Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tying the Logic Knot Too Tight

Dear John,
Just for variety, I thought I'd miss something else about you today: I miss having you to get excited about things with me. The animals and I just don't get worked up about the same things.
Jen and I were talking about Danica's graduation in June. It didn't surprise me that I wish you could go with me. But I discovered that I also miss being excited about it with you. If you were here, I'd tell you the date and we'd talk about combining vacation with it, and spending a week or so in the Keys, and be excited together about seeing Danica graduate. It's different when you're excited alone.
I think I told you that I can't use the window quilts any more - hanging quilts in windows on pressure rods is completely out of the question with two cats. I tried it on the first cold night, and in two hours all of them were down. They came down one by one, after I was asleep, about twenty minutes apart, with great sound and fury. A good time was had by everyone but me.
So I needed to do something else about window insulation, and have been looking at curtains but not wanting to spend the money. Last Wednesday, Kathy gave me the rest of a roll of upholstery fabric that she had. The color is perfect, so I'm getting exactly what I want for free. I would have finished them today, but I ran out of thread. I have sewing machine and fabric and notions strewn all over the dining room table. And speaking of the table, I started decorating for Christmas today. I changed out the usual seasonal things - pillows, curtains, tablecloth, and runners and all. I need to do some sale shopping before I can do anything else.
I'm excited about the curtains, but I wish you were here to come home from work and be excited with me. You were wonderful about that, you know. You'd work hard all day, then come home and be happy for a couple of loads of laundry and some Christmas decorating and sewing that I'd done. You always cared about what I did and let me know that it mattered to you.
So tonight I thank you for that, and for getting excited about these things with me. I'm leaning how to discipline myself to do things even though you're not going to come home and see them. I also have to learn that it's enough to be excited about something by myself. Those are hard things to learn. But you know that. And I'm sure that you're excited that I'm learning to get excited all by myself. Could you come home tonight, and see that I did things even though you weren't going to come home to see them?
I'd better stop before I tie this logic knot so tight that I strangle myself, hadn't I? But I know that you know what I mean. You always have, and you always will. And you love me anyway.
Adore you,

Friday, November 29, 2013

What's So Tough About Bananas, Anyway?

Dear John,
I had my daily burst of coherent thought when I talked to you this morning. So don't expect much now. There are a bunch of random things bumping around in my head, so I'm here to share them with you like I always have.
First, am I the only person on the planet who doesn't like Nutella? It tastes sort of like chocolate and nuts mixed together. Reeses did it better. I'd never heard of it until a year ago, and suddenly it's everywhere. It seems to be the newest food fad.
Second, Pinterest has been extremely slow today. I figure everyone is either in a tryptophan-induced coma or out shopping with the mobs. Being a flaming introvert who lives alone, I am neither.
Third, the trip seems to have finally caught up with me. I've been exhausted and hurting all day. My body is being quite considerate and doing this on a holiday weekend. Today I did a bit of housework, napped, knitted, and cuddled with the animals.
Fourth, why are bananas so difficult for grocery stores to label?
Fifth, I've been pondering an essential existential issue: Just what is my style, anyway? I looked, logically enough, at my "My Style" board. There is a preponderance of maxi skirts, peasant tops, and bare feet, and lots of jewelry and hats from the 1920s. I'm finding no known fashion leaning here. But it seems to be me. And you always liked and loved me. And that still gives me the courage to be who I am. Whoever that is.
And that's it. No more coherence left here. Except to say that I love you more than I knew possible, more than I can hold. And I hope to see you soon. In bare feet, a maxi skirt, and a peasant top. And a cloche hat from the 1920s, of course!
Adore you,

How Elkhart Made the National News

Dear John,
I know - it's morning. But you have to hear this right away.
Remember, during the fifteen years that you managed Pizza Huts, the only days they ever closed was Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day? Silly question, of course you remember.
Well, a franchise tried to change that. And that's how Elkhart made the national news.
The franchise owner had always adhered to that. Then last week he changed his mind and decided the store would be open on Thanksgiving. The manager, bless his heart, refused. He was fired. Then the media got hold of the story. It went national and caught the attention of Wichita. PHI "strongly encouraged" the franchisee to re-hire the manager and not do that again, then released a strong statement to the press.
The end result of all this is that the manager has his job back (and PHI watching over him), the Elkhart store was closed yesterday, and I predict changes regarding the franchise arrangement. What public relations excitement!
Sorry to interrupt your day, but I had to tell you that right away. When I saw it on last night, I told the dog that it absolutely had to be a franchise store, and probably a soon-to-be-short-lived franchise. And there the story was on this morning with more details, including PHI's response. Bless them, they did the right thing. And made the manager famous in the process.
You can go back to doing whatever you do all day. You just had to hear about that.
Love you great bunches,

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why I Tried to Think Like a Normal Person

Dear John,
Happy Thanksgiving! Though I suppose every day is full of praise and thanksgiving for you now. But happy day anyway.
I tried this morning to think what things in my life I'm particularly thankful for, and it was hard. It isn't because I'm not thankful; it's just that I'm a logical creature. Since everything is from God, how can there be anything I'm not thankful for? There are things I don't like or understand - like outliving you - but if I believe that God is all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful, then I have to know that this is what is best for both of us. So I have to give thanks, not as an emotion, but as an act of the will.
Then I tried to think like a normal person, which was a challenge. I took the question to mean what do I like most about my life, which seems to be what most people take it to mean. That list starts with the years I had with you, and includes the people that love me, food and clothes and a roof over my head, my animals, my job, and the fact that the holidays will go away someday.
I've had a good, lazy day. My lymph nodes were up so much that I had trouble swallowing, so I stayed home this morning. (No, I'm not sick. It's just a normal part of fibro-chronic fatigue. And for me, it's a sign that I need to stop and rest before I flare.) I've watched television, snuggled with the animals, and eaten Raisinettes. For dinner I had a piece of cheese toast and left-over broccoli while I watched Sixteen Candles. It's been a good day.
Now I'm waiting for the Steelers game. It will be a late night, but I don't have to get up early so it's okay. Sleep good tonight. And remember that it's been you that I was most thankful for ever since we met, and it always will.
Love you more than life,

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bah. Humbug. Unprintable Words.

