Tuesday, February 17, 2015


I've traveled to a long ago land of Vikings and dragons,
I've experienced struggle and sorrow. 
I've been to a future of spaceships and aliens,
I've made impossible choices. 
I've lived in a castle with wizards and magic,
I've learned what it is to love without limit.
I've journeyed to distant mountains fighting monsters along the way,
I've been grateful for small things though I was weary.
I've battled beside heroes and gods,
I've known unbreakable faith.
I've flown towards that second star never wanting to grow up,
I've felt Earth continue to spin unbending to my will. 
I've seen other times and places from inside a blue box. 
I've run forward without looking back.

And my adventure continues...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One Year Later....

It's been one year since my Daddy went to Heaven. It's still sad. If you missed it, you can read about it here.

I think about him all the time and it's getting a little less sad, which in itself makes me sad. In some ways I know I'm lucky because we got to have a long goodbye. My grieving started long before he was gone because I lost him in stages, but I still have times when I'd like to talk to him or ask him questions. And even though it's been years now since he was capable of it, I still wish I could call him to help me fix things when they get broken. I think of him whenever I do anything involving tools because when I open my toolbox the smell reminds me of him. I think he would be proud of me for that shelf I put up a couple months ago. He was always proud of me. He always loved me and did anything he could for me. If there's one thing I want my boys to be able to say about me it's that they always knew I loved them.

Dear Daddy,
     I miss you. I've been okay. I was sick a lot last year. I just had sinus surgery last month so hopefully I won't be sick as much now. My nose still hurts some. My job is good, I'm staying busy like always. I miss how you used to come up to work and take me out to lunch. Thank you for all those times you drove so far just to spend an hour with me.
     Timothy is good. He's still surveying and he likes his job pretty well. He got a promotion last summer and he gets to be the boss now. You would be proud of him.
     Collin is 8 years old and in 2nd grade this year. He is really smart and funny and he eats all the time! He is also the absolute best big brother in the world. He talks about you and misses you.
     Owen is 5 and in Kindergarten now. Can you believe how big he is? He is getting really good at reading, even though he still likes to pretend he can't read sometimes when he's feeling lazy. He's having his tonsils taken out in a few days because of his sleep apnea. I tell him that he snores just like his Papa. He talks about you a lot too, but he's not sad. He can't find a reason to be sad because you're in Heaven.
     I love you a lot,

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Story Time

I'm up too late again. I've been sick and my sleep schedule, which was already weird, is now shot to hell. So..... story time!

About 9 years ago around Father's Day, I heard this contest on the radio as I drove to work. They wanted people to call their dad on the air and ask to borrow $100 to buy him a Father's Day gift. If the dad said yes then the caller won a prize. I didn't call in, but I knew I could have won that easily.

I called my Daddy and asked and he immediately said yes. No questions, just of course he would lend it to me. I'm pretty sure he didn't quite understand the part about buying him a gift, he just heard I needed money and wanted to help. Then I had to convince him I didn't really need the money and it was a stupid thing I'd heard on the radio. He really wanted me to have that money!

The whole conversation ended up being more trouble than it was worth. All it showed me was that my Daddy loved me so much that he would do anything he could to help me.

But I already knew that.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Song and Dance

I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a while, an old coworker that now works in a different department so we never cross paths. I probably haven't had a conversation with her since January. The first sentence out of her mouth: How's your Dad doing?

Really? Again?

I just did the routine song and dance. He passed away back in March. Oh I'm so sorry, I hadn't heard. Thank you, it's okay.... well, I have to be getting back now.... See ya.

I know it's not her fault. I know she was just trying to be thoughtful. I know! But I still want to scream, if you don't know by now, I'm not going to tell you! Real mature, right? 

It was actually a bad week for Daddy issues. About two years ago when I was trying to get Daddy into a home, I called this company called A Place For Mom that is supposed to help you. Funny enough, you can get more information from Google than by calling places like that, but I had to learn the hard way. During the process I gave them my contact information. They would call every few months and I would tell them I no longer needed their services. Then they called around May and I told them I REALLY no longer needed their services and please never call me again. Guess what? They called while I was out with Owen's class on a field trip. I didn't answer, but I knew it was them and it bummed me out. I called them back later and explained again. The sweet lady apologized profusely and said that she did see the notes from last time and I shouldn't have been called again. Then I got an email to check on me and Dad and see if there was anything I needed from them. I wrote back and explained, again. Next day I get ANOTHER phone call at work. "We would love to follow up with you and see how your dad is doing!" You're a lot too cheerful there, missy! I was rude, I was ugly, I may have used swears and threatened to file a lawsuit, but I think I got my point across to the supervisor I demanded to talk to. I guess we'll find out in a few months.

