Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Prayers for Granny

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Family
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Send out good thoughts to Granny Claudine today, if you will. She’s been having chest pains lately (“You know, they didn’t start until Grandpa died… I just thought it was my broken heart. Honey, you don’t ever want to ignore chest pains.”). Tests revealed she has three blocked arteries and is going in for angioplasty this afternoon.

Poor lovely lady.

Bill is up in Tuba City tonight, which means my evening will be occupied with a teleconference (boo), a workout (double boo), a frozen dinner (meh), and Grey’s Anatomy (woot!). I work from home tomorrow, to make up for having to come in for meetings last Monday. And then I segue into my vacation next week.

I am going to work out EVERY DAY. YES I AM. And stock up on Trader Joe’s salads to eat for the week. Because, you see, on Thursday I’m having PIE. AND NOTHING’S GOING TO STOP ME.

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We sang, we laughed, we prayed.

Posted: November 1, 2010 in Family

Grandpa Ed’s funeral was on Saturday. The viewing was held from 1:00-2:00 (though we got there at about 12:30), the service was held from 2:00-3:00, and the burial immediately followed at the cemetery about twenty minutes away. It was a pretty emotional day for all of us – obviously, we had to say goodbye to Grandpa Ed, and we received and offered comfort to one another. There was the expected awkwardness of seeing estranged family members, and a tense moment when Bill drew his mother outside to continue a conversation that was best conducted in privacy. But all in all, the drama was kept to a minimum.

The pastor, an elderly and ENTHUSIASTIC gentleman, gave a lovely sermon – he even made us all laugh several times. A soloist performed a couple of hymns and at one point made me think, “Geez, this lady makes me want to go to church!” Grandpa’s two sons from his first marriage spoke, as did Bill’s sister Karen, and they all had me crying. I sat in the pew with Bill holding my hand to my right, my arm around Amanda’s shoulders to my left, Robert and Joy sitting next to us, and enjoyed the fact that so many people loved our Grandpa Ed.

The grave-side service brought Grandma’s funeral back vividly, and as they lowered Grandpa down into his final resting place I blew him a kiss and let the tears roll down my face. Grandma Claudine held herself together all day long, accepting everyone’s condolences with graceful calm. When her time comes, she’ll be buried with Grandpa. Which jarring thought struck me as we drove home – was it a comfort, or a fright, to see the open grave where she knew she’d be buried some day?

The five of us (me and Bill, the kids and Joy) had driven together, so after the services we went back home, toasted Grandpa Ed, and had a bit to eat. I pulled out the Big Box ‘O Family Photos and Joy and I cackled over them for a while, while Bill and Robert played video games. After the kids left, Bill and I looked through the pictures for a while longer, and since I’d come across my stack of hand-written journals, I entertained us both by reading angst-filled passages of my misspent youth. We had a long, heart-felt conversation and stayed close to one another.

Grief is hard, but so much more bearable when you share it.

Every Grief is New

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Family

Thanks, everyone, for your kindness and condolences. The funeral is this Saturday. Bill is going to be a pallbearer (as is Robert), and I think having a role in the proceedings will be of comfort to him.

Bill and I have the rest of the week off – we’re blessed with employers who provide bereavement leave. We’re going to take Grandmother out for lunch on Thursday and just provide as much support as we can. When we left there on Sunday evening, leaving her alone in the house, I had an almost overwhelming urge to just burst back into her living room and proclaim my intent to live on her couch for the rest of my days. I didn’t want her to be alone. But, for all I am aware of, perhaps being alone is just what she wanted at the time.

I can’t help but recall my feelings when my own Grandma died – the days leading up to her passing, the way I felt when I got the news, the gathering of relatives, the funeral and burial. I don’t know how I’m going to react during Grandpa Ed’s viewing, services, and burial. It doesn’t matter that I’ve had far too much experience with this kind of thing – every grief is new.

