God be with you, Charlie, until we meet again
Charles Peter Wilson
September 11, 1951
April 22, 2021
Some of you will undoubtably question my choice of photos to put with this story of Charles P. Wilson, my husband, and my constant companion for the past 25 years. Let me tell you a little about MY Charlie.
Yes, that’s my finger in the photo and you can see the stick pin that holds this picture on my vision board. It has been there for a couple of years now. Here is what this picture of Charlie means to me. Charlie is standing on the tallest mountain outside Nome. Alaska. He wrote a story about it that was published in the Gold Prospector Magazine that he titled “On Top of the World”. That was the Charlie I knew. Right below this picture on my vision board are the 7 Steps to Success. My Charlie was my inspiration to keep on going, no matter the pace, to never give up, to never quit trying. Now if you knew my Charlie you would know that the climb to get where he’s standing was not an easy one nor a fast one. There would have been many rest breaks, water breaks, and breaks just to appreciate where he was, but he would just keep putting one foot in front of the other until he got to where Charlie wanted to go.
Charlie was born in the Bronx, New York City, New York to Joseph and Aldona *Severoski” Wilson and he was welcomed into the family with an older sister, Donna and an older brother, James. When Charlie was just a wee lad of about 2 years his family packed up and moved to Miami, Florida, You see, little Jimmy had a medical condition that called for a warmer, drier climate and they went about as far south of New York City as they could go. I think they tried to be pretty good parents and Charlie’s tales of his childhood depict a typical 1950’s suburban upbringing filled with all those “Leave It to Beaver” moments.
His mother, Aldona was an LPN, or as Charlie fondly called her, a little plump nurse. Aldona’s parents had immigrated to America in the early 1900’s from Lithuania. His father, Joseph was a welder. Charlie told how he had broke his back when he was young and he could not work so he “road the rails” for a couple of years before he met Aldona. He gave Aldona a phony name when they met, and it wasn’t until they applied for their marriage license that she found out his real name was Joseph Wilson. Boy! I can tell you that it is not easy to do the genealogy of a man named Joseph (no middle initial) Wilson in a town the size of New York City. I have followed several lines back several generations with no real proof that I had the right family. Only the other day when I was looking on Charlie’s line to write this paper did I find that perhaps God has dropped another clue into my lap. It seems that perhaps Joseph Wilson may not have been born in New York City at all. Maybe he was born in Cokeburg, PA. I know that Aldona was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA so perhaps they already shared a bond. Aldona’s dad died when she was quite young in Wilkes-Barre and the Solveroski family moved to New York. The 1940 Census shows Aldona working for a Russian Family as a maid and the Soveroski boys took care and lived with their mother. Charlie remembers Grandma Bertha staying with them in Florida until her death. Aldona, as a nurse, I’m sure was the logical caretaker for her mother in the later part of her life.
Charlie told many tales of fishing in the Everglades; especially stories of going fishing with his Dad. Charlie graduated from High School in 1969 from Carroll City High School. Those of you that remember Charlie’s and I’s history, the 60’s were the height of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement era and the time of Woodstock, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. It was also during the draft and all the young boys over the age of 18 had to register to drafter into the US Military Service. Many of the young men were protesting, going to Canada, and burning their draft cards. Charlie said he burnt his. But he remembers the number he had. It was 256. Charlie claimed that Richard Nixon was his favorite president. Not because of his political party but because he stopped the draft. In fact, the last number drawn was 250. (or so the story Charlie tells goes.) By the skin of his chinny, chin, chin Charlie did not have to go to Vietnam.
After high school Charlie started college learning radio technology. He wanted to be a disc jockey he joked. (I think he could have made it. His phone voice would always just melt my bones and I would soon find myself agreeing to most anything he requested. He used to send me tapes from Alaska and I remember falling asleep listening to his voice telling me what it was like in a primitive gold prospecting camp outside of Nome, Alaska.)
The 1970’s were no picnic either. High unemployment and gas lines were the order of the day. A cute little gal caught Charlie’s eye and he soon found himself married with a wife to support. Gone was the schooling and gone was the dream of becoming a disc jockey. Unable to find full-time employment, Charlie took a job with Stanley Steamer, the carpet cleaning company. And Charlie was good at cleaning carpet. He told of doing the carpets on Aristotle’s yacht, Jackie Kennedy’s 2nd husband. He was very impressed with it. He always did the vacuuming at our house and you could sure tell when he didn’t.
