Sunny Salty Woodmere Cemetery

7/24/14: Yesterday I was at Woodmere Cemetery near Fort St & Springwells. Two cemetery workers with shovels were trying to help me find the grave markers of my gr great grandparents. The markers are flat and if you don’t dig them up every summer they sink and disappear.

The workers were about 30ft way poking at the ground with the shovels. I was standing there trying to look too when I heard one of the strangest sounds I’ve ever heard while being jolted at the same time.

It was a very dry sound like rubbing two rocks together as hard as you can and then amplify it by 50. It had a bit of a stutter to it. A bang, A big vibration.

I looked up at the nice grave finder/grounds guys and said ‘What in the heck (I don’t like to say hell while standing on a grave) was that?’ ‘It’s the salt mines one guy said, ‘They are blowing things up’. Oh! That’s all? I thought. Humm. It scared the crap outta me. They pointed toward the fence line and said the entrance to the mine was just over there, meaning closer to the Rouge River.

They were referring to the famous salt mines under the city of Detroit. Huge cavernous tunnels that run for miles filled with nothing but salt. I believe it’s one of the biggest salt mines in the world. I knew about it but I had no idea my relatives were buried on top of them.

The Hispanic worker said, in a voice a bit like Cheech Marin, “Man, they wanted me to work down there. I told them no way I’m going down there man”. The other guy nodded in agreement.

I stood there and looked around. There are 190,000 graves in this cemetery. I wondered how many coffins had sunk so far they had made it into the salt mines. Isn’t salt a preservative?

I pictured my dead relatives walking the salt mines and the noise I heard was really a cry from Hell !!! Alcohol is also a preservative, and most of my relatives imbibed heavily, so throw in some salt and wha-la!!! Pickled ancestors! They are all doing Tequila shots, you know, with lemon and salt.

All of that was going on underground as I stood there and I looked up at the bluest of skies on a beautiful warm summer day. Ah reality!

I then had a discussion with the guys about being cremated and having my ashes flung into Lake Superior. They left me to pay my respects to the ancestors and I took pictures of the markers and the surroundings so I could find this spot again when I come back. Then I got into my Jeep and went home.

Beau Abused

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I think just writing about this dog is strange. To try to understand the emotional life of a poodle may be just plain weird to some. I write this from a place of hurt. Indulge me here.

Dogs have evolved in lockstep with humans. We have molded them to our liking and usefulness. We use them for many things. They serve us. They depend on us. They charm us, fool us, make us laugh, and cry. They have become in many ways like us. They all have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. Certain breeds behave in particular ways  of behaving but each is their own person. Did I say that? Personhood. Yes, I believe whatever it is that gives something  a will, and drive, and longing can be wrapped in a hairy skin and given a name. It can be a dog. It has a soul. So what does a soul need?

I write this because if I hadn’t seen and felt what I’m about to explain, I couldn’t have understood it. It’s about Beau, my miniature French Poodle. Bare with me.

I found him online on the Michigan Standard Poodle Rescue site based in Bay City Michigan. Although he isn’t a standard poodle, which is a much bigger dog, this rescue group took him on. I contacted the rescue, and somehow as with many things people can’t come right out and tell you, the details rolled out rather slowly.

The first time I met Beau was in Milford’s Central Park where he barked viciously at me. He stood there in the grass with his owner, a woman, and the woman’s teenage daughter. He was on a leash in attack mode, all 15 pounds of him. He was very disconcerted with the whole situation but in the 15 minutes we spent together, and after being picked up and held by the teen I was finally able to pet him. He was adorable, fluffy and curly, and as white as snow, with tiny dark brown eyes and a black nose. Please note that in 15 minutes he went from trying to attack me to licking me profusely.

The idea was that I would at least foster him for a time with the possibility of adopting him if we felt it would work out in my home. We were willing to try. Swiffer, my other dog, needed a playmate.

His details began to roll out. He was purchased for $1800 from a puppy mill in Midland Michigan with the intention of breeding him with Golden Retrievers to make a mixed breed they are calling a Golden Doodle or something as ridiculous. In other words, he was valued for his size and curly coat. He was kept in a crate in the basement of a ranch style home wearing what is called a pee band and a litter box in the crate for going #2. In other words, they didn’t have to let him outside. This may explain why the park was so upsetting to him. By 2 years of age, he had spent a huge majority of his little life in a pet cage in a basement. When you correlate a dogs age in human years it must have seemed like 14 years to Beau.

