Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Village of Nooksack

Yesterday, the Cities of Everson and Nooksack lost a great man.  Police Chief Erik Ramstead was a kind and generous man and will be missed by all.
I read about the news on facebook in the morning, and while driving north to an appointment, it got me to thinking; thinking back to the day when my husband died, and how a Village came to my aid.
I've never told this entire story here, and if you need to, leave now.  I am not going to leave any details out.
I slept in late, the morning of December 21, 2010.  I NEVER slept past 6:30, but there it was, 7:20am.
All was dark in the house, and I jumped out of bed proclaiming "Alan, Gordon will be here in 40 minutes".  Gordon was our vet.  I went to the bathroom first, and looked out the window to see if the lights were on in the barn.  No.  Oh, no.  That's when I knew.  I turned around and saw the shadow of Alan in his recliner.  I turned on the lights and my worst fears were realized.  He was gone.  He had left me.  I was devastated.
I called my neighbors first.  My fingers were so conditioned to dial Judy's number, that even though I had intended 911, I got her.
Then I managed 911.
I was going in circles, wondering what to do, when I saw Gordon drive in.  Gordon is never early.  In fact, he is rarely on time.  Everyone knows this.  But here he was, 20 minutes early.
I ran outside screaming, "Gordon, Alan is dead".  He got out of the truck, wrapped me in his arms and held me while I screamed and cried and sobbed.  He never let go until my neighbors arrived.
I didn't know it at the time, but after surrendering me to Judy and Tom, Gordon called my friends in the alpaca community and the other vets.
Tom and Judy went in the house with me, and then the EMTs arrived.  I knew two of them personally, one of them being a school friend of Alan's.  A police officer also came, and he stayed at the house until Alan's body was removed quite a bit later by the mortuary.
As soon as the aid cars left, there began a stream of friends and neighbors arriving.  One came with her daughter, carrying two large trays covered with cookies, breads and other foods.  Kathleen, from my knitting group came and vacuumed my house and washed the kitchen floors.  She knew I would be having company.
The first neighbor, Kelly, organized about a dozen kids to come clean up my yard, which was covered with tree boughs from the last northeaster.  I didn't know she had done this, but at one point I looked out the window, and there they were along with a City employee who was loading the waste into a City vehicle and hauling it away.
The day went on like that with Alan's school friends coming and staying for hours, telling stories and reminiscing.  Esther, a young lady who had volunteered with me during the summers and being my friend, came and silently worked in my kitchen all day.  I did not remember that until this last summer when I was at her bridal shower and we were asked to relate how we knew her and to share a story.
Where am I going with this?
It Takes a Village.
The people of Nooksack and Everson embraced me in a manner I never anticipated.  People I did not even know came by with cards and goodies for weeks.
This is why it was so hard for me to leave my wonderful town of Nooksack.  It took me two years to make the decision, and I am not sorry.  But my heart remains with all my dear friends in Whatcom County, Washington.
Know that you are loved and will not be forgotten.


Pat said...

I suspect, my friend, that the love you were shown was just love being returned to YOU who is, I am totally certain a person who always does for others. Thank you for sharing more deeply about the day you lost your beloved Alan. You are still so very often in my thoughts and I have been so happy to see the joy you are finding in your new surroundings. I know that was a very hard decision to make. You and I only spoke once (when you had a baby alpaca who was struggling to survive and I phoned you), but I could tell the type of caring, wonderful person you were just from our brief talk that evening....and I am glad you have had such a great support system. You certainly deserve it. A wish for peace goes out to the folks of Nooksack who lost a valuable community member in the chief.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I remember those days so well - the heartache and pain - and your friends rallying around. I am glad you have settled in a new place and know it took a long time to get there. Happiness to you!

Jean(ie) said...

Sending you big hugs. I understand that sense of community. We had that love growing up in our neighborhood.

Nowadays things are so impersonal in these big city suburbs. Sad to say I don't even know my neighbors. Plus being in an apartment they come and go so often. Everyone is so busy...

Marls said...

Thanks for sharing your story Linda. What a wonderful community to have been part of.

Cathy K said...

(((Hugs))). Cathy

Lindabee said...

I remember the morning you posted about your hubby. I cried so hard. I am so impressed with how bravely you have handled your life and all the changes you've made. You are an inspiration