Pam and Charlie’s marriage did not survive. When he was 24 his mother died. He married again to a gal that was a Mary Kay consultant. She had big dreams of her own. She was sure a pink Cadillac was in her future. Charlie during this time had gotten a job as a sheet-metal worker apprentice. A job that had some real growth potential. Radonna and Charlie’s marriage hit the skids too. It was simply a matter of two different lives moving in very different directions.
Charlie was not shy about admitting that he lived life to the fullest. Alcohol, fast cars, drugs, and wild parties were all part of his life. He told of pulling bales of marijuana out of the ocean that had been thrown overboard by the drug smugglers out of Cuba. Charlie remembers seeing the first NASA space shuttle, Columbia lifting off at Cape Canaveral in 1972. The Columbia Space Shuttle flew 27 missions to outer spaced and ended her career in 2003 when it exploded killing all her crew. Charlie shook the hands of professional wrestlers Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. He went to NASCAR car races, and rock and roll concerts.
Years of breathing welding fumes and toxins took a toll on Charlie’s dad. Soon he needed someone to help care for him and it was up to Charlie to pay the bills. He hired a young Polish woman to help care for his Dad. Charlie was finally getting steadier work with the sheet-metal union and one of his jobs took him to the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
Charlie’s dad died in February 1983. Wages were dismally low in Florida. Lots of Cuban refugees were arriving from Havana. Florida was a right-to-work state and Union wages were much better at jobs all across the United states. So at the age of 31 Charlie married the caretaker, Renea and when his father’s estate was settled, they took their portion and put down money on a new pickup and a 28 ft. travel trailer and headed for parts unknown. They went to up state New York which Charlie said was beautiful. He worked for a time on a couple of nuclear power plants, went noodling for catfish in Missouri and worked his way across the United States. He worked in Death Valley in California and for Micron in Boise, Idaho. It was while he was in Boise that Charlie was introduced to gold prospecting and the lure of the mountains and the wide-open spaces. Gold fever caught him and held on tight.
It was one of Charlie’s dreams to go to either Hawaii or Alaska so eventually he and Renea landed at the little RV camp in the Nisqually Valley right outside Olympia, WA. Olympia was only a few miles from Seattle and Portland and either one would provide a jump-off point for either of his dream destinations.
Charlie joined the Gold Prospectors Club and went one summer as a participant on a gold prospecting expedition to Cripple River, Alaska with the GPAA. He fell in love with Alaska and with gold prospecting. The next year he went back as a crew member from early June until the middle of September. His membership into the GPAA (Gold Prospectors of America Assn.) and the LDMA (Lost Dutchman Mining Assn.) were lifetime memberships signed by George (Buzzard) Massey himself. Charlie knew the entire Massey family and the Gold Fever weekly TV shows were “must see” episodes in our home.
Well while he was gone Charlie and Renea’s marriage also hit the rocks and the rocks were not filled with gold. Renea got the trailer and Charlie got the pickup and he vowed to never marry again. Three was enough.
Charlie was staying in room #13 at the Ranch Motel just up the road at the top of the hill from the Nisqually Tavern. Each evening would find him stopping at the Nisqually Tavern for a drink after work with the guys often not leaving for home until closing time. About that time a cute little blonde gal became a regular around the pool tables at the Nisqually Tavern. She was a sassy, mouthy little thing named Coy and she was trying real hard to heal a broken heart from a disastrous relationship. She lived right up the road in Hawks Prairie with her mom, Peggy and her Aunt Nancy.
So Charlie and I got acquainted because of my daughter. I would get lonesome at home and Nancy would often work late into the evenings. I am nowhere as good as Coy at shooting pool, but it was always fun to try and there were always people there to talk and laugh with. There were always several quarters lined up on the table when Coy was playing as the “pool hustlers” would try to beat her. She would often hold the table game after game. Even when I put my quarter on the table to try to play her again it would be several games before my turn would come up. That gave me plenty of time to get to know the guys and gals sitting around the big table. Charlie and I hit it off right off the bat. You see he has this tacky, sarcastic dry sense of humor and we would often find ourselves having a hilarious time laughing and talking when others didn’t even have a clue what we were talking about.
