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Who’s Your ……

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…… emergency contact?
Or, in other situations …… who is your driver?

There are few things these days that can send me back to the dark days after Jim’s death, but this is one.

I hate this question.
Because in most cases, wherever I am, I don’t have an emergency contact.
And that sucks.

Later this week I am going in for a …… brace yourselves for TMI …… colonoscopy.
(Don’t be jealous.)
And because we’re all in semi-quarantine and there’s no normal anymore, I didn’t have to have someone come to the appointment with me.
I needed a driver …… someone to bring me and then take me home.
So Daughter #2 was going to fill that role.
But today, when I went in to pre-register and take the Co-Vid test (oh my word, the fun) I was told that the driver needed to come in with me and wait for me.
Daughter #2 cannot do that. She has two small sons to tend with.

The only other people I know who live in Waco are my parents. Who really don’t need to be sitting in a hospital, even with a mask on.
I felt horrible to have to ask them.
But I did.
And of course they will be there for me.

But damnit, they shouldn’t have to.
Jim should be here to do this.
And it sucks that he isn’t.

These are the days when the loss of him feels immense.
Actually, more immense than immense.
These are the days when I feel that I’m more than single/widowed.
I feel alone.

I rarely feel that way.
So yay for that.
But when it hits …… it sucks.

I am grateful for the life I have.
It’s good.
I’m good.
Almost all of the time.

Just don’t ask …… who’s your driver?

If Jim Hadn’t Died ……

Jim smiling

…… is a thought I sometimes follow down a rabbit hole.

Life would be different. Extraordinarily different.
But not in the ways some people might think.

If Jim hadn’t died we would’ve left Texas within two years. Yep. After more than two decades we would’ve moved on.
His job would’ve required us to live in one of three places: L.A., Pittsburg or Atlanta.
We would’ve chosen Atlanta, hands down.
I’m glad I don’t live there …… now.

If Jim hadn’t died …… our two youngest sons wouldn’t have finished high school in Texas. Which might have been a good thing. But who knows?

If he hadn’t died …… I wouldn’t be living in NY. Not full time anyway. We had briefly discussed moving there for a year, just to experience living in the city. We both thought it would be cool. His word.
And that’s what propelled me onward to NY after 5 years. His word.

If I hadn’t moved to NY then Daughter #3 wouldn’t have met her husband there.
And my first granddaughter wouldn’t be here.

Son #2 wouldn’t have married his wife and grandson #3 wouldn’t be here.

And most likely, Daughter #2 may not have gone down the path that she did, seeking to help children who’ve experienced trauma, had she not dealt with her own.
Which means that my first two grandsons would not be part of our family.

All of that is too depressing to think about. For long.

If Jim hadn’t died I never would’ve met the amazing people who have become my “tribe” …… my fellow widowed peeps.
The people who literally saved my life and let me know that I could, indeed, survive this loss.

Here’s where I might lose some of you. I hope not, but these are difficult times and I want to be open and honest.

If Jim hadn’t died and my first two precious grandsons hadn’t joined our family …… I might never have ventured outside my “bubble” and would still be thinking that there’s no such thing as “white privilege”. I would still think that anyone who’s down (mentally or socially) just needs to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and live the American Dream.

But he did die.
And my bootstraps broke.

Had he not died I would be a less compassionate person.
I would still talk more than I listen.
I would seek to be understood more than seek to understand.
And I still would not understand that the American Dream is totally out of reach for some people.
Many people.
Most people.

I wouldn’t have seen that my grandsons will have to be raised differently than my white sons.
I wouldn’t have known that we’d have to talk to them about how they’ll have to act differently if they’re pulled over, or are going on a job interview, or jogging in a “white neighborhood”.

These two very young children have already taught me more in their young lives than I learned in my first 5 decades.

If Jim hadn’t died …… we’d be having interesting dinner conversations about today’s world.

