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Sunday, December 27, 2015

T'was The Day or Two After Christmas 2015

And so it goes...the holiday comes rushing in and then even more quickly it moves on into the history or herstory pages.

I expected to be happy in our new home with or without decorations and sharing dinner with our friend and her pups. I anticipated feeling Momma's absence as the 24th passed without her for the second time. That evening was always very special to me. It was "our" time. It is "my" time now. Not so festive or warm or fun. Reflective though, I found I remembered so many holidays with her and with both parents. Things I hadn't thought of in a long time were running around in my head. Funny things, sweet things and just mundane, ordinary things. Christmas with the parents was traditional and yet always open for new things. Just as it should be, I believe.

For us, now, it is a day without the kids and their kids. A day we text or phone or FaceTime or all three before the three days pass. Christmas Eve, Christmas and my birthday have become the three day holiday. It is now different, not bad, just different. 

We do Christmas with the kids on Thanksgiving with those who can join. It's a nice compromise and it was so much fun this year, it carried me through to the real Christmas. I missed everyone, but not in a weepy or depressed way, just accepted this new way of doing Christmas and was happy going about our preparations for guests. Dinner and company was so pleasant. We did just fine. Merry Christmas was enjoyed here.

My birthday had many moments of eye leakage thinking of all the silly things Momma and Roomy and I had done in the past to celebrate the day she had her last baby and the day I ruined Christmas dinner! It was 1949. So lucky to have so many birthdays with her in our home or before that, in her home. 64 of them with her; 2 without her, so far. I really miss her. I think it's getting a bit less frequent, but when the pain hits me, it's debilitating and I cannot fight it off. I am sure it will remain this way. She was a force in my life and some of my life was completely about being her baby. I miss that, too. 

Today, the day after the three day holiday, I am still very wrapped up in memories of her. Good ones and heart wrenching ones. The tears have been on and off all day and I feel almost empty now as night approaches. It's as though my soul has just realized that this is my new normal and it is not pleased. Nothing in my life can be as it was before September 2014. Everything is changed. Some things are good and the change is easy. Others are difficult. Like my own and her birthday. Both are very painful. 

I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people around me that keep me smiling and keep me in the now. I have to live in my now because that's who I am. It's a little more of a challenge on these days, but I am doing it. I think my kids and my friends understand and make an extra effort. If not, it feels that way to me. My husband doesn't seem to notice, I'm glad of that because he can't fix it and would try. I'm pretty good at grieving on my own in private and in prayer for more strength to face these days with memories.

As I sit here in my new home, Roomy dozes across the way, Miggy is crashed on the back porch and I alone am not listening to the news and writing. This is a good time. It's quiet. I'm ignoring the yapping of the local news guy and am immersed in my own thoughts, which you are reading. I like this feeling of mind purging and the hope that another grieving person will read this and feel less alone. Maybe even get a little strength knowing that lost love really does change you forever on so many levels and that's okay. I've said before that I loved my dad and have missed him everyday since his death in 1978. That is true, but Momma and I were so much more than mother and child. More than friends and much more than care-giver and patient. We were connected by our hearts. We still are. We will always be. It is a different loss. The kind of loss that is forever painful. The kind of love that is priceless. And price for having had that is this never-ending ache.

The one thing that keeps me out of the dark place I might want to fall into sometimes, is that I know how much she loved me. I know how safe and content she is now. I know how young and happy she is now and I know she is with Dad. My faith restores me daily and my God never lets go of my hand. I never walk alone. ~Amen.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Look around you. Do you see a Veteran? If you are out in public, chances are good there is one near you. From some long ago war, from a peacetime, from the Viet Nam era. It’s hard to spot them, but they are among us daily. And the newer conflicts have produced an entire generation of new vets. The younger Afghanistan or Iraqi vets. The Desert Storm vets. A whole new class of heroes. A huge part of our society has given that same pledge to serve, at all costs, to protect at all sacrifice, the country they love; The United States of America. 

The contract they each signed gave their lives to their country for the stated amount of time. 

Read that again. “Gave their lives”…100%…some gave that. Some gave their body parts. Some gave their mental health. All, however, who wore that uniform identifying them as property of the USA, gave their time for the security of ours. They belonged to their government for the amount of time they enlisted to serve or were drafted to serve. They lived every day of that service as property of their government. 

Now tell me, how do you thank that person?

Every year I try. I put fingers to keyboard and I find words to say that I appreciate, admire and respect this who served. I look for a way to be humble and spew gratitude on the page. I never quite find enough. There isn’t enough. It’s a gift these vets gave me and to you. It’s a gift because we didn’t earn it. This is why a “Thank you” and a special day to honor those who have served and are still among us, is a particularly good time to make that effort.

