Adams: Wife’s mother loved hearing about trips, and tips, in Rocky Mountain National Park
October 28, 2016
My wife's mother, Stella, recently passed away following a rugged battle with lung cancer.
She was beautifully honored and eulogized, with many wonderful stories and memories provoking laughter, tears, smiles and profound acknowledgment of love and gratitude. But there are many more stories to tell and cherish.
Some of Stella's greatest gifts to me involved the great outdoors. Although she was unable to personally prowl the mountains in her later years, she "sponsored" most of my best days there.
Stella was remarkably generous in countless ways, including buying me annual passes that provided admission at many of my favorite mountain haunts throughout Colorado. For more than 20 years, her Christmas gift included a Colorado State Parks pass. She enjoyed hearing about the places I went thanks to her generosity. In recent years that pass allowed Dad, my brother and I to stroll the trails at Boyd Lake State Park near Dad's Loveland memory care home. Thank you, Stella.
But the biggie was my yearly birthday gift in May, a National Parks pass. This valuable card allowed entrance to all national parks and most importantly to Rocky Mountain National Park. Stella liked to hear about my exploits in Rocky, and I'd often call her on the phone or send her an email to tell about the events of a day's outing.
She particularly liked to hear about my experiences in RMNP working as a fly-fishing guide. Where we went, what we saw, a few details about my clients, what we caught. And my tip.
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Yes, Stella wanted to know if I received a tip for my efforts. About 15 years ago we had a long conversation about a spectacular day up in Glacier Gorge. She finally said, "Let's get to the point — did you get a tip? That's what really counts!" Stella was funny, and yet at the same time she was kinda serious.
After my next day of guiding, I drove down the Big Thompson Canyon to Greeley. I sent her a no frills email, getting right to the point, that went like this:
She loved it.
Now I've been married to her youngest daughter for more than 32 years. If you knew her girls, her grandchildren, you'd know why she loved them so fiercely, why their love and loyalty is so unflagging.
Her family has decided to spend one more Thanksgiving and Christmas at Stella's Denver home. It will be sweet. And bittersweet.
When my birthday rolls around in May, I'll turn 62. That means I'll get my $10 senior lifetime pass to all the U.S. national parks.
Thanks for getting me to this point, Stella. The stories, the memories, and the gratitude will extend as far into the future as we can see.
Tom Adams is a retired educator living in Greeley and working as a fly-fishing guide in the wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.