Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm Not Moving On - Staples Did

Dear John,
Staples ripped my heart out today, and my reaction came out of nowhere and blindsided me. They rearranged things! The kitchen things are where the paper was. I was horrified. I felt like I'd been sucker-punched. Things didn't stay in the same place they were when you and I went shopping together. Isn't the whole world supposed to remain unchanged since the moment of your death, in honor and memory of you? At some level, that seems to be what I expected. As we've said before, I can be as illogical as anybody else when I put my mind to it.
There's a song by Phillip Phillips called Gone, Gone, Gone. The words could be sad, but they're not. It's a very upbeat song. "Baby, I'm not moving on. I'll love you long after you're gone." And that's what I want to say to you tonight. No matter where Staples puts things, even if the pens are on the roof and the printers are in the parking lot, I'm not moving on. I'll love you forever. You're stuck with me. There are some things that even death can't get you out of. You promised "until death do us part." Well, I'm here to tell you that death isn't parting us. We were sacramentally united and I'm here to stay. So there.
Loving you long after you're gone,

Adding Maxine to My Widowhood Board

Dear John,
It's been a long and unusual day, and I think I'm getting punchy. And I'm entitled to do that, since it's already been tomorrow for 5 minutes.
I started out the morning with more insurance adventures. COBRA and I have a difference of opinion as to whether I paid my premium in March, and I had to send them an extra $421 this morning to keep them from cancelling my insurance on Thursday. I'm beginning to think I need to get hit by a car and run up some medical bills so that all this money and effort isn't wasted.
Then I went to work, which was supposed to be slow since Kathy's out of town, and was quite busy. Then I went to the Farmers Market and Walmart. It was an emergency - I was low on cheese and kitty litter, and the black ink cartridge bit the dust Saturday. Jen and Elyssa came by right after I got home. I had a conference call tonight, so I just had time to get things printed off for that and grab some dinner. I got off the call, checked Facebook and Pinterest, and here I am. And it's tomorrow already.
Now back to being punchy. Or maybe it's just my dark, critical care sense of humor coming out. I saw this on Pinterest tonight, and immediately thought of you. (Most things make me immediately think of you.) If I got to choose who lived longer, I'd have chosen to have us die together so neither of us would have had to live without the other. That's what we'd always wanted. Neither of us ever had any interest in living without the other one.
You wanted me to live on and enjoy my life - an oxymoron if ever there was one. I'm getting more accustomed to living this way as time passes, but that doesn't mean that I'm liking it. I know you always forgot something when we traveled, but I don't see how you could have left and forgotten to take me!
Can't wait to join you,

Monday, July 29, 2013

Being Mean Won't Help!

Dear John,
We really have to work on this dream thing. You yelled at me all through my involuntary nap this afternoon. Was that really necessary? You're not going to make me miss you less my being mean to me in my dreams. So that strategy failed. I'm going to adore you no matter what you're up to when I'm asleep. I also had nursing nightmares all night. They are never going to stop, are they?
You should have been here this morning. The animals rampaged all over the house for a couple of hours. Once Jethro grabbed Hunter by the neck and tried to drag him across the living room, but Hunter had his hind legs hooked over the rail on the bottom of the piano bench. Undaunted, Jethro dragged cat and bench, and the cat just purred. I do believe I'm the sanest member of his household.
O mio babeeeeeeno caro . . .
Hunter is so vocal! I had no idea cats could make such a variety of sounds, and I'm trying to learn what each one means. His excitement squeak is the hard one - he gets excited over everything from Jethro to toys to birds outside. There's also a trilling noise that sounds a bit like purring and seems to mean, "Pet me!" And swatting with his paw means that he wants to play - that one was easy. I have so much to learn about cats. And I'm still so sorry that you're missing all of this. You really would love the little guy. He's completely adorable.
Here comes Jethro with Hunter's head in his mouth, doing his usual German shepherd thing of herding everybody into the same room. He let the cat go, and Hunter rolled over on his back so Jethro could lick his tummy. If I stop the dog, the cat gets mad at me. You really would love this.
But maybe you get to see it - I hope so. It's the best entertainment going. And I hope you get to touch and pet them both. If I feel your presence, then it must be overwhelming to these animals who are without sin. Please do visit us anytime. But stop being mean to me in my dreams - it won't make me love you less or miss you less, so give it up.
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Providence (Not Rhode Island)

Dear John,
I'm back! It's been a chilly day, low 60s and rainy. Your family has taken it easy - we've all been pretty tired. I'm in sweats and socks, and the dog has slept on my feet and the cat on my shoulder, and there's a Burn Notice marathon on. It's been a good day.

I've been pondering the providence of God, particularly as demonstrated by Jethro's joining of the family. Think about it. I had that round of mono in the winter of 2010-2011. We had started thinking about getting another dog. Then on Friday, April 7th, I woke up feeling much better. You were off, so we went shelter-looking, found Jethro, and brought him home. If we hadn't gone that day, what would have happened?

After April 8th we wouldn't have gotten him, because I wanted to be free to go help out in Ann Arbor, which I ended up doing. After that we would have waited until after our vacation, which was supposed to be the first two weeks of June. The vacation didn't happen because I was in the wreck. Even after I was out of the hospital we wouldn't have gotten a dog because I had that nasty clavicle fracture. Before it healed, you'd been diagnosed with cancer again and were in and out of the hospital. We never would have gotten a dog.

I can't imagine you coping with July and August without Jethro. When you felt so bad - before I strong-armed doctors into putting you on Bumex, and which you peed off 30 pounds in 2 weeks and went back to work - having Jethro crawl up in your lap, lick you, and go to sleep was the only thing that made you happy.

He's been wonderful for me, too, since your death. Having somebody to come home to and talk to and cuddle up with and sleep with has been so important. And because he got depressed and had to have a cat, I have Hunter, too.

We had no idea, when we woke up on April 7th and decided to go visit animal shelters, how crucial it was to do that on that day. But that was the providence of a loving and all-knowing God. Life hasn't been easy on Jethro, poor creature. He lost his Daddy, then his little playmate moved out when Jen and Elyssa got their own place. He's still a bit insecure, but so am I. And I suppose being here is better than still being at the shelter. And he loves us and enjoys his life. We're all rescue animals here -  Jethro from the shelter, Hunter from a dumpster, and me from being alone.

"And the moral of that is," said the duchess: Trust in the providence of God. He will fit everything together in a way that we can't imagine and is best for everybody. Looking at these things helps me remember that. And I need reminders, since nothing seems certain or secure anymore. It's really okay. You never doubted, never were afraid or anxious about anything. That example helps - thank you for being you. And thank you for spending your day off going to animal shelters that day!

