Thursday, November 19, 2009

"I Can't Get Up the Mountain"...

Goldie Fern Brown-Wry-Bunch
Our Winter issue of "Hospice Happenings" was among the stack of mail I dropped on the kitchen table. I briefly glanced through it, putting it aside to later read the front page article. As I skimmed over the pages, a familiar photograph caught my eye. In the collage reminding us that "November is National Hospice Month", I saw down in the right hand corner, a picture of my aunt & cousin! What made it more amazing was that it was taken in the mountains of North Carolina several years ago!My sweet Aunt Fern & cousin Nadine--lower right hand corner

And that brings me back to a story that I never finished.

If you know me very well, you have heard me talk about my trip to North Carolina with my sister & Dad, just about a year after Mom passed away. Dad had heard me talk about wanting to go to The Biltmore House so long, he finally decided to take me! Carol came along & it was one of the most beautiful trips I've ever taken. Somewhere back in my Blogland archives is a post about our day in Asheville, if you care to read about it.

Our Aunt Fern was living with her daughter, Nadine, up in the mountains of North Carolina. Until we made the drive to see her, I had no idea how far up in the mountains she really was!

Carol, at one of the overlooks on The Blue Ridge Parkway

Dad & I at one of the highest points --He was having trouble breathing here.

We made the drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, soaking up the Spring sunshine & enjoying the dogwoods & redbuds that were bursting with blossoms. It was a beautiful drive. We exited off at Little Switzerland & knew immediately where the little village got it's name. The winding little mountain highway lead us to Bill & Nadine's mountain hideaway, literally built on the side of the mountain!

Fern was Dad's oldest sister. She had lived in Eldon, Missouri for years but her health was failing & she had no choice but to come live with her daughter. She was hard of hearing & her mind wasn't very sharp. Dad thought that she might not even recognize him. But when we walked into her charming little room, her eyes met his & with a big smile, she breathed out "Duane!". She immediately knew him. We could tell that Dad was absolutely delighted that we had made the trip, hard as it was for him to breathe in the thin mountain air.Her room was tiny, but Nadine had painted it Fern's very favorite color...purple! A beautiful old quilt covered her & she was surrounded with photographs of her loved ones, a picture of "Little Brook", the farm that she & Tom had lived on back in Missouri, & little mementos of her past. There was a double window facing the road in front of the house, & just past it, a mountain!

Nadine told us that Fern could sit for hours, watching her mountain. And just for her, Nadine had place a bird feeder so her Mother could watch them feed out her window.
Nadine & Aunt Fern The view out their back door

We spent several hours there that day, letting Dad go back & forth in the little bedroom, visiting with his beloved sister. You see, they were all that was left of the Brown family...she being the oldest & Dad the youngest. And he knew that more than likely he would never see her alive again.
Time came for us to leave and it was hard to say our goodbyes. The trip had been made, Aunt Fern knew us all, & we were so happy that we had traveled the miles to see her.

When we walked out that door we didn't know that we would be saying our goodbyes to Dad first. Only 5 months later he slipped away from us. Fern lived 18 months longer than he did, passing away in March, 2006.

Aunt Fern was a devout Christian. Her first husband died suddenly, leaving her as a widow way too soon. She married a Baptist preacher, moved back to her roots in Missouri, & served as a pastor's wife for several years. She was a loving & very generous person. She was a hard worker, loved to plant a large vegetable garden so she could share with her neighbors & family, maintained gorgeous flower gardens, & never passed up the opportunity to go fishing. She loved people. She loved her family. But most of all, she loved her Jesus.

The picture above was taken from an article in the McDowell, North Carolina Hospice newsletter, featuring an article about Aunt Fern, back in May, 2004. In the article is a paragraph telling of her mountain she loved to watch out her window.

"Mother had a special prayer place up over the hill across from the house. She would go there every day to have her quiet prayer with God." When asked if she were going today, Mrs.Bunch replied, "No, I can't get up the mountain".

Her special care givers...daughter Nadine & son-in-law, Bill

Hospice took wonderful care of Aunt Fern & eventually she had to be in a Nursing Home for a few weeks. They thought she was precious.

Even before Fern was gone, Bill became ill & found out he had cancer. And now he is gone also.

This morning I called Nadine to tell her of my surprise. She told me that the local Hospice representative had brought her a framed print of the Hospice poster. And they told her that there were plans for it to be somewhere out there on a billboard. Who knew that we had celebrities among us!


Karen Walden said...

Too neat! Once again, you made me cry! Good grief!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful memories!

Marilyn Mauck

Carol said...

I should know better than to EVER check your blog while I'm at work!!

Sheila said...

Gottcha, girls! :)

Lady J said...

I've been to Little Switzerland. We stayed in that motel on the side of the road. I love that place! Never knew I was close to your family.