Thursday, October 30, 2014

Overtime and Hotdogs

Dear John,
 
Well that was another day that didn't go as planned! The animals woke me up at 7:45. So I got up, got dressed, got laundry started, then began my errands downtown. I went to the post office, bought cup hooks at the hardware store, and was at the grocery store when my phone rang. Ellie was at work but was sick and needed to go home. So I ran back here and got respectable-looking, and went in to work from 11:30 to 2:30. Then Amanda came in and worked until 5:00.
 
I left the living room torn up, laundry in the washer and dryer, had on minimal make-up, no contacts, no lunch, and my hair wasn't curled. But the work got done and all is well. When I came home I had a late lunch and finished the laundry, but the living room is still torn up. It will keep until I get off work Saturday afternoon. My back hurt this afternoon, so I loaded up on Motrin and lay down with the animals. I don't need to go into Friday and Saturday with an aching back.
 
Meanwhile, the draft horse sale continues. It increases traffic downtown, which increases our traffic as well. And the merchant deposits are much larger and more frequent. And then there's the traffic! The worst we usually have is on Saturday mornings when there will be two buggies each direction at the four-way stop downtown. This week it's hard to get anywhere. It's good for the town. But I believe we'll all draw a deep breath and enjoy it when life goes back to normal next week.
 
I'm off to bed early tonight. Besides having to be at work earlier on Fridays, I have to get up and cook tomorrow. We're having a carry-in of Halloween-themed food, and I'm taking mummy hotdogs. I have to fix them in the morning so I can take them in hot and just keep them warm in the oven.
 
Sleep well tonight! We love you and miss you. I have four animals in bed instead of you now, and it still feels empty.
 
Miss you always,
Joan.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Welcome Another Friend Home

Dear John,
 
There is another friend coming - get ready to go greet John Dews. He died this morning. I just got the word on Facebook, and I'm very sad and stunned. I don't believe you ever met John, but I know I talked about him. I've known him since high school. We worked together in Children's Theater and the high school theater, and were close friends. I talked to him on the phone a few weeks ago. He's been part of my life for 43 years. I will miss him.
 
When you see him, please give him my love. And look around for his father, and give him my best as well. Tell John how happy I am for him, that his health problems are in the past and his labor is done. For me, I am sad to be without him. I'm without so many people that I love, especially you. So get everybody together tonight, and have a big group hug from me to all of you.
 
Miss you most of all,
Joan.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sibling Rivalry

Dear John,
 
We had rain last night but no storms, and the same this morning. So Jethro was happy and I got a good night's sleep.
 
The latest family entertainment centers around sibling issues. You know Abby was the dominant - and only - female. That worked well and everybody was happy. But no, Jethro couldn't find a little boy to bring home; he had to rescue another little girl. We are experiencing the expected complications.
 
Abby has always hissed and growled at Maggie, who is completely unfazed by it. When she approaches Abby and gets growled at, she walks right up and lies down beside her, and before long they're grooming each other. It appears to be posturing rather than animosity.
 
Maggie playing with Abby's tail
You know I've always put out some milk for them with my breakfast. Hunter drank it, then Abby came along and claimed first place but left some for Hunter. Maggie came along and finished it off. No matter how much I put out she'd drink every drop, even if she threw up some later. Well, yesterday morning I watched Abby get in front of Maggie and take the first turn at the milk. She left some for Maggie, who left some for Hunter. Abby is beginning to assert herself, and I'm glad to see it.
 
Tonight I was brushing my teeth and heard a great quantity of growling and hissing coming from the workroom. Jethro was unhelpfully hiding in the bedroom closet. I found Maggie on the china cupboard, Abby under the table, Hunter firmly planted between the two of them, and all three looking guilty. I made sure no harm had been done, told them to behave themselves, and left them alone. The next thing I knew they were playing together peacefully.
 
This is going to be interesting. Again, I'm sorry you're missing this. You'd love it. If you have any words of wisdom on these sibling issues, please let me know. I've always left them to work things out between themselves, and they've done well so far. I hope it continues.
 
Tending your furry children,
Joan.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Horse Sale is Coming!

Dear John,
 
It's been a wild and lovely day. The temperature got up into the 70s, and it was sunny until evening. Now it's still warm and very blustery. It's clear that we have storms on the way. I opened the windows before leaving for work this morning, for what may be the last time this year. Right now, it's good to be piled up in bed with the dog and the laptop, listening to the wind blow outside and feeling the warm breeze. Don't worry - the windows are open only at the top so we'll be fine when the rain comes.
 
It won't look this peaceful tomorrow . . .
Topeka is getting ready to turn upside down. The Draft Horse Sale starts tomorrow. Today was a usual Monday in the lobby and complete craziness at the drive-up. We had around fifty items in the night drop - a new record. And the fire department had a big fund-raiser on Saturday and did quite well, so that deposit had to be processed. I ran full-speed until lunch, then started getting the big merchant deposits in and ran until 2:00. Then I had my annual evaluation, and ran  until 4:15. It was slow for a whole forty-five minutes. Needless to say, the day went by quickly.
 
My evaluation was good. I met or exceeded expectations in every category. They said that I bring diversity to the bank. I inquired about this - ethnicity? shoe size? the fact that I lack this odd midwestern accent? It seems to be the fact that my background is in nursing instead of business. Having a nurse on the property appears to be a source of comfort. Who knew.
 
