Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thanks ……

download

…… for the memories.

I’m watching the “Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special” as I write this.
The memories come flooding back whenever I see this wonderful lady.
She was, and still is, my favorite comic actress.

Saturday nights.
With Mary Tyler Moore.
And Bob Newhart.
And Carol.

My mom putting my hair in curlers as I sat on the floor in front of her …… for church the next morning.
Every Saturday night.

One memory stands out the most: the Saturday night when Carol was doing a parody of “Gone With the Wind”.
I had to work that night (at Braum’s for all my Oklahoma friends) and was so depressed that I’d be missing that episode (“Gone With the Wind” was my favorite movie back then.)
Then a miracle happened. At 8:30 (Central time) the manager told me that I could leave early (I wasn’t supposed to get off until 11:00 p.m.). The Carol Burnett Show started at 9:00 p.m.
I was thrilled and raced home in time to watch the entire show.
I’m still grateful to that woman … especially because she had no idea that I wanted to be home, watching that show.

The scene of her walking down the stairs wearing the drapes, with the curtain rod attached, still cracks me up to this day.

There’s another reason that Carol floods my heart with warm memories.
Jim knew how much I loved her.
One year, not long before he died, he found out (before I did …… which was quite a feat) that Carol was coming to Houston to do a memory lane kind of program with clips from the show, questions from the audience and her thoughts and feelings about those years.
He surprised me with tickets.
And it was wonderful.
It was also a bit emotional.
She had a lot of clips that featured people who had died over the years since being on her show.
Bing Crosby
Edie Gormet
Bob Hope
Harvey Korman
Jimmy Stewart
Ken Berry
Sid Ceaser
Art Carney
Ella Fitzgerald
Mickey Rooney
Mel Torme
George Carlin
Kay Medford

I could go on and on listing people who most people don’t remember or have never heard of.
But, as those clips played …… I remember feeling a kind of sadness that my children would never know the world in which those people lived and entertained. And I shed several tears during those clips.
It still makes me feel a bit sad.
I’m more than grateful that I had no idea that Jim would soon be on that list.

I love Carol Burnett.
I admire her for all that she’s done …… in spite of where she came from.
And how difficult her childhood was.

But I love her more because Jim used her to show how much he loved me.
He spent a night enjoying being with me, loving her.
He wouldn’t have been there if it hadn’t been for his love of me.

As the tenth year slowly marches towards me …… I find myself thinking of him more and more.
Not because I choose to.
Not because I’m stuck.
Not because I have nothing else to think about.

The mind is a mysterious thing.
As is the heart.
They remember things …… all on their own.
Whether you want them to …… or not.
It just happens.

So tonight I remember my childhood on Saturday nights.
And I remember the man who loved me beyond reason.

And I am thankful.
For so very much.

Thankful ……

IMG_7887
…… yes, I can say that I am thankful.
Beyond thankful, actually.

In spite of all of the crap that’s happened these last ten years.
And truthfully, because of all of the crap that’s happened these last ten years.

Ten years ago today I had no idea that my world was soon to be turned upside down and inside out.
I had no inkling that my heart would be ripped out of my chest and that my future, my dreams, my expectations would be ripped out right along with it.
When I think back to the “before me”, I am wistful.
I’d like to be her again, just for a moment.
Innocent.
Content.
Loved.
Secure.
Naive.
Happy.

It’s taken much time, but I am able to say that I’ve regained some of those things.
I’ve had most of them back for more than a few years.
I’m content with the life I have now.
I feel mostly secure. Not totally, but mostly is much better than not at all.
And I’m happy.
Again, not the same happy, but happy nonetheless.

It’s been quite a road.
A tough road.
A shitty road for the first few years.
If you don’t believe that, or can’t comprehend it, then I invite you to go back in time …… all the way back to 3 months before Jim died.
Back when I first started a blog to write about the humor of raising six kids.
That’s all it was.
At first.
It changed very quickly.
You can find it here: http://txmomx6.blogspot.com/2007/09/what-heck-am-i-doing.html

Thanksgiving is usually the time that the sadness/grief starts creeping back in. It’s the beginning of what some of us call, “the death march”. Thanksgiving was like the beginning of the end …… 10 years ago.