Love you so, so much,

Can You Get a Weekend Pass?

Dear John,
Good morning! It's 55 degrees, gray and windy, with a definite feel of October. Odd for July, but better that the 107 we had last year, and a nice break. The weather is making me think about going somewhere with you and playing all day. We could go about anywhere and find fun things to do, and we enjoyed poking around in the same kinds of little shops, eating odd things at local places, and generally exploring. We were always cheap and easy to entertain, weren't we?
Remember that day we went to Grand Rapids to explore it? We were working our way down a street with lots of antique shops and used book stores, and we saw the perfect living room sofa in a window. We'd been looking for a new one for ages, but everything was huge and overstuffed then, and we have a small living room. We wanted something neutral, small, and up on legs so it would look lighter in the room. And there it was in the window. We went in and asked if it was for sale. They blinked at us a bit, said no, but if we wanted it they'd probably let us buy it for, oh, maybe $325. So we crammed it into the minivan - it just fit, with your chest a half-inch from the steering wheel. And we drove home VERY carefully! I still have it, still love it, and as of now it's cost us $25 per year. This is getting better and better.
We did things like that, didn't we? You never knew what we'd find when we went exploring. After all, we didn't go to Nebraska looking for Carhenge. But there it was one day at lunchtime. And I miss those days. We never got to explore Warsaw or Syracuse, and I wonder if I'll do it alone. Maybe Irene and I will go sometime. Or if you could get a weekend pass, we could still do it. Maybe?
I love you so, so much. I miss you this morning, and miss the things we did together. I'll go anesthetize with a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, and cuddle with the animals. But I'd rather have you than all of creation put together. Hurry the day that I'm with you again!
Adore you,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

It's Half-Past Coherence

Dear John,
I had lots of stuff to talk to you about, but it's 11:30 and my brain thinks it's in bed already. The dog is asleep at my feet, the cat is grooming himself on my shoulder, and there's a very cool breeze through the windows. Tomorrow's high is supposed to be 67 and rainy. It rained today, and we needed it. It's a chilly night at the fair.
I had a good day, and a busy one. I had my first Lia Sophia party today, and a good time was had by all. Especially the dog, who had lots of dog-lovers to play with. The cat came out to play after about an hour. They've been mostly sleeping since everybody left, and I'm about ready to do the same. Heather went over the computer procedures with me by phone tonight, so I finished up about half an hour ago. And I'd better get to bed while I can still get there!
I love you so much. Thank you for encouraging me and being proud of me. I wish you could come and snuggle under the blanket with me on this cool, rainy night. I still miss you most at bedtime.
Come cuddle with me,

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bless the Beasts & the Children

Dear John,
I cried this evening, and this time it had nothing to do with you. But it was so typical of me that I have to tell you about it.
I broke my News Moratorium tonight - I actually watched the local and national news. Don't ask me why. I needed some background television while I worked, and everything else was worse. It was a local news story that got me.
John, on July 4th some teenagers gave a puppy a lighted firecracker. Well, you know what I did - I started crying and grabbed the dog. I hugged and kissed him, and apologized for the behavior of my species. That's what I've always done when I heard about dog abuse, and I know you're not surprised. The national ASPCA got involved and charges have been filed, which is the good news. It doesn't help the poor puppy that they killed, but it may prevent injury to other creatures. It just breaks my heart.
Orthodox Monk
What is in the souls of people, that they could kill an innocent animal - and one that trusts them - for fun? Hunting I understand, and I've even had to put out a mouse trap or two. But somebody's puppy? I can't imagine what is inside people that could do that. Orthodox theology teaches us that the entire creation groans in travail - suffers for human sin. And that has broken both of our hearts, hasn't it? I remember when Caleb had cancer, how you'd cuddle and kiss him, and apologize that your sin was killing him - not directly in any way, but in the sense of your sin being a contributing part of the sin of all mankind.
I'm my grandfather Keistler's grandchild. Mama used to tell me how he'd cry his heart out every time he had to kill a chicken for food for his family. And if it talked to him on the way to the chopping block, he'd have to put it down and get another. And now, after it rains, I go on worm patrol and put them back in the grass before they get dry and die. I come by it honestly.
I'll probably cry my self to sleep tonight, for that poor dog, and every creature - human and otherwise - that has suffered at the hands of those who should have protected it. And I'll go back on my news moratorium - this is what I get for watching the news. God bless the beasts and the children.
Love you so, so much,

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Caption Alert! Caption Alert!

Dear John,
This has been one of the most beautiful days I've ever seen - clear, 70s, crops thick and perfect, wonderful smells - lovely. I got off work early and I'm off tomorrow, since Kathy's leaving for Seminar and there's nothing left to do until next week. And my brain did go to work with me this morning. Very nice of it.
I found this a few days ago. And on the way home today I had the radio on, and heard Patty Smyth and Don Henley's Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough. So I've been thinking about you - that's a shocker - and the last nine or ten months of your life. If love had been enough, you would never have gone without me. But it wasn't just love that I brought to the table. I fought tooth and nail for you. You married a cardiac critical care nurse and very considerately had your emergencies in my specialty. I went toe-to-toe with whoever I had to, to get you treated aggressively and properly. The cancer was a red herring that everybody wanted to go haring off after, and understandably so. But you were beating the cancer. The crisis was cardiac. Getting that across took some work, as you remember.
Dean McKenna taught us to be assertive, to be patient advocates, and to be able to tell anybody in the world where to go and what to do with themselves when they got there. I have times when I lack assertiveness, but never when it comes to patient care. And certainly not when it was you we were talking about.
I fought as hard as I could.
I did butt heads with some people, didn't I? But after the preliminary head-butting, we always came to a mutual understanding. All your doctors ended up respecting me and, I think, liking me. And your history is so complex that it was a tremendous help to have somebody that knew it and spoke fluent Medical.
I believe I'm just now recovering from all of that - the emotional strain, the physical demands, and the intellectual and interpersonal energy spent fighting for you. I was in all-out Sympathetic Nervous System overload for months. Now I seem to be finding my rhythm again, physically and emotionally. It's not surprising, after so many months of living like that.
And so tonight I thought about this photo again. And I wondered if this new widow had the boxing gloves on, not to fend off suitors, but because she'd fought so hard for her husband that they became second-nature to her and she forgot to take them off. I know what that feels like, and know they'll come off when she's ready. In the meantime, she fought as hard as she could, fought a good fight, loved and honored her husband to the end. Whatever her reason for the gloves, I'm sure that we're sisters.
Love you more than life,