Nancy and I sold the trailer in Olympia and Nancy moved back to Yakima and moved into the barn above Mom and Dad’s place. It had a cute little apartment up there and it was right next to Dad’s workshop. How perfect!
Charlie and I were determined neither of us would ever marry again. Charlie was leaving in June to go to Alaska and I needed a place to live. I rented a little 2-bedroom apartment at the Concordia Apartments on Lily Road in Olympia. Charlie stored his extra belonging in my 2nd bedroom, and I took him up to Seattle to meet the crew headed to Alaska. Cripple River is 12 miles or so outside of Nome, Alaska and it was only when Charlie would come into Nome that I would get a very poor quality phone call from him. That is when I fell in love with his sexy voice. He would tell me stories of muskox, bears, salmon that ran so thick they made the river black, and always a story about how much gold they had found and the number he drew and how little he received when it was all split between all the participants.
Well, when Charlie came home, he never picked up his belongings. He just moved in and joined them and that was fine with me. Now comes the hard part of my story and that is because I do not know how to put 25 years together down in a few lines on this paper. We lived in that little apartment in Olympia for 10 years. I would come home on Friday nights and Charlie would have the pickup all packed. I would change out of my work clothes and into a pair of jeans and Charlie and I would be off to explore the back roads, mountains and streams. We went to several GPAA gold outings. In fact, our first official date was to the GPAA outing in Burnt River, OR right outside Baker City, OR. Hey, I was almost back home, and I was completely at home digging in the dirt and playing in the creek. I had done that all my life. We went to outings to Liberty, WA, Stanton Arizona, Scott River, CA and many of their mining claims in between. Our trips there and back were always filled with new adventures. We went to Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon and all the National Parks along the way throughout the Northwest and Southwest. When my vacation from work would come up every year we would take a week or maybe 2 weeks and hit the road. We went to Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park, Mount Rushmore and the Badlands of South Dakota. The north and south units of the Teddy Roosevelt National Parks along the breaks of the Missouri River were some of the most beautiful country we had ever seen. We slept in the back of the pickup and camped wherever there was a spot wide enough to pull off the road. We had buffalo feed through our campgrounds and watched the elk during their rutting season in Yellowstone Park. We toured the historical sites such as Custer’s Last Stand and visited many mining ghost towns along the way. We needed very little encouragement to pull off the road to try a pan or two and pick up a shiny rock or two. Our rock garden is filled with many such souvenirs. I have always told Coy that if anything happened to me and Charlie, that before she sold the place to be sure someone panned the rock garden as I know that many of the rocks that were put there had gold bearing ore in them. As I said, Charlie and I lived in that apartment for 10 years; that’s 52 weekends a year times ten years. Yes! 520 weekends to lock the door, let someone else worry about the yardwork, and hit the road for adventures yet to be.
Charlie’s jobs took him all over the northwest. I remember going on weekends to visit him in Everett, WA or Klatskanie, OR or any place in between. Charlie worked on the Jimmy Hendrix museum in Seattle, the Glass Museum in Tacoma, and Intel at Dupont, WA. It was while he was working on the Glass Museum that Charlie injured his left arm. While his arm was not broken anywhere; it pulled the muscles and ligaments away from his shoulder and he had to take a medical retirement from the sheet metal trade. L&I sent him to college to be re-trained, so Charlie went to South Sound Community College and learned to turn on a computer. However, computers and desks were not Charlie’s “thing”. After his schooling I don’t know of him ever turning on another computer, but he freely gave me advice about how to use mine. It would do no good to tell him, “Things have changed, Charlie. They have updated that program in the last 20 years and your old college books do me no good.” Charlie ended up fighting for a settlement and eventually was determined to be partially disabled and received SSI until he turned 65 and officially retired on Social Security.
About this time I had a little stomach discomfort and ended up at St. Peter’s hospital just up the road from our apartment. Probable cancer was the diagnosis. That kind of news sort of rocks your world, you know. They sent me up to the University Hospital in Seattle for surgery expecting to do a complete hysterectomy and remove the tumor that was growing in my uterus. Erma, Mom, and the Mormon priesthood came charging to my rescue. Benign! The power of prayer, a priesthood blessing, and a loving family can pull you through most anything. Charlie was a wonderful caregiver. He wouldn’t let me lift a thing, and the first time I drove the car after surgery was on the way home from the airport when I put Charlie on another plane bound for the wilds outside of Nome, Alaska.
