Category: Writings

I have written all of my life and this collection will be diverse in content and genre.

A Dream Worth Sharing

Over the years, my husband Jim and I have taken many memorable vacations. When our four kids were growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, we took many trips to Southern California where we had family. Most notable were our visits to Disneyland since the kids’ Uncle John—Jim’s brother—was a draftsman and designer for Disney Studios. He helped design some of the rides and features that became iconic in representing the magic of Disney… the Matterhorn Bobsleds; Big Al of Country Bear Jamboree; and eventually, Space Mountain, among others. We were treated to free admission and fast passes each time we went.

At Disneyland w Peter Pan

At Disneyland, Captain Hook and Peter Pan with 3 of our kids… Rob, Michele and Gloria

Later, when our kids were grown and raising families of their own, we were fortunate enough to venture farther, experiencing DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida, and later, Mexico, aboard a cruise ship with them. There were also car trips on which our families caravanned to Sunriver near Bend, Lake Pend Orielle in Northern Idaho, and San Diego to spend time with extended family.

Later, we joined Jim’s brother, John Edwards (the same one who worked for Disney), and his wife, Vicki, on an Alaskan cruise and land tour to the Denali, going back a second time a few years later with my sister, Barbara (B.J. to me) and her husband Dwight Isborn.

278 the four of us at the top of White Pass

John and Vicki Edwards (front); Pat and Jim Edwards (back)

All on board

Dwight and Barbara Isborn (back); Jim and Pat Edwards (front)

Just a few years ago, our whole family—children and grandchildren—went on a Thanksgiving Hawaiian “cruise” where we cruised at night and found ourselves, the next mornings, on different islands where we could spend one or two days exploring on our own.

At the luau Thanksgiving 2016

Jim and I have found that traveling with family is not only fun and entertaining, we get to see and experience much more than if just the two of us go. You see, Jim is content to be a “follower” on our trips… he wants the plans and itinerary to be laid out so that he can just sit back and enjoy without making any of the decisions. Consequently, I’m not a fan of having the responsibility for all of the travel plans on my shoulders, so I love having others with us who can help contribute to the planning and the fun.

For many years, B.J. and I have talked about taking a trip to Washington, D.C… a place that neither of us had been on our travels with our own parents. The dream of going never seemed to materialize, however, even though Jim and Dwight also were interested, as were John and Vicki, too.

B.J. anWith Eisenhower labeledd I have always been patriots; it was instilled in us as children by a father who served as a Douglas Aircraft field representative in the U.S. Army Air Force aboard A-26 bombers over Europe during World War II.

We were eager to see the national monuments, the centers of government and the national treasures. We wanted to honor the veterans that the war memorials represent and see the battlegrounds on which they fought. We also wanted to experience some of the living history in the first settlements our predecessors established. I personally wished to immerse myself in the history that I’ve read, and even written about, even though some of that history was harsh and not always fair to all.

With the realization that we were all reaching an age where we might no longer be able to travel and experience these things, I talked with Jim, B.J. and Dwight, and John and Vicki to suggest that we begin making actual plans to go on a guided tour that would allow us to see and experience all of the things we had talked about for so long. We all agreed that the time was right.

I notified Laura Hatch, who has used her wonderful skills as travel agent on our Alaskan trips and other cruises, asking her help to put together something for the six of us. We were willing to wait the year that we felt we needed in order to save towards a trip that we felt we might only be able to make once. We decided to go in the late spring/early summer of 2019. We wanted to see everything we could, so we opted for an 11-day package.

The excitement grew as we rounded the corner on 2019, but as the time approached when our deposits would have to be made, John, who is paraplegic, had not been able to have a surgery he needed done in time to heal properly before we left, and he and Vicki decided that they would not be able to go. It was not only a huge let-down for them, but for the rest of us, as well.

To complicate things even further, in late March, Jim fell and broke his pelvis in three places. Fortunately, he was still able to walk since the bones had not shifted, but he had to be very careful not to fall again. I bought a mobility scooter for him as well as a walker that he could use on the trip, and in April and early May, he underwent extensive physical therapy treatments to help strengthen his balance and legs.

On May 22, 2019, we boarded our planes. Our adventure had begun!
When we got to Washington, D.C., our accommodations at the Capital Hilton were wonderful and were only two blocks from the White House.

We had signed up for an introductory D.C. tour for the next day. In retrospect, if I had it to do over again, we probably should have used the time to explore on our own because much of what we saw, we visited again when our official tour began on the 25th, and it didn’t include time to see at least part of the Smithsonian… our one disappointment on the trip.

