Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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Dewdrops Birthday

First summer bouquet

First summer bouquet

Happy Birthday to Us!

We celebrate our 2nd birthday in August. Two years ago I wrote, “So here is my hope – that this blog will be doses of writing, dewdrops, that might knit us together in this wild, heartbreaking, and exquisite experience of life. Inevitably along the way, there will be thoughts and questions about language, culture, writing, teaching, the land, kids, and anything else that composes the chapters of life. I look forward to our journey together.” 

So much has happened since that time—and along the way, we’ve laughed, cried, questioned, and been Still. Here is the last year of writing. As I composed this piece, looking back over the past year, an image of dewdrops beaded together on a leaf came to mind—each unique and beautiful, and yet in their cluster create a whole. Just like our community.

First touch

First touch

So deeply grateful to share the journey,

Dawn

One Year of Dewdrops

A Blessed Busy

It’s About Illuminating Life on Earth

Beauty, Skulls, and Culture

Today’s the Day! MEADOWLARK Book Launch

Cove, Dominican Republic

Cove, Dominican Republic

Birthing Rain: Meadowlark’s Book Launch

Deadwood to the Dominican Republic

The Blizzard that Never Was—and its Aftermath on Cattle and Ranchers

It Takes a Ranch—South Dakota Ranchers Affected by the Blizzard 

Storm Atlas

Storm Atlas

Kindnesses and Bones

Rhythms and Day of the Dead

Touchstones

Gratitude Amidst the Messy Parts

Threaded Beads

Writing the Land Class 

Cut tissue paper - Papel picado

Cut tissue paper – Papel picado

O’Keeffe—Spirit of the Winter Solstice

Christmas in Santa Fe—Photos and Recipes

Books to Curl Up and Savor

Magic and Dreams in 2014

Friday Night, Family Night—Love of Place, Belonging… 

Horses on prairie.

Horses on prairie.

Snow-laden Nest Waiting for Spring

When I am an Old Horsewoman

Women of Atlas: Song through the Storm 

Tucson Festival of Books and “the Benson kids”—Roots and Love

Starfish, San Juans.

Starfish, San Juans.

Language and Story: TESOL, Puebla, and the Story Catcher Writing Workshop

What Creates Heroes

Rainbow Between Storms

Story Catchers: The Story Catcher Writing Workshop

The Problem and the Fix on the Ranch: Broken Powerlines

The World Cup—A Surprising Love Story

Gift from the Sea—The San Juan Islands

Dawn

Dawn

I have birthday presents! In honor of our birthday, I have three copies of Meadowlark to gift. If you would like a copy, just mention this in the comments below. I’ll sign, bundle, and send to the first three people.

Gratitude.

 


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Gift from the Sea—The San Juan Islands

Sunrise over sea, San Juan Islands

Sunrise over sea, San Juan Islands

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” —Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Kids on ferry in harbor.

Kids on ferry in harbor.

I read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea years ago. I read the book and inhaled the essence of Lindbergh’s writing, yet it all remained quite distant. I admired the book and her ideas about the sea as one might admire a piece of art in a gallery, beautiful, yes, but untouchable and apart. The beauty of the sea remained for me abstract. The sea has never been a part of my life. I am a woman of the desert, the prairie, the West, the borderlands, the world—but never the sea. 

Until last week.

Last week our family drove from Santa Fe to the archipelago of the  San Juan Islands in the Pacific Ocean, off the northern coast of Washington state. This was a trip years in the making. Our family has had the gift of going to the ranch every summer and so we did. There wasn’t time or resources for any other family travel. With Wyatt soon to leave for college, I was determined to take at least one family trip to someplace new. With Wyatt’s love of Washington state, our dear friends in the San Juan Islands, and my cousin and friend from forever in Seattle, we decided months ago to take this trip.

With Noé on the ferry.

With Noé on the ferry.

As the time of our trip approached and life loomed large, there were so very many reasons not to take this trip. I ignored them, “We’re going. Whatever it takes, we’re going. We are taking at least one family vacation someplace new before Wyatt leaves.” Denial can be a wonderful thing when channeled properly. 

