Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hello! I'm Still Here!

Dear John,
 
Early this morning I bundled the cat up in a bath towel and trimmed his toenails, much against his will. But in between each toe I stopped and cuddled him, and he purred and got sleepy. And this evening he's been more cuddly than he's been in a while, him growing up and all. I didn't expect him to speak to me until mid-week. Strange.
 
Adam came over this afternoon to be sure it was okay for his friend to drive a tow truck across the yard to pull out some overgrown shrubs on the side of his house. During the course of the pulling-out, he thought the locust trees between our houses was a great idea and volunteered to help when I was ready to pull out a couple of shrubs over here, and I encouraged him that it was fine to pet Jethro when he's outside - a dog that tries to revive a possum isn't going to bite.
 
This morning was All Saints Day and the Synaxis of the Apostles. Elsie and I had a good long talk, and Brandy and I were the last to leave. Most of us ended up outside - it was 70 with a few clouds, and a lovely day. We've actually had 24 hours without thunderstorms. It was a welcome change to sleep last night with no animals sitting on my head.
 
I keep forgetting to tell you this: Last Tuesday, DeWayne and I met in the middle of the street, bringing in our trash cans. I mentioned Meredith's death, and said I was sorry but not surprised, since she died a few months after being widowed. He said the town conclusion is that she died of a broken heart. I think I startled him - I burst out with, "Then how come I didn't get to do that?" Elsie agrees. We'd much prefer to die from a broken heart than to live with one. And I'm still here! What's up with that? Two years ago, Audora and I decided that God must not want anything to do with either of us - it was the only way to explain our survival. But I'm still here!
 
I've got to run - some folks are shooting off fireworks and the dog is crawling across the keyboard. If you can do anything about my continued survival, I would greatly appreciate it.
 
Love you bunches and bunches,
Joan.
 
PS - Back now. The fireworks stopped. We have a week of this ahead - prayers would be appreciated! Poor Jethro! Love you lots.
 
 


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Storms With No Romance

Dear John,
 
You'll never guess what's happening. It's storming. How unusual.
 
Nobody is happy but the corn, which seems to have grown from 3 inches to 3 feet overnight. We've had thunderstorms nearly every day for at least three weeks. The dish has been out for a good part of the week; I missed the new episodes of The Glades and Burn Notice. And I'm on a fibro roller coaster - Thursday was bad, Friday was good, today is bad. I'm not really complaining. We need the rain. And we're better off here than poor Bruce and Lenore are in Phoenix where it's been around 120 every day. It's just the pain roller coaster that bothers me.
 
And, of course, your absence. I loved spending rainy evenings with you. If you were here and the storm knocked the dish out, we'd put on something black-and-white - maybe Gaslight, or Farewell My Lovely, or The Spiral Staircase - and have frozen pizza. You'd rub my neck and I'd cuddle up with you, and we'd go to sleep with the curtains open so we could see the lightening. I'd lie with my head on your shoulder and look out the window at the storm. But you're not here and there's a dog sitting on my head - there's just no romance.
 
Today I've cried for the first time in a few weeks. Rain and pain have made me more emotional. And maybe I was just overdue to cry. I glanced at the permanence of this, and that glance into unendingness was too much. I'll go back to one moment at a time. That's easier. And I'm so thankful for the animals, even when the dog's on my head and the cat's on my hip and nobody can sleep.
 
I love you so much! I'll miss you tonight while it storms, and I'll put my hand in the dip in the mattress, and maybe cry some more. I'll pray for you, you'll pray for me, and I'll follow you when Jen lets me dig!
 
Love you, love you, love you!
Joan.

On Being Unpredictable. Pedictably.

Dear John,
 
After we talked last night I turned off the light and tried to go to sleep, and couldn't because I was hurting too bad. Another storm front came through, and this one did a number on my fibro. So I took pain medicine and stayed up until it started working. Then I felt much better and went right to sleep, and I woke up this morning feeling good. It's been a clear day, cooler and drier than yesterday. No storms for almost 24 hours! The only thing that's really predictable about fibro is that it will be unpredictable.
 
We're still expecting storms tomorrow, and I have to get to the farmer's market anyway. So I mowed this evening after work. It's a good time of day to mow - the sun is low, it's cooler, and the wind dies down which helps a lot since I'm currently without a grass chute. I finished in an hour and a half, which is a new personal best. The grass didn't need mowing except in the back yard; in the rest of the yard, it was the weeds that were long. It's the season for those tall seed heads. I really do need to look into some weed-and-feed. Or just rotate the dog - the grass is so thick in the back that it choked out the weeds. And the moles haven't even tried to return since Jethro chased them away. Nor has the possum been seen, poor traumatized thing.
 
That's all the news. I'm still doing freestyle mowing so I don't get bored. And I need to trim tomorrow if it doesn't rain. Don't worry - I won't take chances with an electric trimmer. And I still think the yard is flat.
 
And I still love you more than life,
Joan.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pork With An Attitude!

Dear John,
 
I'm so excited - look what I just found! Pig On Beale - the best barbecue in the whole world! Oh, how we loved that place!
 
I've been remembering Beale Street at night. Remember that lovely October evening that we were on down there for the banquet at the Gibson Guitar Factory? We got done about 9:30, and it was way too early to go back to the hotel. So we walked the length of the street and just listened to the music. You were in a suit and I was in an evening gown, but nothing is out-of-place on Beale Street. We ended the evening taking a carriage tour of historic Memphis. The history was fascinating, and I believe it was the single most romantic thing we ever did. And having a friendly golden retriever lying across our feet didn't hurt any.
 
That is one of my favorite memories. We had fun there during the day, too, especially when we walked down from the convention center at lunchtime. Was it the first day that we found Pig On Beale? I think it was. I'm salivating now, remembering it. I was so glad that you liked barbecue, too. And I got to introduce you to lots of regional styles - north Georgia barbecue, and South Carolina barbecue with the mustard base, and North Carolina barbecue with the vinegar-and-pepper base and slaw on top. But the barbecue at Pig On Beale, now, that's something special.
 
I enjoyed traveling with you for lots of reasons. But one reason is that you didn't want to eat at national chains. You'd look for the little local places every time. And we found some amazing ones. We never got over that chef-owned Italian place in Somewhere-or-Other, New Jersey. That's how we found Java Joe's in St. Ignace, and Sony's barbecue in Florida, and that great little place in the Keys - Annette's, was it? - and the flying pig place in the music district in Nashville.
 
But Pig On Beale - well, that's special!
 
Love you even more than barbecue,
Joan.

