Saturday, December 24, 2011

christmas 2011

how many of you remember my dad during his one really fat year? out of no where he got super fat.. then the next year it was gone...some men buy sports cars or get hair plugs in a midlife dad ate.. apparently..anyway..this photo is from that for me. well.. footie pajamas don't do any one much justice..haha...

so this is christmas.. our second without my papa.. i never thought we would get here..there is evidence of healing in all of us..i see it mostly in the way we have been able to remember and celebrate without too much pain.. he is missed.. and thought of daily. hourly really.. but without that ever present lump in the back of the chest.. well..for the most is an amazement that we as humans are able to over come what felt like the end of our world.. and we do so.. for him..

this year we celebrated christmas a day early.. so last night..the 23rd was our christmas eve.. and as i write this i am waiting for famiy to arrive to begin our christmas day..some people are bucking this slight change.. but i am loving it.. it is extending christmas a whole day!

some events of note have taken place since i last updated.. my brother was in a car accident.. his first.. and for a while we thought his truck.. my dad's truck.. would be deemed :totalled:..thank God it was not.. and we got it back this week! my brother asked a few days after the accident what i thought dad would say.. well.. my dad was patient.. and a man of few words.. and the accident wasn't his fault.. and was in truth.. an accident.. i am not sure my dad would have had any words of wisdom to say at all... maybe a tisk or two at the state of the truck.. but that's it..

we do that a lot.. my family.. we wonder and day dream of what it would be like to have him here.. what he would say..what he would do.. even in the middle of some pretty vulgar toilet humor.. of which i am quite partial to..we laugh harder knowing he would laugh...

have a wonderful holiday readers! use christmas..not as a gift giving tinsel ladden day.. and not even as a commemeration in a religious sense.. just be with those you love.. and love a little honor of my daddy!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

life getting in the's a good thing

i have neglected so much lately... social life.. this blog...most of my house responsibilities..and so much more.. and for what? i can't think of what it was that had me so occupied.. i did start a new job.. the shift in my natural sleep all day schedule really threw me for a loop.. but really my neglect had to do with life getting in the way.. and that's a good thing.. i don't want to dwell on my ongoing grief to the point where i need to unload on this blog on a daily basis.. and i like the informational sprinkled narrative that it has become... that is not to say that i am not entitled to break downs.. and that those break downs will not become public at some point.. life includes grief.. the emptiness is still there.. i don't suppose that will ever go away.. i can' live with that.. but i appreciate the pain coming in shorter waves and spaced in such a way that i can live the life my papa would have relished in watching me/us live...

fall has brought so much to attention.. the dying leaves look so beautiful just before they fall.. they become mulch for the grass growing below.. it is a grand display of the circle that is life.. i really did not mean to make that sound so sappily poetic.. really i didn't...but it does bring to mind the beauty behind's hidden but it's there.. because if we don't let death bring us to the depths.. we become more beautiful.. if we chose to learn and grow from the pain we can nourish everything we fall upon like the leaves on the grass... ok now i am just making myself sick..blah blah blah...

so this past week marked dia de los muertos... we have never had that type of mexican culture where we would have celebrated in this.. i think it had much to do with us not being catholic as well.. but it is a wonderful thing to see and take part in..if you never have.. i don't make alters.. but i do bake.. and paint.. and fold flowers every year... i like the idea of it.. the symbolism of it.. the celebratory part of it.. if you are not familiar with day of the dead do yourself a favor and learn about it.. it is not the Americanized "mexican halloween" the craft stores tote it to be.. it is a celebration of those who have passed.. it celebrated the sweetness of life and it's brevity... i find a lot of comfort in ceremony and symbolism... maybe because i live so far from my family and miss out on the daily ceremony of family life..that i feel the need to hold onto what is around me and familiar..anyway it's not something i have thought about too consciously...

my aunt called me the other day to ask some advice (i am an autism whisperer of sorts)...anyway.. toward the end of the conversation she made mention of my papa and compared me to him... it was so nice to hear and while she may not have known was something i needed to hear that day.. it wasn't a hard day..i was just feeling a bit far.. a bit lost.. patient a wise is what she called me.. and i can only hope to have half of what my dad had..

so it has been quite a few weeks... and much like every other day in the life of this papa's girl... my dad was entwined in it all...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cancer Groups- a special message

i was recently contacted by a man who asked to post a message on this blog to get the word out on some information he felt was important.. because all of my past guest bloggers have been family.. i will be honest in saying i put this poor guy through the ringer because i would never endorse certain information.. i finally got around to reading this guest post and some of his personal blog.. and i feel confident in sharing whatever he wants to send out to you all.. he has nothing but postive things to share and this particular message is about fellowship and support via groups...

fyi.. if you would like to guest blog..about cancer and/or loss.. please email me at

David Haas is a cancer patient advocate and his blog can be found at

Have you just found out you have cancer? You may know someone who has survived. Are you in cancer remission? You may be going through chemotherapy or radiation treatment. If any of these things are true in your life, you may feel as though nobody can relate to what you are going to. If you become involved with a cancer survivor group you will have the chance to talk with or write to someone who has been through the same things as you. You can learn how to best treat your disease and get advice from those who have been there, who can teach you how to best fight the negative side effects you may be experiencing.

There are a variety of cancer survivor networks available. The Cancer Hope Network is one such network. Through them you can be matched with someone who has been through cancer treatment, who may be going through something similar to you. This group can match you with people who have gone through anything from a common cancer like breast cancer to a very rare cancer like mesothelioma. You can receive emotional support and encouragement online or over the phone. Actual cancer survivors will tell the stories, will tell you it is possible to live a full live despite having cancer. You will not be talking with someone who is a professional therapist, but with someone who knows just what you are going through.

There is also support provided for caregivers and links to different agencies that might be able to give advice on treatments.

The Cancer Information Network provides links to a variety of support helps to cancer victims, including a letter from a survivor of lung cancer, a link to the Cancer Hope Network, and links to other agencies that provide support. There are also links to sites that give information on treatment, legal issues, financial resources to those with cancer, and support resources for caregivers.

There are numerous other support agencies, including US & Too for those with prostrate cancer at, with links to many support groups, information about the disease, and more.

The American Brain Tumor Organization lists support groups, provides inspiring stories, advice on how to manage fatigue, rehabilitative medicine, speech pathology services, and many other resources.

While having cancer can be devastating, there is help available.

By: David Haas

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


this was my brother's birthday cake.. my cousin decided on the picture of him in the bathtub.. no worries..he is hard to embarrass.. and bonus.. the cake was yummy!