Early the next morning, we joined the long line of people who had acquired complimentary tickets to a tour of the White House from their Congressional Representatives, as we did. Many, many school groups were also in line, being shepherded by school chaperones. The excited chatter of the young students and the calls of the teachers and chaperones to maintain positions in the line as we waited outside, added to our own excitement.

Being able to see the Red, Green, Blue and State Dining rooms that have hosted so many world leaders and where so much history has taken place was humbling. The furnishings in each were unlike any I’ve ever seen except in pictures. As we walked through the hallways, we looked outside to see the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden and photos on the wall showed President Reagan dancing with Princess Diana; Queen Elizabeth helping President George H.W. Bush plant a tree on the White House lawn; President Franklin D. Roosevelt meeting with some Girl Scouts; President Jimmy Carter visiting with Hank Aaron in the Oval Office; and President Richard Nixon shaking hands with Elvis Presley, among others.

20190524_083651After we left the White House, we walked to the National Archives to view, in its dimly-lit halls, the original documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the United States Constitution—that formed the amazing, if imperfect, nation that we are proud to pledge allegiance to.

That evening, we joined our tour group for the rest of our trip. Interestingly, there were two other couples from Oregon in our 44-member tour group—one from Cottage Grove!
We spent two more days in Washington, D.C. with the tour group before heading out of the city. Scott, our tour guide, was knowledgeable and attentive. Our bus driver, John, navigated the heavy traffic and the tourist-filled streets with apparent ease. During the next 8 days, he gave Jim special care, always making sure that either his walker or scooter was ready and waiting for him as we stepped off of the bus. He good-naturedly cautioned Jim about not trying to run a marathon with his walker and to make sure he used the ramps instead of the stairs.

While we were in Washington, D.C., we were able to visit and immerse ourselves in our country’s heritage, its cultures and beginnings. Not only did we get to see many of the national monuments, memorials and buildings housing our national treasures. We quietly walked through Arlington Cemetery and visited the eternal flame and graves of John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy as well as the memorials of the veteran’s who gave their lives for our country in World War II, the Korean War and Viet Nam. In addition, we were able to see the beautiful new U.S. Marine Corps and the Martin Luther King memorials. Of course, Lincoln’s, Washington’s and Jefferson’s memorials were all must-sees as shining examples of our heritage, and the time we spent at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon is something we wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

While at the Jefferson memorial, before leaving D.C., the sunny skies turned dark and as our group left the building, we were hit by a violent storm—strong winds and horizontal rain—from a nearby tornado. It hit us unexpectedly and we had to run along tree-lined streets to our bus that was parked about a quarter of a mile away. We dodged flying limbs and were literally soaked to the skin by the time we made it to the bus. Jim, who had opted to stay on the bus, teased us about his foresight as the rest of us dripped our way to our seats. Instead of finishing our itinerary that day, we headed back to the hotel to dry out.

Before the storm……                                      And, after

Before leaving Washington, D.C., we also were able to tour the The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts located on the Potomac River, adjacent to the Watergate complex. It was built as a memorial for President John F. Kennedy.

We experienced new friendships from many of the 40 other people traveling with us. In addition, we were beneficiaries of the kindness, care and concern of the East Coast residents we encountered everywhere we went.

One example of that kindness was the concierge at our hotel in Washington, D.C., who, when asked where we could get a light lunch instead of the outrageously expensive ones at the hotel, walked the two blocks with us to show us where we could enjoy the equivalent of a Yumm bowl or Subway sandwich. He could have just given us the simple directions, but he went out of his way to make us feel welcome. Other staff members at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., were equally as friendly for the four nights we spent there.

After leaving Washington, D.C., we visited Yorktown, Jamestown and spent the night and the next day at Williamsburg where Jim was able to see the sights and the living history in his mobility scooter.

Jamestown.jpg

The morning in Williamsburg brought one of the most memorable experiences of the whole trip for me. Our group was ushered into a rather small, intimate auditorium and seated in folding chairs as we waited for a program to begin. We had not been told what it was to be about, but only that it would be special. As we sat there, the door in the back opened and the refrains of a beautiful African-American spiritual filled the room, sung by a woman named Sylvia Tabb-Lee who slowly entered as she sang. She provided us with a living history experience I will never forget. This 62-year-old black woman was dressed as a slave and without obvious anger, she softly took us through what the life of a slave was during the 1800s before the Civil War. She had us mesmerized from that moment forward. She pulled people from our tour group up to the front with her and had them reenact different scenarios. One was chosen to represent a master; another was called up to represent a plantation overseer; and my brother-in-law, Dwight, was asked to represent a foreman on a plantation to show the hierarchy of plantation life.