It was only a couple years after Charlie was injured that I miscalculated and let a box of medical records I was retrieving from the warehouse drop to the floor. Although not badly hurt, I had heard a loud pop and soon the headaches and neck and shoulder pain had me seeking medical treatment. Yep! I blew out the C4 and C5 vertebrae in my neck. After months of painful treatments and then months of retraining it was determined that I would probably never be able to return to work as a bookkeeper and spend my days with my head looking down at a ledger book or staring at a computer screen. L&I found me a job they thought I could handle in the file room of DSHS Children’s Medical in downtown Olympia. That was the beginning of my career with the State of Washington. I started in the file room and in less than a year was promoted to the file room Lead worker. My co-worker, Deb Sharp, and I decided to try and see if we could pass the test and get jobs upstairs as Medical Eligibility Workers and earn the big bucks. We had heard the test was pretty difficult and some workers that had been there for years had failed the test. So Deb and I signed up for Medical Terminology classes at South Sound Community College. Before we even started the classes for the fall semester, Deb and I signed up to take the test to qualify for the position so we would know just what kind of test we would be faced with. Wouldn’t you know we both passed. But we had already paid our tuition money so we took the Medical Terminology classes anyway. Many afternoons would find us eating artichoke dip and chips at the Stuart Anderson Stake House in West Olympia with our 3x5 flash cards studying our terminology words before class. Both of us passed the class in the top 10% and both of us got jobs upstairs on the 5th floor as Medical Eligibility Specialists working on applications and eligibility reviews for people wanting State Medical coverage for their children.
Well Charlie was still at home during this time. He wrote several stories about his adventures in Alaska that were published in the Gold Prospectors magazine and one about his “noodling” catfish in Missouri that was published in the Northwest Fisherman magazine.
On July 3, 1999 Charlie walked Coy down the aisle of the little wedding chapel in Olympia. We used that excuse to have a great family reunion out at Mayfield Lake Resort near Mossyrock. We had a great weekend sharing the happy occasion with family and friends. We booby-trapped the “honeymoon” tent with little metal bells that jingled every time the mattress moved. We danced, we played water balloon volleyball, and had a wonderful time as a family. It showered upon us all weekend long and since the grass had just gotten it first really good mowing, and you know how fresh grass sticks to everything, we had it everywhere. Coy and Jim were married on Saturday, July 3 and since the 4th was on Sunday that year we watched the fireworks explode over Lake Mayfield and all around us.as we danced the night away to the sounds of a local DJ and exploding fireworks raining down upon us. Most of our working guests had Monday the 5th off since the 4th was on Sunday and wouldn’t you know that as everyone was packing up and loading wet sleeping bags, camping equipment, and people into their cars to go home, the day dawned into a beautiful sunny day with not a cloud in sight. We didn’t care. We had a blast and the whole campground was filled with lots of family, and love, and fun.
On the morning of February 28, 2001 the Nisqually Earthquake rocked our world. Charlie was shopping at Rite Aid in Lacey and I was attending a management meeting on the 5th floor of one of the DSHS buildings in downtown Olympia. That was pretty scary. It was several hours before I was able to make it home and we were able to hug one another and thank God that we were all okay. We all had “quake” stories to tell.
Along about this time, Olympia and surrounding area really began to grow. Lots of new homes and people moving in as Madigan Air Force base and Ft Lewis Army base merged operations. Intel, the computer chip company was going great at that time too. Charlie and I longed for the wide-open spaces and soon I was keeping an eye out for property outside the Olympia city limits. In the spring of 2003 I took Charlie for a ride out into the country down in Lewis County just outside Chehalis to look at a 5-acre lot that used to be part of a 20-acre pasture used by the Hamilton family as part of their turkey farm. This 5 acres sat on the banks of the beautiful Newaukum River, it was flat, and it was looking for new owners. We bought March 2003 and so began our life as landowners. We no longer went roaming the backroads. We spent our weekends working like dogs on “the farm” and would come back to Olympia happy but exhausted on Sunday evenings to begin the week at our “real” jobs.
