Root Family

Root Family

Jan 28, 2015

Alaska 2013 Trip Day 6: Going Home and Looking Back

Before we left I started feeling kind of panicky.  It is dumb, but I felt like I just hadn't really had a chance to talk with Cade alone and I only wanted to assure him of how proud I was of him and how much I loved him.  Tyler kept urging me to find the time to express myself, he knows me so well.  So I finally just sort of asked Cade right in front of everyone if we could go on a walk or outside for a few minutes together that morning.  

We went in his backyard and I just stumbled through telling him exactly those things I wanted to--I was so proud of him; how the neighbors at the soccer field spoke so highly of him and how his parents spoke so highly of him and his grandparents and his aunts and uncles and his friends.  How cool I thought it was that he worked on the reindeer farm and ran a marathon that summer and backpacked and all that cool stuff he did.  But mostly he was so cool because of how he made people feel, how friendly and kind-hearted he was.  I told him that I loved him and looked forward to many more chances to be together.

Lori and Cade dropped us off at the airport and then we went home.  I wasn't working at the time and I still remember my kids sleeping til 10 or 11 am for a week after we got back catching up on sleep.

In my head I certainly started planning more trips, some where I went there without my kids and we'd go backpacking together, some where Cade was in Utah going to college and he'd go on a desert trip with us, and some with all of our families together, barbecuing, picnicking, whatever.

It had been an emotional trip for me.  And yet I wondered if I hadn't been emotional enough--had I shown him how much I loved him and thought about him all the time?  Had I shown his parents how grateful I was for allowing me to be part of his life?  Had I gotten know as much more about him as I could in that week?  I know I tend to think everything should be meaningful, I crave it, and I get disappointed too easily when I feel like a conversation lacked a deeper connection.  I am constantly seeking that kind of fulfillment and wish I was better at just enjoying life.


After Cade's funeral last January there was a huge gathering at the church.  I saw a group of boys I immediately recognized as Cade's friends, from pictures, stories, and by the devastation on their faces.  In the past week I felt like I had learned so much more about Cade from his friends and family posting to Facebook, on which I had been glued for 9 days totally lost in Alaska.  I started talking to one of his friends and was telling him exactly what I said above--that I had such a wonderful time on our visit the previous summer but I'd left wishing I had learned even more about him.  His friend looked at me and said: "He said the same thing about you."  It warmed my heart so much to hear those words.

I am forever grateful that I got to spend that week in Alaska that summer.  Tyler and I have had countless discussions recounting how I had insisted that we went that summer and how fortuitous it was that we did.  I am forever grateful to Cade's wonderful family for giving him such a wonderful life and for letting us be part of his and their lives, and I look forward to many more visits with them.  I am so grateful to know how much they love him and miss him and what a big part of his whole community he was.

I love poetry and this is one of my favorites about adoption.  I don't mean to discount the role of all of the wonderful men that helped Cade become who he was, but this poem is about two mothers and is just beautiful.  I love to see the pictures of him with Lori and know how deeply he loved her and she him.  Our families will always be connected through him.  

Despite numerous internet searches, I believe the author is unknown:

Legacy of an Adopted Child
Once there were two women Who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, The other you call mother.
Two different lives Shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star, The other became your sun.
The first gave you life And the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love And the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, The other gave you a name.
One gave you a seed of talent, The other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions, The other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, The other dried your tears.
One gave you up - It was all that she could do.
The other prayed for a child And God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me Through your tears,
The age-old question Through the years:
Heredity or environment Which are you the product of?
Neither, my darling - neither, Just two different kinds of love.

Some pictures from my trip last January / early February:

Palmer is still beautiful in the winter.

Cade's organ donor flag flying high at the hospital next to the Alaska and American flag
The organ donor flag his family was given.

Some of Cade's original writing through the school years, his race shirt and medal, his 4-H ribbons for his prize-winning reindeers.

Just a few of the things he loved.

Some more of his hobbies and work.

Cade's latest reindeer, Yukon Buttons, that he got in the fall of 2013

Jan 26, 2015

Alaska 2013 Trip Day 5: Thunderbird Falls, Eklutna Lake, and Anchorage

Our trip was almost over, this was our last full day.  I was kind of feeling anxious about everyone enjoying themselves.  We had sort of planned a hike that day but I couldn't tell if anyone was up for it and somehow I felt like I had to make the decisions on this trip.  One of my kids had mentioned not wanting to go hiking, and I didn't want to push them into doing what I wanted, but I also didn't want to waste the opportunity for unique experiences we couldn't have at home.  And, often with my children, as with others I believe, they have a hard time actually leaving the house / where they are comfortable, but then really enjoy the activity.

