Willard

You know, every once in a while, someone comes along—and you have a hard time forgetting them. Maybe it’s a lover? A teacher? A bestie from school? Willard was none of those things, but an unforgettable pillar of strength, courage and love.

I had picked up (another) Cathy in Denver. We knew each other from the Pineal Tones choirs, and she offered to join me on the last leg of my journey home. I wanted to camp,  and being by myself in the woods—didn’t seem like such an astute idea. There was always safety in numbers, right?

So, at her suggestion, we had landed at the Loft Mountain Campground, which is part of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, also known as The Blue Ridge Mountains. The forecast called for rain, this particular Wednesday, our first day in the park, so we ventured off to Mt. Vernon—beloved home of George Washington, and a figure near and dear to my heart. The next day, we agreed to hike down to what was called

Lower Doyles River Falls, weather cooperating. And, so it was that we set off down the trail to the falls. We were just getting started when we came upon an older gentleman standing off the path dressed appropriately in hiking boots, and wearing long hiking style khaki pants, buttoned shirt, army green fishing vest, cap and glasses on a cord hanging around his neck. We stopped to say hello, and he showed us a small acorn under his magnifying glass. He confided that he was an artist—but seemed somewhat shaken after our conversation—as we parted ways—-asking if it was alright if we gave him a hug good-bye.

I had seen him at his campsite when we slowly drove the asphalt drive into the campground, looking for the spot to we would call home for the next three days. However—somehow his apparent circumstances stood out from the “normal” RV,  family, couple or weekend hiker; he was sorting things at his picnic table, as we passed by.

After our “chance” encounter, we visited him several more times, and invited him to our campsite two nights later to enjoy the campfire. He shared his artwork, which was neatly contained in a folder. His story seems unremarkable—just a guy traveling by himself—camping—until you realize that he was 86 years old and had gotten wind that “they” were getting ready to place him in a nursing home. What, I thought? There was nothing about this man that warranted placing him in a facility for the aged or ill. He

 shared that he had lived in Vermont for 40+ years—built his home there. His wife of many years had passed several years before and he had a daughter who lived in the LA area. He had a sister that wanted him to live with her in Virginia.

Getting wind of obviously someone’s else’s plans for him, he told us that he bought a copy of Consumer Reports—found the most reliable and economical car they advised and traded in his old one. He found a close-out tent for $24.00 and collected the rest of the miscellaneous camping supplies he would need—and off he went. Arizona was where he spent last winter and felt he would be heading back that way when the weather began to turn. He knew he didn’t want to be around the inclement winters because as he said, he didn’t want to slip on the ice and break a hip.

My mind since, has reflected back to my own Mother and her circumstances and her desire to live her remaining days in her home; a wish my brother-in-law refused to honor. Things are not always as they seem. But, Willard’s story brings up many ideas about parking people in nursing homes—when they are in fact vibrant, and “not ready” to be housed in group homes. Where is the freedom to choose? And, where does that truth lie?

As we were parting good-bye, we wished him well on his journey. He wished us well too. There was a soul connection and something profound and unspoken, we all knew; we could feel it. We also knew that there would be no way to remain in contact; this was it. No email. A sister’s address for legal purposes. A flip phone with limited airtime. No text. I had the knowing it was just the way it was meant to be. As we said our good-byes, he stopped. “You know, on the trail, that first day, I was a bit shaken,” he confided. I had witnessed his welling-up but had said nothing. I saw your light, he said, and it startled me. I smiled and so did Cathy. “I am keeping this as a reminder, he softly noted looked us in the eyes and then slid the tiny acorn into his shirt pocket. I smiled again and gave him another hug. We walked away.

Ironically, the acorn, is a symbol of strength and power. That was who he was—and that was what he held in his hand. It is the same for us. No matter where our life starts—or from our own humble beginnings, we All have the ability, just like the Willard and the tiny acorn. We have the strength like the mighty oak; it’s not inside some of us. It’s inside All of us! We need only to believe. Namasté

 

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About Cathrine Silver

Cathrine Silver, HC, AADP, is a Certified Holistic Health Coach in private practice in Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida. She works collaboratively with clients on their desires regarding disease, relationships, spirituality, and loss. Suffering through her own loss in 2005, Cathrine motivates and empowers others to be the heroes in their own lives, becoming fully responsible for their own happiness, joy and well-being.

Cathrine holds a degree in Speech Communication from the University of Washington, is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and holds certifications in Reiki, Matrix Energetics, Hypnosis, Biological Decoding and Grief Counseling. She is the author of the book, Riding the Light Beam: How Any Woman Can Find the Hero

www.Cathrinesilver.com (Website)

www.cathysilver.me (Blog)

cathysilverhealth@gmail.com (email)

Cathy Silver Holistic Healing (Facebook)

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