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Monday, August 3, 2015


It's sunny and it's warm and there's a nice breeze. I should be so happy today. It's my perfect kind of day and I am in Florida in the house that screamed "Home" to us when we first walked through last November. This is the life I have thought of and dreamed of for so many years and it is now MY LIFE everyday. But today, it's just not enough.

I can't shake the heaviness today. It's August 2. Oldest son's birthday and he is in Tennessee. The other boy's birthdays will be here shortly and they are in Michigan. Then the grandkids birthdays start again. We have already missed four of them. Two of them are in Seattle, so we're used to missing those. The other four will all happen from September to November and we'll miss those, too.

That's part of the heaviness. The rest is harder to fix. Eventually we may be able to be at all the birthdays or at the very least visit each family for one of them alternating each year.

Today I pulled out a bunch of paperwork that previously I didn't want to take the time to go through. Some was ours and some was from Momma's move from the apartment to our house. I had put it all in an easy to access spot for sorting one day and today was that day.

I found insurance papers I had forgotten about for this house. Reminding me that both house and car will be due in December for 
renewal. UGH  I found pictures that were Momma's and I had put them in an envelope when I packed that sort of thing to move her. Other pics were in that envelope that I don't even remember seeing for years. Don't know when they were stuck in there or maybe they were already in there and I added the rest? Who knows. But I enjoyed seeing them and remembering.

I also found a big bag of cards. I am not a card saver. I didn't think  was, but apparently over the years I have saved a few. I read every one and cried over the memory of most. Many were from Momma. With handwritten thank you, love you so much, how do you do it all, what would I do without you...messages. The cards were mostly mushy and lovingly chosen. I was with her as she bought cards and each one was selected with love and lots of attention to the message. Sometimes funny and sometimes just so perfectly worded it was as though she ordered them. I became lost in my own past. I stayed lost for a few hours. I saved each of these cards because I won't ever get another one. I was lost in all that I lost. I was lost in all that I had and for a few minutes, I had her back. I was one with her thoughts. I could see her signing and sealing each one and then running her hand over the front, which had the name of the recipient, with a sort of hug. I saw her do this so many times. I was completely transported to the time when she still was.

 I miss her every day. She walks through my mind every day. My thoughts are never far from "when" or "that day" or "she said" or "she needs" or "guess what she did?" My life is so different now. My days are not structured by any means. I'm not a routine person anymore. Sometimes I don't even get groceries; I just pick up what I need and do it again a couple days later. I used to have a laundry day or days, now I do laundry when my basket is full. I seldom even know what day it is and I don't care because they're all the same.

So for those of you who thought I was really doing well with my grief, I am, usually. I am almost always reasonably happy and managing each day with joy. However, these days, like today, I am a mess and I am truly lost in my own pain and sorrow. I believed I would be much stronger by now, 11 months next week, and maybe even smiling all the time I think of her. I want that. She is smile worthy. Her memory and her affect on my life is smile worthy. But the pain is still in control. The days that I miss her the most are just there when I wake up and seem to stay for a couple of days. Again, I've said this so often, the depth of pain might equal the depth of love. 

Rest easy Momma, I'll get this under control one day at a time. I miss you and will carry you in my heart always. There is no other way.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Getting Old and Moving Away

 <---- This is one of the things I miss with this getting old thing. I really miss wine. It no longer agrees with my stomach. It is off the list of relaxation activities. On the plus side, a nice cold beer is still welcomed by my tummy and I have adjusted to that. 

Wine replacement

Another thing about getting on in years is my inability to work in the sun. I can still enjoy sitting in it. I can totally enjoy the beach in full sun or with an umbrella, but gardening must now be done in small doses or on cloudy days.
I can't take a walk in the middle of a hot and sunny day either. I walk at least 5 days a week and sometimes every day, but it is now at 8pm or so to avoid collapsing in a sweaty heap along my way. I am, however, grateful that walking is still in my portfolio of "can do" activities. It is very refreshing and revitalizing and I need some sort of exercise since I'm not fond of that "sport."
from my evening walk

Moving has caused some losses not associated with aging. Like this little ones birthday yesterday.  