so it's been a while since i posted.. a day before his 18th birthday.. a day before i flew out to AZ and surprised him.. not only is he hard to embarrass..he is also hard to surprise... well ok.. he was surprised.. but the reaction was more like "hey what are you doing here?" and not AHHHHH!!! combined with jumping up and down.. and good thing too.. because he is a big guy now.. and i could likely be hurt in the jumping up and down process.. either way i missed him and my family and this trip was exactly what i... or we... needed..
we had a small get together for his day.. my mom hired mariachis and some friends and family came to wish him well.. i have gotten past coming to my mom's house and not seeing my dad there.. i don't look for him anymore.. but as the mariachis sang Un Dia La Ves.. (one day at a time).. my eyes welled up and i frantically looked around.. and expected to see him in one of the patio chairs.. or at the grill.. there was that fresh pain all over again.. the one i pray God eases..memories i gladly accept.. sadness i will take in stride.. but this pain.. this ache in my rib cage and nausea in the deepest pit of me is what i call fresh pain... because that is what i felt when the C word was first used.. that is what i felt again after every dr visit.. that is what i felt on the morning he did not get out of bed and that is what i feel when the ice cold water bucket full of shock is thrown in my face every time i forget he is gone... i am still great.. fantastic even at hiding this pain... i sang and danced to every song the mariachis sang.. when my aunt (during un dia la ves) asked why i wasn't singing.. i calmly leaned over and said "because i'm crying".. instead of crawling into the fetal position at her feet..that was the only down part of the trip.. for the most part we faced this milestone with grace.. and it's never as hard as we expect it to be

after i got home from HOME i lagged.. as i always do.. in unpacking and re-acclimating.. i always allow myself one day to wallow and feel the homesickness.. i had a few job interviews.. in fact..the week before last i was offered a job... so i have a job... well.. technically.. because HR has been just peachy and has left me hanging... it's all good in my hood though.. because this is giving me plenty of time to weigh my priorities and examine myself.. this is not a teaching job but is within the school system and i have had to work out and work on my feelings of bitterness and inadequacy.. i can not go into this job feeling short changed.. it would not be fair to the students i will be working with.. so HR's mishaps are a blessing really... and i has given time to see it that way... in all this mess i have been broken and built up over and over.. i have cried and screamed and let out all kinds of rage i didn't know i had been suppressing.. and you know what? nothing changed..the world didn't bend toward my needs.. and there is a lesson in there too..
and that is what i have been doing since i got home.. examining the things that happen to me and around me.. understanding the lessons it all has to teach me.. what i have learned is this: 1. i need a master's degree and i am seriously considering social work so that i can consult as well as teach... 2. every day is precious time lost with the people i care about the most and i NEED to get home or close to home for good...3. the miles stones we have yet to reach without dad will no doubt be tough.. but we will get through them like we always do..

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

another milestone

my brother turns 18 tomorrow... and here we are.. another milestone that our dad will not be here for...he got his licence and his first job within this year.. and now.. the big 18..of course that thought leads to everything else he will not be here for.. his graduation.. wedding.. but.. i didn't want this post to be a sad one...

when our dad's dad died i asked him what kind of father he was and if he was any kind of role model for the kind of dad our papa wanted to be.. he said that his dad was more of a provider than a teacher.. and that he wanted to be both.. then he laughed and said.. "heck..if your brother makes it to 18 i will be happy"..and i think.. well.. you did it dad.. you did your job.. and more.. because he may not be there physically tomorrow.. but his legacy will be present in the form of my brother..when i see the man he is becoming i see my dad.. i see everything he instilled in him..i brother is far from the man he will someday be.. but i see glimmers and hints.. and i don't worry about him the way i would have before.. i see his potential and i see his heart.. and both are beautiful..

so what now brother bear? what's so big about 18? well here is a list of things you can do after tomorrow:
Buy tobacco
Change your name
Get a tattoo
Get a piercing
Work more hours
Sue someone /Be sued
Purchase liquid white out
Pawn something
Get married/Get divorced
Adopt a child
Be on Jerry Springer
Buy a lottery ticket
Get a hotel room
Call some "900" numbers
Go to a night club
Get a Sam's club/Costco membership
Sign legal documents
Get a loan
Buy insurance
Donate blood
Enlist in the military
Be convicted as an adult
Become a stripper
Obtain a credit card
Buy a monkey (w/ a license)
ok.. i didn't say you should do these things... but i totally support the monkey thing!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review- A Sacred Walk: Dispelling the Fear of Death and Caring for the Dying

A Sacred Walk: Dispelling the Fear of Death and Caring for the Dying

by Donna M. Authers
A & A Publishing, 2008

This is another book that I read to ready me for volunteer work. I started it a month ago but just recently finished it. It was a tough read. So much of it reminded me of my papa that I had to put it down almost as soon as I picked it up. It was difficult to remove myself from it and I didn't want to read it in that mind set. If i say here that I was able to read it and not cry or not think of my dad, it would be a lie.
In this book Donna gives practical advice for any caretaker, caregiver, friend or family member of a person who is dying.

This advice and wisdom comes in the form of personal stories, scripture and practicality. Donna talks about many of the losses she has been through in her life but the one that resonates throughout the book is the loss of her mother. From the moment when her mom learns that her brain tumor is inoperable Donna and her mom begin a journey. Their honesty with each other is beautiful and raw. They struggle together to find meaning, God and closure. What they find instead is strength.

The toughest parts to get through in this book are the conversations and letters shared with each other. It is hardest to keep the tears at bay when her mom says she feels like she is detaching, like she is here and there and the same time, so she knows it is time. Any book on death and grief will tell you that at some point the patient will detach emotionally but to see/hear the words is heart wrenching. In the end Donna's mom passes with dignity and in the most ideal and beautiful way. Subsequently Donna was left with "good grief". This was a wonderful read simply due to the best of a bad situation experienced by the author. Her lessons are very much worth reading, and learning from!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

on God.. and faith part 5

so it's been another time of struggle for me.. i keep praying for patience.. i am seriously lacking.. still no job.. still looking.. still feeling rejected and worrying about student loans and money issues.. and i am trying to have faith that God will provide and will put me where i can be of use.. i read the sermon on the mount for the first time the other day or should i say night.. because i haven't been sleeping.. in it Jesus says "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?"...
because i am not sleeping i have gotten into this habit in the deepest darkness of the night.. to call up a vision of my dad.. i mean to the very last detail.. i can see every line in his face.. i can see him from the side with his head bent in thought.. i can see him smile and the crinkles in the outer corner of his eyes.. i can smell the mix of dust and leather that clung to him all the time..i see his hands..the callouses and strength within them.. i hear his voice.. his laugh.. i am so terrified of forgetting him that i force myself to do this.. all the while feeling daggers in the pit of my stomach... because i can't hug a vision..when i finally do fall asleep i dream of him... lately my dreams involve goodbyes.. like he is visiting me in Michigan and before i take him to the airport i hang onto his neck and won't let go.. i tell him i love and will miss him and whatever will i do without him.. i tell him how important he is to me.. and i cry and he just holds on to me... i think in my dream i am saying all of the things i should have said to him.. he says it will all be okay.. in this recurring dream i fall asleep instead of taking him to the airport and when i wake up he is gone.. and there is that emptiness i feel when i'm actually awake.. this lost emptiness that comes when my mind remembers he is gone... my mom has shared with me that last week was a tough one for her.. she was feeling it all over again.. grief comes in waves.. we know.. but this was like living through it all over's normal... doesn't make it hurt any less does it?
so because i find myself praying every night and day when i am at my lowest, i think about my dad and his prayers... and today i decided to share something with you all.. what i really want to do is talk to him.. call him and remember the story with him.. maybe talk about faith.. and have those beautiful long philosophical conversations that we used to... i wrote about my dad's faith and what we struggled with when my mom first gave her life to God in this post On God And Faith part 1 some of my favorite conversations with him were while my mom was at one of her bible studies..we talked about prayer and whether it was just collective good "vibes" being sent to someone in need.. and could that healing power be dismissed if we didn't call it prayer.. because sometimes that word scares people.. but somehow "vibes" doesn't...and then there is the dinosaur story that i wasn't going to share here.. but like i said.. this is my way of talking to my dad is my favorite.. and encompasses so many sides of my papa..