Sylvia Tabb Lee

Sylvia Tabb-Lee

She instructed the master to give orders to the overseer on what the slaves were supposed to do that day, and the overseer passed that information on to the foreman who was to make sure that the job got done.

It was then that Sylvia informed us that at the end of the day the job did not get done the way it was supposed to. She wanted her “volunteers” to demonstrate how the chain of command would have worked and how it would have affected the slaves. So, the master asked the overseer why the job was not done; the overseer asked the foreman and Dwight, now fully involved in the skit, looked out into the audience and pointed to Jim and I and said, “Those are the slackers!”

All of us, including Sylvia, got a good laugh from it, but the mood became somber again, as Sylvia talked about what would have happened to those “slackers” in the 1800s. She then led all of us in singing two spirituals— “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “Amazing Grace.”

It was one of the most touching experiences that I’ve ever been a part of. At the end, we all went up to Sylvia and offered our thanks. In return, she gave each of us a big hug and thanked us for coming. I found out later that she has been in the entertainment field for quite some time. She graduated from a New York theatrical school and has traveled around the United States giving her presentation.

Our itinerary then took us from Williamsburg to St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, where Patrick Henry delivered his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech; Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; the Shenandoah National Park; Harper’s Ferry; Gettysburg; Valley Forge; the Amish farm country of Pennsylvania; and finally, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

Another example of the kindness shown to us by people on the East Coast was demonstrated by the manager of the very nice Stonewall Jackson Hotel where we stayed in Staunton, Virginia. Jim had accidentally left his epi-pen at breakfast in Williamsburg that morning. When hearing of his mission, the manager offered to drive Dwight, who is a pharmacist, in her personal car to a local pharmacy to pick up an emergency prescription for Jim rather than have him take a taxi. It was something we would not have expected, but it was much appreciated.

Two days before we were scheduled to fly home from Philadelphia while we were spending the night in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Shenandoah National Park in the beautiful state of Virginia, Jim and I celebrated our 55th anniversary.

Our 55thIt was a wonderful way to spend our special day… with family and good friends in a beautiful setting.

Waiting for the bus - last day

Exhausted and waiting for the bus to pick us up one more time for transport to the Philadelphia Airport

To be honest, our adventures were exhausting, but none of us would have opted out on any of it. Even the tornado-caused wind and rain storm added a special dimension to our experience. The memories we made on those 11 days will remain with us for the rest of our lives. It was truly a dream worth sharing.

Sweet Lorane Community News, November 8, 2018

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
November 8, 2018
By Pat Edwards

My brother, Jim Burnett Sr., aka Jimminy Cricket in Groundwaters, is dying. He’s in the end stages of terminal esophageal cancer and has been told he has only a short time remaining.

Yesterday, my sister Barbara (I call her B.J.) and I drove to Vancouver where Jim and his wife Jonni currently live, to spend some time with him. He is no longer able to eat or even swallow and has not eaten anything considered “food” in about 2 weeks. He’s been existing on ice chips and up until yesterday, occasional sips of warm tea. Yesterday, the tea would no longer go down.

Despite all of that, we spent those seven hours talking, laughing, crying and sharing portions of our lives together that we have either kept hidden or have just not shared until now. Most of the talking was done by Jimmy. He seemed to need to open up and talk about his life and the parts of it that he has carried with him during his 81 years… his blessings, his regrets, his feelings of inadequacy, his proud moments, his sorrows and above all, his love for us, his family, and the many friends he has gathered over the years.

He talked about his frustration that none of us get a chance to take part in our own celebrations of life, and how he is reaching out to as many of his special people as possible via phone calls and emails to touch upon these special relationships one more time. He showed us pages of printed email messages that have begun to pour in to him from former co-workers, people whose lives he touched as a minister, and others he has not seen for some time. He sent them messages, telling them how each has touched his life in special ways and, in essence, to say goodbye.

Jim shared with us not only his acceptance, and even, excitement, of the journey he is about to take—“It’s time to set out on a new adventure.”— but also admitted to his nervousness about the actual process of dying.

Next Tuesday, he will be moving into a beautiful hospice center located close to his and Jonni’s home in Vancouver where he will be lovingly attended to until he is called home.
Just before B.J. and I wrapped ourselves in his wonderful hugs and said our “See you laters!”— not “Goodbyes”—he began to ask me to send word to our Groundwaters family of his great appreciation for the experiences that Groundwaters has given him over the years. While trying to get the words out, he broke into tears. Taking on the persona of Jimminy Cricket in the “Philosopher’s Corner” of each quarterly magazine and now the annual anthologies gave him a voice and a connection to each of you that he has long carried in his heart.

