Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Found it on Youtube

While searching for some music and vids for my Dad's service, I came across the following ones. I have to post them because they were so wonderful. Be warned, I was crying at work.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

14 months

Throughout the day yesterday it popped into my mind that tomorrow was tuesday and it was a 29th. I pretty much forgot last night and then it struck me again this morning as I drove past the fire station that houses the ambulances - one of which came out that night.

I have stopped counting days, hours, but can't stop the months. 14 months. I guess my forgetting about it till it was upon me may mean that the day doesn't matter so much. Well, it does, but it matters in a different way.

It matters not just once a month, but everyday and in many ways. Missing Jim's touch, voice, laughter and face with all his expressions. I won't go into missing his body. But I do. There are also even more subtle things that occur each day. Subtle things like not having someone to talk to at night, so you watch a movie or no one to bounce a 'what to do about..." and having to figure the solution out yourself. I don't find myself thinking it out like I just typed and I know I am a different person for having to do these things, but it still doesn't help the ache in the chest.

At 14 months I find it hurts to look at Jim's photos. I have them up on the walls and when I look I am captured by his eyes. His beautiful eyes. And all I can do is stand there and wonder why this happened to him. I stand there and say my thanks that he was brought into my life. I stand there and talk to him about what I will be doing for the next few years.

My brain has turned on the switch button for 'don't think about it'. I still do, but not as much because of either the veil of depression or the number of things on my to do list for that day. I look at the last picture ever taken of Jim and I and I think back to the words that were said at his service by his brother and I find both a comfort and an ache.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A new thing and a better day

My coworker talked me into joining Netflix today.

Jim and I never joined because he was always the "must own it" kind of guy.

So I went online, joined up and starting looking over movies. Oh what fun! I can finally watch about a dozen (so far) movies that I always wanted to see, never wanted to go to the trouble to rent and definately not to buy.

Ratatouille! Knocked Up! I am Legend! I will be able to watch them maybe by Wednesday. They have some great classics and film noirs that I have wanted to see and a few tv series I missed. I went with the three at a time plan. I will have to be sure to use this as incentive. You know, do a project in the house, watch a movie.

I am also happy because I got ahold of my tax preparer and he is going to go over what the IRS is having a problem with my return. I want to tell him, hey you made the error you pay the bill. Argh. It will be turbo tax for me next year.

Thinking of movies got me thinking about how much a part of my life they are and how they have been a way to find new places to go - in a fantasy - but also a way to meet and connect with people. There are lots of film geeks out there and Jim and I were a couple of them for sure. Going to the movies last night, alone, was okay, though of course I missed having a hand to hold or someone to whisper comments about the movie to. It seems something to get used to and relearn.

On a side note - my dad had lots of quirks, like everyone else. I have several of his. One I realized the other day was the line between upper and lower on the hand. It sounds odd but I noticed that he had this years and years ago and renoticed it while holding his hand in the hospital. I am not sure if my siblings have this. I think my sister may. For me it sort of shows the Greek/olive skin heritage. I in no way have olive skin. But there is this line that matches my dads. Heck, maybe everyone does have it, I just never looked.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Monday monday - not till tomorrow

Tomorrow is Monday.

I don't mind it being Monday, I just wish I could have a week with no obligations. One that I could run the errands I needed, go to the dentist, doctor and get a pedicure and not worry about time away from the office. Maybe we should make it two weeks off. I could get a massage, catch up on some movies and just think things out.

I woke up feeling so depressed. I did get up, watched some tv while the dogs were out back and then went back up to take a nap. When I got up again it was for lunch and I watched Dirty Dancing while I cleaned the kitchen and did some chores in the living room.

Depression is scaring me and I can feel the overpowering sense of 'it doesn't matter anyway' overtaking me sometimes. I am going to try and find a counselor to talk to again just because I can't stand my head being like this and can't figure out how to get past it.

