My memories of the Black Hills date back to my childhood, when our parents would take us there. We learned to love the area because of them. Then as adults, we began coming over as a bunch of families. We did everything from the fireworks to shopping to sitting around the campfire at night. I have so many memories of this area, and mom and dad’s echo lives here. It is in the trees, the monuments, and along the roads. I hear them pointing things out to us. They knew all the points of interest. The echo of their words and stories lives on in my mind whenever I’m in the Black Hills, and it doesn’t matter if we are hiking, touring, or in the towns. I can still hear them telling us about the area and their favorite places.
Mom and Dad loved coming here, to the Black Hills, and they spent a lot of time showing us all there was to see. Of course, with the hiking Bob and I do, we have found a few things to see that they have never seen, except when they looked at our many pictures. Nevertheless, we still go and see the things they always loved, and of course, we go to their favorite fireworks display in the world. The fireworks in Custer are amazing, and it’s a display that Bob and I haven’t missed in years either, except the year they were cancelled because the fire danger was too great. Even then, we didn’t mind it, because we would never want fire to destroy such a beautiful area, and having the display then, could have.
While we love coming to the Black Hills, it still felt strange to be here without either of them. I know it was especially hard on my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who always shared a room with them and later with Mom. I think for Cheryl, it felt a little bit like being at loose ends. She was in the place they had stayed for years, but she was there alone. She came over with her kids, so the trip wasn’t alone, but it was just that she was in the motel room alone. It just felt strange, and empty. In fact, she found it so empty that she chose to stay with her daughter Liz Masterson at her friend’s house the last night. I can certainly understand how she felt, because coming into the Black Hills, I felt exactly the same way. It was more than a little disconcerting. Then, at the fireworks, when all the family that had made the trip were together the subject turned to Mom and Dad. It was bittersweet, because we knew that they would be glad that we came, but we were sad that they couldn’t. A ton of bricks moment for sure…being there without them.