one night when my mom was at bible study my dad called me, like he normally would.. sometimes to talk about the weather or just to say hello... at the time he (we) were kind of feeling a little left behind in my mom's new journey.. she wasn't home much.. and my dad was catching glimpses and snippets of conversation.. he attended a few bible studies but this night he said he could never be baptized...i don't hide my worry about religion, denominations and such.. so he knew how i felt.. but proceeded to tell me "they don't believe in dinosaurs!" what? haha "dad, how can they not believe in dinosaurs?" he went on to talk about the evolution controversy and the belief that the earth is not old enough to be dated back to when scientists date dinosaur fossils...and that he just couldn't deny hard proof for faith... NOTE: i have yet to ask anyone within my mom and dad's congregation if they believe in dinosaurs.. this was simply his deduction from things he'd heard..anyway.. we talked for an hour about this dinosaur issue admittedly giggling at the thought of denouncing their existence.. i mean.. seriously?
so, about a year and a half later my dad is baptized and i call to talk to him.. to set my own mind at ease i needed to know.. was he tying up lose ends here? was he scared? what brought him to this decision? (at this time he is sick and not doing well).. he says it was just something he felt he wanted/needed to do.. he had been attending church and bible studies for some time before this.. this was not an abrupt decision..then he cupped his hand over the phone and whispered.."but ana marie.. i still believe in dinosaurs!"... ha! i laughed and cried.. but mostly laughed.. cause that is my dad for ya!

God i miss that man... today and every day.. i wish more than anything he was here to help guide me in my struggle with faith.. and my search for a relationship with God.. i think he would understand me.. i know he would..

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

forget everything you THINK you know

i spent most of my evening yesterday feeling angry, frustrated, rejected, and sorry for myself.. i am doing all that i can to find a full time job.. i have student loans breathing down my neck.. my husbands truck is falling apart quite literally.. subbing is just not going to cut it this year... and after countless resumes and applications being sent out.. i have heard nothing.. if you have ever looked for a job to no avail then you know the frustration and ultimate feelings of "what is wrong with me?"..and i don't know why but i keep feeling like if i could just talk to my dad then i would be okay.. silly i know.. cause really and honestly i wouldn't even tell him how i was feeling.. but if i could just hear his voice i might know that it's all going to be okay.. that's what dad's do.. they make everything okay.. even when they don't know they are doing it...
so i prayed.. and cried.. and resolved to "keep the faith" and know somewhere in the depths of myself.. that we will be okay in the end.. that something will happen.. something will come up.. some employer somewhere will realize how amazing i am at my job and hire me.. somewhere there is a classroom of really lucky kids that will have me! ok.. so i don't know this.. and today i am not this confident.. but.. fake it till you make it right? i read in this book i have been reading that if you just pretend to have faith..then God will take care of the rest.. He will take your doubts, fear and anger... in the same book i read that when we are at our lowest and struggling with our own pain, focusing on someone else would help... so i was blessed with a wonderful distraction/ message a few weeks ago (ok like months ago)..and it deserves do you all dealing with loss.. for this woman in particular and her family.. this loss happens to be a diagnosis..
there is a loss/grief that comes with diagnosis.. you see in our lives we tend to looks ahead.. we have visions of perfect futures...and a cancer diagnosis throws that whole thing off the track.. so not only do we deal with the reality of mortality but we also begin to mourn that life we thought we'd have.. even when a person survives cancer..the future is not the same.. sometimes is it even more amazing.. but not the same.. and we certainly can not see that even more amazing future when struggling with mortality...
so this particular message sent to my facebook inbox started with "i am not a creepy stalker" and who can resist reading a message that starts like that? anyway turns out that her husband was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer earlier this year and she looked to the web for information and blogs that would help in some way.. she asked for any words of wisdom/comfort and spoke of her kids (adult children) who seem to all be dealing with this in their own way..and struggling in different ways..
this got me thinking of my own family.. truth be told we were not all on the same page in dealing with papa's diagnosis and deterioration...i struggled to be the strong one.. the logical one.. the one who needed to see scans and find any and all information i could.. my brother refused to hear anything unless it was positive.. i won't ever call it denial.. it was what he needed.. to know that there were possibilities and hope.. my mom controlled what she could.. she forbade the hospice workers to talk about death in any way.. and they sure did hear from her when she was defied..she tried to control his diet and anything else that she could.. because everything else was out of her hands... others in our extended family were angry.. other's avoided.. other's urged him to fight until his very last breath..and my dad.. well he took it all in stride and in faith.. i am sure.. i am positive he was scared, angry, and just as bewildered as we all were.. but he truly held us together with something as simple as a smile..
so i compiled some things that i want this woman and her family to know..
1. first and foremost find God..accept the strength that He has instilled in all of us.. it's there you know.. we just aren't always aware of it until we need it.. when you find the strength to get out of bed and do it all over again.. when you find the clarity to listen to the doctors.. that's God..
2. forget everything you think you know.. no amount of books.. no amount of advice.. nothing. can prepare you..
3. respect each other's differences.. understand that we all do what we need to may not be what you feel is the "right" or "best" way.. but you will all get through your own way.. no matter the outcome..
4. be positive.. understand that this is actually a gift of sorts.. it's one we would all like to return.. i know.. but it's a gift none the less.. all of us will face the end at some point.. but we don't always know when that will be.. God is sending you a message.. listen, He says... i may not take him today or tomorrow.. or for another 40 or 50 years.. but some day i will.. and this is your wake up call.. head that warning.. and cherish every moment you have with each other.. even if you have another 50 years together!
5. reach out.. find someone, anyone you trust to listen to you.. there are so many things you may not want to say out loud.. write it down.. get it out... and know that friends, real friends, can take whatever you give them..this is a stressful time for you all and holding it in can and will lead to physiological issues.. i lost my voice.. literally.. from holding it all in.. i could barely squeek and croak for a week!
6. never accept.. "i know how you feel" because no one does.. not your siblings.. not your mom.. no one knows how YOU feel... you each have individual relationships with your dad/husband.. don't feel alone in this.. relish in it.. own it.. but find those who simply listen.. not commiserate
8. did i say sleep? get your rest.. you need each other at your bests.. so pop a benadryl or see your dr for something if you need to.. just get your sleep!
9. one day at a time.. that was my dad's favorite song to sing in church.. and it's the most we can do.. take it one day at a time..
10. and finally some thing for the man at the center of this all: in the face of surgery.. you swallowed hard and did it.. in the face of a very difficult treatment.. you balled your fists and resolved to do it.. continue to fight.. God will meet you in the middle.. you are still Dad.. so continue being Dad.. you are still a partner.. so continue giving the same support that she gives to you.. and do what you need to do for are in charge.. you hold the cards...not even a monster as terrible as cancer can take that from you!

