About Me

My photo
Watkinsville, Georgia, United States
We lost my beautiful wife of 20 years on 9/12/07. Lisa was my world she was my everything and now she is gone. We are learning to live without Lisa now. I say we because I am not alone. My children are stuck in this mess with me. These are my notes, my vent, my way of letting you all know that we are doing well (some days). This is for myself, my friends and my family that want to know how we are doing and what we are up to. Along the way I hope this might also help someone else who has been dealt a similar hand.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Busy Busy

Yes, I know I have not had too much to say this past week. It's been an extraordinarily busy week at work and rather quiet around the house. I have been told to make preparations for a significant staff reduction next week. While I have a great job, this is the hardest part of it. There is nothing fun about telling someone that they no longer have a job. I don't want to say too much more about this just now. Next week will be even worse... I will be notifying the effected employees. It will take several days to work though and talk to everyone.

Matt has been in Jacksonville all week. He finally got back last night. Roy was kind enough to meet my brother half way and bring him home. I was so very appreciative. Especially considering that if I had to do it we would have gotten home pretty late. Not that I mind late but when you start your day a 4 a.m... I was glad to see Matt get home. He even took the time to wash all his clothes before he left Jacksonville, how nice!! School starts next week so we need to get out today and get all his shopping done. You know the drill, note books, pencils, pens, etc... I am still debating on whether or not I am going to let him drive to school on the first few days. The first few days are so busy and he will be so nervous... I just don't know about that one.

Abby is still preparing for her move to the apartment. She has this mound of things that have started to pile up in one corner of the family room. All sorts of items. She even purchased a vacuum. I wonder just how often that vacuum is going to get used. Hey, I'm not your average moron... I did go to college and while there used a vacuum all of maybe 6 times. We shall see I suppose. She is staying busy with a two week sitting gig for a local school principal and then classes will start for her.

I am looking forward to getting back to a regular schedule for everyone. There is something comfortable about a regular schedule. Now time to do the shopping, you all know how much I love shopping!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back To Work

Every year when Lisa was about to finish up summer and head back to school, she would get bummed out. Don't get me wrong, she was always excited about going back to work and starting a new year of school. She dearly loved teaching and always looked forward to the new young minds that she would have the opportunity to mold. She loved it so much she would always start preparations several weeks before school was scheduled to start. However, she would always say how much she was going to miss her own two children. After spending every day with them over the summer she would get almost depressed about not having them with her every day.

I now have an idea of what she was talking about. After having an entire week with the kids I too am going to miss them next week when I go back to work. I almost wish that I never had to go back to work but I am smart enough to be careful what I wish for. I do wish that we had at least another week or two together. I love being there for them and spending time with them. I don't even mind shopping when I have Abby with me. She is so full of life and such fun to be with, most days. Oh well, at least I had the week with them and I am already looking forward to the Christmas break when I do get two full weeks with them.

Yes thats a picture of me with the kids this past week. The first picture of me on this venue and probably the last.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Note To Self

I literally had a case of the blues last night.

You see I'm a do-it-your-self kind of guy. I don't hire out anything. I clean my own house (not as often as I should), cut my own grass, clean my own gutters (okay Matt cleans the gutters), and change my own oil. You get the picture...

Well, yesterday evening I decided that I needed to get out and spray the weeds that seem to be taking over the farm. In particular the riding rink down at the barn was being taken over by crab grass. It took nine gallons of weed killer just to take care of the rink. I have so much spraying to do at times I don't know what I have sprayed and what I have not sprayed. So, I recently purchased a new product that I had been wanting to try. It's a dye that you put in your weed sprayer that lets you know where you have already sprayed. It's a blue dye and I use a three gallon backpack sprayer. Are you starting to get the picture??