It is like there is a little me inside my head looking at what is happening and pounding on that door saying 'no no no' and the big me inside my head is just laying there going 'what's next'. The little me is trying to keep some hope there and the big me is feeling overwhelmed.

That last paragraph was a downer but it is just what is happening. After the whole bit with my dad dying I come home to a letter from the IRS saying my return was missing some info. I have to look into and submit the information and I can't reach my CPA on the phone. This means I may not get the stimulus check because they won't issue it if they think I still owe money.

Does it ever end?

On a different note.

I made some decisions this weekend to really start getting rid of the 'things' around my house that are cluttering it up. I have so many things that are just that, things. The next three months is going to be many trips to the goodwill and the dump and to friends houses with items. Maybe even some things will be seen on ebay. But I realized that I am done. I am tired of trying to hold it all together and keep track of all the pieces. I am not going nuts and gutting the place, there will definately be some precious items kept, but this time in October the house will look different.

I am trying to think of where I want to live. I visited a friend and her place was beautiful. Open yard and a plant that attracted butterflies and a nice piece of country. It was so much cooler outside than in the city that I was amazed at the difference. I really want to work at moving sometime next year to a place either in a small town or outside of a suburb. Yep. I haven't figured out what state - montana looks pretty, west virginia is nice, pennsylvania for some reason is still my favorite choice.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Divided we fall

"When we look back at all that has happened to us, we easily divide our lives into good things to be grateful for and bad things to forget. But with a past divided we cannot move freely into the future . . . True spiritual gratitude embraces all of our past, the good as well as the bad events, the joyful as well as the sorrowful moments . . . we want to remember all of it as God’s guidance . . . even the bad did not happen out of the loving presence of God."

Henri Nouwen

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blog links and more

If you haven't noticed, I added blog links to the page. Links from several of the visitors here. If there are any that I have missed, feel free to make a comment and supply a link. I have enjoyed reading them this morning and it is like seeing different parts of the world.

I am enjoying the quiet that comes when both the boss and coworker are out at meetings. Well quiet except for the itunes radio playing hits from the 80's. I can sing along and not worry about anyone hearing me. I am stuck in the 80's/90's I think.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A heavy cloud

This is hurting more than I thought it would.

I have no energy and am feeling like I have to start over with the little steps to get through the day. I feel like there is a cloud over my head and sometimes even in the brain.I enjoy the car but miss the Dad.

I am working with my niece on a memorial 'video/movie' for the service we are having in October. This should be interesting.

I am sorry I don't have much more to say. I am very tired and not feeling like I want to think to hard. Maybe in a few days when things get sorted out in my head I will hijack the blog from Jim and make it some Dad memories that I don't want to forget.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

3 pm today

My Dad passed on at around 3 pm today. I had just posted the previous blog about him and went to lay down for a quick sunday afternoon nap.

I got the phone call and knew before I picked it up what the call was about. My stepsister said that my stepmom and her were out of the room - she was talking to the nurse and my stepmom was in the bathroom. We had been saying for a few days that he was waiting for all of us to leave. My brothers and sister and I said our peace with him and went on home and my stepmom and stepsister were still there.

My Dad was not just a good dad, but a good guy. He taught me a lot and allowed us to follow our dreams and guided us along the way. He will be missed by many and remembered with a smile.

Goodbye Dad.

Dad 3

It's been a week as of yesterday and there has been no changes. My Dad has had fevers, then cooling extermities, he is breathing but in a shallow way, he still has a heart beat, but it is intermittent and still the doctor can not say anything other than ' it could be 4 hours or 4 more days'.

The hospice doesn't have any internet service, I am posting this from home - I ran home long enough to get clothes and see the dogs.

We are talking to Dad and also about him. Trying to get good memories from each of us at the room about things that Dad had a part in. He walked 3 of the four girls there down the aisle and we reminiced about that. I asked his wife about her favorite vacation they went on and she told us about some places they went. My sister and I shared times when we were growing up about Dad teaching us to ride a bike, a horse and to drive. I talked today with one of his WW2 buddies. They were in the same infantry division/unit together. They are the last two alive from that unit. He shared some war stories with me about my dad that I hadn't heard yet.

