Monday, November 25, 2013
With Thanksgiving only three days away, most of us are thinking about all that we have to be thankful for. My first thought was that I would love to forget 2013 because of the loss of my husband. Indeed, it was the hardest thing I've ever faced in my life. But as I reflect on the entire year, I realize that I have so many wonderful memories that I don't want to forget.
This year, God gave me so much time to spend with Tommy doing the things that we loved. I am thankful that Tommy felt good right up until two days before he passed. We were able to have our wonderful vacation together in May and many other weekend and day trips. As much as Tommy hated going to the cancer center every other week for his treatments, it also made his free time much more precious and we enjoyed every minute together. Even though I miss him terribly every day, I can smile as I think of all the good times we shared.
I spent this past weekend with my best friend at Myrtle Beach. Her mother passed away recently, also from cancer, so we decided we both needed to get away for a few days. We found a great deal on a 2 bedroom/2 bath oceanfront condo with great views from the 10th floor. It was a busy, but wonderful, weekend.
View from our condo.
Broadway at the Beach
A light show we went to.
They had a great Santa Claus who had the perfect jolly laugh.
Yesterday after checking out we drove to Huntington Beach. It's my favorite because of all the birds and very few people on the beach.
Yes, I have so much to be thankful for, and this fun weekend is just one more thing to add to the list.
Finally, I must say that I am truly thankful for my Spark Friends. Thank you all for your kind words of support over the last four years. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and are able to spend it with all of your loved ones creating special memories.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
The last two weeks have been incredibly busy. Most importantly, my youngest son, Jeremy, got married on October 4th and I'm very happy that I now have a wonderful new daughter-in-law, Rosa. I felt so honored that they wanted me to perform the ceremony. They were married at a park close to my home with family attending. We went through their vows a few times the evening before and I was confident that all would go well. Then shortly after beginning the ceremony, I unexpectedly was caught up in a rush of emotions as I looked at both of them. I'm not a person who is prone to crying, but I really had to work hard to fight back the tears, even stopping to few times to take a few deep breaths and regain my composure. Of course Jeremy and Rosa had to tease me afterward about almost crying, but looking at my baby and suddenly realizing that he was a man and was embarking on his new life with his wonderful bride caused so many emotions to surface. They are a wonderful couple and I know they are going to have a great life together.
I was really working hard not to cry.
They are so adorable together.
Their baby, Heinlein, who also got to attend the ceremony.
A cute picture by the huge poplar tree at the park.
They then celebrated their marriage at a reception that evening with family and friends. Because they both love Halloween, they decided on a Halloween theme for their wedding. I wasn't sure about this in the beginning, but it was all fun and everything turned out great. Because I used to make wedding cakes many years ago, they also asked me to do their cake. Of course they presented me with a real challenge with the cake they picked out, but in the end it turned out well and everyone seemed to like the orange buttercream icing they wanted. After getting them to the airport for their honeymoon trip to New Mexico (which they absolutely loved), it was right back to work for me.
The wedding cake
After a few days of rest, I then had to get ready to go to Charlotte for the NASCAR races. My aunt and uncle had invited me to come with them and to bring a friend. I brought my daughter-in-law Sonya (Tommy's son's wife) with me. My aunt and uncle had provided everything for us, including our hotel room for the weekend, the tickets, and dinner both evenings at the Speedway Club. They are so good to me and I truly appreciate all they do. We all had a good time at the races, but it seemed so strange going without Tommy. He was always the huge race fan and really the main reason I always went. I'll be meeting my aunt and uncle again in a couple of weeks for the race in Martinsville, Virginia. Even though I don't really like hot dogs, I guess I'll have to have one for Tommy as he loved their famous hot dogs at that track.
Rainbow over the track before the start of the race.
Nik Wallenda and his sister also performed before the race on Saturday.
We had great seats overlooking the track in the restaurant at the Speedway Club.
I'm enjoying the day off work today, but I really wish it wasn't raining outside as I'd rather be hiking. Oh well, this is a good time for me to get my house cleaned.
Hope everyone is having a great week!
Friday, September 20, 2013
I do have a tendency to be impulsive sometimes, especially when I'm angry, the worst possible time to make decisions. Yesterday was one of those times, or maybe not.
I won't start by picking on a particular internet service provider. Actually, I will, but I just won't name them here in case someone works for them. Anyway, we've been with this same company for years and have been paying a ridiculous price for their fastest speed. I will admit that it is really fast, when it works.
