Finding Family and Solace in South Dakota

Finding Family and Solace in South Dakota

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The sun was low on the horizon on the cool South Dakota morning I spread my father’s ashes. It was a bittersweet journey. I had just flown from California to South Dakota where my dad was born. Seven years after he passed away, I was finally ready to honor his wishes and spread his remains across his beloved home state.

SpreadingAshes

Spreading my fathers ashes with his best friends at their favorite camping spot

Cancer is a dark,  devastating disease that swoops in like a predator in the night. It’s a relentless parasite that sucks the life out of not only its hosts, but everyone around them.

Cancer first took first my mother; then my father.

We are all collateral damage when it comes to this disease. Our loved ones die, and we are left to pick up the pieces of our lives bit by bit while we try to move forward. We struggle to forget about the endless months of doctor’s visits and the toxic treatments that  left our friends and family members suffering needlessly as they deteriorated right before our very eyes. We cling to the good times; the lessons we learned from them; the experiences we shared.

When a loved one dies, we are instantly surrounded by well-wishers constantly checking in on us. People bring homemade pies and lasagnas and cookies and cake. But then as swiftly as they appeared, those people vanish, and we are left to deal with the aftermath and the grief. Gradually people stop offering condolences altogether. They stop asking if we are okay.

When you lose your mother and your father in your early 20’s, people are shocked; eventually no one mentions it. If you bring up the deceased, they don’t even look you in the eye. It is uncomfortable for them, for they secretly fear that whatever stroke of bad luck befell you could somehow rub off on them. People slowly forget. But you don’t.

When I started filming for my documentary, Food Heals, I had no idea how deeply personal it would get. In April, I flew to North Carolina and interviewed some of my parents’ closest friends. I heard stories I had never heard before; I learned the most loving, wonderful things about my family that I had been yearning to hear; I remembered precious moments I had forgotten.

Food Heals Interviews

Interviewing friends and family for Food Heals

In August, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with some of my dad’s best friends from childhood who I hadn’t seen in ten years.  Lee and Mark, brothers who had known my father since they were kids, drove my fiancé Dan and I around to all their favorite teenage haunts. We visited the campground where they busted their parents’ car muffler; their favorite dive bar where the ceilings and walls were covered head to toe with business cards and bras; the cabin where they shared their best memories underneath the stars.

And under those same stars, they told me stories about my father, from the admirable to the inappropriate. (Lee related that because he and my father shared the same first name, when they got in trouble they would always tell their parents, “It was the other Lee’s fault.”) We laughed and reminisced over a glass of wine about the man he had been. They spoke of my mother, too, and how much I reminded them of her; and how I had the same twinkle in my eye that my dad had.

South Dakota Trip

Rediscovering old family friends and creating new memories

As we drove to the airport on my last day, Lee and Mark told me, “We approve.” In my father’s absence, they gave me their blessing to marry my fiancé Dan Masciarelli, a man they had gotten to know over those three busy, crazy days. As I forge forward towards the next chapter of my life, I know that my parents would approve as well.

My parents are still alive. They live on within the memories and hearts of those who loved them and those whose lives they affected and touched. And as long as we talk about them and do things that honor them, they will always be with us. My parents didn’t beat cancer, but cancer didn’t beat them either.

So this I pledge. I pledge to keep the memories of Pat and Lee Biggar alive by telling their stories; by making new memories with old friends; by always striving to be someone of whom they would be proud.

On a cool South Dakota morning, I stepped onto lonely bridge deep in the woods of Kelly Gulch, a beautiful sanctuary only reachable by foot. I stepped onto the bridge and I let go. I released my father’s ashes, letting go of all the pain, even as I held onto the memories, both old and new. I laughed and cried at the same time as I watched my father’s remains float down the river. I knew that his essence would now be all around me, reabsorbed by the earth and reflected in the sky. Seven years after he passed away, I kept my promise to my father and set his spirit free.

Author Image
Allison Melody is a dog-loving eco-entrepreneur with a passion for film, fitness and food! She is the host of the podcast, The Food Heals Podcast, the director of the film, Food Heals, and owner of Melody Productions, a video production company.

And of course, Allison is Owner and Developer of Holistic Voice. Holistic Voice was formed when, at the age of 26, Allison endured the devastating loss of both her parents to cancer after long and challenging battles. Witnessing her mother and father suffer so intensely and needlessly from a cure that brought more pain than the disease, Allison soon dedicated her life to finding a better way to heal. She watched in disbelief as doctors prescribed drug after drug, observed her parents’ hair fall out, their rapidly aging faces, and their exceedingly diminishing vitality. The tragedy instilled in her an unwavering passion for nutritional medicine, and propelled her into the world of holistic health and alternative healing. Allison’s firm commitment to natural health is further evidenced by her achievement of a Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology.

ABOUT THE FOOD HEALS PODCAST:

Being hailed as “Sex and the City for Food,” The Food Heals Podcast brings together experts in the field of nutrition, health and healing to teach you the best-kept natural secrets to being a hotter, healthier, happier YOU!

The Food Heals Podcast is hosted by Allison Melody and Suzy Hardy – two self-proclaimed natural chicks who will rock your world and change your beliefs about health! This sexy, savvy duo provides eco-friendly advice on a variety of issues including the healing power of nutrition, living authentically, turning your passion into your career, choosing the best natural health and beauty products, the benefits of a plant-based diet and so much more!