I will note here that Beau’s owner seemed overly concerned with his looks. By the time her and the daughter brought him to my house with a large bag of grooming items, that was clear. He had various brushes and combs. Several jars of little pre-moistened pads to clean his eyes. Silvadine spray for his eyes and some kind of chews for his coat, and on and on. Poodles tend to overproduce tears which causes staining under the eyes. The woman was obsessed with this. She sure didn’t spare any cash for this bag of stuff but it was about looks for this so-called breeder. Can’t get top dollar without the look.

Apparently, Beau had been let out of the crate in the home and was sitting on a bed with the woman’s daughters when someone entered the room. He did the viscous barking and tried to attack the person. By their nature, poodles are not the soft fluffy white stuffed animals people tend to think they are. They are as much a guard dog as a German Shepard Hound and Beau was protecting those girls. The supposed breeder did not understand the true nature of the dogs she was trying to get rich off of. Instead, she determined that Beau was going to hurt her children. It was the woman’s sister who contacted the rescue and had determined that the woman was just in over her head with this breeding program and a basement full of dogs.

So upon the second meeting in my home Beau met my dog Swiffer, a 15lb Poma-poo and they ran around my yard and seemed to get along very well. We all went into the house for a few minutes and the teen said her good-byes to Beau. I distracted the dog and they went out the front door.

All was well until Beau realized that he had been left behind. He went to the picture window and looked out whimpering. He paced between the front door and the window a few times and I called him to join us in the family room. He stayed upstairs in the living room, jumped up on the sofa and sadly rested his chin between his front paws and just ignored me. He was obviously devastated. It was a surprise to me that his feelings were so intense.

Years earlier I had been a foster parent to two developmentally challenged, and at the same time, abused children. They had been in many foster homes and showed immediate signs of something called an ‘attachment disorder’. In order to adapt they could put aside their true feelings of loss and abandonment and call the next caretaker person ‘Mom’ as soon as they met them. Mom is a term reserved for someone special, not someone you just met. I mention this because as the days went by it became apparent that I was Beau’s new Mom.

He recognized me as the main caretaker 5 minutes after he quit moping on my couch. He got down and began to play with Swiffer. Sounds normal? No it was not. I thought ‘okay time to go out and do the potty thing’. Nope. He stood at the patio door where Swiffer had already headed out and poked his nose past the threshold and backed into the room. He was NOT going out. At this point I had no idea he had not really been let outside by himself ever, at all. I picked him up and put him outside and he never moved a foot away from the patio door. He paced and walked a few feet in either direction and whined to come back in.

I knew this was an energetic, rambunctious 2 year old dog, but I was not prepared to be pounced upon without a seconds warning continually. I was constantly fending him off. He would suddenly leap from the floor to my face and begin licking me with his whole body wriggling and his front paws digging at my neck. It was crazy. He never stopped or slowed. When I told him no and pushed him down or put him on the floor he would run right over to Swiffer and get domineering with him. He didn’t hurt Swiffer, he was just obviously taking his feelings of rejection from me and transferring it to the other dog. Tom and I would just look at each other in disbelief. Swiffer doesn’t much care and goes along with it. Good ol’boy Swiffer.

I am no expert at dog training. Heck, I may not be good at it at all, but eventually you would think the dog would catch on and approach a person he wants attention from a bit more gently or slowly. Eight months later he has not. I think if he could crawl up under my skin and live there it would not be enough. All of this is so overwhelming to me as I want to play and show affection to him. I would love it if he could just sit in my lap and let me pet him. He cannot be still for 2 seconds. He is impossible to hold onto. He still refuses to go outside and we generally have to trick him into it. He sleeps in his crate all night and will not go out in the morning to pee. Tom carries him out across the grass he refuses to step on. Oh yah, that’s the other thing, grass. He will stand with one paw in the air if the grass is wet at all. He does not like grass or wet feet. He sometimes pees on the wood deck. He likes the deck.

He trails me from room to room and will lay in the various dog beds in each room. He is a poodle. Poodles are in the top 3 breeds for intelligence. Beau understands English and all I have to do is point to the dog bed and he goes right to it. I say one word ‘crate’ and he goes into it. I have taught him to sit for a treat and he has learned not to bite my hand while being given it. He is trainable and is very smart, but why is it that he wants to repel the very thing he seems to need so badly? Me.