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cats, Flags, & Other Things You Hate

Dear John,
I was up late last night. Like I said, it was a lovely, cool night, the kind that was wonderful when we could cuddle up together and I could go to sleep with my head on your shoulder. I kept thinking about you, and just couldn't bear to turn the light off and be in the bed alone. I finally made myself go to bed a little before 2, and slept well, if by myself. And it was better this morning.
It's been another cool, lovely day. It was perfect weather to mow and trim and do yard work. The house is looking good with the yard in good shape, the bushes all trimmed and tidy, and flowers in the window boxes and containers. The windows are even clean, except for the two here in the living room - they're abundantly decorated with dog nose art. It looks like grown-ups live here.
I did something a few weeks ago that you'd hate, but I did it anyway. You know those little flag things that hang on poles and are yard decorations? I always liked them, but you detested them. Well, I got one. It has pink petunias on a light blue background, and looks very summery. I'll get different flags for as the seasons change. I'm enjoying seeing it, but it still feels odd to have something that I know you wouldn't like. You know - like a cat. But I am absolutely certain that if you lived with Hunter, you'd love him. I'm not so sure about the flag. 
Jen is proud of me when I do something that I wouldn't do if you were here. And I know you want me to do these things, because you want me to go on living and to be happy. It's still hard to do that, but you took a lot of time to be sure that I knew what you wanted. And I did, and do, because I know you. You always wanted what was best for me, and you always tried to give me that. Except for the glaring instance of leaving without me. I still wonder how you could go on a trip and forget to take me!
I'll try to get to bed earlier tonight, since I'm working tomorrow. And I do hope my brain goes to work with me this time! I'll let you know tomorrow night. I love you so much - I started to say that I love you more than you can imagine, but that's not right, because you've always loved me just as much. It doesn't seem right to be apart, does it? But I trust that it is.
Eager to be with you again,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fog Warning off WTF Happened to Me Island

Dear John,
Did I say the fibro fog had lifted? I take it back. I thought it had until I got to work and tried to actually think and do things right. It was so frustrating I was nearly in tears. Kathy's so nice to me - she told me that even with fibro fog, I was better than everybody else she'd had in the last 10 years. True or not, it made me feel better.
This must be a little tiny taste of what early dementia feels like - when you can still realize that your brain can't do what it used to do. Like Flowers for Algernon. We talked about that book, and how horrible it would be. I felt that way today. The fog comes and goes, but fibromyalgia destroys the gray matter in your brain. The CT scans are scary.
Enough whining - sorry about that. I miss having you to encourage me, love me unconditionally, and let me lean on you occasionally. I'm seem to be feeling especially alone and vulnerable tonight. But I have the cat and the big brave protector dog to look after me. When they're not having fun tormenting each other, that is. Jethro kept taking Hunter's head in his mouth tonight. Then he stopped and started to walk away, and the cat took one paw and whacked the dog right on his rear. Play resumed, Jethro dragged Hunter around, and the cat just lay there and purred.
Aside from the animal acrobatics, it's a beautiful evening. It's in the 60s, low humidity, strong breeze out of the north. It would be a wonderful night to snuggle up in bed with you, pull up the summer blanket and feel the cool air blowing in the window, listen to the crickets, hear the horses going down Lake Street. It would be heavenly to put my head on your shoulder and feel your arms around me. I know we were meant for each other - my head and your shoulder were a perfect fit. And so were our souls.
And they still are. My head can't touch your shoulder now, I can't hold hands with you. But you still hold my heart, and our souls are each one-half of a whole. Love you forever and ever,

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cat in a Box

Dear John,
This is why people misunderstand us fibromites. Today the pain is better and the fibro fog has cleared, so I pruned the roses and the boxwoods. Yesterday I could hardly move, and today I do three hours of yard work. I can see why some people think fibro isn't real and we just want an excuse to stay home and sleep. We don't understand it either. But we have to learn to listen to our bodies and stay within our limits, or risk being down for months, maybe years. Where do I go to opt out of this?
You probably don't know this: Cats like boxes. They like to be in them. They like to chew on them. They like to hide in them. They LOVE boxes. I got two boxes in the mail last week, and they're both still in the living room because the cat's having so much fun with them that I don't have the heart to break them down and recycle them. Sometime I will, I promise. But not yet.
When Hunter is in the big box, Jethro likes to play with him. Sometimes they play like they always do, just with the cat in the box and the dog outside of it. And sometimes Jethro grabs Hunter by the something - head, neck, leg, whatever - and drags him, with the box, around the house. And the cat just purrs. I was watching them today when the cat was in the big box and Jethro came up and put his head in to see what was going on. Jethro was just looking, and Hunter rolled over on his back and started batting at Jethro's muzzle with all four paws. After a bit of this, the dog grabbed a leg and dragged the box around for a while. And the cat just lay there and purred.
I loved playing in boxes when I was a kid. Maybe that just proves what I've concluded since getting Hunter: You are like a dog and I'm like a cat. The second picture shows the logical extension of my situation. It would be an inexpensive way to live - think what you could save on furniture!
That's all of our silliness here, so we're about ready for bed. Your little family loves and misses you very much. And you can see from the photos what you're missing!
Wishing I could sit in a box with you,

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fibro Fog & Cat Nails

Dear John,
It's been a strange day. The front that came through took the fibro and flattened me with it. The fibro fog was unusually bad. I was having a hard time finding my way from one room to the other. I slept until noon, then trimmed the cat's nails and had breakfast, and went back to sleep until 5. Now I'm hungry, and am trying to persuade myself that the expenditure of energy required to walk to the kitchen would be worth it.
The cat's funny. When he was younger, I could trim his nails without any problems. Now I have to wrap him in a towel. But as long as I stop and cuddle him between each nail, he goes along with it. And Jethro stays right there beside him, evidently to verify that I don't mistreat his cat. They're really adorable.
I did finally get the calendar on my new phone. That's what Maxine and I were doing at the keyboard. I set up a new calendar on my gmail account, and found a quick, easy way to transfer the information. Then I held my breath and put the account on the phone. And it worked.
I'm feeling a little better and my brain is approaching normal function. I really miss you on days when the fibro flares! I blame myself for being a wimp, or doing too much, or somehow having brought this on myself, and you were my reality check. You told me for 38 years that I was too hard on myself, and I'm finally realizing you were right. Being alone makes me have to be more realistic about what I can do. So I'm learning. And if you were here I'd have eaten already. I promise I will!
Love you so much,