Dear John,
Is it January yet? Can I go hibernate until January 2nd? The holiday season starts tomorrow, and I've already had enough of it.
The radio is dreadful now. I have four decent radio stations to choose from, and two of them are doing all Christmas, all the time. Today I ventured, with great fear and trepidation, to give them a try. The first time I got Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The second time I tuned in just in time to hear, "All I want for Christmas is you." Everything I have to say about that is impolite and unprintable.
There's been a flurry of Facebook posts reminding people that the holiday season, as a family time, isn't true or pleasant for everybody. I'm finding that something we were taught in my psych nursing classes is very true. The season holds up an unattainable standard of family togetherness and happiness. We're all supposed to suddenly turn into the Waltons. But nobody really does, and lots of us are alone. It's no wonder the suicide rate skyrockets this time of year. It's hard on many more people than most folks can imagine.
And it's harder than people imagine. The movies and commercials and music, showing happy, healthy, prosperous families, rubs salt in the wounds of so many of us. I avoid as much of it as I can. It's all been bittersweet to me since my parents died and there is nobody left that remembers my childhood Christmas times and traditions. Now it's like a knife turning in my gut.

WFFs - Huddling Together

Thank goodness for the WFFs! I can't imagine my life without all of my dear, wonderful widow friends. Did all of you guys get together and pray that your wives would find each other? If you did, please give my gratitude to all of them. Someone must have, because it's such a gift and a blessing for us to be together, especially this time of year. I did it alone last year. But now I'm not alone anymore, and it's the best thing since you.
Give my love to all the guys, and please continue to pray for our little conclave as we take refuge from the storm. And it you figure out a way for us to hibernate until January 2nd, let me know!
Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Eternity & Giant Bats

Dear John,
Look at this beautiful creature! It's called a Malaysian Flying Fox, it eats fruit and berries, and it's one of the few bats that doesn't have echolocation. And it's gorgeous. I love the way you can see the veins in its wings.
When we had bats in the house in Springfield, aren't you glad they weren't this big? The dog would have been terrified. You couldn't stun one of those with a tennis racket. I love this bat.
And I love you. I'm so glad you liked bats, too. You never thought I was being unfeminine. If you'd wanted a girly girl, you had plenty of chances in college. And all your life you always had a few little birds with broken wings following you around. You didn't always know it, though. You could be amazingly unaware of being hit on. I could always tell long before you figured it out, just by what you said about the women you worked with. They didn't know that the last thing you wanted was a helpless, needy woman. Your ideal woman was Fiona on Burn Notice.
You liked sharing science interests with me, liked looking at bats with me. We enjoyed talking about cell metabolism and transport systems. And then we'd wander off into discussing theology. We could talk about anything - or nothing - and love it. I miss that. I miss talking to you, and looking at you, and the way you looked at me, and the way you smelled, and how my head fit perfectly into the curve of your shoulder. I miss your mind and your heart and your soul, and all of you. 
For now, I'll have to be satisfied with great big gorgeous bats. And Jethro asleep at my feet, and Abby curled up in my lap, and a television that works, and a full gallon of milk in the fridge. And knowing that all is well with you while I wait to join you. Until then, Abby is warm and silky and purring in my lap, and I'll sleep in a warm bed with a dog and two cats and lovely flannel sheets, and have oatmeal with coconut oil for breakfast. On Thursday I'll get to go to church, and receive the body and blood of Christ, and eat Thanksgiving dinner with my friends. I'll give thanks for eternal life, for the Kingdom of God, that death is defeated and life reigns, and that I had you here with me for 38 years.
Looking forward to eternity,

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey, Prozac, & Pop Tarts

Dear John,
I'm very happy tonight. Ron fixed the television. For eight dollars of parts. I can't begin to imagine what I'd have paid a repairman. I gave him a check for more than that. He'll complain when he notices, but that's too bad.
I'm glad to have the TV back before Thanksgiving because the Steelers are playing in the night game. I'll be gone for a good part of the day. We're having a Divine Liturgy in the morning, with lunch after. Bless him, Charlie is fixing almost all of the food himself.
It will be good to go to church on Thanksgiving morning. I need to remember the things other than family that this holiday is about. I'm going to try to do that for the whole holiday season. I tried last year and failed miserably, but I'll see if I can do better this year. Last year I tried so hard to see beyond secular Christmas to the Feast of the Nativity, and found that I couldn't handle either one. No promises, but I hope to make it through the whole holiday season without a single Pop Tart.
Come and save me from Pop Tarts!
Love you so, so much,

