Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Labor

Dear John,
 
You were AWOL this morning - I had to move the furniture all by myself. Shame on you.
 
I did what I'd planned and more. I got that second coat of paint on the workroom walls, rearranged the furniture, then rearranged most of the things on the shelves. Now that the china cabinet is in there, I can put the yarn behind cat-proof glass. It's easier to get to and it looks pretty. Then I swept and mopped. Four loads went to the basement. While I was on a roll, I cleaned the kitchen and the laundry room.
 
The workroom trim still needs to be painted - I may call Chuck and have him do it. I'll tackle lots of things, but it would be a good idea to have a professional painter do that. And I need to have somebody hang the new closet doors in there. I'll get Chuck to give me an estimate on painting the doors while he's here. I'm trying to be realistic about what I can do while I'm working full-time. I have less time but more money - it may be worth paying him to do that.
 
I'm attaching this photo of Maggie that I took tonight. I swear she grew three inches overnight. This morning she walked across the bed and I though she was Abby. I knew there was a growth spurt coming by how much she's been eating the last few days. But I didn't expect that much all at once! If you want to see her while she's still a kitten, you'd better hurry and get here. She's already lost her kitten fuzz and has real adult cat hair now. And I think she's going to be long-haired. Her coat is really beautiful.
 
All this growth is also tiring her out. She's slept almost all weekend. Except, of course, in the middle of last night. I woke up with her pouncing on me. She'd sit on my feet and pounce on my knees, or on my side and pounce on my arms. You get the idea. It's normal, healthy play for kittens as they learn how to be predators. And it's completely adorable. But slightly less adorable at 3:00 in the morning.
 
Speaking of which, it's bedtime for all mammals here. Jethro is already sound asleep at my feet. I'm back to work tomorrow so I'd better join him. Even though you weren't here to move the furniture, feel free to stop in and look at the results. As I was cleaning up after painting, I found myself looking forward to you coming home and seeing it. So, come home already!
 
I'll leave the light on,
Joan.
 


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Vibrating Heating Pads

Dear John,
 
You were probably wise not to stop by for a visit last night. I paid for the previous forty-eight hours, working the drive-up alone on Friday and mowing on Saturday.
 
My hands were hurting when I went to bed, so I took some Motrin. The longer I lay in bed, the more things hurt. It was the usual fibromyalgia thing - I'd lie on one side for about fifteen minutes, and that side would hurt bad enough that I'd have to turn to the other side, and I ended up doing my imitation of  pig on a spit. Between pain meds and Benadryl, I finally got to sleep at 4:00 this morning. I'd given up on church at 3:30 and turned off the alarm. So once I finally did get to sleep, I slept until noon. I did get eight hours of sleep, but most of it was during the day.
 
Somewhere in there, Jethro gave up on me and went out to the living room. Hunter came in and slept almost all of that time draped across my left side. I especially love that when the fibro flares. The warmth he puts out helps ease the pain. I'm surprised that doctors don't recommend cats as therapy. They're little vibrating heating pads.
 
I took today as a rest day. I did a load of laundry, ran the dish washer, knitted, watched football, and called your sister. The animals approved the choice - I had at least one of them sleeping on me all day. They do love their mama.
 
It's 9:00 and I'm the last one awake. I want to put in a fairly full day tomorrow in my workroom, so I will join the sleeping mammals. Remember to come at 8:00 in the morning and help me move the furniture so I can paint!
 
Can't wait to see you,
Joan.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rocking a Bandanna

Dear John,
 
I'm reverting to old habits. It's after 10:30 and I'm in bed with the laptop and the dog. I'll try to sum up this day in under a hundred pages.
 
I could sleep in this morning, so of course I was wide awake at 7:30. I went to the farmers' market and the co-op. Then I tried to get in and out of Walmart quickly because I had yogurt in the car. I'd forgotten to factor in the holiday weekend. I got the things on my list, stood in line for ten minutes, remembered eggs, stood in line for another ten minutes, and remembered that the fan in the bedroom was broken and I need a new one, then stood in line for another ten minutes. I got to the car and found a ream of paper under the bag of cat food. So I went back inside to pay for the paper, this time with yogurt AND milk in the car, and waited another five minutes. It was a cloudy day, so all the dairy products survived unharmed.
 
I finally got home and had a tomato sandwich. I sat down to watch the Notre Dame game and woke up in the second quarter. It was a great game. Golson is back at quarterback and looks terrific. I mowed this evening - barely finished before it was completely dark - then took a shower and am finally ready for bed. I just finished a bowl of Cheerios with fresh organic raspberries - heavenly.
 
I'm adding the photo for historical interest. While I was out today, three strangers came up and told me how nice I looked. So I had to record the event. Of course, I didn't have the Kitten-as-Accessory while I was out. Maybe I really know how to rock a bandanna. Very strange. You may print it as a pin-up poster if you like. Or you could just come and visit the original tonight!
 
I'll leave the light on for you,
Joan. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hello, Weekend! Goodby, Normal Family!

Dear John,
 
The weekend is here - three days off. I may need it to recover from today.
 
You now we always have two tellers in the drive-up on Friday. We were short today because of vacations, so I did it by myself except for the last hour. It was a wild ride but we all survived. There were lots of times I had a line out to the street, but the customers were patient and all was well. The day went by so fast! I still need to mow. But I dragged myself home, fed the animals, put on pajamas, and ate a piece of toast and a hunk of cheese for dinner. Now I'm in bed with Jethro glued to my side - there are fireworks in Ligonier for the Marshmallow Festival.
 
There's all kinds of stuff going on this weekend. Plymouth is having the Blueberry Festival. Remember the year that we went? It was not long after we'd moved to South Bend. I remember that it was fun, but very hot and humid. Weather will be an issue this weekend, too. We're supposed to have storms tomorrow and Monday. I may end up having to mow on Sunday.
 