As for me, I love the job. I look forward to going to work and I enjoy being there. I like the people I work with and greatly value this management team. It is good for me to learn something so completely new at my age. The job is good for me in many ways - for one thing, I am now independently solvent. And that is good. I am thankful.
 
Thank you for any part you played in me getting this job, and for your prayers as I've learned and adjusted to it. I'm glad so many people there knew and loved you. Know that they are looking after me now and that I'm doing well. And, as I said before, I have attained solvency - no small thing.
 
I'm going to turn off the light early tonight. I'm tired, and I'm afraid I'll be up part of the night with the dog if we do get storms. I'm hoping for just rain. He's happy and sleepy so far. Pray for your little family tonight!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Steelers Uniform Committee is Revealed

Dear John,
 
We did it! My Steelers and your Browns won simultaneously. That must be some kind of record.
 
The Steelers played the Colts, so the game was carried locally. And what a game it was! The final score was 51-34. And it was a night for history - Big Ben threw for six touchdowns (new team record) and had his second 500-passing-yard game (new league record). It was also throwback uniform day and they pulled out the old bumblebees from 1933. They played so well that I forgave them.
 
All I did today was knit and watch football. And take a two-hour nap before the game. My glute is much better and my hip flexor is much worse. Nothing surprising there - there are few things harder to heal than a hip flexor. It's been two weeks since I had a day to stay home, so the animals enjoyed it. I had a variety of them on me all day, cuddled up in different combinations. A good time was had by all.
 
Except maybe the Colts. But that's okay. I have a complicated relationship with them. It's hard to forget the way they snuck out of Baltimore under cover of darkness years ago. And if they'd stayed where they belonged, there would be no Ravens. And that would be good, since the Ravens were the Browns snuck out of town under the cover of darkness. I cheered for them during the Manning years and I like Luck. But they were mean to one of Archie's boys. Tonight was uncomplicated - I'd cheer for my Steelers against anybody.
 
The good guys won, the sock is progressing, and I rested my pulled muscle. I should sleep well tonight. I'll miss you under these lovely flannel sheets.
 
So glad I married a football fan,
Joan.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Just Did It

Dear John,
 
Thank you for our picnic lunch today. It was probably the most beautiful day we've had all year. It was in the mid-60s, sunny, deep blue sky, leaves a little past peak - a wonderful Saturday.
 
I worked today. I came home at noon, changed into jeans, and went to Goshen to run errands. I got  another pulled pork sandwich for my picnic with you. I had a wonderful time (in spite of the yellow jackets) until I tried to get up. I managed to pull my right glute and hip flexor. Maybe I sat for too long? Maybe I'm too old to sit on the damp ground? Maybe this is what I get for moving the piano on Thursday? However I did it, I limped through the rest of my errands then drove home with my right leg numb. I took Motrin and stayed off of my feet for the rest of the day. I had wanted to mow this afternoon, but it was clearly out of the question. I let everybody know that I probably wont' make it to church tomorrow. It really does hurt.
 
Please pray for my right hip tonight. I'd like to go to church tomorrow if I can. And I have to be able to work on my feet starting Monday morning. I'll stick with Motrin and rest. My coordination could probably use some intercession as well. But you know that!
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fibro Cat & Wallace Shawn

Dear John,
 
I had a good and busy day at work. The chili was a hit. I had some left over to bring home, so I will be well-fed for the next week.
 
I'm paying for yesterday. I was motivated and had energy, so I got a lot of work done. Now I'm experiencing Fibromyalgia's Revenge. I'm going to bed soon and will probably take something for pain. I'm working tomorrow - I need to be able to do basic things like get out of bed without a skyhook, dress myself, and think coherently.
 
The drive-up staff was put together with duct tape today. I was in a lot of pain and Margaret came in late after her migraine medicine kicked in. We were well-matched, and we managed to enjoy ourselves in spite of our physical annoyances. We're a good team.
 
Oh, and we had flu shots and Wellness Exams this morning. My bloodwork was fine, blood pressure was good (in spite of it being a Friday at the drive-up), BMI was only slightly overweight. It was determined that I would live a while longer. Of course, that is not to deter you from coming to get me whenever you choose! Feel free to prove them wrong. And bring carriers - I think you'd better get the animals at the same time you get me. Let's keep the family together!
 
In Wallace Shawn's voice:  We're waiting!
Joan.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Of Chili, Curtains, & Claritin

Dear John,
 
I had a very busy and productive day. I need to go back to work tomorrow to get some rest.
 
The package at the post office was indeed the curtains. I picked them up, went to the pharmacy for Claritin, and to the hardware store for a new stud finder. Then I came home and proceeded to tear the entire house apart. I put up curtain rods and hung curtains. I moved all the living room furniture around again. I got the new litter box furniture thing set up with a litter box in it, after deep-cleaning the litter boxes. I vacuumed and dusted. I left before 5:00 to work the bank table at the elementary school trick-or-treat. I came home and made a pot of chili for tomorrow's carry-in at work. After that, I finally ate.
 
I looked out the front window this afternoon and there was DeWayne with his leaf-gathering-mower-thing in our front yard, cleaning up under our maple tree. So I went outside, forgetting to put down the dustpan first, and we talked and got caught up. In the middle of that, Tammy pulled up with her crock pot. It's lots bigger than ours, and she's loaning it to me to put my chili in tomorrow.
 
You get the idea. Busy, busy day. I have more left to do, but it will have to wait for another day. It's past my bedtime and tomorrow is my early morning. I should sleep well tonight. And even the busiest of Fridays will seem tame after today.
 
