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A Memorial Service
I went to a beautiful memorial service the other day in the woods on Big Owl Road. It was for Marie Armstrong, whom you probably didn't know, but she was a remarkable per¬son, and she loved the mountains the way most readers of this col¬umn do.
There was some very lovely flute music and Marie's sister recalled their life together one year when they were teenagers . Her son, Bob, talked about Marie's influence on his education; the many books in the house and Marie's insistence that if the children wanted an answer to a ques¬tion they had to look it up and report the answer to her.
Christopher, her infant grandson, sat beside me and made small noises during the service. It's too bad he'll have no memo¬ries of this gorgeous Colorado July Sunday morn¬ing or of his grandmother.
Cecil, her husband for more than 50 years, told the group of about 30 of the summers here with their children at the Big Owl Cabins in the 50s and 60s. In 1966 they had a picnic in back of the cabins, on a rock ledge a few feet from Roaring Fork, just after it crosses Highway 7, a few hun¬dred feet south of Eagle Plume's. Marie, as she had done before, said she thought this would be a nice place to build a house and in 1969 they did, and they spent nearly every summer afterward creating a very classy A-frame summer residence.
Marie suffered from arthritis, so Cecil built a full size swimming pool, using solar heat, and planted a beautiful garden filled with blue columbines around it. He thinned the forest and the rock ledge eventually became Marie's favorite place to read and to write letters. At the memorial service, Cecil dedicated a polished gray granite slab which commemorates her love for this little portion of our valley.
Marie's is one of the more ambitious such memo¬rials in our valley. Many people have had their ashes scattered in a favorite spot. Not far from Marie's marker, Emily Johnson's ashes lie under her favorite blue spruce, and though the spot is unmarked, hers is no less a reminder of the depth of feeling many of us have for this remarkable place. You may have thought there's some¬thing illegal about scattering ashes, but there's nothing in the state or county laws to prevent it.
Bob Broun was at the service. He told me he had just driven past a five acre parcel that had been for sale for some time, and had recently been sold. As he passed by, on the way to the service, he'd noticed the new buyers having a big party, apparently to celebrate their new home and the prospect of building their own cabin in the valley. It had given him a good feeling, he said, to know that people who love this place are an infinitely renewable resource. Marie and Emily and all the others would have agreed with him.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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