My big holiday weekend plan is to try to finish setting up my workroom. I need to get the second coat of paint on the walls. And I think I know where I want all the furniture to go. I also need to sit down with the Country Curtains catalogue and pick out something for the office and workroom windows. I can afford to do that now.
 
Labor Day was never a big holiday for us. It was a busy weekend for restaurants, so you never had any time off. This year I'm looking forward to having time to get some things done around here. With the fall holiday season starting, maybe I can get some painting projects finished. Being busy around here helps me forget that normal families are out doing things together. My little family is far from normal. So we'll paint and clean and miss you. When I paint, you always move the furniture away from the walls in the morning and put it back in the evening. I will expect you around 8:00 Monday morning to move the bookcases. Don't forget!
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Sensible Chicken

Dear John,
 
Today I was either sensible or a chicken - I'm not sure which.
 
I got up at 5:30 so I could get Tammy's birthday cake frosted. The cake didn't cool soon enough for me to do it last night. I looked at the weather forecast and decided that I needed to mow after work, since there is rain predicted every other day of the foreseeable future. After work I went outside, felt the heat and humidity, and decided I could live with grass a bit longer than usual. I came home, put on my pajamas, fed the animals and myself, and crashed.
 
It seems prudent - I have my eleven-hour Friday tomorrow and will probably be on my feet for the whole time. I need to get to the farmer's market Saturday morning and church on Sunday. The yard would look better mowed. But I also look better standing. I guess it was me or the grass, and I won.
 
Standing alone in the darkness . . .
A friend sent this photo to me today and it seems to sum things up. I'm standing alone here, so I have to decide between things like this. I can't clean the house and frost the cake and work and mow and take care of the animals all at one time. I have to prioritize. Lately I've been putting the outside work first because other people see it. The inside work got behind until I couldn't stand it, so yesterday I did inside work. Today and tomorrow the job work has to come first. Saturday I'll start juggling it all over again. I'm getting more accustomed to doing all of it myself. But I miss being teamed up with you. I don't think we were intended to live alone.
 
So come and get me, will you? What's keeping you? You never were as early for things as I was, but you're well over two years late here. It must be because you live outside of time. For those of us in the time-space continuum, you're disgracefully late. So get a move on, will you?
 
I'm waiting!
Joan.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I'm Ready for Your Visit!

Dear John,
 
Have I told you lately that I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on?
 
I worked my half-day today, then came home and gave the house a thorough deep-cleaning. Besides dusting and vacuuming and moving all the furniture, I cleaned off my desk, coffee table, kitchen counter, and work table. It looks great. This would be a good night for you to stop by. Then I baked Tammy's birthday cake for the party at work on Friday - red velvet with homemade buttercream frosting. After some thought, I put it on top of the fridge where the cats can't get to it.
 
The photo is just for fun. I felt like sending you something funny tonight. It's just me peering at you and saying hello. Isn't it great? It always makes me giggle.
 
I need to take a shower before bed, so I need to be off. I missed you today - I always cleaned the house for you, so you really should drop by tonight. I told the animals no more shedding but they have yet to comply. Come soon, before the hair accumulates again.
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On Patience

Dear John,
 
We had enough weather today to last us all week. There was sun and light rain and downpours and thunder and lightning and blue sky and almost-darkness. Nobody got bored and nearly everybody got wet. All of that weather gave the lobby and slow day and me a very busy one. It wasn't Friday-frantic, but steady with very few breaks. It was a smart move today to stay in your car and just drive up. My day went quickly. And Tammy brought pulled pork for all of us for lunch - very yummy, and nobody had to go outside to get food.
 
This job is so good for me. The financial stability is certainly welcome, but it's much more than that. It's healthy for me to have human contact after working alone in a basement office. I like the people I work with and enjoy my regular customers. As I learn a new field and get good at it, I'm regaining some of the self-confidence that went with you when you left.
 
There seems to be a symbolic value to this job as well. Because it is something I didn't do when you were here, it makes me feel like I've started a new chapter of my life. And that has a feeling of progress and growth to it. I had expected that to happen with a new job, I just expected that job to come much sooner than it did. But I had no idea how long widowbrain lasts - I wasn't ready for a new job until this one came along.
 
As usual, the Lord's timing is perfect. When I pinned this to my Widowhood board I was thinking about wanting to go home and join you. But it applies to much more than that, and this job is one of those things. I suppose it applies to absolutely everything.
 
So I'm grateful for this job. I'm grateful for everything in my life except your absence and, sometimes, life itself. But I will try to relax, breathe, and be patient. I will get there when I'm meant to get there.
 
On my way,
Joan.

Monday, August 25, 2014

(Bitter)sweet Memories

Dear John,
 
Be glad you weren't here today. It was 92 and muggy. I watched a big band of storms coming on the radar, then watched them break up just as they got to us. We still need rain. It seems that all we're getting is humidity. I have yard work to do, but it will wait until the heat breaks. I won't go anywhere.
 
I saw Harold today. The big news is that he got his license to officiate volleyball. So I've been remembering all your years of umpiring and how much you loved it. You were so good at it. I was always proud of you, but never more than when you put on that uniform and worked a game. Umpiring is demanding mentally, physically, and emotionally, and you did so well in all of those areas. You made me proud to be the umpire's wife.
 
It was sad when you had to stop doing it because of your work hours, but I never for a minute thought it would be the end. I was sure that you'd go back to it when your job allowed, and certainly after you retired. It was sad  last year to give your gear away. But I was so happy that Harold found a new umpire that needed it. That is exactly what you would have wanted.
 
So there's nothing profound here tonight, just fond memories. I still struggle with baseball. I can watch little bits of it and that's all. It is so connected with you. Maybe one day I'll get back to it. But I'll still be the umpire's wife.
 
Love you so very much,
Joan.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Love Requited & Unrequited

Dear John,
 
I felt awful today and went to church anyway. I'm just tired from working Friday and Saturday, and I haven't had a day completely off in a while. Labor Day is a week from tomorrow and I'll have a three-day weekend. I'm so looking forward to it. After church I watered the flowers and weeded, then napped and knitted for the rest of the afternoon, and I feel much more human tonight.
 