Upcoming & Past guests include Author Sophie Uliano, Eco-Vegan Gal Whitney Lauritsen, Celebrity chef Jason Wrobel, Wellness expert Kimberly Van Der Beek, Healthy Vegan Guy Vince Lia and MORE!

Check out The Food Heals Podcast on iTunes!

ABOUT FOOD HEALS, THE FILM:

Does the cure for cancer exist? What the heck is juice fasting? Find out in the feature-length film, Food Heals! Food Heals is a documentary that follows several inspiring individuals who have used nutrition and alternative medicine to heal themselves of chronic, degenerative and terminal disease without drugs, surgery, or chemotherapy. This film features Director and Star of “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,” Joe Cross; NBA Champion , John Salley; TV/Radio host, Kerri Kasem; owner of Malibu’s finest juice bars, Khalil Rafati, and many others!

Check out the trailer at www.FoodHeals.tv

ABOUT HOLISTIC VOICE:

Holistic Voice’s mission is to uplift, enlighten and transform traditional beliefs about health through multimedia productions including social media, video, film, articles and podcasts. Our vision is that our informative and inspiring documentaries and multimedia campaigns will raise awareness of the ways in which diet, supplements, exercise and alternative healing modalities can prevent and heal disease.

We provide tools, resources and knowledge that will:

-Educate the community about the benefits of disease prevention through nutrition, exercise, and alternative medicine;

-Empower individuals and their families by providing them with the information they need to make educated, informed decisions about healthcare;

-Engage individuals in the community in a conversation about the importance of disease prevention, and what nutritional options exist for disease reversal.

ABOUT MELODY PRODUCTIONS

Allison owns and operates Melody Productions, a video production and social media marketing company. For nearly a decade, Allison has been directing, producing and editing documentary films, PSA’s, commercials, and viral videos for clients across the state through her work with non-profit organizations in order to raise awareness of public health issues and improve the lives of underserved communities. The topics she addresses through her work are powerful and heart-centered and focus on Holistic Health, Social Justice, Human Rights and Animal Rights. They reflect her passion for creating positive change in people and the communities they serve.

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Author
Allison Melody is a dog-loving eco-entrepreneur with a passion for film, fitness and food! She is the host of the podcast, The Food Heals Podcast, the director of the film, Food Heals, and owner of Melody Productions, a video production company. And of course, Allison is Owner and Developer of Holistic Voice. Holistic Voice was formed when, at the age of 26, Allison endured the devastating loss of both her parents to cancer after long and challenging battles. Witnessing her mother and father suffer so intensely and needlessly from a cure that brought more pain than the disease, Allison soon dedicated her life to finding a better way to heal. She watched in disbelief as doctors prescribed drug after drug, observed her parents’ hair fall out, their rapidly aging faces, and their exceedingly diminishing vitality. The tragedy instilled in her an unwavering passion for nutritional medicine, and propelled her into the world of holistic health and alternative healing. Allison’s firm commitment to natural health is further evidenced by her achievement of a Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology. ABOUT THE FOOD HEALS PODCAST: Being hailed as “Sex and the City for Food,” The Food Heals Podcast brings together experts in the field of nutrition, health and healing to teach you the best-kept natural secrets to being a hotter, healthier, happier YOU! The Food Heals Podcast is hosted by Allison Melody and Suzy Hardy – two self-proclaimed natural chicks who will rock your world and change your beliefs about health! This sexy, savvy duo provides eco-friendly advice on a variety of issues including the healing power of nutrition, living authentically, turning your passion into your career, choosing the best natural health and beauty products, the benefits of a plant-based diet and so much more! Upcoming & Past guests include Author Sophie Uliano, Eco-Vegan Gal Whitney Lauritsen, Celebrity chef Jason Wrobel, Wellness expert Kimberly Van Der Beek, Healthy Vegan Guy Vince Lia and MORE! Check out The Food Heals Podcast on iTunes! ABOUT FOOD HEALS, THE FILM: Does the cure for cancer exist? What the heck is juice fasting? Find out in the feature-length film, Food Heals! Food Heals is a documentary that follows several inspiring individuals who have used nutrition and alternative medicine to heal themselves of chronic, degenerative and terminal disease without drugs, surgery, or chemotherapy. This film features Director and Star of "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead," Joe Cross; NBA Champion , John Salley; TV/Radio host, Kerri Kasem; owner of Malibu's finest juice bars, Khalil Rafati, and many others! Check out the trailer at www.FoodHeals.tv ABOUT HOLISTIC VOICE: Holistic Voice’s mission is to uplift, enlighten and transform traditional beliefs about health through multimedia productions including social media, video, film, articles and podcasts. Our vision is that our informative and inspiring documentaries and multimedia campaigns will raise awareness of the ways in which diet, supplements, exercise and alternative healing modalities can prevent and heal disease. We provide tools, resources and knowledge that will: -Educate the community about the benefits of disease prevention through nutrition, exercise, and alternative medicine; -Empower individuals and their families by providing them with the information they need to make educated, informed decisions about healthcare; -Engage individuals in the community in a conversation about the importance of disease prevention, and what nutritional options exist for disease reversal. ABOUT MELODY PRODUCTIONS Allison owns and operates Melody Productions, a video production and social media marketing company. For nearly a decade, Allison has been directing, producing and editing documentary films, PSA’s, commercials, and viral videos for clients across the state through her work with non-profit organizations in order to raise awareness of public health issues and improve the lives of underserved communities. The topics she addresses through her work are powerful and heart-centered and focus on Holistic Health, Social Justice, Human Rights and Animal Rights. They reflect her passion for creating positive change in people and the communities they serve.

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