Genetic Defects & Nashville Barbecue

Dear John,
I've had a good Sunday. We had a baby baptized at church this morning. And Peter and his fiancé were there - he's home for Thanksgiving. She's in school in Nashville, so of course I told him where the best barbecue in town is.
I realized something today - I'm turning into my grandmother. Not my grandmother Keistler - I've always known how much like her I am. I mean Nana, my grandmother Lattimore. Remember how she used to complain about the nursing home, that there were nothing but old people there, and she was 93 and the oldest one? And then when Daddy was in assisted living, he did the same thing and complained about having to be around all of the old people, and I'd tell him that he sounded just like his mother? I'm doing the same thing. The last time I was at the eye clinic, I looked around the waiting room and thought that everybody there was old. Then I realized that they were my age.
This is disconcerting. Maybe it's because our self-image doesn't keep up with the calendar - I know mine stopped somewhere around 35. Or maybe it's just a genetic defect that runs in the family. Whatever it is, please tell Daddy and Nana about this - they'll love it. I'll be glad to give them a good laugh.
I'd better get to bed - it's tomorrow already. I'm off work and don't have anything special going. I dusted and vacuumed this weekend, but still have the bathrooms to do. And there's always laundry. There's plenty to keep me out of trouble! It would be more fun if you were here, you know. Or we could just skype all day!
Adore you,

Saturday, November 23, 2013

'Tis the Dreaded Season

Dear John,
I'm so sorry I didn't get to talk to you yesterday. I came home from work, changed and packed, did a Lia Sophia party, and got home after 10:30 - and way after coherence. It was a good day. But I came home and went straight to bed after I un-velcroed the animals from me. They don't like having Mom gone that late.
The big news is that I had to scrape my windshield to drive home last night, and we've been having lake effect snow off and on all day. Shipshewana has an inch and we have a coating. We're supposed to get 3-5 inches before morning. But, with lake effect, there's no clue where those inches will be.
The WFFs are anxious. We can no longer ignore the fact that Christmas is coming, and we're all bracing ourselves. This will be the first widowed Christmas for most of us. I told everybody that I'd let them know if the second one was easier. We will likely be doing a lot of our shopping on line. Crowds of happy people are bad enough, but the music in the stores is just unbearable. I remember leaving Kohl's crying last year after hearing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." We're dreading the season and holding on to each other a little bit tighter until it's over. Then we'll pin medals on each other in honor of surviving it.

I've been wondering what to do about the tree this year. You know last year the dog knocked the tree down while chasing the cat. This year, Abby will be four months old. I can't see the tree surviving under these conditions. So, what should I do instead? Do you have any suggestions? I have ornaments that I've seen every Christmas of my life, and I can't imagine not getting them out. I may have to put them under a bell jar. I could use some help on this, if you have any ideas.

Please get all of our men together and pray for us. Being widowed turns a season of joy and delight into one of grief and pain. Last year was grizzly. Please pray for us.

Adore you,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fifty Years Tomorrow

Dear John,
Goodness, it's late already! I've been resolving a computer adventure. I downloaded something that tried to eat the animals and burn down the house and take over the world. And it changed my browser homepage, darn it! I finally got six different things - six! - uninstalled, and all is well.
Tomorrow will be the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. I remember that day so well. I was in third grade, and they let us watch the television coverage until the buses got there to take us home early. My grandmother cried for a week.
There's been a lot of television coverage, as you can imagine, and I've learned a lot about the events leading up to the drive through Dealey Plaza. The supposedly-earthshaking conclusion is that the majority of Americans don't think we know everything about the assassination. I would think that would be obvious from the moon. I never for a minute believed a word the Warren Commission said. I keep thinking about something you said years ago - that you didn't believe aliens had landed, but you were certain that, if they had, the government would cover it up.
We are members of our own generation, aren't we? Several pundits have said that trust in the government died that day. A lot died that day. I also keep thinking about something that I said years ago - the 1950s ended on November 22, 1963. And the 1960s ended on May 4, 1970. But that's another subject.
So I was almost eight years old when it happened. And what made my eight-year-old brain start asking questions was when Jack Ruby shot Oswald. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why a nightclub owner would get so worked up that he'd go kill the assassin. It made no sense to me then, and it makes no sense to me now. The question doesn't get much press and I've never heard a decent explanation of it. And that's still what I can't swallow. For me, any answer that doesn't cover that, doesn't hold water. I don't know what happened, and I doubt that we ever will. Maybe the aliens shot him and the government covered it up.
When our generation gets to the nursing home, besides arguing over Beatles or Stones, we'll be sitting in our wheel chairs and restraints shouting Oswald, and LBJ, and CIA, and FBI, and Secret Service, and Castro, and who knows how many more theories by then. It changed all of us forever.
So that's my mulling for tonight. I wish you were here so I could hear what you think about it now. By now you probably know what really happened. Can you drop me a hint?
Love you so much,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

For Becky

Dear John,
A reminder from your social secretary: Be sure to tell Kyle happy birthday today. I'm not sure that "today" has any meaning in Heaven. If not, you can tell him for me since I'm still stuck where there are todays.
I've been remembering when the four of us were dating in college. I'm so very glad that none of us knew what our futures would hold. If we know pain is coming, we humans tend to experience it in advance. None of us would have believed that you would out-live him by over twenty years. Knowing us, Becky and I would have done nothing different even if we had known everything from the beginning. All that we regret is that you two forgot to take us with you.
There are things about those years that stand out in my memory - the snowstorm when we all hung out in your dorm room because Larry had Pong, that delightful variant version of Happy Birthday that they taught us, our weddings, and of course the fact that we drove through blizzards to get to their wedding and his funeral. But what I remember most about Kyle is the way he looked at Becky.
I know he still looks at her that way. So go sing the variant Happy Birthday to him, and tell him that I said to thank him for loving my friend so much. And both of you, leave the light on for us. We're coming as soon as we can.
Adore you,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why We Eviscerated the Television