The photo was part of this afternoon's nap. I lay down with Jethro at my feet, and Abby came along, crawled up on my side, and promptly purred herself to sleep. She's still in the cuddly stage and I'm enjoying every minute of it. When I come home she comes running. She follows me around, climbs all over me, and nuzzles and licks my face. Nap time today was delightful.
 
But there is also unrequited love among us. Abby is feeling a bit left out since Maggie came - she's been the reigning (and only) female, and now there's competition for the top of the pecking order. She's handling the insecurity by being more cuddly with me than she's been since she was a kitten. She's also seeking Jethro's attention, but his is given more sporadically. than mine. Tonight she lay down beside him and gave the most plaintive series of mews that I've ever heard. He looked at her, considered it, and went back to sleep. She tried again, then got up in utter dejection and went down the hall. I pointed out to him that he'd hurt her feelings, so he got up and followed her and did give her a bit of cuddling.
 
All of this would be easier if you were here, you know. There would  be twice as much attention to go around - more, because I wouldn't be working full time. You can assuage your guilt by coming for a visit. That would cheer us all immensely. And you would enjoy the feline and canine insanity!
 
Leaving the light on,
Joan.
 
 


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Somewhere Between OMG and WTF

Dear John,
 
I'm sorry I didn't get to talk to you last night. The power went out at 6:45 and stayed out for almost two hours, so I went on to bed. I don't know what caused it. In most of the town it flickered and them came back on in three seconds, like it does when one substation goes out and we're switched to the other. But this time our neighborhood stayed out.
 
I generally don't mind being without power for a while, but the hottest weekend of the year is not a good time for it. I was relieved when it came back on - I was pondering having to do hair and makeup at work, and the possibility of repeating the living-in-a-wet-bathing-suit thing that I did when we lived in Durham and didn't have air conditioning.
 
But all is well today except that it's hot and humid. I have some yard work that needs to be done, but it will still be there when the weather cools off. It's been in the mid-80s today, which wouldn't be bad, but the humidity is around 80%. I know - not as bad as Durham in the summer. But few things are. I'm grateful for the air conditioning.
 
And so are the animals. Poor things, they wear fur coats all the time. They're so much happier and more active when the house is cool. All is well with them. Maggie is growing like a weed, long legs and long body, and loves to run laps all around the house. Abby grunts and growls at her, plays with her, then lies down the grooms her. Hunter watches all of it with benign dignity. Jethro alternates between sleeping with them and chasing them, appearing to enjoy both equally. My lap and bed are never empty.
 
Oh, we had a bit of excitement late Thursday night. I'd just gotten to sleep when I heard Abby hissing, growling, and throwing a ferocious fit. Jethro ran to join her and started barking. I found them at the living room window being tormented by the feral ginger cat who was in the flower box. Since I wanted to get to sleep before daybreak, I chased away the ginger cat and calmed everybody down. Maggie, who is most likely the latest progeny of the ginger, was nowhere to be seen.
 
There's never a dull moment with the five of us here. We'd be happy to make it six if you could come and join us. You really would love the cats. I know you love Jethro and me. You know how much we all love you.
 
Love you always and forever,
Joan.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

WFFs: We Have Each Other

Dear John,
 
I had a good day at work - a little bit of thunder and some scattered rain - hot and muggy outside. Your family is glad for the air conditioning.
 
Last night I had somebody tell me that I need to go on a cruise or a mission trip (odd juxtaposition) to meet other widows and make new friends. I immediately said that I had wonderful widow-friends, thank you. And I do. I can't imagine life without the WFFs - my Widow Friends Forever are my rock, my support, my shelter in this storm. They're wonderful.The fact that we're scattered all around the world is a negligible inconvenience. Thing like this are the reason God invented cyberspace. And, since we're in so many different time zones, there's almost always somebody awake and on their computer. It's wonderful.
 
I wish we could all meet for a cup of tea. I remember the night I posted the photo of my dream house, and we spent our virtual evening sitting on the front porch chatting, eating cookies, and looking at each other's craft projects. We decided that we were all going to live there, and Becky named it "The Widow's Walk." We have no idea where it is or who owns it, but it's our photo and, in cyberspace, we all live there together.
 
If all of you men had anything to do with us finding each other, thank you so very much. Give them all a hug from us. And be sure to wish Phil a happy birthday. Those things probably don't matter to you now, but they're still very important to us since we live here in time and all. Look after each other, and know that we are doing the same down here. We are trudging together through this wilderness called widowhood. We will take care of each other.
 
I'll leave you with this photo of our mascot - WFFs traveling along together. Don't worry about us. We have each other.
 
Longing to be there with you,
Joan.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On Being a Grown-Up

Dear John,
 
I'm curled up in bed with the laptop and the dog. It's been an odd day off - nothing like what I'd planned. But that isn't unusual. You'd thing that someday I would learn not to plan these things.
 
I was going to go shopping in Goshen today and mow after work on Saturday. That was the plan until I woke up this morning and looked at the weather forecast. We're in for a week of near-90 and high humidity starting Friday. So I switched things around and mowed today. It was still humid enough to be fairly miserable. But it was doable, and it is done.
 
I got caught up on some sleep last night. The dog woke me up at 6:30 wanting to go out, then I went back to sleep and didn't wake up again until after 10:00. Since I usually can't sleep after sunrise, I know that I really needed it. And even after mowing, I feel much more human today. I also got laundry done and bills paid. And I spent almost an hour on the phone fixing an error in the internet bill that would have cost us twenty dollars a month.
 
Last night I had a phone-call check-up with our new Allstate agent, and tweaked the coverage a bit. Some changes had been made since the accident three years ago than I know neither of us wanted. Everything is changed back now, and it still cost $200 less than the last bill six months ago. The new agent is good - I like him. And I love the company for how well they handled things after that accident. They made a very loyal customer.
 
