Guest Blog by my daughter, Julia

Julia Cox


Have you ever noticed how hard it is to see people age that are right in front of you? We look upon these peoples faces that we have known for as long as we have lived and just graze over the tops of their surfaces. We don’t take in the lines and bumps that have come with time. We skip over the sun spots and the creases that begin developing until one moment we stop for a second, maybe because of an old picture or just because of the silence and we realize that time has taken it’s toll. We see the sun and wind that these people loved so much has changed them as much as it has changed us. We see the lines from the giant smiles and laughs that they have shared over the years. There are creases from nights of worry and stress and there are scars from the work they put hours and hours into, trying to grow their lives from the tiny seeds that they started from. The bones we feel when we hug them have been broken and weathered, and the hands we hold have held many more before ours.

I looked upon my families faces and saw something I had never seen before. I saw the years. I saw the many years of work, and pain and stress that have built them; the tears that have streamed down their faces after losses and being beaten down. I saw the wrinkles around their eyes, from squinting in the sun or from those fleeting moments when their smiles would reach so high they would just barely touch the corners of their eyes. For the first time in years my eyes hovered upon these faces that were once so familiar to me and realized that they weren’t so familiar anymore. In these moments of trying to capture these once so familiar faces I saw the effects time had on them. Time knew them so much better than I and had been working on them while I was just barely glancing over them. Time was showing me that no matter how hard I tried it would always win. But, time also showed me how much beauty it brings. My mother’s sun spots remind me how much she loves being outside and how she was always dragging us on different adventures. My father’s wrinkles on his hands describe the hard work that he put in to give us the best lives we could possibly have. My brother’s wrinkles around his mouth shout out that he has always been one of the happiest people I knew, and he always smiled with his entire face. My boyfriend’s scars are a reminder of his recklessness growing up and how much he loved to cause trouble. These faces that I have known for such a long time, now tell stories that can only be heard if we take the time to hover upon these pieces that have been added over time. If we don’t take the time to recognize these pieces, then we miss out on the beauty that time has added and the story that they are telling us.

An Unusual Keepsake


Note:  I wrote this essay 4 years ago, hoping publication, for THE SUN Magazine.  The contest was to write about an inheritance.  To my knowledge, it was never published.


An Unusual Keepsake

In memory of my sister


My sister was killed in a car accident.  I was the oldest, and it never occurred to me Brenda would die first. In my mind I always pictured us growing old, together, and we’d care for one another’s children.  We’d rock away our retirement years, we’d burry our parents, together, and then, I’d go first.  I actually used to worry it would be hard for her being the only one left.

To cope with the pain and anger I felt after the accident I started running.  For the past 17 years I’ve ran, mostly trails.  I’ve found, in nature, the ability to accept, grow, love and find joy daily.  And, I bring half a purple handkerchief that I found in my sister’s belongings.  There was jewelry, books, a stereo, furniture and photos, but of all the valuables this purple handkerchief, of hers, is the most special to me.  I suppose she wore it branding calves one year with our Dad to keep the burnt flesh stench at bay.  I’ll never know.

On my runs, I use it to wipe my brow, or more often my nose.  But, most of all it has given me a sense of her with me.  Her spirit with me.  My purple keepsake and I ran thousands and thousands of miles over the last 17 years.  It has been with me on several half marathons, a full marathon, and many trail races including The Bridger Ridge Run in Montana where I live.  This summer I let it blow in the wind up on Siyeh Pass in Glacier National Park.

A few times over the years my heart has skipped a beat as I feared I’ve dropped it somewhere on the trail only to breathe a sigh of relief, and comfort, when I discover which pocket it’s in.

My purple handkerchief is getting thin with a few holes, but it has been my constant running partner and brought me more joy then a hankie would usually be famed to do.

Current time addition:  I ran with that purple hankie today.  I also sometimes run with a hankie of my Dad’s, now that he has passed.

In November I am running the New York Marathon.  That purple hankie will be with me, and have asked loved ones of my departed friends if I could have a hankie of theirs. I hope to grow my hankie memory scarf in honor of knowing these fine people.  If the hankies don’t arrive, I will run the marathon with a mile dedicated to their memory, and our happy time together.  Also, as an Emergency Room Nurse I am dedicating a mile to someone whose death affected me greatly, but don’t have means to get such a keepsake.

The hankie memory scarf isn’t a sad thing.  Their passing before their time always will be, but I am going to think, they dropped their body……… and will be in the wind with me.    I often touch the tall grass, or feel the wind on my face, and know their spirit is with me.

wolfman run