Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 16, 2013

In honor and memory

Boyd County woman finds decorating house with late husband’s interests therapeutic

SUMMIT — Ramona Scaggs has found a way to soothe her loss.

Her husband of 53 years, Bill Scaggs, died in 2011 after a 15-year battle with cancer that took a toll on her, too.

“We dealt with it through our sense of humor,” she said of her ability to cope with dressing bandages on nine external cancerous lesions on his upper arm. “I learned to cauderize his wounds,” the former Kindermusik teacher said, noting she dressed the wounds and cut bandages to fit each spot.

While she coped with reality, she also used escapism.

“I managed to put myself in another world and do a lot of pretending and fantasizing,” she said.

Scaggs was well known in many arenas: The Boyd County native served in the U.S. Marines in the 1950s. He  was  supervisor of communications and government relations at the Armco Steel Co.’s Ashland Works, retiring after 28 years with the company. He was a member of the National Rifle Association, having been named to the NRA Legion of Honor by Charlton Heston. Scaggs also was a supporter of many causes, including Salvation Army, American Heart Association, Boyd County Public Library, Junior Achievement, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Cerebral Palsy School, Boyd-Greenup Chamber of Commerce, FIVCO Economic Development Board and the Boy Scouts.

Scaggs was so devoted to supporting the Boyd County school system that the school system’s newletter published an extensive tribute to him at the urging of retired superintendent Howard K. Osborne and retired director of personnel Mickey Rice.

He was involved with various wildlife and sportsmen organizations and was named Sportsman of the Year by the League of Kentucky Sportsmen, of which he was a lifelong member.

In the wake of Mr. Scaggs’ death, Mrs. Scaggs found herself sinking into a deep depression.

“I had always been a ball of fire but now, I didn’t want to do anything. I just wanted to lay in bed,” she said. “I had a breakdown. I loved him and I didn’t want him to die.”

Eventually, she said she knew she had to start her life again, but she was at a loss about what to do, until she discovered the comfort that decorating rooms could give her.

She doesn’t follow just any theme; she decorates rooms of her house in themes and memorabilia that reminds her of her husband.

The family room includes photographs of the children and other family members, but the overall theme is patriotic with an emphasis on the U.S. Marines.

Much of the furniture is red, white and/or blue. Blades on the ceiling fan have a flag design and dog tags are the pulls. The flag presented to Scaggs when she lost her husband is in a display case and his dress hat and gloves rest of a red table alongside a Marine Bible.

She said she bought various pieces in different local stores, but much of the collection comes from online shopping, as her own health problems limit her ability to travel and shop. Some items in her collection have been gifts.

Scaggs’ decoration therapy continues in the basement, where her late husband made his “man cave.”

There, decorations run toward his hobbies, which included hunting and fishing. There is a camo bedspread, a built-in bookshelf of his books and hunting- and fishing-related items accenting every corner.

Still, his military services shows itself, too, in three uniforms that hang on the front of the closet door.

The project, which has taken her two years, has paid off by giving her much needed comfort.

“When I walk through that ruoom and see all that, I feel more at ease, at peace.” she said. “Down in his mancave, I love to go down there and sit and look around. Also, staying busy hasn’t hurt anything.”

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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