She turned 9 yesterday without us. ---->

This is the fourth birthday we have not been in Michigan to celebrate. There will be many more. We've only been here 6 months.

The fourth of July has always been a day filled with Heroux family and a lot of food, drink and more catching up with each other than any other time. The laughing is unending and the smiles fill the day. This year we didn't make the party. It was hard. Hard to be here and thinking of all of them. I texted a niece I was pretty sure would have her phone on and she sent some really awesome pics. We both smiled just seeing them. It was a huge help to be electronically included. Love her for doing that. 
Just a small section of the gathering

We find our move to be such a mixed bag. Nothing has been as big a shock though as finding all of our neighborhood to be loners. They are friendly and polite and smile and wave while adding a cheery "Hi," but that is it. There is no interaction. No socializing. No standing outside in the yards and talking. They just don't. Not with each other and certainly not with us. It's crazy!

When I'm walking I often see people outside. So being the person I am and wanting to make friends out of my neighbors, I stop walking and try to strike up conversations. They are always very nice and some have even talked a few minutes, but it ends there. I have to actually ask their names. They have never introduced themselves to me even though I walk by their home every day. They know where I live, they know we are new here, they know my name because I introduce myself immediately. The response is almost always, "Nice to meet you." Not, mind you, giving me their name. I think two people have actually returned their first name in the exchange and I have done this many times. We are wondering if we might do better in a retirement sub. There are many around us in this same area, which we love, and seriously have discussed putting the house back on the market and moving to where we might actually be able to have friends. It appears that doesn't happen in this sub.

Then again, we are going to have new neighbors to our north soon enough. The lots are being prepped for clearance and maybe one or two of those five lots might be people like us with no ties here who would enjoy dinner company or an invitation to go somewhere now and then. We might wait and see how this develops. Moving really doesn't sound fun, to be honest. But it's not out of the question.

We are also planning more trips north next year. At the very least, one longer trip of a few weeks, maybe two, at least and they will be mid-summer when the kids are not in school.  

We both feel like we have just fallen into a rut of a sort, doing basically the same things every day and forgetting sometimes that we live in paradise now and we do have the freedom to drive around and see things. Hang out on the beach as often as we like and yes, we do these things, but we agree we need to do more of it. Pity parties only really happen when we stagnate. 

Did I mention getting old also means we have to talk each other into going someplace because that means getting up, cleaning up a bit and actually going to the car? Okay in fairness, Roomy is always ready to go, it's me who needs encouragement to leave my porch.
I'm working on getting over that one. Florida has far too much to offer to never leave the screen porch. Although, that is still a little slice of heaven for me. 


Saturday, June 27, 2015


I spent many hours last night and some time again this morning listening to the angry and disappointed responses to the SCOTUS decision from yesterday. I am nothing if not versed on both sides of important issues. I even listened to Fox ?News? for an hour. Really listened. Really read hundreds of comments and statements from those opposed to gay marriage being made a national issue, at all. Btw, I learned Federalism is dead as of yesterday. I thought it was dead as of the Civil War, but I was wrong.
Trying very hard to comprehend the outrage. The sadness. The fear.
I come to this conclusion for my own understanding and my own need to be happy about this new freedom while still maintaining some kind of understanding for those who cannot accept it:
Because state bans on SSM (same sex marriage) are now unconstitutional, many Christians firmly believe that churches will be required to perform weddings that go against their basic beliefs.
---thirty-three years ago I went to the Catholic priest in our home town to discuss marrying my Catholic fiancé in that church. I was not Catholic, but I knew others who had done this so I thought it was right for us. The priest was very compassionate and I liked him. We talked for some time about why I didn't care to convert and he seemed to understand, though hoped I would come around. I thought we were good to go.
Then he started pulling out the paperwork. First thing on the list was dissolving my first marriage.
After many questions and honest answers, I told him that I had married in a church before God and many loved ones and no way could I sign a paper saying it was an unholy or non-sanctioned union. It was a failed marriage that produced two children who were legitimate and nothing could change that. He pulled back the paperwork and suggested we go to a courthouse and understand that our marriage would not be recognized by THE church.
I didn't sue. I didn't even argue. The church refused to marry us based on their beliefs and church laws. They didn't lose their tax exempt status for refusing to house or bless our marriage.
We were married in another church, a Congregational Christian church that welcomed and blessed us.
I see no difference now with SS couples.

