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Posts Tagged ‘#funeral’

The Coronavirus that has been around for a couple of months here in the US seems to be escalating by the minute. A week ago it was around but not affecting our lives every single second. I would say that changed late last Friday night. Friday the 13th has always been my lucky day. I won’t be looking at it the same way anymore. Since then, everything and everyone has been in a full blown panic. This is understandable since no one currently alive has lived through anything like this. Everything is being shuttered in our part of the country: schools, casinos, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, theme parks, museums, courts, etc. I’m not going to do a lot of writing about it because I’m not an expert. I’m only going to be writing about how it affects me, my household and what I see online. The social distancing thing makes a lot of sense but I don’t see that many strictly adhering to it. I think the President is doing a decent job handling the crisis even though it’s as foreign to him as the rest of us. I watched the press conference from the Governor of New York (Bill de Blasio) this morning and it was like watching Al Pacino. The whole health crisis seems surreal and like a horror movie. I don’t think God had anything to do with putting the virus on earth (which I’ve seen some online say) but I do think he’s cheering our chance to band together for a common goal. I know the politicization of Covid-19 has been petty and mean spirited. That has to stop. There needs to be no criticism at this time, only helpful suggestions. If some politicians think they can do better, they need to offer their support and whatever else they have to contribute. 

 
Like with any hardship, it brings out the best AND the worst in people. Many are being kind and concerned about others. Then there’s the greedy ones who have been hoarding and stockpiling. That is so unnecessary but you know how some people won’t listen to reason. Like going to the pub-crawls for St. Patty’s Day on Sunday despite warnings not to gather in groups. That’s what prompted the bar and restaurant closings. We are all going through this for the first time! We are all together in this and it is temporary. We’ll get through this and it will be an event of epic and historical proportions that we can say we lived through. 
 
Thurs. we went up to the funeral in WI. They are a different breed of people. I can say that because I grew up there. They think they are tougher/ heartier than anyone else. Usually they are but they are also stubborn and won’t listen. Social distancing was already suggested at this point but very little of it went on. I managed to not get kissed but still got a bunch of hugs that I didn’t feel right getting. I probably should have been super rude and said no. I wanted to but it’s a weird situation. We went there early and the time dragged on. We talked to a ton of people and then the service took place. They were all going to a restaurant to drink and celebrate. We passed and headed home. We stopped at Kopp’s Custard and got a burger, fries and a malt. We used to get custard there years ago. The food was terrible and so expensive. $30 for a fast food meal. They charged 25 cents for each glass of water. At that point we decided to just eat at home from now on. This past weekend we stocked up on food. I had a raincheck from a one day sale at Jewel the end of Feb. Salmon is usually $12.99/lb. here and Sun. it was $8.99/lb. My raincheck was for $4.99/lb.!! So we got almost 10 lbs. worth, sweet potatoes and red peppers. Greg cooked it all up on Sun. and we’ve eaten it twice. We’ve got at least 7 meals left of it. We love it and it’s healthy for us, too. I had gotten a head of cabbage at 18 cents a lb. and then picked up a corner beef brisket so that’s in the crockpot now. It doesn’t feel anything like St. Patty’s Day. 
 
Greg is still going to work even though it’s been recommended to tele-commute if you can. Yesterday was the funeral for his coworker Stephanie. It was on the south side suburbs of Chicago which is closer to work than home. He went to work and everyone was riding together to the funeral. I thought they would let everyone do it during work hours. And they did but you had to take leave! So Greg took 4 hours of his vacation to go. They went to the funeral home, then the church and then the cemetery. It sounds like there were a ton of people there which worries me because Hello! Coronavirus. I’m wondering how things will change tomorrow and by next week, etc.
 
I won’t have any trouble amusing myself being quarantined at home. I pretty much did that while hubby was gone last year at the border. Yesterday I did laundry. Today I’m getting organized for another book sale. I made the mistake of looking at our bank accounts and retirement funds. Yikes! We’re not the type to overreact and take money out or move it around but wow. I know it will eventually come back but that takes retiring anytime soon off the table.
 
Last night we started watching The Walking Dead. It is one of hubby’s favorite tv shows. He had watched up to Season 6, Episode 10. I never cared for it. He used to watch it with my mom and she loved it. I tried watching the first episode two times before and just couldn’t get into it. This time I was committed and we watched 4 episodes in a row. It took until the very end of the 3rd episode for me to get into it. I see a lot of similarities between TWD and what’s going on in the world now. I’m trying to find humor while still taking it seriously. There are many who don’t believe in joking about it. It’s not a joke but you can find humor in it to ease some of the tension. There is a lot of tension. How is everyone else coping with the new normal?