The most interesting thing I find about him is that he has a very different relationship with Tom. He plays with Tom. He gets all excited when Tom comes in from work. Normal stuff. Every night Tom picks him up and Beau gently licks the side of Toms face as he is taken upstairs to be put in his crate for the night. If I pick him up he gets so excited he pees on me. LOL Funny, but not. Then there is the self stimulation which is annoying which he also does after he feels I’ve rejected him. It’s a vicious cycle that I fear he may not be able to get out of.

He stares at me from across the room with his sad eyes. I wonder what has made him so screwed up in the head. Here is my best guess; He was taken from his mother before he was able to bond with her. He was too young to be weaned. I’m sure they don’t care about developmental stages in puppy mills but I have heard that between 8-10 weeks is a very important stage for a puppy and they learn some important things from the mother about being a dog. Then he was isolated for a good two years. Like being jailed in a whore house if you’ll pardon the expression. Might be why he licks his junk all day or when he feels bad. He was purchased to be bred and that was all.

I sense a general immaturity about him like he is 2 months old instead of almost 3 years. He is so cute and surprising at times. I love him and am sickened at what this poor soul has been through. It isn’t like I can take him to counseling to get his head examined. He is like a POW with PTSD. He cries.

Does a being with a soul have to be self-aware? I don’t think so. He seems to be in a self-perpetuated emotional mess. He acts badly to get something he desperately needs and goes away hurt and rejected when his own behavior defeats his purpose. It’s nuts.

As humans we have brought dogs into our world and made them adapt to us. I think at a lower mentality they have taken on all of our emotional problems. Dogs were meant to function in the hierarchy of the pack, not in the emotional states of humans. So many of Beau’s behaviors are about the same as those foster children I once cared for. As I write this Beau is never more than 5 feet from me. I try to teach him, be happy with him. I am pretty sure his problems are so primal he may never be any different.

So. Lets think about Beau before we support amateur breeders and puppy mills. Physically there is nothing wrong with Beau. Mentally he is damaged goods. The whole pet industry is just a bit of the worlds insanity. People are greedy. Dogs (and cats) are living beings with a heart that longs for love and acceptance just like us. Please remember that.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”

Khalil Gibran

 

Stay In the Light

Ever feel like you get in a rut and forget everything you know? I do. I know I should meditate and breathe deeply, sing, move my body more, eat better food, laugh, forgive, accept forgiveness, listen, and show compassion. It is hard when I don’t feel good but it helps me feel good when I do these things, but I forget that.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)

I like that verse because it reminds me we all need mirrors because as soon as we walk away from one, we have forgotten what we look like. But do we really see ourselves anyway? When I feel heavy about life I don’t want to look in the mirror.

I am a spiritual person, not a religious one. Religious people pray at the same time everyday or try not to step on cracks or whatever…I try not to do anything if my heart is not in it. I never could walk in lockstep or do what others expect me to do. I am contrary, even to myself.

I want to be lighter, physically, and emotionally. I want to walk on the path with the sun shine on it. It is my struggle, as I head off toward the shady woods…

Every picture…

The first things were the Social Security certificate and the will, and the 8 x 10 black & white photo of an older couple smiling broadly. Then the wallet contents, and the slip of paper, and the simple hand written words ‘Remember the Maine’.

20170525_122912Frank and Hattie Campbell

I was living in Milford Michigan in the early 1990’s and had just purchased my first house in the next town over in Highland. It was about 5 miles away and the easiest way to get from my apartment to my new house was the back way, down some dirt roads. I needed moving boxes… and there they were, professional moving boxes in a pile on the side of the road in front of a country house I could barely see from the road.

I pulled over in my minivan and quickly threw open my hatch and started to pitch the boxes inside. One had something in it. I quickly looked to see what appeared to be an old style leather doctors bag. A quick peak inside revealed a stack of letters bound with a piece of twine, photos, and papers. Hum, interesting, but I had to get moved so I threw the leather bag into the van and went on my way.

As I sat at my kitchen table some time later and pulled some of the letters from the envelopes, I began to realize that this was a mystery to solve. They were love letters written to an Ohio man at college by a woman also from Ohio. Upon further inspection I could tell, she was no average woman.

