First Cold Winter Alone

John was an 82-year-old retired military man who was in deep pain. His booming voice was shaking as he shared with me how the death of his beloved wife had put him in a depression he saw no way out of. I was worried about him making it through the bitterly cold central Oregon winter alone, he was so despondent. Yet he was reaching out to a stranger for help.

Upon receiving his wife’s ashes, I said a lot of prayers as I made her stones. I was delighted when he called me and told me that he had put them all over their home, so that wherever he looked, there she was. She was in every window and next to his easy chair. He put her on his nightstand and said goodnight to her every night, sharing with her the events of his day. He and I talked several times that first winter he was alone. I was so relieved when spring came and our conversations were turning positive and hopeful.

Our communication tapered off until last week, when I was surprised and delighted to hear that booming voice again. “Kathy, this is John” he said without preamble. It had been 5 years and thousands of customers ago, but I knew him instantly. He was returning from a road trip to Wisconsin, a town where he and his wife had listened to polka music and danced years before. He took her rocks with him so he could go dancing once again with his sweetheart, living life with her by his side.

Kathy Presnell is the owner of Bobrocks, which creates custom glass cremation keepsakes. Learn more at

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