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Aunt Anne passed away on Sat. Morning at 7:30 am. We got word yesterday from family that the funeral is this Thurs. up in Harland, WI. The Rosary is at 4:00 pm, visitation is from 4:30-6:45 pm with the mass at 7:00 pm. Then Greg got a call from his mother saying to call Sara (Anne’s youngest child) right away. So he did and she asked him to be a pallbearer. Greg is taking Thurs. and Friday off but using hours he got from an award and not sick leave. It’s about 2 hours from here so we’ll have to leave mid-afternoon to get there and skip dinner until afterwards. That’s not a big deal but something to consider. When we saw the funeral would be at St. Charles Catholic Church in Harland, we wondered why. Aunt Anne was devoted and passionate about her faith. She was a Catholic and she got Uncle Dean to convert to Catholicism before he married her. She was selfless and loving with everyone. She and Uncle Dean lived their faith and were really the only examples I’ve known of true Catholics. They even ministered to prisoners. Besides going to church religiously and tithing, they were the first to help anyone. Aunt Anne belonged to St. Mary’s in Pewaukee her entire life. The church was sold and the congregation began going to Queen Of Apostles in 1999. I never liked that church. It has such a modern look inside, it feels soulless. St. Mary’s reminds me of the church I grew up going to that was not much bigger than a house. Anyway, for all that Aunt Anne has done for the church and the congregation over the years, they won’t let her funeral be there. The day they are having the funeral is CHOIR PRACTICE. That is laughable. They could sing at her funeral. They could cancel and just wing it on Sunday. You’d think church-going people would understand. Instead they put out this nice family in their time of need. This is everything that is wrong with religion. 

 
There is still no word on Stephanie’s funeral. The coroner hasn’t even released the body yet since they are waiting for a dental expert because it was vehicular homicide. 


Today being March 10th gives me all the feels. It was my parents’ wedding day (in 1961). It was the birthday of my best friend in jr. and sr. high school. March 10th is also the day my last best friend died 10 years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it because it was so weird. I don’t like writing mushy stuff. Maybe when I was a teen or in my 20’s, I might. I don’t even talk about this best friend. We met in slams (the question booklets sent through the mail) in about 1997. We had known of each other for another 10 years before that. Her name was Joni Souers. She was 11 years older than me. So she was a year older than I am now when she died. Joni and I were opposites in a lot of ways. She was only 4’10” tall and I’m 5’ 6 1/2”. She was Southern through and through and I’m as Northern as they come. She was brassy and loud and I tend to be quieter. We were both generous with people and had a tendency to be taken advantage of. She had led a hard life and been estranged from her few relatives. Her brother died and her nephew was like a son to her. She doted on Mike, his wife Cherie and their 3 daughters. I helped her through Cherie’s murder by her oldest teen daughter’s boyfriend. We wrote long letters to each other and then emailed every single day. That didn’t work for me. I balked at it and said it was too much for me. She let me know it was too important for me not to do it for her. So I did it anyway. It was the one “fight” we had. We talked on the phone sometimes and when we did, it could be hours. She was a truck driver (long haul) for decades but had quit to become a police officer for a short time. She loved trucking and her husband had been a trucker. He turned out to be a no-good liar who was a bigamist. She got rid of him but she didn’t hate him the way I thought she should. She was a forgiving sort of person who would give the shirt off her back to anyone. She had no living children and had lost a few babies to miscarriage. She fell in love with another trucker (John) and they worked together going cross country trading off driving but never married. She couldn’t have loved him more. Her home base was Texas but in the last few years she had settled in Colorado (outside Denver). She had 2 teacup chihuahuas (Tiny & Muffin) that she took everywhere with her. She and John had gotten a home in CO and she’d been staying home more and more often. She had fixed it up and did a lot of home cooking. She smoked like a fiend which I hate. She enjoyed it so much that nothing could make her stop. She had some health problems towards the end. She would get stomach and back aches. I encouraged her to go to the doctor. That didn’t really help until she doubled over and passed out. They took her to the hospital and found she had a huge mass in her stomach. They operated and removed it and it wasn’t cancer. I called her in the hospital and told her to rest and get well. I told her I loved her which I’ll always be happy about. I had no reason to believe she wouldn’t recover. Then I found out a day or two later that she was being taken for some other tests and she had an aneurysm burst and she was brain dead. Just. Like. That. Her nephew Mike told them to pull the plug because he knew she wouldn’t want to lay there as a shell any longer. I went into shock, as you do when given unexpected news. I can’t think of a worse time for it to happen. Not that there’s ever a good time.
 
Greg was scheduled to leave 3-4 days after I got the news. He was going to be gone for 10 weeks to canine training. It ended up being only 6 weeks. Anyway, I had all kinds of plans to chat on the phone with Joni and just make the most of not having a husband to monopolize my time. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want him to leave but I wanted him to be happy. I knew if I had Joni to talk to, the time would go faster. Well, that didn’t pan out. I was in shock. Greg wasn’t able to comfort me because he was so wound up with leaving. While he was gone, he didn’t know how hard it was for me to be missing him AND my friend. He was only thinking about his own stuff and then his sister had called him while he was there to tell him she had leukemia. If I hadn’t had my mom with me, I don’t know what I would’ve done. She knew Joni from me telling her all about her. Joni sent her a couple gifts which was so sweet. She thought the world of my mom which endeared her to me. Joni had lost a lot of weight and she a bunch of Walmart/Sam’s Club type clothes she had boughten and most were never even worn. They were the size Mom and I wore. She offered to send them to us. I balked at first but she was so happy that I was willing to take them and wear them, I said ok. She sent a huge box of mostly shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. Mom and I divided up the clothes in half. We both wore them and I still wear them. It makes me feel good every time I do because I think of her. I also wear my mom’s clothes which may be creepy to some people but it makes me feel closer to her as well.
 
