Memorial Saturday Outing

 

Keaton with his dog

Keaton with his beloved dog, Denny

 

Looking for a great outing for your Memorial weekend? Take a Saturday drive out to Sweet Home, Oregon and enjoy a sunny day of half marathon events honoring fallen hero Keaton Coffey. Cheer the runners coming in, fill your belly with good food–and ice cream–and, if you dare, challenge yourself to a few pull-ups on the outdoor bar. It’s a beautiful, lush green venue with a small-town feel, a silent auction, face painting for kids and more. For directions and details, go to 5th Annual Hero Half.

It’s been five years since Keaton was killed in Afghanistan. In his honor, I’m posting this article from the three-year anniversary of his death. Never forget.

Remembering on Memorial Weekend

 

Keaton with buddies on fun run.

With his buddies, Surfin’ USA

 

A funny story came up at the memorial for my cousins’ son, Cpl. Keaton Coffey (US Marine Corps). Though the story is not related to surfboards, this picture (with Keaton clowning on the far right) best illustrates the mood. A fellow Marine, Keaton’s roommate, repeated it to the hundreds upon hundreds packed into the church that day to honor a fallen hero. It was about a time when the Marine had gone on leave one weekend, and when he came back, he said, he caught Keaton red-handed, eating his last piece of cake, a coveted slice he’d looked forward to. The Marine was incredulous and said something to the effect of, “Really, dude? You’re eating my cake?” And Keaton, his mouth full, simply replied, “But it tastes really good with milk.” The story struck a chord–for several reasons. It was a moment of levity amidst so much pain; it showed Keaton’s sense of humor, the dry wit that mirrors that of his dad, a former firefighter; but more than anything, how even the simplest moments can end up taking on so much meaning, becoming forever engrained in our memories.

Keaton and Brittany.It’s hard to believe three (now five) years have passed since Keaton was killed, in Afghanistan, in the line of duty. He had so much to live for… just 22 years old… only two months shy of his wedding to Brittany Dygert… the only son, the only child of Grant and Inger Coffey. Keaton was so proud of what he’d accomplished as a Marine. It’s beyond painful, even now, to contemplate the loss, to those who loved him so deeply and to his country.

Keaton Coffey with his dog Denny.I love this picture too, because it shows how much even his dog, Denny, adored him. Look at that paw stretched around Keaton’s shoulder! The pair were a team, trained to go first into danger to sniff out explosives and save countless other lives. But danger was everywhere in Afghanistan. As it turns out, it was a bullet and not an explosive that killed Keaton. Denny survived, and, thankfully, my cousin, Grant, Keaton’s dad, and his mom, Inger, have the option of taking Denny in his twilight years as their pet.

Keaton Coffey honored.The day Keaton was laid to rest whole communities lined the streets near Boring, Oregon, his hometown, for the procession. The sight of it and the throngs of Marines in uniform, veterans on motorcycles, firefighters and fire trucks at the funeral nearly brought me to my knees. Keaton was a beloved son, a source of pride, one of their own.

But Keaton is also one of yours, in the end, whether you knew him or not, for he gave everything in service to you and this country.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I’m glad you took a moment to read this and remember Keaton, and if you’d like to extend a hand in his memory, give to Wounded Warrior Project and/or Keaton’s Memorial Scholarship Fund.

It was May 24th three (now five) years ago, a few days shy of Memorial Day, that Keaton was killed. For that reason, Memorial Day and Memorial Weekend have taken on new meaning. I trust, as do his parents, that Keaton is now at peace, smiling down on us. And so does the Marine buddy, once miffed at Keaton over something as mundane as a slice of dessert. As he said to Keaton at the memorial, he’d see him again one day, and then he admonished him, “Save me a piece of cake.”

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Sno Cone Blue sightings

Reading The God of Sno Cone Blue on the train.Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl, once said that she had yet to see a reader enjoying her novel out “in the wild,” but that she’d love nothing more than to be able to “tap someone on the shoulder and say, you know, how are you liking the book?” I second that! While I haven’t seen my book “in the wild” either, I have had a few close calls, the closest just last week: my husband, Ed, on the train home from work. He noticed a woman nearby cradling a book. Nothing unusual there, of course, until he saw the title: The God of Sno Cone Blue!

Immediately following, he sent me a “Guess what?” text. Wait–no, I take that back, he texted the whole family, our two kids included: “The God of Sno Cone Blue is right next to me on train(!) A woman is reading it(!)” The exclamation points are mine. No idea why Ed left them out.

Naturally, I couldn’t let a moment like that pass: only a few colorless words on my cell phone screen? “Take a picture of it, by golly!” I texted back. Poor Ed. (And, yes, I really did text “by golly!”) Then I added: “Ask her how she heard about it and tell her you’re my husband!” Again, poor Ed. And poor woman!

Ed did take the picture, as you can see from the image above. Turns out my dear reader was a good sport and, I might add, has very good taste in books. A few days later, she sent a note to my Contact page identifying herself as the woman on the train and saying not only had she finished the book, but she “loved it!” Her exclamation point, not mine. It was, in the end, a very fine point on a very fine moment.

Marcia selling The God of Sno Cone Blue at HomeWord Bound.While I’m at it, I’d like to highlight another recent Sno Cone Blue siting, though it didn’t come, as they say, out of the blue. It happened at a literary event for Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH) when I had the honor of joining eleven other Portland-area authors at a book signing and auction at the Oregon Zoo. 18 years in the running, the event celebrates local authors while raising funds to help alleviate our local housing crisis.

 

Sheila Hamilton and Mitchell S. Jackson.

 

Portland’s own Sheila Hamilton, All the Things We Never Knew, was the featured speaker, along with Mitchell S. Jackson, The Residue Years. We all sold stacks of books, got a chance to talk to avid readers, and watched CPAH race past its fundraising goal, which was really fun to witness. The Portland Society Page even posted an article on the event which you can read here.

 

 

I saw many copies of Sno Cone Blue roaming the auction that night, and a few cracked open, but, alas, I can’t quite call that “in the wild,” even if it was at the zoo.

Finally, here’s a list, with links, of the other Portland-area authors at the HomeWord Bound event. I’m sure they’d love for you to check out their books. Happy reading! David Banis & Hunter Shobe, Arthur Bradford, Valerie Geary, April Henry, Bart King, Margaret Malone, Liz Prato, Ellen Urbani, Ruth Wariner.

KXL stories on Sno Cone Blue!

Rosemary Reynolds at KXL radio station.In case you missed it on Portland’s KXL Radio, here’s the audio of Rosemary Reynolds’ coverage. She filed two reports, short and sweet, on The God of Sno Cone Blue. Continue reading

Sno Cone Blue on Portland radio!

Rosemary Reynolds at KXL radio station.Tune in to KXL (FM News 101) this Thanksgiving Day afternoon for a story on The God of Sno Cone Blue. I had a great time talking with veteran radio reporter Rosemary Reynolds about my novel, her voice so familiar, it was like chatting with an old friend. Continue reading

All I need to know I learned at the market

View of a holiday market with jewelry.The best lesson? How to see “No” as a positive, and I mean a really big positive. I’m talking sales and marketing, looking for a job or, heck, even finding a spouse (if you happen to be looking for one). Continue reading