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Serving Orcas, Lopez and San Juan County
WEDNESDAY, May 7, 2014 VOL. 47, NO. 19 75¢ islandssounder.com
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Grief and motherhood by CALI BAGBY Staff reporter
Margi Miles describes the closeness she felt with her two children as unbreakable. When they were younger, she placed her hands over their hands and they made a pact. It was a promise that held them together when the shadows passed overhead. “Our code was transparency – that we would not hide anything from one another,” she said. Throughout the years they talked about everything from drug use to childbirth to heartbreak. But in just the span of five years, Margi lost both her children and grandchild. And though she feels their spirits with her every day, she struggles with their physical absence, the sounds of their voices and the look of their faces radiating life. “The pain is unfathomable,” she said. “The physical pain is obliterating … it’s so ... perplexing.”
The early years Margi looks back on the closeness she felt with her children Cali Bagby/ Staff photo
Margi Miles with images of her granddaughter Marlee, son Joshua and daughter Jolee.
as an unexpected gift from their father. Her husband was an absent figure in the kids’ lives and she felt like she was mainly raising them on her own. “I got down on the mat of life with my kids and we started growing together,” she said. Margi was the baker of bread, the driver to sporting events and the chaperone of proms. It wasn’t always easy, but there were plenty of joyful memories. Living in California there were visits to the beach under sunny skies and trips to the Redwood forests, Yosemite and Disneyland. As her children headed toward their pre-teen years, Margi moved the family to Blaine, Wash., close to the Canadian border. There she purchased acreage and horses. Josh, her son, got thrown off his horse four times. True to his nature he got back into the saddle each time, but eventually went back to his main love of riding motorcycles. Josh started riding motorcycles at age four. It became immediately clear to Margi that he was going to live life on the edge. On the other hand his sister Jolee developed a love of riding. “Jolee was in Heaven,” said Margi. “She was a horse whisperer.” Jolee trained the horses herself
The new face of Orcas School District by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Editor/Publisher
When kayaking and camping are your hobbies, the San Juan Islands might be the perfect place to live. Eric Webb accepted the position of Orcas Island School District superintendent because he appreciates island life. “My family and I have visited Mustang Island on the Texas Gulf Coastal for the last 18 years,” said Webb, who lives in Oklahoma. “We have a great appreciation for nature and marine life, and we have always wanted to live near the ocean. Orcas has everything the Gulf Coast has to offer and so much more.” Webb is replacing long-time superintendent Barbara Kline. “We feel Eric is going to be a steady hand and a calming influence for the district staff and he has a strong financial background,” said School Board Chair Scott Lancaster. “He has a reputation in the district that he is coming from as someone who can bring together different groups to go in the same direction. He was strongly supported by our community and staff, and most importantly, he understands developing a vision and carrying that forward for the district.” Kline has worked for Orcas School for 17 years, moving up the ranks
and became the Whatcom County barrel racing and pole bending champion one year. “She would be in the pasture in rain or snow riding bareback through the fields,” said Margi. Their lives were idyllic, but a dark period was to come – forcing a series of events that would change everything.
Dark days In her early teen years, Jolee gave up her love of horses, trading out for an adventure that included drugs and boys. Margi recalls driving into the underworld of Seattle and picking up her daughter. Three times, Margi came to her rescue, but on the last trip she told her daughter, ‘I will love you until I die, but I will not support these decisions any longer.’” For five months, Margi heard nothing from Jolee. She spent her days in limbo checking the obituaries hoping to not see a familiar name. Then one day Jolee called and said she was pregnant. Margi was terrified knowing that both of the parents were drug users. “But when Marlee was born she was a perfect miracle baby,” said Margi about her granddaughter. Soon after the birth, Jolee was
SEE MOTHER, PAGE 9
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Superintendent Eric Webb with wife Jana, daughter Mesa and son McCabe.
to middle and high school principal and then superintendent in 2008. She announced her retirement this past fall. “I have been walking around looking at the decision from various angles. It appears to be the right decision for both the district and me,” she wrote in a press release.
SEE WEBB, PAGE 6
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Published on May 6, 2014