I’ve pretty much always had barriers up where friendship is concerned. Especially ever since high school. Then after losing Joni, I think I keep people even more at arm’s length. Sometimes I regret not being more open but other times it just feels like the right way to be.
 
All this talk and thinking of death just makes you realize that you can make plans but that doesn’t mean you’ll be here to live them out. I worry about hubby’s retirement. He’s about 4 years away. At times he wants to retire even earlier, then other times wants to wait until exactly then. Still other times he thinks he may want to work longer. It is such a hard call. If you’ve got enough money to last, is it better to retire or is it better to stay active? I hear too many stories of people dying right after they retire. I’m having a hard time deciding what I want to do in our later years. We talk about getting a larger home to fix up and then move to down the line. In your 30’s you have unlimited ideas and energy, in your 50’s not so much. You may feel like doing some renovation but tying yourself down to a long term project is not as appealing. Maybe I should just live day by day as that is all we are promised. Who knows what the future holds with the Coronavirus out there.

 

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Things have taken a turn for the worse. It’s been one thing after another. Last Thursday night, one of my husband’s coworkers was driving home from work on I-57 at 2 am. She was hit by a drunk driver who was going 85 in a 55 mph zone. He was out celebrating his 25th birthday and his blood alcohol level was .123. He struck Stephanie’s 1999 Jeep and it went over a concrete barrier, flying off a bridge, landing on railroad tracks below. We were originally told the car burst into flames then but later found out it burst into flames when it was hit before it went over the side. She was so burned up that they had to use DNA to verify the body. When Greg was at work on Friday, he was told that they weren’t sure if it was her. They knew it was her car and that she hadn’t picked up her child or gone home the night before. Everyone in his office is pretty shaken up. Stephanie was only 39, married with one boy about 5 or 6 years old. My husband worked with her the last 10 years or so at both O’hare airport and Midway. We are waiting to hear when her funeral will be. A GoFundMe has been set up in her name (Stephanie Anselmo) for her family. I don’t usually believe in donating to those but in this case it seemed the right thing to do. I met her a few years ago when I volunteered to help with the canine training at Greg’s office. We donated $100 and it’s now over $10,000.

 
About 2 1/2 weeks ago, Greg got a phone call from his oldest brother John. He was crying and saying that his wife Jane had just been diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts. She is about 64 years old. Greg called John back this past weekend to find out how things are going. Jane was having an MRI on Monday and then meeting with her chemotherapy doctor. It sounds like there is one tumor in each breast and they are different kinds of cancer. She is having chemo first to shrink the cancer, then a lumpectomy and radiation. She caught it early and it doesn’t sound like it has spread to her lymph nodes. I have no doubt Jane will beat this as she is tough and she has a really great team of doctors up at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.
 
The most recent bad news is that my husband’s favorite aunt was put into hospice on Monday evening. She had a fall last Wed. and had been going downhill ever since. She has quit eating and drinking which means it won’t be long now. Aunt Ann is 84 and I have loved her deeply since I first met her almost 35 years ago. Above everyone else, she made me feel welcome and accepted. I always said if I didn’t have my mother, I would want her as a mother. She is a saint and I hate that she has to leave this world already. So now we are expecting a call any day about her. 
 
The situation my husband has been dealing with which I’m not at liberty to discuss is still hanging over our heads. There is a glimmer of hope in that he has a few people helping him now but there is still no end in sight. We are both excessively nervous/worried and having trouble sleeping. It is taking a toll on us but I am pretty confident we will make it through.
 
There’s not a lot to look forward to. We got new iPhones on Valentine’s Day as a gift to each other. We both got the new iphone11. I got the pro max and he got the regular 11. Neither one of us have figured out how to use all the features. I thought it would make me want to take more pictures and post more on Instagram but that hasn’t changed. I will touch base when I know more about what’s going on.

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A week ago we found out that our doctor of 20 years passed away. This is who I referred to on my blog as Dr. J but I guess I can just call him Dr. James now. My husband had gone to Dr. Z (who was a friend of Dr. James) on Thurs. Jan. 24th. He had been put on Farxiga and the doctor wanted him to call him on Monday and let him know how he felt. Dr. Z had told him on that Thurs. that Dr. James wasn’t doing well. That he’d gotten pneumonia on top of all his other health problems and tried to treat it at home. He ended up in the hospital and was intubated. I told Greg when he called Dr. Z to find out which hospital Dr. James was at so we could go visit him.