The photo is just for giggles. This is what happens when you have cats of different ages. Hunter is almost two, Abby is almost one, and Maggie is about two months. Maggie keeps initiating play. The others go along with it, but sometimes you can tell that they'd rather be left alone. I'm amazed by how well they get along, especially since I didn't do any of the things you're supposed to do when you introduce a new cat to the household. I didn't get a chance - not with Jethro finding them and bringing them home!
 
It's time to get us all to sleep. Jethro is curled up at me feet and sound asleep. We should all sleep well tonight. We'll be fine through this hot stretch - I already have the house closed and the air conditioning on, since it's been so humid lately. I'll be sensible, even without you here to ride herd on me!
 
Love you with all my heart,
Joan.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

There's Weight to Lose & Hair to Grow!

Dear John,

We had a normal day at work which was interrupted by a monsoon. It rained so hard that I could barely see across the street. There was thunder and lightening and downed trees and power outages. I came home to a frightened dog. The cats were unusually cuddly, probably because they had to deal with the aforesaid frightened dog. All is well now.
 
The photo is my way of reporting in. I told you last winter that I'd decided to grow my hair out, so this is my progress report. I think you'd like it. Lana is helping me keep it presentable while it grows out. I'm planning to let it grow way out, probably at least half-way down my back. That way I'll have plenty of hair to wear up. I always have had plenty of hair, and it's still thick enough that I could donate some to bald people. The gray is coarse, too, so there will be plenty of volume to wear up.
 
But, for now, it's behaving well at this length and I'm happy with it. There's very little gray away from my face. I'm graying like everybody else - from the front back. It's almost all brown on the back of my head. My gray is silver like Mama's was. I'm glad about that.
 
The other thing that shows in the photo is how much weight I've lost. I'm down thirty pounds and still losing. It turns out that severe clinical depression is a terrific weight-loss program. I didn't enjoy it at the time, but, on hindsight, I'm glad for it. I'm back to normal emotionally and am still thirty pounds lighter - you can't complain! I still have clothes to take up. I haven't started trying on my winter wardrobe yet, but I'm sure it will be fun.
 
I'm sorry you aren't here for all of this. You'd like my hair and love my weight loss. Until you get a hall pass, you can look at this photo. Feel free to show it to family and friends. But don't brag about me - there's more weight to lose and more hair to grow!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Unexpected Sentimentality

Dear John,
 
I had an unusually busy Monday at work. In the whole 9 1/2 hours, I had about 15 minute of down time. The day went quickly. I came home to animals who were delighted to see me. Everybody came running and made quite a fuss over me. I have no idea why, but I enjoyed it.
 
This afternoon I had one of those thoughts that come out of nowhere. Suddenly I wanted to go to Methodist Hospital to visit you. I do that fairly often. It was the last place we were happy, the last time we thought you'd be alright again. That month was an oasis and a delight that I love to remember. Sometimes my head tries to go back there again.
 
The CCU nurses were so nice - they let me be a nurse as well as a wife. I swore that I wouldn't answer any other call lights, then that busy day came when they wanted me to. They let me do all kinds of things for you, and that meant a lot to me. The doctors were nice, too - they let me take part in rounds on you. I know it helped them to have somebody that knew your medical history, but they didn't have to include me like that. And Jill was wonderful, taking me in during the Super Bowl. Nobody has ever done anything like that for me.
 
The cath lab because a home-away-from-home. You were there four times in ten days, and they felt so sorry for me that they kept giving me free meals. They even let me come into the lab at the end of your first cath - I'll never forget that. And God bless Jim! It was a delight to get to know him.
 
That hospital has so many great places to eat! I was there for so long that the cashiers started asking me if I wanted to charge my meals on my employee ID card. Of course, I'm more at home in a large teaching hospital than I am anywhere other than at home. It's no wonder people thought I worked there. And if we lived any closer to Indy, I would have. I'd give my eye teeth to work there. Sadly, a four-hour commute is a bit much.
 
I looked forward to bringing you back there for follow-up visits - showing you the old nursing uniforms downstairs, taking you to eat at Au Bon Pain and getting you a red velvet cupcake, showing you the photos of the hospital's history in the hallway between the parking garage and the hospital. I'm sorry you didn't get to do any of those things.
 
There a lots of things that I'm sorry we didn't get to do, like growing old together. And Methodist Hospital will always be special to me. Thank you for those wonderful memories. If you can get a hall pass, go by there and look at the historical display. It's well worth the trip. Then come here, meet Jethro's kitties, and cuddle with your wife.
 
Love you with all my heart,
Joan.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peace, Love, & Animal Cuddles

Dear John,
 
I actually slept last night, except for that time the dog woke me up wanting out at 4 AM and my tummy started growling so I had a piece of bread and then the cats started rampaging up and down the hall. Except for that, I slept last night.
 
I woke up at 7:00 this morning and still felt like something had run over me, so my fibro and I stayed home and did next-to-nothing all day. I managed to empty the dishwasher, scrub the kitchen sink, and put dinner in the crock pot. Other than that, I - brace yourself - watched football, knitted, and napped with the animals. I feel better tonight and do hope to wake up flareless in the morning.
 
The photos are what you missed this afternoon. Jethro was asleep in my lap and Maggie was on the back of the couch. She woke up, stretched, came down, and lay down beside him. Jethro put his left leg over her and she put her front paws on his right leg, and they both slept that way for almost an hour. Occasionally he'd lick her and she'd purr and stretch and enjoy it.
 
They are so adorable. My Facebook friends are probably divided now as was the Red Sea - two encampments rising up against each other. As this was going on I was posting the photos. The cat people enjoyed it and the others probably wish somebody would take away my phone.
 
But that's okay - I put up with plenty of misguided political posts and passive-aggressive figure-out-who-I'm-mad-at posts, so they can probably deal with it. If you had a Facebook page, you'd get these photos sooner. If you can do that, remember to send me a friend request. I'd love to see your photos and hear about your days. And your political opinions were never misguided!
 