I’m trying to be supportive to Bill, and to his sister Karen. Karen, I think, must be impacted more than anyone else save Grandma Claudine. She has been a rock, supporting the two of them for the past ten years and more. Seeing them both almost daily, and helping them with every issue that has come their way since their health began to fail. And so I find myself on the “other” end of things, where I can only offer what help and condolences I can, and know that every comfort is fleeting at best. It is my grief too, to be sure, but so much more theirs.

I pray every night that we can all hold everything together, and keep the drama between certain family members to a minimum. This time is for Grandpa Ed, and Grandmother Claudine. Weddings and funerals, sure and certain events to drudge up drama. Much better to recall the kind, loving, and spiritual man who was truly cherished in life, and sadly missed in death.

Goodbye, Grandpa Ed

Posted: October 24, 2010 in Family
Grandpa Ed and Grandma Claudine, holding baby Robert, back in '03.

Grandpa Ed and Grandma Claudine, holding baby Robert, back in '03.

Grandpa Ed passed away yesterday afternoon, with his wife and his granddaughter Karen by his side. He’d been in a (very lovely) Hospice facility for about a week. The last time we visited him he only opened his eyes a few times, and he didn’t speak, but I know he knew we were there. We visited, and wrote him a letter telling him how much he means to us. And we cried.

Grandpa Ed was blessed with a kindness of spirit that is extremely rare. Every time we talked to him, he told us how precious, how beautiful, how special we were to him. He welcomed strangers with the same abundance of love that he showed his family members. Any one of our dear friends who have attended our family functions can attest to his immediate and wholehearted welcoming. He took the time, every time Bill and I saw him, to hug and kiss us both, tell us how blessed we were to have one another, and how happy our love for one another made him.

We will smile over those memories, in the days to come.

This evening we’re bringing food to Grandmother’s house and meeting the rest of the family there, to grieve and to remember. This will be the first time the whole family will be gathered together in one spot in several years. It will be the first time some of us have spoken to one another in as long. Now is the time to put aside our differences – if not permanently, then at least just for a while. Grandmother needs us.

The next time you look up at the night sky, give a wave to Grandpa Ed. He’s bound to be entertaining the entirety of Heaven, singing selections from his vast repertoire of songs. He has gone home to his Lord, and surely he is celebrating.

We love you, Grandpa Ed.

Every time we watch Isle of Man race coverage on HD Theater, the travel bug strikes me big time. Notwithstanding the fact that it would cost us over a thousand dollars per person just to get ourselves there, it remains one of my top travel destinations. The primary reason that I want to win the lottery is just so I can travel as much, as often, and to as many places as I want to. I have a long, LONG list of fantasy vacations, some of which I’ve planned in as much detail as if we were taking off tomorrow. It’s a depressing thought that I will never see as many places as I want to in my lifetime.

Bill and I went to visit Grandpa Ed in the hospital last night. We got there right before they were planning on moving him out of the ICU and into a regular hospital room. He was asleep when we got there, opened his eyes and acknowledged us a few times, but for the most part was pretty much out of it. We talked to him and held his hand, but didn’t want to stay too long as he was obviously very tired. He’d been awake and talking for most of the day. He’s obviously still very ill, but moving out of the ICU is, of course, a very positive step.

According to Bill, we’re going to be motivated today. The truck needs washing, the house needs cleaning, and I personally want to clean up the back patio so we can sit out there and enjoy the weather without gazing upon clutter. I’m really hoping that we’ll take a couple of motorcycle rides this weekend – food destinations provide for an excellent reason to get out on the road. Joe’s Farm Grill is about ten miles away from us, and I’ve been wanting to head out and check them out ever since I read the review on Feasting in Phoenix. Then, of course, there’s Cien Agaves in Scottsdale, our go-to place for the best tacos on the planet. They’re about fifteen miles away from us.

Really, I just want to be out in the great weather, on the bike behind my husband. Any destination will do.

This is a photo of Bill’s grandfather, Grandpa Ed, at the Christmas celebration at our house in 2000. He used to read the story of Christ’s birth straight from the bible every year with all of the kids, young and old, gathered around him.