It was about this time that Charlie suffered his first round of heart problems. He suffered what they call a TIA (A transient ischemic attack has the same origins as that of an ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke). Charlie was no longer able to continue working at all. He had to retire. It didn’t take long to find out that when it comes to medical issues that a “significant other” has very few rights. A lot has changed since then but at that time Charlie’s medical thru the Sheet Metal Union was running out and while building the dome greenhouse on our new 5-acres a Mormon elder by the name of Jack Bell stopped by to see what we were building. Once Jack found out that I was of Mormon descent it wasn’t long before we were being visited by the Senior Missionaries, Brother and Sister Faas serving in the Chehalis area. To make a long story a little shorter it wasn’t long before Charlie and I were talking of marriage. I could add him to my State insurance for about $34 per month and the Cobra insurance offered by the Union would cost $800-$900 a month. Spouses also had many more rights when dealing with medical issues as well.
Well Charlie and I were married June 26, 2004. The blue shed for equipment storage and the pump house were already built. Charlie did a wonderful job on both and if 1 nail was good, 10 was even better. I have always said that if we ever flood here I am getting in the blue shed because I know it is well enough built that I can ride it down the river until I reach the ocean. The weather here in Western Washington is always a little iffy and we chose June 26th for our wedding day. The day was cloudy with sunbreaks. Family started to arrive for the occasion and Charlie had put a couple of bags of perlite down the aisle of the grape arbor so that I was supposed to walk down the aisle of white under the grape arbor and we would be married under the shade of the trees at the rear of the property. Mom and Dad were getting pretty elderly by this time, but they signed the wedding certificate as our witnesses. Just about the time of the ceremony a big black cloud started building to the west and it sure looked like we were going to get drenched. I had decorated our newly completed geodesic dome greenhouse for the reception and had crepe paper streamers and a paper wedding bell hanging from the ceiling. We decided to move it all indoors – just in case. So Bishop Rasmussen married us standing in front of the fish tank in the greenhouse. Just as we were saying our vows the sun came out. Soon the temperature in that greenhouse began to rise. Soon the guests were sweating just as badly as the bride and the groom as we said the words that both of us had sworn to never utter again and the deed was done. 9 Years in the Making is how I worded our wedding invitations. I think that wedding license is probably the last legal paper my Dad ever signed as it was only about 6 months later that Dad had his stroke.
Thus began Charlie and I’s married life. We were happy, we loved the farm, and we couldn’t wait to move to Lewis County. We spent a couple of years looking at homes and trying to decide what kind of place we wanted to build here. Charlie built us a 22x40ft metal shed which we lovingly called the “Honeymoon Cottage” and in 2006 we moved onto the property full time. Inside the pump house was the water holding tank and the water heater. Charlie made a shower outside the doors and when the doors to the pump house were open it created a neat little shower stall with a simple shower curtain between the 2 open doors. The sink and the washer and dryer sat under the eaves. We put our bed at one end of the Honeymoon Cottage and a table and a couple of chairs plus a propane heater at the other. We cooked our meals on a 2-burned hot plate or in an electric skillet and did quite well there that winter. It was a little bit of a “head game” to convince yourself that you really wanted to take a shower when it was little above 20 degrees outside, but once you were under the hot water of the shower it really didn’t matter. Once you had finished your shower you didn’t waste anytime drying off and getting back into the warmth of the Cottage and under the covers and cuddled up with your spouse.
