Friday, July 25, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Pole by pole — walking through grief

Hikers a

A GROUP of friends and family of the late Dean Brewster made the hike up from the Heavenly Valley gondolas in South Lake Tahoe up the mountain to the lookout and restaurant at the top to honor Brewster, who used to make the hike frequently when he was alive. Courtesy photo

By
From page A1 | October 15, 2012 |

Last summer, Dean and Linda Brewster were planning a hike — the long steep climb from the Heavenly Valley gondolas in South Lake Tahoe up the mountain to the lookout and restaurant at the top. They’d done the tough hike six times before and Linda wanted to try something new, but it was Dean’s favorite hike.

“The first time we did the hike, I stopped about three-fourths of the way up and said I would just wait for him to come back down,” said Linda. “He encouraged me the rest of the way up the mountain, telling me I would have bragging rights once I made it to the top. He was right.”

In September, Linda, 62, made the hike for the seventh time with a group of family and friends. Dean was with her, but not the way they had planned. He’d died of lymphoma in August — a disease he’d been diagnosed with 18 months earlier.

“He was very fit and hiked every day — he didn’t have any symptoms other than the lumps under his arms. I told him he was the healthiest sick person I knew,” said Linda. “The doctors said he would probably live to about 80 with treatments every few years, and die of something other than lymphoma.”

But May of 2011 brought some changes and the day after he and Linda did a six-mile hike, Dean went into the hospital for chemotherapy and didn’t come out. A reaction to the treatment took his life on Aug. 21 as his family watched helplessly.

After 42 years of marriage, Linda was devastated. They’d retired together in August of 2006 and enjoyed only five years of retirement before Dean’s death. A month later, Linda and 20 others — her two adult sons, Chad and Justin; their wives; granddaughters Kaitlin and Dylan; her twin brother; other family members and friends — took Dean’s ashes on the hike he hadn’t been able to do.

“It was wonderful having everyone together,” said Linda. They didn’t scatter Dean’s ashes, but brought them back down to be interred at a memorial park.

This year, Linda decided to do the hike in rememberance of Dean again. Before she’d gotten the word out, her daughter-in-law Theresa said, “Chad and I were thinking we would like to do that hike again.”

On Sept. 30, Linda and 20 others made the 2 1/2 hour trek up the mountain. Three of her five grandchildren joined the group: Tyler, 5, Toby, 8, and Tiffany, 9.

“It’s a hard hike and Tyler had never done anything like it before,” said Linda. “Theresa said, ‘Let’s just get to that pole (part of the gondola structure) and then we can stop.’ Then she encouraged him to go to the next pole — all the way up the mountain. Tyler was the first one to arrive at the top, wearing huge smiles the whole way.”

Tyler and his father, Chad, were the only two out of the group that hiked back down, doing it “for Papa.” Linda who’d wrecked her knee earlier in the month rode the gondola.

“I can’t go to the gravesite,” said Linda. “I spent the month of August in bed because everything happened in August — Dean’s birthday, my birthday, our anniversary, our retirement and his death. But this year, the hike was a turning point  for me. I felt Dean was with me and that he wanted me to be happy. I feel alive and encouraged about living again. Up there, that’s where I’m the happiest.

“People look down from the gondolas and wave. They cheer you on,” said Brewster. “I think it’s somewhat  like having a baby — once you get to the top, it’s so rewarding that you forget how hard it was getting there and you want to do it again.”

The encouragement from family and friends, the encouragement of taking action to honor the memory of a loved one, and the encouragement of being on top of the mountain and feeling alive is part of the healing, said Brewster.

Linda added some ritual to the hike: everyone hikes up, but they can take the gondola down; since Dean always wore a bandana around his head when hiking, she gives each person a bandana and a lanyard with a photo of Dean in it when they reach the top and the hike is the last weekend in September before the gondola closes.

The group plans to make the hike an annual tradition. “I want my grandchildren to know and remember their grandpa this way,” said Brewster. “He would have loved it.”

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or wschultz@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.

Comments

comments

.

News

 
Scaffolding issue makes for contentious meeting

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
District 2: Candidates debate jobs versus lifestyle

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Accident: 1 bullet hits 2

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

 
Help available for breastfeeding mothers

By Health and Human Services Agency | From Page: A3

 
El Dorado County School Board vacancy

By El Dorado County Office of Education | From Page: A8

 
.

Opinion

The weekly Daley: A good time to be there…

By Chris Daley | From Page: A4

 
Something to think about: More than what you see

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A4

Popular science

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

People of Placerville

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Computer scam phone calls

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Support of Director Prada

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Uphold the Third Amendment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Bureaucracy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Imagination Theater’s play

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Watch whom you’re calling ‘conservative’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

 
Fake ‘small farms’ steal from residential EID customers

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

.

Sports

Sports Scene: July 24, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Quarter century later, Rypien wins ACCG again

By Andrew Hazard | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Outside with Charlie: Paddle time

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A6

 
Midget Lites join tomorrow’s action

By Bill Sullivan | From Page: A6

El Dorado rallies for last-inning victory

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6

 
Rush sit a win from Series

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A7

Tasmanian Devils go undefeated

By Patty Pope | From Page: A7

 
.

Prospecting

El Dorado wines win in Amador

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B1

 
Things to do: July 25, 2014

By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

Suds entice the taste buds

By Krysten Kellum | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Rhythm and Views goes bluesy

By | From Page: B3

Have an Hawaiian vacation at Carson Road wineries

By Carson Road Winery Asociation | From Page: B3Comments are off for this post | Gallery

 
Summer fun is happening in Twain Harte

By Fire On | From Page: B4Comments are off for this post

Manzanita doubles the music

By Table Nectar And Manzanita | From Page: B5

 
Recording artist at Busby Cellars

By News Release | From Page: B6

Hands4Hope hosts school supply drive

By News Release | From Page: B6

 
Supergroup plays Harris Center

By Carrera Productions | From Page: B6

Artists invited to go western

By Art On The Divide | From Page: B7

 
Visit Tahoe artists during tour

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: B7

Reggae on the River celebrates 30 years

By Reggae On | From Page: B7Comments are off for this post

 
.

Essentials

Lake levels 7-24-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Crime Log: July 11-13

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Building permits 7/7-11/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

How to have a garden party, minus the whining

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS3

 
Most common mistakes homebuyers make

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

.

Comics

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A9

 
TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A9

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A9

 
Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A9

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A9

 
Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A9

 
New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Horoscope, Sunday, July 27, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

 
Horoscope, Saturday, July 26, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

Horoscope, Friday, July 25, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A10

 
.

Home Source

How to have a garden party, minus the whining

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS3

Most common mistakes homebuyers make

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4