As I was putting up the last set of curtains, I found myself being eager for you to come home from work and see all that I'd done. Old habits of thought die hard. Doing things like this was more fun when I did them for you but I am finally able to do and enjoy them just for myself. Today I saw that I've made progress. Baby steps, but it is good. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pass Me Another Cat

Dear John,
 
I had a good day at work. Nothing went as planned and everything was good.
 
I was scheduled to continue training on the vault today. But one of the tellers had an accident on the way to work, so I shifted to the drive-up. On the way into the building I thought I smelled gas. So somebody called somebody, and repair people came. The building was fine - we didn't have to close or evacuate or anything. The leak was in NIPSCO's equipment outside. It did, however, require turning off our gas until early afternoon. We have gas heat, it was 32 degrees outside, and the drive-up has three direct connections to the outside and no insulation. Even I was cold. I was thinking about getting the blanket out of the break room when they turned the gas back on. To bring this paragraph full circle: it was a good thing that it was me at the drive-up since my thermostat is broken. I'm the one that's comfortable when everybody else is cold. And then there are the hot flashes.
 
I could have used this today . . .
I'm off tomorrow. There's been a package at the post office since Monday that's been waiting for me to get a day off. I think it's the curtains I ordered, and I'm looking forward to getting them hung. I need to make a pot of chili for Friday's carry-in. And I'll be working the bank table at tomorrow night's trick-or-treat gathering at the elementary school. I'll have a nice, busy day.
 
Please plan to drop by tomorrow night and see the new curtains. The ones for the living room and office are lined. And the really shocking thing is that the fabric isn't a solid color. There is pattern in it. How wild can I get? I think you'll like all of it, so come and see. And, of course, you're welcome tonight, too.
 
Wanting to see you anytime,
Joan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Pox Upon Lots of People!

Dear John,
 
I did hit the wall last night. I didn't even make it to halftime. And I slept like a log, except for the one time I woke up to an odd sensation on my left side. It turned out that Hunter and Maggie had chosen that spot for their wrestling match.
 
Today I was thinking about my Gentleman Caller's assumption that I was lonely and in need of rescuing - an idea that I disabused him of when I ended his attempt at a relationship. I've realized that there are two distinct types of loneliness. There is general loneliness, when you don't have friends and relationships and a support network. And there is specific loneliness, when you are lonely for one particular person.
 
I have specific loneliness. I have friends and family and lots of contact with people, and all of that is good. I am only lonely for you. And there is no fixing that. "Getting out" doesn't help that kind of loneliness. In fact, it can underline and augment it. Only time can ease specific loneliness. And nobody can tell you how much time you should need. Specific loneliness is a normal part of grieving. It doesn't mean anything is wrong with you. It's not a pathology. It is a part of loss.
 
I am only lonely for you. A pox upon men who think they can replace you! A pox upon people who try to should me! It is completely normal for me to feel this way, darn it! I love you, I miss you, and anybody who disapproves of that can go do anatomically impossible things to themselves.
 
So there.
 
Here I am being normal again. There is a measure of consolation in that. The true consolation lies in knowing that love is eternal and our separation is temporary, not the other way around.
 
Love you forever and ever and ever,
Joan.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dilemma & Alumnicity

Dear John,
 
It's here again, the perennial sports dilemma.
 
Remember that year when UK and Duke met in the Final Four? We had just moved from Durham to Indiana. We'd become Duke fans during our years in North Carolina, but we're both UK graduates. So the question was, what to do? As soon as tip-off occurred, we knew. We yelled for UK for all we were worth. There was no question once the game started.
 
I'm facing a similar question tonight. The Steelers are on at 8:30 and UK is on at 8:00. And, as before, alumnicity is trumping all other loyalties. I'll be watching the Wildcats. That is, I'll watch until I hit the wall and can't stay awake anymore. The game will last long after my bedtime. I don't know how much I'll be awake for, but it will be UK all the way.
 
I'll miss you during the game tonight. It's on ESPNU, if you can get it there. Go Big Blue!
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Grief According to the Beatles

Dear John,
 
I was listening to the radio this morning on the way to church. (with the heat on in the car - it was 29 when I got up) Do-Wop Nation didn't do much for me, so I tuned in to Breakfast with the Beatles. They seemed to have a line-up planned just for us.
 
The first song was Things We Said Today:

Someday, when I'm lonely, wishing you weren't so far away, then I will remember things we said today.
Oh, how many days there are to remember, and how many things said! We never, ever left anything unsaid. That's the gift of our knowledge of our mortality. The first thing I thought about, though, was that day at Methodist, right before your first trip to the cath lab, that you sat me down and said there were things you wanted to be sure you said to me in case you didn't come back. I will hold those three things in my heart forever. I'm not sure what meant more, the things themselves, or how important it was to you to be sure that I knew them. We had always known that our time together could be very short. But something in those days made us extremely sensitive to that fact. I so cherish that month we spent in Indy, every day spent together in your hospital room, no responsibilities to distract us from each other and the task of recovery that was at hand. I will always remember the things we said that day.
 
The second song was All My Loving: 
I'll pretend that I'm kissing the lips I am missing, and hope that my dreams will come true. And then while I'm away I'll write home every day, and send all my loving to you.
That's what I do here. You're home now; I'm the one who is away. So I come here at night and write home, and every day I send all my love to you. I doubt this was what anybody had in mind when the song was released. But it has that meaning for me now. And that is why I am here - to tend our relationship, ease my grief, and send my love to you.