One of his relatives asked me the other day, “What do you think Jim would think about everything that’s happening today?”
I’m sure most of his family wonders what he would think.
Especially of me and of my children and our political views.

He would be as horrified as everyone about the state of our country today.
But the 7 of us know, without a doubt, that Jim would never have voted for the current person in the White House.
He loved his daughters too much.
He respected women too much.
He valued integrity too much.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

If Jim hadn’t died …… I’d never have met (IRL or virtually) most of you.
I wouldn’t be writing this particular blog.

If he hadn’t died I wouldn’t have met the wonderful friends that I have in NY.
I wouldn’t be longing to get back there right now.

If Jim hadn’t died I wouldn’t have been challenged in some ways, grown in many ways, or leaned on God so hard.

Am I saying that I’m glad that Jim died?
Of course not.

But am I glad that so many good things came out of his death?
You bet.

I’m human.
I make mistakes every day.
I let people down.
I don’t always do the right thing.

But I’m growing.
And learning.
And stretching.
And am okay now with being uncomfortable.
Because I think that it’s in our uncomfortableness …… where we learn the most.
About ourselves.
And about others.

If Jim had not died …… my life would have been good. The way it was.

If Jim had not died …… I might not have known that I could be better.

If Jim hadn’t died ……

Thoughts on ……

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…… being quarantined.

These may be deep so prepare yourselves.
(Like with a high pair of boots.)

So, how’s everyone handling all of this free time? I know that it’s been isolating, frustrating, stressful and downright boring, but maybe we’re looking at it all wrong.

Instead of feeling trapped and “stuck” …… maybe we should consider this to be all of that magical, illusive amount of time we wanted to get ______ done (fill in the blank).

You know …… if I had all the time in the world I would read that stack of books on my nightstand.

Or …… I wish I had enough time to paint the house.

And …… if I had the time I’d cook more.
Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!
Sorry, maybe that one was hilarious to only me.

So, we’ve had about 6 weeks or more of this kind of time. What have you done with it?
Did you learn anything?
Have you checked multiple things off of your To-Do List?

If so …… YOU are a MUCH better person that I am!!!
How is it that I’ve had an almost infinite amount of time and yet haven’t accomplished much?

Here’s a list of things I intended to do (please note: some items were added before the pandemic):

1. Knit a blanket.

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2. Knit a mat out of plastic bags.

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3. Learn calligraphy/brush lettering.

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4. Finish some books.
(Yes, “finish” implies they’ve been started. Yes, all of them.)

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5. Tile a tiny bathroom floor.

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6. Teach my dog to stop following me EVERYWHERE I go.

7. Finish the illustrated Harry Potter books. (See #4)

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8. Start a doodling journal.

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9. Go to Spain, Portugal and Italy.
No, not all at once. Italy was going to be 2 weeks after Spain.
Sheesh.

10. Learn Portuguese. (See #8. And yesterday’s blog.)

11. Tan my legs.
(You may need sunglasses for this picture.)

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12. Blog more.

13. Teach J how to drive.
(That was just to see if you’re still playing attention.)

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14. Help potty train E.
(Don’t even start.)

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Yes, I realize that I ended on the number 14, which kind of freaks out those of you who are a bit OCD. Which reminds me ……

15. Throw people off balance more.
At least I’ve made some progress on THIS one.

Okay, now that you know how lazy I’ve been …… fess up.
🙂

And So ……

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…… we’re half way through May.
Just like that.

I certainly hope that teachers won’t require kids to write the usual essay, “What I Did This Summer”.
Those are going to be as boring as hell.
(Which begs the question, Is hell boring? Because, that would indeed be hell.)

What have you all been up to?  Any fun trips? Any family reunions?  Parties?  Parades? New restaurant experiences?

Me?
Oh, I’ve been experiencing all kinds of exciting things.

I’ll give you a list, in no particular order. (Remember, “exciting” is relative.)