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Moths & Milestones

Dear John,
After three days and seven - count 'em, seven - Verizon tech people, I finally got my answer about the phone and Google calendar. The Iphone 5 doesn't support syncing the calendar with embarqmail. So I'll have to transfer everything from my calendar to a new one that's on gmail. Tedious, but doable.
The Goshen Verizon store sent me to the Dunlap store, and as I was driving down 33 the tires made a different sound. So after I got finished with the phone check, I checked the tire pressure. That's a simple sentence, but it was another milestone. I bought a pressure gauge a few months ago but hadn't needed to use it. So today was my first time checking tire pressure. I felt like a big girl - independent, and all grown up. And I warned Verizon's security guard as I left - I told him that I'd be crawling around his parking lot for a minute checking my tire pressures. It turned out they were fine. I haven't driven on that part of 33 much since they rebuilt it, so I figure that was what made them sound different.

The cat has a new skill - catching moths. He's getting quite good at it. Evidently, they're tasty. He's in the window sill stalking petunias now. The heat finally broke so the windows are open. It's supposed to get down to 58. That's why I could bring ice cream and visit you tonight. The grass is starting to grow over your side of the plot. I don't know if you remember - they planted grass seed last year, and it was growing well at the beginning of the summer. But heat and drought killed it all, so you were back to dirt. Now there's grass over about two thirds of the plot. And, sadly, there is grass over all of my side, since Jen won't let me dig. I'm still forced to remain above-ground. It's such a shame.

That's all the news: the phone issue is solved, I can check my own tires, and the house should remain moth-free. It's all good news today. I know there's nothing but good news where you are. I'm still waiting for you to come tell me a bedtime story about how you spent your day!

Love you, miss you,

Friday, July 19, 2013

How I Caused Problems in 2 Countries

Dear John,
Today was tech day, it wasn't good. Actually, one thing was - I got up early and mowed the back yard. I'm letting the trimming go for a week. It reached 95 today. The yard looks much better.
After I mowed, I paid bills, and discovered that the Macy's online account had gone screwy again. I'd  put in my login information and get your closed account. So I called India again, and talked to about half of the subcontinent. After over an hour on the phone, I had a brainstorm. The problem all along has been that we have the same email address. I can't change mine, so I asked if we could change yours. They said they couldn't access your account without your permission - I told them about your death, but they said that didn't make any difference. They'd still need your permission. So I got into your account and changed it myself. Then I opened an account for me, and all is well. About the time I'd gotten it fixed, they told me that I would never be able to have an online account. They were quite put out when I told them how I'd solved the problem. They're offended that I accessed your account without your permission.
By then it was noon, so I had breakfast. Then I started working on getting my calendar synced to my new phone. I called tech support at 2, then again at 8, got off the phone at 10, and gave up at 11. I'll run it by Verizon tomorrow and see if they can get it to work, and Ron is going to give it a try. I know this problem can be solved because I'm still getting the calendar on the old phone. And yes, I turned that one off to see if it was the problem, but it's not.
It's been a day to learn patience. I remember that day that you spent 10 hours on the phone with 6 different IRS offices about the dual tax status of pastors, and at the end they told you that you'd been right all along. You're so patient with things. And people. And I'm generally not. But I have a lot more patience than I did before I lost you - not that you made me impatient, but because things just don't matter anymore. When the worst thing that can ever happen has already happened, you don't get so worked up.
Other than all that: It's been hot, we're supposed to get storms tonight, the cat has been entertained all day playing with boxes, the dog's been entertained watching the cat play with boxes. And I'm SO ready for bed! And I love you so much.
Sleep good tonight,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lighthouse Nuns With No Cow

Dear John,
I've been thinking about lighthouses this week. We used to wish we could be lighthouse keepers. And you would hear about keepers' widows who stayed on and kept the lighthouse by themselves, and said that I would be like that. And, of course, you were right.
I posted this picture on Facebook Tuesday night, and said that I wanted to run away and live in this lighthouse. Becky asked if she could join me, and I gave an enthusiastic yes - after all, we lived together for a year of college and enjoyed it very much. Michael said there'd be no room to exercise - trust a cyclist to see that - and I reminded him of the need to carry oil up the tower every four hours and swim to get the mail. Becky said we'd need to row for groceries. I think we could manage a garden, but I'm not so sure about the chickens and the cow.
But Sarah had the best idea - she said we could put a cross on top and make it a skete. What a wonderful thought! Since Becky and I said we could go for taking a vow of celibacy, I think we have a plan. (You might want to give Kyle a heads-up.) Donna wants to visit. It seems that we have the makings of a small monastery. At least, we do in our minds.
I'm such a hermit. And so many of my friends are, too, which is probably not surprising. We're not antisocial. We're just introverts. And introverts are drained by interaction and energized by solitude. Since everybody gets more introverted with age, I should be curled up in a ball in a corner by the time I'm 90. I do hope I don't have to be 90. At least, not without you. At 90, I would have been a widow for as many years as I'd been a wife. As the meme says, ain't nobody got time for that!
That's really all for today. I've just been thinking about lighthouses - all the ones we climbed, and all the times we wished we could live in one. When Becky and I get our lighthouse, you and Kyle will have to come join us!
Love you and only you,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Water Balloon Dropped

Dear John,
The water balloon has dropped. And I know you know what I mean. Every major thing in my life has been preceded by the Lord dropping a water balloon on my head. I'm going along my merry way, minding my own business, and something that was never on my radar falls out of the sky. Right after I asked you to rally the friends and family and pray for my financial situation, the water balloon dropped.
It started at Bekah's jewelry party. I rarely go to things like that, and never go to anything straight from work. But this time it seemed like the right thing to do. Remember Lady Remington? They started a jewelry line and changed the name to Lia Sophia. It's beautiful stuff at great prices. I took a catalogue and showed it to Janice on the 4th - you know how she loves jewelry and wears it wonderfully. She wanted to host a party, but Bekah's sister lives in Texas. All this discussion ended up being on Bekah's Facebook post - long story - and Bekah offered to host a party for me, I talked to Heather, and now I'm a Lia Sophia advisor. I'm having my first party a week from Saturday.
I'm excited about it. This came out of nowhere and is an answer to prayer. Of course, I still need your prayers. I'll be trying to build a business, needing to make sales and book parties, and there's a lot to learn. So keep the family and friends praying for me. I'm starting something new and you're not here, and yet you are. I don't feel at all like I'm doing this without you. I feel and appreciate your prayers, support, and faith in me. And it helps. It always has. It always will.
Adore you always,