P.S. - Ron is reading Robert's Rules of Order just like you did. Did you do that to him? 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Snow, Pong, & Food by Helicopter

Dear John,
 
I've let myself rest today, starting with sleeping 12 hours. If I can sleep after sunrise, you know I need to. Mowing didn't happen because it stormed off and on all day. I can hear the grass growing. I'll get to on Saturday, when it's going to be cooler anyway. The storms have kept it cool enough to keep the house open - we've all enjoyed that.
 
I ran across this photo today, and you know what I'm remembering! It hit in our area the day we were allowed to move into the dorms for the spring semester. I didn't make it to Lexington until the next day. Knoxville was fine, the weather reports out of there were clear, so I kept going. And I hit a blizzard on Clinch Mountain, driving a VW bug. There was nowhere to get off, so I drove 15 mph holding a lighted candle against the window, since bugs didn't have defrosters then. They closed the highway for the night at Caryville.
 
I got to Lexington the next day. But it was so bad that classes were cancelled for a week. We didn't have books or syllabi yet, so there was nothing to do but hang out. Becky and I came over to your dorm and Kyle, Mike, Tom, and Jeff came down the hall. We all hung out in your room because Larry had a tiny TV. And for Christmas he'd gotten the latest thing - a new thing called a computer game - Pong.
 
I remember the food situation got a little dicey. One day all the dorm cafeteria had left was bread and powdered eggs, which caused most of us to call Domino's for dinner. Trucks couldn't get through to the cafeteria entrance, so they had helicopters drop food on the soccer field the next morning. That's the only time I have relied on helicopter-drop for sustenance.
 
Your birthday came and there was still no getting cars out. But we all had severe cabin-fever by then. So we walked to the nearest pizza place - single-file, in the continuing blizzard, each one hanging on to the back of the parka in front, with snow piled up to our shoulders on both sides.
 
It took months for all the snow piles to melt. I remember we joked about whether they'd be gone from the church parking lot in time for our wedding in May. They were, but not by much! It was terrible for so many people, and for us in transit. But once we got to the dorms it was great. We cemented some friendships that week. And we have stories to tell for the rest of our lives. We survived The Blizzard of 1978!
 
Thank you for the memories, and for having a roommate with a television! Love you even more than I did then,
Joan.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Dog, the Cat, & Einstein

Dear John,
 
Any typos tonight are Jethro's fault. It's storming again - has been for about an hour, with some nasty lightening and lots of rain. I'm in bed with the laptop. The dog can't decide whether to cower between my back and the headboard or try to sit in my lap. Neither is conducive to using a laptop.
 
We had a stormy night last night. Thunder started around 2:00, and I managed to sleep pretty well with him sitting on my head for an hour. Then he started squirming, and I got too hot, and one thing led to another until I gave up, sat up, and worked on the computer until 4:30, when he and the weather settled down enough for me to get another three hours of sleep. The radar looks like there won't be much sleep tonight, either, but I don't work tomorrow. If things dry out enough, I need to mow. But I'll need to do it early since it's going to be near 90 again. We'll see what happens. One thing at a time, and right now it's sleeping.
 
The storm scared the cat tonight. He was sitting on the back of the toilet while I got ready for bed at the sink - our usual morning-&-night routine - when a huge crack of thunder came and he ran for cover. I found him later hiding under the bed. He came out briefly for bedtime treats, and went right back into hiding again.
 
Jethro is worse about storms than he was when you were alive. But he's worse about everything else, too. He's never gotten over you going to work and never coming home again. He's happy and loving, but he's never quite felt secure. I do the best I can as a single dog-parent, but he misses his daddy. I can't fix it for him. But I did get him a kitten, and he's been so much happier with Hunter around. So I suppose I've been able to do something for him. Poor baby - I feel so bad for him. He misses you so much.
 
And so do I. And I'm sure the cat does too - I'm certain that Jethro tells him all kinds of wonderful, heroic tales of the father he never knew, how you went out ever day to do battle and make a living for us, and tamed the yard and the sump hole, and rescued Mommy from villains, and generally made the world safe for puppies and kittens. And did battle with cancer and won, but were finally vanquished by radiation. You're our hero, you know. Hunter is right to admire and revere you.
 
Now I'm embarrassing you, so I'll stop. Just know that we love you, no matter what you think of it. You're worth all the world put together to your little family. Even Einstein always knew that you mattered!
 
Love you more that life,
Joan.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hey Boy, the Back of My Neck is Peeling

Dear John,
 
Today was chore day. I put the trash out for tomorrow morning, cleaned the bathrooms, did laundry, washed sheets and towels, and paid bills for the week. And I'm still working on that commissioned knitting. It's been a good, slowly-busy day.
 
I paid the homeowner's insurance for the year. I trimmed the policy a bit, but the bill still went up some. I got a quote about bundling it with the car insurance and discovered that I'd lose about $200 a year. They told me there was no way they could come near the price of a mutual aid company. So I'm staying where I am. I know you checked that about five years ago, but I wanted to see if anything had changed. I appreciate all the shopping-around you did for our insurance policies. They're still the best things for us. Me. Whatever this family is now. I still struggle with pronouns.
 
 
I didn't tell you yesterday was Pentecost because you know it much better than I do. But I saw this today, and couldn't resist. I also discovered a wonderful Facebook page called Grumpy Orthodox Cat. It's brilliant. Check it out - you'll love it. So here's the grumpy take on Pentecost, too.
 
Of course, I can't kneel either. At my first Kneeling Vespers I had no idea how long the prayers went on, so I knelt and nearly died. Now I know better, and I prostrate for them. I can prostrate until the cows come home. But my knees weren't meant for kneeling. Sadly, I cannot lick the back of my neck either. (And I can hear you saying, "That's what I'm here for.") The back of my neck could use some grooming right now; it's peeling from the day I mowed and trimmed. I should try not to do them both on the same day. I remember you did them on different days. I learned my lesson.
 
I love you so much! And I miss you. I'm due for a phone upgrade - what do you think they'd do if I asked for a plan that included you? I don't believe the technology is quite ready for that. But I'm happy to know all is well with you. And I look forward to being with you again. Maybe I'll get knees that will really kneel!
 
Love you forever,
Joan.


Our Vicious Dog

Dear John,
 
It's almost midnight. I'm still up because one of my favorite pinners had a pinning orgy today, and there were tons of lovely things to go through tonight. The good thing is that I'm off tomorrow.
 
I've been opening the windows at night after it gets cooler outside than in, and closing them in the morning before it warms up outside. That way we're getting the best of both worlds. And hopefully keeping the NIPSCO bill as low as possible. It's been a dry week or so, which means I don't need to mow while it's 90 outside, but isn't good for anything else. We're supposed to have the biggest moon of the year tonight, but right now it's cloudy so I'm missing it. But I've seen very big ones before, and they're so beautiful.
 
