Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Year Closer to You

Dear John,
It's 9:30 on New Year's Eve and I'm already in bed. Jethro is beside me licking his paws, Abby is in the front window sill, and Hunter and Maggie are chasing each other around the house with great noise and gusto. For all you can tell by us, it's any other night in the year. And I wish it was - I'll be glad when this night is over.
Today a friend posted on Facebook that she wouldn't have anybody to kiss tonight at midnight. I realized that I would never again be kissed on New Year's Eve, and had to cry a little. It's strange - I've known since your death that I'd never be kissed again at any time by anyone, and I don't want to be. But when you move from the abstract of "never" to the particular of "New Year's Eve," it feels different. I remember all the New Year's Eves I spent with you and realize that it isn't that nobody will kiss me again as the ball goes down at Times Square; it's that you won't. Since we met, I haven't wanted any kisses but yours. I still don't, no matter how many guys hit on me.
I believe that tonight is giving me another loss to grieve - never bringing in another year with you. It's one more "never" in the unending list. At least it's one that I only think about once a year.
Once again, Tard says it best. Every year, every day, brings me closer to being with you again. So bring on the next year, and the next, and the next! No matter how hard this widow thing may be, I have one thing to look forward to. Hurry the day!
Love you forever and ever,

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Importance of Focal Length

Dear John,
It's late and I'm piled up in bed with Jethro at my feet, Hunter and Maggie on my legs, and Abby off goodness-knows-where. Abby is mad at me because I won't let her eat Styrofoam berries. I'm such a mean mother.
I had a good day at work, slower than usual but fairly steady. Most of the factories are closed this week so there are fewer merchant deposits, fewer paychecks, and lots of people out of town. Tomorrow should be either feast or famine - nobody is sure which. We close at 3:00 instead of 5:00, so there will be less of whatever it is. 
I'm tired. I've been tired all day. I don't feel bad but I don't feel right. Part of it is fibro and part is the holiday season. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, and I can't get worked up about this thing of having another year. I will have made it through 2014 - a laudable achievement, especially considering that I didn't want to. And it's been better than 2013, which was better than 2012, not that that takes much. Now I'm looking at 2015 and I couldn't be less interested. Do we really have to have another year? Can I opt out of this?
I suppose the turn of the year reminds me that there is future stretching out ahead of me and, as long as I'm on this earth, you will not be here for it. That's a singularly unpleasant fact to contemplate. It seems that I can still only take the future in limited amounts.
So I will readjust my focal length to something tolerable. Maybe I'll just look ahead as far as vacation in the spring. That should make me feel better. Seeing a few yards ahead is okay. But there is no need to lift my eyes to the horizon and see how far I must continue to travel alone.
For tonight, life is quiet and good. As I said yesterday, there's food in the pantry, the litter boxes are clean, the laundry is done, and my animals love me. And I know that you love me, too, just as surely as I knew it when you were here beside me. That won't change as the calendar turns over. That will never change.
Constantly yours,

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Wonder of Wild Turkeys

Dear John,
I haven't had the headache today, just the feeling that I may get one any minute. And that is a welcome improvement.
I slept in, did laundry, cleaned out the litter boxes, and ran errands in Goshen including my big monthly grocery trip. I stopped for lunch at Wendy's and had a wonderful surprise - Aleesha was there. I didn't know that was the one she worked at. So we had a delightful reunion during which you were discussed a little bit. It was good to see her.
I felt sad all day. I think it's the widow thing and the week between Christmas and New Year's. It's just a hard time of year. I am making progress, though. This year I enjoyed the season up until Christmas Day, when it all hit me again. And that is better than last year when I was miserable from Thanksgiving to Valentines Day.
On the way home I was driving down County Road 19 and heard Seals and Crofts singing "Summer Breeze," and sniveled all the way to 38 where I had another treat - a flock of fifteen wild turkeys crossing the road. I got to sit there and watch all of them meander from one side of the road to the other. They're so beautiful. It seemed that the Lord sent me two presents today to cheer me up.
I will be okay. This week will pass and life will get back to normal. I'll go back to work tomorrow and that will help. These three days off have been a godsend for my body - the fibro is much better today - but they have been hard emotionally. It's been that way since you died - I have to balance staying busy for the sake of my emotions with resting for the sake of my body.
But meanwhile there are people who care about me and there are wild turkeys in the world. So life is good. I have a good job to go to in the morning and food in the pantry and clean litter boxes. The only other thing I need is for you to get the Skype thing straightened out. Know that I love and miss you all the time, but especially during the holiday season. You're welcome to visit your little family any time!
Missing you,

