I’ve had something like six weeks in Deer Trail, and I’m noticing things I never noticed before. Like cows.
And everyone knows Deer Trail is the home of the first rodeo, right?
Then there’s the Bijou telephone Co-op, and Asshole’s Garage. Yep, that’s what it’s called.
A lot of Deer Trail was destroyed in the Big Flood, in the 1960s. Much of it never recovered. My cousin Lesa remembers grocery stores, car dealerships… plural. You’d be excused for not imagining that here now. It’s a bit dismal in places.
One place is kind of special, or was. It was Bob and Anne’s Dairy Hut, which my mom and stepdad ran for several years. They sold out when they had to retire, and now it’s a ruin. I made that sign with the food listed on it. We brainstormed the name Hailstorm for the ice-cream-and-chunked-up-candy-bar mixture known in other shops under other names…
Mom moved here when she was about 14, and attended high school. It was near where she was born, on a homestead just outside of Last Chance, Colorado. We saw that place yesterday. The foundation of the sod house where she was born was still there. She and four of her siblings were born there, before her daddy got transferred to Morrison. Last Friday, we went to Morrison, too. It’s much cuter, all spruced up for tourists.
Fitting, then, if morosely sad, that we got a call from the mortuary as we pulled out of Last Chance. Mom’s death certificate was ready for us to pick up. My siblings and I came here to be with her for the last month of her life. She passed away on April 24th.
My sister and I ran down the list of good things that came of being here. We were here for Mom. We were here for each other. Our whole extended family was here, in whole and in various parts, throughout that month. We kept each others’ spirits up as best we could. These were the saddest six weeks I’ve ever experienced, for sure. But at least we did what Mom wanted – we made it possible for her to die at home, and she had us around her, along with my stepdad, Bob. The cats, Tita and Monstruo, also helped. They never left Mom’s side, except for the occasional foray out for some fresh air.
Deer Trail does have some deer, and other flora and fauna nearby. My brother Kyle got us out hiking once in awhile to see it. We saw lots of deer, but never close enough to photograph. A pair of red-tailed hawks made an appearance, and lots of cacti. The high prairie is a bit desolate.
Every break we took was really nice, especially because of the changing but always interesting weather. Once I got to mow the lawn. The lawn went from barren and brown to bright thick spring green. Mom’s garden is looking spectacular about now.
There’s a picturesque sweetness to Deer Trail, if you take it nice and slow, like walking or biking. You can still hear Highway 70 no matter where you are, but I can, ultimately, see what Mom loved about it.
Dear Mom, rest in peace. I wish I could write something lovely about you here, but it’s too hard. We miss you.