DrJames
We never made it that far because we found out he had already died on Sat. Jan. 26th. Greg texted me and the only obituary I could find was on his wife’s Facebook page. We decided to go to the visitation on Wed. Jan. 30th. Just to honor him and his life. I made a card on the computer, wrote a letter to his wife about what he meant to us, included a poem and an antique rosary. It was pretty awkward at the funeral home but we were able to pay our respects, sign the registry and leave the card. I will never get used to seeing anyone in a coffin. I don’t care how good the makeup is, they never look the same as they did when alive. Usually the makeup is on so thick and they look dead. I find the whole business of funerals upsetting and unnecessary. If you treat people right when they alive, you don’t need to glorify them when deceased. They say funerals are for the living, not the dead. I guess that’s true.
cardandrosary
Dr. James was a big part of our lives and a part of our family. We knew a lot about him and his life because he socialized FOR HOURS with his patients. He was from Scranton, PA, had 2 sons from his first marriage. Raised Belgian Tervuren dogs and competed in dog shows. Met his last wife who is also a doctor when he started at Gottlieb hospital. He played the guitar and owned an RV. We will miss him terribly. I haven’t been able to get him off my mind or the fact that he was so young. Only 61 years old! He would’ve turned 62 at the end of this month. He was forced into retirement from ill health but never got to enjoy retirement. He’s only 5 years older than Greg and 6 1/2 year older than me. To think that one of us could be dead in such a short time is unthinkable. To work all your life, saving up for retirement, only to never reap the benefits.
drjamesprayercard.jpeg
So as I said last post, I haven’t been in a mood all year. Not a good mood either. This didn’t help it. We went out to estate sales this past weekend and they were TERRIBLE. Saturday was the worst. Went to 4 sales and spent a total of $1. I know part of it is the time of year but it just makes me out of sorts. On Friday, at one of the sales, Greg overheard that someone we know who runs an estate sale company had died. He didn’t think it was true. I looked it up online and sure enough, Kathy Petricca had passed SUDDENLY on Jan. 13th. It was really shocking since she was only 69 years old. She seemed in good health. I know she’d had her knees replaced and her hip too but was doing well. I knew Kathy because she always gave us good deals when we bought from her. She was from Wisconsin like us and she had a mother the same age as mine. I found this out when I bought a big bag of clothes from her for Mom and she charged me $1 per piece. Her mother had dementia too and passed away one year before mine. She had told me the story of her mom’s passing and when mine passed, she was one of the first people I told because I knew she could relate. We found out too late to go to her funeral but it’s still took us off guard. 69 doesn’t seem that old either…
kathypetricca
The next thing that shocked me was finding out that someone else who runs estate sales is transgender. On Friday we went to a sale run by Brad. He’s always looked pretty much the same. About a year ago we noticed he had grown his hair long. Nowdays, I just don’t think anything of that on a man. Then awhile back he started wearing makeup and nail polish. None of that really phases me. I did joke to Greg, “Should I ask when his transition will be complete?” I would never ask someone that since it’s a lot like asking someone “When is the baby due?” and finding out they’re not pregnant. So I did some research online and found out he IS transitioning. He has 2 Facebook pages and goes by the name Cheryll now. I found out he’s (she’s? they’s?) my age which surprised me since I would’ve guessed 10 years younger. He also didn’t “come out” as trans until age 52. He has 2 kids, one in college, one in high school and a wife he is now divorced from. He has a girlfriend and seems to be very happy. I’m not going to treat him any differently but can empathize with all he’s had to go through to become who he wants to be. It sounds like a lot of work. 
 
My husband says I’m easily shocked. Things happen and stay with me for a long time. I don’t need anything else to happen to give me cause for more deep thoughts. My mind is cluttered enough as it is.

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I’m going to squeeze in one last post before we head off to vacation. We’ll be unplugged from social media which is always much needed after total iimmersion. The funeral last Thursday went off without a hitch. Sadly, there was hardly anyone there. If anything ever rang true to me was that someone’s value or worth isn’t in the number that attend their funeral service. Aunt Trese was beloved my many and contributed much to her family and society. Yet compared to some of the other family funerals I’ve attended where there was standing room only, this was sparce. I know it was a work day and people had to get off work to come. But most of the funerals are. I remarked about this to Greg and he said it was because most of the people she knew were already dead. 😦

 

That’s harsh but true. Trese was 86 and had lead quite a life. She had been a beautician when she first married and then later was a nurse’s aide at a psychiatric hospital. She had been married over 50 years before her husband died. She had raised 5 boys and 1 girl. She was a tough cookie but also was very gentle and kind. I’ll never forget how much fun we had talking to her and Uncle Frank at family parties and weddings. She was always very welcoming to me which is a big thing in my book.

 

I was an outsider to the Babe family when Greg & I met 30 years ago. I still feel like an outsider at times but obviously less so. The people who have gone out of their way to come up and talk to me and welcome me will never be forgotten. Greg’s Aunt Rosie (who’s been dead over 12 yrs.) was the first to chat with me at every occasion. She made me feel less self-conscious and I would actually forget about the other people around us and just lose myself in things she would tell me. She liked to travel and gamble too which neither of us ever tired of talking about. We took my mom with us to play bingo with her once.

 

Aunt Anne just oozes warmth and love. I’ve always said if I didn’t have the mother I do, I’d want her to be my mother. Aunt Trese was much the same. She was a lot of fun and always interested in how and what we were doing. No one was really shedding tears at this funeral because she was “ready to go”.