I found this, and thought you'd like it. The same is true of one kitten and a German shepherd/coonhound mix. But then, we're talking about the dog that was nearly reduced to tears when he thought the possum was dead. Hunter and Jethro are so adorable together.
 
There's nothing else happening around here. I've been knitting most of the day, and the animals have slept a good deal - probably recovering from the heat. I hope they'll be able to sleep tonight. I know I will. I just wish you were here to cuddle up and sleep with. I still reach my hand out and put it in that dip your shoulder made in the mattress, and feel closer to you.
 
Love you forever,
Joan.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Humidity, Locust Trees, & Biotic Wars

Dear John,
 
This is the first full day of summer, and I had to turn on the air conditioning. It was 83 inside, and humid. I have the thermostat set on 78, so I'm still using fans. But from now until Friday it will be 90 during the day and 70 at night. As soon as the humidity dropped inside, the animals gave a great sigh of relief, stretched out, and went to sleep. Poor things, they are wearing fur.
 
What we need here is more shade. We'd planned to plant more trees two summers ago, then life went off the rails. I'm going to put in more locust trees in the fall. I love the one we have - it's grown fast, they live a long time, they're tough as nails, this one has never dropped anything in a storm, the branches spread way out, and they give great shade. So locust trees it is.
 
I went to the farmer's market and the co-op this morning. I got snap peas, cheese, and onions at the farmer's market, and a few organic peaches at the co-op. They smell like the peaches I grew up with - probably because they got ripe on an actual tree instead of being picked green then gassed. I'm going to have one at bedtime, and I can't wait. I'm eager to see if eating organic will have an effect on the fibro. It does for a lot of people, so I'm hopeful. And even if it doesn't, it's good for all of me. I'll keep you posted.
 
Sleep well tonight - I love you so much!
Joan.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cats Are Made of Rubber

Dear John,
 
I just heard a great ker-thumping noise from the kitchen, which isn't unusual around here. I went in and found the cat on top of the cabinets. Not the base cabinets, the wall cabinets. Waaaay up there on top. As I was wondering what would be the best way to get him down, here he came - he jumped to the counter-top, then to the floor. And that confirms it: Cats are made of rubber. I don't think I need to worry about him getting stuck on top of the bookcases, do I?
 
Jethro has been very cuddly today, even for him. It's probably gratitude for my supposed resuscitation of the dead possum that wasn't dead but playing possum. Poor dog - he was gently nosing and pawing at that inert possum in what I can only describe as puzzled panic. He was so happy when he went back out and the possum was gone. I really think he was terrified that he's killed him when he just wanted to play. Thank goodness Jethro didn't get bitten! 
 
We're doing fine so far without the air conditioning. When I got home today it was 90 outside and 78 inside - not bad. I'm opening the windows at night and closing them before I leave in the morning. Tonight, all I want to do is sleep. Wednesday night, after the Coke for lunch, I got four hours of sleep. Last night, what with the possum and all, I slept from midnight to 1:00 and from 3:00 to 6:30. Between caffeine and critters, I'm beat. I can't sleep too late in the morning because I need to get to the farmer's market, so I'll do my best to get to bed early. I'll miss you at the farmer's market. And I promise to spend money without you there to push me! At least I'll be bringing home food I know is safe.
 
Still sorry you're missing all this insanity! Love you with all my heart,
Joan.

Possum 1, Jethro 0

Dear John,
 
He did it again - Jethro woke me up at the stroke of 1:00 to go out. After about fifteen minutes I went to the door to bring him back in. He was in the southeast corner of the yard, running around and whimpering. Since he wouldn't come to the door, I got the flashlight and went (in my nightie) to see what was wrong. I found him in emotional distress, leaning over the inert form of a possum. Jethro was obviously puzzled and worried, afraid that he'd killed the creature, trying to wake him up.
 
Having grown up familiar with the ways of possums, I wasn't too worried. I got Jethro inside, and got a bigger flashlight, a pair of your heavy gardening gloves, and a large plastic bag, just in case. I went back out and, of course, there was no trace of said possum. Jethro scared him and he was possuming.
 
The dog is happy and relieved, I'm glad not to have had a carcass to dispose of, the possum has returned safely to the bosom of his family, and the neighborhood is wondering what on earth is up in my yard that has me running around at 1 A.M. in my nightie with a flashlight, but they're sure Jethro is at the bottom of it.
 
Please tell Mama all about it. And tell her thanks loads for bringing me up to know about these things. It's her doing that I'm competent to handle a possum event at 1:30 A.M. And tell her yes, I know that I could have caught it, fed it milk and bread for a couple of weeks to be sure it wasn't sick and to get the gamey taste out of it, and could have eaten it. And I know how good it would have been. But I have enough to do around here to mediate between the critters, and I'd much rather send him home to his loved ones.
 
Love you, and all the crowd that will be entertained by this story,
Joan.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Revolution Lives

Dear John,
 
In the parlance of our youth: I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. In the slightly looser parlance of Doonesbury: Send black arm band and gas mask; the revolution lives. This is the planet's notification that I've been pushed past my limits. I am reverting to my hippie past and going off the grid. Gastronomically, that is.
 
I assume you're up on the news - GMOs, Monsanto, the big agricultural bill with that one provision in it that protects big food manufacturers. (And to think that Mama once cried because I didn't believe that the government always had our best interests at heart.) I'm going off of factory-produced food. I've opted out of the industry that is knowingly feeding me poisons that are banned in other countries.
 
So I joined the food co-op in Goshen today. Everything is organic and most is local. (Think Wellspring here. That's one thing I miss about Durham.) I'm already making my own cleaning products, weed killer, and pest remedies. I'll finish some of the food I have, but some is going to get tossed. I'm ticked. And determined, and stubborn.
 
And outraged - that's the word - outraged. And mad as hell. And not going to take it anymore  I'm willing to go to jail for drinking raw milk. When the zombie apocalypse comes I won't be surprised. And I won't be able to sue Monsanto over it because of that agricultural bill. What's the point of a zombie outbreak without lawsuits? (sung, or course, to What's the Point of a Revolution, from Marat/Sade.)
 
Thanks for listening. I'll keep you posted. You've seen me reach this point before - I'm generally a peaceable creature, but there are lines in the sand that you don't cross. Industrial food just bulldozed my beach. And I'll keep an eye out for zombies.
 
Love you for loving me even when I'm foaming at the mouth and completely unlovable,
Joan.