The third song is one I've mentioned here before, Let it Be. As Mary said to Gabriel, "Let it be to me as you have said." That is the radical submission to the will of God that is the framework of my grief. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. So this is what is best for both of us. It is easy to see your good; you are healed and healthy at last. My good is not immediately obvious. For that, I live by faith and not by sight. Every day I choose to accept God's will for me and know that it is for my eternal good.

So today I bring you Grief According to the Beatles. I come to send my love to you, remember your words to me, and submit to God in my widowhood. May I not be away from home very long!

Sending all my loving to you,
Joan.





Saturday, October 18, 2014

Grateful for Grief

Dear John,
 
Today I made my monthly shopping trip to Goshen. I went to the Farmers Market and the co-op, to Michael's for crochet thread, to Petco for cat supplies, and to Kohl's for what turned out to be a bunch of things. I went for a second set of flannel sheets and walked into a sale, so I ended up with new bathroom towels and bedroom slippers. Our old towels were threadbare and my bedroom slippers were worn as slick as glass on the bottoms. I spent $92 and saved $140, so I did well.
 
I ate lunch at Wendy's - another pulled pork sandwich. I'd planned to come have lunch with you. But it rained all day and never got out of the 40s, so I ate there. I saw a couple in their seventies come in and envied them, thinking how sorry I am that I didn't get to grow old with you. It didn't take long for my envy to evaporate. They didn't look at or talk to each other through the entire meal. It certainly wasn't how we were. And I realized that I'd rather grieve than live like that. I would rather have had a wonderful marriage ended too soon by death, than have a living husband that didn't look at or speak to me.
 
It seems that there are worse tragedies than being widowed. From the day we met, I never doubted that you loved me. We enjoyed every second that we were together. I know that you fought so hard to live because you didn't want to leave me. And I know that you still love me, pray for me, and are waiting for me. I would rather be temporarily separated from a man I love and who loves me, than be with someone that I don't even want to look at or talk to. That is true tragedy.
 
Thank you for my grief, for being the man that I love too much to want to live without. Thank you for my present pain, so much better than the pain of a marriage like the one I saw today. The depth of my mourning is the measure of our love for each other. My cup overflows with both. And for that, I am grateful.
 
Tonight I'll sleep on new flannel sheets. I will be sad that you aren't here to cuddle up with me. But I'll remember cuddling with you under the other set, and I'll smile. I'll remember all the meals at Wendy's, where we stayed and talked for an hour or more after the meal was done. And my heart will be full and grateful.
 
Eager to look at and talk to you again,
Joan.
 
 
 


Friday, October 17, 2014

On Open Windows

Dear John,
 
It will be a short note tonight. It's late and I'm almost past coherence. So I won't subject you to much of this. 
 
Today was my short Friday so I only worked ten hours. It was reasonably busy but not crazy, so a good day. And this was the day for the fund-raiser pork burgers. Pork burgers for lunch can make any day better.
 
Last night we had a stretch where all four of us were piled up in bed together. I woke up to find Jethro at the foot of your side of the bed, Abby next to my pillow, and Hunter and Maggie cuddled up together lying on my side. This is the first time I've known them to curl up together like that. It was nice.
 
It was also nice and warm. The house was stuffy when I got home yesterday so I opened the windows, and I kept them open because last night's low was supposed to be in the low 60s. It felt cooler than that when I got up this morning, and it was - the thermostat said 59. So I closed the house and turned on the heat. I stayed warm and slept well last night thanks to flannel sheets, a flannel nightgown, and four animals piled up with me.
 
It was stuffy again when I got home tonight, but the low is supposed to be in the lower 40s this time. So I opened the house for a couple of hours to air it out, then closed things up again and turned the heat back on. Tomorrow night we're supposed to go down to 33.
 
I don't believe the windows will be open much more this year. That's always a bit sad for me. I know you were afraid that, without you, I'd never close them again. It would be winter and I'd have icicles hanging from the ceiling. But I'm being good - I do close them, however reluctantly. And when I do, I think about you and smile.
 
Smiling just for you tonight,
Joan.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

County Line Road & Cholorophyll

Dear John,
 
I worked my half-day today, but not the way I expected. I got a call this morning that I was needed in another branch, so off I went. Unfortunately, I'd have sworn that branch was Millersburg. So off I went, west on County Line Road, and arrived to the great puzzlement of all. It turned out that I was expected in Wolcottville. So I turned around and ended up driving the entire length of County Line Road. Other than that misadventure, I had a good day.
 
It was a beautiful drive. The trees are near their peak it's been a lovely fall. This morning was foggy enough to delay the local schools. But the sun was shining by the time I came home, and it was breathtaking. This photo is DeWayne's tree. Remember when they first planted it? It's all grown up now.
 
Ever since I learned about chlorophyll, and the different colors it comes in, and how and why the leaves change color, I've been amazed at the goodness of God. There's no need for those colors to be so beautiful. But here they are, every single fall. And I'm once again grateful that I married another science major, so I can ramble on about the different colors of chlorophyll and know that you understand completely. It really is good we didn't inflict ourselves on innocent bystanders, isn't it? Marrying each other was our way of protecting everybody else in the world.
 
Adore you, with our without chlorophyll,
Joan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Way to Your Heart

Dear John,
 
I found this today - isn't it wonderful? And, of course, it's true!
 
