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Whoever said you can’t go back home didn’t know the loving acceptance of such friends and family. As Mom and I pondered the advantages of such a move the thought of where we would be settling brought up a very pleasant memory for Mom. This is where she began her life with Dad. After Dad left the service they settled right there in Oxnard. In fact her first four children were born in the county so in effect she is coming full circle. She’s not starting over, she’s coming back. And it is so comforting to know that the ones who have missed her are standing in line to welcome her home. And I’m more than happy to be part of the package.

For those who love her there is concern. Is she making a move to soon? Will she regret leaving the Oregon home she has loved for so long? What about downsizing to a smaller house and yard? Will she miss what she is about to give up? All very good questions and ones not considered lightly. Unfortunately there are no clear rules and regulations for what to do and when to do it when you lose a lifelong partner. I know because I looked desperately. Long and hard I looked to no avail after Larry died. Sure there are the generally accepted 7 stages of grief and the old adage… wait a year. But those aren’t cast in stone because every heart is different and some people are more resilient than others. Some can see a silver lining where others see a dark cloud. I was the dark cloud kind; lost and sad for a very long time. Mom however seems to be the type of Widow I so wanted to be. Sad but not mired in grief, looking at a life ahead rather than the one behind. Maybe that’s because she has had the past three years to grieve having had the advance knowledge of death. Or maybe it’s just because she is the strong and hopeful woman I’ve always known her to be. Either way I am proud of her because she still has her “get up and go” and it’s become more evident with her decision.

Her choice to leave this “little paradise” in Oregon may be a surprise to some but what is more surprising is that many of the ones who will miss her the most are relieved and happy for her too. They are relieved that she will not have the worry of trying to take care of such a rural property. They are relieved that mom will still have the closeness of family when I need to work. They are happy that she is choosing to surround herself with people she already knows and loves and they are thrilled to see her smiling. And that’s the most important….. She is smiling

Words have come a lot harder than the tears this past week so please forgive us for not saying sooner…  Thank You

The entire family thanks you for the many meals you’ve provided for our sustenance.  Thank you for the fragrant flowers sent to remind us that there is still beauty in a world shadowed with pain.  Thank you for the all-embracing hugs and condolences given to comfort us.  And our appreciation too, to those of you who have been here in spirit when you couldn’t be here in person.  We have benefited from your prayers and love as well.

It has been easy to dwell on the sadness when our heart clasps our breath at the most unlikely times and tears burn with the reminder we won’t see dad chopping wood, cooking dinner or reading his favorite book, today.  How greedy life makes us when we lose someone we love.  What deals we would make to have them back.  Yet as we are mired in loss for now,  we must keep remembering that the deal has already been sealed.  It has been most definitely sealed with the blood of our God’s son.  A promise that must lighten our hearts every time the thick gloom takes hold.  And we’ve seen that light in the love that is continuing to be extended to our family.  So, again, thank you for giving us a glimpse of the kind and loving world we will next see our father living in.

So how do you say goodbye to a Grandfather, a Father, a Husband, and a Friend?   You gather your closest and pray in earnest, you shed your tears on other quaking shoulders and embrace in a strong longing hold and then you remember.   You remember all the things about him that you loved and even the little things that irritated you and then you calm your voice and sing in praise for the hope we share.

And that is exactly what the Cook Family did.  On May 21, 2011 we gathered.  Along with friends and with those of you there in spirit, we remembered Dad.  Lloyd Yandell, a long time friend of father’s gave a heart comforting discourse on the life of Rayford Ennis Cook.   He described dad’s love for his family and for his God Jehovah.  He told of his generosity toward others, his love for the ministry, the hospitality he extended and the back-breaking work he was willing to do to help out when needed.   He even recounted dad’s frugality with a little humor.   Remember the red and white truck?  Well, it is still in the yard, though a little worse for the wear.  So it seems there had been a long-standing joke between Lloyd and dad over the need to replace it, or at least the old tattered broom that stood at the ready in the back of it.   Dad would laugh convinced there was no need for himself to become “materialistic” just because Lloyd had a newer more shiny one.  Lloyd got the better of him though.  Dad was quite surprised when he discovered his old rusty Ford truck was sporting a shiny new broom courtesy of his gloating “materialistic” friend.