Dad is being given morphine for the pain and it seems like he is just taking a nap while we all talk around him. He usually does that....takes a nap and lets the party go on.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Just 24 hours

I am jumping on to give a quick update. I will be coming back later to edit this.

Basically it comes down to two more strokes, one major and one minor. The minor one falls over where the minor one hit last week, which makes it more than minor, but not as bad as the major one on the right side that blew his left side of his body from any mobility.

He can't talk, can't really open eyes and can sometimes squeeze a hand when we talk to him. He recognizes the Male voices -deep and louder then the women, but last night he did ask for water when I was talking to him. He is a dnr and is on just comfortable and quiet. No IV's no food, just some water and morphine. He will pass peacefully. At least I hope it's peaceful. They are saying with the amount of blood built up in the brain, it could be tonight or tomorrow, but not much longer.

I am not sure what I am doing home except that there was not much more to do at the hospital. I need to get some sleep and will be going back out tonight or tomorrow morning depending. There were issues with stepsisters and kids and noise and the party atmosphere but I did get several times of quiet time wiht my dad. To talk to him, to let him hear my voice and to touch. He could pass in ten minutes or three days. Not much longer than that.

The last few years I had with my dad were special because we were able to get past anger of very past events and do some talking and bonding. With Jim gone and Dad gone I am not sure what I will be doing. Going crazy is all I can think.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dad friday update

Ha, Jim would have loved this. I can invision him shaking his head and smiling.

My dad on Wednesday at 2 pm was moved from the hospital to a rehab center for 2 weeks. At 7 pm he started complaining of severe chest pains. They called my stepmom and told her they wanted to move him back to the hospital. Well, my stepmom said she would come, check him out and drive him the 1/4 mile rather than pay $500 for the ambulance.

They checked him out, got in the car and my dad said "Take me home." That was it. She asked him about the pains and he said he was better and to take him home. My stepsister leaned forward and said "Dad were you faking the pain to get out?" He admitted to this and said lets go.

They went back home, had a good nights rest and it was decided that the rehab woman would come on monday and that he would have a quiet restful weekend. I respect my dad for admitted to what he did, but am frustrated that he did it. He needs the rehab to get back up to 100%. He is scared/worried that the rehab center will be a nursing home and will be his last stop.

I also was reminded of the time when I was 8 and didn't want to go to school. I cut up a potato and poured some milk in the toilet and told my mom I was sick. She didn't go for it. I was also reminded of the things that my grandmother (dad's mom) would do when she came to live with us. One time my mom and I watched her hit the dog with her cane, set the cane on the floor, lower her self to the floor and then cry that she had fallen because of the dog.

Humans are strange animals.

Freedom!! almost

I am now an officially licensed driver again!!!!

I got all the paperwork and approval from my doctor, had it reviewed by the medical advisory board and it was passed. I got the license yesterday (after trying on wednesday) and have been looking at it every hour or so to make sure it really is there.

The short version - I drove for 28 years. 20 years ago I had seizures (not while driving) and was diagnosed with epilepsy. I had a bad accident three years ago and was asked to turn my license in for an ID card. I did it and accepted that. The last year and a half, no seizures. My doctor put me on a new drug dosage and it seems to be working really well to control things. She said if I didn't have a seizure with the last year I had, I was doing pretty darn good.

Now I need to find a car to drive.

My not driving was not really a problem when Jim was alive. He would drop me off at work or I could carpool with another worker. Weekends we would run errands together. It gave us some 'us' time.

The last year it has not been easy and I want to thank my friends that have been such a big help in getting me places. A Big THANK YOU!!! To have you give up your time to come and pick me up and help me go shopping for groceries, dog food, clothing or just to get the heck out of the house has been wonderful. You know who you are.