It makes me think of how bad you always wanted to see an open heart surgery. I'm so sorry you never got to. It is beautiful. And so are autopsies, and you always wanted to see one of those, too. I got to see one of each and I've always been sorry you didn't. So here's a picture for you to look at - it's the best substitute I can find.
 
What were the ways to your heart, other than through your sternum? If you're thinking literally, you can approach through the femoral or radial artery. And there's the transthoracic approach if you need to have a pericardial effusion drained. But I'm being metaphorical now.
 
Reaching your metaphorical heart required intelligence, independence, and a sense of humor. You wanted more spice than sugar. You always said that you wanted an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman. And you were right. But the longer I was married to you, the more I realized that you needed my warmth. You needed a big, roaring fireplace to curl up in front of. You needed a woman that loved you with all her heart and soul, and valued you above all the rest of the planet put together. That is what I really had to offer you. You needed somebody that would love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walked on, but intelligently and without fawning all over you. You needed me as much as I needed you.
 
And you have me, always and forever. Your heart has been reached through the sternum, radial artery, and femoral artery. But when I got there, I never left. You took me into your heart forever. It's exactly where I want to be.
 
In your heart always,
Joan.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Aching Post-Columbus-Day Feet

Dear John,
 
I'm exhausted. And my feet hurt. Do you have time to come and rub them for me?
 
Today we paid for the yesterday's holiday. I usually get the night drop processed before 9:30, but today it took until after lunch. I finally got caught up and sat down at 3:30. I got a whole five minutes to sit down between 7:30 and 5:15. My feet hurt. Up to my waist.
 
I remember my early nursing years. Before we were allowed to wear athletic shoes, we wore white saddle oxfords with no padding and no arch support. And the floors were marble. We learned to come home and put Ben-Gay on our feet, then layers of tube socks. By morning - or whenever we got up, depending on what shift we were working - our feet would feel better.
 
You gave such good foot-rubs! I have some mint lotion you could use. You can come any time. I try to stay up until 10:00 on Tuesday nights because NCIS is on at 8:00 and NCIS New Orleans at 9:00. Tonight I believe I'll head bedward at 8:00. This is why God made Hulu. I can catch both of them later this week. I don't think I could stay awake much after 8:00.
 
I should sleep well tonight. I know you will. And your feet won't hurt, and you never get tired anymore. Pray for me, since I'm still here and subject to fatigue and aching feet. Sleep well tonight. My feet miss you.
 
Love you so, so much,
Joan. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Autumn Rain

Dear John,
 
It's 10:00 in the morning - what is the world coming to?
 
This is Columbus Day and a bank holiday. So I'm sitting up in bed with the laptop, listening to the rain through a window open at the top, looking at the fall leaves through fog, with the dog beside me and the cats on me. It's pluviophile heaven.
 
Autumn rain has me thinking about our trip to Door County. I remember that you were scheduled for a week of training that got cancelled, and Matt already had the restaurant covered without you. So you told him you'd take some vacation, and we headed up to Door County. 
 
We found it closed for the winter. And it rained all week. We didn't do what we'd planned and we had a lovely time doing it, which is typical for us. We spent a couple of days touring Green Bay. We got to see Lambeau Field and visit the gift shop. We wandered a mall, and that's where we got the blue-and-white pajamas that I'm wearing right now.
 
Door County in the rain
We took a day and drove all over Door County. I remember we stopped at a boat ramp on the bay. I stood in the pouring rain for almost half an hour, just gazing at water with no visible land on the other side, and soaking it in - both figuratively and literally. You sat in the car like a sensible person. And I appreciated that, because I could stand there as long as I wanted without worrying about you being miserable. We found a diner on the shore and stopped for lunch, and had burgers and cherry pie.
 
And that must be where I picked up H1N1. Nobody had told us that there was an epidemic bad enough to close the schools. I came down with it while we were staying in Green Bay. But I had a light case, and over the weekend, so we vegged in the hotel room and watched football and had pizza delivered from that lovely little place down the road - no hardship there.
 
On the way up we stopped at Stir Crazy in Chicago. I had found one when you were at the Cleveland Clinic, and was glad to get to take you there. We took the back roads home and found a combination cheese-and-antique shop near the Wisconsin border. We got some cheese, and that's where we got the jadite salt-and-pepper shakers that are in the kitchen.
 
It was a serendipitous and wonderful trip. I remember it every time I put on these pajamas, and especially when there is autumn rain. The memory is special today - this is the 2 1/2 year mark of your death. I wouldn't have believed I could survive this long. I know I never wanted to. But then, I never wanted to survive you by 2 1/2 minutes. It does get better with time. We can get used to almost anything, I suppose. I am adapting; I have a full and good life. Know that I love you no less, feel no less married to you. And today I am filled with memories of autumn rain and Door County and you. Especially you.
 
Thanks for the memories,
Joan.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Frustrated Partisanship

Dear John,
 
It was a nightmare, an absolute nightmare. I was all dressed in my black-and-gold, including my Steelers socks, ready to watch my Steelers play your Browns. In this household, that has always been a day of epic proportions. And what happened? The game wasn't being carried here. I tried to get it on line. The one safe place that I could get free radio streaming wasn't carrying it, and every other place I tried wanted me to download apps that attempted to destroy my computer and eat the dog. I spent part of the afternoon uninstalling and deleting things. It was a tragedy. I was all dressed up with no place to go. Even Maggie was ready - she's always in black and gold. I do have good news for you - your Browns won, and quite soundly. I haven't heard any details about the game yet.
 