This year …… Thanksgiving has been a really nice day to hang with 5 of my 6 kids, and my parents. A day to be thankful for all that I have.
And all that I had.

My life looks nothing like it did 10 years ago, three weeks before Jim died.
But it’s a good life.

I couldn’t have said that 7, 8 or 9 years ago.
Again, the road to here was sometimes horrific, often times shitty, most times lonely.
In spite of that, I kept putting one foot in front of the other.
I didn’t always move forward. Sometimes I moved backwards several feet. Sometimes I just laid down in the middle of the road, bereft and without enough strength to even raise my head.
But …… slowly but surely …… I got from there to here.

Don’t get me wrong …… I’d still prefer that Jim were here along with my “before life”.
But that’s not an option.
And never will be.

So I keep moving forward, and am thankful for each day and each person in my life.
I’m thankful for the ways I’ve changed because Jim died.
I’m content with my life that I live without him.

My heart is full as my 3 year old grandson comes over, takes my laptop away and crawls into my lap …… making me take a break from writing this post.

I love my life.
It’s a life I wouldn’t have if Jim were here.
It’s a life I have because he isn’t here.

It’s not a life I would have chosen …… but it’s a life for which I am eternally grateful.

So on this Thanksgiving Day …… I thank God for my family, my friends …… my life.
And I thank Jim …… for my “before” and for my “after”.
Because he’s a huge part of both.

 

Apartment 8J ……

IMG_7701

 

…… it’s time for me to tell you, my first NY apartment, goodbye.
And while I feel a bit emotional …… there are no tears in this goodbye.

That’s because I have nothing but great memories with you.
You were my first NY home. And while you were small-ish, you’ve slept over 10 people at a time.

You turned out to be in a terrific building where I’ve made some great friends. You even welcomed one of my widow friends last month, making my life even fuller.
I didn’t think that was possible.

You were never just an apartment …… you were home.
You helped me fulfill a dream that Jim and I started talking about …… but never got to do. Together.

You made it easy for this “Texan” to make the leap and start her “Second Plan A” …… all on her own.

You been a home to two of my children, a couple of cats and a couple of dogs.
You’ve hosted Christmases and Thanksgivings. All very full and somewhat cramped, but joyful and memorable.

I only have one regret about leaving you.
And that’s because of your name.
I wish I could take your name with me.
You see, your name is more than a letter and a number.
To me.
And to our children.

Your name immediately told me that this was the apartment for me.
Your name took away any nervousness I felt about choosing you.
I will never forget you …… because of your name.

8J.
J for Janine.
And Jim.

8 for our family.
There were 8 of us.
I love the number 8.

So thank you, 8J.
Thank you for helping me to know, and feel, that New York is my home.

IMG_7803IMG_7802.jpg

I Feel ……

…… that I am at a loss.

I’m at a loss for words.
I’m at a loss for feelings.
I’m at a loss for some kind of permanence in my life.
Something to anchor myself to.
Other than God.

Yes, God is my anchor …… most of the time.
See? I’m going to open myself up here.
Again.
Hopefully you won’t take advantage of the openness and preach at me.
Because I’m being honest.

And maybe this is just me.
In fact, it’s probably just me.
But as I told one of my daughters last week, after learning that my father had died …… and that it will cost over $150,000 to put my house back
together …… sometimes I just can’t pray anymore.

It doesn’t help that I’m watching a telethon right now to help the victims of Harvey and Irma.
I’m ugly crying as a result.
A result of the telethon and of my feelings, which I guess I’m finally feeling.

I know without a doubt that I am beyond blessed.
I didn’t lose everything.
I lost the house that I had.
But I didn’t lose anything in it.
It can be fixed.
For a price.

No one I love died.
My family is safe and well.
I didn’t lose much, really.