I fail to comprehend the homosexuality is an abomination according to the Bible outrage because none of the other abominations are causing outrage. I'm not seeing restaurants who sell shellfish picketed or the people who eat there stoned. I'm not seeing women in slacks being targeted. I may have missed it, but I'm not seeing polygamy rising in popularity. I'm not seeing women stoned for disloyalty nor for serving their families pork, the dirty meat.
Feels a lot like abortion and SSM are the only two really big sins from which there is no coming back. I honestly don't get it. If you believe in the word of the Bible, if you know it's the word of God and you're willing to stand tall and stand for God, then why not on all things biblically sinful? Why on only issue you aren't part of?
I can only conclude that the outrage is mostly fear mongering for things to come or not to come. That it's much more about judging and hate than about God's law. And mostly it's about losing a fight the right was sure they had sewed up.
It's much more about not caring about people who think differently. If you are not on the train of righteous indignation over this SSM decision, you are on a fast trip to hell. Your moral decay will ruin you and now the entire country.
It really is about hate. It really is about not accepting anyone's beliefs that differ from the fundamentalist beliefs.
If some other religion (we have hundreds with legal rights here) were to decide to be THE religion of America, would we all have to drop our own beliefs to follow them? That's what you're asking for if you are still fighting this fight on this team. Because you are demanding it's your way or the highway to Hell. There are countless organized religions who believe just as strongly as you do that they are the only way to heaven. They believe just as strongly as you do that you are going to Hell with all your doctrines and judging and hate.
The truth is, no one knows for certain what IS and what ISN'T the way to Heaven or even if there is one or many or none. What we do know is that this country was founded on freedom to worship your own way in your own beliefs. That freedom requires that we all accept each other and each other's doctrines not as our own, but as valid.
Once again I am left with this...Love is the answer and kindness works. Judging is not for us. It is for God, alone. Living in your own beliefs the best you know how without insisting other people live their with you is the only American way. This is not a country of ONE religion, that was England and that is why the pilgrims came HERE.
Peace and LOVE to all.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Monday musings...thoughts...ramblings.

We spent several hours at the beach today. The ocean water is 80 degrees now and we both spent a good amount of time in the water. I actually swam a little for the first time. I don't swim in anything but a pool. Today, though, with temps in the 90s and an ocean full of bath water, I just swam. It was very nice. I may become an ocean swimmer after all!

I look out over the Atlantic with my toes squeezing sand as the warm water washes over them and I realize how spectacular my new home is. I see the power of the rolling waves and as I walk through them, I feel the weight of them push against my legs and my body. It's almost as if it's pushing me back to shore. If I lay on water and float, I do gently flow back to shore at an angle to where I start. Gently, once I relax and float. Powerful, when I am moving under my own steam with my own direction in mind. I think very much like God. My life goes gently along in the general area I am heading, if I'm relaxed and listening. If I'm tense and pushing my way along, going my own way, the road blocks are powerful. 

I am always in awe of birds. Tiny little feathered creatures that wave their "arms" and fly! Soaring high above tree tops over miles they lightly move with such ease. Rain or shine, hot or cold, they drop by the feeders to snack and I am convinced, say hello to the humans they have become comfortable around.

Taking my evening walk was scrapped for a bike ride on Roomy's wheels. Touring the neighborhood I notice that we live in a very diverse sub. It's actually a series of subs, three, I think. Front is a trailer park. Very old and full, as far as I can tell. Then beyond that is the second sub which consists of four roads that only connect to each other and the main road, Golf Avenue. Then there is a storm drain and a row of power lines that separates that sub from Springleaf which has three development stages.

We live in Springleaf, phase two, apparently.

Our house is on the largest lot and the edge of phase three. All the new builds behind or north of us.  Our house was the last of the phase two builds, or so it appears from the earlier satellite shots from goggle earth.  Phase one is the homes on the south side of Golf Avenue.  