P.S. - It's 2 A.M. - after the settlement of the Possum Crisis - and I'm realizing that I wouldn't have believed a year ago that I could get so worked up about something. I didn't think I'd ever care enough about anything again, to be able to get worked up like this. So I suppose my outrage is symptomatic of some degree of health, or improvement, or healing, or some such word denoting improvement, or at least something positive. And the other thing in my mind is that you always said you wanted an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman. I don't look like I did 38 years ago. But some things haven't changed a bit, have they?  Love you!
 


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Nameday Picnic Without Plants

St. John's Tomb, in San Francisco
Dear John,
 
Happy Nameday! Today is St. John's commemoration day, so I had to come and eat lunch with you to celebrate. I couldn't bring ice cream from The Chief because it's also a fast day. But we had our picnic in the cemetery anyway, didn't we? And we had a lovely long talk, too. It's been a while since we had this much to talk about.
 
It was a beautiful day for it - upper 70s, sunny, low humidity - perfect. It will start getting warmer tomorrow and be 90 over the weekend, so I'm enjoying this while I can. I hope to get through this warm spell without using the air conditioning. But don't worry - I'll be sensible. I'll turn it on if I need to.
 
I said prayers for you after lunch - the same Akathist I always do. For months the prayers felt so sad. But today I realized that they are very joyful, hopeful prayers. My own pain had kept me from seeing that. I suppose I'm healing.
 
I was looking at all the plants other people have planted next to headstones, and wondered if I should plant something for you. Of course, I knew right away that you'd say that was silly, that you didn't need or want anything. (You also said that about planting anything around the house, which I did anyway, and you liked it once it was done.) I realized that I can't plant anything there because it would require digging, and Jen doesn't allow me to dig at the cemetery. I reported all this to her, and she said that if I wanted anything planted there, she would be the one to do the digging. So it looks like you won't be getting any plants. And I know that you're just as happy with that.
 
I love you so much! And as much as I always wanted to be buried in my family cemetery, I'm glad you're not in North Carolina. It matters so much to be able to visit you whenever I want to. I had no idea how important that would be. And I'm glad you're where the people at church can come visit and pray for you, people you worked with can come and see you, and the whole cemetery is blessed every year by the three priests in town. I love having you close, and knowing that I'll be beside you someday soon - whenever Jen lets me dig!
 
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,
Joan.
 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blondie & Bafflement

Dear John,
 
The cat was on the floor when I got home, so either he stayed off the bookcases or figured out how to get down. Either one is good.
 
There isn't much going on - good day at work, sunny and mid-70s today, nothing happening. I just feel a bit sad this evening. There's no particular reason for it, other than you not being here. Something hurts somewhere, that's all. Facebook went offline a few minutes ago - the world is probably in the throes of despair.
 
So, to cheer myself up, I have this to show you. I saw it last week, a day after I heard the song on the radio. Besides making me laugh, it reminds me of you. (And no, that's not what's making me laugh.)
 
I remember the first time you took me through Troy, and I saw my first roundabout. I was completely baffled and rather alarmed. I had no idea what you and the other drivers were doing. You'd grown up with roundabouts, and couldn't imagine what my problem was. (It wasn't the only time that happened.) I got used to them, and now I rather like them. But this picture shows roundabouts pretty much the way they used to look to me. Really, I'm better now!
 
I'll get to bed soon and I'll be over whatever this is in the morning. If you'd come and cuddle with me, I'd get over it tonight!
 
Love you so, so much,
Joan.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I Got This $h!t Handled!

Dear John,
 
I've been such a big girl today! I got the mowing done, but I also trimmed for the first time. I'd found the owner's manual for the trimmer in the garage. So today I got it out - and three extension cords - and trimmed everything. Except that I forgot one side of the shed.
 
I'm so glad you got an electric trimmer! I don't think I could manage the weight of a gas one. But this one wasn't at all hard to handle. I remember you used to fight with it when you changed lines, so I was prepared for a difficult and complicated procedure. But it wasn't hard after I figured out which hole the line was supposed to come out of. Everything looks so much better. It looks like humans live here. And I'm so impressed with myself.

I also played fireman and rescued the cat twice. He's figured out how to get on the top of the bookcases - the ones we brought back from my parents' house - but not how to get down. The second time I left him up there for a while in hopes that he'd learn not to go there. If he gets stuck up there while I'm at work, he's on his own. We'll see where this goes.

Oh, I learned something else today. You know how you see athletes lean forward and pour water over their heads? Now I know why! It was hot and sunny today, so I came in three times to cool off and get Gatorade. I put my head in the kitchen sink and ran cold water over it, and it felt amazing. And it was cooler mowing with my hair wet.

And the Gorilla Glue failed. The grass chute fell off today. Bob has an idea to bolt it to a piece of metal, then bolt the metal to the lawnmower. I'll take him up on it. Until then, I'll try to mow when there's not much wind.

So that's all that's happening around here. Just me doing ordinary things and getting all proud of myself over it. And I know you're proud of me, too.

Adore you,
Joan.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Of Weddings & Drugs

Dear John,
 
It's been a lovely, lovely day. Luke and Lacey are married and the wedding was beautiful. Since I'm her godmother, Lacey had me sit with her family, which was so very sweet. Father put me in charge of getting all the legal documents signed. (How many of those have we handled over the years?) The church was SRO and the fellowship hall was packed with overflow. I've considered Luke one of my unofficial godchildren, so today I felt like I was giving one godchild to another.
 
And I have news for you that I've been holding off on, in my usual stance of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was talking to Jeanette on Thursday and she was describing her reaction to a statin. It sounded just like the way I've been feeling. So my head ran through the medicines I'm on, and I came up with Bentyl. Any antihypertensive can cause fatigue and weakness, and it can be cumulative. My need for it has been marginal this year, so I came off of it. (Nurses always practice medicine on themselves - I'm not the only one.) I felt great on Friday, wonderful on Saturday, and even better today. I haven't felt this good for three years. I feel like myself again. Myself with fibro, but myself.
 
I can't describe how good it feels to feel good. I can only say that I really felt as bad as I thought it did. The contrast is unbelievable. I worked Thursday, got up early Friday and went to South Bend then to work, and I had to force myself not to mow when I got home after 7:00 Friday evening. I'm bouncing around with energy to spare.
 
So: I can be available for an many hours as Kathy needs me to work. I won't have to bring up The D Word with Joe. I can get work done here at home that I want to do. And I may even have some sort of a life.
 