Maggie, in her black & gold, is unamused
I've been remembering the times we watched those games together. We each wanted our team to win but didn't want the other's team to lose. So we ended up cheering for both teams. It was a wonderful muddle. Remember the game we watched in Cleveland right after your brain surgery? It was on the day after you were discharged from the Clinic. We stayed in Cleveland for almost a week so we'd be close if there were any problems, so we were hanging out at the hotel. Your glasses had been lost in the hospital. The only thing you were upset about was whether you'd be able to see the television for that game. So the nurses set us up at a local Lenscrafters. We went straight there when you were discharged and you had glasses that afternoon. I have no idea who won - that never really mattered. We just had so much fun watching together.
 
Today I missed you and the game. I hope you got to see it. If not, you can get a replay on the Steelers website. And just a reminder - if you have internet, I'm all set up for Skype.
 
Love you and all the memories,
Joan.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Broken Glass & Barbecue

Dear John,
 
I ran errands in Goshen after work today. While I was in Meijer I heard Annie Lennox' "Broken Glass." I remember how much we both liked the song. It has a different meaning for me now.
The sun's still shining in the big blue sky, but it don't mean nothing to me. Oh, let the rain come down, let the wind blow through me. I'm living in an empty room with all the windows smashed. And I've got so little left to lose that it feels just like I'm walking on broken glass. 
 And that sums it up. I've learned to be content with my life. But this is still my reality. We're resilient creatures; we can learn to be content with almost anything, even walking on broken glass.
 
And, on a lighter note: Remember the guy that wanted to go out with me? I told him that I wasn't going to date anybody, but would meet him at the coffee shop if it was just as friends. That way he'd see how old I am and see if we even want to be friends. It was supposed to be for lunch right after work today. But I got a text from him that his work schedule was changed and he couldn't make it. So I went to Goshen, got Wendy's to go, and had a picnic with you. I sat there on the ground and laughed at myself: I'd much rather have lunch at your grave than at a restaurant with a living man that's interested in me. That says everything about me that any man needs to know.
 
And speaking of lunch: I got Wendy's new pulled pork sandwich. It's not North Carolina barbecue - the sauce is tomato-based - but they did get one thing right. It has slaw on it. It was pretty good, for up-north mass-produced barbecue. The ants and yellow jackets agreed. I was overrun by them. I finished the sandwich and set the open container a yard away, and was left in peace while I said prayers for you.
 
Now I'm back at home and watching Notre Dame beat Carolina. At least, I hope so. The Irish are up by seven with forty-seven seconds left in the fourth quarter. I have to agree with the state of Kentucky: UK blue is what Carolina blue wants to be when it grows up. It's just so pastel.
 
Notre Dame won. All is right with the world. The fall colors are beautiful, the sky is clear, the nights are cool, and animals are asleep, and I'll be off to bed soon. And you can rest tonight knowing that I'd still much rather be with you than any man alive.
 
Love you with all my heart,
Joan.


 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Celebrating Mental Health - Sort Of

Dear John,
 
Today is World Mental Health Day. In its honor, we had a less-crazy day at work. It was very busy, but not off-the-wall-crazy like it's been the last three weeks. A better time was had by all.
 
I actually bought my lunch today. It was Frank's fault. We'd given him money and planned for benefit pork burgers today, and it turned out that the benefit is next Friday. So I walked over to the coffee shop and got the special, which was sausage, corn, and a baked potato. I got the half-order, thank goodness. It was wonderful. I think I need to do that sometimes. I don't cook much now, since I'm cooking for just me, and I need a meal like that occasionally. If I got the full-size I could take half of it home. Since I had a bigger lunch, I wasn't hungry when I got home. And it's a deadly combination to come home tired and starving - bad things happen. Tonight I had some cheese and a piece of bread and butter. Yes, I may do that again.
 
I'm working tomorrow, but I'll still get a two-day weekend because Monday is a bank holiday. I'm looking forward to a short week. I haven't decided what I'm going to do on Monday. I may tackle some more painting, or I may knit Christmas presents. I'll see how much knitting I get done on Saturday and Sunday.
 
In the meantime, I will celebrate World Mental Health Day by believing I'm not much crazier than most folks. Isn't denial a wonderful thing?
 
Crazy about you,
Joan.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bedmates & Playmates

Dear John,
 
It's 9:00 and I'm in bed with the laptop. I'll be up at 5:30 and am working until 6:00 tomorrow, so I'll try to be a bit briefer than I usually am. Sleep would be good here.
 
I slept in until 8:30 this morning. But I didn't get out of bed until almost noon. I got the laptop, then the critters came. Abby curled up in my lap and wanted to cuddle, which is rare for Lady Abigail. So I stayed put and enjoyed it.
 
I had a busy but leisurely day off. I swept, did laundry, baked cookies for work tomorrow, scrubbed the kitchen, and got a good bit of knitting done. It's been a nice day. I had the house open until bedtime. I thought about leaving it open tonight, but I looked at the forecast and saw that it is supposed to go down into the mid-30s. So I thought better of it and closed the windows. Be proud of me!
 
The photos are from early this morning, before Abby decided to cuddle. Hunter was asleep on my legs when Maggie decided she wanted to play. She persuaded/annoyed him into it, Abby looked on from a safe distance, and a good time was had by all.
 