Veteran’s Day. The day we separate the current military and the deceased military from those who have proudly and eagerly served and are now discharged from service. Those who walk beside us daily enjoying the freedom they fought or served to ensure. Bless them, every single one of them. 

Buy them lunch, coffee, a beer or anything else you can afford at every opportunity. With a simple handshake, nod of the head and a “Thank you for your service.”

God bless the American Veterans. And Thank you for your sacrifices.

Humbly submitted,
Jo Heroux

Thursday, September 17, 2015

One Year Later

I believe since passing the first anniversary, I have truly turned a big corner. I can't think of a better descriptive phrase.
I find memories are making me smile, rather than cry. I understand on a deep level that I did survive a year without seeing her face, touching her tiny hands or hearing her sounds. She made a lot of little sounds. I still really miss her. I still feel a little lost in this world without her. I also know she is in my mirror, in my heart, in my words often and all around me in her possessions. I am settled in her absence now rather than upset by it. I know she is strong and happy and has found her reward. She will be waiting for me.
I will run to her.
For the days I have left, I will try to be the loving child she raised. I will try to forgive and move on from hurt. I will encourage my children and grandchildren endlessly, as she encouraged me. I will find strength when it appears nonexistent, as she did many times.
I will celebrate and honor her by being the best me I can create.
I will live in the now and count my blessings rather than pine away or wish away my numbered earthly days.



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Eight Happy Pictures!

Den of the Beastly Bear-Joe

Two blogs in one's his challenge^^^and I took it!

Anyway he challenged me to post eight pictures of happiness. So here we go...

Cooking makes me happy. Especially new recipes! 

This man being the grandpa! They all call him Punkin. I really love that.

Jake...yeah he makes me smile.

The Heroux family...being part of this... :)

My little girl holding my little boy's son. What a pair

My little girl's daughters + friend! Happy Days!!

Being one of them ^^^it's a good thing.

My little boy's little girl. She is very funny!!

So all of these are happy things and I have many more happy things in my life. This was a fun challenge.Here are the guidelines for the eight photos of happiness bloghop:
  1. Tag me in your post.
  2. Link to the creator of the tag. In this case Vidya Sury!
  3. Show off your own 8 photos of happiness and have fun picking them!
  4. You can add a little description of the photos or just let the photos speak for themselves. Easy!
  5. Tag others. Essentially, spread the happiness and make the world a better place!
I am happy to tag the following bloggers! 
No pressure, but imagine actually refusing to have fun!
1) Keri - November Rain
2) Kat - Karen Taylor
3) Susan Cook Bonifant
4) That Susan Williams

Now Go Have Fun!  and comment before you leave, okay? And don't forget to tag me on your post and link back? 



It began for me in 1967. February 2, to be exact. We were in the midst of an enormous snow storm. It had dumped 3 feet of snow the week before and each day following added a few inches more making travel very difficult. Our beloved dog had taken ill and we managed to get him to the vet some 15 miles away between storms. They were doing an exploratory exam of some kind and while he was under a mild anesthetic, the doctor called to tell me, his 17 year old “sister” that he was dying of an obstruction. He wanted permission to euthanize him. He was 14. I had no memory of life without him and I loved him as much as any human in my life. I asked for a few minutes to decide because the roads again were not passable and I couldn’t get there. Mom and I decided not to allow him to wake up only to be put under again. He died that day in the vet’s office without us.

Three days later I was engaged to be married in October. That’s how some people think you get passed heartbreak, by moving on to something wonderful. For me, it didn’t work. I was happy to accept the engagement as a good thing, but it did nothing to fill my heart where Smokey lived and still 48 years later, lives this vital part of my childhood.

In 1969, a mere two years later, I gave birth to my first child on February 2.

My dad became ill in September of 1978. He was hospitalized for 7 weeks and passed from a fungal infection on his brain, a complication of aplastic anemia. He was 56 years old when he passed on October 23, 1978.

My daughter has two daughters. I am lucky enough to say that I was there, in Nashville, in time to see the cord cut on the first one on November 2, 1999 and the entire labor and delivery of her baby girl on October 22, 2001. Just a day short of the anniversary of Dad’s passing.

My second child was born on September 9, 1970. A day free from any sadness or any memory other than the time Dad was hospitalized, but the day itself, was entirely his own. It is one week exactly after his step-father’s birthday and easy to remember now.