I also can't describe how grateful I am. I've wanted to tell you since Thursday, but I had to wait and be sure it was real and would last. I still have limits, and they've moved so much that I'm sure I'll make some mistakes finding where they went. I still hurt. But I feel wonderful - I always said I could handle pain better than fatigue. And this was way beyond fatigue.
 
One of my limits is that I still have to sleep, so we'd better be getting to bed. The cat's yawning and the dog is whimpering, so it's time. I love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,
Joan. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wilma, Walmart, and the Snuggling of Souls

Dear John,
 
We're all set for more storms tonight, which means less sleep. I was getting us to bed early. Then I saw a beautiful photo of a full moon in Pinterest, traced it back to the board it came from, and discovered a fascinating pinner with good taste in old movies. It took some time, but I got some wonderful pins from him.
 
It's been an odd Saturday. I went downtown to the bank and pharmacy, then to Walmart, then Prairie Market, then back to the pharmacy for office supplies that Walmart didn't have. I was headed for the Farmers' Market but didn't get there. I ran into Wilma at Tom's - they're here from Florida for a week or two. We hadn't seen each other in about two years, and she didn't know that you had died. It was much more important to talk to Wilma. Maybe I can get to the Farmers' Market after work on Tuesday.
 
Remember all those Topeka-wide Vacation Bible Schools that all the churches did together, and that Wilma and I worked the kitchen every year? Each church had one person in the kitchen. But the other churches had a different person every night. Somebody had to know what was going on and keep the thing organized. So Wilma and I were the snack-time designated drivers. And no matter what went haywire, we loved working together. And we loved each other. So it was fun every year. Most of the volunteers wanted to work with the children. If they'd have been high school or college kids, I'd have fought you for them. But these were little ones, so I fled for dear life to the kitchen. And those years are why I knew where every single thing was kept in Maple Grove's kitchen, and couldn't find a single thing in our own kitchen at Topeka Mennonite.
 
Wilma and I would come early every night and get ready, so we'd have time to leave the kitchen and go to the opening convocation. (I still have nightmares where people are singing "Hear the Pennies Dropping." Annoying song.) We always sat in the back so we could get out quickly and get back to work. And one night we saw, right there in front of us, the essence of Topeka, the icon, the quintessential expression of the town.
 
It was the 1st and 2nd grade class, and there were three children sitting together, whispering and playing happily, paying no attention to the program. They were obviously good friends from school. There was an Amish boy on the left, an Amish girl on the right, and in the middle was an English boy with an orange Mohawk. They were friends - none of that mattered to them.
 
That's a large part of what makes Topeka special. Most of the Amish and English kids go to school together through the 8th grade. They grow up knowing each other, playing together, being friends. That has a powerful effect on the relationship between the two segments of the population. It's hard to objectify the man who was your best friend in 3rd grade. For the local children, having English and Amish living here together is the most normal thing in the world. They go to each other's weddings, patronize each other's businesses, work together to plan and carry out the future of the town, and look after each other. When there's a benefit at the fire station for anybody, everybody comes out for it. Integration begins in the schools. (I think I remember hearing that somewhere before, a long time ago.)
 
Enough of singing the praises of Topeka. It was a treat to see Wilma, and I'm glad I got to tell her all about you. I miss seeing her around here all the time. Walmart was Walmart on Saturday - nothing pleasant about that. Prairie Market was great. I got home, had lunch, and took a two-hour involuntary nap. I felt rested after it, and got Luke and Lacey's wedding present finished. I think they'll like it and find it very useful. And I know they're not getting another one from somebody else.
 
I'm sorry we won't be going to the wedding together, but I know you'll be there. Nothing would keep you away from your goddaughter's wedding. These are two of your favorite young folks. So I won't see you there, but I'll feel you - I'll know that you're there. I hope they do, too.
 
I adore you. I miss you, but I'm glad for your presence that is so real to me. I feel like I get more time with you now than I did when you were in restaurant work and put in so many hours. There are some communication difficulties on my side, but I'm getting better at hearing you, so we'll work that out. I'm thankful to God for the great grace of letting me have an awareness of being with you and being able to communicate. It seems to be a gift that isn't always given. Please tell Him thanks for me. I can't sleep in your arms tonight, but my soul can snuggle up with your soul, and that is so much better!
 
Snuggling,
Joan.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Shopping, Sales, & Sleep

Dear John,
 
We all slept last night. For the fourth night in a row, the dog woke me up at the stroke of 1 AM wanting to go out - since we don't have a chiming clock, I can only assume he knows how to tell time. But other than that, all was quiet. And Hunter surprised me. He went right back in the windowsill and slept there. But since he survived Jethro when he was only three months old, he must not be easily traumatized.
 
I did go to South Bend today. And you should be proud of me - I spent money on clothes without you being there to make me do it. I walked into a gigantic one-day sale at Macy's that I had no idea was going on. And I did really well - I got almost $300 worth of clothes for $120.
 
I really needed the clothes. Remember in the spring of 2011, you got firm with me and said we were going to get me new summer clothes because everything I had was stained, faded, worn out, or all three? Then came the accident, and was impossible to try on clothes with a broken collar bone. Last summer I was too busy with business/legal things and getting the house ready for the girls to do much shopping, and I wasn't in the mood for it anyway. So by this spring I had the wardrobe of a refugee. And I actually took care of the problem all by myself. When I got home from work this evening, before I put the new things away I packed up a big bag of clothes to go to Goodwill, about three times as much as I bought.
 
So it was a good day, and I had fun. It would have been more fun with you. But I do get some satisfaction out of being independent in ways that I haven't for many years. It's not like you insisted on being part of my clothes-shopping, it's just that I value your opinion and it was more fun with you. And you were there today - when I was making decisions in the dressing room, you definitely gave me your input. And I appreciate it so much.
 
Thank you for shopping with me - and thanks for enjoying it. Thank you for trusting me with money. Thank you for getting firm with me when it was time to actually spend some of it! And thank you for being with me today. You're going to love my new clothes.
 
Love you more,
Joan.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lightening Flashed, Thunder Roared, & the Cat is Down to Eight Lives

Dear John,
 
The thunder did stop around midnight and we all went to bed. The dog woke me up at 1 wanting to go out - he hadn't been out for hours because he was too afraid of the storm. Then, right on the stroke of 2 AM, there was this HUGE bolt of lightening and clap of thunder.
 
The ground shook from it, and everything lit up as bright as daylight. Jethro had been asleep lying on my head, and Hunter had been in the window sleeping on the sill next to the screen. The dog yelped and flew straight up in the air, landing on my head on his way back down. The cat yowled and flung himself out of the window and across the bed. Jethro began calming down as soon as I had the light on. Hunter was hiding in the hall trembling, and had to be held and rocked, and is now down to eight lives. It took about half an hour to get them settled and happy again.
 