We were comforted by the scriptures Dad appreciated the most and reminded of the many times he quizzed us to teach us how to reason on them.   It was with that reasoning we were strengthened with what the bible really teaches about the sleep like condition of the dead and the resurrection that awaits them.   Dad’s belief in that promise was sure right through the end.  He could still be heard trying to share his faith and love for Jehovah even with his last breaths.  Along with his stanuch faith there came his last request…. That he be welcomed back to that New World by each and every one of his loved ones.   With that we all stood and sang the following song as if the words of Rayford Ennis Cook where echoing in our ears.

Tamie’s husband, Randy Mason then helped us all in his closing prayer to appreciate the value of leaning on Jehovah while we continue to look forward to seeing our father again in Paradise.

Following a lovely reception at the Kingdom Hall, hosted by the Reedsport Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses the Cook Family made a stop at Lake Marie….one of dad’s favorite fishing spots.    There, along with a few close friends we paid our final tribute in love to the man who had stood on those very banks fishing for trout when he wasn’t “fishing for men.”

Earlier that morning I had found a poem written in my father’s hand, tucked next to his Bible. It was fitting that it be read aloud as my brother Roger cast a line into the lake and planted one of dad’s fishing poles into the bank of Lake Marie.

The Long Garment of Love

can’t stand on the banks of the river of waters of life, watching them slowly
glide by.  The river flows eventually
into the Lake of Everlasting life where there will forever be islands of
paradise and always smooth sailing.

as the river winds its way – there will be eddies, ripples, rocks, even some small falls.  These are really your Brothers
and Sisters, some rough cut – not too clean yet, immature, not so nearly as
nice as you.  They will cause you some
bumps, bruises and scrapes…  Nothing more than skin deep.

Enduring them will be your very greatest challenge!!!

Not to worry!

The waters of truth will
cleanse all who Go with the flow – the others will be washed ashore.

No way to avoid the bumps – but you can
avoid the bruises and scrapes if you stay fully clad in the buoyant, water
resistant, heavy duty, all purpose, long garment of Love

written by

Rayford Ennis Cook

After this reading the men who loved him wrote personal sentiments on rocks before skipping them across the peaceful clear water before us. The daughters and granddaughters in remembrance of their “Poppy;” then continued the tribute by tossing in after the stones, beautiful little orange and golden poppies. Mom completed the family service on the shore by tossing in a last bouquet of poppies and softly saying, “Goodbye Honey.”

Dad has been trying to outsmart the “C” monster that has invaded his body.    He had seemed to be quite successful at holding it at bay…but now the monster has made it clear that it has a firm hold and refuses to retreat quietly. In fact, it appears that the cancer has dug into a position that can no longer be successfully dealt with. Dad has a tumor that is blocking a bile duct and there is evidence that his liver is shutting down. He is extremely jaundiced and has been dealing with nausea, loss of appetite, increasing weakness and other bothersome symptoms. He is not bedridden, but is spending a lot of time sleeping. Hospice has been reinstated and Dad is making sure that all his Ts are crossed and all his I’s are dotted.  He is in good spirits, but is resigned to the reality of the situation. He has a fantastic support team with the local Congregation and family members, but has expressed that there are so many that have touched his life that he would like to see again.

We have arranged a Skype account so that he and Mom can video conference. They have enjoyed visiting with family members and get a real kick out of talking  and seeing  their  Grand-children and Great-Grandchildren. Ahh, sweet technology!

If you would like to see and talk with Dad and Mom, please download a free Skype account at this link:

Call the house and we will make sure the web-cam is on so we can initiate the connection :  541-759-1076.