As I was able to discover over the years in my spare time, it all started with a middle aged English couple, George Alva Worthington and Hattie Hawbly, who immigrated to the Detroit area from Canada on the day the Maine sank in 1898. He became a photographer for the Dodge Brothers and was charged with photographing the Meadowbrook mansion as it was being built. It was the home of Matilda Dodge Wilson heiress of the Dodge motorcar fortune.

George passed away and his wife remarried the man in the 8 x 10 photo who was Frank Campbell. Frank died and when Hattie became ill and died, the remains of her estate where handed over to the nephew of Frank Campbell who was Herbert Brown Campbell. He had saved the love letters and went on to marry a different woman, Mildred Storer Shaw also from Ohio.

After a reasonably long life Mildred died of cancer with no children. Her husband HB Campbell, as he was known, a Harvard Landscape architect, then married again a younger woman from Milford with 2 grown daughters. He had met her through a cousin who was a veterinarian in Milford. It wasn’t a doctor bag at all. It was veterinarian bag. After HB died, and the second wife died, her two daughters took the stock certificates and the gold coins and set what was left of all of these people and the moving boxes onto the curb for the trash man. Then came I.

20170525_123634Frank & Hattie Campbell with Mildred and Herbert Brown Campbell.

This was quite a collection of stuff. The photos dated from Herbert’s birth around 1900 to the 1980’s when the last of them passed away. I had been able to find the daughter of the woman who wrote the love letters in St Louis, Betty Strong. Turns out her mother Claire had become a doctor in 1925 which was no small feat for a woman at that time. She married, had one child, Betty, and devoted her whole life to women’s health in St Louis as a gynecologist. Claire was the daughter of the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer who had won a Pulitzer prize for his work in exposing the mob in Ohio in the 1920’s. She smoked and swore, and was quite a risque and liberated woman.

In these letters she spoke of a life of privilege. She swam, rode horseback, attended grand parties, and sent ol’ Herbert Brown Campbell every type of enticement she could quarry. Scented letters with pressed flowers and pieces of silk nightgowns. The letters told of her driving a car from Ohio to Michigan to see firsthand the biggest rivalry since the Michigan and Ohio boarders were agreed upon. I am referring to the Ohio State/University of Michigan football games. If you are from Michigan or Ohio this doesn’t need explaining. This was a side of her mother Betty in St Louis had never seen and she thanked me profusely for sending her the letters. She sent back pictures and news stories of her mothers life post Herbert B Campbell. I was happy to have done it.

After all of this ended, HB Campbell married a shy, quiet, Ohio State University nursing school grad named Mildred Storer Shaw and they traveled the country together while he landscaped many large building projects. He took his photography very seriously and produced some good quality photos of their travels. Many where of Mildred who appeared in most photos to be his most unwilling subject.

I could see as the photos went on, an aging Mildred with no children but who was the doting aunt to her sisters children. Then there were the photos of Mildred in her nursing uniform holding small children in her lap. I see sadness in her eyes. Then there’s the slip of paper in her hand writing found among the photos, ‘Cherish your friends, they are all you really have.’ I see her looking frail, and a angry even, holding a drink in her hand. It’s interesting what you can infer from photos.

The things I describe here are just the tip of the iceberg. There was so much more in that leather bag. I may know more about this bunch of people than I do know of my own family in some respects. This is also where I began to be interested in history, genealogy, and best of all, other peoples photos. In today’s world they are known as ‘Found Photos’. People sell them, collect them, trade them. The term ‘Found’ gives me a chuckle. It’s an art form of it’s own. It’s Americana. It’s everyday peoples lives and every picture has a story to tell.

Mildred, God bless her, wrote on the back of almost every picture. These are time capsules and almost all in black and white. I am interested in peoples lives. It’s art. I think if you really look at photos, you can see the life and the times in a fresh way. There is a soul to it. I am fascinated by it. Life is in the lens of the beholder. It’s all in the lighting. It’s the way I look at people in general. I look closely. People ask me why I would be interested in other peoples photos. There is a reverence to found photos and we are all but a passing light.

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The Road Is Long, With Many a Winding Turn…

I originally wrote this on 9/17/09. It popped up in my Facebook Memories today. Today is also the funeral of Dave Kupczak and I know many of my friends are really hurting. I won’t lie. It’s going to feel like a stab in the chest every time you think of him for a very long time but at some point you will start to smile to yourself at those memories and be so grateful for them. However much we love, we run the risk of being wounded as deeply. It’s just how it works…
I’m trying to get all of my writing in one place. So here it is once again…

My two brothers had been helping us move my business to it’s new digs across the street back in February. We have a pretty good time together. They are both hard working guys and at the same time they are Wettig’s and we are a pretty silly bunch. In fact, we are lunatics. That makes it the hard jobs easier. Insanity does run in the family and sometimes that’s hardly a joke.

