Tag Archives: Denver


I had an idea earlier today for a post and time this afternoon to write it, but meanwhile the news came of my cousin Patty’s death. I call her Patty but for most people she’s been Patricia for many years now. I can’ t help it. We were closest when we were kids and she was still called Patty by everyone. By the time she was an adult named Patricia we didn’t see each other very often.

She wasn’t much for traveling. She came out to California once that I can remember. I went through Denver every few years but never as a destination. Unlike many of us, she never lost her staunch Catholic faith. She was active in her church and in her retirement I believe she attended Mass daily.

Still, after many years of declining health, when the news came last week that she would not live much longer, we also were told that she feared death.

I talked to Mom about it last night. (Mom is my chief conduit to the Denver relatives.) I saw parallels between Dad’s final days and Patty’s. Patty was 20 years younger but the long decline was similar as were the mixed feelings I had when death was clearly imminent. Do we wish for a return to health? Of course, but often, as in these cases, we know it’s not going to happen. Mom was pretty tough about it. She said the best thing was for Patty to die. Her ‘life’ was just pain and agony now.

There had been some discussion a few weeks ago of her going back to Patty’s funeral. We don’t know when that will be but Mom already decided she will not be going. She had already made plans to go to Denver in June to put Dad’s ashes in the ground there. She will pay respects at Patty’s grave then.

I believe Patty is in heaven. She led a good life.

Catherine Frances Wood

I believe in my posts about my Denver trip I mentioned going to the graveyard (cemetery) in Lawson. Lawson is about a half hour west of Denver on I-70. The neighboring town of Georgetown is better known.

But Lawson is what I have programmed into my head. Lawson is what I remember from stops there as a boy. Here is a picture from my visit there in 1982:


That stuff is all gone now. I didn’t take any pictures of the town this last time because there’s basically nothing of interest there.

Why am I thinking of Lawson again? Because of a photograph I saw at Mom and Dad’s the other day. It’s an image of Catherine Frances Wood, who was my grandfather’s older sister and is buried in the Lawson cemetery with her father. The image has always reached out and grabbed me with her calm appraising stare at the photographer.

The tombstone reads,
‘Katie F. Wood 
Died Jan. 15, 1890 
Aged 8 Years 3 Ms. 5 Ds. 
Rest in Peace.’

And down at the bottom of the stone, ‘Gone but not forgotten.’


Denver part 2

Where was I? OK. Friday morning. We left the stone cutter’s and headed back out 44th Avenue to Mt. Olivet Cemetery. 44th runs parallel to I-70m that we had seen backed up earlier and the traffic coming towards us was solid for two miles. At 11:30 in the morning!

Dad wanted to confirm his burial arrangements at Mt. Olivet. There is a large stone there with several Wood’s buried there. Mom and Dad have decided that they want to be buried there.

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It’s a little hard to see in the second photo but there is space for two names on the far end. How exactly to fit Mom and Dad’s names there is what we discussed with the stone cutter.

After Mt. Olivet, Dad wanted to see the Thaler house on Vrain. Patty is living there but has not been well so we only drove by. There are huge duplexes on both sides of that little house now! Who allowed that zoning variance?

Mom and Dad wanted to get together with Dad’s high school friend Ginger. (Urrk, can’t remember her last name!) After some negotiating, we agreed to pick her up at her house and go out to lunch. This is where Dad got the freeway exit right and I didn’t. We were a little early until the detour . . .

After a nice lunch and visit I asked Dad if we could drive by the house he grew up in. ‘Grandma Flynn’s house.’ He wasn’t wild about the idea but I persisted. It was pretty much right on the way back to the hotel, assuming we didn’t go on the freeway, which I didn’t want to do. It was around 3:30 by now on a Friday.

So we worked our way through Denver city streets until we came to the house on 1st Avenue. There was a parking space right across the street so I pulled in and told Mom and Dad I just wanted to take a good look and a couple of pictures. This I did but as I was getting ready to leave a woman and a boy came riding up on bicycles and she went up to the side of the house to put away her bike. I thought she might have seen me snooping around so I thought I would explain myself. She turned out to be thrilled that we had a connection to the house. She and her husband had lived there since 1993. She insisted that Dad come out of the car and invited us in to look around. I didn’t remember the inside at all but of course Dad did and so did Mom. They declined the invitation to go upstairs.

After many thanks we said goodbye and continued back to the hotel.

The next day we had no plans beyond going to Tim Flynn’s that evening. I looked up Lawson and found that it was only 35 minutes from our hotel. Lawson is where my great grandfather Thomas Bernard is buried. Mom and Dad declined the invitation to go there with me. I got going early and got to the cemetery around 8:30 am. It was considerably colder than Denver there at 8500 feet!


It’s a pretty spot but I noticed the freeway noise (I-70) for the first time. Unrelenting.

I went on into Georgetown for a cup of hot chocolate and a muffin. The car helpfully told me the outside temperature was 36 degrees!