So, we went.

 Two days and 2,000+ miles later, we drove onto the ferry heading to the peninsula where our cousin, Janet, and her family live. There is something about cousins that spans time and distance. Our first gift from the sea. 

The sea came alive. The abstract and untouchable painting in a gallery gained texture, scent, color, and connection. 

The sea came alive for Wyatt, Luke, and Wynn—who were in the water as soon as we arrived.

Kids on water upon arrival.

Kids on water upon arrival.

View from the ferry. Mt. Baker looms over all.

View from the ferry. Mt. Baker presides over all.

Driftwood on South Beach

Driftwood on South Beach

We went to South Beach—the driftwood and stones created a palette of textures. I found myself again and again running my hands through the stones. Gift from the sea.

Stones of South Beach, San Juan Islands.

Stones of South Beach, San Juan Islands.

Collected stones of South Beach.

Collected stones of South Beach.

Stones skipped across the sea.

Skipping rocks across the sea.

Skipping rocks across the sea.

Starfish found.

Starfish found.

Purple starfish in tide pool.

Purple starfish in tide pool.

This area is known for the orcas who live in these waters. We watched and watched the seas. In a lighthouse on a point overlooking the waters of the whales, people from around the world shared their names.

"Killer whale" around the world.

“Killer whale” around the world.

What made this all possible were our forever friends and their invitation to visit them in their home on San Juan Island. Threads of roots, friendship, and love bound the new with the known. We met in 1973 when Mom got lost in Tucson one Sunday morning and met our forever friends. Our family photo albums of our growing up years are interchangeable. Names evolved and we soon developed our own language of, “the Moms, the Dads, the Big Birds (two oldest), and the Little Birds (three youngest).” The Big Birds share the same name of Dawn Elizabeth. From our last names, we soon became Winkie and Dobie and have remained so ever since.

The moms, big birds, and little birds Cascabel, AZ 1977

The Moms, Little Birds, and Big Birds. Cascabel, AZ 1977

In an alignment of the stars that we could not have planned had we tried, four of our five Big and Little Birds were on the island together, coming from Argentina, California, and New Mexico. We  basked in watching the next generation, the Littlest Birds, play together. They tumbled, played, the swam, hiked, and laughed. The faces in photos on our refrigerators sprang to life and the lace of roots deepened into the future. 

Gift from the sea.

Amy, Dobie, Wendy, Winkie

Amy, Dobie, Wendy, Winkie

From South Beach, we brought home stones and driftwood to create an altar in our home.

Altar of stones and driftwood.

Altar of stones and driftwood.

On the drive home, memories of our time in the San Juans swirled. Warmth of the stones under my hands on the beach, sounds of water as it lapped against shell of the kayak, Luke stumbling through the living room early one morning to kayak out in hopes of seeing a baby seal and his face light up upon his return (Mom, they are the most adorable things ever.), clusters of bodies of the Littlest Birds as they played, scent of lavender, sparkles of sunlight as they shimmered on the sea, friendship…

“Don’t wish me happiness. I don’t expect to be happy all the time… It’s gotten beyond that somehow, “Anne Morrow Lindbergh goes on to write. “Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all.”

Courage, stones, strength, driftwood, a sense of humor, roots, moon over water.

Gift of the sea.

Pelindaba Lavender farm, San Juan Island

Pelindaba Lavender farm, San Juan Island

***

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The World Cup — A Surprising Love Story

James Rodriguez (C) of Colombia is applauded by David Luiz (R) and Dani Alves (L) of Brazil after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match

James Rodriguez (C) of Colombia is applauded by David Luiz (R) and Dani Alves (L) of Brazil after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match

The World Cup just closed and our family finds ourselves already counting the days until the next Cup four years from now. 

This surprises nobody more than me. The only sports our family watches are those where a child is playing and the rest of us are in the stands. The last real sporting events I followed were the Winter Olympics—in 1994! Then, along came the World Cup and suddenly our family and work rhythms revolved around the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) schedule. Each match found us home, collected around the match, amidst cheering and tears, animated talking and shocked silence.