    1.  Today I saw a hawk fall down from ….. the roof, the sky …… I have no idea but he definitely fell.  He plunked straight down into a planter right outside my window. Thankfully, Gracie didn’t notice because she would still be barking had she seen that. It’s been raining all night/morning so it was drenched. Maybe it was water logged?  Do birds get water logged and fall out of the sky?  If so, I think that’s a serious design flaw.It sat there for a minute, then slowly flew to a low branch of a nearby tree and then sat there for another minute before flying to a branch of another tree.  At this point I texted my daughter (remember, I’m living in an a studio apartment off of the house) to tell her to come and check out the hawk.  He/she was pretty cool looking, even wet.IMG_1504
    2. I succumbed to the latest craze and joined the ranks of Animal Crossing addicts this week.  It was my Mother’s Day present to myself.  The first couple of days I thought it was as boring as hell (?), but it starts to grow on you.  Yesterday I picked about 300 batches of weeds on my little island.  I’m a go getter!  To those of you who are in the know, I woke up to a real house today. Yay! Tents get old.
    3. I’ve ordered family size meals of fajitas (for pick up!) way too many times in the last month. But last night, for the first time, I ordered us margaritas! It’s a new world!
    4. I’ve watched too many episodes of Wild Kratts and PJ Masks than I can count. Mostly under duress.
    5. We got a blow up pool for the boys so it’s been nice to watch them play for 20 minutes and fight/fall/get in trouble for 40.
    6. I’m about to overrun the backyard with all kinds of candles and tiki torches because the mosquitos think I am a buffet.
    7. We got a grill for Daughter #2 because she had never grilled and it was high time. I told her to get hamburger patties on her grocery run and she did. We busted them out the day we got the grill.  They were already cooked patties. But hey, warming up previously cooked burgers is still grillin’. So she can check that off of her bucket list.(Seriously, if she really has that on her bucket list it’s a very sad list.)
    8. I put my house back on the market.
    9. I emptied my house of the last pieces of furniture in one evening by posting it on my Neighborhood app as “free”.  You can give almost anything away. And very quickly.
    10. I replaced a shattered french door pane in my house.  Well, “I” didn’t replace it but I paid for it so that’s just as good.   I’m off of a golf course so one would assume that a really bad golfer broke the window. But get this: it’s double-paned and it was the inside pane that shattered. Weird, right? No point of impact, no clues. Just a shattered pane of glass that was mostly still in the frame …… waiting to crumble into a zillion teeny pieces. I think I have a poltergeist. (Can you charge a poltergeist rent?)
      Between rounds of greeting people (at a distance and with a face mask, thank you very much) to give away furniture, I knocked all of the glass out of the frame and cleaned it up. And I wore gloves so no, I didn’t cut myself.
  1. I’ve done 3 nights of  3-4 hour on line training with D#2 so that I can be her support person with a new foster agency she’s signed up with. Also under duress. (Not the being her support person part, the 3-4 hours part.) IMG_1406
  2. I’ve played many, many games of mahjong, watched live theatre, participated in book club/movie group/NY meetup groups/walking tours/happy hours and a couple of courses via Zoom (but then, who hasn’t?).
  3. I’ve been learning Portuguese.
  4. This is a big birthday year for me.  (I won’t tell you which one but it has a six and an oh) so I planned a big year of travel.  BIG. Huge.  Hugely bigly.  So far four of those trips have been cancelled.  So I stopped learning Portuguese.
  5. I think the mail carrier thinks we’re crazy because I get a package from Amazon nearly every day.  Nearly.  Not always.  But that’s mostly because ALL OF MY  SUMMER CLOTHES ARE IN NY!!!  I’m supposed to be there!  Well, actually, I’m supposed to be in Portugal today (don’t go there).

Okay, I think that’s all of the excitement that you can stand for now.  I hope that I didn’t overwhelm you. If so, don’t worry.  It’ll pass.

I hope that you are all safe and healthy.  All of my family is, thank God.  The babies are good.  Growing fast …… away from me.  Sigh ……  But hopefully that will end soon.  Not the growing part, don’t be ridiculous.  The “away from me” part.  Sheesh.