Grandpa hasn’t done that in several years now. His health has deteriorated at an alarming rate for the last few years. He’s been wheelchair-bound for quite some time, and he’s been in and out of the hospital a lot. A couple of months ago, when we took lunch to the grandparents’ house for a visit, he wasn’t looking well at all, and wasn’t really “there”. And then, last week, he fell and broke his leg in three places. He made it through emergency surgery, spent a few days in the hospital, and was moved to a facility for recovery and therapy. His first day there, he aspirated and had to be moved immediately back to ICU. He was placed on a ventilator and had to be resuscitated several times.

We were all told not to expect miracles, and that he had a 20% chance for surviving and getting well enough to move back to the recovery center, but that he’ll never live at home again. We kept expecting “the” call, all throughout the week, and mentally prepared ourselves.

However, the latest update from Bill’s sister is that Grandpa is off the ventilator, and is talking a little. We’re going up to the hospital tonight to visit him. Your thoughts and prayers for his comfort and well-being, and that of our dear Grandmother Claudine who is frantic with worry, would be greatly appreciated.

This brings me to talk about something that’s been on my mind, lately – quality of life. I think we all hope that we go out in a peaceful, or at least painless way, far into our elder years. The best I hope for is to die on my 101st birthday, while having sex with my 111 year old husband (hi, Bill) who goes out at the same time. (Oh, the poor kids, if they find us like that!) I would hope that I remain healthy all throughout my twilight years, though I’m only 36 now and sometimes I creak when I get out of bed. Still, I can handle a certain amount of discomfort as long as I’m mobile, of sound mind, and can still eat whatever I want.

I guess there are certain things I could handle, and certain things I could not. Of course, I wouldn’t know unless I experienced these things, but what if I go blind? Lose my hearing? What if I can’t walk, can’t feed myself, have to pee in a bag? What if I’m in and out of the hospital constantly? What if my spouse is home-bound because I can’t DO anything? What if he starts to resent the way I’ve hampered his quality of life? What if I break a bone if I so much as bump a piece of furniture? What if the only thing left for me is to sit and sit, and watch television? What if I start forgetting who my loved ones are, who I am? If it gets bad enough, will I have the courage to face my mortality in a dignified way? Will I be able to convince my loved ones to let me go, to not take extreme measures that force me to linger when I don’t want to?

There are a great deal of things to be afraid of, regarding getting old. We all know that no one gets out alive, so what should we hoping for as we approach the end? To just have more good memories than bad? A smaller amount of regrets than we were expecting? The best health possible right up to the end, but barring that, just one more day of consciousness? To not be alone?

That last one scares me the most.

Coupla

Posted: September 24, 2010 in Family, Health/Fitness, kids, misc, Music, photography, Pimp

– Miss Amanda Marie turned twenty-two on the 18th. We went to Kona Grill for dinner (sushi FTW!). A good time was had by all, in part because Kami joined us. DAMN, though, we need to break Amanda of that Coors Light business. She brings shame upon us.

– Our grandson Robert Anthony turned seven on the 23rd. We all hope he had a happy birthday.

– I have a new photo blog, here. I’m only somewhat blatantly copying Dys. Eventually there will be fresh content – the few pics I’ve put up were simply to fill the space for the time being. Still, they don’t suck. You’ve just probably seen ’em before.

Heather is awesome and we should all support her.

– I’m having the follow-up test for the Essure procedure next Thursday. Verily I say unto you, deets will be sharedeth.

– Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

– It pissed me off that Facebook’s downtime was the number one CNN headline for two days in a row. Where do you guys get your news from? Cuz I’ve gotta say, that factoid right there speaks worse for CNN than it does for our culture in general.

– This is stuck in my head and it’s all Kim’s fault:

– The fact that it’s Friday has been the only thing barring me from committing several homicides, one assault with a deadly weapon, and some major self mutilation. Have a great weekend, everyone!

(Here’s Part Four, Part Three, Part Two, and Part One.)

Tuesday July 20th was my thirty-sixth birthday. If we could spend every single one of my birthdays doing exactly what we did on that day, I’d be perfectly happy.