I’ve thought about why the World Cup so touched me. Some of the reasons are global, some intensely private, and some continue in a realm of the mysterious that I don’t entirely understand and perhaps that is what is so intriguing. 

What I do know is that I fell in love with the fans from around the world, collected in the Maracanã Stadium, collecting around televisions in their home countries, collecting in homes and in the streets to cheer their teams. I loved the colors, the flags, the unbridled enthusiasm, the sheer heart palpating throughout the world. 

World Cup Brazil 2014 Fans of 32 Nations

World Cup Brazil 2014 Fans of 32 Nations

I fell in love with this moment after the epic Brazil-Colombia match when Colombian player James Rodríguez broke down and Brazilians David Luiz and Dani Alvez comforted him and encouraged the legions of Brazilian fans to applaud as they walked off the field together.

From across the world, friends new and old connected on the day’s match, each cheering our team. A friend from the Netherlands, Marjolijn, and I who haven’t seen each other in years “watched” the matches together across the sea, commenting back and forth. Friends from England, Argentina, France, the Netherlands, Mexico, Costa Rica, and many other countries gathered virtually to talk about the matches, in whatever language best fit. It was a delight!

The Signature of All Things author Elizabeth Gilbert followed FIFA and tweeted, creating a community of literary soccer fans from across the world. This tweet highlights another reason why I loved the World Cup, the mass of cultures and languages in all of their uniqueness:

Elizabeth Gilbert Elizabeth Gilbert @GilbertLiz
My Brazilian husband: “How come the Dutch don’t cry?”

He’s truly puzzled.

I’m trying to explain Northern Europe to him.

#WorldCup

 

Luke FIFA

Luke FIFA

I loved imagining all of the languages swirling within the stadium and talking about FIFA around the world. Noé and I spent as much time trying to read the lips of the referees and players, as we did watching the games. Close-ups between Spanish-speaking countries revealed language best described as highly colorful! 

So, yes, I fell in love with all of the above.

At the heart of all, and my true love with FIFA, took place right in our own home. Luke loves soccer and loves the World Cup. For the past weeks, our lives have braided together around a mutual passion, a rare gift with a 16-year-old son.

Every day, we spoke of the day’s matches, watched the players on Youtube, and shared our thoughts on what might happen. During the matches, we came together and cheered or groaned. We watched all in Spanish, so the matches were filled with Luke asking questions for clarification and Noé or I interpreting the commentators. No matter what else was happening in our days, all of that ceased to exist during each match of the World Cup. In that moment, we were caught up in the team, the country, the players, their dreams and losses, and our time together. 

For this brief span of time in our complex lives, we gathered together in a common world. A gift.

Luke and Noé, World Cup

Luke and Noé, World Cup

* * *
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The Problem and The Fix on the Ranch: Broken Waterlines

Highway 34 erosion

Highway 34 erosion

 

The problem—broken water pipe for rest of ranch.

The problem—broken water pipe for rest of ranch.

This spring and summer has been a time of incredible rains on the ranch. Mom (Joan Wink) wrote this piece and the original is featured on her blog here. If you haven’t seen Mom’s website yet, I do encourage you to head over there. Whether you’re a reader, a teacher, a writer, a learner, or someone who loves the prairie and ranching, all can be found there — www.JoanWink.com. You’ll see why for most of my life, I’ve been known as ‘Dean and Joan Wink’s girl.’ And proudly so.

Mom wrote:

You may have heard of all of flooding and erosion near our ranch. For example, the primary East/West road (Highway 34) is closed, as the erosion is weakening the road. The detours around add 75 to 100 miles, which is not always a happy surprise to motorists.

However the purpose of this blog post is to share a very specific problem, and how we solved it. Near one of our dams, the spillway eroded and broke a major waterline, which goes to the truck washout. Wink, who was 4 weeks out from 5 broken ribs, 2 fractured ribs, and collar bone broken into 5 pieces, was sure he could get down into the water and join the two pieces of pipe. Here he goes into the depths, which he says will be about a foot. You’ll note that I was guessing 6 feet. So, that did not work.