Dear John,
Hunter has discovered toilet paper. And he knows that we have two bathrooms. All of it was on the floor when I got home. And I know that it was Hunter because Abby isn't big enough to reach it. I made it clear to the cat that I considered this to be unacceptable behavior. Then, being my mother's frugal daughter, I wound all of it back up on the rolls, and I tucked the ends in so he can't do it again. At least, I hope not. Oh, I also pointed out to Jethro that a good big brother puts a stop to things like that.
It turns out that Ron has done television repair and thinks he knows what the problem is with ours. He came over tonight, took the back off the television, and eviscerated it. He took the board with him so he can test some parts and find out what needs to be replaced. He says that getting new parts should be easy with this particular set. The bad news is that it will probably take a couple of weeks. The good news is that I can stream shows on the laptop. So I shouldn't have to go football-less on Thanksgiving.
Other than that, the neighborhood continues to sound like chain saws and DeWayne's siding is still in his tree. According to the National Weather Service, we had eleven confirmed tornadoes in the immediate area. So it's amazing that we came out as well as we did. None of our trees are big enough to come down. And the siding and roof held, so we're in good shape here. Except for the eviscerated TV. And the unwound toilet paper. And, of course, that you're not here - that alone should get us federal disaster relief, don't you think?
Adore you,

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reunion of Pets & Siding

Dear John,
Your little family is reunited. I picked Jethro up today, and he was very happy to come home. Hunter hid for about half an hour, Abby for a couple of hours, then everybody assembled together and got reacquainted. Now Abby's in my lap, Hunter by my shoulder, and Jethro at my feet sleeping off his ten days of too much fun.
Today was storm clean-up. I could hear hammers and chain saws all day. DeWayne came around hunting for a piece of his siding. While we were talking in the front yard, he spotted it half-way up his big maple. I'm not sure how he's going to get it down from there. But at least it's accounted-for. Both of the mystery pieces in the yard were claimed. The storm raked the front yard for me - swept it completely clean. All I have left to rake is right next to the west fence and the spirea hedge, as usual. Our leaves are somewhere in Steuben County.
I told you that I've been having trouble turning the television on. Well, today it won't turn on at all - none of the tricks I've been using worked. I'll put out a Facebook SOS and probably have to find a repairman. If I need a new television, I'll be going without for the foreseeable future.
I'm feeling particularly down and miserable tonight. It may be coming home from the beach to the permacloud, or the television problem, or knowing what I'll be walking into at work tomorrow, or not having you to meet me at the airport. Or all of the above. I do remember when we went to the Keys that April for Jen's wedding, spent a week in the sun, and came home to a week of rain. We both got such a bad case of travel-induced seasonal depression that we fixed a box of brownies and self-medicated with chocolate. And we were fine after that. I do have a box of brownie mix in the pantry in case of emergency.
In the meantime, I'm going to bed early. And I'll have my pet therapy, cuddling up with all of my furry creatures. Oh, one of the first things Jethro did when he got home was run to the closet and sniff your shoes. So Jethro says hello, and he loves you.
Love you even more than the dog does,

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Of Family & Funnel Clouds

Dear John,
A lot has happened since I was able to write. Let me see if I can get it in chronological order and condense it a bit.
I wrote last on Friday afternoon. The reason I wrote early was that we had a surprise planned for your mother Friday night. Lesa and Anna drove down from Springfield, and Chris, Heather, and the girls drove over from New Orleans, to stay for the weekend. This was a much bigger birthday party than she knew! We had all of the first generation and almost half of the second and third, so we did well. And everybody kept the surprise.
I gave Lesa and Anna my room, and slept on the living room couch during the time that I slept. Heather and I sat up and talked until your mother came out at midnight and made us go to bed, which was a good thing since we would probably have talked until dawn. I was up at 5:30 doing morning prayers on the balcony, when I saw Heather and Katie going down the back steps to the beach. Everybody gradually assembled for breakfast and football. I got some time with Anna, Heather, and the girls, and watched Ohio State with Chris. So I got lots of aunt time! It was so much fun! Maybe next time we can get Mike and Laura, Jimmy, and Jake and Kierstan, too.
I had to leave at noon for the airport. I flew out of Panama City to Atlanta, had a one-hour layover to get from Concourse A to F then took a completely full plane to Columbus. I'd planned to spend Saturday night at your mother's house and drive home on Sunday. But I looked ahead at the weather report, and decided to drive through the night. I had a good trip home - ate at Skyline in Troy, got good radio all the way, and was home by 1:30 AM and in bed by 3:30. And today's weather justified it.
A front came through with the perfect conditions for ugliness. Through Illinois, Indiana, and southern Michigan we had warnings for high wind, severe storms, and tornadoes. There were a number of tornadoes, and straight-line winds up to 86 mph. The storms left a mess in their wake, but no fatalities so far. We have several trees down on the block. And somebody's siding is on our yard - or two somebodies, since the two pieces are different colors. I think one is from Adam's house, and the tan piece could be from half of the houses on the street. All we had was the glider blown over, and that I expected. Early this morning I brought in all the patio furniture and the planters. I got off very easy, and I'm thankful. We did lose power for a couple of hours. It was dark, so I went on to bed. Then the power came back so I got up for a while to talk to you. I'm off to bed again very soon.
I'm sorry Jethro wasn't at home today, but glad he was at the vet. June always comes over when there's a storm and stays with the animals. This being Sunday, Jim and the kids may well have come, too. So the dog was well-looked after. I'll pick him up in the morning. The cats were fine while the storm was coming through - they slept on the bed all the time. Nobody can accuse cats of over-reacting. But since the line of storms moved out they've been velcroed to me, and very uneasy. It must be the rapid drop in the barometer. Which, by the way, will probably catch up with me tomorrow.