Monday, August 1, 2011

the easy way out?

last week my cousin committed suicide...i didn't know him well.. he was on my dad's side of the family and if you are a repeat reader then you know i am not as close to his side of the family and struggle with some feelings in regards to that topic... in fact the last time i spoke to him he didn't know who i was... it was after our grandfather's funeral and he was standing alone in the corner.. he felt bad that he knew my brother (who doesn't know my brother) but didn't know me.. he asked "do you know anyone else here?" which was funny because in truth i didn't and neither did we... we knew my aunts and uncles.. and a few cousins..we made snide comments about how people use funerals for family reunions and it was sad that many of the people there would not see each other till the next one (turned out to be my dad's).. this was in direct reference to my brother's speech (mini eulogy) during our grandfather's funeral.. you see my brother had gotten close to the family as he accompanied our dad while he cared for first his mother then his father before their deaths.. which is where the sense of abandonment and anger came from latter.. but i digress.. this is about our cousin...not us..
so my mom called to tell me last week and there was shock.. no i didn't know him well but i have always understood him to be a solid who fought for our country..i called my uncle to give condolences and by chance spoke to a grief counselor who opened my eyes to this whole subject.. i needed help wrapping my mind around it all.. i felt so bad for the pain that his family must be feeling.. as well as the confusion and subsequent anger and guilt associated with being a surviving family member...i tossed and turned one night because i just keep thinking about what kind of inner pain and turmoil he was feeling in order to have taken this step.. i mean.. we all know what it's like to want to throw up our hands or not get out of bed.. so imagine that pain multiplied..
this weekend i also found out that another person, in the same city as my cousin, took his life as well.. this man barricaded himself in his house and called the police.. the swat team was sent out to no avail... the man shot himself.. at the end of the news story people left comments.. most were to the effect of "suicide is selfish" or "he just wanted attention" or "he took the easy way out"...hurtful terrible comments... it turns out this man fought for our country as well..the comments made no sense to me.. didn't the people saying this hurtful things have any amount of empathy to consider the victim and what a painful decision this must have been?
so in thinking about this and talking to the counselor that i ran into i learned that there are so many myths out there and general feelings about suicide..

Suicide Myth

People who are suicidal definitely want to die.

Suicide Fact

The vast majority of people who are suicidal do not want to die. They are in pain, and they want to stop the pain.

Suicide Myth

People who are suicidal do not seek help.

Suicide Fact

Many people who are suicidal reach out for help.

Suicide Myth

People who attempt suicide are weak.

Suicide Fact

They are in pain. Many people who are very "strong" die by suicide. (

so are we seriously going to judge people based on a last desperate action? are we going to consider them weak? my cousin and the other man who died in the same week fought for our freedom..they both saw and experienced things we will never understand... they more than likely did not come to this decision lightly and sought help in some way.. they did not want to die.. they just wanted the pain to stop.. and not being able to understand it ourselves does not give us the right to give them any less respect..and families should not have to hide in shame.. and guilt.. simply because society condemns them as well.. maybe instead of judging we should be trying to better understand why..we are busy finding cures for cancer..but this is just as serious an epidemic..

just some thoughts in respect and memory of Travis Berumen

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eva Braun

today we lost our Eva..and i am struggling with the idea of "just" in just a cat...i mean i lost my dad for goodness sake.. i have lost cousins, grandparents.. but never a cat.. sure i flushed a few fish in my day.. i don't remember those losses... my dog's disappearance is a mystery.. so was my brother's dog.. so i was not expecting the loss of our little Eva to hit me so hard.. i kind of walked around the house for a while.. not sure what to do.. but writing has helped me cope with so much that i felt this blog fitting to place her memorial..

we got Eva a few weeks before Halloween in 2006.. there was this woman nearby who had kittens...a stray (must have been a feral stray from the temperaments of the kittens) had a littler under her porch.. we already had an adult male cat (Patrick).. but why not get a kitten...we had bought a house..why not fill it up.. our plan was to pick one and make sure it had a good life.. doctor care, spay/ we picked a black ball of fluff who we named Maggie May...the problem was Maggie cried and cried and cried and she was full of fleas so we had to keep her quarantined till the vet would see her.. so my husband made a decision.. "go back and get another one"..i did.. when i had picked out Maggie i hadn't seen another kitten that caught my i asked the lady which cat Maggie tended to be with the most.. she pointed at a teeny tiny black and white mess of a cat.. "that's Hitler" she said.. because she had a mustache...i thought.. there is no way i was going to name her Hitler.. but Eva Braun seemed okay... and i brought Eva soon as she saw Maggie they were like super glue...they slept together.. refused to use separate litter pans.. they were spayed together.. scratched each others stitches..licked each others paws when we subjected them to nail clippings..
Somewhere along the way Eva became neurotic.. she ate her food in gulps..she got really fat so we put her on a diet.. she slimmed down but got too thin and after that we couldn't get her to put on weight... she would chew off clumps of her fur... she would scratch her face and ears till they were bloody...we couldn't figure her out... she was treated for mites and worms.. both of which she didn't have (precautionary treatments).. we did things to alleviate any allergy she might have had.. we gave her extra the end.. she was deemed "crazy"... she spent more time in a cone than any animal i've ever known.. the cone was to keep her from hurting herself.. but many nights we would try to play with her and she wouldn't play.. she was so unhappy... and we felt so bad for her... the other cats turned on her and were annoyed with her constant.. CONSTANT meowing and yowling..we would find scratches on her nose from one of the other two...and the cone would go back on..
last night i noticed a large amount of fur missing from her tail.. which meant she was at it again.. and the cone was to go back on today.. instead what we found was her water dish broken into shards..there were some drops of blood near the water dish and on her favorite perching stool.. but no Eva.. we discovered her body hidden, curled up in a box... she had undoubtedly hidden there to die.. as of right now we have no idea how she died.. we have deduced a freak accident of sorts.. i don't want an autopsy.. i just want her left alone..
this afternoon i found a biodegradable box and painted her name on it.. we are going to bury her in the backyard.. the city demands a metal or wood box but i would like for her to decompose quickly.. i would like for her body to be used by the earth.. i don't know if cats have souls but i hope she is finally at rest..
i didn't know how hard this would be.. i joked all the time about our oldest dying and the possibility of finally getting a dog.. i can't get out of my mind what might have happened and how scared she might have been.. did she meow? we don't know what time this occurred..had we learned to tune her out to the point that we wouldn't have noticed? poor Eva...she wasn't just a cat... she was her sister's keeper.. and she was my husbands source of sanity when i was in Arizona with my dad..
our fatty, fatty fat fat, large marge, looney tooney, eva von fatz, fatzenstien, von pork, porkness, porky, porky pie, eva braun.. we will miss you!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Book Reviews- 2fer

I have finally begun hospice volunteer work. I was excited to hear that I had been cleared and was given my first assignment. I went to a convention mostly having to do with finances and taxes and passed out information on what HOM does. I have pretty much decided to speak very generally about any assignment I am on and only convey experiences that have/will affect my grasp on grief and the loss of my father. As a volunteer I am supposed to be open to the individuals I am working with and not project my loss in any way. I know that what I have gone through with my dad affects everything I do in life, but I am resolved not to “make it all about me.” So this assignment was great practice for that. It was an odd place to have a hospice booth, this convention, and I was reminded by a few people how bleak hospice is contorted in people’s minds. So I lightened the mood by reminding everyone that death is as inevitable as taxes.. that went over well because the mass majority of people I talked to were accountants of some kind. So I pushed pamphlets like my life depended on it, to people who dared make eye contact with me. Then there came the practice I mentioned. Some people sought out the booth. They came to me simply to tell what a wonderful experience they’d had with hospice, and one not so great experience. They wanted to tell me about their mother’s, sisters, fathers, brothers, wives and husbands. I listened, said that I was glad that “we” could be there for them. Some left a little misty eyed but most left with huge grins on their faces. Most people relate to others with two simple words, “me too.” So when one man told me about his mother in law using hospice, I could have interjected/related that my dad also used hospice. But what would that have accomplished? A whole lot of nothing, for him. He walked across the convention floor to tell me about HIS experience, not hear about mine. And it was nice to allow him that. I w

as worried that doing this would bring up all kinds of unresolved or even perfectly resolved issues with grief. I no longer have that worry. Me doing this has nothing to do with my dad. I am doing this because I know that I can. For the same reason I teach special education. I could teach anything but I focus on special education because I can. I can talk to the living all day, but I chose to give my time to the dying, because I can. And wouldn’t it be a shame to waste that on reruns of Oprah. As much as I love my Oprah time, it can be spent more impactfully (yes I make up words now). Ok.. getting off my soapbox.. I have a couple of book reviews if you are interested:

In preparation for my journey as a hospice volunteer I have a stack of books to read. A list was sent from HOM and I ordered a couple from my library.. as well as a few that came up in the search. The two books that I am reviewing today are written by hospice volunteers. Each writes about patients of whom have make an impact on the volunteer and either offered a learning experience or a better understanding of themselves.