It was time for a break and both brothers went out the front door of the store to smoke a cigarette. I was inside moving things around and looked up through the big glass window and saw Mark, the older of the two, laughing and waving his arms in sort of a comical ‘I’m going to karate chop you’ at me through the glass. There were big scratch marks in the glass and we had been trying to figure out how in the world someone had made them. Both Brian and Mark were laughing. Mark looked me in the eye. I felt caught off guard. You see I have 3 brothers and one of them is gone. He died, self-medicating. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of him in the shenanigans of the other two. Sometimes it’s a song that he liked or played on the guitar. Sometimes…it’s the sunshine and the sun was shining.

I walked outside and half laughing, half crying I said to Mark, “Please don’t do that. You look just like Danny.” He took a drag of his cigarette, nodded, and looked away. Brian looked at the ground. Danny was the one who made us laugh the hardest. We feel the space where he should be standing, making us laugh. Then I ask myself how I would get through this terrible grief without these two, the brothers that remind me so much of him? It would be much much harder. I wanted to say, “I’m sorry you guys, carry on. I didn’t mean to spoil the fun,” but Mark caught it the instant I did.

Grief doesn’t end, but it changes. It changes you. Danny’s death at 46 was the biggest disappointment of my life. I just knew from a very young age (I’m 13 months older than him) that one day he was going to be alright. He never was. It’s agonizing to watch someone you can never remember life without slowly die. He become smaller as the drugs he craved got bigger until the person we loved was barely there. I never really gave up on him and when they called to tell he had passed they had to pick me up off of the floor. It was over. The worst travesty was the 13 year old son he left behind. His mother had died 2 years before for pretty much the same reason. An orphan to drugs.

What happens to some of us? and when does it end? I’m afraid I know. You can almost reach into the pits of hell to try and pull somebody back from the slow death of drugs and it may not work. One day it’s that phone call and it’s all over. Big empty sadness, for awhile. I eulogized him at his funeral. After two years now I’ve stopped crying every day. I remember the brother that was so full of himself and not the drugs. Once in awhile I write about him.

That helps too…

RIP Laurel J Loomis

It happens once in awhile that  Tom gets a service call in northern Michigan. Michiganders call it UP North. It’s almost like being in another world compared to the Metro Detroit area and only about 3.5 hours away. In this case, it was Traverse City,  which is an overcrowded tourist town on Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan. It’s beautiful and a perfect climate for growing fruit like cherries and grapes. They are famous for their cherries. I love cherries.

Tom announced on a Thursday  he was going to Traverse City and I was going too, with about a 24 hour notice. We would leave on Friday, pay  for two nights at the Hampton Inn on M-31 and the company would pay for the third. He would do the service call and we would head back home Monday afternoon. So we packed and headed out. It’s much better than sitting home by myself

The Grand Traverse Bay is gorgeous with blue water, the countryside is lush with hills and vistas that are bright and clean. It’s just beautiful land…but the traffic on M-31 sucks. M-31 runs along the Lake Michigan shoreline, goes from 2-5 lanes, depending on which town it’s passing through, and is always busy.

I have an extremely difficult time with motion sickness due to narcolepsy. On a 5 hour trip to Chicago a few years back, I spent 2 of our 4 days in the hotel room near the bathroom. Although I don’t get nauseous, I do get very dizzy with some serious GI upset. All of this was before meds to help with a heart condition and narcolepsy.

So we set out on Saturday June 4th. I did everything I could to get through the drive without getting sick, with the exception of driving because I am not insured to drive Tom’s company car. Sometimes actually driving helps me arrive at my destination feeling better, but after a point it doesn’t matter. I still get sick. I could explain why that is, but who cares really? I don’t travel well.

