Washington column for Jan. 17

A wonderful friend

My 2013 began with the passing of a wonderful friend, Ashleigh Hawkins, 24, a woman of courage. It has been difficult to write this as the pain is still fresh.

Ashleigh passed away last Friday (Jan. 11) at her home in Amissville with family members and friends at her bedside. She had been an inpatient at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore since October, when she had the bone marrow transplant, and was brought home in an ambulance from Baltimore on Wednesday night (Jan. 9).

She fought a long battle with liver and bone marrow transplants. Her parents are Cleveland and Angela “Sally” Hawkins, her brothers Anthony and Aaron Hawkins, and her godmother is Jeanne Brown of Castleton. Funeral services were held Tuesday (Jan. 15) at Clore Funeral Home, in Culpeper. Ashleigh was buried in the Grigsby cemetery on Aaron Mountain Road.

Ashleigh was a great woman, a wonderful friend to many and a blessing to everyone who had been around her in her life. She was herself, always. I got to know her when she worked at the Rappahannock Farmers Co-op, where she always had a smile on her face.

I’d like to dedicate this Injete Chesoni poem to her memory.

I Am Not Gone
I am not gone
I remain here beside you
Just in a different form
Look for me in your heart
And there you will find me
in our love which forever lives on
In those moments when you feel alone
Look for me in your thoughts
And there you will find me
in sweet memories that burn strong
Every time a tear
Forms in your beautiful eyes
Look up to the heavens
And there you will see me
Smiling down from God’s glorious skies

Death is not the end, it is a beginning – another step forward in our heavenly father’s plan for his children. Although my grieving process continues, I draw comfort and strength in knowing that she will no longer suffer and is in a much better place

I will miss you, Ashleigh. Rest well, my friend. You are finally at peace.

MLK celebrations

This Sunday (Jan. 20) is the 22nd annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance in Rappahannock County at 4 p.m. at the Theatre on Gay Street. The agenda includes a characterization of Harriet Tubman by Taryn Weaver of Bealton. Weaver takes us on a historical journey back to 1820 and Tubman’s adventures with the Underground Railroad, which led hundreds from bondage to freedom. The celebration continues with local school children sharing essays written about King’s life and legacy.

The Rappahannock County High School jazz band is back this year with their talented and joyous sounds. There is no fee for the event; donations will be taken during the program for the Julia E. Boddie Scholarship Committee, a nonprofit organization providing scholarships to students in Rappahannock County public schools each year. For more information, contact Lillian Aylor, scholarship chairperson, at 540-987-8064 or Nan Butler Roberts, MLK program director, at 540-661-2013.

Hope to see you there.

Book Barn sale

The Book Barn is having an overstock sale on children’s books this Saturday (Jan. 19). Come in and browse the many offerings, from books for toddlers to teenage novels (hardbacks are $1 each, paperbacks are five for $1). The Barn is open 9 to 3 Saturday on Lee Highway just east of Washington, right beside the Rappahannock County Library.

Birthday wishes

Belated birthday wishes go out to Beverly Exline, who celebrated her special day Jan. 12. Danny Huff celebrates his day tomorrow (Jan. 18). And very happy wishes to one special, amazing  mother-in-law, Anna Clatterbuck, who celebrates her special day Jan. 19.