so foreign to me was just as strange and foreign as my life in a city was to those who lived here.

We enjoyed the drive, taking in the scenery and talking. And then we noticed a historical marker on the side of the road, causing us to make an impromptu stop…. History draws us both in, fascinated by the stories of life all across this great country. Here we learned that the road we were traveling and the valley along it were part of the California Trail, once traveled by pioneers and wagon trains….ahhhh….a happy place for me! I love the old west, the stories of the pioneers, the stories of traveling across the country in a wagon—setting out on a new adventure and traveling to a new place, unknown to them. I have longed thought I was born in the wrong century and often dreamt about living in the 1800’s and traveling in a wagon….life on the prairie…..life of a pioneer and explorer. It would have been so cool!

Now as we continued on to our destination, I began to wonder what it was like for those early pioneers, how strange this world must have seemed to them and how BRAVE they were!

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And then just a few miles short of our next stop we saw a Visitors Center, with wagons in the field, replicas of those used to travel the California Trail.

Heaven!

Now I could see the wagon in person and visualize what it must have been like traveling in that wagon across the rugged land.

Then I looked in the back of the wagon…….boy, those wagons looked much bigger inside when I saw t2hem on old westerns, or on Little House on the Prairie, or imagined them as I read books about the old west….hmmm….

I looked into the back of the wagon, looked at my husband and told him- “No! It’s too small. I wouldn’t have made it!”

He laughed!

 

I am so happy I could entertain him.

And then we continued on to our planned stop, City of Rocks National Reserve, a place you really HAVE to want to go to.

City of Rocks National Reserve is now a mecca for rock climbers….a place filled with massive rocks jutting up out of the ground. Beautiful. Huge. A paradise for those who seek the thrill of climbing….of heights. We enjoyed the drive through the reserve, stopping to take photos, explore and to watch those brave souls high on the rocks.

But City of Rocks National Reserve also has a history. Here the California Trail crossed and in the valley those early pioneers rested, setting up camp and carving their names in what is now known as Camp Rock. I stood with my husband overlooking the vast valley, dotted with huge boulders and surrounded by massive rock formations now used for climbing and wondered what it was like to travel this route in that wagon, the visual of the size now fading….I was once again transported to a time I had longed to live. After traveling across the flat plains, what did those travelers think about this rugged land? Did they fall in love with the beauty or did they fear what was ahead and the dangers of the ruggedness? Oh, how I wanted to sit there in that valley and be a part of those days…..

I loved City of Rocks National Reserve and our time exploring. My husband knows how to make our travels an adventure. I also enjoyed my time imagining a life long ago, one I could only dream about, a world I wished I had been born into….

And then the next day on our trip I had an opportunity to learn more about those early pioneers, their life and to see a part of the Oregon trail. And I learned that the reality of those wagon trains was VERY different than I had imagined….those wagons were more for the supplies and those very BRAVE souls WALKED….they didn’t ride….they WALKED most of the time. And a woman’s work was never done…at the end of a long day of travel, she would cook the dinner, clean, do laundry, take care of the chores and then go to bed, long after the rest of her family…..hmmm….walking long days and then long hours of chores…..hmmmm

I again looked at my husband, who was smiling at me as I read the information and I said “THAT would have been REALLY difficult! Nope! I wouldn’t have made it..”

He laughed even harder!

How I admire the strength and courage of those pioneers paving the way for those who would come after them. And I will continue to read the stories and dream of that life and what it was like for them, what it would have been like for me had I been born in that era.

And though, today, in this moment in my life…one filled with comfort and conveniences, I know that I would not have been able to live the way they did in the 1800’s, I also realize that this realization is not about me, but about what I know today. When I look back in time with the knowledge and context of 2017, of course I wouldn’t be able to live the way the pioneers did! I know different. I live different. So, with this context, no, I couldn’t have done it….

But….

Had I been born in that time it would have been different. In looking back on history it really is about context, the knowledge and the world at THAT time. Realizing that I needed to put it into the context of those days, that time, the knowledge and way of life then, well, THAT changed things. By looking at the past in the context of the past, the knowledge and the way of life, it changed my belief in my ability to do it. This epiphany meant that had I been born in the 1800’s, then those wagon trains, the traveling, the hard work would have been normal, it would have been doable. By putting it into the right context, I realized that I WOULD have been able to DO IT! Despite my doubts in my abilities, I am strong and brave and what gets me through my days now….my family, my friends, my faith….ALL would have gotten me through those days, those travels, those times.