Back to the hotel for an afternoon of resting and watching football. At 5 we headed out for Tim’s. Tim had moved back into the house he grew up in and recently finished remodeling that he wanted to share with the family. Tim and Debbie hosted us, Patty Thaler, Jackie and her husband Dan and their sons Sean and Brian, Michelle and her husband Steve, Mary Helen and her daughter Melissa and her husband Silvio. We all toured the house and had a fine time sitting around chatting. Patty has a very serious lung problem so had a tank of oxygen with her at all times. We aren’t what I would call close to our Denver relatives but we always enjoy each other when we get together.

Jackie and Patty had invited us to join them Sunday morning at their church. I was ready to go but Dad nixed the idea in the morning. Actually, he nixed just about every idea Mom and I came up with for how to spend the day. Finally he agreed to go see a movie so we went to see ‘Sully’. After that we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We had lunch there first but when we finished at 3:30, Dad didn’t want to go into the museum. He was anxious to be at the airport. For a 9 pm flight.

OK, let’s go. Before heading to the airport, I did drive slowly through City Park, where the museum is located. On our way out we passed an imposing building that Dad said was Denver East High School and that he had attended there one summer for a class that St Francis didn’t have. Well, that’s cool!

From there I spotted the dome of the Capitol building so I drove down by there and then through the downtown area. I sort of half heartedly looked for Union Station but failed. I guess I was ready to go home too. Going to the airport, I drove through city streets again just to look around. The day was lovely but taking a walk was not in the cards.

We got to the Avis place at 4:45, dropped off the car with no hassle, got through ticketing and security and to the gate by 6:30. Once on the plane, there was a delay for reasons never explained. We left about 20 minutes late. Arrived SFO 11:15, got back to pick up Mom and Dad with the car at midnight, got to Santa Clara about 12:40, turned right around and headed home in my car, arrived in Pacifica at 1:30 and couldn’t sleep. Urrr. Ibuprofen to the rescue. Attained sleep about 2:30 but had to get up at 6 for an 8 am call at Davies which lasted until 2 am.

But that’s another story.

the Denver trip

I went to Denver last weekend with Mom & Dad. We had been planning it for several months but it kept getting pushed back. They didn’t want to wait so long that the weather turned crappy and I kept having work conflicts. Anyway, about three weeks ago Mom & I sat down and hammered it out. We ended up booking through Priceline.com about which more later.

They bought the tickets and paid for the hotel room and I paid for the rental car. I think they want to reimburse me for the car but I will resist.

The trip actually was OK overall, but there were difficulties with practical issues.I did a pretty good job of slowing down my expectations of what Dad can do. Spending 4 solid days with him gave me a new appreciation of what Mom has to deal with. He’s just enough on the ball to surprise you once in a while but more often he’s just not quick enough to do what he wants to do. And I can see he wants to do all the things he’s always done.

Especially traveling around Denver, his home town. He knows the streets but not necessarily the best way to get around. I ended up using the GPS in my phone most of the time but one time he was right and I was wrong and I gave him full credit. At all times I tried to treat his directions with respect.

Traveling is tiring under the best of circumstances and even though it didn’t seem like we did much, he was worn down. Sunday night at the airport going home, Mom told me (out of his presence) he said to her, ‘Never again!’ That makes me sad as he has always been a great traveler.

The weirdness started Wednesday night. I went down to Santa Clara for the night. Mom and I had agreed when we did the booking that we would fly out of SFO instead of San Jose because there were more and cheaper flights. Oh you fools! Well, that meant we had to get from Santa Clara to the airport and back during a time when everyone in the local family was working. I decided to drive Mom and Dad each way and just use long term parking. Expensive, but simpler.

When I got to Santa Clara, Mom was concerned that they hadn’t been abler to check in for the flight so I went straight to the computer. There I found to my horror that the airline we had chosen, Frontier, charged for baggage on a sliding scale. The closer you got to the gate, the more it cost. Not only that, they charged for carry-ons!  This discovery was after we all had packed in small bags for our 4 day trip. It was actually cheaper to check the bags than to pay the fee for carry-ons.

Then it turns out that if you want to sit together, you have to pay extra to get a seat assignment. What??!! I had to do the same thing on the flight back so that added almost $200 to our trip costs.

We got up the next morning and got to the airport in good order. Got on the plane, got to Denver pretty much by the numbers.

Our plane landed at 3:20 (I kept notes for all of this). At 4 pm, after thrashing around with different carrels, our luggage came out. Then we got on the shuttle to the Avis rental place. Arrived there at 4:30 to find a line of perhaps 50 people to rent cars. I got to the head of the line at 5:20 and showed the clerk the timer on my phone. He said, yeah that’s about right. then he hammered me with all the stupid extras that I never want; tried to upsell me to a larger car. Jeez, just give me the goddamn car, would ya?

At 6pm we were driving out of the lot. We never did get lunch. I spotted a Denny’s on the way to the hotel and we went there (6:30 pm).

I realized after I got home that I had paid Priceline ahead of time for the rental so when I returned the car I had evidently agreed to a $30/day loss damage waiver so there was another $100 I hadn’t counted on. Priceline, Frontier and Avis – you can all piss off. Never again.

Well. it’s only money. The hotel was fine (Holiday Inn Express). Friday morning we ate breakfast late, marveled at the stopped traffic on the freeway at 9:30 am, and headed along surface streets to the stone cutters. That was the main goal of the trip and it was perfect.

I’m going to finish this story later.