NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Our meeting was serendipitous. On a drive to another place, several women were spotted at the Snake Woman Garden at Caddo Mounds Historic Site; we stopped to see if one would be a familiar face. It was.
There was a familiar voice.
“These are goosefoot chenopodium, which is a great green."
The names of native and medicinal plants roll off the tongue of Rachel Galan. The friend and assistant manager at the mounds has been away, a lot, from her favorite garden.
She's been by the bedside of her husband and vice president of Friends of Caddo Mounds, Victor Galan.
On April 13 the couple was helping get festival goers to safety as a tornado approached the mounds.
"Where he was, the building collapsed. He broke and fractured his neck vertebrae and there is spinal damage,” shared Rachel.
In and out of ICU, Victor is nearing the point of beginning rehab at TIRR Memorial Hermann.
"He's regained sensation almost everywhere, but not movement yet," said Rachel.
Rachel is still processing what happened.
The Snake Woman Garden’s lessons of renewal help. It, too, was injured, but with Master Gardeners nurturing. it came back in all its glory. Sunflowers abound. Vegetables are forming.
"We planted the corn a week or two before. We planted the beans, the Wednesday before the storm," recalled horticulture agent Kim Benton.
Rachel knows the Caddo history of the Snake Woman Garden. It’s full of symbolism for rebirth. In her life journey, Rachel uses the lessons to their fullest.
"Look, bring that focus more narrowly and see the beauty here and the beauty in small things. What we don't know, the next months, even years, are going to hold for our family, but this is a place of energy. Good energy," said Rachel.
The Galans have a son who just graduated from college, a daughter who just graduated from high school and another daughter and son-in-law who have two baby girls. Their mother’s strength has inspired a community and the family.
What she has to say helps a family face the next day.
“We are going to come out of this, whatever happens with Victor, better people because we’ve just experienced so much love and so much support. We’ll never leave East Texas, that’s for sure,” said Rachel.
When Rachel Galan is not at her husband’s side, which is most of the time, she is working toward the goal of rebuilding at the historic site.
A free teacher conference and a Friends of Caddo Mounds fundraiser are scheduled for July 12.