The End of My Sheloshim – Well, If I was Jewish

IMG_0359  My husband and best friend, Mason, passed away right before the New Year and today marks the first 30 days that I have lived without him, grieved for him, missed him and experienced the saddest days of my life. 30 emotionally charged, draining, poignant, friends and family filled, challenging, lonely, horrible days.

June 3rd was that day for Sheryl Sandberg, celebrated COO at Facebook, and she wrote a very moving post on her Facebook page about what she has learned from the loss of her husband and her search for meaning in all of it during her first 30 days. I had actually read her post over the summer while my husband was in the hospital, it had been circulating on Facebook and several other outlets and I was moved to tears when I read it. I was carrying on a vigil at my husbands bedside willing him to get better and watching the doctors and nurses like a hawk. I was emotionally drained, but I understood every word she wrote about losing the love of her life and trying to get through it. And at the time I was just so thankful I still had my beloved.

My mother phoned to check in with me over the weekend and mentioned Sheryl as someone who’s writing I should consider, she wasn’t sure what I might be reading or doing to help me get through my grief and she thought I could relate to Mrs. Sandberg. It triggered my memory of her post from the summer.  Thanks mom for thinking to mention her; I can relate very well to much of what she has written; in particular this passage struck a cord when I read it again:

“I can’t even express the gratitude I feel to my family and friends who have done so much and reassured me that they will continue to be there. In the brutal moments when I am overtaken by the void, when the months and years stretch out in front of me endless and empty, only their faces pull me out of the isolation and fear. My appreciation for them knows no bounds.”

My family and friends have been and continue to be amazing and I could not have made it through these 30 days without them. Thank you to my little brother for driving 3 hours to stay with me that first night. Blessings to my sweet friend Rebecca for bringing me coffee and something to eat the next day and staying with me until my parents arrived.  And to my parents who dropped everything to spend the next several days with me; helping me cope, comforting me – even oddly at times, making sure I ate and helping me care for my dogs. I don’t know what I would have done without you. And to my sisters and brother who sent their love, stopped their lives, traveled from near and far to come and celebrate Mason’s life  – Thank You – that meant so much. And to my step-daughters and grandchildren who have all sent love, checked in on me and helped me plan the celebration of Mason ~ I will forever love you like my own. To so many friends and colleagues at work and in life who reached out via text, email, phone, Facebook and through cards and letters to remind me of happy stories of Mason and tell me about the positive impact he had had on their lives, it has helped me smile and meant more than I can ever express and I truly appreciate your ongoing love and support.

I couldn’t really imagine one day without Mason, he was my best friend, my champion, my confidant and my companion for my entire adult life. I shared everything with him and no one in the world knew me better or more intimately. During these 30 horrible days, this is the part of my broken life that brings me to tears, the loss of my other half, the keeper of my stories, the shared jokes, the little things that made us happy everyday.  A hug and a kiss at the end of a tough day, a “don’t let the bastards get you down” when life got hard, a reminder to look at a beautiful sunset, a chuckle and a point at something silly our puppies were doing or a belly laugh at something funny Tony Kornheiser said on PTI.  It is all irretrievably lost and I am sure I will feel that loss forever.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:   it goes on.”  Robert Frost

I loved him so very much and I know he loved me unconditionally and with everything he had and I was so fortunate to have 30 amazing years with him. My life will never be the same, but I also know he would want me to be happy, to make him proud and to go on and live a good and fulfilling life. And for him and for me I will live that life.  I will count my blessings everyday, I will take care of myself and my family and friends the very best that I can, I will smile at that sunset and think of him, I will find ways to laugh and find joy and I will take every opportunity to tell those that I love and care about how much they mean to me.

If I have gained any wisdom through this loss, it is to always love with all your heart even if it might break one day, because it was so worth it.

 

 

 

Where Did I Come From?

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I had every intention of writing and publishing a couple of new stories this week, but when I started researching a question for a story some how I ended up looking something up on Ancestry.com and I have been completely sucked into it, spending most of last Sunday just looking around.

Wow, so much interesting information. And, one of my grandmother’s relatives has done a huge amount of work on that part of the family tree. She had posted pictures of family, places they lived or had gotten married and filled in several generations of family  – it was so cool!

  • My Great, Great Grandfather George came through Ellis Island in 1907
  • My Great Grandmother Kate had like 10 brothers and sisters
  • My fathers mother was married once before she married my grandfather
  • My Grandma Jean’s father passes away in Texas and never had any other children with his second wife.