I still hate that you're missing all of this. Do the photos make you any more inclined to come and get us? How much persuasion do you need? Get it together already. At least get on Skype!
 
Love and miss you more than I can say,
Joan.
 
 
 
 
 




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Critter Comfort

Dear John,
 
I finally had a slower day at work. It was welcomed by all.
 
I forgot to tell you something. Sunday night I went to bed hurting bad enough that I had trouble getting to sleep. Somehow the animals knew. Jethro came and cuddled up with me, which isn't unusual even when I'm feeling fine. But Hunter was amazing. He came and lay curled up around the top of my head, put all of his paws on my scalp, and started kneading. He lay there, warm and purring, and kneaded my scalp until I went to sleep. Maggie lay across my waist and Abby curled up around my feet. They were all there rallying around me. And I got a good night's sleep.
 
They look after me. They aren't you, but they make me feel your absence a little less. They greet me when I come home, snuggle on the couch with me, and all pile up on the bed together at night. They need me and love me. And I need and love them.
 
You can't have any of them until I come, too. You have to come and get all of us at the same time. We'll all come through the gate together. Bring Caleb and Naomi with you, and we'll have a family reunion. Hurry the day!
 
Love you, miss you, so much,
Joan.
 
 




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How Not to Celebrate Domestic Violence Week

Dear John,
 
October is Domestic Violence Month. Once again, I have to thank you for never killing me. I used to say that to you when I'd been watching too much television. Today I have a reason from real life. I have a friend whose ex-husband beat her up last night. She got away by jumping out a second-story window. She is injured but alive. Restraining order is in place, arrest warrant is in process, women's shelter information has been shared.
 
I can't imagine what it would be like to be afraid of your husband.  My closest experience was when I was stalked in college; that doesn't begin to compare to being in an abusive marriage. When you marry someone, you make yourself completely vulnerable to them - physically, emotionally, financially, every possible way. I knew at first sight that you were safe. I have always trusted you completely. You might hurt me by doing something dumb like bringing that rose by the dorm, but never intentionally.
 
So I hurt for my friend and all the women like her. And tonight I'm more aware of the wonderful man that you are. So thank you for never killing me, never wanting to hurt me in any way. Thank you for being you. In case I haven't told you lately, I adore you.
 
Thank you,
Joan.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Clock Faces & Jimi Hendrix

Dear John,
 
I had a busy Monday at work. Nine-and-a-half hours went by very quickly. I should sleep well tonight. It was a good day.
 
 
I found this on Pinterest a few days ago. Looks familiar, doesn't it? This is what you had in college. The numbers clicked when they flipped down. Everybody thought they were terrific because they were digital. I disagreed. I still prefer clocks with dials. When I look at a digital clock, my brain converts it into a clock with hands, then I know what time it is. I remember one morning that you told me about. Like everybody else, you had your clock-radio set to play the radio instead of the alarm. You somehow managed to set it for the exact instant that Jimi Hendrix' version of the national anthem began. You said you never flew out of bed so fast in your life.
 
You weren't a morning person when we married. You never were awake at first light like I am, but you woke up much easier as the years passed. When we went on vacation we were always awake early and asleep when the sun went down. You decided you wanted to be a morning person, and you became one. Or maybe, with all the crazy shifts we worked, we both just ended up with no biorhythms at all. That's more likely, isn't it?
 
So look at this and remember your dorm room, and all those hours we spent studying together. Those were good days. We never stopped studying together. There was your MDiv, your doctoral work, my MA, and all the things we were just curious about. I miss studying with you. I miss doing anything and nothing with you. I even miss that awful clock that clicked when the numbers turned over.
 
Adore you,
Joan.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Win for the Misbegotten

Dear John,
 
When everybody was in the right place!
The misbegotten just defeated the illegitimate. Or the bearable defeated the inexcusable. The sad defeated the infuriating. And you - and you alone - know what that means. The Colts just beat the Ravens.
 
I am mostly resigned to the Colts. It's been a long time since they snuck the team out of Baltimore under the cover of darkness. But The Ravens, well, that's unforgivable. Baltimore tried to steal the Browns. Their existence will never be bearable. Funny how Baltimore is involved in both atrocities, isn't it? Just what are they up to in Maryland?
 
Anyway, the Colts won at home today. There was some sloppiness on both sides, but Andrew Luck looked good. Now I'm watching the last nine seconds of Cleveland - wait - the clock just ran out and the Browns beat Tennessee. They came back from, I think, down 20-3. I'm sorry you missed that - get on line and watch it if you can. (And, if you can get on line, why aren't we Skyping?)
 
I've been at home today doing nothing but knitting and napping in alternating fashion. I'm paying for going to Corn School yesterday and riding rides. But I'd do it again in a minute - it was wonderful. Today everything hurts except the end of my nose. And this is fibromite life, this constantly deciding what is worth paying for later and what you can give up. This is one decision I don't regret. Yesterday was great. It's hard to beat riding the Tilt-a-Whirl with your granddaughter.
 
And the Steelers won today and UK won yesterday, so all is right in the football world. At least, it's as right as it can be while the Ravens exist.
 
So glad I married a man who likes sports,
Joan.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Autumn Trifecta

Dear John,
 
I'm sorry I didn't write last night. The internet went down. I put a note on the WFF page on Facebook so nobody would worry about me. If I ever go missing, they are the people who will know it. We're scattered all over the world, but we still look after each other.
 