As I shared this new thought process with my husband, he smiled and laughed.

And I once again began to dream about living in the 1800’s and traveling by wagon.

If I had been born in the 1800’s, I have NO DOUBT that I would have taken the leap……and trusted as I set out with my family to travel the unknown in search of a new life!

 

 

The Great American Eclipse Trip Part 1

I thought my husband was just slightly crazy when he told me over a year ago that we WERE going to go to Oregon or Idaho to be in the path of totality for the Eclipse. He was excited. He explained it was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he didn’t want us to miss it….

Except, it wasn’t just a once-in-a-lifetime event…. I was in the 8th grade in Portland, OR, in 1979 and my science class was preparing to view the total eclipse that would be happening right there in Portland on February 26th. I was excited back then. We built our boxes and prepared to see what we were told would be the only time in our lives we would get to see the phenomenon.

The morning of February 26 1979 arrived and……. the darkness I was told to expect did not arrive……I was not impressed……and so when my husband told me about this next eclipse and his plans, well, I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. I figured it would just be all hype with no substance.

I should let you know that on the morning of February 26th, 1979, I was missing my mom and we were preparing for her funeral, having lost her just 2 days prior……perhaps that was the real reason the eclipse that day did not impress me. I really don’t remember much about that morning other than we did not plunge into sudden darkness. (though in my research looking back on it, Portland did experience 2 minutes of totality and darkness on that morning, I just didn’t notice).

So to be fair, I decided to go along for the ride with my husband, thrilled at seeing his excitement.

He planned the trip.

He chose where we would see it.

And then he planned more for us to do in the quick 2-night trip.

My husband was in heaven planning this trip to see the total eclipse.

The day arrived and we left Arizona bound for Idaho. The eclipse was the last day of our trip and then we would drive back to Salt Lake City to catch our evening flight home……making the flight concerned us because of the hundreds of thousands said to be flocking to the area of totality….and the warnings to have extra water, cash, gas, emergency rations, just in case we lost cell service and gas stations ran out of gas…. hmmm…. the hype was making it sound as if the apocalypse was coming.

The morning of the eclipse we left our hotel room before the sun came up for the 2-hour drive to Idaho Falls and the city park we had chosen for our viewing spot. We were prepared just in case traffic was as crazy as predicted, giving ourselves plenty of time to arrive before the start of the eclipse.IMG_0302 copy

Once again, my husband’s planning paid off and we arrived at the city park on the south side of Idaho Falls and there were still a few parking spots. Woohoo! We were going to get to see the eclipse.

We walked around the small pond, made small talk with strangers in the line for the bathrooms, and talked with each other to fill the couple of hours before the eclipse would start. Anticipation building as the time grew nearer.

We were ready.20170821_082930 copy

The time arrived for the start of the phenomenon where the moon would come between the sun and the earth and cast us into total darkness……

It was exciting to be standing there with so many others who were just as excited. As the eclipse started and I watched my husband put his special glasses on and look up at the sun, I couldn’t help but smile……he was checking off a bucket list item and he was happy, and THAT made me happy.

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It took some time for the moon to move across the sun and as it moved the light became dimmer, and the air cooler.

 

 

IMG_0306 copyAt one point when the moon covered more than 2/3 of the sun, we noticed that the edges of our shadows were less defined… blurred…. strange…..

We kept watching the moon moving over the sun, amazed at how much light still emanated from the giant star. And then the time came……the moon covered the sun!

 

 

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Totality!

Everyone cheered!

And it WAS dark! We could see some stars! The light emanating from the corona of the sun was like that of a full moon night. Wow!

I was IMPRESSED!

We took our special viewing glasses off and for 1 minute and 48 seconds we could look at the sun without them. This was AMAZING!

And then the edge of the sun began to emerge…. time to put those glasses on again.

The total eclipse was amazing and surreal. Day became night, warmth turned cool, and shadows blurred with undefined edges. The biggest star in our universe was suddenly obscured and we were thrilled!

I couldn’t help but think about all those early pioneers and what they must have thought as day became night for just a brief couple of minutes, how strange that must have been.

And I couldn’t help but think about the 1979 eclipse and how it reflected my life at the time, my own personal darkness had come upon me and made the actual eclipse seem uneventful……

This time, despite the worry and storm for us now, I was able to enjoy this eclipse…to see the awesomeness and beauty created by God! I was able to step back for a time and be present, mindful and aware of the greater universe around me. How mighty God is and how amazing this life is!

