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Meadowlark Hospice

Dawn's Notes

Highway Paved With Gold - April 2017
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW

The air was cold, 14 degrees, on February 2nd when my husband Tom and I headed south on Highway 81 toward the Rio Grande Valley for a few days of warmer weather.   

Before we left home, I had packed a picnic lunch.  As lunchtime approached, we diligently watched for a picnic table beside the highway.  We finally spotted a table in a little roadside park in northern Texas a few miles south of Ringgold, Texas.  We exited the highway and ate our lunch in the park, bundled in our coats.    

Before leaving the park, we noticed a historical marker and took time to read it.  The sign talked about how, for thousands of years, humans have searched for gold, sometimes lured by stories about the “Seven Cities of Gold” and such which have never been found.  Mystical tales of buried treasures spring up in many cultures, but in spite of hoping, dreaming, and searching, a mother lode of gold is rarely found.     

Interestingly, the historical plaque in the roadside park told a different story!  Here’s what happened.  In 1936 a section of Highway 81 was being paved in Montague County, Texas.  Sand was trucked in from a nearby sand pit that had been opened three years earlier. The sand was needed for making concrete for the road. 

There was something very peculiar about the sand.  It glistened and shone in the sunlight with such intensity that a closer examination of the sand seemed appropriate.  So a small supply of sand was sent to a laboratory in Fort Worth, Texas, for assay. 

The lab reported that the sand had about 54 cents worth of gold in each ton.  The news no doubt sent the owner of the sand pit in search of a mother lode, for a vein of gold that might make him rich!  No gold vein was ever found, and it was determined that it would take more money to extract the gold from the sand than the gold was worth.        

So the 39 miles of highway that we drove on was constructed of sand that contained gold worth a total of $31,000.  Even though the amount of gold was miniscule, we drove on a highway paved with gold!

On February 26th, two days before the eleventh anniversary of my first husband’s death, Tom and I again drove northward toward Kansas on that stretch of highway made of gold.  As we drove, I wondered what it has been like for Ralph during his past eleven years in heaven.  If he had not died, he would have had his 74th earthly birthday on February 18th; he would experience his eleventh heavenly birthday on February 28th.

Yes, like many people from various religions, I believe that life continues after death, that this earth is not “the end” but a continuation.  After we die I believe life will be totally different but better than we can possibly imagine.      

You, like I, have probably heard eulogies about “the streets of gold.”  I have wondered if the streets “over there” are made of gold like here on earth.  If my husband could talk to me, he could tell me—he could answer so many questions.   

I wonder if Ralph knows what is going on with us here.  I hope he knows how well the grandchildren are doing—he loved them so much.  I wonder what he is doing now.  I can imagine him welcoming his loved ones at the gate!

I wonder if he keeps track of time at all as I do.  What about the music, the colors?  How does he travel—think it, walk, or fly?

 After the death of those we love, the “anniversaries” continue to roll around and we remember what life used to be like. I think about the “what ifs” if he had lived.  I wonder if my husband’s hair would still be black if he had lived to 74; he had no grey hair when he died at the age of 63—my daughter and I talked about it recently.  We will never know. 

We who are left behind are those who hurt.   Even after eleven years, there are times when I miss him.  But I can live with confidence that he is truly okay, that he is in a beautiful place with streets paved with gold which are much better than any Texas highway.

Like my husband, your loved one is also doing well even though you probably still hurt.  May the miracles of springtime bring warmth and healing to your heart.               

Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice 709 Liberty Clay Center, Kansas
(785) 632-2225
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator