The Meaning of It All

© 2019 (all rights reserved)

An article from the December 2019 issue of THE STAR BEACON.

Photo by Doug Elmore


I once joked that I "did time" living in Ohio (2007-2009).Actually, my time was spent as a care giver for my late husband. The following is an excerpt from Chapter 39 of my book, Throughout All Time, which tells the story of the 19 years I was with my husband, who lost his battle with lung disease on Sept. 12, 2008.

The day that our company left, I got a call from (my son) Ryan telling me that I was a grandmother. Vorian Brent Ulrich was born at 9:56 A.M. on Monday, June 23 in Alamosa. Ryan sounded a bit overwhelmed, at least excited, but apparently Trish came through the delivery easily enough.

The next day, Tuesday, we had to go to Parkersburg, W. Va., for Ethan’s doctor appointment. We got home late. He was really terrible, grunting and straining for breath practically all day. While in his office, the doctor asked if Ethan wanted to go to the hospital, but he said no. The doctor prescribed one of those motorized chairs for Ethan so he could get around better.

After we got home, Ethan couldn’t walk from the car to the house, so I cranked up the 4-wheeler, which was parked right next to our car in the garage, and drove Ethan around the house to the back patio door to our bedroom. He sat in the car for about half an hour, just trying to get his pulse rate down so he could walk inside the door and go to bed. He sat on the 4-wheeler while I went inside.

After I finally got Ethan inside, the ATV was still parked outside the door. We then noticed a bunch of pullets standing around on the lawn, examining something. Then I saw it! A snake! It was not a black snake, it was grayish colored. Ethan said, "It’s a copperhead." Sure enough, it was! The pullets left and moved on. Ethan told me to go get the .22 rifle. He told me to go outside and shoot the snake, which was just lying there in the grass next to the patio, not doing anything.

I got the gun, then stepped outside. I stood within 4 feet of the snake and aimed. I hit it first thing ... blew a hole in its belly. The copperhead didn’t move. I didn’t think I’d hit it, so I fired again and hit it again in the belly. Then, Ethan told me to get the hoe, so I went to the garage and brought the hoe. The snake was moving a little and I freaked out. He kept telling me, "You killed it," but I didn’t believe him. How could I have killed the snake when it kept moving?

I couldn’t go near it. I have always had this terrible aversion to snakes. It felt as though a force field had gone up between me and the copperhead. Ethan, dressed only in a pair of underpants, came out the patio door and took the gun from me and shot the snake in the head. The thing still moved a little. Then he explained that it would do that for a spell. The snake was dead but its nerves were reacting. Great, I thought.

Next, I started up the ATV and drove it back to the garage. I felt really creepy, as if there might be a snake anywhere now. When I got back to the scene, Ethan wanted me to use the hoe and scoop the snake up into a box so we could dispose of it somewhere. Well, I still couldn’t go near the thing. Finally, several minutes later, he went out and did it himself. He coiled it around the hoe and dropped it into the wheeled cart which he had made me bring. Then I couldn’t get near the cart. That same force field had appeared between it and me. So we decided we’d leave the dead snake until tomorrow morning. Then I’d have to deal with it.

Oh my God, my insides were churning from the horror of killing the snake. This was the first copperhead we had seen since we moved to Jackson Run. I hoped it would be the last. I was still shaking when I went to the computer and e-mailed my family and friends about it. Wouldn’t you know, my brother Jon in Nevada e-mailed back and said it was a "shame" we had to kill the snake. Why didn’t we just nudge it back toward the woods?

And let Jessica or Ranger find it and get bitten? I don’t think so.

Later that evening I got up the nerve to wheel the cart with the snake’s body down the road a ways. But I couldn’t dump the body on my own. After supper, Ethan went with me on the ATV, dressed only in his bathrobe, and he dumped the snake body onto the road. I’m sure our neighbors probably believed the unfortunate copperhead had met its fate trying to cross the pavement.

By the end of that week things were not much better for Ethan. The weather grew extremely hot and humid, which was bad for his breathing. We had gone to do our shopping in Marietta on Thursday. Ethan and the dog always stayed in the car with the A/C on while I shopped. After we got home, it took a long time getting him inside. I had to wheel Ethan on a rolling chair from the van over to the garage bathroom. After half an hour or so, I got him onto the ATV and took him around the house to the back patio door again.

I contacted Charlotte Goodwin, a psychic in Pagosa Springs, Colo., for a reading. I had just read her autobiography, The Twisted Path, out loud to Ethan, and we were captivated by this woman’s life and how she developed her gifts of psychic ability and healing. When I found out I could get a reading through her Web site, I ordered one from her.

Ethan’s attitude towards me was hard to take. His bitter feelings towards me made me feel guilty and undeserving of the life I had, solitary though it might be. I hadn’t been able to write. I had quit sending out queries to literary agents for Rainbow Majesty. I eagerly awaited Charlotte Goodwin’s psychic reading. She had said it might be late on account of their moving. But I needed it desperately and didn’t know how much longer I could wait.

Each day I watched Ethan grow weaker and worse. His muscles were disappearing at an alarming rate because he couldn’t do much at all. The coughing spells lasted longer and sometimes he cried. It was heart-breaking. All I could do was try to make him as comfortable as I could and be available for him when he needed things.

Finally I heard from Charlotte Goodwin. She apologized. Apparently she’d had trouble getting her Internet hooked up after the move. She promised to have the reading for me by Thursday. My reading finally arrived. Charlotte did a channeling and my spirit guides spoke to me, as well as God. It all made sense to me! As far as I was concerned, it was worth the money I spent just to have the understanding and comfort of knowing they are with me. I felt so much love from them. Of course I had to write to Charlotte and tell her my reaction to her reading. This is what I wrote:

Dear Charlotte,

I received the reading yesterday just minutes after you sent it. Thank you so very much! I printed it out and waited for a few moments when I could be alone to read through it. It brought smiles and tears to my eyes. I’ve read it thoroughly several times. I don’t think I’ve ever had a reading done that touched me as much as yours did. I just wanted to give you a little feedback.

I did not disclose to you beforehand what my "situation" is here in Ohio. I am married to my soul mate, whom I met in 1989, and have been with him for 18 years (married to him for seven). He was diagnosed with a terminal lung disease in February 2006. To be closer to his family, and to buy some time for him, I agreed to quit my wonderful job and sell our beautiful property in Paonia and come to Ohio. It was a major change for me, and we were happy that he seemed to be better, at least for a few months. I was able to get myself out of debt and to un-stress from working so hard and concentrate on my writing and on solitude. But I looked upon the situation as "temporary," knowing that one day, in the future, I’d return to my mountains, or at least somewhere in the West.

We moved here in February 2007 and by last fall I could see that Ethan’s condition was beginning once again to deteriorate. By January 2008 he was back to where he was when we left Colorado, meaning he could do little more than sit and sleep. Now he is at the point where there is little hope, and he can hardly leave the house. All I can do is try to make his life as comfortable and easy for him as I can.

The role of caregiver has been stressful and emotionally draining on me. Perceptive as my husband is, he sees through me and knows that I will leave Ohio (of course I’ve admitted so much), that I will put up the property for sale and get on with my life. The fact that he is much older than I am (he’s 74), he was convinced I was waiting for him to die so that I could go off with another man. This is not the case, and it’s been a challenge on my part trying to persuade him that I have no such intention. He is the "love of my life" and my feelings for him go beyond this lifetime. But sometimes he seems like a different person—a role we are both playing—and I have to keep reminding myself who he is. I am plagued with resentment, fear, guilt, the whole gamut of emotions that comes with pending transition.

Anyway, your words (Henry’s, I mean, and God’s!) were comforting to me and have filled me with confidence and understanding. You were right about the newspaper field. I worked in that capacity for 28 years, and even had a couple of small papers I started, one that lasted six months and had full-time employees. That would be the first field I’d look to for work, but the reading has told me that I should be open to other avenues ... and so I shall!

I loved how you started out the reading with my favorite prayer: the Unity prayer. I hadn’t recited it in years, so it was perfect for getting me back in touch with where I need to be. And I will gladly get to work on my "list of things to be." As for my novel Rainbow Majesty, that answer has also given me a new confidence and confirmation that if I need to end up publishing it myself, I will. It is really their gift to me how it got written and how it helped me through my first months here in Ohio, missing my spiritual friends and Colorado.

Thank you once again, Charlotte. I will send you the August issue of The Star Beacon with your book review in it. It was truly inspiring.

Looking forward to the next book.

Peace and Light, Ann

The reading had confirmed that I would be leaving Ohio and would settle in a location that was more conducive to carrying on my spiritual work, in a place that is more my vibration. I learned that I had five spirit guides, four women and a man, Henry, who was the spokesman for the group. The most special part of the reading came toward the end when God Himself came through with words of comfort and reassurance that He would be with me through my grieving—which lay ahead. There was a lot in the reading that helped me. I shared the reading with Ethan about a month later and I’m really happy that I did, for I think it brought him peace of mind.

Thurday, July 11, when we returned from Marietta and shopping, I discovered piles of whitish feathers in our backyard, one by the breezeway and another by the patio door off the bedroom. I knew another chicken had been attacked by the predator that kept returning. I had figured out that my light-colored hen, "Fluffy," had been the one to disappear this time.

When I went out to the garden later, Fluffy appeared! It looked as though she had lost quite a few feathers. I was sure that Fluffy had been the chicken whose feathers were strewn all over the back yard. I had been sure the predator had captured her, but here she was—alive!

Ethan and I figured out it was one of two scenarios: A hawk might have tried to get her, but she was too big and it dropped her a couple of times, and then she got away. Or ... there was an old, incompetent fox or coyote that had trouble catching birds. I had watched it a few weeks ago, that day I was at the mailbox, when it had tried to snatch "Dot" the first time. It couldn’t catch her then. Unfortunately, something got her the next time. But I was so happy to see that Fluffy was still alive. My bird count remained at 27 adults and four baby chicks.

It’s strange that after that reading from Charlotte Goodwin I started feeling compassion toward the poor predator. I actually felt pity for the animal. Somewhere there was a poor coyote who didn’t get his supper ... well, maybe. Ethan suggested I take down the garden fence and use it to build a chicken run.

On a cool morning that week I took my cup of coffee and sat out on the porch to scan my "reading" once again from Charlotte. The hummingbirds were buzzing. I had two hummingbird feeders hanging from the porch roof, and there must have been 30 birds that came at any given time. It was just so quiet and peaceful, listening to the water in the run as it flowed past the yard, and Ranger laid at my feet. I knew Ethan would want to get up soon, but I took a few moments to myself. I wondered what the future would be like.

I worked on the fence for the chicken run in the heat. Ethan had come out for a short while, but suffered too much. ... He kept giving me mixed messages, saying he just wanted it to be over ... but then he would cling to some desperate idea that something might help him. My feeling was that even if something were to help him, it wouldn’t be much. He could never be whole again or have the quality of life he used to have.

Each day was getting to be more of a challenge for us. I tried to spend as much time in the garden as I could because that was where I felt relief and happiness amidst all the good energy of growing, thriving things, and the chickens kept close company. It was so hard being around Ethan right then, though I tried hard to make him comfortable and carefree. I loved him, but I felt my energy being sucked by his need to cling to life itself.

Saturday, July 12 was a terrible night. ... He started out coughing right after supper, when he was settled in his recliner in the living room. It wouldn’t stop. It went on and on ... until 11 P.M., when we shut off the TV and he just had to get back to the bathroom. He didn’t think he could make it, but I helped him. Then it was a struggle for him to finally get to the bed. He coughed and grunted and just couldn’t get his oxygen up or his heart rate down. I delayed taking anything to help me sleep for fear I’d have to drive him to the hospital. ...

Finally, he settled down somewhat. It was nearly 2 A.M. Then neither of us could sleep. I had a terrible time trying to relax. I finally got up and it was after 3 A.M. He was awake and asked for something to knock him out. He told me to get two aspirins and two Tylenol PMs for him. I took a Bendryl myself and another two Melatonins. I had taken three Melatonins around 11:30, with no effect. I read out loud to him after that, then to myself for a while. It must have been about 4:30 A.M. by the time both of us went to sleep, and in my case it was disruptive. My neck bothered me and my hands and fingers kept going numb, no matter how I turned. I had disturbing dreams too.

At 9:00 I got up, still groggy. At one point in the night Ethan had told me, "I want to die." This was the first time he had actually said it. Before it was always "I want to sleep and go on sleeping ..." It was getting more and more difficult for him, and I hated seeing the suffering. I didn’t know how much longer this could go on. The day before had been a bummer because he appeared upset with me. As a result I was desultory and quiet. But we did talk about it, which helped a little. He knew I was trying to make the best of it, and he knew he was hard to live with, but I was having a hard time coping.

My refuge was still the garden with the chickens. I got such pleasure out of working with those birds around and the radio playing "golden oldies" in the chicken yard. It was a peaceful time for me. I had been out there for about 40 minutes that night and when I went in, Ethan was coughing and needed me. Then I felt guilty about being away from him that long....

Ethan had another coughing spell at bedtime. It took a long while to get settled. I read to him a long time. Ethan then told me what he wanted me to do with his story—his sequel to Night of the White Raven—in case he wasn’t able to finish it. This was the first time he had brought this up, and I was glad he did. He told me just to type up and print everything in his notebook, just as he had it. .....

(My brother and his wife) Jim and Linda planned to visit us over a long weekend in mid-August. They wanted to bring their Alaskan slides to show Ethan. I wondered if my dear husband would even last that long.

Then, on Monday morning, July 21, after another difficult night, Ethan could no longer walk. That’s when I made the decision to take Ethan to the emergency room. As we left the house I remember thinking, Ethan might not come home this time. n

The book had its third printing in 2017 and is 320 pages. If you’d like a copy of the book, I have several for sale at a reduced price ($10). The care-giver chapters are only a small part of all that came before the end of this man’s life and the 19 years we were together. We shared many challenges and experiences, including UFO sightings. I encourage you to read the entire thing, which is also available as an ebook for just $2.99.


Throughout All Time, A Cosmic Love Story

by Ann Ulrich Miller

Published in May 2009, 320 pages, 6"x9"

ISBN 978-0944851-29-6 (orig. $17)


Ann Ulrich Miller, Star Beacon publisher, is editor of The Star Beacon and Wisp, TSB’s sister publication.


Get Ann Ulrich Miller’s latest romantic suspense thriller, The Dream Chasers ($15).

The Dream Chasers, is available on Amazon in paperback ($15) or as an ebook from Amazon Kindle ($5.99). The audiobook version will be available soon.


Ann Ulrich Miller is publisher of The Star Beacon and Wisp, and has authored 19 books. Check them out at






This page updated December 6, 2019


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