The total eclipse gave me a wink from God…. that even on the sunniest days, day can become night, but the day will return and everything will be alright.

I am so thankful for my crazy husband who asked me to take a leap and trust him and his planning. This was AMAZING!

And I am so very happy to have taken the leap into the total eclipse…… (go ahead and sing, you know you want to…. total eclipse of the….)

Mindful

I have always been a “live in the moment” kind of person. I love to notice the world around me, to delight in the flowers, the scenery, the birds, the people….really everything. It doesn’t take a lot to bring a smile to my face or to make me happy….little things bring me great joy. And I have often been called “just a big kid” by my family and friends…..life is to be lived, enjoyed, experienced. Yet, there are times that being present is difficult. Times when I lose sight of the little things that delight me and I stop noticing the world around me……..And then I am reminded of just how important being mindful in life is.

In Weight Watchers meetings this past week we talked about being mindful. And yes, it got me thinking and evaluating how much time I have spent being mindful lately…..being present in the “now” instead of mired in the past or distracted by the worries of the future or the many “to do’s” on my ever growing list or distracted by the many electronics and instant access tools in my life.

Last weekend as I prepped my meetings for the week I asked myself the questions I was preparing to ask my members…..what does Mindful mean? How am I mindful? When is it difficult to be mindful? What keeps me from being mindful?

I discovered that I need to spend more time in the present….paying attention to and noticing the world around me….now…..not next week, not yesterday and not tomorrow. Here. Now. Present in mind and body.

I found that the events of this past year and the emotional rollercoaster have taken away some of my mindfulness, as I am filled with worry. I find myself on autopilot more often than not. It is hard to appreciate and notice those things that bring us joy when we are filled with dread and worry……and I realized I needed to be more mindful….intentionally mindful.

Why?

Being mindful means I am aware….whether it is my food choices, the amounts I eat or the activity I do or whether it is being fully present in the now……awareness keeps me in the “now”. Present.

Being mindful means finding joy in the moment…..even in the midst of the storm…..there is always something good, something enjoyable to find.

Being mindful means that I am not lost in the past or consumed by what is to come…..I am present, now. And that makes me happy. Being present and noticing the world around me keeps the worry of what is to come from robbing me of my joy now.

I decided last weekend, as I prepared my meeting and answered those questions that I would start that day, to be more mindful…..and that I would need to be intentional about it…..make myself do it.

And I started that day……

A friend of mine inspires me with her intentional mindfulness…….something she started a few years ago…..taking an Instagram every day as a way to notice the world around her. I love her idea! And I love her Instagram’s. It is with her inspiration in mind that I started to take one Instagram photo each day, making me pay more attention to the world around me. In doing this, I have found that I am not just noticing the things I am taking pictures of. I am also noticing– the variety of shapes in the monsoon clouds, the quail scurrying across the road, the lizard resting in the sun, the spider web on the bushes that glistens after the rain, and I am paying attention to the people around me as I go about my day, even talking to many of them…….all things that make me smile.

I have also started my mornings differently, in order to bring my mindfulness to getting in touch with me, centering myself before the day starts. Instead of starting my day with the news and the internet, I have begun to start my day in my favorite chair, in my favorite room in our house. And I read…..my devotionals, my bible……and I pray. Starting my day with intention and mindfulness, being in touch with “me” has given me a sense of calm and brings me to the now, the moment, and makes it all so clear. A much better start to my day, even if it means rising a little earlier to have this time to myself.

Being mindful is a way to take a step back from the craziness of my fast paced life and get back in touch with the things that make me smile, bring me joy and bring a calm to my day.

Being mindful is another way to just breathe……

 

 

 

 

 

 

When hope is taken away, what is left?

My husband wrote in his letter to the court on behalf of our son, that “an endless supply of hope is what every parent of an addict needs”. And he is right.

Hope got us through some of the darkest days. And along with the hope, our faith kept us going. Even when we had no idea where our son was or when we would……if we would….ever hear from or see him again.   Yet, we continued to hope…..and pray……and hold on.

My son is still facing the probation violation charges in Yavapai county that I previously wrote about and is facing charges here in our county, and despite all of that we have held on to hope.

My son continues to move forward in his treatment, making forward progress every day. Is it perfect? Is he perfect? No. But that is the nature of the addiction beast.

Hope keeps him going. The hope for a future without drugs….the hope for happiness…..the hope for a light at the end of this long judicial tunnel……the hope that he will be healthy……..

Hope gives him a reason to keep trying, to keep working on his recovery.