Oh, I don't mind the bus rides, but here they suck. If there was some consistency to the reliability of them, that would be fine. I hope that soon I will be able to move around a bit without help. I am thinking short rides and not pushing the envelope. My doctor said it may be the stress of long drives that was throwing me off.

If the right vehicle falls in my lap, I will post photos. Till then - Wheeeeeee!!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A bit much.

A bucket of water tossed out a second story window on to my head.

Like a scene from the I love lucy or the 3 stooges. I got a bucket of water dumped on me.

Back up some.

Went to the MVA to get my license. Finally they were reinstating it. I waited about an hour and got up to the counter and had my picture taken and eyes tested. Then I was told that the block was still on my file. I said well no, the letter I have here says they were taken off. The guy up at the front counter said they were taken off or he wouldn't have even let me get this far. The mva lady said, well sorry, no license. It is too late to call anyone in that dept. It's five and they are all gone.


I left with a ticket that would let me come back and not have to wait in line. They would call me tomorrow when they checked on it.


So it is super pouring down rain. We leave the MVA. I am mad and frustrated and don't even care about the rain. I walk thru the rain shower to get in my friends car, we go home, let dogs out, dry off, change clothes and go to meet the guy that wants to sell me a car.

It stops raining. Yay.

We meet him and are talking about the car. He is telling me how it has NJ tags, he bought it from his cousin and then never registered it here in maryland. He has been driving it for about 10 months that way. Basically illegally. He said the registration in NJ is expired, but he has insurance and a MD inspection, but no title or registration for MD. A bit strange I think. I mean, really, how can you do that?

We talk some more and are just standing on the street, no big deal and feel some water on his shoulder. We think it is from the tree. We move over a couple feet. We talk a few more minutes.

Suddenly BOOM, I get water poured all over me from above.

This old lady is telling us 'that it's private property and no loitering.' We look at each other and then her in disbelief. It's a public sidewalk. We aren't hooligans. We weren't being loud. I yell back about we aren't loitering, we are discussing a car. She says no loitering.


So the long and short of it is, I don't have a license YET. I don't have a car and am feeling a little nervous about this one. The car is fine, the guy is a bit strange. My friend test drove it for me and said it was in great shape. And she has the same make and model just one year different. I may just make him a lowball offer and tell that I will go with him to the MVA to get things straightened out and then make the sale. With him paying for the paperwork he should have had done a year ago.

But really - a bucket of water on my head???????

My friend Elaine and I ended the day by going to IHOP and having some pancakes at 9pm.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dogs and walks

Sunday mornings. I lay in bed this morning thinking about the things to do today. Clean the kitchen up a bit, walk the dogs and my most hated chore of all - the kitty litter box. Ugh. However, trash day is tomorrow so I need to do that and get it out there.
Walking the dogs this morning was very pleasant. The dogs and I walked over to an area where they could be let off the leash and be safe from vehicles. It is fun to watch them scamper around the field. A
hidden alcove of grass and trees in an urban world.
I enjoy the walk also because I saw many of the small white butterflies. These are the ones that I was told that when you see one, it really your loved one watching over you. Old wives tale or not, it is a comfort when I see them. I look for them when I am out walking, either the dogs or just home from work and smile when they flutter by.
In the course of the last 13 months, I have found some things very difficult or impossible. It seems almost silly but walking the dogs is one of those things that is difficult. It was a ritual that Jim and I shared. Sometimes both of us and sometimes just one of us depending on the mood. Often Sunday morning when we finally got our butts in gear and up. Jim would take the dogs out while I made breakfast. He would don his black and white camo pants, his 'Stealth' (the movie) t-shirt and take them both out.
Jim was great for exercise and would walk the dogs further than I could. He loved it and they loved it. They would come back tired and panting and yet a smile on all three faces. Yes, dogs smile.
There was always the days when it was raining or we were lazy and the dogs and Jim would grab the couch and a good movie and hang together till I got breakfast all made and ready for him. We were very good about not allowing the dogs in the kitchen while we ate. That rule has been broken a bit now, but I am much better than Jim ever was at ignoring the big brown eyes.
Jim and the dogs on the couch was a pretty common scene. Jim had his particular spot that he liked to sit in (usually one side of the couch) and he had to have a table or someplace to put his drink.
Many things in this new journey of mine have been new to me because they were things that I took for granted as 'Jim's to do'. The dog walking and dog time was always split up between us.
When we lived in the boston area, we were near a reservoir that had some wonderful walking/hiking trails. It was a joy to go there, walk the dog and let him run - into the water or along the edge. Free to chase the rabbits, birds and play with the other dogs that came along. I can't find the photo, but a funniest moment was when our dog Gryphon and one of our foster dogs both came upon some scent on a bush. They both peed into the bush at the same time with their legs up and actually sort of crossed. They both seemed to want to be the first one to add his scent to that spot. Jim and I just stood back and laughed.
In writing this blog I have been trying to remember the man that was Jim and share him. I haven't figured out yet how I am getting by each day. I still turn to talk to him and still miss the conversations we had on the phone. We called each other several times a day to discuss what was happening to each other and help solve the dilemma that was that day. Or just to say I love you honey, see you soon. I often find myself writing when I'm at the days darkest moments, and by writing it down and getting it out, it helps. What I am trying to make myself do is also write when I am at an 'ok' moment and can recall events surrounding Jim. The blog has been an up and down series of posts, I know, but I guess it divides the real time posts of my emotions and thoughts with the memory posts of Jim and our life.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Second Fourth