Most of the people in my life were already in place 8 months ago and even if they don't know about my entire adventure trying to take care of my Daddy, they at least know that he's gone. But I have made some new friends that just don't know. In a way, I like that they don't know so they don't feel sorry for me, but I also feel like they don't know me at all. Which isn't true, because obviously there is a lot more to me than just the fact that my father has passed away, but I guess it's still so fresh for me and it feels like a pretty big piece. It's also not like you can just bring that up as part of a conversation unless someone else mentions it first. The day he died, there was surprisingly little to do after a few phone calls were made. We decided that Collin shouldn't miss his first soccer practice of the season just so we could sit around and be sad. So there I was sitting with the coach's wife and making small talk like you do when you first meet someone except I just really wanted to say very inappropriate things. "My dad just died this morning. Have you ever watched someone die? It was my first time and it completely sucked! I'd like to just curl up in a ball over here and cry till I pass out, but instead I'll comment on how nice the weather turned out for our first practice and I'm sure we are going to have a great season."

When I think about it, there are lots of people in my life that I don't know well enough to know if their parents are still alive. You just sort of assume based on ages if you even think about it at all. It must just be one of those things.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Dream

About a week ago I had one of those really powerful dreams. The kind that you wake up from feeling all the emotions like the events were real and even after you calm down it stays on your mind.

Think Titanic.

I was on a huge cruise ship, which was just like the movies since I have no real life experience to draw from, although I didn't get to look like Kate Winslet. We knew the ship was going to sink even though it seemed fine, the trouble was way down below but it was only a matter of time. We all had to move to the life boats and put on life jackets but we were going to be fine. There was no panic. Thankfully there was not a shortage of boats. I went into the room where I knew my dad was. He was not sick and thin as he had been the last months of his life, but healthy and he knew me. I told him we had to go get into the life boats and grabbed his hand to pull him with me, but he pulled back. He said he wasn't allowed to go and he had to stay on the ship. I tried a few times to convince him because, as our relationship had been for the last several years, I obviously knew better than him. He must be confused and he couldn't know what he was talking about. Now things were starting to get panicky, let's not forget we are on a sinking ship! After a while the ship's captain came to tell me to get to the life boats. Finally help had arrived! I asked him to please help with my dad, but he calmly told me that my dad was not allowed to leave the ship and I had to go to the life boat by myself. By this time the ship was leaning to the side and it was obvious that it was on it's way down. I was crying and hugging my daddy because I didn't want to leave him. He told me that he was going to be fine and not to worry about him, but I really did have to leave now. I knew I wasn't going to see him again. I asked him if he would try to remember me sometimes and he said he would try. Then I let go of him and it was over.

This dream is so obvious with symbolism that it blows my mind. There is no trying to figure out what any of it means. The sinking ship was dad's dementia slowly taking him away from me. Dad knew he was dying and wanted me to go on with my life. The Captain was God's confirmation that I didn't have a choice about what had to happen.

It was incredibly sad for me, but also weirdly comforting. In a way it was like giving us a chance to have the proper two-way goodbye that we didn't get.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mommy and Me Time

One of my favorite things to do is spend individual time with each kid. It provides us with some good bonding time and there is also a lot less fighting and fussing. On Friday Owen and I started our extra long weekend early with a trip to the Fort Worth Zoo. We had a great time seeing all the animals. We actually walked through the whole entire zoo this time. Good job, Owen! I much prefer giving the occasional piggy-back ride to a tired kid than pushing a stroller. So glad those days are over.

Silly boy!

He really enjoyed climbing on all the statues. This was my favorite picture.

So excited to ride the train! I'm not sure why he decided he needed his tongue out in half the pictures.

Funny Owen moments....

We were listening to one of those recordings telling about the natural habitats of the animals and she kept saying "During the rainy season..." and Owen asked me, "Why does she keep saying weenie season?"

Also, when he wanted to look at the map to see which direction we should go he asked me where the little blue flashing dot was to show us where we were like it has on our phones. Ah, kids these days!

This was the first time I have decided to not pack a lunch to take with us, mostly because I was lazy, but it turned out to not be as bad as I thought. We ate for about the same price as a trip to McDonald's. While we were eating, Texas decided to throw us a nice little thunderstorm that lasted for about half an hour. We laughed at all the people that thought they were going to melt in the rain and we went and fed the birds.

The only not fun part of the day was the meltdown in the gift shop when I told him he could only pick one toy instead of the two he wanted. He was so tired by the end that he told me he was looking forward to the nap in the car on the way home.

Owen and his new (freakishly expensive) best friend, 'Purple Kitty'.


Collin and I spent the day together on Saturday. First we went shopping because he needed some new shoes. I know, not super fun, but it had to be done and it's easier just one at a time so we worked it into our day. I swear, I'm going to get him to sign a statement saying "I know I think I don't want sandals at the beginning of the Summer, but I really will wear them all the time because it's awesome to not wear socks!" For the last 3 years - pretty much since he's had more choice in what he wears - he has put up such a fuss about buying new sandals and he says he will never wear them, but he's already worn the new ones since Saturday. Plus, washing less socks is the best! 