And then this week we hit a roadblock and hope was pulled out from under him…..and us.

Imagine, if you will, that you received a speeding ticket and were dealt your punishment. But after the punishment was decided…..well, the court goes back in time and discovers that you were pulled over two other times, but never punished….so now they are going to bring you back to court and punish you for those two previous speeding tickets.

That is what my son is facing now, only his crimes are victimless……well, not really if you take into account that he is the victim of his addictions.   He was arrested in March of this year and was sentenced in April for that arrest. And then the day after his sentencing, the same county and the same prosecutor’s office filed new charges stemming from an arrest 3 weeks prior to his March arrest……for the exact same charges, related to being an addict. We have been to court for this newest charge three times now, each time resulting in a continuance, twice by the prosecution and this week by my son’s attorney. The prosecutor continued the case, because they wanted to decide whether or not to file more charges.

And this week, when we went to court, my son’s lawyer informed us that they had filed charges for an arrest he had in April 2016……..more than a year ago.

And the plea deal from the prosecutor’s office was awful……….

Now, we go to court again, in a three weeks and my son now faces 4 more felony charges stemming from 2 arrests that occurred before the arrest that resulted in his current sentence…….

I have struggled the past few days with how to put into words what I am feeling. This hit me hard. And it hit my son hard.

I finally had my son back. He is alive and trying to get himself whole and healthy. He is going to treatment, he is participating and talking with us. He is present. I had my son back.

But I have now watched these past two days as he slips into depression and I am scared. The hope he had for his future, the plans and the dreams that he finally started allowing back into his mind…..well where is that hope now? When hope is yanked right out from under you, what is left?

My son has lost everything because of his addictions. And just when he thought he had a chance at a real life without drugs, this happens…….so why try? Why continue? What’s the point when the punishment being offered is worse than the punishment he is already serving?  A punishment, by the way, given him by a judge who knew about the other arrests and took them into account when deciding my son’s sentence.

I am at a loss. How can an addict, any addict, get clean and have a real life when the system is set up for punishment, not rehabilitation? Shouldn’t the goal be to get addicts clean and help them to become healthy, functioning members of society? Shouldn’t we all, as a society be trying to help these addicts, especially those participating in their own treatment? When is it enough punishment……..when we take away all hope? Addicts lose everything and then the system takes the last bit they can hold onto, their hope.  And this loss of hope leads to the cycle of drug use—arrest—incarceration—drug use–arrest–incarceration……..

I am angry and frustrated. I am scared. I don’t understand and am trying to, but this defies all reasoning. My son is sick and more punishment is NOT going to make him better.

He needs to continue treatment.

He needs help.

He needs hope.

I am disillusioned and losing hope. And when hope is gone, what is left?

For me, what is left is my family—my husband who is my rock through everything, our boys who are my purpose and gifts from God, and extended family who are all a source of comfort and strength– and my friends.

And what I am left with is my faith. I know that God is right here with all of us. I know He will not leave me to drown in this storm. I know that He will make sure that I and my son and our family will be provided what we need to weather the storm hitting us. My faith keeps me going and will keep me going…..and one day I will find hope again.

I am trusting God and taking the leap……..

SOLD!

My husband was in the Air Force for 30 years and we moved a lot. For most of his Air Force career we lived in the housing on whatever base we were stationed at……. all over the US and in Turkey and England. I loved living in base housing, in the community where others were going through the same things we went through. Each house became our home, where we laughed, loved and created memories. It was never about the building, it was about the love and the memories. But we knew they were all temporary homes.

We only lived in off-base housing, twice in his career. The first time was when we were in Alabama for my husband to go to school. We rented a house then and loved the house and quickly made it a home.

After Alabama my husband was sent to the Pentagon and base housing was not going to be an option for us. We were okay with that. We made the decision to buy a house, a decision that was hard for me because I knew that the house we bought would become our home, I would get attached and I had never desired to buy a house until it was THE ONE, the last house we would live in. So, I went to Virginia, alone, to find us a house.

I looked at a lot of houses and then I found the one that I could picture us living in and in a neighborhood that looked wonderful.

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We bought that house.  Brand new.  Never lived in.  Ours.

A house is just a house, until you fill it with family, friends, love, memories and the sweat and tears that go into making a house a home. And we did just that.

our house

It was our home. Filled with lots of memories of holidays, birthdays, fun, and even sad times. We painted every room in the house and all of the halls…..colors that reflected us, no more white walls. And my husband and youngest son worked hard building the fence that would make our backyard an oasis for our dog. And they built a beautiful deck for us to relax on while watching the corn in the field behind us grow. We landscaped and planted the flowers, trees and bushes we wanted. We had friends and family visit us. And we all worked hard finishing our unfinished basement, creating a space where more fun family memories were made—playing pool and playing Wii games.