I worked for several hours spraying weeds and it was pretty hot out and my shirt was drenched with what I thought was sweat by the time I finished. I got everything cleaned up and went in the house to change for dinner. When I took my shirt off the picture above is what I found. Yes, my back was the same color. I frantically got in the shower hoping that this blue dye would come off before it dried. Luckily the stuff came off pretty well and my back has returned to it's natural hair covered color.

Note to self - Make sure the lid on the backpack sprayer is securely tightened before putting it on!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Beach Birthday

While we were at the beach my brother brought his family to visit us and pick up Matt. Included in his family are the twins, Gabby & Ally, seen here. It was their birthday. So this bonus post is for them.


Beach Done

My favorite picture of the trip... She looks so much like her mother!

Home at last... Other than one tough night for me, the trip overall was enjoyable. It was really different. It was hard to see all the families in an around the hotel but it brought back many wonderful memories. The kids seemed to have a great time and did not seem to miss a beat. They seemed to be very comfortable and at home in the hotel. The weather was great and it was wonderful to be back at the beach. There is something magical about the beach and ocean. It seems to be cleansing and rejuvenating in some way. Everything was nice and who wouldn't be happy to spend a few days at the Ritz, but I was glad to leave and get back home. I think Abby bringing a friend along was a very good idea and I was happy that Katie came. It gave us some balance in that Matt had me and Abby had Katie. The girls were so funny and care free that they tended to make me forget my troubles. Not to mention that Katie is a wonderful young lady. She is one of those kids that just makes you smile and you are always happy to see come around. She's one of those kids that make you say, I hope my kid turns out as good as that. Katie is a bright light.

The ride home was a bit hard. Katie rode back with Abby and since Matt is staying a week with my brother I rode back alone. Six hours of driving gives one a lot of time to think about things. I am sure you can guess what I thought about most if not all the way home. I replayed memories of Lisa the whole way home. Sometimes I wish that I could wipe the slate clean and have no memory and then other days I am glad that I have these memories. I suppose its like I told my good friend Mike last night, what makes this whole thing so terribly difficult is that there seems to be no end in sight. When you're sick you know you will get well. You know there will be an end. I just don't see a light at the end of the tunnel on this. It's like there is no end to this and I am stuck for the rest of my life in this treadmill cycle of grief. Granted there are good days and bad but I just wish that I could work toward a goal... an end... but I just don't see it.

One of the ladies at the hotel was very nice to us and was kind enough to let me take up some of her time talking with me. Miss Shelia works at the hotel. I think she is like the International Corporate Vice President of Guest Relations, not really but she should be. She was very kind to me and the kids. She even gave us some very nice gifts when we checked out. Of which included a pair of Ritz Rubber Duckies. Now that might not sound like much but these rubber duckies are much sought after treasures. I remember several years ago that Lisa tried to get her hands on a pair of these duckies and was unsuccessful. In particular is the rare and elusive Ritz Princess Rubber Ducky. Abby immediately found a home for the Princess Ducky on the dash of her car. I have no doubt that it will remain there for a long time. I owe Miss Shelia a big thank you for making out stay that much more enjoyable.

I also owe a big thank you to Mike and Barbie. They were kind enough to take care of our little dog Ally while we were gone. We have never left Ally at the kennel and usually leave her with Lisa's folks. They were not able to keep her this time so we called on Mike and Barbie. Unfortunately, Ally was sick while we were gone and required a bit more attention than normal. If she had to be sick I could not think of any better people for her to have been with. I just hate that Mike an Barbie got stuck with the mess. I suppose all things tend to work at for a reason. Mike and Barbie are dog people and Lisa's mom and dad don't have pets. So, I suppose if Ally had to be sick, it was good that she was with people that know pets in particular dogs. So thank you again to Mike and Barbie.

Ally is on the mend, Abby is off with a friend, Matt is in Jacksonville, and all the chores were done before we left for the beach. I need to get moving and find something to keep me occupied. There is plenty to do around here, I just need to figure out what I want to tackle.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beach Walk

The kids took off for a movie tonight and I stayed here at the hotel.