I am missing NYC very, very much.  I know it’s good that I’m not there, physically.  But emotionally …… I’m sad.  I want to be there.  I want to support the city in the ways that I can by being there.  So I’m doing what I can from here to support theatres, museums, people and groups. I can’t wait to go back.  No, I don’t know when that will be.  I hope I it’s by the end of next month.
We. Shall. See.

Take care.  Wear masks.  Social distance.  Wash your hands. Stay home when you can.  Yada, yada, yada.

But seriously …… take care of yourselves.

xoxo

Does Anyone Else ……

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…… feel like they could start crying at the drop of a hat?
Or is that just me?

I feel weird.
In limbo.
In 2 places at once.

I’m physically here in Texas.
But part of my heart is in NY.

I know that I should feel good that I’m not there.
But I don’t quite.
Part of me feels like I should be there, doing what I can to support the city that I love so much.

But my heart is also here in Texas.
With most of my children and all of my grandchildren.
Especially the one I haven’t been able to meet yet.
Damn.

I know that I’m blessed.
I know that things could be bad.
We are all healthy.
We have food.
We have toilet paper. For now.

So why do I feel like crying?
Is it because Jim’s not here …… in this horrific, history-making time on this planet?
Is it because yet another dear friend lost her husband a few days ago?
Is it because everything and everyone is so uncertain?

Probably.

I’m not afraid.
I’m not worried.
I just don’t know what I am.

This is just …… the strangest.
Right?

One phrase keeps going through my mind.
“Jesus, take the wheel.”

Except it feels like there’s not even a wheel now.

Another phrase also keeps going through my mind.
And maybe …… it’s not just me.

Jesus, now would be a really great time for you to come back.

I’m just sayin’.

My Heart Hurts ……

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…… for a friend who is now a member of this horrible club called “widowed”.

The news of her husband’s sudden death shocked me and broke my heart. She is such a wonderful, kind and loving person. She’s kept up with me over the years and has always shown me love and support.
Her husband was a wonderful man who loved people and loved Jesus.
Death doesn’t discriminate.

There are just no words.

There’s only pain.

My heart hurts for the pain that she’s experiencing.
It hurts to know that she has to feel the things I’ve felt.
And still feel.

I hate this.
Grief sucks.
Death sucks.

I wish I could do something to take her pain away.
But I can’t.
No one can.
And that also sucks.

Love your people.
As hard as you can.
Because you never know.

Being Quarantined With Children ……

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…… should not be a thing.

It really shouldn’t.
And before you think I’m horrible for saying that, especially since I’m quarantined (read: stuck) with two of my delightful littles …… know that I love them with the fierceness of a thousand suns.
And can be driven up the wall just as fiercely.

I think that if our government would’ve been better prepared for a pandemic (hahahahahaha!) they would’ve thought through this scenario.
Or they should have.

If you’re going to have a pandemic then I think you should have professionals standing by to be stuck (read: quarantined) with young children.
And by professional I mean anyone who signs up.
After a background check, of course. I’m not an idiot.

Now, I’m not talking about babies. I would love to be quarantined with a baby. Especially one of my two new ones (one I’ve yet to see in person …… sigh).
No, I’m talking about any child between the age of 18 months (when the Terrible Twos/Terrific Twos (whatever) usually start and oh, …… 13. This could be stretched to the age of 18 if enough parents sign a petition.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for these two precious (read: precocious) little boys. They make me laugh and they touch my heart on a daily basis.
They also make me very grateful.
Mostly grateful that I don’t have to raise them.
I did my time.
I’m good.

They are wonderful little creatures who can be loving on one another one minute and then trying to see who can throw a toy at the other one the hardest a split second later.
They can be happily engaged in a project, making you stare in wonder at their creativity and intelligence.
Then they can then turn on a dime, screaming that the crayon broke, the Lego wheel fell off or the paper tore, making you stare at them in wonder at their ability to reach decibels you thought only possible on an Air Force jet.

