Finding life’s direction…

May 2017

I spent the first week of May in Grand Marais, packing my things after staying in a charming house there on and off all winter. It is where I worked on the third draft of my memoir. Most of this winter was cloudy and I began feeling a bit depressed as I wrote and relived Barry’s and my many-year journey with FTD. I spent much of my time avoiding work on the book. And when I did try to concentrate on the work, it seemed that I was always taking breaks to jam a cookie or candy into my mouth. Eating sweets is the way I cope when things are hard. In any event, I finally finished the third draft. I now look forward to working on other projects and start hiking again. Spring, however, can be a tough time to hike. It is wet, muddy and icy, not a good combination for making much headway.

The sun suddenly came out as I cleaned the house. I realized then that I also had to stop avoiding scattering Barry’s ashes along my favorite trail. Barry had never been on this trail, but it is where I found the lions’ mane mushroom that reportedly helps with memory loss and dementia. The day I found that lion’s mane was the day I really started to feel hopeful again. I know I will visit this trail many more times to look for that mushroom and remember this turning point in our FTD journey. Now it was time to head out into the sunny warm day with a small container of Barry’s ashes. At first I went the wrong direction on the trail. I continue to surprise myself with how often I can get lost. After walking for an hour along the trail, I realized the error, turned around and walked the other way. By the time I got to the lions’ mane spot, I had walked for three hours.

Winter had really changed the woods, but I knew I was in the right spot. The sun was shining, the air still and it felt really good scattering his ashes on such a pretty day. I saved a small amount of ashes to scatter at the beginning of the trail, thinking that someday I will bring my grandchildren here and they might be able to walk an hour in and an hour out with me. As my feet ached after three hours of hiking, I had to admit to myself that someday I won’t be able to walk that far again. With mission accomplished, I returned to the house for a cold beer. Barry would have enjoyed that part of the day best.

The next day I decided it was time to hike the last part of the Superior Hiking Trail. I didn’t get much of it done last summer and still have a long way to go. Naturally I got lost again and went way out of my way trying to find the trail. Another two- hour mistake. Later that day I met my friend Carol for a burger and a beer and we laughed about my missing sense of direction. As we chatted, Carol asked many questions about my future. I really haven’t figured it out yet. All I know is that I want to keep writing and hiking as long as I can.

On my drive back to Minneapolis, I stopped and found the right part of the Superior Hiking Trail that I had been looking for and walked twelve miles of it. When I was done my feet hurt again, but I felt hopeful that I was finally on my way. I know that even if I spend some of the time lost, I will get there. Wherever there may be.

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6 comments on “Finding life’s direction…
  1. Nancy Carlson Wangstad says:

    What an interesting journey you have been on. Barry is in heaven and in no pain and watching down and helping you find your way. Our prayers are still with you and hope for a great continued journey!!!

  2. Keep on walking. You’re finding your way.

  3. Nancy Paxson says:

    Thanks for continuing to share your journey! ‚òÄ

  4. Emilie Quast says:

    “May the road rise to greet you…”

  5. Tim Moodie says:


    Your writing has really gotten rich and layered and I can’t wait for the memoir, it will pull readers in on a fantastic journey.
    Thank you.

  6. Joe Nathan says:

    Thanks for continuing to share your journey (and your courage).

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