Topeka after the storms moved through

I did get laundry done today, with a two-hour intermission for the power outage. The plan is to dust and vacuum tomorrow. But I'll have to see how hard the storm hits the fibro. Nobody will die if it waits a couple of days. Tuesday I'll go back to work, which will be a nightmare with two weeks of work piled up and waiting for me. I hope it's been a slow two weeks.
To sum up: I had a lovely time in Florida - I enjoyed the time with family and the time on the beach. I feel much better for it, physically and emotionally. It seems that I was ready for a vacation. That's not surprising, since it's been five years since I had one. And I'm always ready for the sea. Becky and I have decided that we need to live in an lighthouse in Ireland.
Seems I've done lots of new things without you in the last few days. All of them would have been lots more fun with you. But I did have fun, I did enjoy all of it. And that's progress, isn't it? I know it makes you happy. And I love to make you happy.
Adore you,

Friday, November 15, 2013

How I Got a Free Sinus Lavage & Almost Went to Galveston

Dear John,
It's been gray and rainy all day, but a bit warmer. And I finally did get in the water. The Gulf is not for the inexperienced today. Okay, it's probably not for the sane. I didn't go out very far. I got out to mid-thigh and felt a strong rip current, so I came back in a bit. And there was a very strong current westward along the beach. I could have ridden it and had a free trip to Galveston. The water has gotten rougher as the day's gone on - even I wouldn't go out there now. I'm sure I was great entertainment for anybody that happened to be watching - this overweight, gray-haired women, being tossed by the surf and laughing. This is probably not something the Chamber of Commerce wants as an advertisement.
It was wonderful, though. It's been years since I got a mouthful of salt water. I'm so used to lake water that it surprised me when I first tasted it. And I did get several mouthfuls, and earfuls, and a free saline sinus lavage. I got breakers in my face, got turned upside down under the waves, and was pounded into the sand a few times. As I said, today is definitely not for the inexperienced.
But that's one thing I'm not. (Tell Jimi Hendrix, I am experienced.) I grew up in the surf at Myrtle Beach, and I learned how to read and handle rip currents at the Outer Banks. I'm so grateful for that summer that my parents signed me up for Survival Swimming. I've used it more than once, and am grateful for the training and for the confidence and peace of mind it gives me in the water. Even now, old and overweight and halfway in shape, I'm confident in the water. And Heaven knows, I float.
Thank you again for supporting my love of the water, even if you didn't understand it. Thank you for never making your understanding a condition for your support. Your support was as unconditional as your love. Both were amazing.
Love you, adore you, and worship the ground you walk on,

Thursday, November 14, 2013

On Sandpipers & Swimming in the Rain

Dear John,
I'm really slacking off. I slept until 6:23 today. It was a cool night, so I did morning prayers in bed. Then I lay down and went back to sleep, and got up at 7:30. I was the third one downstairs. Irene says I'm figuring out how to be on vacation.

My New Vacation Friends

It warmed up by afternoon, so Jim and Irene and I went for a walk. Or, they went for a walk and I went for a slow, luxurious amble. I wandered down the beach and stopped to watch the sandpipers. They're such delightful little things! They all move together as a group on long skinny toothpick legs, and they're adorable. When they peck the sand for food, I can't imagine how they can move their heads that fast.
I also spent some time watching the waves sculpt the sand. And I realized that I was looking at physics. I was doing my best imitation of Sheldon. Nobody on earth but you and Sheldon and I would have enjoyed it, or even understood what I was looking at. And since you're not here on earth anymore and Sheldon is a television character, that pretty much leaves just me. But I had a good time anyway.
Tomorrow it's going to warm up to 70 again, so I'll be hitting the water at least once. There's a 40% chance of rain, but if you're going in the water you don't worry about getting wet. It will be my last day here, so I'm going to enjoy it by going swimming in the rain. You should come swim with me!
Adore you,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

There's White Stuff, & Then There's White Stuff

Dear John,
It was cool today, down into the 30s last night. We closed the windows and turned on the heat. I didn't get out to walk. Nobody else did, either - the beach was deserted. But the sun was shining and the balcony was out of the wind. So I sat there for morning prayer, and watched the sun come up.
I haven't felt very good today. I think the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome caught up with me. I've been expecting that, and today was a good day for it. And I've been a bit sad today - it's been 19 months today since you died. I didn't mention that to anybody else. There's no point in making everybody sad.
I wonder how long I will keep counting months. It's starting to sound a bit silly. But my brain keeps ticking off the numbers anyway. I can see myself, down the road, telling some poor innocent bystander that I lost my husband 129 months ago. I guess my mind will stop when it gets ready to stop. In the meantime, feel free to laugh at me.
I think I told you that it snowed at home. I finally found out how much this "first major snow" was - it was a coating. We have more white stuff on the ground here. Of course, here it's sand. But I couldn't resist showing you this.
I'm going to head to bed soon, because I'm waking up before 6 AM and I really do need to sleep sometime. I love you, miss you, wish you were here.
Adore you,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Sorority With No Pledge Week

Dear John,
It's cloudy with the wind out of the north, and the Gulf has been very still today. The wind has picked up tonight - the palms blowing against the house sound like rain hitting the roof and walls. Tomorrow will be much cooler, with a high in the 50s. But at home it's in the teens and snowing, and there are no complaints here.
I love all kinds of weather on the water. Sun, rain, thunderstorms - it's all beautiful. The sea never looks the same twice. The balcony here would be a wonderful place to sit during a rainstorm.