Their ability to switch between calm and rage (and back) amazes me.
One would think you might need to warm up before going from zero to sixty.
Not these guys.
They are professionals.

I realize that they won’t be little for long.
I know that each phase they go through won’t last.
(Even though they feel like forever when you’re in them.)
I know that this time is precious and that I’m blessed to be able to be with them.

And yes, it’s better to be stuck down here than in Covid-19 riddled NYC.
I may think differently tomorrow.
😉

In the Stillness of the Evening ……

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…… memories tend to come back.
Sometimes it’s the memories that you forgot you had.

That happened tonight.
While I was holding my granddaughter (I’d nickname her Granddaughter #1, but since she’s an only that would be silly. I know that you, my wise reader, know full well who she is.)

For the last week and a half (a bit less than that) one of my jobs has been to take her at night so that my daughter and her hubs can get a few hours of sleep. I get her early-ish. Anywhere from 8:00 to 10:00 or so. And then I hold her, rock her, walk her, sway with her, etc. to try to let them sleep as long as possible before her next feeding.
Tonight is my last night.
(Cue tears.)

Her other grandparents come tomorrow evening.
I’ve never had to share grand parenting.
It will be …… different.
I don’t feel negatively about it. I’m thankful that she will have so much love in her life.
But it’s …… just different.

Anyway, they will arrive tomorrow and take over helping out around here.
I will take care of the grandsons tomorrow night and we’ll all be here Sunday for her baptism (which her grandfather has the honor of performing) and then I’ll head back to Waco with Daughter #2 and the boys.

The other grandparents are lovely. I’ve enjoyed being around them the few times we’ve been together.
They raised 3 terrific children and one is the best husband I could ask for my daughter.

And yet …… this short visit will be a bit difficult.
Another feeling that I didn’t foresee.
It came out of nowhere.
Or everywhere, I guess.

There are two of them.
A couple.
They are beyond excited to see her …… their first grandchild.
They get to share this excitement.
With each other.
They get to watch each other hold her and compare her to each other and to their children.
That is a blessing.
I’ll be fine, with a tinge of sadness.

But I digress.

Memories.
In the stillness of the evening.

This one came back to me:

One morning, back when we had only 3 or 4 children (only!), I woke up to find a letter from Jim.
He had stayed up late and wrote it while he watched me sleep (not creepy at all if you don’t over think it.)

It seems that he had listened to a Garth Brooks song that night and it made him do a lot of thinking.
And he wanted to tell me about it.

He wanted to tell me how much he loved me.
He wanted to tell me how much he appreciated me, as a Christian, a wife, a friend and a mother.
He wanted to be certain that I knew all the things.
Without a shadow of a doubt.
In case.

In case tomorrow never comes.
About 17 years before it never came.

That’s the memory that came back tonight.
A blessing …… in the quiet of the evening.

She’s Here ……

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…… and my heart has grown yet again.

She’s tiny (just shy of 6 pounds), beautiful and perfect.
Her birth was easy and relatively quick.

When I first looked into her eyes I felt such joy …… and such sadness …… that it was hard to breathe.
My heart is full and yet it hurts.
A lot.
God, I miss him.

I didn’t expect it to hurt this much.
Which is what grief does best, I suppose.
It sneaks up on you at the worst times.
And the best ones.

He should be here, falling in love with a little girl all over again.
He should be here. For Daughter #3.
And for Granddaughter #1.
But since he’s not …… I’ll have to give her all of the love we both would’ve.
I think I’m up to the task.

They named her James.
There.
Are.
No.
Words.

Her middle name is Eliana.
This is what my daughter posted:
“She is named after her late grandfather (my dad), whose integrity, generosity, and wisdom we hope she inherits. And her middle name means “God has answered”- she is indeed the long-awaited answer to our prayers.”

She is indeed.