Let’s go to Plan B, which included crawling back out of hole, taking off the hip waders, sliding back down into the cold water, and walking through the chest-deep water until he came to the broken pipe again. Next we had to get a homemade iron ladder, 2 steel posts, post-hole pounder, and some pieces of wire for tying it all together.

The Fix

Dad - the fix!

Dad – the fix!


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Story Catchers —The Story Catcher Writing Workshop

Mari Sandoz

Mari Sandoz

“My dear Students,

If I could endow every young person in Nebraska and in the world with two things, and two things only, I should choose not beauty or fame or power or riches. I should choose to endow you with courage and a love for reading.”

So begins a letter written by Great Plains author Mari Sandoz (1896-1966). “With a fondness for reading you would have at your elbow, as often as you liked, all the strange and precious things of the world and never have to guard them against thieves and never have to dust them at all.

And with courage—ah, with courage you would find that all the obstacles of the world shrink away before you and are as nothing.

Take these two gifts then, if you will. They are yours, not from me but from yourself. And if you go out as a teacher, office worker, housewife or any other position, even writer, they will serve you well, particularly if you wish to be a writer will you need these two gifts ever with you.

Sincerely, Mari Sandoz”

Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center

Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center

In the spirit of Mari Sandoz’s courage and love of reading, writers gathered for the Story Catcher Summer Writing Workshop and Festival at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center at Chadron State College in Chadron, NE to explore the art and craft of writing. I was thrilled to be included to give workshops on Writing the Land, Meadowlark, and Will this Book EVER Be Published?  (Presentation materials that I gave for each of these workshops are attached to the bottom of the page of this piece.)

Conference creator and organizer Dr. Matt Evertson wove together three days of workshops, walking and writing the land, and readings at Open Mic night at the local coffee shop to create a textured writing experience that captured the essence of this year’s theme “What’s YOUR Story?”

 

Author Dan O'Brien

Author Dan O’Brien

Author and buffalo rancher Dan O’Brien (Buffalo for the Broken Heart, Stolen Horses) kicked off the conference with his keynote “Writing the High Lonesome,” exploring James R. Mead’s book Hunting and Trading on the Great Plains 1859-1875 and the essential component in writing—a writer’s honesty with oneself on the page, including one’s own internal beasts. If a writer isn’t willing to recognize those beasts and let them loose on the page, the reader senses this lack of authenticity and honesty. 

Prairie Rose

Prairie Rose

The gardens around the High Plains Heritage Center overflowed with native grasses and flowers and I found some of Grandma Grace’s hidden prairie roses blooming amidst the other flowers.

Writers and I dove together into writing the land, the journey of Meadowlark, and composing a writing life. We talked, we wrote, we mused, and we wrote some more.

While writing the land, we explored how the land can convey character, emotion, connection, and story. As we looked at composing a writer’s life, writers created visual representations in word, image, and art of their own maps of a writing life. This is the first time that I’ve woven this aspect into this presentation and I’ll definitely do again. To see these unique, individual, authentic paths of a writing life was such a treat. I am going to create one myself.

Creating a writing life at Story Catcher Writing Workshop. ©www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com

Creating a writing life at Story Catcher Writing Workshop. ©www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com

Creating maps of a writing life.

Creating maps of a writing life.

Map of a writing life.

Map of a writing life.

The presentations are attached here, including the steps writers took to write the land and to create their individual maps of a writing life.

Gardens of High Plains Heritage Center

Gardens of High Plains Heritage Center

I think again of Mari Sandoz, the spirit of her writing and teaching surrounded us and grounded us in this place. “With a fondness for reading you would have at your elbow, as often as you liked, all the strange and precious things of the world and never have to guard them against thieves and never have to dust them at all. And with courage—ah, with courage you would find that all the obstacles of the world shrink away before you and are as nothing.”