But many of my friends are now homeless.
Car-less.
Clothes-less.
Memento-less.
And my heart hurts for them.

It also hurts for all of those who lost so much in the past few days.
It feels like our world is spiraling out of control.
That many of us are losing our sense of permanence.

My heart hurts for the relationship I never really had.
My heart hurts for my sister, who has spent her life seeking love and support from a man who couldn’t give it.
My heart hurts for that man …… who spent his life missing so very much.
My heart hurts because sometimes …… life just sucks.

Not always, thankfully.
But sometimes.
And sometimes …… so often and so long that it’s difficult to see a way out.
Or a way through.

I am so thankful for all of you who comment and who tell me that you feel (or have felt) the same way.
Bless you.
You help me feel so less alone in the suckyness (yes, I know that’s not a word).
I appreciate all of you and thank you for your words.

I want you to know that I don’t feel this type of loss all of the time.
Or even most of the time.
But sometimes.
And sometimes is sometimes too much.

I miss him.
Always.

Sometimes the Only Thing You Can Say Is ……

21269272_1522928234413083_3657289550192967680_n

…… shit happens.

That’s all I’ve got right now.
It has happened before in my life.
It is happening now.
It will happen again.

The one thing I’ve known for almost 10 years is this:
there are worse things that could happen.

The home I moved to Waco from is flooded.
Thank you, Harvey.
You suck.

There’s nothing I can do right now.
I can’t get in. Lots of people can’t get out.
My friend who rents this home from me had to swim out of the house with her son and two dogs.
In over 5 feet of water.
I am beyond thankful that they are safe.

Yes, I’m grateful.
But I also have a confession to make.
And it won’t be popular.
So if this offends you, I’m sorry.
It’s just my reality.
Which changed dramatically on December 18, 2007.

I’ve been on Facebook almost constantly since Harvey hit Houston. It was the only way to keep up in real time with my friends and neighbors in my community.
It was hard to keep looking at the growing devastation, but it was necessary, too.
The rain has finally stopped, but they’re still letting water out of the lakes and reservoirs, which is what caused the flooding in that area. So it might get worse before it gets better.
There is a long, long road ahead for so many of my friends.

So here’s my confession:
I tend to cringe every time I read a post from someone whose house stayed dry that says, “God is so good!”
It’s not that I don’t believe that God is good.
I do.
But I don’t believe God spared one house over another.
I believe that shit happens.
And sometimes …… it doesn’t.

I know that people who write that don’t mean to insult anyone whose house flooded.
But, in my opinion, it is an insult.
My house was flooded.
Does that mean God wasn’t good to me?
Does that mean that God was upset with me?
Does it mean that you’re more faithful/religious/better than I am?
Does it mean that you’re a better prayer than I am?

I don’t believe for one minute that you think that.
But it feels that way.
Just as it feels that way when someone claims God/prayer saved their loved one through an accident/illness/catastrophe …… but didn’t save mine.

I don’t believe that God brought Harvey to us.
I don’t believe that God spared your house because you prayed for him to do so.
Thousands of praying people lost their homes and/or belongings.
Many praying people lost their loved ones in this storm.

I don’t believe in a God who cherry-picks whom to help.
I don’t believe in a God who gives us what we ask for, like Santa.
I don’t believe that prayers are granted because you prayed harder.

I believe in a God who loves us, no matter what.
I believe in a God who is sad when tragedy occurs.
I believe in a God who will carry us through the darkness.
But we have to go through it.

And I believe that shit happens.

A Very Long Case of ……

…… the blahs.

It’s what I have and what I’ve had for a long while now. Life isn’t bad. It’s ok. It’s just …… blah.
I miss him.
Still.
And always.
And forever.

But it’s also beyond that.
I think.
I’m really not sure what’s going on or why it’s going on.
Other than I’m living in Waco, where I really have no life.
Yes, I could probably do something about that, but that’s the thing about the blahs.
They kind of make you feel tired and not motivated to do much.

