Sunday, December 13, 2009

Remembering Margaret

It’s now nine months since Selah lost the presence and spirit of Margaret. After chasing hope across America for nearly five years the cancer finally won the battle . . . I remember quite well those years. There were periods of time between various treatments that life was relatively good. There was hope. Margaret never gave up hope. She never complained. The telephone and her computer were a lifeline. In order to stay connected to the ranch she began this blog. So many times she sent me to check on something she was reporting about. Was a certain plant in bloom? What colors were the leaves? Was the creek running? So many questions and when she felt good enough, she would have me take her in the truck or jeep to look at or photograph something . . . Her favorite times were when she arranged a get together of her family here on the ranch and the Summer and Winter Solstice parties where she invited her many friends to come for hay rides, hikes, swimming and singing. I must admit that I enjoyed it all, her family and her friends. It was so fitting and proper to invite them all back for a “Remembering Margaret” party.

Margaret, in her darkest hour, said, “David, will you bury me here on the ranch? I want my body to nourish flowers, grass, trees and shrubs.” . . . In the final days of her life, I was answering questions asked by a hospice administrator. Margaret was somewhat slumped over in her wheelchair beside me but not a participant in the conversation . . . “Mr. Bamberger, have you made funeral arrangements?” ‘Yes’ “And who with?” I spoke the name. “And where will the internment be?” ‘Here on the ranch, it’s a green burial.’ . . . To this Margaret lifted her head and spoke, “Where David?” “Under the Lacey Oak,” I said. Her body actually shook with joy for she knew exactly where she would lay. We have one canyon on the ranch with many Lacey Oaks. I have many pictures of her with family, friends and kids inside this particular Lacey Oak tree. She took all our tree and shrub workshops participants to it. It’s an unusual specimen.

There are few regulations that apply to green burials. One is that since there is no embalming, the body must be in the earth within twenty-four hours of death. Only her family and our ranch family were here to witness the burial held March 7, 2009.

It isn’t easy to handle the loss of a soul mate. Even though they are gone from sight, they remain with you in every thing you see or do. They remain and perhaps always will be in your mind. You even think that they are just gone, but will be back. All kind of thoughts went through my head. I always thought that I was pretty tough, but soon sought help from the pharmacy. Time does heal wounds, too.

I began thinking of what to do to mark her grave. The ranch is not a cemetery, so a granite upright gravestone was ruled out as was a fence around the site . . . We have dug up so much colorful limestone here on the ranch. We’ve built houses with it and even gave the stone for the new library in Johnson City. The library being a favorite of Margaret’s. How fitting to build a memorial of this same stone. All the construction was accomplished by Leroy Petri, Scott Grote and Poncho. The site was prepared by Steven Fulton and Justin Duke and by mid summer it was finished.

The first “Remembering Margaret” gathering was held November 7th for all of Margaret’s family. I bar-b-qued chicken and everyone brought a dish. Somewhat of a potluck like the family assemblies were. It was the first time any of the family saw the memorial. I regret that I have no pictures of the occasion.

On Guard. Our dog Cory. Each night he slept at Margaret’s bedside. He looked for her for many weeks. Photograph taken by J. David.

The stone bench was dug from the earth. So heavy it took four men to lift. Under the earth it is supported by steel and cement. Photograph taken by J. David.

After 7 months, the earth has subsided eighteen inches. Some plants, shells and fossils were placed on the site. Under the stone, we layed 8 inches of concrete reinforced with steel rebar. Photograph taken by J.David.

The stone engraver came from Austin. The engraving was done by sandblasting and the letters painted. Photograph taken by Chuck Sexton.

Margaret and I both felt this way about trees.
Photograph taken by Chuck Sexton.

On December 5th Mary Kay Sexton put together a group of Margaret’s closest friends to visit the memorial. It, too, was a potluck supper – just like they used to do.

It was a very cold day. Sitting on my trailer on bales of hay moving through the cold air made it REALLY cold, but spirits were high! I could hear singing. Photograph taken by Chuck Sexton.

David Croft and Terri Siegenthaler. Margaret said she had three women bosses in her lifetime and loved them all. Terri was her boss when Margaret worked for the Travis County Parks. Photograph taken by Chuck Sexton.

It’s time for a Selah Moment. Photograph taken by Chuck Sexton.

Sharing some memories. Funny. Photograph taken by J. David.

This was always a favorite picture with Margaret whether with kids or with friends. You can understand why when I said the Lacey Oak she knew exactly which one. Photograph taken by J. David.

We did this one for you Margaret! And it came with one minutes of silence for a Selah Moment. Photograph taken by Mary Kay Sexton.

Mary Kay Sexton was Margaret’s very best friend. She introduced Margaret and I which accounted for 16 of the best years of my life. Thank you, Mary Kay. Photograph taken by Chuck Sexton.

A parting shot of the “Remembering Margaret” day.
Photograph taken by J. David.

Over the past 40 years we have worked tirelessly to restore this 5500 acres. We did all the work ourselves. Everyone whose has worked here participated. We built barns, fences, roads and pipelines by ourselves. We did contract to have three new homes built as well as our education building and considerable remodeling. These improvements and the value of the land today are believed to have a market value of 25 million dollars. . . .Selah will be here forever, not only to educate the young people about the natural world but to serve as a model for other landowners and to give Mother Nature room to breathe. We have given Selah to future generations. It needs and deserves your support. Won’t you help us with your tax deductible contribution? You can make your gift to Margaret’s Education Fund if you like. It is an endowment, the earnings of which are used for our education programs. We are a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation. You can send your contributions to: Bamberger Ranch Preserve, 2341 Blue Ridge Drive, Johnson City, TX 78636.


Jerry & Susan G. said...

How beautiful and thank your taking Jerry and I to Margaret's tree last spring. Wish we had known of the lovely party on the 5th. We will get out to visit soon. See you on the 18th?

Colleen S. Gardner said...

Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.