 

I often think about how we come into this world with different advantages and disadvantages. Like the family we are born into could be ideal or less than. We could end up being raised in poverty or luxury. We can have health issues or be completely healthy. The list goes on and on. I’m sure you get the idea. I used to naively believe that we all got the same thing, just in different ways. I don’t know if I can explain this properly…like everyone has bad and good things happen throughout their lives but NOT all good or not all bad. You might get all the good at the beginning of your life or at the end. I could give a bunch of examples but the more I write, the crazier this theory sounds. I thought that everything would balance out, either in this life or the next. Obviously, people should be trying to be the best person they can be, no matter what.

 

It just goes to show when I put some of my stranger ideas down on paper (or the internet), they don’t sound as good as they originally did inside my head. Not that everything up there makes sense but it’s a vast improvement over what it sounds like when it leaves its place of orgin. Like the title of this could have been “Dead Aunt…Dead Ant”. Yikes…

 

So getting back to leaving on a trip, here’s what’s happening at my house. Not long ago, I scrubbed the kitchen floor with a toothbrush. Yes, it was that bad and I wanted to make sure I got it as clean as possible. Our floor is ugly and the rust color of the linoleum doesn’t show the dirt which is both a blessing and a curse. Then I got a carpenter ant invasion. I kill every single one I see and even though I go barefoot, I keep a sandal in the kitchen to crush them with. Yeah, I’m classy like that. Everything I tell about seems to paint me as having a white trash existence. <Blink> I guess instead of fighting that, I should embrace it. It’s ghettotastic! 😉 I’ve spent way too much time researching how to get rid of the ants. I’m going to try putting down some (uncooked) grits. Not because they’re Southern which would be funny but because they can’t digest cornmeal and it kills them. While we were sleeping last night, Amber chewed up a 95 year old copy of Pinocchio. 😦 She’s never done that before but has lately been acting out a bit. She’s 7 years old so should know better but I guess dogs will make us pay if they don’t get their way. I will be back in a few weeks with more skintillating excerpts from my life. 🙂

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The last few weeks have been hectic. Hubby got home from his week long training in Georgia the afternoon of Sat. March 28th. We had to get 2 gifts wrapped (not giftwrapped, just protectively boxed up for transport) and 2 cards made. While we were readying them, we got a phone call that Greg’s Aunt Aggie had passed away. She was only 78 and was always a favorite of both of ours. We were already going to WI the next day for his mother’s 80th birthday party. Now we were potentially going to a funeral a few days after that. As you can imagine, the entire week was just stress-filled. We fought on multiple occasions.

Last Rites Cross aka Vampire Kit

Last Rites Cross aka Vampire Kit

A lot of the stress comes from knowing we can only leave Mom for x amount of time. Preferably during daylight hours. The party was at 4 pm and it takes us between 90 min. and 2+ hours to travel each way. Depending on traffic and road construction. There was a huge detour which extended the time even more. We were at the party longer than we had planned–until 6:30 pm. Then we had to hurry and get home by a little after 8 pm. It went fine and was actually better than I could’ve hoped. We got to see Greg’s niece Katie’s new baby (10 day old Brynn) who is his Mom’s first great grandchild. Everyone took turns holding the baby while she slept like a doll. Everyone gives new parents things for the baby, we made a conscious decision to give to the parents instead. Some art that they can appreciate (or not). We gave his mom a Last Rites Cross. Made of wood, it hangs on the wall, opens up and holds candles and holy water. Greg calls it a Vampire Kit. His mom is a lifelong Catholic and loved it. She said her grandmother had had one just like it in her home.
Art By Haeger Pottery

Art By Haeger Pottery

Monday March 30th, we had an 8:30 am vet appt. for Ivy. She needed 2 vaccinations plus a blood test for heartworm. We had to bring in a fecal sample for testing as well. It costs a fortune but is worth it to not have to go back for a year. Tues. March 31st, Greg had his dental cleaning and needed a filling which he got on the spot. I had Mom’s bath that day. Wed. April 1st was Greg’s birthday and I had my dental cleaning at 10:00 am and we were leaving for the funeral by 3:30 pm. We got up to WI in time for some of the viewing of the body and the funeral service. They had a luncheon afterwards but it was already after 7 pm when the service was over. We didn’t want to stay another hour and get home so late to feed Mom dinner. So instead of eating, we drove home and all ate dinner around 9 pm. Not much of a birthday for Greg. We still  have yet to celebrate but I figure we’ve got a whole year to get around to it. Thurs. April 2nd, we had to take Elvis & Amber to the vet for their blood tests and fecal check. We didn’t find out until the following Monday that they’re all negative but it was a relief for sure.
4 Generations of Babes

4 Generations of Babes

Thurs. April 2nd we went to stock up on food at the fruit market and Sam’s Club. We also spent the weekend working on income taxes. We usually try to get them done and in before now. We’re cutting it too close to the April 15 deadline to suit me. But sometimes time doesn’t make it easy to fit it in. Friday we did a little treasure hunting and Sat. we went and got our lawn care items at Ace Hardware. The 4 step fertilizer for the grass, Grubex for the grubs and 10 bags of top soil on sale for 99 cents each.
I had so many veggies and they don’t stay fresh long. We had salad for dinner a few nights in a row. Then on Sunday April 5th I roasted several trays of them in the oven: brussel spouts, broccoli, garlic, green beans, kale, etc. We got another pork butt to roast in the 2 crockpots which is always great but that takes a whole day and then another day for clean up. I didn’t have time on Sunday if I was going to roast the veggies so I waited until Monday. Then Monday I was delayed almost 2 hours because Mom had a horrible case of diarrhea. I’m going to leave out the gory details (you’re welcome!) but we were both covered in it head to toe (don’t ask). Our clothes, our skin, the walls, the rug, the toilet, our hair, etc. I washed her hair and was going to get her in the tub when it happened again. I decided to just wash her all over with a washcloth so she didn’t have it in the tub. It was only a one day ordeal but not something I’d want to live through again. It makes the time she had it on vacation look like a cake walk.
The only picture I took of the shit hitting the fan.