We had only planned to live here 2 years, the norm for us. But that two years became three, then four and before we knew it we lived in our home for 6 years…..the LONGEST home either my husband or I  had ever lived in. Our youngest son completed all of his high school years in that home. We had teenagers in and out of the house, became close with our neighbors and built a life in that community. This home was the last one our dog would live in.

We were putting down deep roots.

The memories created are strong in that home, filled with love.

Then the day came when the Air Force moved us and the thought of leaving my home, my friends, my community really hurt. I was attached to this place and I wanted to stay. But the Air Force had other plans.

At the time, we could not sell the house, the market had dropped drastically. So we rented it out, in the hopes that we would return after two years and move back into our home. But the Air Force had other plans for us……we never did move back to our beautiful home.

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Now here I am, 8 years after leaving the house we made a home. Others have been living in the house since we left, renting from us. 3 years ago, we went back to Virginia to make repairs to our house to get it ready for the next tenant and it was then, in the midst of the damage caused by our first tenant that I realized this house was no longer our home. We weren’t living there, creating memories anymore and what we had created was no longer there…..it was now just a house.

The only reminder of the family who made this house a home was the growth marks still visible on the laundry room wall.

We made the decision to put the house in Virginia up for sale when the lease ended. I was ready. My husband was ready. Being landlords was not a job we enjoyed or envisioned we would ever find ourselves doing. So, when we started the process, I was surprised by the emotions I found welling up in me…….this had been our home……the memories made there flooded back…….I was sad about selling our home. But it wasn’t ours anymore and hadn’t been ours for the past 8 years.

Today we closed on our house, selling it to a young couple who I hope will see those growth marks and realize that at one time this house was a home, filled with love, laughter and tears. And my hope is that they make this house into a home and fill it with wonderful memories and lots of love and raise their family, with new growth marks on the laundry room wall.

We only own one home now! We are relieved. The stress associated with owning a house on the other side of the country is gone. A weight lifted off of our shoulders.

And I am a little sad…..it was our home and the memories made inside those walls will forever be cherished!

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My Call to Action

It has been almost 2 weeks since we took our son to self-surrender for his probation violation at Yavapai County Jail, in Camp Verde and almost a week since his court hearing. And it has been an emotional time.

I was proud of my son for doing the right thing when he self-surrendered and I thought that doing the right thing would matter…….little did I know that doing the right thing would be the beginning of a nightmare for all of us.

We left the jail and had no idea what would be happening to our son or when we might be able to pick him up. That was hard. But even harder was the call I received later that night from my son, from the infirmary…..

He told me that despite having his prescriptions with him, the contracted medical staff told him he would NOT receive any medication while there in the Yavapai County Jail and would just have to withdraw. I could hear the fear in his voice. I felt the fear rising rapidly through my body……..

My son is on Methadone and the withdrawals are horrible, but that knowledge did not stop my breath…..it was knowing that he would not receive his Klonipin, the medication for his anxiety, a medication prescribed by a psychiatrist and one he has been taking for 13+ years…….a medication that when stopped suddenly can cause life threatening seizures. And we know all too well about those seizures, caused when doctors, who did not understand the dangers, would stop his medication.

So when he told me that the medical staff was refusing to give him his medication, I was in fear for my son’s life. How could that be legal? Surely this was not right? Other times that he had been in jail, he had received all of his meds……why was this different?

And then I remembered what had happened last fall and that this was the SAME jail where the nurse refused to give him his medication, even after the police had told her he needed them. And a few hours after his release, he had a seizure, prompting a 911 call and an ambulance to take him to the hospital.

Now, I was really scared and my anger began to grow. I knew I needed to do something and I needed to be at the court the next morning for my son’s initial appearance, to stand up for my son and make sure the judge had all the information needed to make an informed decision about my son.

I drove north early in the morning and more than 2 hours after I left home, I arrived at the courthouse. I checked with the information desk to find out which courtroom my son would be seen in and then I was informed he would not be seen at that courthouse because the judge for his case was not on the docket that day. Instead they were seeing him at the courthouse next to the jail. Crap! That was another hour away, I would NEVER make it in time. The clerk took mercy on me and gave me a number to call at the other court in order to find out information about my son and to get information to the judge.