By then I couldn't get back to sleep. I finally took Benadryl, which took about an hour to make me sleepy - I entertained myself with some Internet research I'd been wanting to do, and finally got to sleep around 3:30. I woke up at 6:15, a few minutes before the alarm was set to go off. And since a major front had gone through overnight, I felt like I'd been beaten by baseball bats, really terrible pain all over. There wasn't much happening at work today, so I texted Kathy, took Vicodin, and slept until 9:00. I woke up feeling much better, and had a good day at work.
 
Everything feels much better today. The temperature and humidity are way down, and all animal life has breathed a sigh of relief. I'll need the summer blanket tonight - last night it was so hot and humid that I ended up sleeping on top of it. I doubt that the cat will ever sleep in that window again. Poor thing, I can imagine how terrifying that was for him.
 
We're in our usual places tonight. I stayed up for the 100th episode of Burn Notice, which says it's ending after this season. Hearts are breaking everywhere. It's a good thing they're on Netflix. Jethro is asleep at my feet and Hunter is in the window stalking the petunias. Kathy only needs me for a few hours in the afternoon tomorrow, so I'll run some errands in South Bend before work. If you were here we'd go together, eat Italian somewhere, and make a day of it. Without you, I'll probably get a dollar taco and free senior drink at Taco Bell. Haute cuisine!
 
You missed lots of entertainment again last night, and I'll miss you tomorrow when I go to South Bend. Thank you for praying for our safety last night! I saw one big tree down today. Most of us just got a good soaking rain. Oh goody - it will make the grass grow.
 
Love you so much, and wish I could cuddle under the blanket with you tonight,
Joan.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Storms, Hockey, & Poorly-Planned Dreams

Dear John,
 
It's 10:00 and we're still battened down for storms, but it looks like the worst will go south of us. We've had continuous thunder for a couple of hours, so Jethro is alternating between wanting to be in my lap and giving up and going to sleep. It's 82 in the house and very humid. I didn't turn on the AC because it's going to get cool and dry after the storms go through - and you're not here to make me turn it on! It's not clear enough to go to bed yet. Soon, maybe.
 
I'm watching 22 for weather tonight. I was watching 16, but they were carrying the NHL Championship Game tonight, and as it got close to starting time (tip-off? kick-off? puck-off?)) all hell was breaking loose on the phone lines and Facebook. So they held out until the warning for South Bend expired, and all folks missed was the first two minutes.
 
Thanks for the dream last night. You're getting much better at planning our nights out together, but the endings could still use some work. I dreamed that you were allowed to come back for a couple of weeks, and we had a wonderful time. But at the end you died in ICU again - you may want to work on that. Or maybe next time I could go with you? When I woke up I was puzzling over how I'd work out the legalities and paperwork, and explain how I was widowed by the same man twice.
 
I'm going to start off to bed. The thunder will likely last another couple of hours. So there won't be much sleep here. But there's always Facebook and Pinterest!
 
Love you so much - wish you could come here or I could go there!
Joan.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sheep Zombies

They're watching me. Why are they watching me?
Dear John,
 
I know - I just finished the last letter, and you haven't even had a chance to read it yet. But I JUST FOUND THIS!
 
They're watching me. Why are they watching me?
 
This is what Hunter and Jethro looked like last night while I was eating/bathing in that pear. Creepy! Are they sheep zombies? Are they taking over the world? If so, are my cat and dog involved in the conspiracy?  When Hunter lies on the window sill, is he watching for them? I'm going to have nightmares about this!
 
Please come and save me from the sheep zombies! Hurry!
Joan.
 


Open-Bathroom-Door Policy

Dear John,
 
There isn't much to talk about this evening. I had a busy day at work but got everything finished half an hour early. I came home and mustered up the energy to fix a bowl of raisin bran for dinner then fell asleep on the couch. Now the dog is asleep at my feet and the cat is grooming himself on the window sill.
 
I dragged myself through today. Pain kept me up until 3:30 this morning, and the latest I could possibly set the alarm was 7:15. This is getting irritating. And scary. But there's no need to go into all that again.
 
I found this today and had to laugh. The handbook on German shepherds said the same thing - get one, and you'll never go to the bathroom alone again. Both sources were right. Every time I go to the bathroom the dog follows me and gets petted. Then the cat figures out where we are and comes running in, climbs up in my lap, and gets stroked by me and licked by the dog. We all huddle together in the bathroom like one happy family. It's a good thing I never had a shy bladder.
 
And that reminds me of a drive we took in the Smoky Mountains when I was about ten. The car got stuck in the mud. Another car came along and the driver said he'd to go the nearest town and call a tow truck for us. We waited about four hours, but one finally did come and pull us out. Somewhere in that time Mama and I needed a restroom, so we grabbed a couple of Kleenexes and went hiking off into the woods. I was standing there waiting for Mama to finish, like I did at home where we had to take turns. Mama looked at me and asked, "Are you waiting for my plot of grass?" And of course I was. We had a good laugh, and never forgot it. After that, when one of us was headed to the bathroom we'd ask the other one if she wanted to share a plot of grass.
 
You and I kept up the tradition and the phraseology after we were married, and when we were alone we always went to the bathroom together. Now that you're gone, my little family of three gathers around the plot of grass. Having them there keeps me from missing you as much. Come one, come all, to the bathroom!
 
For not having anything to say, I did manage to talk a lot, didn't I? That's not surprising. It's good to remember you and my parents. Hug them goodnight for me!
 
Love you great bunches,
Joan.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Apocalypse Began in the Bathtub

Dear John,
 
I had a slow, lovely, rainy day. I did get the laundry done. And I spent most of the day at the computer working on Luke and Lacey's wedding gift. I can't tell you what it is yet, but I will next week. They're getting married next Sunday so it's still a secret.
 
The animals have been great entertainment this evening. During the new episode of The Glades, so after 9, I was eating a pear. A very juicy pear. It seemed more like I was taking a bath in the pear. I looked up, and right in front of me, just across the coffee table, were the cat and the dog sitting side by side and watching me eat the pear. They sat there, perfectly still, not moving, not even blinking, watching me eat the pear. They would have succeeded in making me feel guilty if I hadn't been laughing so hard. It looked like American Gothic in fur.
 
After I came down the hall to get ready for bed, Jethro had followed me into the bathroom to watch me brush my teeth. It's fascinating stuff, evidently, this business of human dental care. The cat was in the bathtub, and he got tired of waiting for Jethro to come play with him. So I heard this huge THUMP. The cat threw himself at just the right spot on the shower liner, and cat, liner, and shower curtain flew about six inches and slammed into the side of Jethro's head. That got his attention. He decided - very sensibly, I believe - that it was time to play with the cat. So they went at it and Bathtub Olympics commenced.
 