Your love and prayers have been invaluable and we truly cherish all of you.

The Cook Family

We’ve made the trips down memory lane and traipsed through fields of cotton, driven down dusty dirt roads and through nearly vacant townships and spent time exploring lonely cemeteries.   And it’s amazing what Dad and Mom have recalled of their youth.  The stories told by others have added reams to what I thought I knew about our parentage. There is good, there is bad and there is funny. But mostly there is insight for a generation that could not even imagine what life was like some 70 years ago. Technology has certainly provided us with a standard of living that seemed impossible back then.   And yet if the truth were really told we would probably be better off without some of it, though running water and paved roads are a plus.  

 Who ever said, “You can’t go back home” was  right. At least when it comes to the town. When it comes to family and friends, now that’s a different matter. We are thoroughly enjoying our trip. We left Orlando after the visits with Dallas, Stacy and Betty and headed to Savannah where we converged on Uncle Jack and Aunt Ann. (Mom’s brother and his wife). They welcomed us with open arms and lots of food which we added to thanks to the greens and okra and other garden variety vegetables that Dallas and Stacy had blessed us with. Dad wasn’t about to leave such a treasure trove of such southern fare to a grandson who was raised in California.   Not to say that Brandon is picky, but let’s just say he didn’t mind that we took the loot.

From Savannah we toured Hardeeville SC (Mom’s birth place) visited Dora Sauls, an old school friend in Beaufort.   We enjoyed time with Kenny and Margie’s family on Tybee Island and visited with David, Ann and Barry Turner before heading to Waycross.    In route, we  tracked down my great grandmother’s old home in Allenhurst Georgia.  Unfortunately in has fallen into ruin  but the memories were still lurking.   And once we brushed the leaves off the graves of family buried nearby we continued on.

Oh,  I should say that having a navigation system has been indispensible on this trip.  I’d have never found Swamp Rd without it.   And I would have hated to miss our stay with the rest of the Turner- Brantley, Knox and Orr families.  All together just around the corner from Aunt Rosa’s old home.   Again we can’t get together and not mention the meals.   It’s where we seem to share the most, the loving preparation, the banter with activity and then the sitting down to share time and more good memories.   Such as Aunt Rosa’s biscuits; which none will claim the ability to mimic.   And pictures of family and friends that some… only Dad was able to recall.   Speaking of which, I’m in the process of posting some pictures in the Trip Gallery so take a look and see if you recognize anyone?

Can you believe it’s already been two weeks?   Though we aren’t counting the second one since most of it has been spent in bed.   Mom and I both got sick a week ago and we have been coughing our fool heads off.   It’s put quite a damper on getting to visit much.   Thank goodness Betty and then Dallas and Stacy did get to come before the virus hit.   Dad has managed to miss out on all the germs so he has been the nurse.   Not your ordinary nurse, though I mind you.   Ordinary would have been quite content with serving the good old fashioned chicken soup just the way I made it.   But no….   naturally he took over the kichen and thought he’d turn it into a real life cajun gumbo the second day.   It was really good with the shrimp, okra and additional spices but I  think it lost some of it’s medicinal potency in the redo.   Because Mom and I are still hacking.   

We made it out to the store today and are now dosing with some of the most awful tasting medicine around.   I’m not kidding either.   Mom and I are both doing the yucky dance with every dose  while Dad and Brandon provide the music with their laughter.   If I’d known the liquid was going to be so bad I’d of coughed up another ten dollars for the pills but it never occured to me to ask what it tasted like before I bought it.  My only hope is that it works and fast.   Because we have more visiting to do before we can continue on our way.   And I honestly don’t want to take any more of this medicine than I absolutely have too.

Dad has pulled out the atlas and Mom her address book, with the internet we’ve found a few numbers we’ll need and then it’s into the navigation system and a lovely voice will direct us on our way.   A zig zag journey with stops in Jacksonville, St Marys, Albany, Waycross, Savannah and Hardeville.   And that’s just to start.     When we get over this cold and can pin down a time frame we’ll give you a heads up to when we’ll be coming to an area near you.  