It is still odd for me to see them go off without me or their mom. We used to never let them out of our sight. I always had a fear of letting them out of my sight and here I am now and it’s nothing for them to take off without me. How things have changed in such a short time.

I walked down to the beach a short while ago. I could not stay for very long as I was overwhelmed with thoughts of missing Lisa. We used to walk this beach together every evening with the kids out in front of us just at the edge of the surf searching for shells or sharks teeth. We would walk hand in hand and at times arms wrapped tightly around each other letting the constant ocean breeze pour across our faces. We would walk every night just before sundown. It was our favorite time since it was cool enough for me and not to cool for Lisa. Not to mention that it was a perfect time to snap pictures of the family. I did walk the beach this morning but it was not like tonight. Maybe it was all the other couples that I saw this evening. I saw so many couples holding hands and walking together through the hotel an on the beach. I am envious and jealous of them. I feel like such an oddity among all of them. I feel so awkward and out of place.

I hurt right now and there is nobody to tell, nobody to make it better and nobody to go through it with me. I find myself quickly vacillating between being in pain and hurting to being mad. Mad at her, mad at God. Mad at God for making me stay behind. Mad at God for taking her from me. Mad at her for leaving me. Mad at her for not taking me with her.

I know the kids love it here but I just don’t think I can do this again. I don’t know that I can ever do another family vacation. We are not a family anymore. We are a shell of what used to be a family. I am tired of trying to make it a whole when I know full well that it’s just a broken portion. It’s not the same anymore and it’s never going to be the same again. We have to make new, do different and go elsewhere. I just don’t think that I can come here anymore. I want to remember what it used to be not what it is now.

Maybe it was a mistake coming back to this place.

Well, the kids will be back soon so I need to get my head screwed back on straight and put on a happy face. I better go down to the lobby lounge and see if I can scramble up an espresso or something to help perk my spirits up.

I will post some vacation pictures when I get home

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Beach Bound

The grass has been cut, all the laundry has been done, house has been cleaned, the truck has a full tank of gas, arraignments for the animals have been made, all I have left is to pack for myself. My anxiety has been peaking all day. I have had to make a concerted effort to keep it in check. All day long I have found myself having to work at it. My heart has felt like it wants to jump out of my chest. Now that I have almost everything taken care of it seems to be tapering off. I have been going strong since 7:00 this morning trying to get everything taken care of before we take off in the morning.

While I am very much looking forward to some pool time with the kids and eating something other than my cooking, I am nervous about my first family vacation without Lisa. Sure we took the cruise last summer but I was still numb and my brain was still mush at that time. I was just trying to get through each day at that point without a public melt down. I hope this trip will be an enjoyable one. I am keeping my expectation low and I am going to just try do enjoy the kids. While I do love my kids, I sure do miss regular daily adult interaction.

Historically, the first thing Lisa and I would do, upon arriving at the hotel, is sit in the lobby bar and have a tall gin and tonic. While we were never regular drinkers we always started our stay like this. We would let the kids take a run out to the pool and explore the hotel a bit while we enjoyed each others company and sipped a drink. Another part of that tradition was that I would enjoy a cigar. This is the only place that I smoked a stogie and Lisa actually enjoyed the smell of my singular cigar. I don't know too many women that like the smell of a good cigar but Lisa was one of them. I think I will grab one just for old times sake. Unfortunately I will have to enjoy it alone...

Have no fear I will be back soon. Too soon I am sure...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Naps Are For Weenies

Day one of vacation.

Thats right, today is day one. Since I work a four day a week schedule today is the official start of vacation for me. Yee-Haw!!