During this time our house was being built. We had chosen an Adair custom-built home and they started the construction late summer. We spent Thanksgiving weekend painting the outside of the house in 2 different shades of blue. We had to purchase paint that was made especially for use in the cold 30-degree temperatures. The winter of 2007/2008 was not near the novelty of the winter before and we were anxious for the house to be finished. Christmas came and went. Maybe we would be in by my birthday in February. We did not yet have our occupancy permit but on my birthday, February 3, 2008 I snuck into the new house and took my first hot-water and bubble bath filled soak that I had had in over a year. A week later on February 10th we had the permit and we moved into our new home. What a wonderful time that was! Our future lay before us! We spent our time painting our new home in colors that Charlie and I liked. We had both lived most of our lives in rented properties where the walls were painted off-white and we were not allowed to pound a nail into the walls to hang a picture. Our house would not be like that!! Our big picture windows face the back yard so we painted the east wall not quite a “school bus yellow” but several shades of yellow blended together. That is our sunrise wall. The wall on the west end of the front room has more orange mixed into the yellow and that is the sunset wall. The walls under the kitchen counter seating area and around the windows are painted like an old brick wall looking out onto the beautiful yard in back. Lots of color, lots of fun, and lots of dreams were shared. As we bought plants to landscape we wanted plants that not only looked nice but were productive as well. If we were going to mow and weed around it, we wanted it to give something back as well. So we have cherry trees, walnut trees, filbert trees, a mulberry, an Italian plum, a peach tree, and several apple trees. And we have berries too. We have raspberries, red and black currant berries, goumi berries, blue honeyberries, and our favorite, the Aronia berries. We tilled a garden and planted corn, green beans, beets, lettuce and all those other things you plant like ground cherries and potatoes and tomatoes. It was all a wonderful adventure and Charlie turned out to be quite the gardener. He has done the planting most every year.
So together Charlie and I faced the future. By the spring of 2008 I had been diagnosed with AFIB, high blood pressure, and a number of other ailments. My Dad was not doing well either. So July 1st I opted to take early retirement and on the day we signed the final mortgage papers on the house, I also ended my career with the State of Washington. Dad died in August that year and we made our first trip back to the little family cemetery in Bear, Idaho where he was born and raised, and where his father, brother, his grandparents, and many other family members laid at rest. In 2013 we laid my mother there beside him.
My sister Nancy was diagnosed with brain cancer and I spent several weeks going to Eastern Oregon (by this time Nancy and Zella had both moved back to Halfway, OR). Zella married a local cattle rancher, Jay Sly in 2000, and Nancy was longing for home so she got as close as she could and still earn a living. Nan was only given 9 months to live after she was diagnosed but she lived another 5 years. She had work God wanted her to complete before her journey here on earth was done. She went to the temple and had her temple work done and was sealed for time and all eternity to my Mom and Dad. In April of 2014 I convinced both Nancy and Lorretta to move over here so I could help take care of them. We moved them into a little house in Onalaska just 5 miles up the road. It was while we were looking for her a new primary provider that it was discovered that her cancer had returned. Nancy had a real desire that summer to go visit our cousin, Ruth (Smith) (Wilmarth) McGinnis. Ruth was best friends with my mother and was like a second mother to all of us Warner girls. So Retta, Nancy, and I left one day and took off for Clarkston, WA to visit Ruth who was then living with her daughter, MaryJo. We had a wonderful trip and other than a little car trouble in Grangeville it all went well. Little did we realize that in less than 6 months neither Nancy nor Ruth would be with us. Nancy and Retta moved into our home but she was here just a short time before the Lord called her home. Her work on earth was done. I prayed she would not suffer and my prayers were answered. She got sick on a Thursday and the hospital here in Centralia was quite overloaded that night for some reason, so we had to take her up to St. Pete’s in Olympia. We were at home there. More prayers and kind mercies of the Lord came over the next few hours. I am afraid if she would have been hospitalized here in Centralia, Charlie and I would have probably came home that night. Instead, we spent the night at her bedside in Olympia. I am so grateful. Once Larry and Mary got there the next morning, Charlie and I told them that we would let them have a few private moments with Nan while Charlie and I took a little break. We hadn’t even made it down the elevator and out to the little memorial garden there in front of St. Pete’s when the nurse came out to tell us that Nan was gone. I think she had only been waiting to tell Larry goodbye. She died October 18, 2014 and we laid her to rest with the rest of the family in the little cemetery at Bear. Another trip to Idaho.
In 2015 Erma was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took the radiation therapy and chemo and was at last declared free of cancer. She and her girls went out to lunch at Sam’s Club to celebrate. Just a few weeks later Erma came down with a simple urinary tract infection and her immune system was so low that it went sepsis and she died on Mom and Dad’s anniversary date, December 28, 2014. Another trip to Bear to lay her to rest in the arms of family she loved so dear. Erma had already earned her halo here on earth, and I know she is wearing one in heaven as well. I talk to them all almost daily. I know they watch over me.