I hit the autumn trifecta today.
 
First, I put the flannel sheets on the bed. When I woke up it was 37 outside and 56 inside, with an expected high of 43. So I closed the windows, turned on the heat, and changed the sheets. They will feel good tonight.
 
Second, I did the fall decorating this morning - changed the curtains and tablecloth and things. I took this to show you. I don't think you've seen the dining room since we moved your mother's Hoosier cupboard in. It looks like it was built for that spot, doesn't it? Everything feels nice and cozy. And yes, your wooden candy corn is out.
 
Third, I met Jen and Elyssa at Corn School in LaGrange. You would have loved it. They turn Detroit Street into a carnival, with rides and food and a parade. I had a terrific time, and I got to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl with Elyssa and Faith (Michelle's daughter). You know that was always my favorite carnival ride. We gave it a lot of spin.
 
Atlanta has nothing to offer that can compete with our small-town events and festivals. I'm so thankful that you moved me here. The fire department is having a fund-raising dinner and bake sale later this month. We'll all go to the fire station and eat too much together and give way more money than the food costs to support out little volunteer fire department. They take care of us and they ARE us - I know every one of them. Every time they make a deposit at the bank, I tell them to have a quiet day.
 
I also went to Lana today to get my hair trimmed and shaped. It's doing crazy things now that I'm letting it grow out. The gray is curly - how crazy is that? My hair has always been straight as a stick. it wouldn't even take a permanent. Now it's curly. I know you'll have a hard time believing that, so I took a picture for you. See? That's all natural. Crazy.
 
That's all for today. It's probably enough. It's fall, it's spitting snow, and my hair is curly. See what you're missing?
 
Love you with all curly heart,
Joan.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Superfluity of Linguistic Clarity

Dear John,
 
I love sleeping at night. It makes everything so much easier. I wonder if anybody else has stumbled onto that.
 
I got an extra hour and a half of sleep last night because I worked 9-1 today. Work was much quieter than yesterday. Ron came in and we got to talk for a minute. I told him how proud you would be of his son. I can't believe that little Tanner, who you mentored, is all grown up and is the town clerk/treasurer. I'm proud of him, too.
 
I'm sure you remember that Ron's wife died about six months before you did. Today Ron asked, "How long has it been?" And it struck me that, in a conversation between two widowed people, the meaning of "it" is perfectly plain. It is a shared experience that makes linguistic clarity superfluous. "It" can mean only one thing.
 
And that is why the fellowship of other widows is so, so important. As Ron said today, you can't understand it unless you've been there yourself. I suppose that is true for any apolcayptic life event. And this is my own personal apocalypse. I am sorry that there are others going through the same thing, but I'm glad when we can touch and relate to each other. We all know full well what "it" is.
 
Ron is doing okay, which is the best you can ask. We agreed that it sucks and that we're ready to move along to Heaven. But here we are. Give my love to Sallie, and tell her that Ron looks good and is surviving. I know she's proud of Tanner, too.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

That Weedy Word

Dear John,
 
Have I told you lately that I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on?
 
I had my first day of training on the vault. It was unusually busy for a Wednesday, but both my drawer and the vault balanced and people said I did well. They said I didn't get flustered, and I said that it's hard to fluster me after twenty years of critical care - nobody died, so it's okay.
 
I came home and mowed and, as I've said, that gives me an hour to think. Today I was pondering the word "widow." Some widows hate the word, some don't care one way or the other. I, as usual, am outside both boxes. It certainly isn't anything I wanted to be, but since I am one, I embrace the word.
 
There's a dignity to it. It isn't just a status like "single." It has more meaning than that. I suppose I am single now, but that word implies availability, and I am not. Being a widow means that I have loved and been loved, and that a man loved me enough to spend the rest of his life with me. It suggests that I am in a state of mourning, which I certainly am. And it connects me to all the other widows who have ever lived, that vast sisterhood of strong, brave women.
 
If I have to be here without you, let me always be your widow. That may be the most important thing - I'm YOUR widow. The word binds me to you, says that I still belong to you, which I certainly do. If I can't be your wife, let me always be your widow.
 
Forever yours,
Joan.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Consternation, Cougars, and Cinnamon Rolls

Dear John,
 
I finally slept last night. I got a good night's sleep. And that was good in light of today.
 
I was having a good, busy day at work. Then here came Shelly with a package she found on my car. It was a card and note from a young customer (young compared to me, that is), asking me out. You can imagine my consternation. You can also imagine the good-hearted ribbing that followed. The term "cougar" was mentioned. I can't for the life of me put a face with his name. You know I've never been good with names.
 
I couldn't be less interested in dating, no matter what the man's age. I already have a husband. I'm still just as married to you as I ever was. Men-friends are okay, but I have no interest in anything else. Nobody could ever follow The World's Only Perfect Man.
 
So I did the only possible thing. I came home from work and ate three cinnamon rolls. I know I'm not going on a date - that's a no-brainer. But this is challenging my self-concept. I see myself as a widow, and widows are old. It never occurred to me that a man might be interested in me. The last time I was hit on was twenty-five years ago in the Wrigley Field bleachers. I'm not the kind of woman that men are interested in. Except you, that is, and you're exceptional.
 
Please come by tonight so we can talk. I'm trying to figure out how to handle this without hurting feelings, and I could use some male input. Come and save me from more cinnamon rolls!
 
Adore you and only you,
Joan.