The only picture I took of the shit hitting the fan…

That week I hadn’t been feeling good for several days myself. I’d been getting stomach cramps and a different type of diarrhea. Just what you wanted to read a blog post about! For the first time ever I skipped breakfast for 3 days straight. I had half of a small banana and that’s it. Then I skipped lunch for 2 days and resumed my usual sandwich and was fine. Of course, then my period came on and I had cramps of a different sort. The only thing I can think of that got me so sick was going to WI and seeing all the relatives. Everyone kisses (some on the lips) and hugs and for all I know some weren’t feeling well and didn’t let on. Greg’s around more people at his work and probably has more of an immune system built up than I do. I haven’t been this sick since I was 30. Then I had a week long bout of gastric distress that I actually went to the doctor for. I ended up coming down with the chicken pox 2 weeks later. I still think I caught it from the doctor’s office… I’ve made the effort to give up my beloved potato chips about a month or two ago. I thought it would make me feel so much better. I don’t feel any different!
This past weekend was not the greatest either. We stayed home on Thurs. April 9th because it stormed so badly. We were on pins and needles that our basement might flood again. Tornadoes hit about an hour north and west of us and left much devastation in their wake. Friday we did some treasure hunting and Greg is so thrilled that he found some old stackable metal milk crates that the dairies used back in the 1950’s. I found a beautiful Virgin Mary and baby Jesus surrounded by flowers. We hung it right away in our living room. Yesterday I roasted the last of the vegetables: mushrooms, zucchini and cauliflower. I love meat but I love vegetables even more. It wouldn’t be hard for me to become a vegetarian but why?! I don’t like to limit myself whether it’s the type of food I eat or the portions. That’s oviously something I can’t hide.
Madonna and child.

Madonna and child.

The weather is now consistently in the 60’s which seemed like it would never happen. The sunshine and nice temps have done wonders to improve my mood. Stop back again and I’ll fill you in our future projects: planting our garden, getting a new gas grill, building a pergola and laying patio brick on the side of the house. Enjoy your week and thanks for reading!

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I’ve never dealt well with death. The same could be said of a lot of people. The only people who handle death well are the dead. I try to avoid thinking about it entirely but due to the nature of life, it does show up sooner or later. On Monday night, we received a phone call that my mom’s best friend had passed away at age 93. I called her son back on Tuesday afternoon and missed him since he was at the funeral home making arrangements. I did speak to her grandson or tried to with a huge lump in my throat. All I could think of was all the letters she’d written my mom that I’d read. She mentioned her grandsons frequently and how fond she was of them. How good they were to her and how they even lived with her for a time. I start to get emotional without a real reason. Just knowing how much they would miss her made me start to fall apart. I got off the phone as fast as I could before he had to wonder what kind of basket case I was. My mother had been friends with Bea for almost 70 years. They had met in their 20’s and the friendship had survived moves to many states, marriages, children and lasted into their 90’s. They started out as coworkers and then roommates. They had many shared experiences that got them laughing whenever they spoke on the phone or in person. They always sent each other birthday and Christmas cards, no matter what. They always wrote letters telling what was going on in their lives. They shared recipes, lots of laughter and even comics that Bea used to cut out of the paper and send with her letters. My mom is not an emotional person. She used to be a bit more but as she’s aged she’s lost the ability to wallow in sorrow. Later that day, Bea’s son Gary called back and we talked for 37 minutes before I had to get off or I’d start crying. I can’t get over what an impact one person had on both our lives. I had long wondered who would go first. If I’d be calling Bea to tell her that my mom had passed away. The reason I handled the phone calls for my mom is that even with 2 hearing aids, her hearing is so bad she can’t hear well enough to carry on a phone conversation.

 
The only time I saw my dad cry was at his mother’s funeral. I was 9 and my grandma was 93. She had lived her last few years in a nursing home but before that had lived with us. My dad was very close to his mother since he was an only child. Seeing him just sobbing during the hymn Rock of Ages shook me to my core. It was my first funeral and my first time being around any display of grief. My mother’s mother had died when I was 5 but I didn’t go to the funeral. Maybe if I’d had more experience with death it wouldn’t be so uncomfortable for me.
 
I have since been exposed to several more occasions of death but it hasn’t gotten any easier. My dad died when I was 27 and I remember wondering if it hurts worse to lose a parent when you’re young or old. When you’re young (like 27 versus 50), you’re mourning the future you lost, what you could’ve had with them. When you’re older and lose a parent, you’ve had longer to bond with them and be close with them. Therefore, you’d miss them more. I don’t know which theory is true because the only thing I’ve figured out is it hurts either way. It hurts more the closer you are with the person. If you’re in daily contact with someone, there’s a huge void left when they’re gone.
 