I could not wait to leave work yesterday. Not because I am so excited about going on vacation but because I am just so stinking tired. I am just slap worn out and tired to the bone. When I got home yesterday I threw on some comfortable clothes, stretched out in the recliner and fell asleep. I never do that. I never come home and fall asleep but today I did. Matt told me that I was out for about an hour. It only felt like a couple of minutes. I woke up after my little nap and grabbed a cup of coffee. Once I had slammed that down I was ready for round two or as Lisa used to call it "second shift". However, I was going to do a load of laundry and cook us some dinner. Instead I decided that Matt and I would go out to eat and take in a movie that he had been wanting to see. Ok, I wanted to see it. Transformers is the kind of movie you need to see on the big screen. We did not get home until almost 11:30. Now this may not seem late to most, but for me it is very late since most nights I am in the bed by 9 or 10. Working a four day week schedule has it's disadvantages.

I feel better this morning but I'm still tired. I suppose I will feel better in a day or two. I just need some down time and that is on the way. Sleeping in till 7:30 was a real treat and a good way to start things off for the coming in week. I am glad that I decided to wait until Sunday to take off for the beach. That gives me two days to get things in order around here and get packed. I am really ready for this coming break.

Now I am just going to suck down some more of my famously strong coffee and hit the road to take care of some errands. I'm looking a bit shaggy and have to get a hair cut before I hit the road!!

I can't wait to feel the sand between my toes!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One In One Out

Abby returned home Sunday with the smell of camp clinging to her and everything she owns. Matt left Monday morning for a few days of training at camp.

As expected, Abby also brought a ton of laundry. While my initial reaction was to jump in and take over, I allowed her to muddle through the mess. While standing in the door of the laundry room she commented on how bad all her clothes smelled. I suppose the fact that some of them were stuffed into a pillow case while still wet and had been in a hot car all afternoon might have something to do with that!! She got a few loads going and then stretched out on her bed to watch a movie. I think she was asleep before the opening credits were finished. I have no doubt that she will do a lot of sleeping this week and when she is not sleeping I don’t expect to see much of her either. I have no doubt that the only company I will have this week for dinner will be our little dog Ally.

Not a problem… I have plenty to do before we take our trip. We are headed off to our beloved Amelia Island. We have a lot of memories of this place. While I am concerned that some may be painful for me, I am determined to plow through. This is the only place that the kids came up with for our “summer vacation”. They did not want to give this trip up and who can blame them. I only hope that it will be as enjoyable as they think it will. Matt has already indicated that he wants to have dinner at our favorite seafood restaurant every night. Every night??? Oh well, who can blame him. I too have been craving some really good seafood.

My main goal is to not get down and think about Lisa every minute that we are there. My secondary goal will be to not get so sunburned on the first day that I have to spend the rest of the week in the hotel room. I am going to occupy my time with reading and writing. Lisa typically made all the arraignments for these trips and almost always had an outing of some sort planned. I have made very little in the way of plans for this trip so I am keeping my expectations low. I have not scheduled any outings or extracurricular activities. I am just going to wing it and see where things take us.

Abby will be bringing a friend along so that should break things up a bit and give her someone to help rank and rate all the boys around the pool each day. Now if I can only remember to bring the sunscreen and boogie boards!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Matt's Speech

I am a blessed man…

Both of the kids have been active in leadership development programs and activities since they were in the fifth grade. For Abby it was FCA, Scouts, 4-H, Perfectly Polished and Hero Club to name a few (I can’t remember all of them). As for Matt it has been Scouts, 4-H, Perfectly Polished and FFA (he has not been as active as Abby). All of these programs and activities have something in common, they promote leadership skills in one way or another. Additionally from time to time these programs require public speaking commitments. Matt has followed the good examples that Abby provided for him and now he also has been elected to serve as a board member for the North East Georgia 4-H district.

He will attend his Georgia Officer Training this coming week and is expected to give a speech on how 4-H has changed his life. He has been working on his speech at our main computer that is in sight just off the living room. This is a shared computer and we don’t allow password protected access. This means that, if I feel the need, I can see what he has been up to on the computer. Yeah, you can call it snooping, if you like, but I call it being a good parent.