On the way into the area we passed a road sign with Loomis Rd on it. It reminded me of a mother and daughter we knew from living in Fenton MI which is south of Flint. Morgan Loomis was in my daughter Ivy’s Girl Scout troop and also in her graduating class at Fenton High School. I had known her since she was about 7 and now would be about 20. On my phone I went to Face Book and looked her up. It looked like she was doing well. Tom and I talked about her and her mother Colleen for a few minutes. You get to know people a bit when you have slept under a giant wholly mammoth at a lock-in inside a zoo with dozens of other Girl Scouts.  I always hope the best for people. No matter what. She was smiling. She was good.

We arrived and checked in at the hotel and I rested and then we went out to eat. Tom, who eats in restaurants quite a bit because of work, had some places in mind. The weather was good and the hotel is right in front of the bay with M-31 between us, a narrow park and then the big water. There is a peninsula that runs out into the bay about 25 miles. We were on the north side of that, if I have my compass straight.

It was at times difficult to get out of the hotel and onto M-31 due to traffic. There is a light at 3 Mile Rd which is a T intersection about 1/8 mile south of the hotel. You would think the light would give you some breaks in traffic so you could pull out, but between right hand turns from 3 MIle Rd onto M-31, and traffic heading past the hotel south toward the light, it never gives you a break.

Then there’s the speed limit. No one cares about the speed limit. The people who live there year-round are aggravated with the vacationing invaders. They are driving too fast and ducking and changing lanes to get around them. The vacationers are driving erratically because they don’t know where they are going and they are, after all, on vacation.

Tom and I went out to eat or site seeing. There was some type of galactic event in the sky that first night we wanted to see but it clouded up and rained off and on most of the time. Even just seeing the stars would have been great since we live in a city so close to Detroit you can barely see the moon on a clear night!

We went to the former insane asylum now turned shopping mall. Nice! I wondered which shop my grandfather slept in. We took a nice relaxing drive up and down the peninsula and took some photos. I felt okay during all of this but not great.

The fun is about over…

On Monday morning Tom left the hotel room as I was waking up. He would grab breakfast in the hotel and head out to do his service call. I got up and dressed and went to get my breakfast too. Tom was gone by then, I figure about 10 minutes earlier. I went to the buffet and filled my plate and turned to go sit with other hotel patrons in a lobby/dining room. I noticed some people looking out the front window toward M-31. When I finished a whole cup of coffee I began to get curious as to what they were all looking at.

As I stood up I could see fireman and emergency vehicles. I took a few steps forward and heard someone say ‘it’s an accident’. I decided to walk outside and look seeing how my husband had just left the hotel. There were more than a dozen people standing on the lawn. I walked up between two apparently unrelated persons and said, “What am I seeing?” I really couldn’t tell what was happening in front of me. Someone said, “There are two vehicles. A work van and an SUV.” That was a relief. Tom drives an ugly gold Ford Escape and I wasn’t seeing gold paint anywhere. It was really hard to make out what I was looking at.

I could see an upright white van enmeshed in the completely smashed top of another dark vehicle apparently on it’s side. It was laying on the drivers side. I walked to my right to get a better look. The looks on people faces were memorable. It was very sunny and they were kind of squinting with their lips pressed together and looked almost pained and were all quiet. There were landscapers working on what I found out later was a repair project around a bricked in planter from another accident that happened several weeks earlier and almost ended up in the hotel lobby. Oh great! They too had taken a break to gawk at the confusion.

I found myself standing near a young woman, who I will call Jane, who was also squinting at the wreck. We began a conversation there that lasted about an hour and a half. I can’t give you direct quotes as to what she said during that time but she did say that she heard and saw the accident as she looked in her rear-view mirror. She was on the phone arguing with her ex-husband and was just ahead of the whole mess. She said she parked her pick-up truck at a business on the hotel side of M-31 near 3 Mile Rd and ran back to see if everyone was alright.

Jane said she ran around the tangled vehicles and saw that the man in the truck was pinned in the van by the steering wheel but he was very much alive. She tried to look into the Lacrosse SUV but could not see anyone. I don’t remember if she called 911 or not.

While her and I stood there some reporters came on the scene and entered into the conversation at different times. A fireman came and told the reporter who had a camera that there was a dead woman in the car. Although we were only about 20 feet from the wreckage and we could not see a body. He reminded the reporter that she needed to respect that. She had no problem with that. Another woman out for her morning jog said a flat bed semi truck had gone whipping past about the same time she heard the crash.