Steelers, Skype, Headaches, & Heat

Dear John,
Another day didn't go as planned. I woke up at 3 AM with a beast of a headache. I ended up taking Benadryl, and it was almost 5:00 before I could go back to sleep. The next thing I knew it was 10:30 and I still had the headache.
So I didn't get to church or do much of anything today. I did get out the sinus-rinse stuff so I'm less congested. I've been able to stay on top of it with aspirin. I'm dreading lying down - last night I felt much better when I was sitting up. I'll rinse my sinuses again tonight at bedtime and see if that helps.
My primary therapeutic measure has been football. Lots and lots of football. I watched the Colts and Packers win, and am finishing my day with the Steelers. They are up by 10 with a little over a minute to go, so the good guys should win this one, too. And it's been a good thing the windows are closed! I'm proud of them. About half the team has the flu, but you'd never know it by watching. Troy is out for the second week with a knee injury. I miss seeing him on the field.
I can watch football without you now and enjoy it, but I'm always aware that it would be more fun with you. I'm okay with basketball, too, but I'm still not up to baseball. I've watched football and basketball all my life - I grew up where SEC and ACC overlap, so it was inevitable. But I didn't get interested in baseball until after we were married, and it was you that taught me about it. We went to Wrigley together so many times and I went to so many games that you umpired. From you I learned to watch the work of the officials as well as the players, and I still do that. And I'm not up to it yet. I really don't know if I'll ever get back into baseball again. Time will tell. And I'll give myself all the time I need. I won't force it.
But the important thing is that I can enjoy football and basketball now, and I'm thankful for that. And it's been easy watching this weekend when all of my teams have won. If you were here, I'd have needed my unlimited texting to keep you up on the games while you were at work. Try to get the Steelers game on replay - it's well worth watching. And please keep working on getting Skype. I'm all set up for it; all that's missing is you. But I suppose that can be said of everything in my life, can't it?
It's almost midnight and the rest of the street was asleep long ago. I would have been, too, if I didn't have tomorrow off. Jethro wants out and Maggie is trilling and yowling, poor little thing. I hope to get her neutered before she has a third round of this. Be glad you're in Heaven tonight! Between my head and a kitten in heat, it's likely that there won't be a lot of sleep here. But you can sleep in peace, far away from such earthly trials and tribulations. Pray for your little family that is still here, and come visit my dreams tonight!
Love you so, so much,

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Unproductive & Proud of It

Dear John,
Today didn't go as planned. I was completely unproductive all day. I woke up feeling awful. I know I'm not alone - yesterday at work we were all in various states of exhausted yuckiness. And it's no wonder, right after Christmas. No matter how much you enjoy it, all the working and cooking and cleaning and decorating and shopping and visiting and entertaining takes its toll.
And, as usual, the  fibro has to be figured into the equation. So be proud of me - today I recognized my limits and took care of myself. I'd hoped to use these three days off to get loads of stuff done. I may end up using them to make myself ready to go back to work on Tuesday. Either one is fine. I'm doing the best I can. And I'm learning to be okay with that even without you here to say it to me. It is amazing that I can work full-time and maintain a house on my own, while coping with a disease that makes me eligible for disability. I'm learning to be content with that.
And the good news is: Kentucky and Louisville met today, both undefeated, and only Kentucky retained that status. And the game was carried on The Deuce, so I got to watch it. I had a lovely time, and it is a good thing that the windows were closed. I kept making noise and scaring the dog. It was a good game - low-scoring, low-fouling, well-officiated, everything you like. And the good guys won.
It's almost 10:00, so I'm off to bed now. I am determined to get to church tomorrow, so please pray for me. I should feel better tomorrow after resting today. I'll meet you there!
Adore you,

PS - It is now 10:24. At exactly 10:10, Maggie went into heat again. Please send noise-cancelling headphones. Again, it is a good thing the windows are closed. Otherwise, we'd be besieged by tomcats. I hope you sleep better than I will the next few nights. Love you!

There's Another One?

Dear John,
At work we had Friday on Wednesday, and today we had Wednesday on Friday. It was the slowest day I've had here. That was good, because I felt like I'd been run over by something large and fast-moving. I think yesterday's food caught up with me.
I have three days off now. Can you imagine? I'm so excited. Tomorrow I'll go to the farmers market and the co-op and run some errands. I have housework to do - it's built up over the past two weeks because I've been knitting every waking moment to get all the socks done by Christmas. So part of Saturday afternoon will be devoted to rendering the house habitable. There's laundry to do, too. And I hope to get a pot of red beans and rice made this weekend. I'm looking forward to getting myself back to healthy eating and off of holiday food.
I'm still missing you when the sun goes down. All the New Years ads are out and I'm having a hard time with them. I keep remembering when we came to the end of 2011 and we said that 2012 had to be better, that here couldn't possibly be a year as bad as 2011 had been. We were never more spectacularly wrong, were we? The turning of the year marks time for me, but it doesn't feel like a thing to celebrate. Another year is just one more without you. I look at the coming year without enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is reserved for Heaven; nothing on earth rates it.
But 2015 will come, and I will be grateful for all God's gifts in 2014, trust in His provision in the future, and be content in the present. That's all we can really do anyway isn't it?
Missing you,

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Taking a Deep Breath

Dear John,
Merry Christmas! Christ is born! Glorify Him!
The animals graciously let me sleep in until almost 8:00. I had breakfast, baked cookies, wrapped presents, and got to Bob's for the family Christmas at 2:00. It was a good and happy day. I'm so thankful for my little family. I got home a little after 6:00.
I seem to be back in the old pattern of having an emotional crash when it gets dark. I watched the sun go down and felt my heart breaking. This is the hardest night I've had in many months. It's Christmas and you're not here, so that isn't surprising - the day has so many memories. I'm being haunted by all those Christmas mornings that we got up, fixed breakfast together, opened presents, and spent the day with each other. They are good memories, which would usually make me feel better. But today they underline the fact that those days are gone and won't come back.
So tonight I'll have a good cry. Then I'll take that deep breath and let the pain pass. Tomorrow I'll have a busy Friday at work with no time for thoughts or emotions, and that will be good for me. Maybe tomorrow night won't be so bad. I know I'm being normal again. Grief is like fibromyalgia, characterized by a pattern of remission and exacerbation. It's disconcerting to be normal. Don't worry - I'll try not to make a habit of it.
Love you with all my heart,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I've Just One Wish on this Christmas Eve