In these three subs live all ages, races and kinds of people. It's only a mile and a quarter in depth and about a quarter of a mile wide.
I find that although a retirement community might have been fun, this diversity interests and amuses me. Also pleases my senses. There have been no crimes here since we moved in. We have police driving through regularly waving, smiling if they pass a human.
It's safe and it's comfortable. People are friendly. Not sociable, but friendly. And nearly everyone walks somewhere, at some point.

It's nothing like anyplace I've ever lived and I'm grateful for all this has shown me. 

Following that path...the one to which we were led.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

She looked at the calendar while waiting for her morning coffee to brew. May had arrived and it carried a heavy weight. In less than 2 weeks it would be Mother’s Day. How on earth could she possibly spend that day and emotionally survive? The wheels were spinning and her thoughts were all over the place on how and where and what she could plan with her husband that might make this day not the most difficult day she had faced in months.

Moving across country from two of her sons and their families was difficult on many levels. She loves those boys and their kids. Her grandchildren are the stars of her sometimes dark nights. The sound of their voices and the smiles when they see her are just about the most magical things she’d ever seen. She also has a son and a daughter in Tennessee. That daughter has two more of her precious granddaughters. Her family now was, at best, 10 hours away and at worst 18 hours away. The boys who always came when something needed fixed and Dad needed help weren't available anymore. The Sunday afternoon visits or meeting for dinner after work, not going to happen now. Missing these people was inevitable. It was also harder than either of them had anticipated.

The move was preceded by two enormous losses. Four months prior her beloved mother had passed quickly in her arms. After five years of being her mother’s taxi and main source of human contact and five weeks of living together, her life felt very empty. The full price offer on that home came just a little over a month after the funeral.
Momma 90th birthday 2012

The house was sold. A new house had been purchased in Florida. The retirement she and her husband had planned for over 30 years was in motion. They and their two furbabies would be moving without Momma. This was not how they pictured things. But it was how they would now proceed. 

Just four days before they were scheduled to move one of the furbabies, their 13 year old Bichon, Sadie, passed away. Things had to keep moving now and the heavy hearts and the sadness of these two losses were part of the process. Together, in love and in life, they continued to that dream.

Two months after the move her husband’s oldest brother died. Not unexpected, he was a cancer patient and they all knew time was not on his side. A trip back north was in order. The plus of this trip was seeing the six grandchildren who still live there. The loss was softened somewhat with this blessing. The sisters and bothers all being together and talking, hugging and telling stories all helped the healing process. And in just a few days back to Florida they drove with their 14, almost 15, year old furbaby and carried on refreshed with the visit.

Now two months later. It’s the first Mother’s Day without her mother. It’s the first Mother’s Day without her boys and grand babies. It’s her first Mother’s Day without her sister and brother because they all celebrated it with their mom on Saturday before and then she would spend Sunday with her mom, as well. Often just the three of them. Momma, Husband and Her. The boys often came on Saturday to see everyone. It’s her first Mother’s Day alone with her man. This holiday has always been her favorite because of the special attention to her Momma and then her delight in being a mom herself. 
Mal and Bri

 Momma and I a long time ago


John, Madee and Jack

Me, Momma, Mike, Pat

Jayne and Momma

Chloe, Hailee and Gma Jo

The plan, at this point, is to try to ignore the date. Knowing it is a special day in her past and will never be the same, her thoughts are “don’t have it at all;” because doing nothing feels easier than anything she can think to do. A long drive maybe to just not be in the house. Nothing spectacular, just a change of scenery and the company of the man she loves. 
25th Anniversary Mikey and Me

Plan 2, a full day at the beach. Her favorite place to be and no expectation of anything, but sun and water and sand. A cool drink and a light lunch. Then a quick drive thru’ dinner on the way home to the furbaby.

With either plan, she will have to accept a new normal. She will have to realize she chose this, in part, by moving so far from her loves. She will also have to accept that she is no longer a daughter. 

It was the beach. It was a good day with morning tears. Texts and phone calls from all the kids and the sister. Each call had a few tears. It couldn't be any different. It was another of those firsts. Another almost impossible day that wasn't terrible all day. It just had terrible moments of heartache. The kind that goes with change and with loss.

It's a new life with new normals. She has this, most of the time. And she loses it sometimes. But that's okay. It's the price of loving someone so very much.