Oh, I do have a few pictures to post of Betty, Dallas and Stacy and I’ll get more when they return next Saturday.  So I’ll start a Trip Gallery for you to follow as we make our way back to Oregon.

You read right…   Mom and Dad are coming east.    Not that I applied any pressure or anything, but Oregon was down right cold this time of year.   Though my advance trip home has been met with some record breaking cold anyway.   BRRRRRRRRRRRR…….

Regardless, the flights are booked and they will be leaving Oregon on Sunday.    The motorhome is staying in the yard this time and they will be visiting by car from here.    Thanks to Roger and Marta they don’t even have to drive to the airport.   Family effort has arranged for a delegation of transport.  Marta gets the first part  of the journey from North Bend to Eugene and then Roger has offered to pick them up in Eugene and drive them back to Portland for the flight to Orlando.   Does it sound like we are too eager?     Kinda are 🙂  

I spoke to them yesterday and the packing has started at least the thoughts of what to pack….   Dad had hoped for better weather this time of year and believe me I did too.    The cold snaps here in Florida have taken out a third of my sweat induced landscaping efforts.      So packing for the trip is a little like tossing a coin;  50/50.    

Plans????   There are none; other than a wish list of friends and family to see.     There isn’t even a time frame for when we will return to Oregon.     Since I’m driving and (ha ha) calling the shots I just might keep them here until July.        So the  invitation is open for anyone to visit.    Think about it…  A trip to the most “wonderful place on earth”.      That is if you believe 🙂     Otherwise you just might need to keep the light on because we could show up at your door at any time.

Those in the Central Florida area are First:   Betty, Dallas, The Bibbs and Curtis Families are at the top of the list.   Dad is cooking…dinner anyone?

Should have updated this ages ago.     ….but you all know the excuse and it isn’t a very good one.   So here’s the scoop:

First –   Mom and Dad have a new home phone number.   I know your address book has enough scratched out numbers for these two but this one came with high-speed internet and cable.  So find the white out and jot this one down         541-759-1076.   

Second but more important is our appreciation for all your thoughts and prayers and also the visits.   Which have been encouraging and enjoyable.   

The  “Pedros made the most recent visit with their grown son Walter.   Over breakfast we reminisced about the Covina friends and caught up on old times.  So if your ears were burning, that’s the reason.   For all who remember them, Wallace and Carol are now happily working with a Samoan group near Seattle.  

Another reunion brought most of the family together over the Labor day weekend.    It was a full house, motor home (the beast) and several hotel rooms that housed this brood of Cooks.   Dad’s only concern was that the septic system would hold out.   It did and they enjoyed every minute of the chaos.     We missed those who couldn’t make it but the invitation is still open…  Any and all of You are welcome anytime.

Health wise;  Dad seems to be  holding his own.   Beside the aches and pains that pick and choose the days they want attention Dad has found some time to fish.   This is a good thing.   In fact he’s been providing fish for a few others.   There’s only so much that we can eat and the friends are more than happy for the tasty fare.    

Mom is finally on the right track for her health too.   It took a minor stroke which effected her left hand before she would see the sense of getting medication for her blood pressure.   She’s now doing better, but she still has to be reminded to take her meds.    

So it looks like I’m going to stay on as resident nurse.   Ha!   More like resident nag….  Mom did you take your pills?   Dad, did you?  Is this role reversal or what?  Maybe not, because Dad still catches me.  “Daughter, you left the lights on!”    My excuse?  I’ve left them on for you.   So come for a visit too.

We’ve heard it for years. The ideas mentioned in passing or discussed at length over the kitchen table. Mom being the most desirous, I think.   To buy, make, or fashion a motor home out of some combination of truck, van or semi trailer.