Well, except for the getting lost part.

We checked out of the hotel in Portland at about 7:30 a.m., planning on driving up to Poland, picking up my sister, and heading up the rest of the way to Bar Harbor. We hopped on the freeway near the hotel, intending on taking the 495 to the Gray exit and driving from there to Poland. Except, stupid me, we took the 295 fork instead, headed along the coast instead of further inland, and I didn’t twig onto the fact that we were not where we were supposed to be for another half-hour.

So we had to backtrack, get off in Freeport, and take the back roads towards Gray. The back roads that I haven’t REALLY traversed in twenty years. That look… well, rather different than they did. More overgrown. Some new houses. A few new turn-offs. And the ever-present vague signs. I misdirected us a couple of times, causing Bill to get more than a little frustrated. But, seeing as it was my birthday, he didn’t unload on me like I probably deserved. I made him stop in Gray so I could pee, then we had to stop again to get gas, THEN we made it to Poland but missed the right-hander at the blinking light. We stopped at a gas station where I asked a random guy if he happened to know my sister’s family, which he did (it really wasn’t that much of a long shot that someone hanging around the local gas station would know where the Chair(wo)man of the Town Selectman Board lives). He got us turned around the right way, and we finally got to my sister’s an hour behind schedule, at around 9:15.

Wendy left her car parked at the bottom of their hill (after chasing away some random guy that wandered his way up their private drive – she was suspicious and concerned about her kids, who were holding down the fort). I tinkled in the woods one more time (yes, I did – we were, literally, in the middle of NOWHERE and I didn’t want to risk Bill’s wrath by asking to stop at yet another convenience store somewhere along the way), then crawled in the back seat of the Camaro and let my longer-legged sister sit up front.

The drive up to Bar Harbor necessitates that one take the I-95 (hello tolls!) to Bangor, then head on over to Ellsworth, before finally getting back to the coast and Mount Desert Island. It takes about three hours, from Portland (it actually took us a bit longer, because of road construction around Ellsworth). One could traverse Route One all the way up the coast (which we have done before), but that takes more like six hours. Anyway, the ride up was all about catching up on family and friend gossip, talking about Maine politics vs. Arizona politics, and listening to some more of Taoist Biker’s Sunny Mix (I THINK we got through the whole CD during the trip). Wendy regaled us with anecdotes of Town Living Out Poland Way, and we laughed. A LOT.

It was about 12:30 when we got to our hotel – usually too early to check in, but they were happy to accommodate us. It also happened to be the same hotel that President Obama had been staying in, just a few days before. Man, were we grateful that we avoided all of THAT hot mess. I can’t imagine how crowded it got, with the gawkers and the secret service and the cruise ships. Those poor locals.

Anyway, it was getting on towards 1:00 and we were starving (no breakfast), so we headed up the road a very short way, to Jack Russell’s Steak House. I got a crab cake sandwich, my sister got the stuffed portabello mushroom, and Bill got a… burger? I think? Maybe it was a grilled chicken sandwich… oh, hell, like you guys care. Plus brews all around (natch). The Tour de France was on the bigger-than-life television, and the perspective it afforded made me dizzy in short order. We gabbed with a couple of the other patrons, and the bartender told us of the woes of having the President and the Secret Service invade the island.

Now comfortably full, we hopped back in the car, paused at the hotel long enough to off-load our belongings, then headed over to downtown Bar Harbor for some strolling and sight-seeing.

Bar Harbor with the tide out - from the pedestrian's walkway.

Bar Harbor with the tide out - from the pedestrian's walkway.

Flowerbeds were placed anywhere there was enough space.

Flowerbeds were placed anywhere there was enough space.

We strolled along the waterfront for a bit, then elected to get out of the sun and have a beverage at Quarterdeck. I had a blueberry mojito, didn’t take a picture of it. Didn’t particularly like it, so I switched to whiskey. That’s always a safe bet.

The harbor-side park from the vantage of the Quarterdeck second-story deck.

The harbor-side park from the vantage of the Quarterdeck second-story deck.