The Story Catcher Writing Festival and Workshop was a time of deep writing, deep musing, deep laughter, newfound friendships, and promises to stay in touch.

I am grateful for all.

Now, I think I am going to go and compose that map of a writer’s life. 

Presentations included here: 

Writing the Land. Dawn Wink

Will this Book EVER be Published? Composing a Writing Life

The Accompanist by Kit Watson 2003

The Accompanist by Kit Watson 2003

* * *

To subscribe and receive Dewdrops in your email, please enter your email address in the box under “Follow this blog via email” or click on the ‘Follow’ icon in lower right-hand corner of the blog’s screen and ‘Confirm Follow’ in the email you receive. To return to website: http://www.dawnwink.com

 


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Rainbow Between Storms

 

Evening sun on clouds over the ranch.

Evening sun on clouds over the ranch.

Last we knew, my dad was out of the hospital after being thrown from his horse, Wyatt was on a plane headed for the ranch the morning after his high school graduation, and I was curled up on the couch writing by candlelight about my heroes.

Horses on prairie.

Horses on prairie.

Dad continues to heal. While our time on the ranch last year was filled with horses and rafting, this year’s time was all about Dad’s healing. The latest X-ray revealed that he broke seven ribs, rather than the five we originally thought, and his collarbone is held together by a piece of metal and a comb of screws into the bone. He’ll light up security at the airport like a firework display. 

While the kids were on the ranch, I made my yearly trek to Chicago where one week a year I work instructors in the construction industry, essentially, teaching construction workers how to teach. For this brief week each year, a group of teacher educators from around the world comes together with instructors in the construction industry from across the US, and we spend a week of intensity in which we bring different areas of expertise to work and learn together, with the construction workers learning about how to compose an engaged class and the teacher educators learning about hoisting, rigging, scaffolding, and other aspects of the construction industry. I look forward to this week all year.

Dad, branding 2014

Dad, branding 2014

My plane from Chicago landed on an uncharacteristically wet June western South Dakota prairie – lush and green as Ireland. Our group from Chicago was returning home to places across the US and the world. Branding was the next day on the ranch. Thinking about the different worlds we each inhabit and move between, I wrote of the mosaic of each of our lives the morning of the branding. Mom wrote back, “Mosaic? It’s all about mud and manure!”

Dad oversaw this year’s branding on foot and all went well. Most notable among the conversations at our branding and others, was how many hours shorter brandings are this year,  due to the losses of the Atlas Storm

Wink Branding, 2014

Wink Branding, 2014

Tommy, roping.

Tommy, roping.

Dad and Billy

Dad and Billy, laughs amidst the work.

Kids hanging out between calves.

Kids hanging out between calves.

Mom and Dad, lunch.

Mom and Dad, lunch.

Four-wheeler with neighbor girls!

 Four-wheeler with Mom, Wynn, and neighbor girls!

With Mom, final walk on the ranch between storms.

With Mom, final walk on the ranch between storms.

A series of storms blew in trailing thunder and lightning on our final night on the ranch.

Thunder and lighting storm blows over ranch.

Thunder and lighting storm blows over ranch.

I watched the clouds ebb to the north, as others approached from the south. A rainbow slipped in between storms. I thought of Dad’s healing, of all happening, and the unknown yet to come.

Let us enjoy the rainbow between storms.

Rainbow between storms.

Rainbow between storms.


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What Creates Heroes

Mortar boards fly!

Mortar boards fly outside the Cathedral!

My oldest son, Wyatt, just graduated from high school. One year ago, I was asked to write a letter to him. When I sat to write, I thought of the mosaic of our lives.

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 1996

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 1996

February 22, 2013

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dear Wyatt,

I remember the first time I felt you move when I was pregnant with you. I was reading and resting the edge of a book on my tummy. Suddenly, the book popped up. I knew then that there was no way I was imagining you and your movement.

When I think of this now, I think of your love of books, reading, and ideas and wonder if you were anxious to read yourself and trying to grab the book!