Over the last year our internet has gone down more times than I can count. Tommy used to get so frustrated because he loved to keep in contact with all of his friends on Facebook. We would always do the whole unplugging everything, plugging it back in and waiting to see if it would come back up (all of you with problems know the drill). Sometimes it would come back up, sometimes not. On those occasions when it didn't, I would have to make the dreaded call, go through all of the obnoxious menus, get a technician on the phone who would make us go through the unplugging drill again, even though I would always explain that I'd already done this, and then they would inform me when a technician would be at my house (usually 2 to 3 days). They would usually come out, replace our modem, it would come back up and they would leave, only to have the problems begin again.
Yesterday was another one of those days. Around mid morning I went to send an important email out and NO internet signal. My son and I went through the drill and still no internet. I called our provider's customer service department only to have the rep try to give me a lower priced tier. Really? I guess he thought I would feel better about paying less for no service. This is where my impulsive behavior came into play. I told him "Turn my service off right now." He again asked me if the price was an issue and I AGAIN explained to him, much slower this time, "I t d o e s n o t w o r k." And again, I told him to turn it off immediately because I wasn't interested in paying any price for intermittent service. Now understanding how angry I was, he turned it off.
Next came the part where I began questioning my decision. I started calling around looking for a new provider. Because we live in a rural area, there was only one other provider and their speed in our area was pretty slow (probably too slow to use Netflix instant watch, which I love). Oh no, I had no service and no other good options!
I woke up this morning thinking I would have to tuck my tail between my legs and go grovelling back to my previous provider for service.
I kept putting off calling, and I'm sure happy I did. I received a call from the provider this morning thanking me for being a loyal customer - LOL - and asking for another chance to make it right. Okay, now I was feeling a little smug and told the rep I wasn't interested in paying a high price if they weren't going to figure out why I keep having problems. He offered to cut my bill significantly for one year (with no contract) if I would let them come out this weekend and check everything out to correct any problems. I agreed (of course) and I'll make sure they check all the wiring when they come out as I suspect that's where the problem really is.
They must have immediately turned it back on because my internet is now back up and working. I'll still make them check everything out because the on, off, on, off has been a pattern over the last year. Still, I'm happy they have restored my faith in them by promising to find the problem. Now we'll see if they keep that promise.
On a different issue, has anyone priced a new roof lately? I'm having sticker shock, but I have to have a new roof. Oh well, that's another story for another time.
This is my weekend to work so no hiking for me, but I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Sunday, September 15, 2013
I can't believe Tommy has been gone almost two months. In one way it seems like just yesterday, yet in another it feels like it's been forever since I last saw him. There have been some very tough times, especially his birthday on August 17th and September 10th which was four years from the date of his diagnosis. We were looking forward to visiting his surgeon on his five year anniversary, but that was not to be.
I have mostly let myself go the last two months by eating whatever I wanted with minimal exercise. Actually, my main form of exercise has been yard work, something Tommy had taken care of right up until the end. I've found myself watching more TV than I used to and not spending as much time with my friends as I should. I've been putting on a good face for family and friends and so they think I'm amazingly strong; nothing could be further from the truth. When I'm alone I often find myself roaming about my house, but not really knowing why. I haven't been out on a real hike and I haven't been kayaking (although Cliff has certainly tried to get me out). I haven't been sleeping well at night and so I'm often very tired during the day. In other words, I've been doing nothing healthy.
I did take one trip to the mountains a couple of weeks ago. I think I was just so mentally exhausted that I wanted to get away alone, so I headed to my uncle's vacation house in West Jefferson. Tommy and I used to go up there often so it felt very strange driving up by myself. It was a good weekend with a lot of time to revisit some of our favorite spots and even more time to think. It's the best rest I've had in weeks and I came home feeling a bit better. Following are some pictures I took that weekend.
Inside historic St. Mary's Episcopal Church in West Jefferson, NC.
Blowing Rock, NC
The tiny town of Todd, NC
Of course the bakery had fresh, homemade apple turnovers, and yes, I had one. It was wonderful!
Morning mist from the deck of my uncle's house. It was the perfect place for morning coffee.