The past 5 years have been pretty peaceful for Charlie and me. We love our home. I made the choice to once again get active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think that was my New Year’s resolution in 2008 and I have missed very few Sundays since. Little did Charlie realize how that decision would impact his life also. I got involved in Family History and genealogy. Nancy and Erma had both been actively working at it and I seemed to be the next in line. Nan gave me all her records that she had researched. It just seems like it was part of God’s plan. Home teachers, missionaries, and visiting teachers were all welcomed into our home. Soon Charlie was watching General Conference with me and learning about his own family history as well as mine. You cannot learn of my family history without learning a whole lot about the Mormon pioneers because all my ancestors were there. Church history, for me, is family history.
With 2019 came our current COVID-19 pandemic. Soon we were not allowed to attend in-person church services but they were being broadcast to our phones and computers. At least once a month the priesthood holders would bring us the sacrament so that I could renew my baptismal covenants with the Lord. Our Sunday school lessons were also broadcast on TV and we could watch them at our leisure. Although I could never convince Charlie to come to church with me (to him that meant a white shirt and tie) with it now being broadcast to my phone, I could lay the phone on the coffee table between our recliners and he would join me at “church”. What a blessing! Not long ago my wonderful Ministering Sister, Patsy Boren and I had a plan. We thought it was time to ask Charlie if he didn’t think it was about time he joined Christ’s church. He agreed that, yes, he thought it was time, that he believed the Book of Mormon and other doctrine that he had absorbed over the years. We were setting up plans for the Sister Missionaries to come give him the discussions when Charlie fell ill.
Charlie collapsed on March 22 just as we were arriving home from my cardiology doctor’s appointment. Suddenly he was being transported to Tacoma General Hospital and because of the COVID restrictions I was not allowed to come see him. What a challenge and trial that was. Charlie was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer that has metastasized to his brain and adrenal glands (and most likely throughout other body parts). He was released March 30 to come home and to seek Oncology and Radiation Therapy here at the Cancer Clinic here in Centralia.
Many thoughts and prayers were offered in Charlie and I’s behalf but we all know that it is God’s timing that makes that final decision when we will be called home. I had said many prayers that God would not suffer and would pass peacefully into the arms of our Savior. I just did not realize it would be so quickly. We had to rush Charlie back to hospital on the 17th. He had lost massive amounts of blood and was bleeding internally. This time because of his terminal illness diagnosis Coy and I both were allowed to be with Charlie every day. He was scheduled to be released from the hospital last Thursday and would be coming home for Hospice care for as much time as he had left. Charlie said he did not want to come home and place that burden on me. He wanted to stay in the hospital. He was still so very weak. Thursday morning came and I stayed home to receive the hospital equipment we would need to care for him. Coy went to the hospital to be with Charlie. When I called her she said “Mom, Charlie is not doing good. He keeps trying to get out of bed and he keeps saying “Help me, Help me”. I said, “I’ll be right there”. Charlie had declined a lot during Wednesday night and Thursday morning. I’m not even sure he was able to recognize that I was there but hopefully he at least could hear me tell him how very much I loved him. The words “God be with you till we meet again” kept circling through my mind. I texted my wonderful friend and priesthood holder and said, “Jim, Charlie’s dying. I need you,” He called me back and said “I’m at LaBree Road. I’m on my way.” What a wonderful friend to have. Within minutes Jim was there. He gave Charlie a blessing and then he gave Coy and I a blessing as well. I know that we were all comforted by what the Lord had to say to us. Thank God that he gives us angels here on earth to walk among us as priesthood holders and Ministering Sisters. Charlie passed from this earth to the one beyond just before 1:00 p.m. April 22, 2021. He will be laid to rest in the little family cemetery at Bear at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 30th. I know that he is in good company. Joe said he would dig his grave next to Nan’s leaving plenty of room for me and Coy to lay beside him.
So this is my version of Charlie’s life. I’m sure if he had written it himself, he would have told it much differently. Charlie was my soulmate, my inspiration, my love. Oh, how I miss him all ready! When the love goes out of your home, it becomes just another house. I look forward to the days when I will join him once more in the House of our Lord.
God be with you, Charlie, until we meet again.