Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


January 11, 2024

Virginia Fraser Wirkkala, recently passed away at over 100 years of age. Photo courtesy of family.

Holiday Trauma. After the holidays, January can bring a pall onto our days. Death seems to land on holidays harder than the rest of the year. Rain, clouds and chills weigh heavily on us, bringing on a sadness that only sunshine can heal. The traumas of our lives, whether they came in our childhoods, adult or elder years, stay with us. They usually can't just be tossed off.

Whether it's something that happened around loss, fear or pain, it lives in our bodies from as early as childhood, into our elder years. Trauma is a lifelong shock that can come back at any time. All that we can do is live through it with help, forgiveness of ourselves and the circumstances that bring it back, whether it involves parents, friends or enemies in battle it lives on to hurt us, but also to teach us, to gird up our faith in God and to motivate us to trust ourselves and others.

If you have that type of trauma inside you and you've not shared it, know that it can continue to take over your emotions and your relationships. Do not be afraid to speak of it in places where you feel safe, whether with a professional or a loved one. Shared pain is lessened each time it is shared. The old premise that men are tough so women are the ones who are supposed to show emotions is just not healthy anymore. All the expectations put on us by society about what we ought to do can be destructive. What we can do instead is be real, talk through thoughts of guilt, pain, and regret and get them into the light. Know that life can be better and you can have a happier life. May this year bring much light into your own life and your families.

From the Sunday Oregonian, September 3, 1916: "Grandma Brooks" (Brooks Slough) as she is familiarly called by a large number of friends, celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday. She is the oldest resident of Wahkiakum County but is in excellent health and yet takes an active part in civic and community affairs. Mrs. Brooks came to the Skamokawa Valley in 1870, when there were four white women in the settlement. There was no physician nearer than 80 miles and Mrs. Brooks was often called miles to care for the ill. More than 200 children call her "Grandma." She was born in New Lime, Ashtabula County, Ohio on September 1, 1826." Her name, which isn't mentioned in the announcement, was Mehalla Brooks. At that time, women were often referred to by their husband's name, not their own, as illustrated by a marker in a Texas cemetery that said, "Here lies Frank Wilson and wife." (Special thanks to Janine Klint Davidson.)

Photo of the Week: Virginia "Virgie" Fraser Wirkkala was born in Winnipeg, Ontario. She married Edwin Wirkala, born in 1909, the fourth child of Antti and Hilda (Korpela) Wirkkala who came from Kaustinen, Finland. They farmed on Knappton Road about a mile south of the post office. She died recently at 100 years plus eight months after a stroke. She had twin boys, Ed and Elwin.

One of her twins said, "I often called her Virginia of Winnipeg. She liked people and enjoyed teaching home economics at Naselle High School."

Both Ed and Elwin have expressed their sense of loss and sent out a poem often recited from memory, trading off reading it, line by line by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

"Crossing the Bar"

Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,

Too full for sound and foam,

When that which drew from out the boundless deep,

Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place,

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face,

When I have crost the bar.

Maya Angelou wrote a piece that gives us a sense of hope for lives we've loved when they are suddenly gone: "And when great souls die, after a period, peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed."

Announcement: The concert that was scheduled for Jan. 14 at the Naselle Community Center has been postponed. It is currently set for early February; I'll have updated information for you in next week's Dispatch, so be sure to watch for it.

Calendar of Events:

Mondays/Wednesdays: Balance Class Naselle Community Center 3-4 p.m.

Second Monday: American Legion at Rosburg Hall, meal at 6. Meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesdays: Naselle Lutheran Church: quilters in morning/ knitters in afternoons.

Third Tuesday: Naselle/GRV School Board 6:30 p.m. Next on Jan. 16 in School Library.

Wednesdays: AA meeting Grays River Grange at noon.

Second Wednesday of the month: Grays River Flood Control District at Fire Hall 5:30 p.m.

First and third Wednesdays each month: Rosburg Senior Club Lunch Rosburg Hall. Jan. 16.

Thursdays every week: CAP senior lunches at noon at Rosburg Hall. Joel Fitts recommends it.

Second Thursday: Johnson Park Board meeting at 10.

January 13: class on "How to write a Family Portrait" will be at the Columbia Heritage Museum in Ilwaco at 1 p.m. It's free, thanks to Humanities Washington.

January 14: CANCELED: Concert at Naselle Community Center at 3 p.m. with Greg Parke and Gene Quilhaugh, both excellent singers. Will be rescheduled soon.

January 17: County conservation meeting, Dan Cothren, chair, at 2 p.m. at Courthouse 3rd floor.

February 24: Memorial Reception for Dale Dutcher at Rosburg Hall from 1-4 p.m.

April 7: Memorial service for Darlene Bjornsgard at Naselle school. Time not set yet.

Words for the week: Trust 2024


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