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The project helped Linda Moulton of Charbonneau heal from pain of husband's death

PMG PHOTO: JON HOUSE - Wilsonville resident Linda Moulton made an origami display dedicated to those who lost their lives to COVID-19 after her husband died.

As Charbonneau resident Linda Moulton explained, a crane represents peace, happiness and recovery in Japanese culture. For Moulton, whose husband of 53 years passed away in 2020 — and others faced with tragedy during the COVID-19 pandemic —these ethereal qualities have proven elusive recently.

But she hopes that her origami display with hundreds of cranes strung together against the window sill in the Wilsonville Parks and Recreation building facility will unlock moments of tranquility for onlookers. Certainly, the project accelerated her own healing process.

"I think I understand loss and how our lives are forever changed by loss," she said. "There are so many people who have died from COVID-19 and as a result have become numbers, statistics, for measuring the success or failure of how we are managing the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe it's not about numbers, success or failure. It's about the loss of someone you love."

Moulton didn't have much experience making origami but considers herself a creative person. Similar projects she saw in Paris and elsewhere commemorating those who perished due to COVID-19 inspired her to start this effort, but getting started wasn't always easy.

"I made a lot of cranes that had no hope of flying, believe me," she said.

But she received considerable help. For instance, her great niece in Tennessee, brother and sister in law in Minneapolis and sisters in Mexico and South Dakota chipped in. Moulton said her sister Carla McCauley, who just moved from Alabama to Canby, was also a huge help.

"One of my younger sisters had just lost her son. It was healing for her, too, to sit with us and fold cranes and laugh about how they looked," Moulton said.

PMG PHOTO: JON HOUSE - The display is up in the city of Wilsonville's Parks and Recreation building next to Town Center Park.

Moulton estimated that over 2,000 cranes were produced in the process. As a finishing touch, she used her late husband's fishing lines to string the cranes together.

"I'm not the artist in the family. My husband was. I think he would really love seeing this," she said.

Wanting a place to display the piece, Moulton contacted the Wilsonville government. And upon hearing of the project, city staff decided to advertise it in its Boones Ferry Messenger newsletter. Then, a few hundred cranes were submitted by local groups. They also offered up the Parks and Recreation building as a location.

"I'm appreciative that I got to be a part of such a special project," said Zoe Monahan, the assistant to the city manager. "It was a privilege to be a part of it and work together with a community member to put together something so meaningful."

The display is viewable inside the Parks and Recreation building from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and can also be seen from outside the building.

"It's a stunning display. I don't think I could have envisioned that when Linda brought it up," Monahan said.

In a sense, the strings bind those who have lost their lives as well as those who are grieving — a small bit of solace in a trying period.

"The act of doing something to remember people that have gone from our lives I think gave me a perspective about not being the only person who has suffered a lot. That helps," Moulton said. "I wish it hadn't happened to anyone but it does help to know you are not alone when you feel sad."

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