That's all the news for today - just a day spent taking care of a fibro flare. The animals took good care of me and I feel better. I'm ready to go back to work in the morning. Come by for a cuddle tonight, and don't forget that friend request! If you have trouble figuring out Facebook, just go find a teenager.
 
Adore you,
Joan.
 
 
 





Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Joy of Small Things

Dear John,
 
We had another lovely cool night, and this time I actually slept about six hours of it. I needed to wear a sweater to work this morning. We seem to be having October in August. Whether we will have August in October remains to be seen.
 
I haven't been able to stay awake since I got off work at noon. I've taken three naps, two of which were voluntary. I curled up on the couch with Jethro at my feet and Maggie under my chin, and a good sleep was had by all. I've spent the rest of the evening working on finances and paying bills. It's wonderful to be able to pay them without having to worry. I still don't spend unnecessarily. But I know I'll be able to pay the bills and put some into savings each month. It's a small thing but, like Mr. Micawber said, it's the difference between happiness and misery.
 
I'm enjoying small things this weekend. Fibro is still flaring so I doubt I'll make it to church tomorrow. I'm watching pre-season football, knitting, and napping with the animals. Small things, but good things. I need to rest and be quiet so this flare will go away as quickly as possible. It feels very good to be still and quiet.
 
Quiet, of course, is a relative term since I share living quarters with Jethro and his three cats. At the moment Maggie has a toy and is bounding around the kitchen floor. It's a joy to watch. Jethro has his head out the living room window sniffing the breeze, Abby is chasing a fly in the other living room window, and Hunter just came sauntering down the hall and lay down to watch Maggie play. The Colts are leading the Giants, the sun is down, and the crickets and chirping away. The street is quiet; I don't even hear any traffic on Lake Street. The breeze is getting cooler - I'll sleep under the blankets again tonight.
 
These cool nights still make me miss you more. It seems that I've carved out a life for myself, and I'm content and sometimes even happy. But that happiness is always touched by the knowledge that I'd be so much happier with you. There's always an asterisk beside it. But the small things are still good; we are managing while we miss you.
 
Waiting for the reunion,
Joan.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Mandatory Winter Bathrobe

Dear John,
 
I still didn't sleep much last night. I woke up every hour on the hour. It's the fibro thing - when I hurt this bad, whatever side I'm lying on starts hurting after about an hour and wakes me up. But it was a lovely clear cool night. This morning it was 42 degrees. I really, really didn't want to get out of the bed. The winter bathrobe was required.
 
It was another crazy-busy Friday. We had subs for lunch to celebrate Abe's last day before he leaves to go back to college. While we were eating, Mark was talking about how much he enjoyed talking to you and how much he misses you. It means so much to me to hear people say that. It's good to know how much you're loved by so many people. And I enjoy getting to talk about you. If I can't talk to you, the next best thing is talking about you.
 
I'm off to bed early again. I'm still hoping to sleep. But this fibro flare will eventually go away, and I'll still be here when it's gone. I'll miss you on this cool night. I'll go to bed with Jethro at the foot of your side of the bed, Abby curled up on your pillow, Hunter spread out across my ribs, and Maggie on my grandmother's rocking chair. When Maggie is big enough to get up and down on the bed by herself, I predict some jockeying for position. They're all a bunch of cuddle-bugs.
 
Sleep well tonight, and please pray that I do, too. You're always more than welcome, if you can arrange a hall pass. You know where to find the spare key.
 
Love and cuddles from all your little family,
Joan.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ouchy Perfect Days

Dear John,
 
I had a good but fairly slow day at work. Tomorrow is Friday, so it will be busy and will seem to go faster. I may be staying for an extra hour - one of our babies came early and we're having to do shift the schedule around, so I volunteered.
 
I've been tired and hurting all week. For some reason, the fibro decided to rear its head. Tonight is the patronal feast at church, but by the time I finished work I knew there was no way I could stay upright long enough to go. I have to be able to work eleven hours tomorrow and four on Saturday. I'm being sensible and, as usual, not enjoying it at all.
 
The good news is the weather. It's been absolute perfection -  low 70s during the day and low 50s at night. Two days of rain have the grass green again, but it's been cool enough to slow its growth. I probably won't need to mow this weekend, and that is good. I'm so love sleeping on these cool nights.
 
Tonight I'll take a pain pill at bedtime. I'll sleep better, and maybe feel better in the morning. I love my job on days like this - I can physically do it when I don't feel good, and it keeps me busy and helps keep my mind off of the fibro pain. It's such a gift. And solvency isn't to be gainsaid, either. I am grateful.
 
The critters and I are off to bed. All is well here - the cats play together, Jethro adores them, and Maggie's eyes are still green. Now I just need to weather this flare until it goes away. If you can come for a visit tonight, we can cuddle on another cool night.
 
Miss you so much,
Joan.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Green Eyes & Cat Pills

Dear John,
 
I have a new skill. I can now give pills to cats.
 
Maggie had a wonderful check-up. She weighs 2.6 pounds and is doing fine. Everybody is healthy except that all three cats have tapeworm. I took a suspicious thing in for June to look at, and it was a tapeworm segment. Hence the pills. Everybody gets one pill, and that should take care of it. Maggie will go back in another month for her last kittenhood vaccines, and I'll take a stool sample in to be sure all the hitchhikers are gone.
 
Oh, and last night Maggie's eyes changed color. They were brown at bedtime and green this morning. June says that is normal at this age - evidently things can change very rapidly. It seems that most torties have green eyes.  It was startling to look at her this morning! And she and Abby have progressed to the point that I found Abby grooming her in the window sill this afternoon.
 
I had half a busy day off. I took Maggie in first, then came home and watered plants, swept the porch, took recycling, paid the water bill, went to the post office, and scrubbed out the recycle bins. I ate lunch and woke up half an hour later, so I decided to take an elective nap while I could. Then I talked on the phone to Irene and Jen, took a shower, and will head off to bed soon. There was more that could have been done today, but I've been tired all week and decided to be more sensible than anal for a change. The rest of the week will be busy.
 