The only gift I brought to him yesterday, besides my presence, was the newly published 2018 Groundwaters anthology which he lovingly looked through as soon as I presented it to him.

I know that he would love to hear from any of you in a message sent to his email address of dadburnett13@gmail.com. In that way he can feel that he is participating in his own celebration of life.

Thank you all for your kind words to me and the concern that you have shown for his well-being. He’s in good hands.

Godspeed, Jimminy Cricket—Jim Burnett Sr.—my brother!

Respecting the Past; Accepting the Present; Looking to the Future

by Pat Edwards, October 18, 2012

Community baseball game

Although no one has ever told me directly that I need to quit living in the past, I’m sure that the thought has occurred to some… especially with the recent issues that we, in Lorane, are facing regarding the closing of our school. Much of the emotional turmoil that has bubbled up around that reality comes from the fond memories that the school has evoked in those of us whose lives have intertwined with our small rural community, however briefly. The past has impacted our lives in ways that those from other, more urban, communities can’t fathom.

In the past, when life revolved around home and a single bread-winner, we knew our neighbors and shared our lives with them. Social activities were centered in the church, the Grange, the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs… but especially in the school. There were potlucks and dances and smelt feeds and 4th of July celebrations and baseball games. We had Christmas programs in our school where we watched our children perform and we would all join them in singing Christmas carols. Even as recently as a few years ago, large funerals have been held in the gymnasium because no other venue in the community would hold the hundreds who gathered to pay their respects. Our neighbors were many times our best friends and, we generally respected each others’ differing political views and could good-naturedly discuss them without fear of making them an enemy.

In the 1960s, we mothers usually went to town once a week to buy groceries and we frequently scheduled doctor’s appointments on the same day. Lunch at a hamburger stand with the kids on that one day was a big event. When we were lucky enough to lunch with another adult, we actually talked and listened to each other. Unlike today, conversation did not have to be woven around phone calls or while the other person was reading her text messages or playing a game on her phone.

Kids spent their summers building forts and taking hikes in the woods, bucking hay, gardening and playing outside in the sunshine and fresh air all day long. Usually, if they didn’t, they found themselves cleaning their rooms or practicing the piano, instead. During the school year, after school and on weekends, they raised livestock or learned to sew or cook in 4-H clubs. Some older boys helped their dads in the woods, learning not only to cut timber, but to build a strong work ethic, as well… and there were always daily chores in addition to homework.

No, it was not an idyllic life. Money was usually tight. Kids usually wore hand-sewn “hand-me-downs” from older siblings or cousins. There were no designer shoes or clothing that separated the “haves” from the “have-nots,” but respect was taught. Usually it was done with love, but, like today, for some, it was taught with a hard hand.

Yes, it is easy to live in the past, but even though I am now a septuagenarian, I am still able to look to the future as well as live and function in the present… and I do that every day. As far as the school closing is concerned, I am a realist. In light of our poor economy and the school funding situation, it’s apparent that the school board had few other choices in order to make the school district run as efficiently as possible. Lorane is about 25 miles from Eugene; Crow is about 15. Most parents now work in Eugene, so placing all of the district’s elementary-age children in Lorane was not feasible when you consider the burden that would be placed on parents who needed to pick them up mid-day for doctor’s appointments, etc. I know this with my mind, but my heart wishes it wasn’t so.

I am a realist. Life, as I described it above, no longer exists in Lorane and I realize that we will never get it back. Modern technology is here to stay. Most women have taken their rightful place in the work force… not only as a matter of financial necessity, but because that’s where most of them would rather be. Designer clothes, computers and X-boxes, cell phones and texting have taken over our lives so completely that there is no turning back.

I know this, but it still hurts, deeply. The closing of the school is threatening to put a final stamp on our past and move us into a future over which we have no control. Our rural way of life, not only in Lorane, but all over the state and nation, is at risk with the closing down of our local schools and post offices.

We look for solutions that no longer seem to be there. There is evidence that the numbers of those willing to work towards finding those solutions, however, are swelling. A group of dedicated community members in Lorane are working diligently to form a charter school. If that does not happen, many of us envision the school building turned into a community center, but the financial obstacles seem almost insurmountable… especially in this economy. If we could fiscally figure out how to obtain, upgrade and maintain the building, how much use would it really get? These things need to be explored. They are concerns and questions that may never find answers because our time is running out.

Regardless of the outcome, in the time that we have remaining to search for these answers, we want our past… our history, embodied within the Lorane Elementary School… to be treated with respect. Only by understanding and respecting the successes and failures of our past, can we move confidently into the future knowing that we have done everything possible to control our own destiny.

Lorane Elementary School 1280 pix