Of course, she is me. Obviously. I'll get a handle on it, soon.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Year of Firsts~2015

Here we are all settled in Florida and loving our new home. I have so many things to share with you all that have been filling my head that I just decided today to get started. I've not published a story since we sold our home in Michigan and found this one in Florida. Much has happened since that early December day.

We packed a box or two or four every day until we got to the kitchen. That room we left until just a day before closing. Ah, closing. Yes, that was supposed to be December 29, 2014. It was actually January 11, 2015. Just eleven days too late to save us $1000 in property taxes on our new home. We didn't find that out until the middle of February when we filled out the paperwork for the deductions based on our age and income. It is applied January 1 each year. Crap!

The closing went well in Michigan and the next afternoon we closed in Florida after driving straight through. The movers came the next morning at 9 am and we were alone in our new house filled with boxes by dinner time. We ate out. The kitchen had a coffee pot and some cups and the food the movers brought.

Our bedroom and our bathroom were usable and we used them both. Slept like a baby. Waking several times through the night. But we were home.

As much as we love this life, we left much in Michigan and lost much there. Six months ago Momma passed in the house that is not our home anymore. I brought all the memories with me. Two days before we moved, our furbaby, Sadie, who would have turned 14 in May, died. We asked to have her ashes sent to us here. We have those with us, we have thirteen years of loving memories of her. We don't have her.

Two of our boys live in Michigan, a third is in Tennessee as is our daughter. Six of our grandchildren are in Michigan. We left them but not their love. We brought that and plans for the future with them and texting keeps them in our lives, but we don't have them here.

We left life-long friends in Michigan. Hoping some will come down and visit at some point. We left newer friends that may drive or fly down one day, but there's no promise of that. It's sad to think about, but for thirty-three years we have planned for and wanted this life and we have it now.

We have met some nice people here in the neighborhood and at some businesses, but we are basically alone. Roomy and me and our Jake. He is turning 15 in May. Since it's just us three, we find he is with us as often as possible on our errands or making trips to the park where he can chase birds and bark at people.

This is where we belong. No question in our minds. As we just celebrated our 33rd anniversary by visiting with and mourning with Roomy's side of the family saying good bye to the oldest brother, the first sibling to pass. He was the family patriarch and we all miss him. Already a quick trip back to Michigan for a funeral. A sibling funeral. Nothing reminds you of your own mortality faster than that.
Nothing reminds you how much you love your siblings faster than that. Every day matters. Every word you hear or say may be the last.

I was sure 2015 would be a year of firsts. I wasn't wrong. First time we've been alone, truly alone. First sibling death. First emergency trip to Michigan. Not all things I thought would be on my list of firsts.

On the brighter side, however, I wake every day now with a smile, of sorts. I'm not a morning person.
The sun shines in the bedroom window and I have only recently fallen into my sleeping late mode. I am back to my normal self. I sleep until 8 or 9 and I sit on the back porch and scroll FB and sip coffee and smoke. I start my day between 11 and noon and I smile a lot. I go to the Farmer's Market for fresh fruit, vegetables and the fish market for ocean fish and shrimp and scallops. I stop into the meat market for steaks once a month or so to grill. We eat out at least one day a week because there are just so many wonderful places to eat around us that we want to try them all. We do what we want, when we want for the most part.

We've had a couple of nice days with my brother and sister-in-law and have another one planned before they head back to the Chicago area for the summer. It's nice having them just a couple hours away, but they like the two home life and it's definitely not for us. We want this permanent house and our life to be here. To each his own and this is right for us.

I learned a great deal in this move. I learned more once we were making our new home. I will seriously write about all of that one day. It could be fun to do and might even be an entertaining and smile worthy read, but right now, I'm thinking it's time to get started on Momma's story. I am ready to start this process. I realize now that her story is never-ending. Her legacy, along with Dad's will live for generations to come because each of us carries her with us. The story can now be written as she watches over my shoulder with encouragement. She always encouraged me to write. I hope she motivates me through this new project of love.

Now in the middle of the third month of 2015, I am looking for and creating some really good firsts. Life style changes, back to writing and moving on with the rest of our lives...together, in Florida our paradise.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Walking the Path We Are Meant to Walk

In the last two weeks our lives have taken an amazing turn. We sold our Michigan house.

