The Gravel Story: It’s All Rough

This is the gravel story.

I was trying to think of a really great second post, something lighthearted, not too sad.  My first thought was “the gravel story!”  It’s a great story.  But after I wrote it I realized how sad it is, too.  It’s great, but it’s sad.

I’m writing it anyway.

I can’t avoid telling stories because they aren’t happy.  That’s what life is going to be for me.  Everything that happens, no matter how funny, interesting, adventurous, newsy or scary, everything will have at least a tinge of sadness because Andrew is not here to live out these things with me.  That’s just how it is.  We need to tell about the joy, the love and the happiness while also including that tinge of sadness.  This is OK.  It will be OK.  So here it is….the gravel story……

Some have heard it already, but it’s definitely worth a re-tell.

What you need to know before I continue…..  One, my daughter, Hope, got me hooked on sapphire hunting.  Two,  Andrew enabled my addiction.  Three, we’ve found some really nice sapphires in gravel from Montana mines, and I’ve made jewelry from them.

(Sorry for the interruption, but before I go much further I feel I need to tell you that my brother-in-law, Kim, and my father-in-law, David, who live in Montana, have been very instrumental in this pursuit of the big blue bling, always suggesting activities for visits.  Cousin Mairin has enjoyed the search, and my sister-in-law, Liz, has been seen with her fingers in gravel, too, so henceforth I’m calling it a Wilson family thing, whether they would agree or not!)


At the end of June Andrew went to Montana.  He loved to visit his family and, being the extroverted soul that he was, he loved to connect with anyone and everyone he knew while there.  He’d always fit in an adventure or two just because that was the way he lived.  He arranged to go sailing with his friend Bill, so on the day before he passed away he got to spend time doing one of his favorite things in the whole, wide world…..  And they sailed on Canyon Ferry Lake outside of Helena…..

Over to the Lemont part of the story…..

On that day I got a text from Andrew.  It was a picture.  Actually no text at all.


I respond, “Cool.  What is that?”  I thought he and his dad went to a ghost town or something.

Then I get this pic…..


I’m thinking, “What on earth?……..”  Then it dawns on me!  The first pic was of the store at the sapphire place, and the second was of the bag of gravel and sifting screen that he got for me!  He texts, “Sapphire place and your next bag of treasure!”

I say, “YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!”

He says, “I will check the check-on luggage limit and probably put some in my carry-on.”  (He had a plan already.)

I say, “You are WONDERFUL!”

As it turns out, in Montana Andrew had gone sailing with Bill and when he saw the sapphire place he thought of me, as he always did, and stopped to get me a bag of gravel that I could sift through at home.

If you knew Andrew you have witnessed this kind of caring from him.  He always had other people in mind…. He always had me in mind.  He loved me so much.  He loved the girls so much.  Of course he wasn’t perfect, but I don’t think there’s anyone left in this world who could love me more.

I’m so glad that Andrew was happy.  He sailed, he hiked, he took photos, and he was thinking of his family in the midst of his happiness.  He didn’t know he was writing his final chapter of life. What a huge lesson to all of us left here…..we don’t know which chapter we’re writing, do we?  Did we choose the right book to write?  (Sigh.  That’s another post.)


Back to the gravel….it’s not the end of the story……

That gravel could have been “long ago lost and forgotten,” but thanks to Grandpa David it made a comeback!  Andrew had told his dad about getting the gravel for me, and in the nick of time David told Kim to check the back of Andrew’s rental car.  Sure enough, there it was.

Kim wanted to make sure that I got Andrew’s last gift to me, so he and his friend, Tom, made plans to send the bag to me in PA.

So now we’re present day…….I have gone through about half of the bag.  I’m rationing it.  And I’m saving the parts that I’ve gone through just in case I’ve missed something!  I’ll go through them again someday.  Here’s what I’ve found from that bag so far.


It’s all rough; that’s what these beauties look like in the raw.  I don’t know what the big chunk is.  I’ll do some research and probably send the best pieces off to be examined and possibly heat treated or faceted.

Just so you don’t think I’m totally crazy, I’ll show you what some of my other sapphires looked like after this process……

IMG_4219 IMG_4272







Andrew was so excited to surprise me with that gravel.  What a great gift!  I cannot describe to you how it felt to open up the package when it arrived, to retrieve the last physical, earthly, well-planned gift that Andrew could ever give to me.

Yes, it’s all rough……the things we have to search through, the joys that we have to find hidden in the dirt, rocks, dust, and all the rest that we really don’t want…..

It’s a gravel story, and we will tell it every day.






6 thoughts on “The Gravel Story: It’s All Rough

  1. Sweet Darcy — you are going through the “rough” as you await the “treasure”. I wish that it wasn’t in this way — but isn’t that just like Señor to leave you with one of the many treasures he found? You were his greatest treasure, his “Beautiful Bride!” And the girls are such a beautiful extension of you! xoxo!


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