I wish so, so much that you could see this foolishness! They love each other so much, and love to torment each other and compete for my attention, and then they gang up on me when I eat a pear. It's such a delight to have all of this to laugh at.
 
Watch over you little family tonight, and pray for all of us.
Love you totally and completely,
Joan.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pain, Panic, & Dirty Underwear

Dear John,
 
I really need to learn this
Last night was an adventure - be glad you missed it! I went to bed and to sleep with no problems. The dog woke me up at 2 to go out, and I was hurting so bad I didn't get back to sleep until 5. It wasn't Jethro's fault - with fibro pain that bad, it wouldn't have been long before it woke me up.
 
It's been a while since I've hurt that bad. I sat up with the computer because I couldn't lie down without some part of me touching the bed, and touching anything was too painful. I suppose it was a combination of working two four-day weeks and mowing. But I've been mowing every week and have never hurt like that from it. I took Oxycodone at 2:30 and it took until almost 5 for me to start feeling better. That's what happens when it gets that bad before you take pain meds.
 
So I went to sleep around 5 and woke up at 7. I thought about getting ready and going to church, but I was still hurting too bad - I knew I couldn't stand for the whole Liturgy, but I couldn't possibly sit in those metal chairs either. I texted Father and went back to sleep until 8:30 when the dog woke me up to - you guessed it - go out. The pain was better but still quite unpleasant, so I've spent the day alternating between the heating pad and sleeping. The animals have slept a good bit of the day, too. Poor things, they didn't get much sleep last night either.
 
I hope this flare is brief. I'm having the usual financial mini-panic: My body can't handle working 4 days a week, but the bank account needs 5. And I've made little progress in the emotional arena - I'm still worrying about what people will think about me missing church. As I've said before, I'm having to really deal with having a chronic illness, now that you're not here. And I suppose everybody else will just have to deal with it, too. You used to run interference for me on things like this. I miss having you to help me deal with people that don't understand. In fact, you may have noticed that what I miss is you!
 
Thanks again for listening to me whine. I really tried to just tell you about last night. But I can't seem to do it without sounding like I'm whining. Maybe it's because I'm still hurting. At least I'm off tomorrow. There's plenty that needs to be done around here, but little that is urgent. Just laundry - I absolutely have do a load of underwear tomorrow!
 
On the lighter side: I found this photo, and loved it. In a confusing world, doesn't this just clarify things for you?
 
I love you so, so much,
Joan.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

They Shouldn't Fence at Night!

Dear John,
 
I had a good day - went to Elyssa's birthday party, came home and mowed. It was a bit sobering to realize that I was Elyssa's age a full half-century ago. And I bet it's the same next year, since I was 50 when she was born. Jen gave a lovely party at the West Park, and I got to see the Brothers Huffman.
 
I had explored the mower last week, found where the oil went and how to check it, and found it was a bit low. So I put oil in it all by myself today. And the Gorilla Glue is terrific. The grass chute is firmly and permanently attached. That means I can't change it to bag grass, but I'll never want to do that anyway. I now have a great appreciation for grass chutes.
 
Mowing does turn your mind loose for an hour and a half, doesn't it? I used to think about how surprised and happy you'd be to get home and find the yard already done. Now I just mow. And I still have yesterday's song stuck in my head, which isn't terribly comfortable.
 
But I do have something you'll love! Joel introduced me to Virtual Videos, and I'm experiencing a delight similar to what we felt when we first discovered MST3K. They leave the videos as they are, but change the words to the songs so that they describe what's going on in the video. Hence things like, "And they shouldn't fence at night, 'cause they're going to hurt the gymnasts." I haven't laughed so hard in months. If you can get YouTube there, you really have to look these people up. It's just our kind of thing.
 
Anyway, the original song was rattling around my head while I mowed, and it stopped on the line, "Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time." And that's wrong. Your love is like a light to me. It's a light shining on me now and up ahead. It always has been and it always will be. I do think the best of all the years have gone by. But there's light here and in front of me. I will be patient and content.
 
Love you with every bit of me,
Joan.
 


Friday, June 7, 2013

W30, 1983, & the Ongoing Eclipse

Dear John,
 
I was grocery shopping after work tonight - actually, at the time I was in the garden section getting oil for the mower - and heard Total Eclipse of the Heart. Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you're never coming 'round, I get tired of listening to the sound of my tears, I get nervous that the best of all the years have gone by, I get a little bit terrified. I can't see the look in your eyes, but I can remember it. And that is good.

I always liked the song. But when it came out, I wasn't thinking about widowhood. It was 1983. Those years from 1980-1984 were very happy ones, and probably the most care-free years we had. We had bought our first house and were restoring it, we lived near friends and family, I was in the cath lab and loved it, you had your first restaurant management job, the finances were stable. And we had no idea that scar tissue was building in all the parts of your body that had gotten radiation. We had those few years of not knowing there was a closet-full of shoes waiting to drop. All of our years were good, but those four years were special. Those were the only years when we didn't know what was coming, the only years I wasn't afraid.

Now you're gone, and I love to remember 1983. (That was 30 years ago - can you believe it?) And I need you now tonight, and I need you more than ever. And if you'll only hold me tight, we'll be holding on forever. Once upon a time I was falling in love; now I'm only falling apart. Once upon a time there was light in my life; now there's only love in the dark. There is nothing more I can say. It really is a total eclipse of the heart. But forever will start for me, when I'm allowed to join you. Hurry the day!

Love you forever, with all my heart,
Joan.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

D-Day & the Spoon Shortage

Dear John,
 
I had a good day at work, and a short one - I had everything done after seven hours. And I need your advice. I've been beyond exhausted all day. And I have another day to work, and mowing and Elyssa's birthday party Saturday, and church Sunday. Then Monday comes and I start all over again. I've worked two four-day weeks, and I'm dying. I need the hours and the money, and Kathy needs the help. But tonight I'm wondering how much I can really do.
 
When you were here I could work within my limits and look after my body. Without you, it feels like financial necessities are requiring more than my body can do. Just working two days in a row flattens me, and when I'm that tired I don't think well. My job isn't physically demanding or stressful, and I really do enjoy it - there's no job I could have that suits my limits better.
 
When you were here, I didn't have to think about myself as chronically ill. I could manage the illness and limit it's effect on my life. Now I'm not even flaring and it's painfully (pun not intended) clear that I'm sick. I need the heating pad, but climbing around and moving furniture to plug it in is just too much pain and effort.
 