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Need a New Bedtime Story

Dear John,
The apocalypse is upon us. Last month the Supreme Court ruled that the agricultural giants were immune from lawsuits; now they've done the same for the drug companies. It's good to see that the government is protecting us, isn't it? Even if a company covers up a side effect, they can't be sued for damage or death caused by that side effect. The world as I know it must have ended somewhere along the way and I missed the announcement. And again I'm reminded of the evening Mama cried because I didn't trust the government to look out for our best interests. I'm glad she was able to keep believing that - it was so central for her. My years and view are different.
It's odd to remember how optimistic our generation was at the beginning. While our parents' generation understandably valued stability, we wanted equity. Never having known instability, that was natural for us. And we really believed we could change things. At least, we believed it until 1968. That year was the turning point for all of us; a generation of idealists turned into cynics. We'll all end up in nursing homes in our dotage, still re-hashing 1968 and all the what-ifs of that year.
So now we have the executive branch spying on us, the judicial branch protecting Big Business from us, and the legislative branch ignoring us. This country has seen worse days. But I'm feeling a weary cynicism tonight. Now, instead of trying to change the world, I pray, "Lord, have mercy" and try to change myself. Maybe that would have been the best thing for us to do all along.
I miss you tonight. We spent so many hours talking about the flow of history and world view in the 20th century, trying to make sense of the changes we'd seen and understand ourselves in historical context. It was wonderful to be married to someone who saw the importance of historical context! That's another conversation we could have had at Wendy's and amazed Marcus. It's the kind of thing we always liked to talk to each other about.
If you want to come and visit tonight, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the world today. And maybe you could tell me a little bit about what Heaven is like. It would be nice to hear about good things to come. Please come and tell be a bedtime story!
Can't wait to be with you,

Monday, July 15, 2013

And the Animals Had a Feast

Dear John,
It's been a busy day off. I took Jethro in for his yearly check-up and shots this morning. June says he's in perfect health and at perfect weight, most of which we owe to the cat. He keeps him happy, entertained, and exercised.
After we got home, I decided to have lunch before starting on financials and balancing the checkbook. I fixed some rice, black beans, and vegetables, and sat down on the couch to eat. Or, tried to sit down. The bowl slid on the plate, and about a quarter of the rice and beans dumped out. Most of it landed in my lap, and some on the couch cushions and floor. It was just off the stove, and it was hot. Very hot. I'm glad I still had jeans on instead of shorts. I scooped most of it up in my hands and put it back in the bowl, since I hate to waste food and I don't believe in germs. By the time I got back with a towel, the animals had finished off most of the rest of it. This is all because I decided to be civilized and put a plate under the bowl. I had to tell you about it, because it reminded me of the raisin bran debacle last summer. You remember - I was eating a bowl of raisin bran in bed and fell asleep with it in my lap. At least today's disaster didn't involve washing sheets. And I've already scheduled to have the couch cleaned. So we're alright, and the animals has an impromptu feast.
Be proud of me - I didn't mow this afternoon. It was 92, so I decided to let the grass grow in peace.  It's still muggy and miserably hot at 11:00 at night. I'll have to mow in the heat sometime, since the temperatures aren't going to get better until next Monday. But I'll try to do it early in the day, and maybe split it up over two days. I may not trim until next week. You always tolerated heat so much better than I did. I envy you that, but I'm trying to be realistic about what I can do without giving myself a fibro flare. For now, I'm staying inside. And I'm trying not to look out the windows at the yard.
It's after 11 and I'm working in the morning, so I'd better get the critters and head off to bed. I love you so much! Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and reached out to touch you again. Jethro was at the foot of the bed, so I just touched empty space. Then I remembered. It's funny how long habits last, isn't it? I suppose something that's been a habit for 34 years should be hard to break. You're my habit - and you're a hard habit to break.
Love you more than life

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cat Bites Dog

Dear John,
You should have been here this morning. The cat always starts the day in predator mode - he likes to grab my hand in all four paws and nibble on it. If he nibbles too hard, I stop him. I did that this morning, he licked my hand penitently for a while, then turned his head and looked speculatively at Jethro, who was dozing with his head on my knees.
The next thing I knew, the cat launched himself through the air and landed on Jethro's head. He wrapped all four paws around the dog's muzzle and started gnawing on his cheek. Even for a dog, this has to be a startling way to wake up. Jethro tried to push the cat away with his front legs. He finally loosened the rear paws, peeled the bottom half of the cat off his head, and put his left leg over the cat's midsection. Then he pulled his head out of the cat's grip and took Hunter's head in his mouth. At this point, as usual, the cat began to purr.
After some wrestling, the cat got loose and ran out of the bedroom. Jethro followed, and an all-out chase around the house ensued. I got out of bed, and the next thing I knew, they were lying side-by-side under the bed watching me brush my teeth. They stayed there until I started making up the bed.
They give me so much to laugh at and so much to love! I called your mother this afternoon - she asked how they were, and I told her the cat was behind me, propped against my shoulder, grooming himself, and the dog was asleep in my lap. They're happy with me today because I turned on the air conditioning. Early this afternoon it was 81 inside and the humidity was going up, so it was time.
We've all had a slow, quiet day. I was hurting this morning so I stayed home, not wanting to send myself back into another flare. I've taken three involuntary naps, so I made the right call. I should be fine tomorrow. I'm just taking today to rest up from last night. I was so wound up after Kathy's party that I was still awake at 2:30 this morning. I guess that explains the naps!
I'm still sorry you're missing all this delightful foolishness! We all are - we miss you.
Love you so, so much,

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Making Time in a Bottle Out of Nothing at All

