Lenore and Gilead

Home of the Lemurian Abbey

Alley of Unknown in the Grandfather Zone

with 6 comments

Our family used to leave on car trips in the wee hours of the morning to beat the heat. But I ponder the wisdom of beginning a journey on the back of a donkey at midnight. I’m sure Enchanteur has her reasons. I may as well just let go and go with the flow right now.

“That’s the best idea you’ve had since we left,” Drambuie interjected into my thoughts. “You must be sobering up.”

“You talking to me?” Ms. Gigi pokes her head out of my pocket. “Yo, Sal. You OK? Your voice sounds a little deeper than usual.”

“That’s not me, my dear Ms. G. May I introduce you to Drambuie, our guide and mode of transportation?”

Drambuie turns his head. “Hey, Ms. Gigi. Nice to see you again. How are you feeling? Headache? Hangover?”

“Hey, Sal,” Ms. G whispers. Did you see those nice donkey lips? Betcha that would be one nice kiss!” She gives a quiet gecko guffaw. “Good evening, Sir Drambuie,” she says, drawing the words out in her best Lon Chaney voice. “Actually, I am feeling quite fit though a little dehydrated. I think…I’d like to drink your blood!”

“Then assume the mosquito shape. But be warned…I’m pretty good with this tail. One good flick and I’ll strike you dead. Hey, Ms. G…ya scared? You always joke around when you’re scared.”

“Nah. We’re going to where? The Valley of the Bones? Nothing to be scared of there!” Ms. Gigi bravely retorts.”Nothin’ a-tall…”

A cloak of silence has descended upon the entire group. The only sounds are the occasional “pwwwwwft” of the donkeys in their own language and the sound of their hooves upon the hard packed earth. As we ascend a hill, I can sense the forward lean of all our bodies; as though there is a taut ribbon of energy connecting us through our hearts, pulling us forward.  

We crest the hill and stop unconsciously forming a horizontal line; all gazing down into the Valley of Bones. It’s a waning moon, about three or four days past the full.  It’s enough light to reflect off the bleached white of the bones giving the illusion of bones glowing in the near dark.

One by one, in no particular timing or order, we descend into the Valley. I am the last to go. I am not delaying because of fear. Quite contraire. I am waiting until the right moment arrives. Drambuie moves as if on cue when that magical moment appears.

I close my eyes and raise my arms out from my sides, palms out. I consider what I know about bones. They consist of living and dead cells when still covered with living flesh. Bones are brittle but have some elasticity. They are not uniformly solid but have spaces between hard elements. Inside bones are filled with a porous network of spongy mortal remains that allow room for blood vessels and marrow. Bones are calcified connective tissue.

Hmmm…Bones are calcified connective tissue and I feel I am connected somehow to this Valley of Bones. “What’s up with that?” I am past the thoughtful stage here and have ridden by donkey straight to into Alley of Unknown in the Grandfather Zone. I didn’t know either of my blood grandfathers.

My maternal grandfather passed from tuberculosous when my mother was three years old. His family was from France and Scotland. They tried to take my mother away from my Grandmother when Grandfather Ellwood passed away. I’m not sure what happened, but it was ugly. I eventually met the aunts. One of them had a doll hospital. I saw the house where my mother was born in Eureka, California.

There was only one good picture of him, hanging in the house where Mom was born. It still hangs there, now a cousin taking the house and holding tightly to the picture. He refused to relinquish this beautiful portrait of a man to the man’s daughter. (Oh, that’s where my earlier musing came from.) “What’s up with that?!”

I’ve seen an old photograph of Ellwood, my grandfather. It’s from a distance and he is standing near the top of a tree. He was a logger. The details f his face are blurry, but I can see that his hair falls forward and to the front…just as my mother’s hair does…just as my hair does. It’s with sudden realization that I see where one of my physical features comes from. I recently found another picture of him with my grandmother, Thelma, and Aunt, Jeanne. Mom, Bev, is the youngest.

It is with great resolve that I promise myself to get my mother that portrait of her father!!

My paternal grandfather passed with I was two years old. I remember going to the “big green hospital” to see him just before he died. None of his children would speak of him. Story is that Frank married my Grandma Sally and fathered three daughters.


At some point in time, he left the family. Then he returned; had relations with my grandmother; and left again. Oops! There was 11 years between the youngest daughter and the only son.  Meet Frank L., my father.

Dad was 12 years old before he ever set eye on his father. My father had become quite ill and was dying. My grandmother tracked down Grandpa Frank living in a tar paper shack. Dad’s first memory of his father was this:

Grandpa Frank sat Dad down in a chair and stood before him. He rubbed his hands together quickly then held his hands about 18 inches apart. Dad said that there were sparks jumping between Grandpa Frank’s hands. Grandpa Frank stood behind Dad and placed his hands on the top of Dad’s head. He rubbed his hands down each side of Dad’s head, ears, neck; and off his shoulders very quickly and flicked both hands in the air flicking his flangies (fingers) as though ridding himself of some invisible liquid.

Suddenly Dad was well again. That’s one heck of a first meeting with one’s father! I heard later that my grandfather was a famous healer in a place called God’s Garden near Bisbee, Arizone. I have the letter that describes his meeting with the Holy Spirit and being told to heal.

I have a picture of my granfather and Flora, my step-grandmother, standing in the garden. There is a golden glow around Grandpa Frank’s head. If you follow his body down to his feet, his body disappears at the end of his legs. I once took the picture to a kinesthesiologist. She held the photograph between her hands and said she felt sparks jumping between her hands.

This is where I received my healing hands, from my Grandpa Frank. He was a complex man who no one would speak of for they had abandonment issues. He had a twin brother who had no children. He also had two other brothers, Emil and Charles. I don’t know anything about them, if there was children…But I know everything about all the rest of the family back to the branch of our family tree that predates those who immigrated to American from Bavaria in the 1700’s. There is still a family homestead in the family and a stained glass window in a spa with the family crest. 

My cowlick and hair falling forward from my Grandfather Ellwood and my healing hands and sense of humor from Grandpa Frank, the scallywag.


Written by Sally

March 28, 2009 at 5:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. The Valley of Bones is a far more fertile region than anyone may have at first imagined. Amazing what is coming from the calcified, collective tissue.

    Heather Blakey

    March 28, 2009 at 8:16 am

  2. What memories! What history! You may never leave the Valley of Bones because of all the rich stories you have to tell.


    March 28, 2009 at 11:44 am

  3. You have a fascinating family! No need to ever search for a writing prompt–just look to your past and enlarge on the facts you know.


    March 28, 2009 at 1:51 pm

  4. The Valley of Bones is a garden, with stories growing out of the ground like crops waiting to be harvested.



    March 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm

  5. Oh those steadfast and enduring bones- there’s a story in each one

    Anita Marie

    March 28, 2009 at 4:12 pm

  6. I love the story about your family. I wish I could place myself between your healing hands.


    March 30, 2009 at 11:48 pm

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