Yes, the blahs sound very much like depression, but I don’t think that’s it.
I think it’s just beyond time to be in NY.
At least I hope that’s what it is.

I’m leaving in 6 days.
And I can hardly wait.
Although I’m going back with a little more on my plate.
IMG_7366
This is Gracie on the right …… and Georgie (George Burns …… kudos to those of you who are old enough to get that) on the left. He’s been here about 3 weeks or so. The two of them are finally getting along …… most of the time.
And he’s so very loving and really good.
Except for the fact that I can’t seem to convince him to get litter box trained.
And I’m about to pull my hair out.
So yeah …… the blahs.

I’ve had my two houses on the market for over a month now.
And though the market is supposedly “hot” right now in this part of Texas …… there’s been very little traffic.
Which is beyond frustrating.
And blah-inducing.

Our family home that I sold a couple of years ago …… well, I did a very stupid thing. Some people call it nice. I still think it was stupid. I offered to carry the note for the family who was renting the house, knowing that it was the only way they’d be able to stay in the house and my heart really felt for them. They’ve been through a lot.
And they promised that things were different and were very excited.
And now I’m in the middle of a foreclosure.
Which makes me sick to my stomach.
And adds to the blah-ness.

I left Oregon at the first of July.
I don’t think I’ll be going back.
Alcohol makes some people very mean.
And kind of insane.
And it makes them lash out at the people who are there.
So, I don’t plan on being there.

Daughter #2 is still fostering a toddler girl. Her life is beyond crazy. She doesn’t know how I did it.
And I’m not sure that I remember how I did.
I’m giving her a weekend away from the kids this weekend. I’ll be taking care of the kids Fri-Sun.
All prayers/good thoughts/tons of energy are welcomed and needed. 🙂

I think that’s all of the catching up/whining I think I have.
For now.
It’s been so long since I’ve written a post.
Too long.
But I’m not sure that there’s anyone out there anymore anyway.

This is pretty boring, if I do say so myself.
And I realize that the blahs are just really me whining.
I just …… miss him.
Damn it.

Mixed Feelings ……

…… is what I’m experiencing right now.

I am so totally excited to be in NY full time that I can hardly wait. I’m having to make myself stop and focus on what has to be done before that should happen.
And waiting is rather difficult for me.
That’s one of the ways that Jim complemented me and one thing that my life has truly missed.

It’s no secret that I go with my gut.
Jim did not.
He didn’t even know what a gut was …… until he met me.
I don’t think the man ever truly acted on instinct in his life.
That’s why he had me. 🙂

And that’s how he balanced me.
Most of the time my gut has been spot on.
And most of the time he went with that because he learned to trust my instinct …… over time.

But since he died my instinct hasn’t always been trustworthy.
Or maybe it’s been my lack of being able to look into the future.
That ability definitely took a hit when he died.
I no longer look down the line and think about planning for what’s ahead.
Because …… really?

Once your plans are blown to smithereens and you know that nothing past this very second counts …… it’s hard to plan ahead.
But maybe that’s just me.
Do you other widdowed people struggle with this, too?
Is it hard for you to focus on/plan for the future?

I have mixed feelings about this change.
On the one hand …… I’m ok with not wasting time wondering about the future. I think it’s a good thing to live life one minute at a time.

But on the other hand …… I’ve made some bad decisions by not looking further into the future. Looking only at right now can be limiting.
God, I miss that man.

So yes, I have mixed feelings about moving.
I’m mostly very happy and excited about the prospect.
I can’t wait to be in New York to stay.
But …… I’m not looking forward to the work that must happen before that.
I’m not looking forward to going through things that I’ve not gone through since he died.

So, for now, I’ll just play Scarlett and think about it tomorrow/later.
And maybe ….. I’ll end up just renting a storage unit.
Which, I think …… is much cheaper than a mortgage payment.
🙂

Stable ……

…… does not mean the same thing as stability.
At least to me.
And since I’m the one writing this, dear reader, we’re going with my definition.