After shopping we went to the comic book shop. It's not far from us, but it's just out of the way enough to make me not want to go very often. There's a highway and road construction involved and it's ugly. If the shop was closer I would take him all the time because he loves reading comics and I love him reading. He picked out 4 new ones that he's already devoured. I love that the shop has a kids section right when you walk in. Some comics are quite mature so it's great that he doesn't have to wander the store.

Next stop was the movies to see Oz The Great and Powerful. Collin saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time last year and loved it way more than I expected him to so I had been looking forward to taking him to see this. He knew the trick now and asked a couple of times during the first 10 minutes of the film when it was going to switch to color. We both liked the movie a lot.

The flash was bright in the dim theater. (The previews had not even started yet in case you think I'm one of those people.)

Of course, we had to play some games in the arcade while we were there.

We loved this huge Pac Man game! (Notice the sandals. Ahem!)

Played a little Air Hockey.

Afterwards, we went to get ice-cream. You know, in case all that popcorn for lunch wasn't healthy enough. 

Collin still insists on selecting color over flavor. This was rock star sherbet or something weird like that.

We had a great day and I'm happy to have spent some time with my boys. :-)


Collin lost one of his front teeth today! He is so stinking excited about it. It's been loose forever and we haven't been able to get it out. Aunt Angela yanked it for him this afternoon and he was so pleased. :-)

Snaggletooth!!! I can't believe how big he is now.

PS - if anyone has any tooth pulling advice, feel free to leave a comment. Apparently I need improvement.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"To the well organized mind...."

My Daddy passed away on March 3rd.

It's sad.

The nursing home had told me a few days before that it was time to consider hospice because he wasn't eating as well as he had been before, but other than that there were no big immediate problems. Even the doctors don't always know the future.... They called on Sunday morning and asked if I could come because there had been a "change in his condition" which can only mean one thing. The following are the moments I can remember of the blur that followed.

I rushed to get real clothes on as I was still in pj pants and I remember thinking, 'Should I really wear my purple shoes? Do I want to be wearing purple shoes the last time I see my Daddy?' Weird thing to think, but what are you going to do? I went with the purple shoes anyway. I left Timothy home with the boys and set out as fast as I could. I called my greatest friend because I didn't know what else to do and I wanted someone else to know I guess. She said she would meet me there. I remember wondering how I could get Timothy up there too and not coming up with an immediate answer. I remember catching myself speeding a couple of times and how that story would play out with a police officer if I actually did get stopped. I think I cried the whole way.

When I got there I found the nurse that had called me, it had only been about 15-20 minutes. She dropped what she was doing and put her arm through mine and led me down the hall. "We were giving him breakfast and he suddenly got very pale. They are getting him all cleaned up so he will be ready for you to visit. It may be a few minutes or it could be hours."
"But it will be today?"
"Yes. I'm so sorry. Also, I hate to ask, but do you have any funeral plans already set up?"
"Yes, I'll ask my husband to bring the papers."

After a couple of minutes the aides came out and said I could go in now. He was clean shaven and his hair was combed. He was tucked comfortably in his bed under a white blanket and looked like he was sleeping. I tried to talk to him but I didn't get a response. I called my mom and asked if she could go to my house because I needed Timothy, she said she would. I called Timothy and told him where the papers were. I was pacing the room feeling lost.

The director of nurses came in and told me I should talk to him because he could hear me. She told him I was there then she left again. I was crying again. I sat down on the bed, "Hi Daddy. I love you." It was all I could manage and then I just leaned down to hug him. That's where I was when a nurse named Christine came in. She sat right down with me and called me "Sista" and started praying. She had the prettiest Africian accent I have ever heard. When she finished we both looked at Daddy and knew he was gone. She put her hand on his chest for a minute and checked for a pulse and couldn't find it. I was pacing again. She went to get the director again. They told me to sit in a chair, so I did. The director gave someone a watch and said they needed to time her for two minutes while she checked for signs. I remember thinking that would be an awful long time for someone to just be holding their breath, but there's no hiding a heartbeat. One of the aides said ever so quietly, "Aww, no more Joe-Joe. That's what I would call him when I came to wake him up to eat."

This entire process took place within 45 minutes of the phone call that started it all.

They left again and I was still in the chair when Sally came in. We sat for awhile and said all the comforting things to each other then we moved to the lobby because I didn't want Timothy to have to come in that room. (Sally is a tough nurse herself, so I wasn't much worried about her, but looking back it's probably creepy for anyone to witness.) When Timothy came we sat around and chatted a bit. Calls to the funeral home were made and arrangements were set up for transport. We talked about Doctor Who of all things and had some good laughs. Then we realized there wasn't anything else for us to do so we all went home.