Dear John,
It's 11:00 Christmas Eve night and I'm not at church. Jen called when I was getting ready to leave and said that she'd just gotten home and the roads were ice. So here I am, thwarted by Mother Nature.
I've done really well with the Christmas season this year. I've looked forward to and enjoyed it for the first time since you left and forgot to take me with you. At least, I have until 6:15 tonight. Then the whole emotional thing hit me all at once. So I've cried at bit, and there is probably more to come. This is my third Christmas without you. Like everything else in this widow-world that I find myself in, it doesn't get normal but it does get better. It seems to me that grief never ends, never goes away; you just learn to live more comfortably with it as time goes on. But there are periodic exacerbations when you feel like it all happened yesterday and suddenly you can't breathe. I'm having one of those tonight.
So I will cry myself to sleep, and I'll feel better in the morning. Tomorrow I'll get up and bake cookies and wrap presents for the family Christmas at 2:00. I will be happy and grateful for my family that loves me. I will be alright - just not tonight. As Karen Carpenter sang, "I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve. I wish I was with you."
Come get me soon?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Old Friends & a Neurotic Dog

Dear John,
I got home way too late last night to be coherent. Jethro was frantic because I was out after dark - several hours after dark - and it took until midnight to get him calmed down enough for any of us to go to sleep. First he wanted to lie on my head, then lick my face, then chase the cats around the house. He's been neurotic ever since you went to work one day and never came home again. See what trouble you've caused? And since you forgot to take me with you, I'm left here with a neurotic dog. Shame on you.
I had a wonderful evening yesterday. It's been years since I've sat down and talked to Ruth and Harold but, as is the way with good friends, it felt like we'd done it last week. I keep up with Ben and Nate and Maria on Facebook, but it was good to all be sitting around the table. It was just like it was twenty years ago, except that Maria's husband was there instead of you. And Ben brought Brody with him. He's a beautiful dog, and he still has a lot of puppy in him. I had a good time playing with him.
It's been such a joy to have these friends for over twenty years. We've watched Ben and Maria grow from young children into delightful adults. Ben just turned thirty - can you imagine that? It is a good thing we don't age as fast as our children do, isn't it? That would mean that we're old.
I was tired at work today - I'm used to getting eight hours of sleep, and last night I didn't get anywhere near that. But I have thoroughly enjoyed getting this tired. Now I need to turn the light off and go to sleep. Jethro and Hunter, as usual, are asleep on my legs while I'm on the laptop, and Abby and Maggie are under the bed. We miss you. I had some sad moments last night, realizing that the four of us aren't four anymore. I will always have those times. But don't worry about me - I have lots of friends that love me and look after me. That's a good thing, since you forgot to take me with you, leaving me here with the neurotic dog. You're never getting off the hook for that. :)
Adore you,

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Special Sunday

Dear John,
It's been a wonderful Sunday. The bishop was here today, and served the liturgy himself. Brian was a bit nervous but did very well - the choir pulled off a hierarchical liturgy without a hitch. The church was packed and very happy. He is well-loved. Of course, this parish has known and loved him since he was first ordained and sent to Fort Wayne, and it is such a joy to have him as our bishop now. He is a gentle and holy man.
I thought you were there this morning. I hope you were - I know you love him, and you never got to serve as a subdeacon when a bishop was serving the liturgy. I didn't get a chance to talk to Charlie; he always knows when you're there. He says he can almost-almost see you.
This photo was taken after the liturgy today. Can you believe how many children we have now? Please show this to Father Anthony. He was so afraid we'd be a one-generation parish. Be sure he knows how much we're growing and how many young families we have. Father George might want to see it, too.
In other news, the Steelers won and clinched a post-season spot and I have the last sock finished except for another inch of ribbing at the top. The Colts got slaughtered by the Cowboys. Green Bay also clinched for the post-season. I never heard a Browns score.
I may not be here to talk to you tomorrow night. I'm working until noon, then going to Plymouth to see Ruth and Harold and the kids. Ben and Maria and Nate will be home for Christmas. I'm so looking forward to it, though not the drive to Plymouth and back. It's typical for my friendships - I keep up with Ruth and Harold through annual Christmas letters, and the kids daily on Facebook. In so many cases, we ended up being closer to our friends' children. I'm not sure what that says about us. It's probably best not to think too much about it.
I'm going to go to sleep now and not think about anything at all. Hunter and Jethro are already asleep on my legs. I love you so, so much. Bishop Anthony remembered your death and took time today to be sure I'm okay. And I am. But I wish you were here.
Love you forever and ever,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wedding Planning Without a Wedding Planner

Dear John,
I did get to work today. I still felt lousy, but I know I'm not contagious. It was a good day. I came home and - you guessed it - knitted. I have a third of a sock to go. It should all be done by Christmas.
For some reason I started thinking tonight about all of our weddings that happened about the same time, and was pondering something that I've often thought about. Most of the guys just wanted to be told when and where to be and what to wear. But you were different. We planned every bit of it together. Some of that was geography - your mother was in Ohio, mine in South Carolina, and we and the wedding were in Kentucky. But mostly it was just us.
I remember all the hours we spent looking at bridal magazines together and talking about what we liked and didn't like. Remember that we cut out pictures and glued them into a notebook? I still have it; it's in the cedar chest. And I wouldn't part with it for anything. We had so much fun doing that.
It was your wedding as much as it was mine, and I wanted it to be what you wanted. And it was important to you to be involved in all the planning and decision-making. None of that was difficult because we've always had very similar tastes. We wanted a simple wedding; I had always wanted a morning wedding like Mama and Daddy had; we each had one obvious person for attendant. And we both love daisies. The only decision I made without you was choosing the pattern for my wedding dress - Mama and I did that together. And she and I chose the flatware pattern, but I new that you'd love it, and you did.
I'm starting to ramble. What I really wanted to say is that I loved planning our wedding with you and I can't imagine doing it any other way. I'm glad we're odd in the same ways. Thank you for being you, the World's Only Perfect Man. (Are there other perfect men in Heaven? I doubt it. At least not as perfect as you.) And thank you for marrying me. Our wedding was perfect.
Adore you always,