The Margaret Todd as seen from Quarterdeck.

The Margaret Todd as seen from Quarterdeck.

Wendy and Bill enjoying the view.

Wendy and Bill enjoying the view.

We hung out for a good hour before getting up to wander around some more. We sat in the grass of the harborside park for a little bit, watching the Margaret Todd come into dock, and watching the people enjoying the view and the weather.

The Margaret Todd

The Margaret Todd

The shore path

The shore path

Wendy and Bill wanted to ditch me temporarily so they could buy me birthday presents (yay!), so we strolled along the shops, split up, reconvened, and split up again. I bought the kids their obligatory Bar Harbor sweatshirts and t-shirts. Then I had a weird hankering for a cigar, so I scored a few and abruptly became the opposite of sexy. There’s a picture. You’ll have to go dig it up from my Flickr, cuz I ain’t posting it here.

Crowded Bar Harbor

Crowded Bar Harbor

Wendy and Bill, carrying mah loot.

Wendy and Bill, carrying mah loot.

Dinnertime rolled around, so we headed to Testa’s. Bill snagged the camera and took these shots:

Me at Testa's

Me at Testa's

Me at Testa's again.

Me at Testa's again.

Wendy and I both had the Seafood Newburgh, and Bill had… steak? The prime rib, I think? Man, I didn’t pay attention to his plate at ALL, I was so busy stuffing my own face throughout the entire trip. We noshed and moo’d and laughed outright when the waitress asked if we wanted dessert. Then it was back out into the cooling evening air. The lengthening rays of sunset had me grabbing my camera yet again as we headed back to the park to sit on the grass and watch the harbor.

I love sunset.

I love sunset.

And zoom out.

And zoom out.

Handsome devil.

Handsome devil.

Obligatory Wendy taking a picture of me taking a picture of her picture.

Obligatory Wendy taking a picture of me taking a picture of her picture.

The hill upon which we sat.

The hill upon which we sat.

The next stop on what turned out to be an all afternoon/all evening pub crawl was Stewman’s Lobster Pound, or more accurately, it’s deck-side bar the Eagle’s Nest. We sat and GABBED AND GABBED, and observed the lobsters being steamed down below us. Patrons would stop by the lobster tanks with their children, who got to touch and/or hold the lobsters before they (the lobsters, not the children) met their doom. Morbid, really. But oh so very tasty.

Bill's a happy camper.

Bill's a happy camper.

So is Wendy.

So is Wendy.

So am I.

So am I.

The ever-busy Margaret Todd, out for a sunset sail.

The ever-busy Margaret Todd, out for a sunset sail.

Lots o' lobsters steaming away...

Lots o' lobsters steaming away...

We finally decided to head back to the hotel for the evening, where I was presented with a beautiful silver necklace from Bill (I’ll have to take a picture of it to show you guys), and this amazing ensemble from my sister:

The things I do for you people.  The t-shirt says, "Say no to Pot."

The things I do for you people. The t-shirt says, "Say no to Pot."

So, backstory on that “crown”. When I was, oh, about eleven or twelve, my sister was staying in my Grandmother’s apartment for a while. One morning Grandma left Wendy a note, asking her to weed the garden for her. Wendy, believing me to be spoiled and also a slacker, wrote at the bottom of the note, “Why don’t you get Princess Tiffany to do it?” So I wrote underneath that, “That’s QUEEN Tiffany to you!”

She still has that friggin’ note. Anyway. She was looking for a princess tiara for my present, and the crab crown was the closest she could find.

We got in our jammies and got comfy, and my sister pulled out a copy of this movie, which we watched on my laptop. It was actually written, directed, and produced by her TOWN MANAGER. The cheese. Oh God. You guys, the CHEESE. It was EPIC. Completely full of awesome.

Especially if you’re a little bit buzzed.

Dammit. Okay, Bar Harbor will not get wrapped up in just one entry. I have another entire day full of exploration to tell you guys about. I’m stopping here.