Now I have to check in with one of my great aunts that is still with us and get some more details on my Dad’s side of the family.

Sorry for my distraction, but it can really capture your attention.

 

 

They Make Me Smile

imageThese are my Menehune, they were given to me by my grandmother a dozen or so years ago when she was cleaning out her house during a move or while redecorating, I can’t quite remember. She had had them for as long as I can remember, getting them on a trip to Hawaii sometime in the 60’s. They always sat on a bookshelf in her living room at the “farm” and I was fascinated by them as a child and loved to take them down from the shelf, play with them like dolls and rub their shiny bellies and smile at their big grins.

My grandmother would sometimes tell me funny stories about them or tease me that they were watching me and I better be good. My grandmother always loved clowns too for some reason, I don’t know why, and these reminded me of some of the clowns she had around her home.

My grandmother always told me they were carved out of Lava Rocks and I never questioned that answer. But today I took a closer look and they do have a marking on the side of the little woman “Made in Hawaii with Lava by C0 C0 Joe No. 289” The little man has no markings. I am guessing by the markings on the bottom that maybe it was melted lava rocks poured into molds? I’m not sure, but I found a pair very close to mine on eBay listed for $119.

I went in search of some more information about the little figurines  and found some interesting information about the legend of the Menehune. From the ToHawaii.com travel site it talks about the legend of the Menehune;

“Hawaiian legend has it that many centuries ago, the Menehune were a mischievous group of small people, or dwarfs, who lived hidden in the forests and valleys of the islands before the first settlers arrived from Polynesia. These Menehune, who roamed the deep forests at night, were said to be about two feet (60 cm) tall, though some were as tiny as six inches (15 cm), small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. They enjoyed dancing, singing and archery, and their favorite foods were bananas and fish.

The Menehune have been known to use magic arrows to pierce the heart of angry people, igniting feelings of love instead. They also enjoy cliff diving, and according to local lore, they were smart, extremely strong and excellent craftsmen. They were rarely seen by human eyes, and they are credited with mighty feats of engineering and overnight construction.”

Menehune

Menehune Fish Pond (picture from www.gohawaii.com

“This fishpond is said to have been built in just one night by the menehune, the mythical little people of Kauai. The menehune were master craftsmen who could accomplish amazing deeds in very little time. They used to live in the island’s forests and hid from humans, so during one night they came out and built the fishpond. They did this by lining up from the village of Makaweli, 25 miles (40 km) away, passing stones hand-by-hand.

The fishpond is located next to the Hulei’a Stream. A lava rock wall between the pond and the stream is 900 feet (274 m) long and 5 feet (1.5 m) high, which is amazing considering the fact that archaeologists estimate that the fishpond is around 1,000 years old. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.”

And this is a fun little fact if you believe the legend or even if you don’t:

Even though the Menehune were said to be displaced when the first settlers arrived in Hawaii, some people still believe that the Menehune are roaming the islands, carrying out tricks on people. Indeed, an 1820 Census of Kauai listed 65 people as ‘Menehune.‘”

I have my doubts about the legends, but I will always smile and think fondly of my sweet grandmother whenever I look upon my little Menehune.

Do you have any cool travel treasure or fun family heirlooms?

Dad

For father’s day I will tell a tale,

of the man who tries hard without fail.

He has an artist flare and a linguist tongue,

he cures the back and is a proprietor for fun.

 

His father left when he was ten,

a father’s love that never began.

That father dropped by once, out of the blue,

no one knows why and why we never knew.

 

He worries a lot and pisses off a few,

some friends for life but only those who’ve paid their dues.

So much to do when he was young,

but there was always time to camp, and fish and run.

 

He has a hearty laugh and can tell a tale,

he knows everyone in town and can make a sale.

He can build a house and a make a home,

just never ask about the unfinished zone.

 

He has traveled far and near

enjoys his food and likes a Stella beer.

Always a friend to sweets,

tiramisu is a favorite treat.

 

A day with dad I’ll always remember,

we fished all day at the rivers edge one cold September.

No work for him, no school for me,

a lovely memory it will forever be.