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bad Food & Bare Spots

Dear John,
I finally figured out what's been wrong with me. I picked up staph food poisoning. Tammy made the suggestion yesterday. This has lasted too long to be viral. So today I thought back on what I've eaten, and there it was. Monday night I had the last of leftover rice and salmon. Halfway through it I realized it didn't taste quite right and threw the rest out. But that was enough. The timing is perfect, of when the symptoms started and the duration. I was trying to save money by eating the leftovers. What I did was cost myself two days' pay and inconvenience everybody. I abjectly apologize to the world.
You taught me a lot about how to save money. I'd learned to save it by never spending it, and that has its place. But you taught me that there are times when buying quality is an investment and the only sensible thing to do. That's why I had jeans from Coldwater Creek that lasted me over twelve years. Yes, the ones from Walmart are less expensive. But they cost more in the long run because they don't last.
So next time I'll be more judicial about my actions with leftovers. As Miriam always said when they moved, "When it doubt, chuck it out." It is a good rule to apply to questionable food.
It's time for me to get to sleep, if my tummy allows. I really need to get to work tomorrow - please pray for my gastrointestinal health and stability! Right now, Jethro is asleep next to me and Hunter is grooming himself on my knees, while Abby and Maggie chase each other through the house. Oh, and I've left the tree lights on the last two nights and the cats have come to bed and ignored it. I suppose they've gotten accustomed to it. And I'm glad. We always loved waking up and night and seeing the lights from the Christmas tree. Here it is for you to look at. Blame the cats for the bare spots! It looks good above cat-height. I'm just thrilled that it's still standing.
Missing you,

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Baby Animals & the Garden of Eden

Dear John,
Today I've been thinking about vulnerability. It seems there is nothing that melts the human heart like receiving the love and trust of a creature that is completely vulnerable to us. That's what makes us love children and baby animals. Glance at Facebook and you'll see that it's universal.
I've been experiencing that with the animals, especially Maggie. She's so little and small-boned, and feels so frail in my hands. Of course, she's made of rubber like all cats are. But she is so vulnerable to me. I control the food, water, litter, veterinary care, and safety for all of them, and I'm so much bigger and stronger. And they love me and trust me completely. They all love to sleep cuddled up with me, they welcome my touch anywhere and anytime, they greet me when I come home. And they were that way from the beginning - they immediately trusted me without me doing anything to earn it. When I went to Angi's house and she first put Hunter in my arms, he snuggle up and purred. The other two were feral, but I first picked them up and they did the same thing.
I am completely undeserving of this unearned, unconditional love and confidence. Sinner than I am, how do I come to be loved by creatures without sin? Does that sinlessness itself give them the ability to love and trust as I can't?
And all of this sheds light on the times you said it meant so much to you that I trusted you enough to go to sleep in your arms. You never used the power that your size, strength, and gender gave you over me, but it was very real power and I know that you felt it's presence and the responsibility it laid on you. And now, when I hold Maggie in my arms and she closes her eyes tight, snuggles up, and purrs, I understand.
Somehow it all ties in with the Garden of Eden, with the relationship we had with animals and with each other before sin came. As Handel wrote, "The kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ." And so it is appropriate to ponder this as we approach the Incarnation. And it raises the question: Do I have the love and trust for God that my animals have for me? That's something to work on.
Thank you for listening to me ramble and think. Thank you for waiting patiently until I could understand what you meant. Thank you for being worthy of my love and trust. Pray that I may be worthy of the animals.
Still loving and trusting you,

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Day for Knitting with Cats

Dear John,
It was an odd day. I don't think I told you - I woke up at 4 AM yesterday with a  stomach ache and felt worse as the day went on. I came home, threw up, and felt a bit better. This morning I got up, dressed for work, then ate breakfast and immediately regretted it. I had to stay home. As I texted Danielle and Tammy: I don't always text in the bathroom, but when I do I'm texting Danielle and Tammy.
I only threw up a few times today, but I've stayed very nauseated. And I slept a good bit of the day. The rest of the time I knitted and watched Christmas shows. I only have one sock to go. And I got the dishcloths ready to put in the mail tomorrow. Everybody should get them by Christmas. I'll deal with cards after that last sock is done. There will have to be a short letter this year, with my new job and Jethro's new kitten. The only other thing left is to bake cookies. I'll only work half a day next Monday and Wednesday, so I'll get the baking done then.
I do love not buying any Christmas presents. I have no need to be in the stores this time of year, and it's wonderful. I've been knitting for six months and have loved every minute of it. I have more knitting to do for a few more people, but the things with Christmas Day deadlines will get done. It is good.
And now it's time to go to sleep. Maggie's hormone storm is winding down and I have hopes of a good night's sleep. We're all worn out from this. It should be her only time. Here she comes, up on the bed with a felt mouse in her mouth. Yep, she seems to be done with it. And we all survived.
So now it's safe for you to visit. I expect no more cat yowling. Come and watch your baby catch a felt mouse. Pick her up and feel her cuddle up with you and purr. You'll never want to leave. And that would be just fine with us!
Adore you,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Of Rain & Feline Hormones