Jane and I talked about many things while we stood there. Relationships, our kids, our homes, our jobs, and I remember early on looking up at the sky and praying. A soul had just passed over us and it was time for reverence for the dead. I didn’t know anything about the deceased but I was pretty sure she had relationships, kids, a home, and a job. I was deeply saddened that the end of a life can happen like this. It was a reality that came upon this woman so suddenly she had no time to consider it. It was over in seconds.

When the fireman walked away I told Jane I was a missing persons advocate and one of the first things we do is to try to protect the family members of a missing person from unfounded speculation and accusations, and of course, unnecessary pain. She appeared a little pained when I said that. I only meant that she should be careful what she tells the press. You never know what they will publish.

All the while the fire rescue and police were trying to stabilize the man in the truck and figure out how to free him and the van from the SUV. The front wheel of the van was in the drivers seat of the SUV. The top of the SUV was flattened and damaged from bumper to bumper. They had to stabilize the SUV so it didn’t flip over while they cut the man out of the van. They had tried pulling the vehicles apart with tow trucks with no luck.

Jane said she had just dropped her child off at a daycare and how she worked for her father at his business. You can learn a lot about a person in 90+ minutes. We talked about many things. We were all a little shaken due to the circumstances but Jane was fairly calm. All the while I was very puzzled as to why and how that SUV ended up on it’s side with a dead woman in it. People standing around had their ideas which they didn’t mind sharing, but little made sense.

They came and put a blanket over the passenger compartment of the SUV and we could see they were trying to figure out how to remove the woman’s body. I didn’t want to see that and apparently they didn’t want us to see it either. At last they got the guy out of the van and into an ambulance. That took about 90 minutes. The County Sheriffs were walking around most of this time trying to document the accident. After the ambulance left they went looking for witnesses and since Jane was one of them she was asked to move to a more private area and I decided I had seen enough. I went inside the hotel.

They eventually parked the sizable firetrucks so as to block the view from the sidelines while they removed the woman and about 45 minutes later it was all gone from the road in front of the hotel. Employees in the hotel were squawking back and forth about this accident, the one a few weeks earlier, and the reckless ‘man’ driving the SUV.

I called Tom and told him what happened. I didn’t feel well and we ended up staying another night. I remember passing the Loomis sign on the way home. Some things just come to mean more than coincidence and it happens so much that I have to wonder if the dumbest thing that pops up will come to mean more later. I have no way to interpret any of it. It’s like fragments of data floating in a sea. It tells me that reality is timeless and what we witness is not truly in time or reality.

Laurel Loomis…

The day  we returned  home to Southgate I searched the internet for a news story about the accident. There was one describing the scene but no identity of the van guy or the victim. A day later it was there. The woman’s name was Laurel J Loomis age 65, married and owner of a consignment store. Also well known in the community for her charitable giving and her love of her family, especially her grandchildren. I also owned a consignment store at one time. She was about 8 years older than I. Now I understood the Loomis thing. I was meant to pay attention to this and in the days and weeks that followed I may have figured out why.

A few more internet updates on the already published news stories gave me clues. I was still very puzzled as to how that accident could have happened on such a sunny day at approximately 9am. The van driver who was working was headed north on M-31 and was struck by the SUV head-on from the other direction. The sun was not in their eyes. I read in one story that there was damage to a third vehicle, a pick-up truck. What pick-up truck? My mind was reviewing the events of that whole morning. No way!

I called the newspaper and got the reporter who wrote the update on the phone. She said yes there was a third vehicle involved that didn’t come forward until later. I described my morning with Jane and how she had parked her truck some distance from the accident scene. The police had made sure to mention that the airbag had only gone off in the SUV but not the van.

I asked the reporter for more details but she said the sheriff in charge of the case had to sign off on the report before it became public and he had the whole following week off for vacation. She said she would contact me when she knew more. I agreed with myself to wait. That family had a terrible tragedy to deal with. I was more upset about it by now than the day it happened. What really happened that morning? Who caused the accident?

I am not an accident re-constructionist. What I am is observant. I see details. When there is something out of place it nags at me until I figure it out. This what I think happened although I still feel there is a missing fact. It doesn’t mean the police don’t know what it is. It means I don’t have access to all the facts. So here it is as I think it happened;

Monday morning traffic was heavy on M-31 which isn’t unusual for M-31. Jane dropped off her child at a daycare and for some reason was heading south on M-31 while she had a conversation on her cell phone with the childs father, so she says. She was in the inside lane.

