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Memories & Milestones

Patricia Hofto
Anthony Threlkeld and Mindy Gonzales
Submitted |

GONZALES-THRELKELD ENGAGEMENT

Arturo and Georganne Gonzales of Silt, Colorado, are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Mindy Gonzales, to Anthony Threlkeld. He is the son of Freddy Threlkeld of Memphis, Tennessee, and Vaness Lane of New Castle, Colorado.

Mindy is native to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and is a graduate of Rifle High School. Anthony is originally from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, but has been residing in Colorado where he graduated from Coal Ridge High School. Mindy and Anthony met in Rifle, where they are still living.

Anthony works for Alpine Tires in Glenwood Springs, and Mindy is an insurance agent for Colorado Farm Bureau Insurance in Rifle.

A wedding is planned for April of 2015 at The Crack in the Wall Art Gallery in Silt, Colorado. A reception is planned to follow in Rifle, Colorado.

THE VISIT

By Patricia Hofto

It is October of 2011 and I am on a solo visit to New Jersey to visit my ailing mother. None of us realize that Mom is two months away from a debilitating stroke and just over a year from leaving all of us forever. My childhood was spent here, forty-five-plus years ago, in this ivy-covered house across the driveway from my Dad’s florist business. Living in Colorado, I’m able to take time from work and fly out maybe once per year, sometimes with my husband, sometimes not. Yesterday the trees were autumn-orange and full. Today, with the onslaught of a storm no one anticipated, branches bend like ice-coated pretzels and electrical lines litter the roads.

Throughout this grid, power is spotty. My sister, Mom’s primary caregiver, is isolated across town in her own house, so it is fortuitous that I’ve made this trip now and am consigned to my parent’s home, which at the moment has no electricity. Dad’s old gas generator cranks up to heat his greenhouses. Mom, bedridden and on oxygen continually, is worn but calm while the machine that monitors her intake beeps in alarm. Dad and I hustle for an extension cord, haul it across the driveway to plug into the outlet at the florist, thankful for the electricity there that reconnects my mother to her lifeline.

Daytime is tolerable as I bundle her up with blankets for warmth. The challenge begins when the sun sinks. Because of the oxygen tank, we dare not use open flame candles in her bedroom, so I gather flashlights and what battery-operated lamps I can scrounge. We camp indoors: the gas range lets me heat up food, then water for washing dishes in the near-dark, and even cups of hot tea late into the night. My mother, who had nurtured in me a love for stories in the echoes of my girlhood, laments the lack of TV.

“Look, Mom,” I say, pulling out my Kindle. The screen is backlit, page glowing softly. “This is perfect; you read to me when I was little. Now let me read to you.” So I browse through the books hoarded within and select “Lost on the Prairie.” It’s an old and simply-written tale of a pioneer boy who becomes separated from his family and endures hardships trying to rejoin them. When and why did I ever download that? After two short chapters, I pause and Mom, her eyes closed, pats my hand and murmurs, “You’re a good reader.” For such a time as this, apparently. Tears prick my eyelids at her soothing praise, as I cherish these moments. After another chapter, she asks a question or two, so I know she’s listening and has not fallen asleep.

I read on and am no longer aware of my ice-cold fingers and feet. We have slipped back to a humbler era, my mother and me. Back to a time when, after sunset, family life settled down to whispers. When mothers and daughters pored over dimly-lit books together, huddled for warmth, sharing a quiet and enduring love in the precious, yet unknown time left to them.

This essay won second place in the PI’s Love Letters contest. Due to a copying error, the entire story did not appear in print in Wednesday’s paper.


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