It goes on

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
– Robert Frost

It’s been a month since we’ve returned from New Mexico, but I wanted to write an entry dedicated specifically to our time at the ranch in Springer, where my last surviving grandparent still lives.

Ellen at the ranch (Credit: Arthur Trujillo) A quiet moment with great grandmother Coppock An old manure spreader (which for many years served as the foundation for the pier at the pond)

I spent many a happy day with my grandparents at their ranch. I can’t imagine my childhood without them or the ranch. There were barns we could explore, irrigation ditches we could swim in, a  pond where we could fish, and a thicket of trees in which we could build forts. There were also animals: there were cows, horses, geese, chickens, pigs, sheep, a dog or two, and plenty of cats. And, when we were done with all that, there was my grandmother’s fantastic cooking waiting for us in the house.

A calendar from 1963, still hanging in the barn In the barn The barn

But that was then. While the ranch remains overall the same, everything is different now. Grandpa died last March after a long, slow decline. Grandma stopped cooking years ago. And now she’s in constant pain from various age-inflicted ailments. Her memory is failing. She asks where her husband of seventy years is, and has to learn (or be reminded — no one is sure) that he is gone.

The barn The ranch Velma Coppock

The family is going through what it went through with grandpa: losing someone so central to the family that it’s hard to imagine the family without them. And, as we did with grandpa, we’re losing grandma in tiny increments. These increments are so small that, from year to year and month to month, you don’t know what you’ve lost. Then one day it hits you: the grandparent you knew is gone. That loving source of wisdom, strength and family history is no longer there.

The ranch house The trees The sunset

And yet, on this visit, it was abundantly clear that life goes on. Some ninety years after Velma Coppock was born — as her life winds down — her house was full of great-grandchildren.

Ellen tries her hand at farming Ellen and Cora June and her second cousin Leah

June demonstrates a complete and utter disregard for the suffering of others. In this case her second cousin Leah. DSC_3717.JPG Kitty is the perfect companion for exploring scary irrigation canals.

DSC_3791.JPG The June-bug hangs out with Bon-bon Ellen at the ranch (Credit: Arthur Trujillo)

It’s hard to say how much grandma enjoyed having seven great-grandchildren running around. At times she seemed to enjoy them, but at times she seemed confused and even distressed.

My cousin Sarah bravely drove five hours each way with three kids, all to spend a few days with family. Apparently I have a weakness for fresh-faced farmer's daughters... Arthur, Velma's oldest great-grandchild, takes a break from making great pictures

Part of the problem is her fading memory — there’s no doubt about that.

Velma CoppockBut another factor is that she’s on heavy dosages of pain medication. Even without the dementia, she’d surely be foggy due to the various pills. But still, even with all the medication, she is still plainly and constantly in pain. As much as I hate to lose her, I hope she doesn’t suffer for much longer.

Update: Velma passed away in August, 2012.

8 Thoughts on “It goes on

  1. Art trujillo on July 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm said:

    Adam: that is SO moving that I’m trying very hard to remain dry-eyed. Very sensitive. I’m sure others will appreciate it as well.

  2. Art Trujillo on August 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm said:

    Well, Adam, she died this morning. Now it’s time to CELEBRATE her life, even though many tears will be shed. My recollections about her are that she was the consummate farm wife, a whiz in the kitchen, a master with the butter churn, a supreme maker of popcorn and fudge on Sunday nights, a devoted church member, and, especially a lover of all living things. She risked serious injury and illness years ago when she lifted a skunk with her bare hands and slammed it against the wall because that skunk was attacking her kittens. She needed to undergo a series of rabies shots for her cat-saving efforts. Velma was a highly intelligent woman, seldom making a grammatical error, unless she did so for effect. And she had a way with the language, resurrecting words like “cattywampus” for crooked and “addle-pated” for confused. Seeing her in the hospital room for the last couple of weeks of her life convinced us that she was ready to let go. She isn’t suffering now. We’ll miss you, Grandma Velma.

  3. Stewart on August 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm said:

    Very moving, Stanley Adam!

    Brought back many happy memories for me and for us, too.

    I agree with your father, we should make sure we celebrate all your grandparents were to all of us at the same time we are sad to no longer have them with us.

    We wish we could be with you all to take part in the celebration…

    Stewart and Karen

  4. Jennifer Kessler on August 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm said:

    Thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry that your family is suffering another major loss. I feel honored to have known your grandparents. Visiting their home is one of my favorite Coppock reunion memories. Love and hugs to you all!

  5. Sherrie Doke on August 6, 2012 at 7:46 pm said:

    Beautifully written and photographed, Adam. I am glad I got to visit the farm and the Coppocks years ago. What a strong and enduring legacy they both leave behind. My heart goes out to you all during these very sad days.

  6. Tina Apodaca on August 7, 2012 at 3:08 am said:

    My deepest sympathy in the loss of your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. I know what it is to care for an aging parent, and I’m sure she appreciated everything you did for her. I hope you will take comfort that she is no longer suffering. I will say a prayer for all of you. May our Lord bless her soul. She would be pleased by the beautiful tribute you prepared for her.

  7. Gary Wilson on August 7, 2012 at 7:17 am said:

    What a moving and delightful mini-memoir, featuring Velma. I didn’t know her well, because of distance and time, but I heard so many wonderful stories about her and Stanley, via Modena, that I felt I had some idea of the life-force she was. I know everyone will miss her, but having cherished memories, and as Stanley Adam says, moving on in life is important. Evidenced by the lovely new life-forces emerging here. Heartfelt condolences to you all.

  8. Beautiful, Stan. I remember she made the best cherry pies ever! You were so very blessed with all your grandparents and now you’re blessed with your own beautiful daughters. Yes, I’m glad she’s not suffering now. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful and sensitive blog with us.
    Aunt Doey

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