When Evening Comes: The Education of a Hospice Volunteer
By Christine Andreae
St Martin's Press, 2000

All I can say after reading this book is “wow.” Christine’s account of the connection and struggle to connect with her patients was so raw and honest. My first thought was that it was too honest and could be offensive to family members. But I wasn’t reading it from that perspective. I was reading it looking for tips and tools. What I got instead was a look inside a volunteer as she struggled with feelings of inadequacy and the potentiality of crossing the lone with her patients. She writes, in journal form, about finding her “place” within the care team, friends and family of the patient. She worries about her misgivings and slip ups. In one particular passage in which iced coffee squirted out of my nose after reading it, she describes meeting a couple who is a bit too open about the wife’s cancer. The husband openly discusses where the cancer is, how long she’s had it… cancer cancer cancer. As Christine listens to him speak she wonders how his openness with a stranger is making his wife feel. She attempts to change the subject by making note of the brightly decorated Christmas tree. She says “how pretty that tree looks with all the cancer on it.” For days she frets over how to make it better. What could she say or do to take it back.

She also writes about her struggle to find a reason why she is a volunteer. She worries that her volunteering as well as her murder-mystery authorship makes her seem macabre. She gives text- book answers to the “why” question and fears no one believes her as she does not believe herself. She doesn’t dwell on this question but discusses it while trying to say open and receive the “gifts” other volunteers talk about.

Through Christine’s honesty and self discovery, I certainly picked up a few tools but more importantly discovered how important being honest with one’s self is in this journey!

Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes

By Frances Shani Parker

Loving Healing Press, 2007

I really don’t like to say that I did not like a book. Really each book has something different to offer and the fact that I finished it is a testament to it right? So I didn’t like this book, rather, it was not my “cup-o-lemon-ginseng-green-tea.” I find most poetry pretentious. I love to teach the subject and I love giving kids that alternative way to express themselves. But really, just say what you need to say. I am guilty of a few too many metaphors I’m sure.. but I still tend to roll my eyes when beats and measures are used for emphasis.. just use an exclamation point.. it serves the same purpose. That being said, the author of this book is an acclaimed and note worthy poet and it shows through her writing, which is possibly the reason I found it trying to read.

Back to the book- Frances Shani Parker, a Detroit high school principal decides to become a hospice volunteer after caring for, in an informal way, two men with AIDS. She writes about seeing a need for workers willing to be compassionate for patients with AIDS in particular, and she fills that void for two men.

As a volunteer she visits with the patients she lovingly writes about. She learns how to be “open” (a recurring theme in both books), and how to visit each patient in their reality. I found this the most helpful. Many of her patients had some form of dementia and if she had not been able to relate to them in their reality, time would have been wasted either ignoring them or trying to convince them otherwise. For instance one of her patients claims that there is a man under her bed. The author crawls under the bed and shouts for the man to leave her patient alone. The mental image made me giggle but also made sense. What would most people have done? Try to convince the woman that there was no one under her bed? That would have frustrated all involved. In the patient’s reality there was a man there, and the author was able to quiet and comfort her by playing along.

There were also patients that she struggled to connect with simply because there was no verbal communication between the two. With each patient she found a way to connect, through music, or through speaking to them as though it were a year in their youth.

Although I struggled with some of the author’s writing style I was still able to learn so much through her experiences.

Monday, June 27, 2011

father's day

i wasn't putting off writing about father's day purposefully.. i got busy... ok so maybe it was subconsciously purposefully..
this is our second father's day without him.. see first father's day for that post... but this year i resolved to do better...didn't work out so well

father's day anticipation starts as soon as the cards are put out in the stores.. last month i was shopping for a shelf of some kind.. twice i ran out of walmart in tears... you know they don't warn us that we not only mourn the physical loss of the person.. we also mourn thing we do or want to do involving them.. every father's day (not sure when the tradition started) i would send my dad a fart or poop related card... toilet humor is the best kind of humor! when sound cards came out i was over the moon excited to send him the fartiest nosiest card ever! i found just the right one and he played it for every visitor for months afterward (until he claimed my mom broke it)... so this year after passing the huge signs advertising father's day cards i felt a pull to find the fart cards... and was hit with the ice water that is reality.. i don't have a dad to send them to...
sure i've got amazing uncles.. and a father in law that deserves attention.. but no one liked a good fart joke like my dad! so there is no replacement to be had..
so father's day creeped closer and closer and i got more and more anxious... the morning of, i woke up resolved to have a good day.. so what if my dad wasn't there to be called? i could celebrate the general idea of fatherhood...i put on my brave face and began the day... till i burned the breakfast turkey sausage.. overfilled the coffee maker.. dropped countless breakables within a matter of minutes.. i screamed, cussed, cried.. over burned sausage and salsa all over the floor needing to be cleaned...not over my papa
later my husband and i negotiated the calling of his dad.. i screamed, cussed and cried.. over his taking his dad for granted.. not over my papa
later still i stubbed my pinky toe.. it immediately turned purple... i screamed, cussed and cried... over my toe.. not over my papa..
i was sent away for some retail therapy.. driving to target to buy a bunch of things we don't need i passed a funeral procession.. i turned on my brights.. and i cried.. for their loss.. whoever it was.. not over my papa..
do you sense a theme of denial here?
my mom called that afternoon apologizing to both me and my brother because she understood, that day, how hard this was for us.. to see reminders everywhere of the things we couldn't buy for him.. of the cards he would never read.. of the reality that all we had were memories and a grave to clean.. maintaining my composure (i was in target after all).. i listened..
when i got home i took a nice long hot shower.. and i cried.. screamed.. cussed.. and cried some more... this time it was for me.. it was for him.. denial is exhausting .. and something had to give..
they should hand out tshirts to those of us who have lost.. i survived father's day.. or i survived mother's day. or i survived the anniversary of my daughter's college graduation.. or i survived a random tuesday that i was really missing my grandmother...
i guess that's what we do right.. survive.. go forward... onward.. because here i am a week and a day later.. surviving!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Review- Heaven Is For Real

Heaven Is For Real: a little boy's astounding story of his trip to heaven and back
by Todd Burpo w/ Lynn Vincent
Gale, Cengage Learning 2010

I read another blog about a woman who also lost her father to kidney cancer Bumps in the Road. She mentioned this book in one of the posts that she'd written. I read it on the same day that I had gone through my first day of hospice training. In this particular training we were asked to set aside any misgivings of God or our particular faiths or lack there of. We were told stories of patients reaching out into space, gazing at or even talking into the ether in their last minutes of life. We were warned that even if we did not believe in an afterlife, that we could not discount our patients' experiences. I believe whole heartedly in an afterlife. I believe that there is a place that awaits me in heaven. I also believe that children are much more open to these experiences and so the book peaked my interest.