Dear John,
Can you tell I've listened to way too much radio today? I went to South Bend to exchange a shirt and buy one for tonight, and came back home. I took a shower and got dressed, drove to Maplecrest for tonight's event, and got home a little while ago. That's a lot of radio. Be impressed - I wore heels. And my feet hurt, so could you please come rub them for me? And I wore two of my grandmother Keistler's rings. They used to be too big for me, but my knuckles are bigger now and they all fit perfectly. It makes me very happy to be able to wear them, and I'm sure it makes her happy, too. Mama's fingers were too wide for them, so they've been in a jewelry box all these years. I think both of them are happy to see me wear the rings.
I'm beginning to enjoy the radio again. Now that the flare is over and I'm not so emotional, it even feels healthy to listen to the songs that let my heart do some primal screaming. It was especially interesting to hear Time in a Bottle today. I used to associate it with the guy I was dating when it came out, but now it's all about you. And as I listened to it today, I realized that no matter how long I'd have had you, it wouldn't have been long enough. If you had died at 106 instead of 56, it would still have been too soon. Having to live one second longer than you would make it too soon, no matter how old we were. And that makes it all feel a little better somehow. "There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them." I wanted to get old with you. But I'd have said that no matter how old we were.
Oh, unprintable words! I just saw the first Japanese beetle of the season hanging onto the outside of the screen. They're baaaack! Do Japanese beetles go to Heaven when they die? I know - let's kill them all and find out.
If I'm going to have any chance of getting to church in the morning, I'd better drag myself off to bed. I'm tired and content.
Love you great bunches,

Friday, July 12, 2013

Our Plot is Twisted

Dear John,
I'm starting to feel better today. It feels good to feel better! I got off work a little early, and came home to do not much. Tomorrow will be a long, busy day so I'm saving up energy for that. I'm meeting Cindy at Tiffany's at 9:30, which will be fun. (See, I do have some social life after all.) Kathy and Kirby will set up for the award event early tomorrow - I think she's giving my fibro flare a break. I'm beginning to believe I might live into next week. I'm still ignoring the cat-&-dog hair on the floor.
I found this on Pinterest this afternoon, and had to laugh. It was a sick, dark kind of laugh, but that's nothing unusual. If I followed that advice, I'd be hoarse by now. And I'd have been diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome for going around yelling "plot twist" all the time. For the last three years, I'd have needed a town crier following me around all the time, intoning, "Plot twist! Plot twist!" Or maybe it would be more like a leper having to say "unclean" wherever he went. It would have been more efficient to have it taped like background music. Maybe that's what we should have done.
We never expected life to be a straight line. If we didn't know what to expect by the time we were 19, your first cancer diagnosis taught us. We knew that few things in life were under our control. We rode the waves the best we could and had a good ride - and a much longer one than anybody expected. We planned as responsibly as we could, but tried to hold things loosely. And we knew how to be content in the moment, to be grateful for today.
My todays aren't like they used to be. But I'm grateful for 34 years of marriage and for the hope of eternity. And I'm grateful for everything in my today except that you're not here, but I'm grateful for your sake that you're not. And I'm content. Plot twists are necessary - at the end of the book, you can look back and see that they the story couldn't have happened without them. Our plot could be called twisted, but so could we. It fits us.
And no matter how many twists and turns the plot took, the way we felt about each other never changed. It still hasn't, and it never will. Love is forever.
Love you eternally,

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Of Operculi & Buttermilk

Dear John,
What a strange day! I feel like I've been scaled, gutted, and filleted. And my head cut off right behind the operculum.
I know you remember that! We went to Myrtle Beach for a vacation a couple of years after we were married, and I took you to Conway to meet Al and Aunt Bonnie. You and Al were outside cleaning fish for dinner while Aunt Bonnie and I were in the kitchen. My parents had taught you to fish the summer before we were married, but you'd never cleaned them. Al told you to cut the head off, and you weren't sure where to cut. You were nervous about meeting yet more of my family, and couldn't for the life of you remember the word "gill." Being you, you could, of course, remember the zoological term. So you asked him if you should cut right behind the operculum. Al gave you that great look he had and drawled as slow as he could, whether you meant gill. He loved that so much, and never let any of us forget it. You sealed your place in his heart with that word.
It's been one of those days.
Remember when I said I'd feel physically and emotionally better? It was overly optimistic. I feel like I've been trampled by a herd of wild boars and I've been teary all day. I cried most of the way home, and it's my own fault because I decided to listen to the radio instead of a CD. But who knew the oldies station was going to play Don't Fear the Reaper? I heard it this time as if you were speaking to me. It started a couple of miles west of Millersburg, and I cried until Buttermilk Corner. (How would any of us around here communicate if a tanker truck full of buttermilk hadn't overturned there? They even named the power station "Buttermilk Substation." Officially. About fifteen years ago a tanker full of shampoo overturned there - harder to clean up than buttermilk, but not nearly as poetic. Anyway.)
I just had an hour-long adventure with Macy's. Your account was closed after your death, and I have my own Macy's card now. I tried to set up an online account, but it wouldn't let me because my email address was connected with your account. I tried to go into your old account and change your email address, but it wouldn't let me in. So I called the Customer Service number. And that's when the fun started.
They had no path to talk to a person, so I had to argue with the computer voice until it gave up and passed me on to "Michael," who passed me on to "Robin," who were in India and there was a language barrier. You should have heard me trying to explain that my husband had a card, and he died, and his account was closed, and I have a card, and tried to set up an online account, and couldn't because my email was tied up in his account, so I needed the email address released . . .   They finally passed me on to somebody in the Department for Deceased Person's Accounts. Yes, there is such a thing. I was still in India, but this was a geek and her English was better. She told me to set up my Profile with a fake email account, then immediately change the email, and it worked. Sneaking in the computer's back door - I needed a geek for that advice. So I'm finally set up.
We do manage to have adventures, don't we? I will go to bed exhausted and should sleep well. And I hope for a boring day tomorrow, but that's most unlikely.
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Soon Isn't Here Soon Enough

Dear John,
I don't feel better yet, physically or emotionally. But I did get my hair cut, so at least I look better. I'm batting .333.
The good news is that most of the feed corn tasseled out. Last night. Really, it hadn't when I came home from work yesterday, and it has today. It's been interesting to see what daily rain does. We're growing quite a crop of mushrooms and moss in the yard. 
The bad news is that I finally tracked down the discrepancy in your life insurance payment. You'd told me many times that you increased your Panera policy from the $15,000 base to $45,000, and I remember when you made the change. But last year I got the base amount. And I was grateful for it, since you couldn't get life insurance anywhere else. But I'd been trying to track down what happened to the rest. Today I finally got hold of somebody that could figure it out. You were turned down for the increase. And I can't blame them at all. You were an actuarial nightmare. But it was disappointing. That would have been plenty to get me through the next 2 1/2 years until I can file for your Social Security. Then I'll be okay.
My friend Ronda talks about how much her husband did to take care of her - he was one of those men who could build or fix anything. You took care of me, too, but in a different way. (other than buying me power tools so I could fix and build things) You took care of me so I could take care of the fibro. I knew I was safe with you, that I could lean when I needed to. So now I need to lean again. Please pray for me, for God's providence in whatever way is best - new job, big raise, equity line of credit, disability, whatever is best - and that I'll pursue the right things. And that I won't be afraid.
I know I'm only doing what is normal when the fibro flares - I'm being more emotional and more negative than usual. I will feel better. Probably not until next week, though. I'm subbing for Kathy tomorrow at 7 am, working tomorrow and Friday, and her year-end awards celebration is Saturday evening so I'll work late that night. And mow Monday if the rain allows. Maybe the week after? And this is the flare talking again - I so need some time to rest and let it pass, but I don't see a break coming.
So I'm looking for shelter under your wing again. I can't see and feel the wing anymore, but I know that it's even better now that you're praying for me in Heaven. Please round up the friends and family and pray for me. And know that I pray for all of you, too.
Love you, trust you, adore you,