 

 

 

Grandfather

Andy and Grandpa My grandfather! (with my little brother)

I recently spent the day visiting my 86 year old grandfather. He told me about his winter in Arizona, his plans for fishing trips and a cruise to Alaska over the summer and the goings on of my little brother. It was a fun, relaxed conversation until we touched on the subject of my grandmother. I mentioned that I had had a dream about her the night before, likely because I knew I was driving up to see him the next day.  In my dream my grandma was younger, probably the age she was when I was a little girl, younger than I am now. She was giving me advise and telling me what not to do and that she was glad I had visited. His eyes darted away, but he told me that sometimes he dreams she is still there in the house with him on nights when he is in a deep sleep. He seemed a bit sad and changed the subject, but it was a lovely little glimpse behind the man that is always so stoic.

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Grandma and Grandpa Land in Hawaii!

We also talked about some of the trips he had taken with grandma. One trip was on a rickety train from Arizona to some resort in Mexico where the train was so rocky and the tracks so poorly maintained that the train rocked and rolled, you had to wear seat belts in the beds and you couldn’t even walk from one train car to another because it was just too dangerous. He also told me about trips to Hawaii in the good old days where you could golf all week for a $100 and all their friends came over with tee-times every day, evening cocktail hours and days spent at the beach.

He told me about some of the work he had done as a young man, advise he was given by his bosses. He told me about his first car, a model T that he suped-up with a new engine that made it go so fast that if you turned the corner too quickly the wheels would come off.

He fixed lunch for me; homemade clam chowder and a tuna sandwich with red velvet cake for dessert. Grandpa is a wonderful cook, his clam chowder and oyster stew are so good and no one in the world smokes a salmon like him.

I am so thankful for his good health and his positive attitude. I feel lucky for everyday I get to spend with him. It’s sad that I waited this long, but I am trying to ask those questions that are sometimes hard to ask and to talk about those things we share even when it can be a difficult conversation.

Have you been waiting to have those conversations?  Are you figuring there will always be tomorrow?

The Fear Effect

Fear is a familiar friend,

it sucks my life without end.

Fear of what I don’t always know,

it’s always there, a common foe.

 

As I write these words I have my doubts.

Don’t write, it’s crap. Will fear win out?

Is fear my excuse or why I fail

or why I don’t make the attempt and chase my tail?

 

Everyone gets scared at times, of this I’m fairly certain,

but the ones who win the game are those who show fear a hurtin!

 

Awhile back I wrote a post about my Nagging Omission with my husband. Well recently I pulled off that bandage, faced my fear and went all in with a quick rip. First I showed my blog to my husband, letting him read several of the stories. And then I emailed most of my family about my writing and gave them a link to my site.

The good news is my world did not crash in, my husband didn’t ask for a divorce and now knows I do not have an internet lover. I haven’t had any irate calls from family or friends, yet. My husband has shown a tentative curiosity about what I’ve been writing and said he admired my ability to express myself and tell a story, but at first didn’t realize that my blog was open to anyone to see. That part I don’t think he is completely comfortable with and has some fears of his own that we will have to work through.

The only other person to comment about my blog has been my dad(technically my step-dad to those who read my blog and are confused) and he commented on a few of the posts and recited a couple of the poems he has written that are very good. He has one about fishing that is amazing and he has sold some copies of it, but he recited two others I didn’t remember. Maybe we will write a father-daughter poetry book some day.

But now that my husband and my family are aware of this blog and some of my writing; I find that a different type of fear is at work now; I am self-censoring and self-conscience about what I am writing.  Because if there are any people I “people-please” for its these people.  This is going to be tough!

Do you share your writing with your friends and family? Is there anything you keep just for your self for just this reason?

 

The Lost Brother

Step-by-step and one-by-one,

he was always a very methodical son.

As a boy so very sweet, funny and kind,

a better brother, I doubt, you’ll rarely find.

 

He left the state to make his fate,

to a school in New York, he took their bait.

A teacher of children, a lover of life,

he works out everyday, but doesn’t have a wife.

 

Nothing in common and very little to say,

he’s on his journey and we are in his way.

He doesn’t write, email or call,

he’s doing his thing and it’s not at the mall.

 

We try to connect and share a laugh,

but nothing crosses over and he has to dash.

He lives a life of anarchy and rage,

he wants to play on a much bigger stage.

 

A three-year absence, it feels like much more,

I think and think about how to open that door.

My brother’s been lost, some day he’ll be found

Can’t wait too long, soon we’ll all be in the ground.