I had been trying to call Brother this whole time. I left messages everywhere I knew. He finally called back about 4 hours later. They were camping and didn't have the phones turned on to save the batteries. We decided he should go in to work the next day to wrap things up since he would be gone for awhile and then he would fly out on Tuesday. 

That afternoon we went to Collin's first soccer practice. It was weird. I put on my fake smile and got through it. You can't introduce yourself to new people by explaining that your father just died today, but look how cute all the kids are playing soccer. I felt like I was floating. Like watching myself go through the motions. It was just the start of the weirdness. I also started texting everyone to let them know. Lots and lots of texting.

Monday, Timothy took off work to go with me to the funeral home and meet with the Pastor about the memorial service. At the funeral home we had to sign some papers and I almost laughed out loud when I was handed a paper to sign that stated that "cremation is an irreversible process." It was actually quite insane. I started to think of the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme in my head and how they couldn't put him back together again. When we met with the Pastor, Timothy was really helpful with picking out things to include in the service. I was glad he was there.

Tuesday, I went to hang out with Sally again because she's one of my favorite people and her house happens to be close to the airport where I would need to pick up Brother that afternoon. We watched "The Eleventh Hour" which was a good laugh and a good distraction. Then I got to spend some nice time with my godchildren after they came home from school. Cooper even talked me into jumping on the trampoline!

Once Brother was here a whole new mood set in. When he's here, he has just as much authority as I do in the decision making so I don't have to do it on my own. There ended up being a lot of down time when we didn't have much to do. Which translates into a lot of time playing old school Zelda. It was the late 80s all over again. There was also a lot of Bueno and a lot of Whataburger because those are the foods that he misses most living in California. The boys were super excited to hang out with Uncle Brother and especially Owen was crawling all over him the whole time. We spent some time going through old photo albums and picking out pictures of Dad to make a collage for the service. At some point we finally figured out how to order a headstone for the grave. That one took some work. We coordinated with the cemetery association about the burial.  We made bacon pancakes.

The service was lovely and we saw quite a few people from Dad's side of the family there. We don't stay in touch with anyone so it was like meeting them all over again because it had been so long. At first I didn't even want to have a service because I felt like no one was there for Daddy in his last year so why should they get to be there now? But I know it was the right thing to do so that everyone could say goodbye and have closure. There were a lot of people that cared about him even if they didn't come to visit.

It turns out that it takes a lot longer than I would have guessed for a person to be cremated. I suppose with it being an irreversible process and all they want to get it right. There are lots of forms to be filled out and doctors and medical examiners and whatever else to sign off on. It ended up taking about 10 days until we were able to pick him up from the funeral home. Daddy wanted to be buried next to his parents out in the country close to where he grew up. This is an old cemetery and it's no longer maintained. This means it's a do it yourself kind of job. I know, right?! Brother and I set out early in the morning, but I don't think either of us expected it to be as big of a job as it turned out to be. He used a pickax and I used a shovel. He certainly did most of the work, but it was a big job. We dug about 3 feet deep in the hard Texas clay. It took about 2 and a half hours to get it completed. We were grateful for the nice weather we had that day. It would have really sucked in the summer.We were so tired that we cancelled our plans to go try to locate Dad's old farm house where he grew up. That will just have to wait for another time, or maybe it will never happen. I think we both felt like we were done after that. That night Brother and I stayed up way too late talking like we hadn't just spent the last 9 days mostly together. This was the longest we had spent together since we had both lived at our parents house which was probably 1998. It was nice to have him here for so long. The next day I sent him back home and the weird came back.

Now it's time to remember how to be normal. I go back to work tomorrow after 2 weeks off. That's going to be all kinds of not fun. I think any time someone dies there are a lot of what ifs and whys. I have those too. I really wish I had gone to visit the day before instead of doing laundry instead of putting it off. I was planning to go visit the day he died at lunch time because that's when he normally talks to me the most. He was gone by 9 in the morning. I know I can't get hung up on those things because there's no changing it now. I have also found tons of things to be grateful for. I'm glad I was able to answer the phone when they called me. 10 minutes later I would have been in the shower and I could have missed the whole thing. I'm so grateful that Christine was with me and I didn't have to go looking for a nurse to tell them he was gone. I grateful that my Daddy left this world to the sounds of a beautiful prayer. I glad he was peaceful and I'm glad it was quick. I'm glad I was with him and I'm glad I had people with me. Mostly, I'm grateful that I was able to have this great adventure with my Daddy the last few years, and I'm glad I was able to be his best friend and in the end and he knew I loved him.

The last time I was able to have a real conversation with him was about 3 weeks before he died.

"Do you remember me today?"

"I'm pretty sure you're in here somewhere."