At this point in the road there are 2 lanes north and 2 lanes south. Laurel Loomis was out to start her work week (I imagine) and was also heading south in the curbside lane. Everyone was moving along at a pretty good clip when Laurel came up behind the flatbed truck and decided to change lanes. She may not have been able to see who was in the lane alongside   the truck.

As Laurel changed lanes to move from behind the the truck I believe she saw the pick-up that was moving too slowly and tried to brake. She rear-ended the pick-up truck with Jane in it just hard enough to set off the airbag. Laurel could not see because of the airbag and must have been totally shocked by the airbag deployment. I’d imagine it also hurt her physically and forced her hands away from the wheel.

Now she is driving blind and either the airbag caused the wheel to turn so sharply that it flipped the car on it’s side and skidded into oncoming traffic, or she grabbed the wheel and turned it herself trying desperately to get control of the car. The SUV had to have gone over on it’s top and back onto it’s side for the top to be flattened.I later saw photo’s of the bottom of the SUV and it looked like the stabilizer bars were broken connecting the wheels to the steering.

As she came back onto her side she slid into the oncoming lane and headed at the work van which impacted with the SUV near the front fender and into the drivers compartment of the Lacrosse SUV where the drivers side front wheel of the van ended up in the front seat of the SUV. They skidded some distance together and came to a stop in front of the hotel. I believe she was dead before the SUV flipped back onto it’s side.

Jane…

As for Jane, I have asked myself countless times how she could have stood there so coolly all that time and neglected to mention that she was involved in the accident. Why did she park the damaged pick-up so far from the accident scene? Did she have something to hide? Is that detail I am missing?  Was she told not to discuss it? From what I could tell she hadn’t told anyone official that she was a witness. The reporter asked if anyone had seen the accident and I may have told him she saw it. I can’t say for sure. All I can say is I would not have guessed that she had been hit by the SUV or had any involvement in the accident by her behavior that morning. Like I said, I am very observant. She really fooled me.

I checked and it’s no secret that GM has recalled many models including the Lacrosse for problems with airbag deployment but it was for non-deployment, not for going off in traffic.

I called the reporter back the other day. She happens to live down here by me. She said she has heard nothing else about the case so it must be over. I doubt that it’s over. I may still call the sheriff in charge and ask him the outcome of his investigation. I don’t know if he will tell me or not.

Laurie, as her friends called her, was born in Flint which is about a 15 minute drive from where Ivy’s friend Morgan Loomis lived. Maybe they are related. I was very upset by all of this. I was so upset it took me more than 3 months to write about this. I hope that her family knows as much about what happened as they want to. My guess is some or several companies will pay dearly for what happened eventually. I am glad the van driver was spared and I hope he remembers clearly what he saw that morning and is thanking God he still can.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have any answers…but I will remember you Laurel J Loomis. I felt your spirit as it floated on. The reality of how quickly everything can change is still clinging to me. I wish I hadn’t seen any of it but I think I was there for a reason. I don’t go around inserting myself into bad situations. It is what it is. I posted these words on my Face Book page the other day but I don’t think anyone noticed, to quote myself “It never goes to plan…because…the plan isn’t ours”

Peace and healing to your family Laurel…RIP

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Chocolate Bullet Mixer Shake Recipe

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If anyone is interested in a really good low carb bullet shake recipe, here is mine; I use Body Logix Protein in the Decadent Chocolate flavor. When I opened the container I peeled off the brand name of the protein powder (oopsy). I bought it at Meijer for about $27 for 32ozs which is about 28 servings. It comes sweetened with Stevia and I really like the taste. It doesn’t change my blood sugar level.
This satisfies my craving for sweet and has very low carbs, some fat, and good quality protein. It’s very creamy and a not to thick to drink. It’s a good afternoon meal replacement or just to treat yourself when the rest of your rude insensitive family is eating ice cream in front of you.
Use:
1 scoop of protein powder in about 5ozs of unsweetened almond milk. You can use water or milk if you prefer. Blend it long enough to get the powder to dissolve.
 
Add enough plain greek yogurt (not low fat) to fill the tall bullet mug to 2/3 to 3/4 full depending on how much fruit you want to add. I think it’s about 3/4 of a cup or so.
 
Fill the remainder of the mug almost to the top with frozen strawberries and blueberries if you like them. Mix until the fruit is blended. I suppose you could use bananas but they are too high in sugar and not included in my KetoBasic diet. Enjoy.