The Burpo family experiences something that would shake any family to it's core. Their three year old son faced death. Little Colton suffers a ruptured appendix and two surgeries to clean out his system. During Colton's time in the hospital the Burpo's turn to their faith and send countless prayers for the well being of their son.
Colton survives and even miraculously thrives (which baffles the hospital staff). The family counts their blessings and continues on with the business of life until Colton offhandedly mentions a recent trip to heaven. Yes, heaven.
He relays messages from Jesus and Todd's grandfather. Todd Burpo instantly believes his son and finds scripture to back up the child's descriptions of heaven, Jesus, John the Baptist and "Pop". Colton continues to remember events and reveals he saw his father praying while he was in surgery, he describes coming out of his body and being held by Jesus. He describes angels, as the bible describes them, not as they are portrayed in paintings. Todd is surprised by his son's revelations because his Sunday school education has not been nearly so advanced for the child to know such biblical details.
Colton becomes a messenger of sorts as time progresses, emphatically expressing that we must have Jesus in our hearts if we are ever to enter heaven.

This was a short read and while I would have wanted to just see Colton's words and not the interpretation of his pastor father, I think the message is more important. I don't feel we should question children. They are far too pure and innocent. My brother spent many months after my grandpa passed, talking to a statue in the cemetery that he claimed was him. My mom, after turning out my light would say "sleep with the angels" and I believe that I did. We were both taught to pray away our bad dreams. Something I still practice 30 years later. Regardless of the lives we chose to lead and the things we chose to believe or not believe, there are countless experiences out there that can not be discounted. I don't know what little Colton experienced, only he does..but I surely believe God was there to cradle and comfort him and his family through his illness. That I won't ever take for granted, because I have experienced that myself.

Book Review- Making Rounds With Oscar

This book will be the first in a string of reviews. To ready myself as a good hospice volunteer I have begun reading books having to do with death, dying, grief, terminal illness etc. These books are suggested by HOM, suggested by friends/family and other bloggers. My blog seems to be taking an interesting turn toward informational as well as personal and you are all on this journey with me!
Making Rounds With Oscar: The extraordinary gift of an ordinary cat
by David Dosa M.D.
Hyperion 2010

Dr. Dosa works as doctor specializing in geriatrics. He finds himself working in a wonderfully caring and home-like nursing home on the advanced dementia ward. The nurses and other staff begin to talk about one of the many cats living in the home, Oscar. He is a surly one and isn't overly friendly. In fact he is rarely seen.. unless a patient is actively dying. Dr. Dosa discovers this is not a new activity for the cat. He has watched over many dying patients long before it was noticed.
Dr. Dosa interviews families of former patients and learns that Oscar was not only a comfort to the person as they passed but also one to the family. In some of the cases Oscar was the only one present during the passing, at which time he would curl up next to the person's body and await the undertaker.
Through Dr. Dosa's interviews the reader learns of the struggles every family has to endure when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. Each family finds its way to the realization and subsequent guilt of needing a nursing home. They grieve their mothers, fathers and spouses long before they have passed due to the dementia taking away much of who they are. And through it all Ocsar watches and waits to do his duty.
Dr. Dosa starts off trying to understand why and how Oscar is able to detect death. What he learns instead is the importance of what Oscar does. The way he helps and comforts and the importance animals play in caring for people with terminal illnesses.

This was a great read, although the conversations did not seem natural (keeping in mind it was written by a Dr. not a writer), the story was beautiful. My Nana passed years ago after deteriorating through that horrible disease we call Alzheimer's. I had long since moved away and struggled each time I visited home. I was honest when I said I didn't want to see her. I wanted to remember her the way I knew her. Healthy and quick witted. My Nana had a huge part in my raising. If I wasn't with one of my parent's then I was surely with her. My brother was "hers" in many ways. Or at least that was her claim from the day he was born. She loved him with a fury I have never witnessed before or again. In her last days/months she carried a photo of him and I in her bra. The last day I saw her alive I sat with her awkwardly and my mom pushed for me to talk to her. I couldn't.. I didn't know her, she didn't know me, I had nothing to say and tears would surely have burst out if I had been able to eek out a single word. Instead she took my hand and held it tight. I could feel the involuntary shaking in her hand begin to stop. She looked at me and said "I don't think I know you" she held tighter to my hand and leaned in and finally said "but I love you." Those were her last words to me, and I am so blessed to have that memory. I was not there for her passing but am told that before she passed she asked for my brother, who was there with her. Knowing how much my family struggled to take care of her and my own short experiences with the disease, I was touched by the honesty displayed by the families in the book. A recurring theme was having to grieve the person they knew while learning to love the person they became. Also, in thinking of Oscar I am reminded of how amazing animals are. They aren't cursed with logic and emotions. They just do, they just react..and sometimes when no one else can, they just love.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

on God.. and faith part 4

here are links to parts 1-3

i have 4 bibles...i got my first from my paternal grandparents so long ago that i scribbled with crayon on the inside... the other 3 i got more mom was so exited when i got my contacts so that i could actually read/see the words... she asks at least every other time if i have read lately.. my usual answer is "no but i know i should".. my views are a little complicated but are becoming clearer... i make no secret of my issues with organized religion and religion in general.. but do want a relationship with God and strive to understand more..i also lack "faith"... i am logical to a fault and still question things that have no answers.. but as i work on my relationship with God through prayer and self exploration i can honestly say i see the world more clearly.. i see beauty that i never saw before.. i see and compartmentalize things so as to less complicate my life... in short.. i trust that God has a plan and place for me with him and i will get there.. eventually...
so.. this morning i got up.. poured a huge gigantic heart stopping cup of coffee..opened my windows and sat to read one of my bibles.. i kind of scanned a few random pages.. i don't have the attention span for much more than that when i am fully caffeinated... anyway i ran across this section in which Paul (i think) speaking...

1 Corinthians 15:43
"Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength"

and it got me thinking about a conversation i had with a woman at a hospice training session... we were being told to respect the religious and spiritual views of patients and families we see..we are supposed to go in as blank slates (hard as that may be).. anyway this woman was telling me of a talk she had with a friend who was atheist but asked her to pray for her when she was sick... "it must be hard" the woman said to me "to not have anything to fall back on," she said "i'd rather put all my faith in God and be wrong in the end instead of believing in nothing and being wrong in the end".. i tend to respect whatever way a person choses to get through life.. whatever way then tend to find their fact i take offence to people who blatantly declare one way of praising God is wrong.. i believe God is too big for religion.. i digress.. like i said.. i am finding my way and making my path..

then i thought of another comment someone made.. plain and simple "rest in peace robert".. i giggled to myself... if the scripture above is true.. which i choose to believe is truth...then you better believe there is no resting in peace going on.. ok so maybe he is snoozing in a golden woven hammock up there.. but with his body fixed and his health and youth restored i imagine he is running, hiking and enjoying such beautiful sights that our human minds can't even fathom them... he is in peace sure... although his neighbors aren't getting so much peace as he snores loud enough to shake the whole kingdom!