Dear John,
There was a bit more sleep here last night than the night before. Maggie only yowled half the night, the dog only lay on my head for a couple of hours, and he only woke me up to let him out at midnight and 4 AM. There is room for improvement. Last night I dreamed that you and Jethro and I were out for a walk, and kept running across abandoned kittens. Jethro was trying to bring all of them home. When we got here and opened the door to go inside, kittens flooded around us getting in through the door. I can't imagine why I'd dream about that, can you?
This morning I took the car in to get new tires put on. Bob drove me to work since it was pouring down rain. I don't mind getting wet, but didn't want to work all day in wet clothes. I was gray and rainy all day. I didn't mind walking in the rain to get the car after work because I was coming straight home and could get right out of my wet clothes.
Before I left for work this morning I had the sheets and blanket in the dryer and the bedspread in the washer, so I'll sleep on clean sheets tonight. I still think every night about how much you loved the flannel sheets. They'll feel good on a cold, rainy night like this. I'm unsure who will lie where tonight, but know that I will end up under several furry creatures. I'm still hoping to hear from you with suggestions regarding Jethro's compulsion to sleep on my head.
For now, rain is falling outside, the Christmas tree is still standing inside, Maggie is yowling, Jethro is asleep, and Hunter and Abby are hiding from Maggie. Poor little thing - this should be over in a day or so. And we'll all sleep for a week to recover from it. We're off to bed and hoping for more sleep tonight. I would say come and join us, but I have no desire to subject you to Maggie in heat. Come in a few days!
Love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on,

Monday, December 15, 2014

From Yowling Cats & Ugly Sweaters, O Lord, Deliver Us

Dear John,
It's been an altogether alarming twenty-four hours. Let's take this chronologically. Roughly.
The dog woke me up at midnight needing to go out. So we all got waked up. By the time he was back in and settled down enough to go back to sleep, Maggie had started yowling and trilling. Our little girl decided to go into heat at 1:00 in the morning. The good news is that she'll be neutered next month. The terrific news is that it's winter and the windows are closed - otherwise we'd be besieged by tomcats. The bad news is that she's trilling and yowling constantly. Jethro immediately decided that it was a menace from which I needed protection, and lay down on my head. Hunter came running and plopped down on my left side to sleep. Abby went and hid somewhere. Needless to say, there was very little sleep for the rest of the night. While I was eating breakfast, Hunter decided he'd had enough of all this, walked up to Maggie, and smacked her in the face. The yowling continued unabated.
I should have seen it coming. There were enough prodromal symptoms. For the preceding forty-eight hours, Maggie had been restless and less cuddly than usual, and Jethro had been edgy and protective of me. Tonight she's alternating between roaming the house yowling, and clinging to me while sleeping. Poor little thing, I remember what the onslaught of female hormones felt like. It's not fun. I had to outgrow it in the natural way, but this will be Maggie's last time. I do hope we all get some sleep tonight. I was rather sleep-deprived at work today.
And speaking of work, today we had Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. A good time was had by all. We took a group photo to commemorate the occasion. Charley and Mark aren't in it, having not worn ugly sweaters. We and the customers did a lot of laughing today. Here we are in all our glory. I do love my job.
And I love you, but for your sake I'm glad you weren't here last night! You put up so graciously and gently with my hormones - you don't deserve to have to deal with Maggie's. This will be the end of it. Until Jethro finds his next kitty, that is.
Please pray for sleep for us tonight. The Lord deliver us from yowling cats and ugly sweaters!
Love you with all my heart,

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Thing About Toasters

Dear John,
I had a bad fibro day, stayed home, slept a good bit of the day, knitted, and watched football. I'm feeling some better now. The busy week caught up with me. Nothing surprising there.
I've been pondering you and toasters. You weren't one of those men who flip out over cars, or need the latest electronics, or decorate the walls with dead animal parts. Your thing was toasters. You were always looking for the latest features. You brought home ones that toasted four slices of bread at once, or did bagels, or had adjustable-width slots. And all of them disappointed you in some way. You never found the perfect toaster.
I remember when you brought home the one we have now. Our old one did need to be replaced - it was giving us toast that was raw on one side and burnt on the other. And here you came home from work one night with a gallon of milk and another toaster. You were so excited because it was made by Black and Decker. And I decided that it must be a guy thing. I know Black and Decker makes great tools, but toasters? You were disappointed and my fears were confirmed. It's a lousy toaster.
Now it's getting old, too, and toasts to the same darkness no matter where you turn the dial. I need to shop for another one. When I do, I will miss your enthusiasm about toasters - baffling as it was to me, it was part of you and I loved it. I will attempt to find one that would satisfy even you. Who knows? Maybe John Deere makes a toaster!
Love your eccentricities,

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Grownupness Diatribe

Dear John,
What I have now . . .
Here's the latest on the hair-growing project. It's almost long enough to put up, which will be nice. I'm getting lots of compliments on it.
I posted the photo to Facebook and commented, "Gimme a head with hair." Of course, more lyrics have followed. That led me to ponder the fact that, while I like the song, I despise the movie. I never did understand why Hair was so popular. My problem with it was that I didn't like any of the characters. And today I think I figured out why: Nobody behaved like a grown-up. They were all rather childish and irresponsible, and they were too old for that kind of thing. As Mike Doonsbury told Zonker, the world needs grown-ups.

