Josie’s trip to Gowanda

There’s always memories of places that you’ve been to often, one being work, and for Josie, a jaunt back to the village of Gowanda found her meeting past acquaintances. Josie Christopher’s impromptu trip turned into something much more.

It all started with an informal, last-minute invitation for Josie to join Skeeter on a spontaneous trip to Gowanda to support the village’s Christmas event and visit the little shops in town. Josie was ready to go and a rather serendipity kind of trip began.

As they entered the village, Josie began to recall her early work with Michael and the Care Center pharmacy, which once was an established institution here, highly depended upon … until the flood. The impact of the flood led to a collapse of the business and all the good relationships and good work which had happened here.

As we entered town, Josie called a friend in nearby Collins who was more than ready to meet us and see an old friend. She was the person who first introduced Josie to the Tranquillity angel stones, which were to become a trademark for Josie’s Circle of Love. She had also once been an active contributor to the prayer shawls and pillows. Sure enough, within minutes of our arrival, her friend arrived, now on a walker but hugs and kisses were exchanged and it was clear that this was a meaningful friendship not diminished by the passing years. They met in the local pharmacy which had grown up to replace the care center under the direction of the three women who had worked as pharmacists pre-flood. There was a warm reunion and surprise that at 82, Josie is still working, carrying forward her Circle of Love work. We took photos and got caught up with old friendships.

We also went a few steps down the street to visit a shop known as Love, INC, established to help those in need, run by all volunteers who maintain the building, sort the donations, display lightly-used items and clothing for those in need. Josie explained her history in the village and the great work which began right along this very street and is carried on today in Dunkirk.

When we returned to the pharmacy, Josie met a woman who looked familiar, a patient who had just dropped in to pick up supplies. She recognized Josie and gave her a big hug, recalling how she had helped her during her treatment for cancer years earlier.

In search of a restroom, we headed over to the Olympia Restaurant but found it temporarily closed. Instead we entered the city hall on the corner and Josie was directed to the restrooms. But first she told her story of her early work in this community and gave each of the women there information about the Circle of Love and an angel stone. There was a full outlay of Christmas cookies in city hall awaiting the later parade and tour. Some of these were award winners and we were invited to help ourselves, which we did.

They directed us to the little gift store/print shop around the corner known as Heaven Scent. The front part of the shop included many collectibles, many with spiritual and healing connections. Skeeter asked for a small box to place her “chocolate mouse” cookie so it would not get broken on the way home. There was a 40 percent off sale going on so Skeeter asked about the lavender oil, which they boxed up for her. In the meantime, an elderly customer approached Josie and indicated they knew each other. Josie asked her name and then recognized her as one of her long ago clients who had received services. There were warm hugs all around. The two saleswomen by this time had come out from behind the counter and Josie asked their names as well. Believe it or not, it turns out after running through a variety of family names they identified themselves as related to each other. More hugs and expressions of amazement. They sell angel stones in the store and thought they might even find the original tranquillity angels that Josie referenced, but they were all out. Josie shared her funny story about the woman, who in her eighties though Josie was offering her a “fertility” stone, not the tranquillity stone.

We returned to the pharmacy to say goodbyes to the former colleagues and ask permission to write the story of this rather miraculous day of reunions and miraculous encounters.

We headed out of town, but decided to stop for lunch at the Perrysburg Diner. Once again Josie was brought to tears when a woman at the next table introduced herself and told Josie that she had provided loving services to her daughter years ago and she had always been grateful. Josie asked her name, explained how she called people “Fachia bella” because she could not remember all the names. Once she heard the daughter’s name, she remembered the daughter and her needs at the time. The mother, now well into her 80s, shared that her daughter had not survived, but the children, now mostly grown, were doing fine. She reminded Josie that she herself had been given a cane when she came with the daughter to get prosthetic help.

More hugs and tears.

Josie was extremely moved to have found all these fond remembrances and former colleagues all remembering the good services which she had helped provide. She promised herself this was a story she would have to document, and was happy to have had a witness to this wonderful day of miracles.

All because of a surprize trip to Gowanda.

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