How much has changed in a year. And how much has not.

I just read the post I made for the blog on July 4th 2007.

"It was a bit of a bad night....but it got better. The day went well and work was cool. The night crept in and as it got darker so did my mood. I realized after dinner that this would be the first holiday without Jim.

I started to think about things we had done on the Fourth of July. And it got me down. I found my self wandering thru the house saying over and over 'I miss you Jim, Jim I miss you". I said it to the couch, the walls, the kitchen and the screen door as I looked out at the yard. I tried to hold the tears in but they came anyway. Buckets of them. I couldn't seem to stop them. There was a feeling of helplessness in the situation and an uncontrollable feeling of just plain old sadness. Sadness that he was gone."

I am not as down today as I was when I wrote that a year ago. I am not as happy as I was in July 2006. I just sort of 'am'. The emotions and thoughts I wrote a year ago are still valid, just a little quieter.

I woke up this morning crying. Why the tears came was when I rolled over and once again realized I was alone in the bed. There was no heartbeat next to me. No shoulder to snuggle against. No real sense to the death of my loved one. The tears were few and they seem to stop fairly quickly nowadays. They are still coming though.

Today I started the new memories in my life. I went to a friends for a 4th picnic. I had some good food, some good laughs and played with some cute dogs. Being around friends that knew Jim and I and yet are still okay with me as a onesy is nice. Several other friends just can't seem to figure out that and are uncomfortable. Today I was with people that respected and enjoyed Jim. That is important, and appreciated. I know having new experiences is part of the growing that needs to be done by me. Part of the grieving is also the growing. Not forgetting, but remembering while continuing.

It was when I was rereading the last part of the post from a year ago that I found I was also smiling. It was there that I wrote about some wonderful fourth of july memories that Jim and I shared. And that is why I started this blog. So I wouldn't forget the memories or have them fade to nothing. Not to hold them stagnant and not to move forward, but to remember and smile and be happy that I was given the time I was. Reading the post for last years 4th, besides being sad, I was also able to smile and recall and that showed me the writing that I am doing here is good and right.

Jim, I miss you. Still.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dad update

I spent the day at the hospital and am very glad that I was there to be with my sister. She drove in from WV and my friend took me out there. We helped each other get thru the day. We only saw a few minutes of my dad, he slept most of the time and we didn't want to bother him.

He did go in for an MRI today and after several hours, the neurologist came to say that they discovered some bleeding in the brain and diagnosed his problems as relating to a stroke. A small one, but still it hit hard enough to injure his communication center. This didnt show up on the catscan they did yesterday.