I missed you last night. I did sleep in winter pajamas with the windows part-way open. It was the first night in a long time that I didn't have the fan on. I woke up around 4 AM and was chilly enough to pull up the bedspread. I was sad that I didn't have you to curl up against to get warm. We always enjoyed sleeping together with the windows open on cool nights. I'm getting better at going to bed alone. But last night I really missed you.
 
I'm heading off to bed now, to miss you again. Sleep well, and know how much I love you.
Joan.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Misplaced Autumn Day

Dear John,
 
It's a lovely fall evening - a bit out of place in the middle of August, but a fall evening nonetheless.
 
We had rain and thunderstorms until mid-afternoon, and I don't believe the temperature ever got out of the 60s. Now it's 58 with a breeze out of the north. I've spent the evening in my winter pajamas, knitting in front of an open window, with cats sleeping all over me. The only thing lacking was a hot cup of chai. But, even if I had any, I couldn't drink it that late in the day without being up all night. So it's just as well.
 
Last night I told you that widow brain is a very real thing. I wanted to show you this and try to explain what it's like. You can't concentrate, for one thing. And you have no short-term memory. You have the attention span of a gnat. It isn't pleasant. And it's very frustrating to other people.
 
About six months after your death, I went to see Joe with strep throat. While I was there I told him about the cognitive problems I was having, and that I wasn't sure if it was widowhood, fibro fog, or residual damage from the car accident. He stared at me for a minute, then burst out with, "What the hell do you expect?"
 
And this is why I drive over an hour for primary care. I laughed, he shook his head at me, and over time it all got better. The widow brain lasted for two years - much longer than I'd expected. I seem now to be back to my normal cognitive state, such as it is. I know that I couldn't have taken this job any sooner than I did. Now I'm ready for it, and I'm enjoying learning a new career. It seems that my widow brain has departed. I may be safe to take out in public again.
 
Tomorrow is my day off, and Maggie has her second vet appointment in the morning. June will be delighted to see how well she's doing. She seems to have doubled in size. She has long legs and a long body, and she loves to gallop up and down the hall in the middle of the night. Sometimes Abby joins in, and it sounds like a herd of elephants. She's a happy, healthy, cuddly kitten. I'm eager to see how much she weighs now, since she was under a pound when Jethro found her. Bless my Great Collector and Protector of Kittens!
 
I'm the last mammal awake - I will remedy that shortly. I'll miss you tonight as I cuddle up in my flannel pajamas with the windows open in the cool night air. Come and cuddle with me?
 
Miss you,
Joan.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Of Yarn and Rain

Dear John,
 
It finally rained today. Thank you if your prayers had anything to do with it. The grass is already turning green and I believe I can hear it growing. It's crucial right now because the corn is putting out ears. I've never seen an entire town so excited about rain.
 
There is some kind of recovery going on in me. I'm beginning to enjoy knitting the way that I used to before your death. I've knitted since then, but because I needed to and without getting pleasure from it. Now I'm feeling the love and deep satisfaction that I used to. Again, thanks if your prayers had anything to do with it.
 
I don't know what my problem was. Maybe it was all the hours I spent knitting in hospital rooms the last three months of your life? I don't think so, because I enjoyed those hours so much. It's more likely an alteration in my attention span during the first couple of years of widowhood. It took me almost that long to be able to read a book again; I couldn't make my brain sit still long enough. Widowbrain is a very real thing, you know.
 
Whatever it was, it's much better now. I'm starting to think ahead about new projects to start after the Christmas-present dishcloths are done. I can't wait to get back to knitting socks! That's always my favorite. I have patterns I want to try. I may even make some socks for myself - how's that for self-indulgence?
 
The days are getting shorter now, and in the evening you'll find me curled up with yarn and needles. Stop by and help me wind a few skeins!
 
Love you more than yarn,
Joan.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose

Dear John,
 
I had a good morning at church and a long nap afterward. Then I turned on the television and found "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose." That was your very favorite X-Files episode, partly because Peter Boyle was in it and partly because of the questions it raised. I enjoyed seeing it again. The series was wonderfully atmospheric and the cinematography was excellent. It's rerunning on Chiller. I think I'll watch more of it.
 
It seems that I've succeeded in making other people comfortable talking about you. It took time and work - for some reason, everybody thought that hearing your name would make me dissolve in tears. That's silly, of course. I love to talk about you, and it means a lot to me when you are important enough to others for them to bring you up in conversation.
 
You're talked about the most at church. Charlie says he is constantly aware of you during the Liturgy. He says you still serve behind the iconostasis like you always did, and sometimes you make him laugh. I have no idea what you are up to back there, but Charlie likes it. Feeling your presence makes him happy.
 
Keep the light on for me.
And Josh said today that you help him with his job. He lets people should him too much; sometimes he feels like he should have a "better" job, have an "important" career. Then he remembers that you did what he does without having any problem with it. I, of course, talked to him about the importance of being obedient to God and the complete irrelevance of the expectations of others. You agreed with my Grandmother Keistler: Any honest work is good work, and is beneath no one. I rather got in his face about it. His face survived.
 
You're still very important to so many people! They miss you - at church, the post office, the bank, the pharmacy, the doctor's office, and so many other places. There is still mourning for you and celebration of you. Me, I still can't separate you from any part of my life, past or present. We're a scrambled egg and totally unseparatable. So I'm living my life here and waiting for the time that I join you. And most of the time, the veil  between here and there is very thin.
 
So, tonight, pull up "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" on Chiller's website and enjoy. And know that you're still loved, mourned, valued, and celebrated here. Keep the light on for me!
 
Forever yours,
Joan.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Old Folks at Home

Dear John,
 
You might want to run and get Daddy, and read this letter with him.
 