I’ve noticed there are basically 2 ways people handle death. Yes, I do make over-simplifications. There are the people who think no one has ever grieved like they have. Due to my husband coming from a large Catholic family, there are way too many weddings and funerals to attend. My husband was taught to go and show his respects. We’ve been together for almost 28 years so as time marches on, more of the aunts and uncles have passed away. Some I’ve barely known, others I’ve known somewhat or quite well. About 10 years ago was the first one that really hit me. It was his Aunt Rosie. She was my hubby’s double aunt. She was his mother’s sister and married to his dad’s brother. That saying that you never forget how someone makes you feel is so true. I have always felt self conscious/ ill at ease around crowds at family gatherings. Not knowing who to talk to or what to say. Rosie always made a point of coming up to me and talking to me. She would ask about my mom and we’d talk about how she liked to gamble too. We’d also talk about travel and trips. It didn’t matter what we talked about, I felt like she liked me and I genuinely liked her. She made me forget all the other people around us and feel like it wasn’t a waste that I showed up at the family function. I truly grieved for her and shed tears at her funeral service.
 
There have been other funerals I’ve attended that had a mass hysteria quality to them. Even if I wasn’t one bit sad, seeing everyone crying to the point of dry heaving starts to make me whimper and feel like sticking a knife in my gut. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. At a different funeral, 2 people threw themselves on the casket. They don’t even do that in the movies!! This service was so upsetting to me on so many levels. I’m not telling people how to grieve but I have a hard time understanding how people can turn on and off their emotions like that. One minute they are hysterical, the next they are eating lunch and laughing in the church basement. I guess this is normal. I’ve often said I don’t believe in funerals. Of course, I believe they exist, just that they are unnecessary. I believe in telling people how you feel about them while they are alive. I believe in comforting people who have lost loved ones but the big pomp and circumstance is not for me. I wouldn’t even want a service, nor a cemetery plot. Giving the dead license to take up real estate forever is just crazy.
 
I wished there was a bravery pill that would give you strength when you need it. When grief overtakes you and you want to appear strong, you’d take it. Many don’t need this since they are able to give a eulogy for someone they loved. I know I could write one but there’s no way I could get through reading it. I would break down so many times until I just folded up completely. I’ve never felt capable of crying in front of other people. It is way too vulnerable of a thing for me. I try to hold it in and wipe away tears but I don’t let it all out in front of others. It is a howling pain that I couldn’t inflict on another person’s ears.
 
Some people seem so matter of fact when someone passes away. They understand it’s a phase of life and have made peace with it almost instantly when it happens. This is probably the “right” way to be. At one of the family funerals a few years ago, I wasn’t exactly sad except for seeing so many others in pain. Then I looked up ahead of us a couple rows and saw my husband’s Aunt Anne. She is my favorite relative I gained by marriage. She is everything good in the world. Calling her a Saint is really not doing her justice. She is so much more than that. She’s got a great sense of humor, in addition to being a caregiver, mother, grandmother, gardener, cook, etc. She also has more faith than anyone I’ve ever met. She practices what she believes and ministers to prisoners and anyone in need. She is generous and always ready with a hug. She loves everybody and reminds me of Emma Snyder from As The World Turns. She makes everyone feel welcome and loved. All I had to do was think about how glad I was that it wasn’t her funeral we were at and I started crying. It was ridiculous. I talked to hubby later and he said he had been thinking the same thing. When she goes, even though we know she’ll be in Heaven for sure, we will both be a mess.
 
Maybe the only people ever truly comfortable with death are morticians and medical examiners. They have to see it and be around it enough that they become almost immune to it. Also seeing so many deceased strangers is quite different from a deceased loved one.
 
3 years ago my best friend passed away. It was unexpected but aside from missing her, I had no regrets. I had spoken to her a few days before when she was in the hospital and I’d told her I loved her. I have always done that with people. I sign my letters “Love” if that’s how I feel. I’m sure it puts some people off. They don’t put love unless it’s to their mate. I think there are many types of love and one is friendship. Love and friendship don’t always last but when it does, we have to consider ourselves blessed.
 
In closing, I want to include a few of my favorite quotes about death:
Death is a distant rumor to the young.–Andrew A. Rooney
Death does not wait to see if things are done or not done.–Kularnava
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.–Norman Cousins
 
Have you had a lot of experience with death? Do you feel you handled it well under the circumstances? I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on this topic.
 

 

 

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I just got done saying in my last post that I didn’t want this blog to be a place of heavy pain, serious subjects, etc and then I proceed to address suicide. Gah! I’m not going to throw statistics at you but most of us have had our lives impacted directly or indirectly by someone who chose to end their own life. I have spent a lot of time thinking about suicide. These are my feelings and observations, you may not agree with them. I’m not an expert nor do I pretend to be one. If anything I say offends or hurts anyone reading this, it’s entirely unintentional. I never thought I’d have to preface a post with that but I write from my heart and try to be careful with my words but still seem to make a select few unhappy.