What a journey, our lives together, Wyatt. I don’t think there was ever a child more loved or cherished than you. You were born into a world of love. 

My journey with you as your mom has been, and continues to be, the most important in my own life. When you were 2 1/2 years old, you started calling me The Mommy Lady. Of all of my names, this one remains the most cherished. And what a courageous and honorable path you’ve walked in your journey.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The best journeys are like those of the great novels, those of Tolkien – journeys of both beauty and hardship, of love and despair, of being tested and tough decisions made, of sorrow and joy. This has been your journey, dear Wyatt. Like the heroes of these tales, you’ve experienced all of this and more along your path.

What separates the heroes, from those lost to history, is not the circumstance of their birth and not their wealth. What creates heroes is their courage and willingness to make the difficult decisions for Good. Think of Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, and Gandalf’s paths and all of the times it would’ve been far easier to succumb and give up on their journeys. For Aragorn to continue to hide in shame for what his father had done, Frodo to deny his destiny, Sam to leave Frodo in the Shire or on the mountain in Mordor, and Gandalf to stop trying to slay the dragon as they hurled into the depths of the crevice. And yet, they rose above again and again, living out Gandalf’s wisdom, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Wyatt, Black Belt test

Wyatt, Black Belt test

This is what you have done, Wyatt. There were times in your journey when it would have been the easier decision to give in darkness, and a few times, you did, as we all do.

What demonstrates the greatness in you is that you looked within, learned from these experiences, and set about doing the hard, hard work of creating a person founded upon the very best of you –integrity, willingness to work hard, honor, kindness, intelligence, compassion, respect, trust, and goodness. What a young man you’ve created!

One of the things I most admire about you, Wyatt, is your courage in looking within yourself and choosing kindness, and respect for all, honor, and love. Often, this is the most difficult journey of all. And—as with all great adventures—the one most worth taking.

Wyatt, hurdles 2014

Wyatt, hurdles 2014

I burst with pride for you and with excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead in your life. Whatever comes, I know you will rise to the occasion to create a life of wisdom, adventure, wonder, I fill with gratitude that I am blessed to take this precious journey with you.

I love you to the moon and back,

The Mommy Lady

Wyatt’s journey of courage and integrity continues. Last week, Mom had just arrived for Wyatt’s graduation from high school. Dad was to arrive the next day. Two hours from Santa Fe, Mom received a phone call that my dad had been thrown from his horse and was en route to the hospital in Rapid City, SD with a crushed lung, five broken ribs, two cracked ribs, and a collarbone broken in five places. A dear friend forwarded this piece about Dad and the horse wreck, Lawmaker, rancher in hospitalized after being bucked off horse.

“If he goes into surgery, I have to drive back,” Mom said, having just completed the 15 hour drive. She left the next morning to return to South Dakota, putting in 30 hours of driving within two days. The poignant aspect of this horse wreck is that less than ten years ago, I was with Dad for another awful horse wreck that left him with a separated pelvis and shattered hand. I wrote about life when your dad’s a cowboy.

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 2014

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 2014

“Wyatt,” I said, after Mom arrived in South Dakota and we realized the extent of Dad’s injuries, including his all-too-early release from the hospital. “What about heading to the ranch earlier than planned? It’s your decision. I know there are graduation festivities with your friends for the next weeks. This is your time. What do you think?”

“I want to go with Bop Bop and Grammie, Mom,” he said, without hesitation. “I want to be there and help.”

Let me say again, so there is no romanticizing any of this, that Wyatt and I shared several very dark and difficult years—years in which I had no idea what the future for either of us held. Yesterday, Wyatt graduated at 10:00 am in a beautiful ceremony in the Cathedral on the Plaza of Santa Fe. This morning, he was on a plane to South Dakota at 6:00 am. Tonight, Wyatt is with Grammie and Bop Bop on the ranch.

As I wrote to Wyatt in his letter, What creates heroes is their courage and willingness to make the difficult decisions for Good. 

Wyatt, you are my hero.

The Mommy Lady

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