I did mow this morning - not the grass, but the buckhorn. The grass, being sensible, is brown and dormant. Buckhorn will survive like the cockroaches. I started before 10:00 so it wasn't too bad. I left weeding for a cooler day.
 
I was thinking about Daddy while I mowed. When we were children, the role of a father in the life of his kids was primarily that of provider and back-up disciplinarian. My father was an exception. He always took me somewhere on Saturday mornings. Mama got a break and we got time together. We went to the Atlanta airport, the zoo, or Stone Mountain, and usually had lunch at the Varsity. Sometimes he had to stop by job sites on the way - I remember walking around construction sites with a hard hat on when I was so small I could only see my feet and had to hold onto his hand to be able to walk. Wonderful memories!
 
We did other things together as a family. We fished when we could and did yard work together. I remember Daddy mowing, Mama trimming, and me sweeping the driveway and sidewalk. Since I grew up in SEC country, we watched football together. I was always outside with him when we grilled. Every day he came home from work, got a piece of cheese, and sat down with me in his lap. He shared his cheese with me until I got big enough to have my own piece. I remember one night when he brought blueprints home and I was fascinated by them. He explained that it was a bird's-eye view and told me what the symbols meant. I remember the moment it clicked in my head and I understood. I could still draw that particular factory floor from memory.
 
So, tonight, please give Daddy my love. Tell him how grateful I am for all the time he spent with me when I was little, for teaching me how to bait a hook and gut a fish, ride a bike, and read a blueprint. And tell him that, in his honor, I had a tomato sandwich for lunch today. Be sure to thank him yourself, too.  After all, you love me and I'm so much like him - I am largely his fault. And Mama always said that he could never deny paternity since I look exactly like him. Give him a big hug from me, and tell him how much I look forward to seeing him again.
 
Love to all the old folks at home. There's where my heart is turning ever!
Joan.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Effectiveness of Nagging

Dear John,
 
It's Friday night.
 
I had a very busy day at work, unusually busy even for a Friday. But lunch was great. We had a cook-out/carry-in with burgers, potato salad, pasta salad, a veggie tray, cheese and crackers, and a to-die-for dessert. I won't need to eat for a few days. I'd planned to mow after work but didn't. It was too hot and humid and I was too tired. All that's grown is some weed tops, and there aren't enough of those to make me mow yet. So I'm inside watching pre-season football, which is clearly preferable to yard work.
 
A little while ago I heard Abby yowling. She's very vocal like most Oriental cats. She yowls, growls, mutters, and howls, and I expect her to burst into speech at any moment. I went looking to be sure all was well and found her lying beside Jethro and wanting his attention. She yowled at him until he licked and groomed her. He appeared to want a nap but he finally yielded, either to necessity or nagging.
 
A good time will be had by all in the morning. They get so excited when I wake up but don't get up right away. I get the laptop and sit up in bed, and they all come and curl up somewhere on me. Tomorrow I need to make a recycling run. And I want to get the sewing machine out and get some of my clothes taken up. I'm running out of things that fit me. - quite a nice problem to have. Did you remember to ask Mama if she wanted to come and help pin things on me? Let me know if she's planning to come.
 
I got a bit choked up at work today. I was watching a customer put his check in the tube to send it in to me, and noticed that he put the pen in the tube exactly like you used to. It's funny how little things like that catch me off guard. But I guess it's not surprising - I knew you for thirty-eight years, and there are lots of little habits that you learn in that amount of time. I miss all of your little habits. If I keep nagging you about coming for a visit, will you give in like Jethro did to Abby?
 
Adore you,
Joan. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Leather, Lace, and Happy Days

Dear John,
 
There isn't much to talk about today. I had a good Thursday at work, will go in early tomorrow but am off at 5:00. I need to mow after work - again, not the grass but the seed heads on the weeds. We really need rain. Could you pray about that for all of us? I don't mind mowing less often, but the corn is thirsty.
 
I heard today that I'm getting a 25-cent-an-hour raise on my next paycheck, and I got ridiculously excited about it. It will give me about fifty dollars more every month, and that's always welcome. But really, it feels good to have earned it. There's a satisfaction in learning how to do a new job and being told that I'm doing it well. I've crossed all kinds of hurdles this week - I've learned how to do escrow payments and run the new coin-counting machine. What a big girl I am!
 
Right now I'm listening to "Leather and Lace" and remembering what we were doing when it came out. We were living my ideal life - my dream house, my dream job, your first job as general manager, completely unaware of the radiation damage happening in your body. The song always takes me back to those days of blissful ignorance. We were so young and hopeful. All of our years together were good, but there's something special about those early years when we didn't know what was coming. We didn't have many of them, did we? But when we found out, it just made us value each other even more. I can't separate who we are from that knowledge - it became too fundamental a part of us.
 
By city or mountain, stay with me. Come and visit tonight. I need you today.
 
Forever and ever,
Joan.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Love & the Loop of Henle

Dear John,
 
It's been an odd day. It was so split into two parts that I feel like this has to be Thursday night already.
 
I worked until noon. I hadn't heard from Joe's office about whether he wanted me to come in today or not, so I called them. After much calling around, they made an appointment for me to see his newest partner at 4:30. So at 3:00 I headed off to South Bend.
 
The Loop of Henle, for your reviewing pleasure!
It turns out that I don't have a bladder infection - the U/A came back perfectly normal. The next thing to rule out is bladder spasms, so I'll pick up a prescription for Ditropan tomorrow and we'll see if that helps. If it does, well and good, and we'll assume that the problem is age and lack of estrogen. If it doesn't, the next step will be imaging studies to see what's going on in there. I'm getting my review of the urinary system. At least it's the simple part and not the hormones. But I always did love the Loop of Henle.
 
We're so weird. Who else is up after their bedtime talking about the wonders of the Loop of Henle? It's a good thing we married each other and didn't subject any innocent bystanders to either one of us, isn't it?
 
Love you even more than my Loops of Henle,
Joan.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Conversing With My Sanity

Dear John,
 
I'm having mixed, confused feelings. So help me straighten out my head.
 