We had Thanksgiving and three of our four kids came with all their kids and the kid of the fourth child also came. It was a great day for all of us. We also had some of them for a couple extra days and we loved that. Then we went to Florida and bought a house! Yep, found our perfect house in one day. We came home and learned on the way home that both houses will close on the same day. It couldn’t be any better than this.

Now we are back in Michigan and everything seems to be falling into place. If the movers can work with our schedule, we are good to go. If not, we have a back-up plan so there is no panic expected.

I think a great deal about this past year of 2014. It started with our first trip to Florida to find which area we wanted to settle into and Ormond Beach felt like home from our first drive through. We looked at many other areas, but nothing compared. We came back to Michigan and over the next few months talked with Momma until I was convinced she was actually looking forward to being there, if not the actual move. We talked many times about which house we would select, what it had to have and where it needed to be located. She was interested in where her things would go, what we would do with all her “new” furniture and her antiques. Once I assured her that my furniture didn’t matter to me and we would take all of her’s, she seemed settled. 

In August the decision was made by her and I that it was time for her to move in with us. She was becoming afraid to be alone and I was very worried about her being alone. The house had not sold so it was important to make room for her things here. We had a big sale the next week-end and sold all of our stuff that simply didn’t fit anymore. We sold a lot of duplicate stuff, mostly mine, keeping mostly hers. It was the right thing to do and she was very happy living here with us. It worked even better than I thought it would. I did have a few times of stress when I had to just go out for an hour or so, call my sister and vent or just go outside and sit, but honestly for the most part, I so enjoyed having her here. She was great company and seeing her emotional improvement was medicine to me. She was eating everything I offered and laughing and talking so much more easily than when she was alone. Her depression disappeared. It was so good for all of us.

Roomy basically waited on her hand and foot. He enjoyed doing that. I am so blessed that this man chose to love me. And Momma. 

She was here exactly 5 weeks. She died and I fell apart.

This all happened at exactly the same time the house went off the market. We wanted to change realtors. It was off the market for a week or so. Why? Just the way things worked out and because that is how He meant for it to be. We needed grieving and adjusting time and though the new realtors did get things moving again, it still didn’t sell. We were planning to be here all winter. 

The grieving has been progressively less debilitating and two months later, we got a full price offer. A good solid offer. We accepted.

Since this day, every things else has simply fallen into place. This was the right buyer, the right time and He seems to be leading us now onto our new path. We are following and feeling like it is exactly what He wanted and as always, in His time, not ours. 

All the ducks had to be in a row and they are. That’s not luck, that’s Devine intervention.
That’s His way. Walking the path of His making is a safe and happy place.

I find myself thinking of where everything is going to be in the new house and I find myself feeling Momma smiling. She knew, I believe, that she wasn’t going with us, but she also knew that she will always be with me. She fills my heart in her absence in a new way, but still very strongly part of my every thought. I will never be without her and I will be beside her again one day. She will be waiting for me. As will Dad and many other people I love who have gone before me.

My goal now is to stay focused and every day get a little more done in preparation for moving day and not to get overwhelmed, but take one little job at a time until they are all finished. My mind is wandering today to the new life chapter Roomy, the furkids and I will begin on December 29, 2014.

My year of many lasts is nearly over. The last time I walk out the door here and the last time I call Michigan home are still on the list, but those open the door to our new life.

The year of firsts begins a few days before the actual 2015 change, but it’s all exciting and new and sad and unknown. I will miss knowing 6 of my grand babies are a short drive away, but I will know they are all at the other end of my phone and we will be free to travel home for hug fixes when the weather allows and when we get the house settled.

The siblings (ours) have mixed feelings. Most are happy for us and sad that they will miss us. Feeling the same way. A couple are just mad. No reason to break up the family by so many miles. Just think we should live in both places. Winter south and summer north. Unfortunately we can’t afford to support two homes and don’t want to live in a motor home or trailer. Moving is our desire and visiting here.

I think once we get things settled in the house, by spring, we’ll feel ready for company and ready for a return to see everyone. We will need a few months of just us to get that at home thing going on first. ~ Jo