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Miss

Posted: June 22, 2010 in Family, kids
Me and baby Devlin

Me and baby Devlin

I found “Lilly” on Facebook (for non long-term readers, she is my step son Robert’s former wife, the mother of our three grandsons – Lilly isn’t her real name, in keeping with the whole nom-de-net thing I used to do). The last time we saw or heard from them was a little over two years ago.

(Okay, I just re-checked, I guess the last time we REALLY heard from them was back in January of ’09 when Lilly mailed us pictures of the boys – JUST pictures, no letter.)

Me with newborn Robert

Me with newborn Robert

Anyway. I found Lilly on Facebook, sent a friend request, and she never responded to it (back when we were both on MySpace she “unfriended” me, as well). I sure as heck would like to know why she declines any kind of contact from me. I mean, sure, I understand she had a negative relationship with Robert and doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. But I (nor Bill, nor Amanda) have never treated her anything but kindly. It’s not like we want to even insert ourselves into their lives – we’d just like a way to know how they’re doing, or have a way to see pictures of the boys as they grow up. We’d like to be able to send Christmas and birthday presents at least, though if she wants to cut complete ties in order to avoid confusion or whatever for the boys, fine. Just say something.

Robert, Roman, Devlin

Robert, Roman, Devlin

So. Yeah. The whole thing has got me down. Lilly’s mileage may vary, but I feel that if my former mother-in-law had treated me kindly and had been more supportive after I divorced my ex, I probably would have maintained contact with her. She was a good person, and was a good mother to me up until the end of my relationship with her son (then I gave him back – LITERALLY, he’s been living with his family ever since and, well, I don’t think they’re very happy about that). Of course, my ex and I didn’t have kids together. If we had, well, barring the complications that would have generated in cutting ties with my ex, I CERTAINLY would keep my child’s grandmother in the loop with school pictures and whatnot, at the very least.

Bill and Roman (twins!)

Bill and Roman (twins!)

Those boys are our grandchildren. We loved them and cherished them. For four years we anticipated their arrival as each one of them was born, drove back and forth between home and San Diego (where they were living, stationed at Camp Pendleton) a bunch of times, and had weeks-long visits from all of them while Robert and Lilly were still in the Marines. Just weeks after Roman, the youngest, was born, we had all three of the boys to ourselves for two lovely weeks as Lilly and Robert wrapped up their military careers in California and were discharged. Then they all lived with us – all of us together, raising and caring for those three boys – up until Robert and Lilly split up, and Lilly took the boys with her to her parents’ home in Texas.

Robert

Robert

Lilly knows about this website, and used to use it as a way to keep in touch with us. I have no idea if she still reads or not. If so, I hope she understands that I understand that she feels the need to keep her new life with her new husband, his family, and her family separate from us. It’s not my intention to bother them at all with any obligations toward us. I just want to know they’re doing well, and we’d all love to see pictures as the boys grow up. The relationship that we (Bill, Amanda, and I) have with the boys is completely separate of the relationship between Lilly and Robert, or Robert and the boys. Those they can handle between them. And, you know, I’m not even asking that we be allowed to have a relationship with the boys. If Lilly doesn’t want that, if she only wants the boys to know the family they have now with Lilly and her new husband (which, clearly, it seems that she does), I understand.

Bill and Devlin

Bill and Devlin

I’m speaking as a Grandma who misses her grandsons – all of you know my history, and know why being a Grandmother is a cherished state for me. If I can’t be a participating grandma in the boys’ lives, I’ll take what I can get. Which is why I thought being “friends” on Facebook would work out. I’d be able to see any pictures she happens to post, but wouldn’t bother her in any other way. Maybe she doesn’t realize that.

Lilly has moved on, and I wish her every happiness. Robert has moved on as well, and we all really adore Joy. In between there, though, they had three boys together who became a part of OUR lives – me, Bill, and Amanda. We never expected to have a “say” in matters between Robert and Lilly, but we also never expected to be entirely cut out of the boys’ lives, either.

Today, I’m wallowing a bit in the unfairness of it all.

Bill and Robert

Bill and Robert