Can you tell I'm feeling a bit panicky? I'm sorry - I know things will look better in the morning. But I'll still be exhausted, and I'll still have to go to work. And stay awake driving my whole twenty minutes there. The solution would have been life insurance, but you couldn't get it because of your health history - and even I can't blame the insurance companies in your case!
 
What seems to be needed here is faith. The Lord has looked after me this far and won't abandon me now. I'll keep on keeping on, try to get more sleep, be careful to eat right, and see what happens. If I'm still dying on the vine in a few weeks, I'll call Joe. And there's always the equity we have in the land. This is my struggle. Yours was with the results of the radiation. Mine is with fibro - whatever the heck it really is - and with fear. Please do pray for me tonight. I'm trying to find my way without you, and this is part of that.
 
Oh, and please tell Daddy how much I appreciate him, especially on this anniversary of D-Day. If you remember, he was in the first wave to land. Whatever he saw that day, he never told a living soul. But it never left him. Tell him I love him and I'm proud of him and what he did. It makes my struggles look so small.
 
Love you so much,
Joan.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Boxing Gloves & Mystery Liquids

Dear John,
 
The next person that asks me why I'm
not dating yet is going to get it.
 
I had a fun and productive day off. I slept in, then cuddled for half an hour with the cat (he's been unusually cuddly today), and had oatmeal while I talked to Irene. I got the east flowerbed cleaned and planted two cotoneasters where other plants didn't survive the drought last summer.
 
I tackled the garage today. I got through lots of piles of stuff and got my workbench set up. And I went through everything on the shelves, cleaned, sorted, tossed, and organized - that was the big job, and the interesting one. And I have some questions for you.
 
First, why on earth do we have two washer/dryer outlets? Why was there a plastic bag of composting weeds - and some new compost - in the corner, and how long has it been there? And what on earth is the mystery liquid in the spray bottle, the one with the hand-pump? I sprayed a little on a weed, and will watch to see if it's weed killer. It's clear and odorless, which doesn't aid with identification. If the weed survives, I'm at a loss what to do with it. Is it hazardous? Poisonous? Radioactive?
 
I did solve one mystery: I found the owner's manual for the trimmer. I also found multiple packages of trimmer string, all different types and sizes. I'll figure out which one fits, but why do we have different types? It's another mystery. And why were the owner's manuals for the trimmer, mower, and snow blower on a shelf in the garage instead of in the notebook with the rest of the owner's manuals? I suppose that makes a bit more sense than the mystery liquid in the unlabeled sprayer!
 
Oh, about the mower: I worked on the grass chute this morning. I couldn't drill new holes and reattach it - it's shaped to fit too exactly. So I did something totally feminine. I tried Gorilla Glue. I cleaned it up first and glued the whole length of it to the mower. We'll find out how it works on Saturday. If it doesn't hold, I'll drill holes and put wire through them and attach it to the bolts. And watch the mower sales in August, and sell this one as-is. I'm pulling for the Gorilla Glue. It's still a good mower except for the grass chute.
 
So today was a big step. I began bringing the garage under my control, making it part of my home. It's always been your domain. I still have more to do. I need to re-organize the area around my potting table (always my little corner!) and I have to sweep. I'm going to put all the chemicals in that white cabinet and childproof the doors. I should get it done this weekend. Or I can do it on a rainy day.
 
Oh, about the photograph! I was looking at a series of old photos that were grouped as "unexplained," and most of them were really funny. When I got to this one, the caption was immediately obvious. So I pinned it, and had to show it to you. Your wife is being feisty again!
 
Love you only,
Joan.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Your Women are All Alike!

Dear John,
 
I've been trying to remember to tell you this since I was in Holland with you sister. You'll love this. We got to the hotel after dinner, unpacked, put on pajamas, looked at each other, and laughed. We were wearing almost-identical baby doll PJs. They were from Kohl's, hers a couple of years ago and mine this spring. The fabric was even the same, just in different colors - hers were blue and mine were turquoise. We decided that we have good taste.
 
You do realize that you married your mother, don't you? I am so much like your mother and your sister. Your description of what you wanted - the independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman - is Irene in one phrase. And I remember when we were first married, when you'd do something that baffled me or drove me crazy, I'd call your mother and ask if your father ever did that, and what she did about it. And every time she said yes, your father was like that too, told me how she handled it, and it worked with you, too. And I remember asking you what kind of nightgown you liked best. You said flannel, because you remembered your mother and sister wearing them when you were little.
 
If I didn't know anything else about your childhood, all this would tell me that it was happy. There are plenty of people with bad childhoods that marry back into the same cycle, but they don't have happy, healthy marriages like we did. You saw a good marriage between your parents, and knew what to look for to have your own good marriage. And I'm so thankful that you found me along the way! Being me, I'd been keeping lists in my head since I was about four, one of traits I did and didn't want in a husband, and  another of behaviors I did and didn't want in myself. I was probably more consciously aware of the process than you were. But it worked well for you on an unconscious level. And we ended up together, and that's all that matters.
 
You know that really is all in this world that matters to me, don't you? There's a lot in Heaven that matters. But here, the only important thing is that I got to be married to you. And we worked together toward Heaven. And I still wear flannel nightgowns and baby doll pajamas, and act like all the rest of your women. It can certainly be said that you're consistent!
 
So happy to be one of your women,
Joan.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Love Me, Love My Cat

Dear John,
 
Look! It's Us!
It still sounds surreal to say, "my cat," and positively apocalyptic to say, "I love my cat." But love the little critter, I do. And I've decided that "Love me, love my cat" is applicable here. Not because I won't accept folks that won't accept Hunter, but because it has become clear to me that I am a cat.
 
You've always been a dog. Your personality is thoroughly canine. You have the loyalty, trust, friendliness, forgiveness, and unconditional love of a dog. I, on the other hand, am  cat. I watch Hunter and feel like I'm looking in a mirror. His curiosity, awareness of his surroundings, detachment, independence, and a bunch of things I can't find words for but you'd recognize immediately, are me all over. I've been sure from the beginning that you'd be crazy about him, and now I know why. You always wanted an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman, right? That's me. But that's also a good description of a cat. A cat loves to curl up with you and purr, but if you try to force it to do that, you're going to get bitten and scratched. As you know, that's me; I've always needed space and privacy. My difficulty is bonding, not setting boundaries. I'm a cat, you're a dog. It can be a very good relationship - just ask Jethro and Hunter.
 
So I found this old photo of us - I hope you enjoy it! Be sure that you'd love the cat because you love me.
 
Purring just for you,
Joan.