Sunset on the North Fork New River
A stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Yesterday morning I opened the back door to let Thor out and the cool morning air came rushing in around me. I have always loved fall and the crisp air seemed to breathe new life into me. The truth is that I've been avoiding living since Tommy's passing, maybe feeling a little guilty about going on without him. Tommy was a fighter and enjoyed every minute he had, even while battling cancer, so who am I to simply sit down and let life pass me by? He worried about how his passing would effect everyone, so I cannot let his fears become a reality. He would be so disappointed. It is time for me to rejoin life while keeping Tommy close in my heart.
So today I will drag myself off of my couch and Thor and I will head to Pilot Mountain or Hanging Rock to enjoy this beautiful weather today. I will get back to logging my food and exercise and I plan to spend more time with my friends. I'm also going to Florida in early December to visit family, something I am really looking forward to. In the meantime, my youngest son is getting married in three weeks and I feel honored that they have asked me to perform the ceremony.
By the way, I'm becoming a real handyman around the house. It seems that everything began breaking down in the last two months. My sons and I have tackled the jobs and, with the exception of mounting a new mower tire on the rim (had to take it to Firestone), we have accomplished all of our own repairs.
I appreciate all of the nice comments, private messages and goodies from you all. Again, I haven't been as active here as I should have, but that is now going to change as I work to get back to being a part of life instead of being a spectator.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!
Friday, August 02, 2013
My house is finally quiet. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I do know that as much as I appreciated everyone who was here, I am somewhat relieved that they have all gone home. They all meant well in their attempts to keep me from being sad, but anyone who has lost a loved one knows that is not possible. Everything just felt so chaotic to me with friends and family in every room of my house, all telling their own Tommy stories, some laughing, some crying, and all the while thoughts spinning through my mind, just longing for some peace and quiet to process all that had happened so quickly. Now I have the quiet I so badly wanted and I'm left alone with all those thoughts and trying to find a way to deal with the reality that Tommy is not going to walk back through the door. Everywhere I look, I see Tommy's things, his empty recliner, his cell phone, pictures on the wall, his racing memorabilia, his laptop computer, his clothes hanging in our closet. I knew this time would eventually come, but I had no idea it would be this soon.
Thor had such a hard time the first few days as he had also lost his best friend and it was immediately obvious that he knew something was terribly wrong. He would lay on his bed and whine for no apparent reason. Only constant petting seemed to somewhat help until Tommy's barber saw me at the funeral home. She asked how Thor was doing as Tommy always talked about him. When I told her about my concerns, she recommended me giving him some of Tommy's unwashed clothes. When I arrived home that night, I went to my bedroom and retrieved from the hospital bag the t-shirt that Tommy had on when I took him to the emergency room. I put it in Thor's bed with him and after a couple minutes of sniffing it, he laid on it and went to sleep. He seems to be comforted by these items and continues to sleep with the t-shirt and also Tommy's neck pillow that he used in his recliner. Thor's doing much better than he was, but he still has his moments of whining for no apparent reason.
My sons and stepsons have been incredible through all of this. My youngest son, Jeremy, told me last week that I needed to get away from everyone and relax a few days and that he was taking me away. I was unsure about leaving, mainly because of Thor, but my older son assured me he and his friends would be here at my house to take care of Thor and encouraged me to go. Jeremy picked me up Friday morning and drove to Savannah, Georgia, a place that Tommy and I really loved when we stopped there last year. We spent three days there and probably walked more miles in that time than I have in the last three months. It was nice and I have to admit that it was a good escape for a few days but I felt somewhat guilty about going. Tommy and I had talked about visiting Savannah again this winter for a few days and enjoying it without him just felt kind of wrong. I felt a little better, however, when my stepson told me Tommy would want me to keep traveling, taking pictures and enjoying my life. I know in my heart he is right, but this is going to take some time.
My wonderful supervisor told me to take whatever time I needed before returning to work, but I went back night before last. My co-workers have been so supportive and some questioned me returning too soon, but the truth is it felt good to be back instead of sitting here in my quiet home. Maybe someday things will start to feel normal again, or maybe not. Because this is the long weekend off for the rotation I work, I am driving up to West Jefferson today to visit my aunt and uncle at their vacation home. It's going to seem weird going up there alone. Tommy and I have spent many weekends up there because he loved it so much, but it will be nice to see them.
Thank you all so much for all of the nice notes and messages. I will eventually get around to answering you all, but it may take some time. Just know that I have read each and every one of them and I truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers.
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