A Cloudy Sunset

I slacked off today - I slept in until 6:05. And I didn't go for a walk this morning. My legs were sore from walking barefoot in the surf yesterday, so I spent an hour on the balcony for morning prayers, and it was wonderful. Irene and I went for another walk later this morning. And yes, I went barefoot in the surf again. By the time I get home, I'll have the best-looking legs in LaGrange County. But I may want a wheelchair to get through the Atlanta airport!
I stopped to pet a dog during our walk, and met a very nice lady whose husband died last December. I seem to belong to the world's largest sorority that has the most wonderful people. And none of us went through rush or pledge week. We all ended up here against our will. But, as I said before, if you're stuck with something you don't want, you might as well be at the beach.
Adore you,

Monday, November 11, 2013

If You're Stuck with Something, You Might As Well Be at the Beach

Dear John,


It's been another lovely day. I slept in until 5:50 this time, then I walked west down the beach. We went shopping for a bit and worked a jigsaw puzzle. Later Irene and I took a walk down the beach.
She wore shoes and walked above the tide line, like a sensible person, while I went barefoot and walked in the water. I was surprised that the water was so warm. The sandpipers were following the waves and eating the little crustaceans behind them. I stood there for a bit and watched the sand. It's wonderful to watch these tiny creatures turn around in the sand, looking for which way is down, then dig really fast and disappear. I can remember Mama showing me that when I was little. She'd always say, "Come and look at how God made this."
Being here is making me want to go back to Key West. There were always things I wanted to do there that you weren't interested in. I'd like to be there for sunset, and there are house tours that I'd like to take. I just want to walk it, to wander the streets and look at the houses and gardens. I'd like to spend a week on Key West, maybe even fly in and out of there. I've driven the Overseas Highway plenty of times.
It surprised me to find myself thinking about that. I never expected to want to do things like that now that you're not here. I'm beginning to think differently about the future. I'm finding myself wanting to do things. Maybe that's part of passing the 18-month mark. Maybe it's just being here at the beach. Or maybe I'm just doing what you want me to. I still have bad times and always will - I had one tonight watching the sun go down. But I feel your presence and prayers and support, and I thank you for that. In everything I do for the rest of my life, I'd rather you were with me. But I'm here and you're there, and I'm stuck with that. If you're stuck with something, you might as well be at the beach.
Love you, with sand between my toes,

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunrise, Sunset

Dear John,

Sunrise . . .

We've had a lovely day. I did wake up at first light and headed straight for the beach. I woke up at 5:45 this morning and was on the beach before 6. I walked three miles east, toward the sunrise. Then I cut back up to the road and walked back. By the time I got back here, everybody was up and ready for breakfast. Tonight we sat on the balcony and watched the sun go down. The beach here runs east-west, so we can see the full cycle of the sun.

. . . Sunset

The high today was 73 - I was in capris, a summer top, and sandals. Tonight's low will be 58, so I'll sleep with my balcony doors wide open again. There aren't any blankets on the beds, but every bed has a think, down-filled duvet. It was lovely last night to snuggle down under the covers and feel the cool breeze come in through the door. You'd love it.
The only thing missing is you, but you're never really absent, especially when I'm with your family. My family now, after all these years. Thank you for sharing your family with me.
Wish you were here,

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Drunk on the Sea

Dear John,
I'm sitting in a rocking chair on the balcony looking out over the Gulf, with a half-moon rising and shining on the water, listening to the surf and smelling warm salt air. The only thing missing is you, and I know that Heaven is better than anything Earth has to offer, but I can't quite imagine anything better than this. I'm drunk on the sound and smell of the surf.
We flew out of Columbus at noon, had 2 hours in Atlanta, flew to Panama City, and drove about 45 minutes. My room is on the side away from the water, but I have a very high four-poster bed and a balcony, and will sleep with the sliding glass door open and get every bit of this air that I can. I predict that I'll be up at first light. I told Irene that if she wakes up and can't find me, I'll be walking the beach.
You didn't feel what I do about open water, but you understood as well as you could. And you always saw to it that I got to see water with no visible land on the other side as often as I could. Something inside me unrolls, opens up, and flattens out when I see open water. I can't explain it any better than that. It feeds some need in me. When I'm at the water, I'm at peace. When I'm inland, I'm hungry for the coast.
Thank you for respecting and caring for that part of me. I will always come back to the sea. And someday, when I grow up, I will live in a lighthouse.
Love you to eternity,

Friday, November 8, 2013

Let's Sleep Electively While We Can

Dear John,
It's tomorrow again. The dog is curled up in bed next to me with the hiccups, the cats are rampaging up and down the hall, and I kept falling asleep while trying to check Facebook.
I had a semi-frantic day at work. Kathy's Holiday Open House started this afternoon. I got off early, so I was home for two hours before I had to be at Janice's to set up for the Lia Sophia party. It was good party - I have two bookings from it, and there will be more than ten orders when all are in, so Janice will get 60% of the sale in free jewelry, using the monthly hostess special. That's the most I've ever gotten to give free!
I'll leave by noon tomorrow to go join your family in Springfield. Then we'll fly out of Columbus at noon on Saturday. We should have perfect weather. And after the week I've had, I'll be thrilled to just sit still for five minutes. I'm ready for a break.jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj Oops - I dozed off there. I think I'd better go to sleep while I can do so electively. I'd hate to wake up at 5 am, still sitting up in bed with the laptop in front of me.
I won't be able to talk to you tomorrow night, since I'll be at your mother's house. But I should be able to keep talking to you from Florida. The house we'll be in has Wi-Fi. Please pray for safe travel for all of us!
Love and adore you,