Stable, to me, has a sense of instability within it, ironically. Something, or someone, that is stable, could …… at any moment …… become unstable.
How many of us thought our loved one was “stable”, only to find out that, suddenly, he/she was anything but?

Stability feels more long term. Granted, not forever. Or anything near that. But more firm than stable.

My father is what I consider to be stable. He’s holding his own and is not deteriorating as quickly as “they” predicted.
Which is a good thing.
Of course.

But it also means that I need to return home.
For now.
He doesn’t need anyone 24/7 and I need to get out of here before I lose my mind/go stir crazy.
There are only so many shows you can watch about Alaska /tuna/crabs/car restoring/Yukon Men/Mountain Men/car-motorcycle racing/Surviving the wilderness before blowing a gasket.
Seriously.

So …… I need a break.
And maybe he does, too.

Because he’s stable.
For now.

And now to stability.
I’ve decided that I need it.
Seriously.
I’m tired of trying to live in two places.
Two very different places.
I can’t really live fully or put down roots if I’m not living somewhere full time.
So I’ve come to a decision.
It was a difficult one.
And yet it wasn’t.

I’m going to sell my Texas house/s and mostly everything in it and move to New York.
Full time.
It’s where my heart is.
Well, much of my heart.

Of course I’ll miss seeing my Texas kids as often and will miss seeing J Bear on an almost daily basis …… HUGELY.
But I can be in Texas in three hours when I fly from NY.
And I plan to visit often.

It feels like it’s time to live for me.
Because life is short, damnit.
And I want to live fully.
While I can.

The hardest part …… and the thing I really don’t look forward to …… is selling/getting rid of everything in my house.
I did downsize when I moved to Waco. But that downsizing was nothing compared to what I need to do to move to NY.
It almost makes me hyperventilate.

It will mean more than just getting rid of furniture, appliances, kitchen stuff, etc.

It means parting with many things that I’ve kept for sentimental reasons. Things that “we” had/shared.
It means going through photo albums/music albums/books/travel momentos/framed pictures/paintings/scrap books/all things sentimental …… and purging most of it.

And right now …… I can’t even.

I think I’ll head to bed now.
Unfotunately, these days …… very much like the months after Jim died …… it’s the one thing I look forward to each day.
Sigh ……

It’s time to find/make some stability.

P.S. Anyone want to buy a baby grand player piano?
Heavy sigh ……

Thirty Four ……

221AED33-B0C6-471F-AE21-8AE913F31FF8

…… years ago today we were married, Jim.
Thirty four!!
I should be teasing you about being so old now.
But you’ll never be old.
You’re frozen in time at 47.
Fair?
Nope.
But it is what it is.

I had an apartment full of kids this weekend, which is always wonderful. This visit was no different.
J-Bear really saw NY for the first time. He’s been here several times but this was his first visit to really “see” things. And he seemed to have a blast. He was exhausted in the evenings, if that’s a clue. I wish you were here to have carried him on your shoulders through Times Square. Or Central Park.
He loves the Park.

We walked all over the city, saw a few shows, ate some great food, and just enjoyed spending time together.

The worst thing about having the kids visit? Watching them leave. But you knew that because you felt that way, too, when the girls would leave after a visit from college.
Daughter #3 and her hubby were the last to go. I decided to go see a movie before they left so that I wouldn’t be the one left alone in the apartment.
It’s the little things that help.

I’ve been emotional for a week.
I’m guessing that I brought a lot of that with me from Oregon.
Do you know that my father is dying? Are you aware of that up there?
Do you know that I’m trying my best to be there for him, to help him if/when he needs it?
Do you know that it feels like it’s slowly killing me inside?
I decided to extend my stay in NY so that I can just have some time to myself before I head back.
I also decided (with the help of Daughter #1, God bless her) to head back to Texas after her visit in July. That gives me a set date and something to look forward to.
It’s exhausting, draining, sad, and horrible to just sit with someone …… not knowing when something will change. Not knowing if tomorrow will be worse than today.
Just …… not knowing.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t go back, it just means that I emotionally/physically can’t stay in that kind of atmosphere for an indeterminate amount of time.

