Godfrey is about 10 inches tall, sits down with his front paws placed in front of him and is always quiet. His ears jut out from his round face, and he has huge eyes with enormous half closed lids. My son Doug won Godfrey in one of those prize boxes where you put in a dollar and hope to use those metal jaws to pull out a toy. One year Doug got very lucky and we ended up giving a couple dozen stuffed animals to “Toys for Tots” all except Godfrey; he’s mine.
I was watching one of my favorite shows the other night when the phone rang.
It was my youngest son Danny, calling to ask if I realized that this week was the anniversary of his, and my ex-husband his dad, helping me move from Fallon to Lowman, Idaho, in 1990. We talked and after our conversation I tried to continue watching TV but instead ended up telling my little 10-inch friend all about that trip.
It was in 1983, realizing my husband had medical problems, that we decided to trade our home in Cascade for a much smaller, and less expensive, property in Lowman. Our plan was to live in Lowman during the winter and using a recreational vehicle to stay in Cascade for Van’s job during the summer season. We moved in November and had been enjoying our new home most of the winter. But finally in late February Van said we needed to get away, and we headed to see the family in California.
It was then, in March of 1984 that he became ill in Bishop and passed away in Reno the next day. I went home with my sons Danny and Donald to unpack and then head for New York for yet another funeral when my sister-in-law’s husband died. There I was, a widow, in a house up in the middle of nowhere.
Lowman is a dot that doesn’t even show on most maps. There are a couple of lodges with one that has a tiny grocery, but nothing else. I couldn’t stand to stay there, and packed up all of my personal things and was very appreciative when Van’s Masonic brothers packed up the rest of our furnishings and sold them in a special auction. Our house was now empty and listed for sale with a realtor in Boise. And it stayed like that for six long years.
Finally, in desperation, I decided to leave Fallon and return to Lowman to sell the place myself. Danny heard about this and since he was already visiting his dad in California, while on vacation, suggested the two of them come and help me move. It was a good opportunity, Danny mentioned, for the two of them to see some of Idaho. Those two followed me in a U-Haul truck, up through Boise and winding up and up and up through those mountains to that little log home in the pines.
Finding the hidden key we went inside. The first thing I saw, after six years of being empty, was a tiny piece of tinsel from our last Christmas tree. Upstairs in the bathroom was a half empty bottle of Van’s shampoo, and downstairs on the kitchen wall was a copy of the “Creed” that Van had placed there. He lived by those words. I had a rough time that first day back in my home.
But the next day I drove Don and Danny up to Stanley, past the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains as they kept saying “wow” at the beauty. We had a nice dinner and had a great visit. My ex-husband said later that he finally was beginning to understand my love for Van and the kind of life he and I had enjoyed so much. In no time I got a job working at the Lowman Lodge when a young man came in to buy cigarettes and asked if there was a property for sale anywhere? I sold him mine.
I remember sitting in my packed up Toyota in front of our Lowman home, the home Van and I had loved so much and saying a final goodbye. Then I thought about my life today. It’s yet another spring day many years later, and I told Godfrey something. I told him how grateful I am for my many beautiful memories. Godfrey didn’t answer; he just looked up with those enormous eyes as if saying, why are you surprised?
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.