 
Monday Jan. 28th marks the 6 year anniversary of my nephew committing suicide. Steve was 41 when he made his final dramatic exit from the world. Steve was 3 years younger than me. Due to our strange family dynamic, I became an aunt at birth. I was never called “Aunt” by any of my 11 nieces or nephews since I fell more easily into the cousin or playmate category. I only saw my half-sister Dianne’s brood at holidays and a few other times a year due to the fact that they lived a couple hours away in Minnesota. We would bundle up and make the 2 hour drive to their farm or more likely they would come to our little house in Eau Claire, WI. My mom would fix a big meal and I’d always have to sit at the kids’ table in the kitchen while the adults ate in the DR. Steve and his twin brother were my constant playmates when we were together. It was always like no time had passed since we’d seen each other and we talked incessantly, played countless board games, Barbies, school, house, dinosaurs, spacemen or played outside. They made the holidays tolerable for me. We basically grew up together. I remember Steve asking me when I was 11 and he was 8, “Why do you wear a bra?”. I had just got my first bra and was self-conscious about it. I didn’t know how to answer. I knew I could’ve explained the whole reason to him but instead I said, “Ask your mother.” For some reason I also remember him asking me “Why are you so fat?” and I think I answered the same way. It hurt my feelings but he was very outspoken and less shy than his brother. When I started collecting Wacky Packages, the twins wanted to collect them too.
 

Me and The Twins. Steve trying to be as tall as me.

Me and The Twins. Steve trying to be as tall as me.

When I received the news that Steve had committed suicide, I went into shock. It was all I could think of. It was surreal. I thought back to all the times we’d shared as children and there was no way to predict that he would be the one to do this. There is no way to make sense of suicide. There is no way to look at someone and know that they’re thinking of this. We can’t see  how fragile someone is or what burden they are carrying around. From what I heard from his mother and brother, he’d been battling depression and had been dealing with incredibly challenging situations. I hadn’t seen Steve since my father’s funeral many years before. I have to believe he knew how much he meant to me and how I treasured the fun times we shared when younger.
 

Steve's 2nd grade school picture.

Steve’s 2nd grade school picture.

Suicide is not just for the lonely. Many people who make that fateful choice  have spouses, and children. They have good paying jobs, are well respected in their communities. They’re not failures, except maybe in their own eyes. I couldn’t fathom why Steve did this. He had more to live for than I do. He had a big, close family with a twin brother. He had 2 children and a wife. He had a fantastic job that paid well. He was good looking and funny. I have a husband but none of those other things. If he does that with that much going for him, what hope is there for me? His twin is an IT genius and put together a beautiful video montage of pictures of him throughout his life along with music. One of the songs played while the pictures flashed was “Smile though your heart is breaking”. Another was “The Valley Song” by Jars of Clay. Scott played it at the funeral and sent me a copy. I watched it over and over and over. I cried every time it started and by the end I was sobbing. It really broke my heart. He always looked so happy. Like he was having a good time and he had the world by the tail. I was griefstricken more than is normal. I was depressed thinking of a world that existed that he was not a part of. He had such a sensitive soul that could not thrive in a world this harsh. How did I finally stop crying? I quit watching the video. I still think of him but haven’t been able to get out the photo albums with the childhood photos of us to look at. Until now. I am going to include a few in this post.
 
Suicide is a moment of weakness. The God I choose to believe in does not call it a sin. He is understanding and will know what was in the person’s heart and if they were a good person. God doesn’t want people to be worrying about a deceased loved one going to hell. Suicide is simply a waste of potential and what’s left of a life unlived.
 
You can live to be 100 and only exist. Never making your mark on society or accomplishing anything major. You can live to a ripe old age and never put your heart out there. So just because someone commits suicide doesn’t mean they didn’t make a difference in our lives or the lives of others. They may have done more in their short(er) lives than someone living much longer. Not to make sweeping generalizations but those who kill themselves are often more sensitive than others and frequently smarter. The fact that they can’t see a solution to their problem, an end to their pain is a mistake. We make mistakes everyday. Some are bigger than others. Some can’t be undone. Suicide reinforces that the person was human and fallible. Maybe in our eyes they were Superhuman. Someone we loved, looked up to and admired. Forgive them for leaving us. Remember how they touched our lives. Remember how hearing the news of their tragic passing by their own hand impacted you. So that you can help others know there is nothing that can’t be solved together. No problem is too big if you have others to lean on.
 
I’m not trying to justify the irrationality of suicide. It doesn’t make you a hero to take your own life. It’s debatable if it makes you a coward. I haven’t touched on the anger and blame the survivors can experience or the tangible and non tangible mess the departing person leaves for the living to clean up. I feel like each of us are born a blank slate or an empty book. We are given the chance to fill our book with whatever is of our own choosing. Since we are given free will, we are also given the opportunity to end our story at any time. The fact that we choose to no longer get up every morning and see what the day has to offer is a choice. It’s probably not always a well informed choice, the decision can be tainted by physical or emotional pain, drugs or alcohol, horrific consequences of other poor choices we’ve made. The saddest thing about suicide is the story is over prematurely. None of us will ever know the true ending, what would have played out if leaving this world by their own devices wasn’t chosen.

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