So today should be our anniversary.
My heart hurts.

Today is my father’s birthday.
That, too, makes my heart hurt.

I do remember all that we had, Jim …… the good along with the bad. We were blessed to have so much good.
And so I do focus on that when this day comes around, when you’re birthday comes, the kids’ birthdays, etc.
I do.
I was beyond blessed to have you for as long as I did. I will never stop thanking God for the gift of you.
I don’t expect, nor do I want (at this point in time) to have that with anyone else. I’m good.
Truly.

Or, I thought I was until this past Thursday, when I took D#2 to see Josh Groban (her celebrity crush) in “The Great Comet of 1812”. I was enjoying it more this second time …… until I notice during intermission that Katie Couric was sitting in front of me. With her husband. The husband she married in the not-so-distant past after being widowed for a couple of decades.
I could no longer focus on the show.
IMG_6796
They held hands through the rest of the show, sometimes both hands.
They smiled, laughed and giggled secretly together.
They enjoyed each other.
They truly love each other.
You can see it in their eyes.
And man, do I miss that look.
And holding those hands.
Telling those jokes.
Whispering to you.
Just sitting next to you.
Knowing you’re there.

I cried through the rest of the show, knowing that the people next to me thought I was bonkers.

And when it was over, I hesitated but then gathered my courage …… and I tapped Katie on the shoulder. She looked at me with uncertainty for a moment and then moved in closer so that I could whisper in her ear.
“I just want you to know that, speaking personally, you give widowed people hope.”
She pulled back so that she should see me, see the tears running down my face and then said, “I’m so sorry”.
“Yeah, me, too. But thank you for this, and him (pointing to her husband)”
“Life does go on.”, she said. I nodded and smiled.
“Yes. Yes, it does.”

So Happy 34th, Jim.
I love you so.
My life is moving forward.
In most ways.

I miss you tons,

Janine

An Invisible ……

…… woman.

I’ve discovered that’s exactly what I am.
And I don’t think I’m alone.

Before I continue I need to state that this is not a “woe is me” piece.
It is what it is.
And I think it’s probably been this way for decades.
Or longer.
At least in our society.

If you’re a male under the age of, oh …… 80, then you don’t know what I’m talking about.
And most likely, if you’re a female under a certain age (and that age is a sliding scale, depending on how much work you’ve had done, how attractive you are and any other things you do to hide the effects of getting older) then you also don’t know what I’m writing about.

But the rest of you, and you know who you are …… you get it.
Women become invisible.
And not in a good way.

I decided to let my hair grow into its natural color this year.
It’s now mostly silver.
Which is a nice way of saying grey.
I just felt like I was pretending and I was tired of that.
And also tired of the upkeep, not to mention the cost.

I know that it makes me look older.
And I’m mostly ok with that.
Or maybe I just thought I was.
Back before I realized that I’m invisible.

I’m not seen by people who walk past me.
I’m not noticed by people who stand right in front of me.
Especially if I’m next to a young, beautiful woman.
Completely unseen.

Now, I’ve never been what I consider to be beautiful.
I’ve never really stood out in that way.
And while at times I may have been wistful about that when I was younger, it really wasn’t someething that I thought a lot about.

And once I met Jim …… I never felt inviisible.
At least not to him, and that’s what counted.
I think maybe that was something that I took for granted.
Being seen.
I imagine most of us do.
No one ever told me that becoming invisible is a fact of life.
They don’t teach that in middle school health class.
Maybe they should.
Maybe we should be warned that being seen has a shelf life.
Or maybe we wouldn’t pay attention to the warning anyway.

I’m not sure what I wanted to accomplish by writing this.
Except to say that it exists.
And to make people aware.

Notice the people around you.
Take a moment to really look.
You can see them if you try.
And being seen can make a difference.

Because …… while being invisible might sound cool when you’re five ……
it kind of sucks when you’re ten times that age.