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Heart Hurts Again

Dear John,
The fibro flare is better, but it's been a hard day. I actually cried a little at work - I don't know why today in particular had been so sad, but it has.
The short work day turned out to be long enough that I didn't get to the Farmer's Market. Everything I did got more complicated than I expected. I was going to get milk on the way home, and forgot to. But I have enough for another couple of bowls of oatmeal, so it's not time to panic yet.
It rained and stormed most of the day. So when I got home, Jethro was extremely excited and His Felinity was lying on the bed, where he can enjoy isolated superiority since the dog isn't allowed up on the bedspread. And I know he's not getting up, since nobody has opposable thumbs to be able to straighten out the bedspread.
I really don't know why, but my heart just hurts. Maybe it's the thing about having fun. Everything I can think of that would be fun, wouldn't be fun without you. Doing anything - or nothing - was fun with you. A blog I follow asked all of us to comment what our one wish would be - anything was open except it couldn't be for world peace or more wishes. I thought, and thought, and thought. And I couldn't find anything I want except to have you back alive and healthy. Nothing else matters. And since I can't have that - you guessed it - nothing matters.
I'm just aching inside tonight. There's nothing to be done about it. I'll feel better soon. I won't stop missing you, but I'll feel better soon.
Love you so very, very much,

Monday, July 8, 2013

Flummoxed & Flaring

Dear John,
Ouch! That's all I have to say for myself today. Ouch! I'm still flaring from doing too much on Saturday. And it's been raining off and on all afternoon, which doesn't help. So, ouch. I hope tomorrow's a short work day, especially since I have to go to the Farmer's Market after work. There was a big cheese recall this week due to Listeria. and I'm so glad I get my cheese from the dairy farmer that makes it. I got raw milk cheddar last week, and it's the best cheddar I've ever had.
I had my eyes checked today, and Rick flummoxed me. He was checking up on me in general, to be sure I'm doing okay without you. He asked me what I do for fun, and I was speechless. After about ten minutes I told him about going to Michigan with Irene and celebrating the 4th of July. But other than that, there is nothing that I do for fun. I go to work and church, run errands, clean house, do yard work, knit, take care of the animals, and try in the midst of all that to take care of the fibro. I enjoy my job, church, knitting, and the animals. I enjoy the results of housework and yard work.
And what would I do for fun anyhow? I don't have the energy for a big social life, and all my friends my age are couples. I keep not quite getting to Goshen's First Fridays because I hesitate to go by myself - I'm not sure that would be fun. Just what would be fun without you? When I get to make that trip down US 61 I'll have fun, but that takes money that I don't have, and shouldn't be done in the summer anyway. The trip to Florida in November will be fun. I hope to get to Louisville to see Becky and Donna, and that will be fun. As you can tell, I'm still stumped. Let me know if you have any thoughts or insights. I may have to throw this open for Facebook discussion. That should be entertaining.
Maybe contentedness has arrived and fun is not here yet. And for now, I'm content with being content.
Love you great bunches,

Sunday, July 7, 2013

How I Made You Proud & Embarrassed Myself

Dear John,
I managed to do something that simultaneously makes you proud and me ashamed of myself. It all started last night.
It seems that this is what happened!
We started to bed at 10:30 and were ready to turn the light off at 11. I really wanted a good night's sleep since church was this morning. There were still fireworks, so I gave Jethro 25 mg of Benadryl. I was hurting too bad to sleep after all the yard work, so I took a pain pill. The cat wasn't in need of medication.
We all went right to sleep. The dog woke me up at 6 needing to go out, and we went back to bed. The next thing I knew it was 12:45 this afternoon. I was shocked and horrified. The animals were piled up in the bed sound asleep, which is alright because they don't sin and are in uninterrupted communion with God and don't need to go to church. But I'm a human, and I really wanted to go.
I can hear you, you know - if you were here you'd say, "Good!" with great enthusiasm, and tell me that if I could sleep more than seven hours straight, and after the sun was up, obviously I really needed the sleep and it was a good thing that I got it. I'm just embarrassed. And upset about missing church. And I think age is starting to make me more sensitive to drugs. Next time I'll break one of the pain pills in half. I don't remember when I've slept that long.
Today I've worked on the commissioned knitting project and protected the dog from fireworks, and had an NCIS marathon on while I knitted. I was good and did what you'd tell me to - I didn't do any of the things that need to be done. I need to vacuum, dust, do laundry, prune roses, trim boxwoods, and weed. But none of it will go anywhere. And Kathy's out of town this week, so my work hours will be less than usual. Maybe I need a week with fewer work hours. But I'm still embarrassed.
Thank you for being so good to me - for making sure that I took care of myself and for always understanding. And sometimes you even got me to understand, too!
Adore you,

Saturday, July 6, 2013

If You Need Us, Call the Cat

Dear John,
I know - you've already gotten your letter tonight, and the limit is one per customer. But here I am anyway. There's no escaping.
Fireworks started at dusk. Some were across the street and some farther away - I know they were scheduled for Syracuse and Dallas Lake tonight. So I had the usual shivering dog in my lap, and the usual cat in the window watching fireworks. Then Hunter came down, rubbed his nose against Jethro's nose, and sat there and licked his nose for a while. It was the sweetest thing to watch. Hunter looked very concerned, and was very gentle. The family dynamics here are amazing to watch.
We got ready for bed a little after 10, and fireworks started up again. The dog was so scared that I gave him 25 mg of Benadryl. And since I mowed, trimmed, and pruned today and everything hurts except the end of my nose, I took my own pain meds, too. That makes the cat our designated driver for the night. I put him in charge, so if anybody needs to reach us before morning, it's best to call the cat.
It's almost 11:30, Jethro is fast asleep, and I'm about ready to join him. We only have a 30% chance of storms tonight, so I have hopes for a good night's sleep for all of us. I know you will rest well, since you're getting the final rest from all your labors. May God grant you a portion of all good Heavenly things!
Love you with all my heart,