Last year, 2014, my Momma passed at 2 a.m. on September 9. Two hours earlier and she would have missed his birthday. His birthday is still so special to me that in my heart I feel I lost Momma the day before. It was the middle of the night. That Monday was my last day with her. That goodnight, I love you, see you in the morning, was Monday, September 8, 2014. This memory and this perception allows his birthday to still belong to him. I am, today reliving my last day, normal in every way, with her. She was very sleepy and napped in this very chair where I now sit writing this, on and off all day. She ate her lunch and half of her dinner. We talked and we laughed in between naps. We sat on the deck for a few minutes in the warmth of the afternoon. We talked about taking John out for his birthday. She wasn’t sure if she was up to that because after work dinners were hard for her. It was a normal day. It was a day burned now in my mind, my heart and my prayers. I am so glad I didn’t know. There was no real warning. There was no illness. There was no suffering. She simply got up between 1:30, when I went to bed, and 2 am, when she called my name two times. When I saw her collapse in the hallway outside my room and where I held her as she slipped away into God’s care and Dad’s waiting arms. Where I felt, heard and tried to hold onto that last exhale. Where I cried and rocked and loved her into the next adventure. Where I began to let her go.  That was Monday in my mind. It was Monday in my heart and still is.

This past March Mike and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary in Michigan with his family at the funeral home. We were celebrating his oldest brother’s life. He passed a few days before. 

My paternal grandmother passed on her own birthday which fell on Thanksgiving.

I lost a wonderful friend and writing mentor to heart disease the night after the birth of our only grandson and in the hospital right next door.

And last on this strange list…Sadie, our furbaby of 13 years died this year on Elvis’ birthday. A day I used to celebrate with his music.

The circle of life has been pounded into me most of my adult life, as you can see. 

I wonder, am I the only person this seems to happen to? Do any of you have lists like this? 

Please share your stories, if you have them.  


Saturday, August 29, 2015


On this day in 2011, I wrote on this subject. I wrote how I don't spend my life longing for things past nor for future things. I wrote how I visit my memories and dream my dreams, but I live in the now. I do.

Today, however, I am not that same person. 

Life changes us and my life has drastically changed me in the last four years. Then I lived in Michigan. I had two furbabies and my momma lived 2 miles down the road. I took care of their needs and I worked a couple days a week in the salon. My Roomy worked full time and we were busy people with good lives.

Four years. What a difference such a short time can make. We now live in Florida with one surviving furbaby and Momma has been gone for a week shy of a year. Sadie has been gone a week shy of 8 months. We have been in our new home a little more than a week shy of 8 months. The few months following the death of Momma and again or still following Sadie's death, I longed. I longed for the ache to leave me. I longed for the happiness of how blessed I still was to be enough. I longed for a time of peace that didn't hurt. That time has finally come.

I do not long for things past. I miss them, I remember with love and appreciation all things past and all the loves I've been blessed with, but I don't long for those days because it would only bring darkness into my day. I am where I am meant to be and I am the person I am meant to be. I am, once again, in the Light. I am a blessing to some and a source of irritation to others. A curse, if you will. 

The person I am now is not as grounded. I am not as useful to anyone. I don't really have a purpose now. I have a life. I take our senior pup, Jake to the Doc as needed and make sure he has what medication makes him pain free and able to function and be a happy boy. Then I look at my children and grandchildren and I know that they were and are my real reason for being. I was given life to honor my parents, siblings and give birth to extraordinary people who gave birth to more extraordinary people. Maybe one of them will be President one day. Maybe one will inherit my ability to love without conditions. Maybe they all will.

The heartaches I've endured have been to teach me humility and gratitude. Lessons I have learned and live comfortably with now. I am nothing special and the world will go on just fine when I am gone, but I am loved by enough people that I will be missed and remembered. The sound of my voice is still comforting to some and my ear for listening and maybe sharing encouragement is still requested. That's who I am now. And my writings will keep me alive for those who come after I have moved on.

I am also a voice for the four legged house pets people take in and then drop off at the shelters or neighborhoods because they are too much trouble or expense. I advocate with my writing and my actions for furbabies to be family and loved and IN your home with the rest of your family. I preach good nutrition and not grocery store dog/cat food. Homemade or high quality food made in the US under controlled conditions, purchased through independent pet stores or online from the sources. Your babies are worth it and their health is all you can give them besides love and shelter. 

So longing? No, I don't have time for that. I'm too busy now with retirement and finding out what I want to do with the rest of my days. I may just spend them enjoying the fruits of my labor, but I will for certain not be spending them longing for something I cannot have or already had.

Four years later I am still longing only to live.


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.