So, the good news is we know what is causing the problem. The better news is that he is being told he has to stay at the hospital for a couple more days and then has to go to a rehab center to relearn. This will help him with speech and other things that were disrupted. My stepmom was ready to bring him home and set him up in the front room on the couch. That upset me. I am glad the hospital and doctor are suggesting the rehab center for a couple weeks. It is easier for her to accept that way.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!!

Dad Photos

So, I am hijacking a blog filled with memories about Jim to toss in some photos and memories of my Dad. He is still in the hospital and will be having an MRI done this morning to see if that shows a cause for his problem.

The one above is my Dad in his kilt he wore while attending Carnegie University (now it is Carnegie Mellon) in Pittsburgh. I think he was telling my mom to join him in the pic.

This is Dad and children, the most recent pic taken.
It was just a month ago at a WW2 veterans reunion.

My Dad and his wife taken about 6 months ago at a birthday party.

There are some of my friends that said they can see Sean Connery in my dad. Something about the eyebrows and the look.

If you can't tell, this was taken in the late 80's. Look at that 'do on me! And those jeans! The little blonde gal in front is now a sophomore in college.

Father's Day 2 years ago. My Dad and Jim and my stepbrothers. They gave all of the men a shirt that said "Grateful Dad", a play on the group grateful dead. It was a great day for Jim and my Dad, they played their wives at horseshoes and almost won. I think Jim may have thrown the game because of my whining about losing. We had some lemonaide, chicken on the grill and sat out on the new deck area. I like those moments with Dad because we are a small group and it's more one on one then when it's a party.

Dad in hospital

Well, it's a sad day here. My Dad is still in the hospital. He went in a week ago for a operation to remove an infected toe. He is diabetic and has high blood pressure and some heart problems. The operation was last thursday night and for two days afterward he slept most of the time.

Since then he has had a lot of trouble speaking and making sense when he talks. His speech is halted and he will start a sentence, get three words out and then stop and not finish. The worst part is that he knows what he wants to say, but somewhere in the thinking it, he forgets or is not able to say it. He realizes that this is happening and is frustrated by his lack of communication. My stepmom says he can't read and can't write anymore.

He couldn't sign his name for the neurologist and when asked some questions, some he could answer fine and some - like what is 5 + 3, he couldn't say. He would say 'I don't know' in a voice like he is trying to, but can't remember.

What is frustrating for us/his children is the doctors can't really say what is happening or why. Before the operation he had sometimes a slowing in his responses during conversations and sometimes was fine.

I spoke to my stepmom about all this tonight and suggested a second opinion and she flat out said no way. Very adamentantly. She said that their doctor - a cardiologist - is doing everything and what could a second opinion tell us? I don't know but we are living in a city with some darn fine hospitals in them. And the neurologist came because my dad asked for one. My sister suggested it and my stepmom said no, not needed. My dad later that day told her he needed one. My stepmom said okay and talked to their doctor and he said okay. So there is SOME brain cells working, he just can't say the words he wants to.

I called this afternoon to see how he was and my stepmom said he was just asking her to call me. She handed the phone to him and he said "I had a premonition. (long pause) I want you to call Ed and ask him to call me." There was lots of halting in between the words. I said of course I would. We hung up and I called my Uncle Ed. He said that he had been talking to my dad and a nurse came in and dad couldn't talk to them both and hung up on Ed without saying good bye or anything. I don't know what the 'premoniton' was. I don't really think there was one, but I think my dad was using that word in place of another one.

I am going to see him tomorrow afternoon. It is not going to be easy to see my Dad like this. I can imagine he is really hating what has happened. He always said he never wanted to be in this spot and be a burden.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I was in the middle of a great blog and got an error message. I lost all the copy. I thought that blogspot saved the new posts as it went along, but I guess not.

I am too tired now to write it all out again. Sorry. I will post some tomorrow.