We Done Good

Dear John,
I've had a busy day. It was mid-70s and cloudy, so I mowed and trimmed. Then I figured that I might as well keep going since I was already about as dirty and sweaty and I could be, and I trimmed the bushes in front of the house. I had to cut them down to half the size they were. I really don't like those bushes. I may pull them out later this summer, when it's a better time to plant something else there. Any suggestions?
Right after I got out of the shower, Jethro came down the hall barking and making it clear that he needed to show me something. I looked out, and there was DeWayne loading the bush detritus into his cart, bless him! I was going to leave them until tomorrow. I have such wonderful neighbors! Oh, and I introduced myself to the new dog across the street. I haven't met the humans yet - Jim and Brenda's grandson moved in with his wife and children. But I made friends with their husky.
I was thinking while I mowed today, and realized that we managed something remarkable in your last year. Your heart failure progressed from Stage III to Stage IV, and we managed it quite well. If you'd been in CCU you'd never have gotten out, because they wouldn't have been able to manage it without the Swan-Gantz catheter. But using symptoms alone - no invasive lines or chest X-rays - we kept you out of the hospital, upright, and even working. And in all of your hospitalizations, we made most of the diuretic decisions. You may not realize how remarkable that it, but trust the CCU nurse on this one. It's amazing.
And you're amazing. You learned to read your own symptoms. And you trusted me, which means more that I can ever say. We kept it under control until that last bit of your AV conduction system went. The team at Methodist were amazed at how good you looked and how bad your cath looked. Your attitude and determination did that.
So cheers to you! and to us! We done good. And bless Dr. Suh, who let us have the Bumex to do it with! It was a good run, and amazingly long. And I loved every minute I had with you.
Love you still, and always,

Friday, July 5, 2013

No Dinner, No DJs

Dear John,
Look what I just found on Pinterest! It's the pattern Mama used for my wedding dress! (It was the one on the far right, in case you weren't paying attention to what I was wearing.) I have the original pattern, but it was such a thrill to be checking out somebody's '70s board and see this.
(Uh-oh. Some fireworks just went off, so Jethro is now lying across my left hand. Typing may deteriorate.)
I remember our wedding day as perfect. And terribly old-fashioned by today's standard, but then, so are we. We got to the church early and set up the Fellowship Hall for the reception, then we got dressed and ready. There were about 300 people there, including the one old lady that nobody has any idea who she was. Carloads of your German Baptist family showed up about two hours early - I was delighted, because I didn't expect them to come. The Sheppards and Campbells came up from Atlanta. And all our college friends were there - they just stayed around an extra week after graduation - and lots of friends came down from Springfield.
The reception was what everybody had then unless they were really rich - cake, punch, nuts, and mints downstairs in the Fellowship Hall. I still like that so much more that the big dinners everybody has now. At a reception, you can wander around and really talk to people. And they get to meet more than just the few they're sitting with. And you can hear yourself think, because there's no music or DJs or anything. And I really loved our reception! Just think - at a present-day reception, Tricia would not have gotten to meet your grandfather! I did throw my bouquet, and I don't remember who caught it. But we refused to do the garter thing. As we drove away, Lesa poured a whole bag of rice in my VW bug - when we got rid of the car 18 years later, we were still finding rice in it!
It was a wonderful day, and the beginning of 34 wonderful years. I tried to explain to you how happy you made me, and I don't know if you ever really understood. But you do now, and I'm glad. I miss you so much but I'm still happy, and that's all because of you. I'd much rather be your widow than have never been your wife!
Your wife forever,

Thursday, July 4, 2013

And the Flies Died of Happiness

Dear John,
Happy 4th of July! I've had a good day, but it's early yet - the fireworks will start in about two hours. The dog is already freaked out by the noise that's gone on all day. I'll let you know how it goes, but I expect it to be ugly.
Janice and I went and ate pancakes this morning. I had one of those where-am-I-and-how-did-I-get-here moments at the fire station. I was talking to Dee, looked behind her at the names on the firemen's lockers, and realized that I know all of them. It's one of those small-town things that I didn't grow up with. And that's why I pray for everybody's safety every time I hear the sirens start.
I came home for a while and went back down an hour or so before the parade. I grabbed a pork burger and Coke at the Lion's Club tent as I went by. (I know I'll be awake all night after drinking the Coke, but I don't care. It's a holiday. That's why God made Benadryl.) I did get to see a bunch of people from Topeka Mennonite, which was very good. And the parade was great, as always. I love it so much because it's so Topeka.  I didn't grow up with all these special small-town things, and I enjoy them so much. All the area police and fire departments were there, and the high school band, some political candidates, some churches, some old farm vehicles and cars, and the usual miscellany.
I walked down to the park after the parade, where a community band was playing patriotic music. (I feel like Indiana Jones here - why does it always have to be The Battle Hymn of the Republic? Like every Southerner, I despise it and don't like having my nose rubbed in it. Anyway.) Eventually I got an ice cream cone at Tiffany's and walked home, where the dog was hysterical and hiding in the closet.
I remember a July 4th Erma Bombeck column from the early 1980s. She pointed out that most countries celebrate this kind of event with parades of military equipment and shows of power. But we have cook-outs and picnics where the potato salad gets iffy and the flies die of happiness. And she's right, especially in small towns like this. And I love it. Here, we celebrate what the day is really about.
Well, it's still daylight but there's an oldies group playing at the park and some folks are shooting off fireworks, and the dog is behind me and climbing up and over my back. And it doesn't feel very good. So I think I'd better make room for him in my lap. I did miss you  today, and everybody was very kind to me and concerned about whether I was really okay. But it's been a wonderful day, and for me, also a celebration of being here. Again, thank you for bringing me to Topeka. In fact, thank you for everything.
Love you more than life,

P.S. - It's 11:20, and I'm piled up in the bed with exhausted critters. The fireworks were lovely. I gave the dog all the Benadryl I had. But sadly, that was only 12.5 mg. (Yes, I put it on the grocery list.) He found the traditional dog-spot during the town fireworks - behind/under my chair. He's finally getting sleepy, but he still has to be cuddled up next to me. The cat, on the other hand, watched the fireworks from the windowsill. The town is still awake and partying, and it's good to hear. A good time was had by all except Jethro. Good night, and sleep well!