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S.C.V. History
October 18
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]
Campton store

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Darryl ManzerSorry you’ve not seen anything from me the last few days. I had a few articles in reserve for last week, but they ran out before I was in any mood or had the time to write another.

On Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014, Kathryn Jean Benham Manzer left this world for the next. She had asked me to be there until she passed. I had promised her in 1970 that it would last until “death us do part.” And so it was.

The folks from hospice gave us a list, or a timeline, of what we could expect as Kathie succumbed to brain cancer. We were giving her morphine to control the pain and made her as comfortable as we could. She could smile and mumble a few words.

About three days before she died, the words had stopped. She went from wakefulness to deep sleep and finally a coma. She was breathing, but there was fluid building in her airway that we had no way of clearing. It would have done little good to clear it since the cancer had taken over most of the remaining functions in her brain.

Hospice had provided a hospital bed, and it was in Kathie’s living room. She had more fluid come up, and I was trying to wipe it from her lips. I turned to get a washcloth and was holding her hand. When I turned back to look at her, she had stopped breathing. Her fight was over. The cancer couldn’t get her any longer. I like to think that death defeated it as Kathie went to a new life free from pain and disease.

So the week that followed was terrible. Joyous. Frustrating. Exceedingly sad. Sobbing tears and laughing at the grandchildren, all within a minute.

I must say that the folks in Cadiz, Ky., were and are wonderful. Food appeared in the house. Food like fried chicken, ham, potato salad, deviled eggs, veggie trays and all manner of good stuff. How do you thank people who only left the food and didn’t leave names on the containers it came in?

When my parents died, I saw the same thing from the folks of the SCV and Carpinteria. It all just appeared as if by magic. I’ll not forget the flowers at the funerals of my mother and father, only nine months apart. I still think the florists in our little valley – and even in that other valley to our south – would have been hard-pressed to make a small flower arrangement with what was left in the shops.

It was the same for Kathie there in Cadiz. As a matter of fact, she wanted it that way. She wanted lots of flowers and told everyone that. That is exactly what she got.

Friday and then the weekend was spent packing up a lifetime of memories. There were some that really mean nothing to most folks, but the emotions made me sit down with another box of tissues.

For some reason, the first set of mixing bowls had remained intact since 1970 when they were a wedding present. Other little things brought back a flood of memories.

Since we were divorced, the boys are in charge, not me. It wasn’t easy watching my sons and daughters-in-law divide items Kathie and I had accumulated in nearly 40 years. They were great, and we even got a few laughs out of the process.

Kathie, knowing our oldest son hated the chimes on a clock her father had made, said in her will that the clock is his. There was a charcoal drawing of a nude man she did in her first art class at San Fernando Valley State College. Our younger son got that, even though he is clearly embarrassed whenever he looks at it.

Then there were three items of furniture the boys decided I should have. I now have a huge cherry wood entertainment center, over 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, that will remain in my storage unit in Cadiz until I can get it here to the SCV.

They also made sure I got two other pieces of furniture that mean a lot to me. A little cabinet that Kathie and I bought a few weeks after our wedding. It is sort of a small credenza. At the time, it was where we stored our booze. We called it “the bar.” It was the first furniture we bought together.

Out last piece of furniture was an Amish-made “pie safe.” It is like those antique pie-cooling cabinets, but made with modern hardware. Weighs a lot.

Those items, all three, brought memories that reminded me of times good and bad. Joy, sorrow and pain. Laughter and tears.

But I made it through last week and am now home in the SCV. I don’t need another week like the last. Ever again. The family is healing from the loss. Friends are, too. I’l bet Kathie is happy with what happened to everyone involved. Growing up can suck. It is worse when you’re 64.



Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].


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  1. Michele says:

    So sorry for your painful loss. Thank you for sharing your inner most feelings.

  2. So sorry for your painful loss. Thank you for sharing your inner most feelings, as it might help someone experiencing the same situation.

  3. Dianne Raynor says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Darryl. Our families love goes out to you and yours.

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