I called. I talked to the clerk. She told me to call back after 9am to find out what the bond was set at. I told her about the medication situation and the dangers. She told me the judge couldn’t do anything about that as it was under the jails control to make that decision.

I should have known right then that there would be NO help, NO concern, NO caring.

I called after 9am. My son was seen and the judge set his bond at $25,000. It didn’t matter that my son was clean at this point. It didn’t matter that my son was to start treatment that afternoon. It didn’t matter that my son had never missed a court date. It didn’t matter that my son was being denied medication that was necessary for his physical and mental wellbeing. It didn’t matter that my son did the right thing…….it didn’t matter.

I immediately called the Yavapai County Public Defender’s office and I got the same response as last time—they can only talk to my son. But she took my name and number after I told her about the medication situation and my fear that my son would end up being taken to the emergency room or worse, lose his life. She said someone would call me.

And someone did. She listened to my concerns. She told me that the jail makes the decisions about medication based on their assessments. She said she would look into it.

I spent hours talking in person and on the phone with many people. And no one cared.

I started the process to see what we could do to get my son out on bond, could we use the house for collateral, because now it was my son’s life that was at stake. And I called attorneys that I could hire to see what it would cost and what they could do.

And then I drove more than 2 hours home. It was one of the longest, loneliest, saddest drives.

Later that night we heard back from a lawyer and decided to hire him. What was happening was beyond legal and was inhumane…..and we didn’t know the whole story yet.

I talked with my son many times that day, each call worse than the previous. He was suffering. I made sure he knew I was doing all that I could for him, that I was fighting to get him his meds or get him out of there. I was not going to stop fighting. I told him I didn’t know if we could get him out. And he understood. He took it all so well and his attitude stayed hopeful and positive. But he was suffering.

It was breaking my heart.

And then the public defender called me again. She told me that she had typed up a letter for the nurse at the jail and would go see my son in the morning to get him his meds.

I was hopeful. But in the conversation I could hear that she did not really understand what was going on or the dangers.

The next morning when my son called, he was worse….unable to keep food down now. I knew this preceded the seizures and was more worried. And I started making calls again.

Finally, we were able to find a bonds agency to bond our son out. And we headed out for the 3-hour drive. When my son called we told him we were on our way, but it would be a few hours. We arrived in the town where the jail was and waited to get him out. He called shortly after we arrived in town.

And that was when he told us he had had a seizure.

My heart stopped. I held my breath. I told him to hang in there, we are getting him out.

A couple of hours later we saw him walk out of the jail. Relief. He was alive. I immediately gave him his medication. And he hugged me….tight.

On the drive home he told us what had happened in the Yavapai County Jail, Camp Verde infirmary. After my son’s seizure, when he was aware of his surroundings again, the other inmates told him that as soon as his seizure started, they banged on the windows to get the guards. They told him the guards came rushing in, asking what they should do. And the nurse looked at the guards and told them to do nothing, that my son was okay.

WHAT?? I was livid. How could anyone, especially a medical professional, behave in such a manner and with such disregard for another human?

And then he told me the rest of what was happening….how NONE of the inmates in the infirmary were receiving their prescribed medications from the contracted health company. Not the individual who was on high blood pressure meds, he was just told to lie down and drink water. Not the man who had been laying in a bed in the infirmary who suffers from severe neuropathy and was denied his non-narcotic and narcotic pain medications….this man could not walk because of his pain. NO ONE was given medication in this jail.

I am appalled that this is allowed to happen, that no one has stopped this. And I am taking action.

The medical staff and the contracted health agency for the Yavapai County Jail, did not count on my son having a family who cared about him and about others. My heart breaks for those who are still there and I worry that someone will lose their life in that infirmary.

I am taking action, through my letters to local, state and federal politicians, my letters and calls to organizations who help and advocate for the mentally ill and addicted, and through my calls to the ACLU. I will not stop until those held in that jail are treated humanely.

My son is still working through the justice system in Yavapai County and in ours. He had his hearing this past week and when his lawyer told us that the prosecution wants him to spend a week to two weeks back in that jail, my heart stopped…..I couldn’t breathe. And I told the lawyer that my son would not survive that. So, he listened and heard us and decided we needed some more time and had the hearing delayed until next month.

A month in which my son will have more time in treatment. A month in which my son will have more clean drug tests. And a month in which we can breathe just a little.

And a month that I can spend working on behalf of those still suffering in that jail, at the hands of the contracted medical staff.

This is my call to action.