25 September 2016

Retracing a bike route on this anniversary

Two years ago this weekend, Hubby and I rented a small cabin in SunRiver to celebrate his birthday and our anniversary.

The cabin came equipped with bikes, and Hubby wanted to ride. “You set the pace, I’ll follow,” I said to the man who had grown considerably weaker and was losing muscle mass; the man who only had two months left to live, which we couldn’t have known at the time.



SunRiver bike path along the Deschutes River – Sept 22, 2014


We ended up riding out to the marina. About five miles from the cabin.

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22 September 2016

Top Ten things I miss about you

Tomorrow is the second wedding anniversary without Hubby, and there is still so much I miss about being married to him. So much.




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18 September 2016

Dear 20-something me

Generally speaking, it’s a good thing we can’t see into the future. But if it were required that I know in advance what the wilderness years would hold for us—that season of time from joblessness through cancer and death—then here’s what I’d say to a younger version of me.



Younger version of us, l to r: Summer, Gary, Marlys, Jeremy


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15 September 2016

How a season of loss can be bountiful

I’m interviewing for a new position as foreman of an Idaho ranch. Driving the all-terrain utility Gator was part of the interview process. Riding the range. This is what I was born to do.




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9 September 2016

2016 Porch Fairy Challenge – in honor of Hubby

The second annual Porch Fairy Challenge—Sept 22—is fast approaching. (A Porch Fairy is someone who leaves gifts on front porches so as not to disturb the residents in the house, one of whom might be in a hospital bed that dominates the living room.)

Our Porch Fairy was an overachiever, gifting us with jars of homemade soup, chocolate, pumpkin scones, banana nut bread, socks, bouquets of flowers, bouquets of colorful fall leaves. And Chai tea. Every morning at 7:30 for several weeks, Chai tea was left on our front porch.



2014 Porch Fairy hit


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5 September 2016

Why we should think about end-of-life wishes

Hubby made a good choice when he was offered a third chemo. He declined. “The other two didn’t do much good,” he reasoned. That’s when the oncologist asked if we wanted a referral to hospice care.

We were hesitant. Isn’t it too soon for hospice care? I mean, after all, Hubby was planning to walk out of this appointment on his own two feet. No wheelchairs involved. Don’t you call in the hospice troops when your loved one has only a few days left?



Photo credit: Pixabay


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29 August 2016

Lessons on fifth-wheel-ishness

Chloe, one of my grand-dogs, is a Brussels Griffon. She doesn’t know what it means to be a fifth wheel because she assumes everyone wants to play with her.



Chloe, on left, teaching her lumbering friend, Noah, how to be a little more playful


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22 August 2016

Why telling our stories can be healing

I met this amazing young woman, Sarah Thebarge, at a writers’ conference in Portland this past week. Because of Sarah, I’m rewriting my memoir, and grateful for her input.



Photo credit: Pixabay


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14 August 2016

So, um, this week’s date night

One of the things cancer did was motivate Hubby and me to establish a standing Friday night date. I’ve blogged about this in the past, and how — pathetically — I’ve maintained date night alone most Fridays since Hubby died.

This week’s date seemed more important to me. Perhaps because I’ve been out of town the last couple of Fridays, and I’m headed out again on Monday for a couple weeks.


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Deschutes River trail


And so I laced up my trekking shoes and headed to the Deschutes River trail. I can’t tell you how many times Hubby and I hiked along this river. Close to half a million times. Roughly. Give or take a few.

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9 August 2016

A few thoughts on missed opportunities

My Grandpa Mallory was one of eight children who grew up on a dairy farm in Marengo, Wisconsin. I remember my dad’s stories of sneaking away to go skinny dipping in the river as a brief escape from all the work that came with being a boy on that same farm.



The Mallory clan – my grandfather is standing back row, middle


Not too long ago, my brother sent a photo of an out-dated Mallory family reunion flyer. I recognized the name on the flyer – Lee Westlund. Westlunds were first cousins to the Mallorys. And so I did a little online sleuthing and found myself talking with my cousin. A cousin I hadn’t seen since I was in junior high. Pretty incredible thing, right there.

“I’m going to try and attend the family reunion this year,” I told him.

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About Me

Hello, my name is Marlys Johnson. I’m a cancer widow, author, speaker and blogger. I love getting outdoors; would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping. I have a passion for repurposing old junk into cool new stuff. And an even greater passion for showing people how to navigate life's challenges. Tenaciously. And with heart wide open.

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