We went ahead with the plan for the hike.  A short hike--just long enough to satisfy my hunger for a chunk of time spent walking, and short enough for the young ones to tolerate.  Actually it fell totally short of the time I wanted to spend hiking but that was okay, I know my limits with a toddler : )

We went to Thunderbird Falls which is found somewhat between Anchorage and Palmer in Chugach State Park.  It was super lush and green.  Lori's younger kids came along too and Bailey and Ellery had lots of fun finding numerous "picture spots" along the way for us to photograph them.  

We didn't hang out at the waterfall for long because it was a little muddy and slippery and nowhere to hang out.  You can see how pretty the trail was though and this hollow tree trunk all the kids had a turn hiding in.  The kids had tons of fun.

From there we drove just a little further into the park to see Eklutna Lake.  I don't know the name of the peak behind it but it looks lovely with that cloud sitting halfway up the mountain.  What was cool about this trip was all of these beautiful places we went, and none of them were crowded!  There was literally no one at this lake but us I think.  Cade showed us his awesome rock skipping skills and the kids played for a bit--the girls were building some kind of fairy fortress or something with rocks, and we all just kind of soaked it in for a bit.  


That night William and Lori took Tyler and I out in Anchorage.  First we did some souvenir shopping downtown and then met up at the brewery.  We had local seafood (well I did, Tyler steered as far away from that as he could) and we loved their original rootbeer and cream soda.  

After dinner we went to Ship Creek to see if we could see any of the salmon run.  The picture below was taken around 11:15 or so p.m., lots of fishermen still out but no one was really catching while we were there.  From a bridge Lori and I thought we saw a big fish coming our way, or at least a big ripple, when we realized it was a tiny critter.  We were in love when we saw that it was a tiny little beaver who literally hopped out of the water to put a stick in its mouth and swim away with it.  

Back at the house I had left Cade in charge of my kids that night.  He said they were perfect which made me so happy and then I realized how bizarre he probably thought it was that I told him to put Waylon to sleep in the guest room closet!  That is where we had had him sleeping since he (at that time--not now) actually didn't sleep well in bed with us and was comfy enough there on a big blanket.

It was so beautiful and strange that that opportunity ever existed for me to have Cade put his actual half-siblings to sleep and it pains me that they won't remember that.  Lori has often shared with my how tender Cade can be with his siblings and I have definitely seen their love and admiration for him.  Cade is actually quite shy also and one of the few things I actually remember him saying to me on this trip, I mean, not responding but initiating, was one time in the car he said about Waylon--"He's really smart."  It was such a small thing, and I'm not sure Waylon was exhibiting any real "smarts" at this point, but I sort of sensed that Cade was really enjoying the opportunity to get to know these kids too.    

Jan 24, 2015

Alaska 2013 Trip Day 4: Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine

I think this was my favorite day of our trip and yet kind of hard to put into words.  It wasn't just that the Hatcher Pass area was so beautiful--it was magical too it seemed, and from the sound of it, it's pretty magical for locals too, they all love it!  I can't remember how far it was, but I'm pretty sure this drive was under 45 minutes.  We pulled over here by the Little Susitna river to take some pictures.  It reminded me of many Montana rivers, and was also just what you picture when you imagine where grizzly bears might come fishing in Alaska.  

Little Susitna River
Then we got to Hatcher Pass.  The wind socks made me to think of prayer flags in Tibet--it really seemed we were in another place.  The paragliders made me think of my Dad.  It's so weird how much I thought of him on this trip and how much he would love seeing and doing this stuff.  So much of his life he talked about flying, first in small planes for which he had his private pilot's license when I was little, later on he would talk about hang-gliding, flying gyrocopters, and finally, ultralights.  I would have never guessed that in less than a year both my Cade and my Dad would leave this earth and now I can't seem to think of them separately.    