Well now she got her wish and all I could hear today when I called was her screams. Screaming woman

Yes… screaming at Dad to,  “Stop!” “Slow down!” “Watch out!” And Tamie wasn’t any better.  

The road looks a little different from five feet up and 1,000 feet down. Hwy 1 is a shear drop into the Pacific and neither Mom nor Tamie liked the view, I guess. Because they were hyperventilating between the screaming and Dad was laughing.

I got this much in just the few minutes I was able to talk to them today. My advice was that she’d finally gotten what she wished for… a motor home to go across the country in. So she ought to just “shut up and hang on”. That went over well enough for everyone to laugh but then we lost the connection. I’m assuming that they just went into a “dead zone” and we’ll pick up the reception later. In the meantime I’m sure that all three of them are questioning the joys of recreational living.

Tamie was doing so well at this; figured I’d let her keep it up.  But she hasn’t let me off without a bit of nudging.  So I’ll step back up to say hello and bring you all up to date.   

Spoke to mom yesterday and it seems Dad is back under the weather with a sore throat and bad cold.   They missed out on the Circuit Assembly last weekend because he just wasn’t up to going, which says a lot.   He just doesn’t miss a spiritual meal without good cause, ever.     They also lost a dear friend recently.   Mom has expressed that their neighbor Doris is sorely missed and her husband Dick is finding comfort in his visits with them.    

I must say that for all the miles that separate us, the Cook kids can take heart in the support mom and dad have in friends that frequent their home.   There is no doubt that they are loved and well cared for in our absence which brings me to happier news.   I get to visit again for a few weeks next month.   Have my plane tickets in hand and will arrive just in time to attend their District Assembly in Salem with them.    Another road trip, yeah!   And if Tonja gets her way provided Dad can be talked into it, we just might get them on the east coast before the end of June.   I’ll keep you posted on that one.  

In the meantime I want to thank all of you who have followed our blog and shared your thoughts with us.   Dad and mom do like hearing from you all.   And even though they haven’t joined the IT crowd they do appreciate your support.    I’ll make sure I get Dad and Mom to add to it while I’m visiting in May.

As I get ready to leave Thursday I am grateful for much.   Not the least of which is the good riddance of one chain saw and an axe.   No….. I didn’t handle the Power Tools but… remember Dad’s old red and white Ford pickup truck?   Well, I sure did a lot of loading and unloading and then stacking of wood.   Lots…… of wood.   Cords and Cords of wood.   Over Six foot high, ten foot wide and eight logs deep.  Anyone got a calculator?   Surely… just shy of being enough to have furnished Noah for an ark.


Dad says his shoulder hurts (and it does) but he only has himself to blame.   We tried to get him to stop.  In fact the loving brothers in his hall showed up with a crew and a log splitter to finish the job of his felled trees.   And so now he has no excuse for taking perfectly sound advice and resting his overworked joints. 


That aside:   Dad has done well in recovering a lot of the weight he lost prior to surgery.  Since I’ve been here he has gained almost thirty lbs back.   Relating to the cancer, he is feeling much better and looks better too.    The most recent Doctors visit revealed that his blood counts are improving and most everything related appears normal.   He will have to complete some physical therapy for the shoulder pain and headaches.   But getting him to take any medication for relief is harder than lifting a gazillion wood logs.   The aim is to try and ease the inflammation so at least some if not all of his pain subsides.   


I’m going to be meeting up with Tamie for jobs in San Francisco and then Las Vegas before I finally make it home.  But I really am thankful that I was able to see for myself the improvement in Dad’s health.   Not that he doesn’t have some major hurdles to overcome I will still rest assured that Mom and Dad have a circle of friends that are watching out for them.   


Your concern is still so much appreciated and I hope you all take notice of the letter Dad asked me to post.   He and Mom both were overcome with emotion at the out pouring here.   We have even in the midst of adversity so much to be thankful for.   What gifts in men that our heavenly father has so lovingly provided for our comfort. 


Thankyou again,



August 2020

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