‘Circle of life’ can feel cruel sometimes

Last week, I announced the birth of another great-grandson, Hudson Ross Haxby. This week, I need to tell you about two important people in my life who passed on the same day. Life, indeed, seems to be an unending circle.

  One of our good friends, Marilyn Wenger Cooper, quietly slipped away Saturday, Aug. 8. She worked on and off for Jim and me at the Lorane Family Store for almost 40 years. She absolutely loved being part of our LFS family. Her health began failing a few years ago, but she fought to remain at the store for as long as possible. When she realized she no longer could handle the work, she had to quit, and it about broke her heart. Saying goodbye to her the day before she passed was extremely hard for Jim and me, but it was time and she was at peace. Rest in peace, Marilyn. We love you so.

  A few days ago, I learned that I had lost another good friend on Friday, Aug. 7, the day I was saying goodbye to Marilyn. Michael J. “Hoss” Barker was a good friend that I had lost track of during the pandemic. I later found out that he had been battling a rare form of leukemia for the past year. Hoss, as he liked being called, was a wonderful cowboy/logger poet who brightened the pages of our Groundwaters magazine for many years. I worked with him on publishing his last book, My Time in Paradise, that he produced in 2014. It chronicled the six years he spent as the caretaker for Paradise Lodge in the wild and scenic Rogue River wilderness that he loved so much. I helped him republish three books of poetry through the years of our friendship. I send my condolences to Kris Barker, his wife, and Eric, his remaining son after losing another son, Lucas, last November. You will be missed by so many, Hoss, and your poetry lives on.

 Here is one of Hoss Barker’s poems. You can find more of them at


The Dreamer


An old blind man told me once that he could see the wind,

I never paid him any mind and went about my way.

Tonight as I reflect, I can hear his words again,

I wondered why I thought of him and why it was today.

But that old man never fooled me because I could see it too,

I saw leaves dance in the trees every time it blew,

But those words stayed with me and deep inside I knew.

Chance encounters come and go, we’d never meet again,

Any fool can look at trees … it takes a dreamer to see the wind.


– Michael J. “Hoss” Barker