After walking around a bit, Cade was crazy enough to jump into this little glacier-cold lake at Hatcher Pass.  I don't even remember why.  I am a straight-up wimp when it comes to cold water but I don't know, I wasn't entirely surprised he jumped in.  It was crazy, but seemed like something my brothers might have done at 15 years old too, and even later, and in fact, I did once waterski on a 40-degree day in Montana.  I definitely saw some of my family in Cade, but loved seeing more of his individuality, who he really was.  Still so shy that he hardly talked directly to me yet seemed so approachable, so good-natured and friendly, adventurous, and admired by all--especially his siblings and family.  


It seemed like we were too quickly running out of time up there that day though.  Even with long summer days in Alaska, that Sunday was getting cooler than it had been earlier that week, and you can tell there was a good wind there.  

We headed back to our cars and then debated making another stop.  I'm so glad we did.  I studied archaeology for my undergraduate degree and have had a passion for ruins of any kind as long as I can remember.  Something about the juxtaposition of nature and man-made stuff and how nature always wins just gets me.  

I'm pretty sure it was after 9 pm or so when we headed out to Independence Mine.  Lori took our younger kids back to the house so that Tyler and I, Caiden, Cade, William, Haylee and Heath, could explore a bit.  I think my younger ones would have actually really enjoyed this but were equally happy to go back to the house to hang out and it would be late then anyway.

These were the views he had just as we approached Independence Mine.

I loved how the clouds hung low and gave an air of mystery to everything around the village.  I loved being able to explore and talk and get to know everyone better.  I just loved being there.  It seemed so heavenly.  Like it was haunted with the stories of the people who lived and worked there, eerie, but not creepy, haunting, but inspiring.  I felt really alive there and really good.  Like we were all just part of the universe there, just as we always are, but the feeling was amplified by the energy there.  

Jan 20, 2015

Alaska 2013 Trip Day 3: The Butte and Big Beaver Lake

Cade's family lives actually in the outskirts of Palmer in an area affectionately known as "The Butte," after its defining natural feature.  Hiking the butte is a pretty regular thing there so we didn't want to miss out.  We were able to leave our younger ones at the house with Lori and quickly hike up the butte to enjoy the views.

(this picture was actually taken our last day there--you can tell it was much cloudier)

Caiden on top of the butte

(In the distance in this last picture from the top of the butte where the sun is is the Knik River, and beyond that the Knik Glacier)
We hurried back to the house so that we could meet up with William's family at a cabin at Big Beaver Lake.  At the lake William's parents had organized a carnival for their grandchildren, with some fishing games, duck races, shooting, etc.  Bailey and Waylon had a blast getting tickets and choosing prizes.  

Soon after this we got in our swimsuits to play in the lake.  I kind of feel like I ignored my own children that entire day--were they just being amazing or was I oblivious?  Anyway, I had fun watching Cade with his extended family and meeting more of them!  Then Tyler and Cade were taking turns riding a little bike off of a jump at the end of this dock and I loved watching them.  I imagined us all hanging out at different times in the future--more trips to Alaska or meetups in Utah to play together outside and show each other what we love.  

I loved talking to Lori on that dock and during this whole trip who told me so much more about Cade than he would tell me and who was so encouraging in nurturing this relationship and so loving towards me.  What a beautiful place it was to be making these memories!  And seriously, what a beautiful Alaskan July day was this!

Later we all got in Cade's uncle Jake's boat for some water sports.  Cade did some wake-surfing and was really good at it.  Tyler and I both wake-boarded.  I was seriously wimpy about getting in the water and then it wasn't even that cold!

Here's these two handsome teenage boys I would love to know / have known better and have a deeper relationship with--Caiden and Cade

Caiden and Waylon, Cade, Ellery, and Bailey

Never thought I'd be wakeboarding in Alaska!
I had already forgotten how little he was that summer! Don't you just love sleepy little boys!
At the end of that night we were back at the house and up late.  We played some card games with Cade and his family and extended family.  It was so much fun but I must admit to having a twinge of sadness that night. Everyone in the room knew Cade better than me and it was kind of hard to swallow for a minute.  I wanted to know him as well, I wanted to know everything about him.

Placing Cade for adoption in 1998 was one of the smartest things I've ever done however painful it was.  I've seen what a good life he has and this trip allowed me to see more of it and what a wonderful extended family he had as well to support him.  They love him so much, and I'm proud and bewildered that he actually did have many of the same interests as me, and had that intense desire for a meaningful, driven life.  This day was one where I really felt like I got a better peak into who he was and I loved it.