. . . what I'm going for.
And that led to more pondering. I always shake my head when I have the radio on and hear what that couple was doing while they were playing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long. I remember that summer very well. It was 1977, I was 21, and had an externship in the ICU at Greenville General. I worked full time and carried a full patient load. I was being a grown-up.
And here's the thing about me: I had an absolutely wonderful summer. I've always enjoyed acting like a grown-up. I'm just too practical. Being immature and irresponsible isn't fun because you know you're going to pay for it later. It isn't worth it. Life is so much easier if you're mature and responsible. And it's much more satisfying. I never wanted to act like the people in Hair, and I wouldn't have traded my summer of 1977 for anybody else's. It's my upbringing, I suppose. I was brought up to work hard, never sit down unless everybody can sit down, be responsible, and take life seriously.
So here I am now, all grown up. Sorry about the diatribe, but I know you agree with me. After all, that was the summer you scrubbed toilets at the Y to earn money to buy my engagement ring. We're a lot alike. Thank you for being a grown-up, for taking life and responsibility seriously. We had lots of fun, but not the kind of fun you had to pay for later. Thanks for listening. I'll keep you posted on my hair.
Love you like a grown-up,

Friday, December 12, 2014

How We Celebrated Ourselves

Dear John,
I lived through another Friday. I was in the drive-up with Margaret, which is always good. I enjoy working with her, we make a good team, and she knows the drive-up very well. It was a busy and good day.
We celebrated ourselves today. We had pizza brought in for birthdays - mine, Connie's, Charley's, and I think somebody else. Our year-end bonuses arrived today. And Mark brought a cake with the bank emblem and congratulatory things on it. Our branch has had a terrific year, beating our goals by a good bit. So today we celebrated. It was good.
I know what I'm going to do with my bonus money, but I'm not going to tell you yet. I want it to be a surprise. But I know you're going to love it, and it might even make you cry a bit.
So go to sleep tonight thinking about that! Don't bother to try to guess what the surprise is. You'll never get it in a million years. So wait and wonder! It will be my Christmas present to both of us.
Glad I can still surprise you after all these years,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bedtime Miscellany

Dear John,
I'll try to be quick tonight - we'll see how well that goes. It's almost 10:00 and I have to get up at 5:30. I'm up late because I dropped a stitch in Jen's sock - this pattern is too complicated to be able to just work it back up like I usually can - it took me a solid hour to take out enough rows to get to the dropped stitch. Rats. But the good news is that I did get it fixed.
Jen came by tonight to exchange mail with me. She's really missing you right now, so if you could encourage her a bit I'd appreciate it. I had an unexpected grief period yesterday at work. Amanda treated us to milkshakes, and I realized it was the first one I've had since you died. We used to split them - chocolate, easy on the chocolate - and I hadn't had one by myself yet. It was really good, but surprisingly sad.
I had a busy day off. I did laundry (so I will sleep on cereal-less sheets tonight), paid bills and updated financial records, went to the post office, returned some clothes that didn't fit, paid the water bill, and made a huge recycling run. Important safety tip: Don't make a recycling run when there is a lot of wind. I spent a good bit of time chasing paper and flattened cardboard. Back at home, I ran the dishwasher and put dishes away, went through magazines, and started going through my Lia Sophia things. Did I tell you that they're going out of business at the end of this month? It's sad for so many of us. I have supplies and jewelry to sort through, half the office closet to work on. I got a good start on it today.
And now it's time for me to go to sleep. Tomorrow is Friday, so it will be a busy day. I'll be at the drive-up with Margaret, and will enjoy that. And we're getting pizza brought in for lunch for my birthday and the ones in December. Pizza is always good!
I'll leave you with this cartoon. I so know the feeling! I can't believe I'm still having hot flashes eleven years after my hysterectomy, but here I am. You put up with them so patiently. If you come for a visit and find a puddle of water with a carrot in it, you'll know what happened to me!
Adore you,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Skype & the Great Hot Cereal Disaster

Dear John,
I managed another cereal disaster tonight. I was curled up in bed with a puzzle book and a bowl of oatmeal, when the cats came up for their bedtime treats. In the process of giving Hunter his treat and keeping Abby away from it, I managed to pour part of the oatmeal into my lap. It wasn't much, thank goodness, but enough to soak through the sheet onto the mattress pad. I refuse to change sheets at this hour of the night. So I got up, mopped up the oatmeal from the bed and floor, washed milk off of my legs, changed nightgowns, and put a couple of towels on the bed. I'll sleep on towels again tonight and wash the sheets and mattress pad in the morning. I never had this problem when you were here. This is the third cereal disaster since you left and forgot to take me with you, . See what trouble you've caused?
My brain surprised me again a few days ago. I saw a commercial for those books you can make on line with your own photos and things, like the one Jen made for us several years ago. And I immediately thought that it was perfect for me to do for you for Christmas this year. I could put in photos of the cats, the things I've changed in the house, my hair getting long, so you could see everything you're missing. Then I heard myself.
It was an interesting brain glitch. If you were still here, I wouldn't need to make one for you. Since you're not here, I can't send one to you. You need the book. But you'd also need a mailing address, and I don't believe you have one. I'd rather you have an internet connection than a mailing address. Until I can be with you, what I really want is to Skype with you. That would be much better than sending you a Christmas present. So there's your priority - get to work on it, will you? That can be your Christmas present to me. I'll await your call!
Waiting to hear your voice,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Non-Medicinal Onion Rings