Over the last couple of days I've been thinking about the things I like most about my life now, and I realized that I wouldn't have any of them if you were still alive. That is troubling to me. But think about it - the cats, my job, wouldn't be here if you were. The same is true about how good I'm feeling and how much better the fibro is. I would never have gone off of processed food and started eating organic if you were alive.
 
I've been wondering what to make of this. Of course, I'd give it all up in a heartbeat to have you back. (Except that I'd keep the cats because you'd love them too.) I guess these things are gifts, helping me cope with your absence. I have to work full time, so I have this job. To be able to work full time, the fibro has to be better. And the cats pulled Jethro out of his depression after you died.
 
So it's alright that I'm enjoying things that I wouldn't have if you were here, because if you were here I wouldn't need them. It's a bit like loving your prosthesis after losing a limb. You'd much rather have the limb; but if you have to live without it, it's great to have a prosthesis.
 
Okay. That's sorted out. Thank you - you've always helped me to think things through. I don't have to feel guilty about any of this. It appears that I'm being normal again. Who'd'a thunk it? I suppose my sanity won't talk to me tonight. That's probably a good thing.
 
It's my normal bedtime, so I'd better take my normal self off to bed before I come up with something else to puzzle over. But if I do, you'll be the first to know!
 
Love you great huge bunches,
Joan.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cat Towers & Contentment

Dear John,
 
The best investment we ever made was that set of flannel sheets for thirty dollars. So far we've paid three dollars for every year we've used them, and they're still going strong.
 
Coming in a close second is the cat tower. I took this picture after dinner tonight - my dinner and theirs. As you can tell, Hunter was still eating. Abby and Maggie were playing, Jethro was watching from below. They play, eat, and sleep on that tower. Inside the box in the picture is the only place I've found to put the cat food so that Jethro can't get to it. That alone makes the tower worth its weight in gold.
 
Aren't they adorable? Aren't you sorry you're missing all of this? Does it make you want to come back? I really wondered if getting a third cat would upset you enough to make you come back and get me, but evidently not. How long does Jethro have to keep collecting kittens to make you mad enough to show up?
 
I really do love all of them. Tonight I'm content. I had a good day at this job that I love, came home to four furbabies that love me, and will do it all again tomorrow. The only thing missing is you. But our separation is so temporary! And I'm thankful above all else for the years that I had with you. You chose to spend the rest of your life with me. And when Jen and the furbabies let me dig, I'll go home to you. All is good.
 
Love you forever and ever,
Joan.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Carole King, Glue, & Bad Theology

Dear John,
 
It's been clear and in the low 80s today, and there's a beautiful sunset. Jethro and Maggie are in the front windows, Hunter at the back door, and Abby on the bed. The petunias are making the whole house smell good.
 
I watched American Masters on PBS this afternoon. The first show was about the rise of the singer-songwriter, and focused on Carole King and James Taylor. The second was about Woody Guthrie. That made all subsequent television look banal, hence the evening spent listening to the birds.
 
They played part of Carole King's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and I heard something in it that I never have before. It's probably because I've been thinking lately about the people who think that it's creepy that I still love you. But today I heard the song as if you were asking me that at your burial. And what a silly question! But there are many, many people who think that the love between a husband and wife ends with the end of the funeral. They must not really believe in eternal life - they must think that death ends a person's existence. It's still silly, since as a species we are quite good at loving things and people who don't exist. But so many people think that.
 
As I've said before, "'til death do us part" is for wimps. Yes, in the eyes of the law and the church I am free to fall in love again and remarry. But I still feel just as married to you, and just as much in love with you, as ever. Yes, I will still love you tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. This sacramental joining of two people is eternal. Your existence hasn't ended and never will, and neither will mine. I am your wife and always will be; it is an honor and privilege that I will never relinquish. In other words, there ain't no way you're getting rid of me.
 
So be forewarned: You are stuck with me. I love you and I always will. And, if Jen doesn't want it, I will be buried in my wedding ring. And we'll never be separated again.
 
Stuck to you like glue,
Joan.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fresh Bread & Power Tools

Dear John,
 
I've had a perfectly lovely day. I woke up early, went to the pharmacy and the Farmers' Market, had lunch and brought ice cream from the Chief out to eat with you, stopped at the co-op, and came home with cheese, greens, potatoes, bread, yogurt, and the world's biggest tomato. I cuddled with the animals a while, then cleaned the bathrooms, vacuumed, and watered the petunias. Then I took a badly-needed shower.
 
I surprised myself this morning. I was sitting in bed with the laptop like I do on my days off, and found this lovely photo on Pinterest. My first thought was, "I can do that!" My second was that it's a good thing I didn't sell the table saw. Then I heard myself.
 
You know how long I've wanted bead board in the main bathroom. And I'd love to replace the mirror and need to replace the vanity and sink. And that old vinyl floor has got to go. I've been feeling so overwhelmed for the last two years that I'd dismissed any thought of doing anything at all with it. But this morning I thought, "I can do that!" And of course I can.
 
It seems that I'm doing better. I appear to be myself again, for the first time in over two years. It help to be out from under the Cymbalta-withdrawal depression. And solvency helps, too. I've learned that I can indeed work full time, and I love my job. I don't feel so overwhelmed anymore.
 
So I'm reading my home renovation books and making plans for the bathroom. If I'm going to do this, I might as well do it right, and that means taking up the flooring and putting down tile. The only thing I'm concerned about is taking out the toilet, and only because I can't lift it by myself. But we'll deal with that. For now, I'm just excited to be excited about something. And it feels good to have regained something  - self-confidence? a sense of adventure? the courage to challenge myself and try something new? my love of power tools? maybe just myself.

I knew you'd be happy to hear all of this. I know you're smiling right now. I'm smiling, too. It was good to hear myself thinking like that. Let me hear all your suggestions for the bathroom!

Love you even more than power tools,
Joan.