the point to all of this is the way a "seemingly" random passage can lead to contemplation.. and that is where i find God.. i believe he guides me to where i need to be.. in my job searching.. rejections and no the daily kinks that get thrown in my way.. He is there and there is a message to it all if i just listen hard enough...and because i can find this clarity more easily i can spend the rest of my day dancing in my living room.. cause life is beautiful!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

journal part 6- final

spent memorial day weekend the way the rest of the world and out of lowes and with a hot dog or two...last memorial day i wrote in my journal for the last time until october 2009 then once again in march after my papa passed..for the life of me i can not remember what i/we did that memorial day.. i know i went back home for father's day (which is coming up and which sends me crying out of stores every time i see the card displays) in any event, memorial day of 2009 left me once again questioning my husband was very supportive of me being home with my dad when i needed to be... but i struggled dealing with pent up feelings of having moved away in the first place.. we moved from AZ after he failed to find work there after a that time i have had a chance to earn my degree and do what i need to do so that we won't need to depend entirely on his income.. but somewhere in the deepest parts of my brain there is a little girl who never wanted to leave her family and unfortunately the blame wrongly falls on him when i am most upset or feeling torn.. we are looking and trying now to move closer to home but after losing my grandparents then my dad.. sometimes i can't help but feel "too little too late".. and that is not something i want to think about right now as i look for jobs and opportunities... so on with the journal entry...
for the other 5 in this series follow these links:

memorial day, 2009

since i have been back in MI i feel like a zombie. just doing what needs to be done on autopilot. my heart is with you not here, and not in my daily activities. i find myself feeling sorry for (my husband). i have nothing to give him. my patience is gone, my smiles are gone, there is no more me.. inside of me. everything i do revolves around the fact that you have cancer. every thought i have, every breath i breathe reminds me. but how else should it be?
then there is this limbo that i am stuck in. half of me is begging God for a miracle while the other half is readying myself for the inevitable. and the continuous guilt of not being home with you eats me alive. i suggested to (my husband) that we spend the weekend reconnecting, maybe we should get away. but i know i have nothing to offer. there is no connection to be had when all i want is to be with you while i still have the opportunity. i am at a total loss.
but my new motto, busy hands=busy mind... seems to dull it all a little bit.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Blogger: My Brother

my dad and brother would take these road trips.. they drove route 66 into new mexico one weekend.. just on a whim.. they went to disneyland (just the two of them).. they camped and visited friends.. and went on a trip to tombstone.. i don't know whose idea this photo was.. i am sure it was my dads (see like watching nature for the solo photo taken years earlier) but it is one of my favorites... anyone can see the camaraderie and friendship between the two

if you have read my blog for any amount of time then you know that my brother plays a big part in it... because as much as this is my blog.. my dad was OUR dad.. so i could never leave his views or experiences out of it.. for past blog posts featuring my brother see:

brother bear, mine, his, ours and we are

i woke up this morning to an amazing surprise.. a guest blog email from none other... it was so hard to read because we don't really talk about this.. we try to think about the good times.. and i think we worry about protecting each other's feelings.. but it made me think about something i learned over the weekend..i am in training to volunteer for hospice... and in our first training we talked a little about the dying process.. we were told to listen to the patients in their process of passing.. we should take it seriously if they are talking to people that have passed before or if they are reaching out.. our dad waved into the corner.. my mom asked if he was waving to the angels.. he nodded yes... we were also told that hearing is the last sense to go.. so they can hear us even if they do not respond.. my brother and i took turns telling our dad that we would be okay, that he can rest.. it was not permission to die.. never that.. it was the understanding that this cancer had taken his body and my God we would miss him and hurt for him but we didn't want him to struggle... or worry about us in his last hours.. he waited till my brother and i left the room to pass.. and in my brother's writing of his last words to our dad i fully believe he heard him.. and was proud of his strength.. and as much as he didn't want to leave us.. knew.. we would be okay...

and i am so proud of him for doing this.. for putting his feelings into words.. into taking such a cathartic step.. so without further ado.. my brother's words

I always think back to his sick days and I feel like it’s healthy to write a little about it. The first time I found out my dad was sick was a week after we went to go see Gran Torino and my dad was shaving and told me, “hey don’t I look like Clint Eastwood?” The day before he told me I had went with him to a doctor’s appointment, he said to come with him inside where the doctor was going to talk to him, then he told me “maybe you should just wait outside”, I began to worry. Let’s skip through to the part where they told me. It was a Saturday after the doctor’s appointment and I felt something was weird, as my mom and dad and I sat down to eat breakfast my mom said “your dad has cancer.” I looked at my dad and cried and ran outside then called my sister right away, she explained to me he will be having surgery and everything will be okay.

The night of my dad’s surgery I remember doing the most stupid thing ever. I smoked pot. I guess I felt like this was the thing to do at a time like this, I was wrong and I told my sister and she was very upset and I trashed the weed that night. The surgery, as we were waiting in the waiting room I was just anxious I wanted it to be over already. We got to see my dad before he went into surgery and I cried, he told me “I will be alright and I’ll see you when I get out.” I left my dad and went outside, I needed fresh air. Just then my cousins Mike and Gj and Jr came to get me and we went to eat. When my dad got out of surgery I felt so much better, happy and thanking God. Thinking to myself that everything’s over now, but I was wrong. The doctors tested my dad again and found that there was more cancer and it spread. I couldn't believe it and started blaming God. After the doctors tried treatment a couple different times, my dad became very weak and I hated it but as long as the cancer would go away he needed to keep doing it. I was let down those times the treatments failed I had hoped something would work. It didn't.

My dad gave his life to Christ, September of 2009. He was so full of hope and we had an angel with us, Gilbert Castillo (Gj). He did so much for my dad, he loved him so much and my dad loved him, Gj was at our house everyday praying and keeping my dad full of hope. When my dad was coming to his last days Gj was suppose to go on a trip with his soon to be wife, my dad told Gj “Go have a good time.” My dad didn't care about himself; he wanted Gj to have a good time.

Another angel sent to us was Natalie Zaragoza, she would take my dad to all the appointments and treated my dad as if he were hers. It seemed like she always knew what to do. (I’m not trying to leave people out, the others I didn't mention you know who you are).

The last day, I remember everyone coming over. My Tia Kinney played the guitar, I guess to make his final breath peaceful. As everyone was in the room my mom begged my dad to get up and drink coffee begged and cried, and just told him to get up. I finally did the hardest thing ever, I stood up and gave my dad a hug and told him “dad, you can go now, you can go dad, we will be okay, mom will be okay, you don’t have to fight anymore. dad you fought hard enough dad now you just rest”(11:00pm). My dad did not pass away until 3:35am he waited and still fought to his last breath.

My dad left me with his personality as I’m told by some people. He left and touched so many people’s hearts and left spaces in their hearts as well. To this day I always have my dad with me. I know God is preparing a place for me in heaven so I can be with my dad. I wish I could just hug him and tell him I love him and tell him thank you one last time, but I know the next time we meet it will be forever.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

adventures of a fishing vest

my dad decided to give fly fishing a try.. my husband lent him some waders and he caught a few bass..when he returned home (back to AZ) he apparently purchased a fly fishing vest..i didn't know about it until i was home with him for his last few months of life... some nights i would get into his closet and smell his shirts... when he was sick he didn't quite smell like himself.. and i longed for the dust mixed with stetson and leather smell that seemed to cling to him all the time... while in his closet one night while everyone slept i found the vest.. it was in the very back and the tags were still on it... i don't know when he bought it or why he never used it.. but there it hung...
when he passed i took a few things home with me... i have his rusty spurs, the belt buckle he would have been burred with..and the vest...
it hung in my closet for this year and some months until my husband and i decided to take this impromptu fishing trip... i packed sandwich fixings, threw an extra pair of underwear and a toothbrush in a bag..then at the last moment packed the vest.. when i took the tags off i was overcome with the sense that my dad had touched them... they were just price tags.. but no one else had touched them.. just him.. and me... i put the tags into a little box and we were off...
we got there and i set up camp, alone, in under 30 mins.. annoyed with mosquitoes and a lazy bones hubby... but proud too... i set off to look for dry wood and find the river..
when we decided to hike out to the river and do some fishing i loaded up the vest... i don't fly fish so the vest held my eye drops, chapstick, bug spray, dean koontz book and inhaler.. i deemed it my "swiss army vest"... no fish were caught.. we had ramen noodles for dinner
all went well until the second day when we got up and made coffee and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches... i missed my dad's camp breakfasts.. eggs, potatoes, sausage, tortillas (he or my mom would make that for at least one morning)... we fished and fished.. and still nothing.. but it was too quiet... and even with the hubs right next to me i felt.. alone... we target shot the pistol.. and i did well.. i called my mom to check in.. but realized after i hung up that i really wanted to talk to my dad.. i was just missing him so much..
i love to be out in nature.. i feel closer to him there.. but this trip seemed to put him farther away... doing the things he loved.. without him.. with so many reminders around us (the vest, the camp chair, the coffee percolator, the fillet knife, and countless other supplies he'd given us though the years) it just seemed wrong to do it without him...
on our fishless way home i thought about the bugs and the many mosquito bites i would be scratching after a shower washed the grime away, i thought of the way i took down camp in under 20 mins!.. and i realized this trip was without complaint (a miracle in and of itself.. because i am the queen of whine).. i was sore and achy.. tired and dirty.. and as much as i missed my papa...i was also proud of myself.. and i know he would have been too