Dear John,
The tree is still doing fine. I found one ornament on the floor when I got home. Not bad for the four of them being here alone all day! I just put it back on the tree.
I've been fighting a cold all day. I woke up in the middle of the night with a stuffy head and sore throat, and got up this morning with huge lymph nodes and lots of sneezing. I took aspirin all day, which helped a lot, and Tammy brought me an orange, bless her.
Father heard my confession on Sunday, and told me to be gentle with myself regarding the Nativity fast since I was sick last month. As always, he was right. I realized today that I wasn't going to be able to fight this off without eating meat. So I went next door for the big hamburger for lunch - and onion rings, which didn't have any medicinal value but were lovely - and opened a can of salmon for dinner. And I feel a bit better tonight, though my neck still looks like it belongs to a linebacker.
You always said I was too hard on myself, and I always felt like I was lazy and irresponsible. The truth probably lies somewhere between the two. Be assured that Father has taken up your job of telling me to be gentle with myself. I'm always surprised to hear that. But he's always right, and you usually were, too. Pray for me while I struggle to find the middle ground. And get over this cold. Maybe you should just pray for me on general principles.
Sneezily yours,

Monday, December 8, 2014

Power Failures & Reindeer on the Roof

Dear John,
My work day started off with a bang. At 7:45 the power went out - and I mean that all the town went out. Since it's dark at that time now, the inside of the bank was pitch dark. It was only out the few seconds it takes for the town to switch from one substation to the other, and all was well after that. All was well, that is, except for my computer. It took half an hour and turning off the power strip for me to get logged back in. Thank goodness I didn't have any customers during that time.  All the other computers came right back up, but not mine. It was a bit too entertaining.
We had excavation companies in today to tour the bank and give estimates for the cost of dismantling the existing building after the new one is completed. This included a walk on the roof, which led me to comment to Mark that evidently Santa had arrived early, since I could hear reindeer on the roof. Mark tried to tell me he didn't hear anything, until I threatened to stop supplying him with paper clips. We have a deal - I supply him with paper clips and he doesn't tell anybody how much I talk to myself back in my little corner. It's a win-win situation
The Christmas tree was intact when I got home. This evening I heard a quantity of hissing and found Abby staunchly defending the prime territory under the tree from Hunter's encroachment. This went on for a while until Jethro got up, wandered over, and slowly, calmly, lay down between them and broke it up. Sometimes he's so needy and immature, and then he goes and does something like that. He so has the German shepherd personality.
It's late and everybody is in bed with me. Hunter and Maggie are wrestling on my legs, Jethro is licking my feet, and Abby is trying to sleep through it all. I believe I will emulate Abby. Sleep well tonight, and pray for your little family!
Missing you,

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas: Stage III

Dear John,
So worked up over the tree . . .
Well, I did it. After church I put the ornaments on the tree. Thankfully, we have lots and lots of unbreakable ones. I miss seeing some of the sentimental ones, but it looks nice. So far the cats are not excited about it. They bat at the lower ones occasionally, but that's been it. I've found that I can't leave the tree lights on overnight like we always loved to do. The cats won't settle down and sleep while they're on. And since nobody sleeps until the cats sleep, I have to unplug them at bedtime. It's a small sacrifice to make for our little family.
Other than decorating the tree, we had a lazy afternoon. I had gotten all the housework and laundry done yesterday. So I watched the Steelers beat the Bengals and knitted socks. At one time or another, I had each of the animals asleep in my lap. They do enjoy my days off. Bless their sweet hearts, they love me. And I love all of them.
Now I'm off to bed. Jethro is asleep beside me and the cats just stopped rampaging up and down the hall. The house is quiet and dark, and I'm getting sleep. I love you so, so much! Sleep well tonight. Come visit me in my dreams!
Adore you,

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Regarding Goose Circumference

Dear John,
I have no idea if the goose is getting fat, but I do know that Christmas is coming. By the time I got off work, the town Christmas celebration was wrapping up. But we had a treat this morning - the choir from Emma Mennonite was caroling through town, and they came in and sang in our lobby. It choked me up a little, and finally made me feel like Christmas is really coming.
It also motivated me. I came home and finished all the decorating except putting ornaments on the tree. I did get the lights on - Stage II of the tree project. So far, they've only sniffed gently at them. Abby got quite enthusiastic about the tree while I was eating lunch, before the lights went up. She stepped across from the stairwell half-wall onto the tree and settled there for a while. Maggie just likes to sit under it and bat at the lower branches. Hunter, at the advanced age of two, maintains his dignity and watches the younger generation from comfort on the back of the couch. I'm only going to use the unbreakable ornaments, and will probably leave the lower round of branches bare. We'll see how this goes. It's a learning experience for all of us. I really do want to have a tree, so it's worth the time and effort to try.
I'm heading to bed early tonight. I have a runny nose and sore throat, and am hoping to sleep it off and be able to get to church tomorrow. Keep an eye on the tree for me!
Would love to sit under the tree with you,

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sleeping Electively

Dear John,
It was a busy, crazy, upside-down sort of day. And I ended up staying until 6:00 to let Amanda go to a special event with one of her children. I'm beat and not-quite-coherent, so I'll be brief tonight.
The tree is still standing. I'll get the lights on tomorrow and see what the cats make of them. They still bat at the branches sometimes, but they really pay very little attention to it. So far, so good.
I'm falling asleep typing, so I'd better give in, turn off the light, and go to sleep electively while I still can. I love you so much, and I still miss you the most at bedtime. It still feels strange to turn out the light and not have you here. I'm glad for the animals - they're much better than sleeping alone, but they're just not you. We'll gladly make room for you if you can come for a visit.
Adore you,.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas: Stage I