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let Me Lay Down Beside You

Dear John,
I know it's past our bedtime, but I have to talk to you again before I turn out the light. I was watching television tonight, and heard a commercial for something-or-other that used bits and pieces of John Denver's "You Fill Up My Senses.". Of course, my mind immediately straightened out the dissected lyrics and filled in the holes, and I listened to the words in my head. And I got halfway through washing my face before I started bawling. I ended up throwing myself across the bed, and crying harder than I have in months. The cats, being sensible creatures, ran and hid. Jethro, being all boy, hovered helplessly around me looking for something to do that would make it alright. When he couldn't find anything, he started howling at the same pitch I was crying at, thus compounding the noise while expressing, no doubt, his solidarity with my suffering.
It was the second verse that hurt:
Come, let me love you. Let me give my life to you. Let me drown in your laughter. Let me die in your arms. Let me lay down beside you. Let me always be with you. Come, let me love you. Come love me again.

Joe Quinn was right - there is a layer of meaning in those words that you can't understand until after marriage. The song came out while we were in college, and I thought I understood then. I had no clue. I would add to Joe's words, that you can't completely understand the song until you're widowed.

Loving you and giving my life to you were the easy things. Drown in your laughter - well, I know the overwhelming, speechless joy of seeing you joyful, happy, and content. You didn't quite die in my arms, but close enough, and that is a moment that sears itself into a person's memory. I can't begin to describe to you what that's like. And in God's mercy, you will never find out.

But I can't lay down beside you yet - not until Jen lets me dig or the Lord calls me home. And that's what I want more than anything else - to lay down beside you, and to always be with you. That is what loving you means to me now - to own the plot next to yours, have my name and birthdate engraved on it, and wait until the date of my death can be inscribed and I can come to you. Then I'll lay down beside you, and I'll always be with you. And the circle of life and suffering will be completed.

That's all - I just couldn't go to sleep without telling you one more time how very much I love you. I mean every word of this song with every bit of my heart. And can't wait for the day when I get to lie down beside you again, in our second home on the water, and be with you always. Until then, sleep good, my love. Dream of me. Visit us when you can get a hall pass, pray for us always, and leave the light on.

Love you more than life,


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All the Poop is Covered

Dear John,
Love conquers all. Last night Hunter arrived first for treats, and was very pleased that Abby had to wait until he was done before she got hers. His ego is soothed and all is well. He's cuddly again and, more to the point, he's covering up his poop.
And speaking of poop, I spent the day on business and financial things. I paid bills ahead a bit since I'm going to be traveling. The property tax bill was due, and that one always hurts. But I sent in the paperwork for that retirement plan disbursement, so the checks should be here when I get back. Is there anything else out there that I don't know about? At least this surprise was a pleasant one! I'm still expecting shoes to drop.
I appreciate all your work over the years, dealing with all the business and financial things. I have it easy now, since most of it can be done on-line. And I had it easy when I handled it when we were first married, because we didn't have much more than rent to deal with. I had to buy stamps today - I think I used more today than I have in the last six months put together. I suppose I've kept up with technology - I get annoyed with anybody that makes me pay by check. I know I'm odd for my age, but I love everything that technology has to offer. Except Twitter. I'm glad it's there but I don't have time to tell people every morning that I'm eating organic rolled oats with coconut oil, organic cane sugar, and whole milk. And I don't think I want to know people that care. It seems a bit creepy.
So all the poop, literal and metaphorical, is nicely taken care of. That means it's been a good day. Your little family loves you. Come snuggle with all of us tonight!
Adore you,

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cat Fights

Dear John,
Hunter isn't speaking to me. I need you to come mediate and soothe hurt cat-feelings.
It's sibling rivalry. Every night I give out bedtime treats - Jethro gets his milkbone, and Hunter and Abby get cat treats and get to share my glass of milk with me. Last night Abby got there first for treats, then Hunter jumped up and joined us on the bed. I tried to give treats to both of them at the same time. Hunter stalked away, disdainful as only a cat can be, and has paid no attention to me since. To be sure he made his point, this morning he pooped in the litter box and didn't cover it up. They probably smelled it across town.
This, too, will pass. He's never gone longer than twenty-four hours without speaking to me. His attempts to snub me are so far from subtle that it's hard not to laugh. I finally told him, "You have a little sister now. Deal with it." He walked away, dripping injured pride from every pore.
My poor funny little creatures! Jethro gets jealous and has a needy attack. Hunter gets jealous and doesn't speak to me. Abby, being the youngest, doesn't get jealous. Yet. And here I am, an only child, trying to deal with issues of sibling rivalry and birth order, neither of which I know a single thing about.
But we muddle through and, in the end, we all love each other. Jethro never gets angry at Hunter or Abby. And Hunter is fine with Abby today, while he's not speaking to me. It just shows where on the totem pole I live!
If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Or you could just come by and laugh at all of this silliness. Or just come by. We miss you.
Adore you,