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy birthday Papa!

this is the birthday boy.. may 10th 2009..we only had a handful of months left with him and in the back of our minds we wondered if this would be his last..
those, however, were not his balloons.. they were the one's he got my mom 4 days before, for her birthday... he thought holding them was a cute idea.. i remember this day like it was yesterday.. i wish it was... he is missed every day of my life.. but even more so on special days..

today would have been my dad's 63rd birthday.. it is the second time we are marking this day without him.. tonight my husband and i are going to go fishing and then we are going to share memories over pie... birthday's are strange when the person you are celebrating is gone... that need to mark the day is still there... we are all just so scared that he will be forgotten.. but.. that can never happen.. my dad touched so many people's lives and huge spaces are left in so many people that he won't ever be forgotten.. his was a life that was lived so fully and with so much heart that the mark he left on this world is truly a stain.. haha

i didn't expect it when i started blogging, but more and more of you are getting to know him as well..for my newer readers.. i had posted a series of "5 things" .. they were lists of 5 things you should know about my daddy... and to celebrate his life today i am reposting them and creating a list entitled:
15 things you should know about my dad- plus a few more
  1. my dad was not afraid of the tighty whiteys... he would open the door in them.. unashamed.. and more focused on the reason you are at the door to begin with... when he was getting very thin and his shorts fell down in the front lawn (can you call rocks a lawn?) he just grinned.. and said the breeze felt nice....
  2. my dad loved to dance (let me quantify this a bit more.. not so much actual dancing.. more like silly movements to music)... it was not surprising to catch him doing a little jig to whatever music was in his head.. and if there was actual music.. watch out!
  3. my dad loved music- our lives were filled with music.. many times he would start singing and after a while we would all join in... sometimes he would sit and strum his guitar and my brother would get out his keyboard and it would sound just horrible! when his mp3 player was full of battery power, he was in his own little world of cindy lauper and old country
  4. my dad was strong... not in the way that most girls except their dads to be.. i mean STRONG... naturally strong.. he definitely had a steel working bull riding grip.. holding his hand when he prayed, even in his last days, felt like holding an anvil...
  5. my dad was happiest outdoors.. hunting.. fishing... camping... even simply sitting on the porch... he was like an ocean mammal.. he had to get out for air in order to live..what i think he got out of it... is what i am ever in search of.. freedom...
  6. never ask him for help with homework: my dad was probably too smart for his own good... he watched too much PBS... my brother and i asked him as a last know.. when you are just trying to get done... you just want to go to bed... but you have one last thing to do and it is stumping you get desperate.. and ask him... well settle in.. it's going to be a while... my favorite example is when i was working on dividing fractions... and he told me the history of fractions!!!! the history!!!!!
  7. sometimes he really DIDN'T know: you could have asked my dad anything... ANYTHING... and he would know the answer.. as a little girl.. i thought he really did know everything... as an adult... i saw just how much he made up... yup.. made up... my brother didn't believe me... we were trying to remember who sings the theme song for Toy Story (randy newman, the laziest song writer alive).... but dad said john sebastian... he answered with so much conviction..we laughed and said he'd made it up... he never admitted to making up that name... he said Google was wrong....
  8. he watched ANYONE who performed on Austin City Limits: on the last list i wrote about how much he loved music.. well this included horrible bands like Cold Play.. simply because they played Austin City Limits... i had a bit of a crush on Paolo Nutini... before i knew his name i called him the hot Scottish guy... from the other side of the house i heard "the hot Scottish guy is on!!!!"... when i got there he was laughing... "just kidding, it's willie nelson again"
  9. he hated The Simpsons: few things really got his goat... i will never know if he actually ever watched an episode...i think he would have thought it was funny.. but his heels were dug in and he stuck to it....i was grown.. an adult... visiting from Michigan... i was up late watching the simpsons... he walked in and started yelling at me ( adult.. married.. living a half a country away)..... i giggled and blew it off.. until he woke up my mom to tell on me.....
  10. he personified IRON WILL: he woke up at 4am to go to work... some mornings i would be awake to and watched him drive away from my bedroom window.. i felt so sorry for him... to have to go to work in the dark....some days he came home with burned holes in his shirt or skin! (welding).... he worked really hard for us for so many years.... i think it had to be the will to work... when he was in his wheelchair... he did everything he could to still walk to the bathroom.. he would lock his legs... even if was just a few steps... when he pulled himself on and off the wheel chair.... it was will.. sheer will...
  11. my dad was never bored: he could easily amuse himself... usually by making some kind of animal call with his mouth.. his favorite was a javelina call.. one particularly uneventful fishing trip comes to mind... on one side of the lake sat my dad, myself, my brother and my husband.. on the other was a pair of men... then after an entire day of nibbles my dad begins to call in these phantom javelina... the men across the lake didn't realize that the horrible sound was coming from my dad.. they looked left and right for the large hairy pig.. when they realized it was my dad they laughed in relief and we all called it a day...
  12. he liked trying new things: on one trip to San Fransisco he talked us all into trying "authentic" Chinese food... lets just say it involved a few live things.. and some tepid octopus... not to mention the time he decided to take up skate boarding and went out and bought himself a skate board complete with vicious looking cobra on the deck
  13. he loved kids: before i came along he doted on his nieces and nephews.. each of us, it seems, had our own song... most didn't have words.. just a cute little tune.. either way.. we were all very special to him
  14. he didn't drink: he sipped... he nursed.. possibly before i was born and in his younger years he did.. but what i like about this is that he didn't need to.. he was fun and laid back all on his own... he was real.. all the time
  15. he was slow: he drove slow, ate slow, walked slow.. and it drove people nuts... i am sure it drove me nuts a time or two... but now when i think about it, i can appreciate it... that he didn't rush through life... he was always stopping to smell the roses...
  16. he had tiny teeth... i don't know why or how but his teeth were little.. but.. he made up for it with a huge warm smile
  17. he had little hands (i have little hands) short stubby fingers... but i miss them the most.. i miss the roughness of them and the strength within them.. those seemingly small stout hands could have and sometimes did carry the world
  18. he could sneeze you out of a car... his truck(s) were always dusty.. and it never failed.. anytime you got into the cab with him he would sneeze.. a sneeze that would literally fog you out.. no matter how close you leaned to the window...
  19. he was a man of few words... he didn't say a whole lot... he was quiet and patient and just sat there and took things in.. but when he had something to say.. i don't think anyone could NOT listen..
happy birthday papa!