A phoenix rising from the ashes

Private road through the woods

This is the private road through the woods to our riverfront property. We ran across this obstacle on our journey.

My aunt and I made the trek to Robe Valley where our family has owned property along the Stillaguamish River since the crash of ’29. Our mission was to spread my mother’s ashes in a place of beauty that she loved.

At dinner the night before at my brother’s home, we celebrated mom’s life. I was surrounded with love from my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, spouses and children and of course aunt.

I worried about the condition of the road to the river. Would it be too muddy? Would it be flooded? We were told we’d need a chainsaw this time of year to make it to the river.

“We don’t do chainsaws,” I said.

My aunt who turns 80 this year, nodded her head in agreement.

gate to private road
A new gate to our property.

Our first obstacle was a new gate. Prior to this gate, we had a chain across our road. Fortunately, I packed the key that was mailed to me by a distant relative a few months ago. Whew! It worked!

When we stopped at the fallen branches blocking the road, I was able to push and hold them back while my aunt gunned the accelerator and drove through.

Then something surprising happened. A Great Blue Heron (not a Phoenix) rose from a low branch and flew up in front of us. The Great Blue Heron was my mom’s favorite bird. In the 80-plus years this property has been in the family, no one has seen one.

My aunt said “Mary is that you?” (Mary is my mother’s name.)

The heron kept flight directly in front of our car as we made our way down the road. Literally we were looking up and forward.

I’m reminded of Victoria’s post yesterday at Victoria Ponders with these words from her dear friend:

Look Up.  Look Forward.


It was a sight or a sign. It was other worldly. I didn’t get a photo or video, but the four-foot tall bird guiding us down the road is etched in my mind.

We reached the river without further obstacles, prayed and spread my mom’s ashes along with blue hydrangea blossoms (blue was my mother’s favorite color and she loved hydrangeas.)

We left in peace knowing Mom was put to rest in one of the most beautiful places that she loved.

river view
Where we spread ashes with snow on the riverbanks and snow capped mountains in the distance.
Stilaguamish River in Washington state.
View across the river from our property.

36 thoughts on “A phoenix rising from the ashes

  1. Chills and tears all at once, Elizabeth. “Mary is that you?” ๐Ÿ’“
    Thank you for sharing these moments with us. Hugs and love in abundance to you. ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

  2. What a beautiful story EA! It does tie in perfectly with Vicki’s post as well- coincidence? I am a very a-religious person but when folks speak of moments like this I step into those moments of awe that many of our writers at HoTM write about. How in the world can you as a daughter not see that moment as prophetic and amazing! Not to take away from this lovely post but I will just add that my family experienced something similar on the day we buried my dad. He was a life-long deer hunter, his burial site was surrounded by forest. As we closed the service a deer with lovely full antlers stepped out from the trees onto the lawn space. Only some of us noticed and stared. The deer bobbed its head a few times, turned and quietly walked back into the forest to disappear. I hope that you are filled with the same joy and peace that I felt that day.

    • Popping in here, Deb…what a beautiful story about your father and the deer…there is a buck that finds its way into our backyard from time to time…when my dad is on my mind. Between the beautiful great blue heron that Elizabeth described, celebrating her mother and your sharing of the deer as you said goodbye to your father, I feel so lifted up this morning. Thank you both. ๐Ÿ’•

    • Itโ€™s one mile of riverfront that my grandfather bought after the big crash. He divided it into parcels for his kids and sisters. He thought it would be a place where the entire family could get together. Now there are cousins of cousins and people Iโ€™ve never heard of.

  3. What a beautiful story, and beautiful location to lay your mother to rest. โ€œMary is that you?โ€ That gave me chills–just, WOW! You mother was there with you that day, letting you know that she is okay and at peace. Similar to Deb and Vicki, not to take away from your story, but my mom experienced something similar after the loss of her mother. My mom was having a hard time and had said, “Mom, if you can hear me, send me a sign” and moments later, she found a hearing aid in the decades-old potted bird of paradise. I do believe our loved ones are looking out for us. โค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธ

    • Wow that is a great story with the hearing aid in a bit of paradise. Isn’t it wonderful that our loved ones let us know they are in a better place? I felt so happy all day. It was a day I was dreading and it turned out to be the closure I needed and I felt at peace.

    • It was wonderful. I have so many memories from my childhood of that place. It’s an hour from Seattle and completely pristine. I felt her there with me.๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Yes. My grandfather got out of the stock market before the crash and bought farmland in Eastern Washington, lots of downtown blocks in their hometown and the river property. I never met my grandfather. He died of cancer before my mom turned 20.

  4. Wow, wow, wow, Elizabeth! I am so touched by this post. The heron and your aunt’s calling out just gives me shivers. My dad used the phrase “beyond the veil” to describe what separates us from those who have died and I think what you’ve described here is a thin place – where we can sense them more clearly. Absolutely beautiful! I know this must have been such an emotional journey – I hope the image of that heron keeps coming back to you when you need it the most! Sending huge hugs! <3 <3 <3

  5. Such a touching post Elizabeth. Your mom was definitely with you as represented by the heron. I remember after my brother-in-law passed my sister and I saw these ducks passing right over our heads and we knew it was David. Hugs, C

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