In a barn, on a meadow, in the middle of a pine forest, Sisters locals gathered on a mild April night to help out a friend.
Some folks know Gary Oldham from church; others ride with him on the Sisters Cycling Team. Still others were helped into a home mortgage over the many years that Gary has provided that service to the community. Grateful teens, better off for being fed and mentored at the Oldham home, sat front and center.
All were devastated that their gregarious friend suffered a broken neck while snowboarding at Hoodoo Ski Resort on April 1st.
They came to The Barn at Pine Meadow Ranch on Friday night to offer encouragement and financial support to the Oldham family. The rustic venue hummed with the down-to-earth acoustic strains of several astonishingly talented Sisters High School Americana students . Inside the converted farm building with its rough, wide-planked walls and uneven floor, the organic rhythms of guitar strums and sweet vocal harmonies seemed just right.
On a futon draped with a Pendleton blanket, I sat with my husband on our date night. Wicker chairs and wooden benches placed at casual angles accommodated others. Candles flickered; old and new friends mingled. Barbecued burgers, brownies and Kahlua-infused bundt cake were laid out. Oldham, in a full upper-body brace and using a walker, took the stage briefly to thank the community and “to reflect on how awesome this place is that we live.”
Outside, under a thin silver smile of a moon, a ranch dog barked and a baritone chorus of frogs crooned across the meadow.
When popular local singer-songwriter Anastacia covered Gillian Welch’s wistful Elvis Presley Blues, this blogger was mesmerized. She paid a moving tribute to the memory of local developer Gary Sokol with a soaring ballad, written for him and unveiled for the first time in the venue that was his brainchild. Sokol died in a tragic accident nearly two years ago. Applause rose when event organizer Melody Youngblood, a senior at Sisters High School, announced that about $1500 had been gathered in offering for the Oldhams.
Miraculously, Gary is alive and he is not paralyzed. Translating that miracle into a full recovery will take arduous months of rehabilitation and possibly more surgery. It’s heartening that this small community still rallies to aid one another in tough times. As Anastacia sang in Elvis Presley Blues, “It blessed my soul … yes it blessed my soul.”
I witnessed hope ascending last Friday night—up and beyond a canopy of unrefined beams, from inside that old dairy barn, on a meadow, in the middle of a pine forest in Sisters, Oregon.
Tax-deductible donations to help with Gary Oldham’s medical expenses may be made via Rotary Club of Sisters. Phone (541) 977-6545.