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sweaters & Sentiment

Dear John,
I made you proud again, didn't I? I went to Fort Wayne armed with birthday-month coupons and sale fliers, and spent money on clothes.
I can't claim much credit. There was an emergency - I was down to two 15-year-old pairs of jeans that are in tatters, and I can't go to Florida that way. After looking all over for cheap jeans, I have once again concluded that the only jeans that fit me are from Coldwater Creek. So I have three new pairs - blue, cream, and brown. And they fit. And I'll probably wear these for fifteen years and then demote them to yardwork jeans, like the last ones.
I passed Christopher & Banks on the way, and discovered another 40%-off sale. So I spent $45 there for a jacket and two long-sleeved tee shirts - not bad at all.
And this is what you'll really love: I moved up from Walmart's finest to two professionally-fitted bras that didn't cost much more than Walmart. But they're real bras. And they really fit. (I'm kind of the same way with bras that I am with jeans.) And they're comfortable, and my clothes fit much better now.
I wish I could show you everything. You'd love all of it. And you'd also love the big bag of clothes in the car to go to Goodwill. Honestly, some of it is over twenty years old. And I know because I remember where we lived when I got it. I surprised myself when I was bagging it up to go. I had an attack of sentimentality because it's all connected with you. You were with me when I bought some of it, and the sweaters I remember wearing when we did things together. Part of me doesn't want to let anything go that has any connection to you.
That's silly and selfish. I will remember doing things with you even without having the clothes I was wearing. And the Nativity Fast will start in eleven days, so it's a season for almsgiving. I can't keep clothes that other people need. That's wrong, and doing it because I'm feeling sentimental about you is doing wrong in your name. So I will give in your name instead. I'll be generous with my clothes and my heart. And my lap - Abby has been curled up and purring in it most of the evening.
It's late, the cats are getting drowsy, and the dog is outside barking to come in. I'll get your little family together and put us all to bed. If you can stop by tonight, I'll show you my new clothes!
Love you always and forever,

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lighthouses, Bungalows, & Dreams

Dear John,
I found this photo today, and remembered that day we drove west through Iowa into that storm.

Remember? We were on our first trip to the Great Plains. We went west into Illinois, then south, then west again. There was road construction on the Iowa interstate, which was fine with us because it gave us an excuse to take the state routes. As we made the turn to the west, we saw a storm coming that filled most of the western horizon. The sky was getting blacker and we could see hard rain ahead of us.
So we drove west down a two-lane road through farmland, into a fierce thunderstorm. By the time we met the front, the sky looked like this. Farmhouses were few and far between, and we talked about how lovely it would be to ride out a storm in an old, tin-roofed farmhouse.
That was us - on the back roads and loving it, and, introverts that we are, loving the thought of spending a storm in an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. We used to talk, too, about how we would have made good lighthouse keepers if we'd been born a century earlier. And you would say that you could see me staying on like so many keeper's widows, managing the lighthouse alone. And you were so right about me. All we ever wanted was a little house and each other.
I still look at lighthouses and metal-roofed bungalows, and dream. Tonight I'll remember that Iowa road that led to the thunderstorm. And I'll think again about how wonderful it would be to weather a storm with you.
Adore you,

Saturday, November 2, 2013

On Pluviophilia

Dear John,
I've been groomed. Hunter must have thought I needed it. When, in the course of washing sheets and blankets, I interrupted his nap for the fourth time, he licked my face thoroughly. Abby had already groomed my nose. So I look my best for you this evening.
I ran errands downtown this morning. The mobs that came for the horse sale are gone and things are back to normal. It was raining and I got soaked, but I like downtown on Saturday mornings. I took the recycling, then went to the bank, the grocery store, and both hardware stores. It was too late for the post office by the time I'd gotten the recycling loaded into the car.
It was lovely to be out in the rain. I've loved rainy days all my life. I need the sun sometimes, too, but there's something cozy and comforting about a rainy day. It's nice to go out and get wet, and then it's nice to come inside, warm and dry, and listen to the rain fall. The only thing I'm missing is a metal roof. We talked about wanting to do metal when this roof needs replacing, and I'd still like to do that. I miss the sound of rain on one.
So - among other things - I'm a pluviophile. (I've been called worse - I used to work with cardiothoracic surgeons.) And I've had a lovely rainy day, with red and yellow leaves wet and shiny, and dramatic gray-and-black skies. And thank you for all your hard work - the basement is dry.
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Lap Full of Cat

Dear John,
I have a lap full of warm cat. Hunter came for a cuddle, stayed to bathe himself, and fell asleep. He's grown so much - I used to be able to hold him in one hand. He's probably around 14-15 pounds now, and June says he's going to keep growing for a while. I wish you had gotten to know the joy of having a lap full of sleeping cat.
I had a very busy day at work. And I'm feeling something new tonight. I'm feeling glad that it's Friday, happy that the weekend is here. I haven't been glad for the weekends since you're not here. Maybe I'm tired tonight from my busy week. Maybe I'm getting a bit more accustomed to this alone thing. We rarely had weekends off together anyway, with the jobs we had. But since your death, weekends have emphasized the fact that I'm not part of a family anymore. Tonight, however, I'm delighted that Friday night is here. I suppose it's not essential for me to be logical every single second.
Tomorrow I'll get up early and make the loop downtown - I need to go to the post office, bank, and hardware store. And laundry is an urgent necessity. But I don't have to mow, so it will be a lovely day. There's always plenty that needs to be done around here, and I'm beginning to make headway now that mowing season is over. 
Sleep good tonight - I expect that your little family will. We'll miss you. Come and visit when you can!
Adore you,