Jun 7, 2022

Land, Sea and Sky: There is Love

June 17, 1972

This year on June 17, 2022 my husband, Larry Bilyeu and I celebrate our 50th or "Golden" Wedding Anniversary.

Larry growing up in the small town of Mehama, Oregon and myself in the small town of Douglas on Douglas Island, Alaska. Larry and I were married at the "Shrine of St. Therese"a tiny forested island, past Auke Bay, about 25 miles north of Juneau.

This beautiful little Shrine was originally built by visiting Jesuit priests who came to the Diocese of Juneau to serve in territorial Alaska.

They found such beauty and so great the need for their services that several stayed and with the help of volunteers they completely built the tiny shrine out of the local beach stones on this tiny bit of land now known as "Shrine Island".

The Shrine is lovely, inside and out.

When the tide is in, the entire island is surrounded by beautiful blue water, except for the narrow 'walking-only' causeway. We walked out from our wedding ceremony to the sight of eagles soaring above, whales spouting, and sea lions barking their congratulations. It was incredibly beautiful.

Now, there is this labyrinth walk etched in the sand where we once walked to the log cabin rectory on the mainland to sign our marriage certificate. And yes, we've been back and it's still lovely and weddings are still held there.

During our ceremony "The Wedding Song" by Peter, Paul, and Mary was sung and played on a folk guitar by a high school friend and at our reception a lot of Simon and Garfield and similar songs from that era.
Somehow those beautiful songs filled hearts and souls as they were after all, new to most back then!

And yes, I made my own wedding dress! And each of my bridesmaids made theirs from fabric I bought and sent each of them in three different states as I gathered best friends from High School and College and included my youngest cousin who was so happy to be a bridesmaid!  Our dresses were all in different colors and were beautiful laces over satin, I even made my veil, covered my Bible with the same fabrics and carried a hand carved rose wood rosary.

Ah, the memories of a time, a place, the sounds, and the people. So many have passed on now, most of our guests, many of my own family even several who are younger than I am now. You never know what paths and causeways you may walk in your life time. Who you will love and who you will remember.

I have since lost both of my parents, a sister in law who was there, and my dearest uncle who died a few months after he attended our wedding. Uncle Bobby's two sons were teenagers and his 12 year old daughter was my Junior Bridesmaid.

Love and pride filled his face and his heart that day. His one and only chance to see her all grown up in a long bridesmaid dress. It was a glorious day and a memorable wedding. And that day, that date, has only grown with memories ever since that beautiful day 50 years ago.

I rejoice in the wonderful memories of so many from that day, just as I grieve the loss of those who have since passed on.

We met in college in 1969 as next door dorm mates and later shared acreage to each build our homes on and raise our children together. Terri and Greg's daughter Kelsy was only 12 when their family  was in a car accident en route to the 1997 summer Jr. Olympics where Kelsy was a cross country runner expected to win top honors in her division. Terri and Kelsy didn't survive though Greg and their two teen sons did. It was an unbearable loss for all of us.

Kelsy and my daughter were born 6 months apart. I was with Terri the night before Kelsy's birth and we saw her almost every day of her life as our girls were almost inseparable. Our other two children were closely bonded as well. This devastating loss broke our hearts and changed our lives and those of Greg and their sons forever.

While it also changed the memories of June 17th from our 25th anniversary on, it didn't change the love we felt for all who have been parts of our lives for whatever time we had with them. We treasured this family and all of our many shared adventures and experiences.

And now, it's not even surprising to me, that on this day, June 17, 2022 our dear friend, Daryl Stroschine is having his final big send off into the land, sea and sky with a memorial service in the tiny community church of Mehama, Oregon

Larry and Daryl were best friends from Elementary School in Mehama, on through High School in Stayton, then off to separate colleges. Larry at Oregon State where we met and Daryl to Warner Pacific on a full athletic "wild and wonderful ride' of an adventure. Larry and Daryl would get together over the summers and as Larry's letters to me in Alaska can attest, he and Daryl got right back into their hiking, fishing and other adventures.

We continued to keep in touch through life's many challenges and Larry and Daryl never forgot phone calls on their shared birthday in November and in these many final years a daily phone call. They had the same deep love of nature, and the outdoors. They hiked, camped, hunted and fished together throughout their younger years with lots of swimming up the North Fork River, or visiting their favorite spot at Shelburg Falls.

We sheltered Daryl (and Doobie his tiny lap dog) during the Santiam Canyon Fires, along with our own Mehama Kids/grandkids/dog/cat and even chickens. It was a challenging time. The fires came within a 1/4 of a mile or less of their homes. Larry and I did all we could think of to keep spirits lifted and bodies well fed but the fear of losing not only their own homes in Mehama along with almost everything they owned was intense.

Daryl and I had deep talks over coffee about life, loss, and death. We shared a similar innate sense of natural spirituality, a love of the natural world, a love of arts and creativity, family and most of all love and pride in our grandchildren.

Daryl and Larry remembered decades of stories from their shared childhoods. What one had forgotten, the other remembered!

But in the end all was well, just like this rewritten, reused, and now rewritten with inclusions of Daryl's passing and connection to this anniversary post for Larry and I.

For in the end, the lovely and positive sounds, sights, and memories remain above all else and I am filled with gratitude for the good times and the lessons and treasures from even the saddest times.

Somethings never die. Beauty, art, music and love can fill up our our lives and our hearts forever.

Click below to hear this lovely song that was titled 'The Wedding Song' as it was often performed by "Peter, Paul and Mary" and this version by its writer/also solo performer on the folk group's own 25th anniversary.

The same song that Larry and I had sung by a friend as he played on his quitar during our wedding 50 years ago during our Catholic Mass Wedding Service performed by a traveling Jesuit priest in this beautiful place, special time, and never ending symbol of the timelessness of memories.

The song is just as meaningful and beautiful as ever.
The songs of that era are all etched forever in my heart.

Our professional and recessional songs played on his guitar by Geoff Roger's of Juneau Alaska:

Oh the power of music to touch the soul.
The beautiful chords and melodies that make up the songs of our lifetimes.

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, from my heart and with my hands.

Rest in peace Daryl.
We love you and will never forget you.

Obituary/ Tribute for 
Daryl Stroschine 
1949 - 2022

Paul Toews of KYAC, a public supported small community radio station) in Mill City Oregon
"Honors the Life of Daryl Stroschine:

(And yes, that's my husband Larry who ended up at last possible moment being a call in radio guest)

Replayed from original broadcasting using mixcloud.


Paul Toews asks why do we sing and play music/Daryl Stroschine responds. by Ken Cartwright

Replayed from the original broadcast using

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