Dear John,
I've had a busy day off. I vacuumed, washed sheets and blankets, washed windows, took out the screens and hung the wreaths, and put up the Christmas tree. I didn't put anything on it yet - just put up the tree. It looks funny that way.
I'm taking this tree thing in stages because of the cats. Abby and Maggie have never seen one. I had it up when Hunter came to live here, and Jethro knocked it down chasing him. The cat was completely innocent of wrongdoing. This afternoon they all went over to explore it. They sniffed around the base of it, batted at the lower branches, then got bored and ignored it.
I am taking all due cat-precautions. I weighted the base of the tree down with 90 pounds of pavers. The tree skirt hides it all nicely. I'll put the lights on it tomorrow or Saturday. If they get accustomed to - and bored with - those, then I'll start adding ornaments. I'll only use the unbreakable ones. I may hang garland like I did last year for the special fragile ones. And I will not put the china angel on top!
Outside, we're ready for Christmas. I put the big wreath on the door today, and hung the four other wreaths on the outside of the front windows. I'm doing the inside gradually. Today I put out the Christmas tablecloth and decorated the Hoosier cupboard. I'll get the rest done over the weekend.
I'm looking forward to Christmas a little bit this year. That's huge progress for me, after hoping the Mayans were right so I didn't have to deal with it. I will avoid shopping - I'm making all of the Christmas presents again. Tomorrow and Saturday is the town Christmas celebration. I'll stay downtown for it after I get off at noon on Saturday. That means pork burgers, the high school choir, Santa at the fire station, and everybody there. It will be good.
Thank you again for moving me here. It certainly beats living in Mishawaka a block from Grape Road, near the mall. We had to hibernate after Halloween. Here, you can hear yourself think. You have space to remember that this isn't just secular Christmas, it's also the Nativity of Christ. It is good to be here.
So this is your invitation to come and join in the festivities on Saturday afternoon! I'll even spring for your pork burger! Then you can come and help me decorate the tree like we always did, and see how lovely the Hoosier cupboard is all decorated. I can't make you meatloaf because of the fast, but I will promise mashed potatoes.
Still sorry the Mayans were wrong,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Good Side of Hot Flashes

Dear John,
It was a normal slow Wednesday at work. The entertainment was provided by a failure of the furnace that heats the non-lobby parts of the bank. That includes the drive-up, Mark's office, the break room, storage rooms, and restrooms. Mark was out of his office nearly all day, which was good. People were wearing coats to eat lunch. I did okay, partly because my hot flashes could heat a moderate-sized house, and partly because we have a space heater in the drive-up (in lieu of things like insulation).
I was relieved to see the repairman and find out that the furnace really wasn't working. You know me - my thermostat has been broken for decades, and I only get cold when I'm sick. I was starting to wonder if I was coming down with something. It was good to find out that it wasn't me.
Other than that, it was a quiet day. After last week, we're glad to have one of those. I'm off tomorrow, and have at least three days of work to get done around the house. I'll try to be sensible. No promises.
I did cry myself half-way to sleep last night. My good cry was interrupted by Jethro lying on my head. I believe the dog was trying to protect and comfort me. What he did was make me laugh. For some reason he's going through a time of wanting to sleep on my head almost every night. I can't imagine why. My temper is getting a little short with him. I'm open to suggestions.
The animals are asleep, Jethro and Abby on the bed, and Hunter and Maggie under it. I'm ready to join them. Sleep well tonight! And please pray that the dog stays off of my head tonight!
Come sleep with me,

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Some of Those Things

Dear John,
Today I found myself thinking about the rehab hospital and the time you spent there. It isn't pleasant to remember, though we did enjoy some times there in spite of everything. But it wasn't good. They are great at vent weans, but you had too much else going on. They weren't up to handling your CHF. Basically, they weren't a critical care unit. You had one at home with me, and together we handled it quite well. But we never did get them to listen to us, even on basic things like giving you Lasix before transfusing you. In spite of all that, you were getting better and the vent wean was progressing until you got MRSA. I fought for you there, too, even visiting the administrator's office. The only people that seemed to listen to me were the doctors, and I was thankful for that.
Being somewhere else wouldn't have changed the course of events; I know that. Nobody could reverse the radiation damage. I was so frustrated, fought so hard. And I know you didn't feel safe there. I felt terrible about that and would have been there night and day if I hadn't had to work and let the dog out. It was hard. Maybe we should just leave it at that.
I drove by there on the way to see Barb last month, for only the second time since you were there. The compulsion to turn was so strong that I drove by saying out loud, "Don't turn in. Don't turn in. Don't turn in." I'm not sure if I need to keep driving by it to desensitize myself, or if I should never go that way again. Probably the former, but it will take some time.
All of this is one reason I remember Methodist so fondly. The memories after that are painful. Methodist was our last good time together. Tonight I'll go to sleep remembering those days - the last times you were able to talk to me, the last time you walked, the last time you could stand up and put your arms around me. Hurry the next time!
Still hurting for you,

Monday, December 1, 2014

Technical Difficulties & Abnormal Normality

Dear John,
Pinterest is experiencing technical difficulties. I had a funny pin that I wanted to show you. But when I try to bring up my Miscellaneous Humor board, I get Art Deco & Art Nouveau. Every other board I click on takes me to Pottery & Such. Technical difficulties.
I had a good day at work. It was just normal Monday-busy, which is nice after being so holiday-busy last week. A normal week would be a lovely thing. Of course, "normal" is a relative term, true "normal" having moved in 2011 and left no forwarding address. But this new normal is getting easier, feeling more like it may really be my life that I'm living. That probably doesn't make much sense to you but, believe me, any widow would understand. Go talk to my grandmothers and great-aunts - they'll tell you.
I'm really tired and the dog is making complaining noises, so we'd better all get off to sleep. The cats are still rampaging around the house, but as soon as I turn out the light they come and arrange themselves on their favorite spots on the bed. We'd all be happy, however, to make room for you whenever you'd like to join us. No reservations necessary.
Love you more than life,