Anyhow, when I sat down at the computer last night he had left his speech open. Yes… I read it! Like I said, being a good parent includes spying on your child as needed. That’s my position and there is nothing that anyone can say to change my mind on the matter so don’t bother sending me an e-mail to the contrary. When I read his speech, I was shocked by what I read and at the same time very proud of him. In fact, I was moved deeply by what I read. When you hear what he wrote you will understand why I am so proud. It is going to take a considerable amount of courage to get up in front of the whole assembly of fellow 4-Hs and talk about what he is going to talk about.

Here’s the thing. Matt always road to and from school with Lisa. The day of the wreck that claimed my beautiful Lisa’s life, Matt was supposed to be with her. That’s right, he was supposed to be in the car with Lisa at the time of the wreck. In fact when I got the call about Lisa the first question I asked was “what about Matt”. I was so stunned and shaken, it took me a few minutes to work out in my mind where Matt was. You cannot imagine how frantically I was trying to process this one detail. Then it dawned on me, he was at a 4-H meeting with his sister. That’s right, Abby had invited him to come to her senior 4-H meeting that very day. Matt was probably the only middle schooler at this meeting. Abby knew that Lisa was going to get her hair done after school that day so she offer to let her little brother tag along so that he would not have to sit through his mother’s hair appointment. My son would have surely been killed or at the very least severely injured had he been in the car. I say this because the initial impact was on the passenger side of Lisa’s car just forward of the passenger’s seat.

That is what he has in his speech... He says that 4-H saved his life because if he had not been at 4-H that day he would probably have died in the accident. He goes on to say how his involvement in after school 4-H programs has given him an escape from having to come home after school and be alone every day for the last nearly two years. Granted, that is not the speech in its entirety but that is it in a nut shell.

So, yes I was shocked and proud when I read this. I did not know he felt this way and I did not know that he had made this link between the accident and the 4-H meeting that day. As far as I can recall, we never discussed it, at least as far as I can recall. Also, this is probably the first time that I have recounted these facts except to maybe one or two close family members and friends.

I feel that for him to give this speech is truly courageous and he will need to dig deep within himself for the courage he will need. I know he will do a wonderful job and I wish that I could be there to hear the speech myself. Pray for Matt next week while he is at his training. Pray for him to have the strength to give his speech in a way that would make his mother proud.

I am truly blessed…

Monday, July 6, 2009

State Of Mind

Okay, you may want to strap in as this might just get pretty deep.

I was corresponding with a new friend this weekend and suggested that she listen to a song that I discovered this past December. In suggesting this song to my friend Something dawned on me. The song is entitled “I’m Scared”by Duffy. Well, in listening to the song I realized that I have been scared for a long time now and I am sick of it. Lisa told me many times during our years together that she wished she were more like me. She said that I was not scared of anything and that she wished she could have that feeling. True, I have never been scared of anything. Not truly scared. Sure I worried about things that most other folks worry about. Money, job, kids, and such are normal concerns and cares. However, being scared is a whole differ ball of sticky goo.

I am scared… truly deeply scared… I have been scared ever since I lost Lisa. I guess I did not realize just how scared I am. I am scared that I will get another phone call. I am scared that I will lose another loved one. I am scared that something will happen to me and the kids will be without either parent. I am scared I might lose my job and not be able to provide for my kids. I am scared that I am not doing everything right for the kids. I am scared that I will wind up being alone when the kids are gone. I am scared that I might meet someone new and forget. Now there’s a thought for you… I am scared I will wind up alone while being scared that I won’t be. Told you this might get a bit deep. I am scared of so many things, too many things!

Lisa was right, I have never been scared of anything. Maybe not so much unafraid but more non worried would be a better way to state it. I never worried about things. I have lived my life with the belief that everything will always work out, and it typically has. Things always have had a way of working out! This mess, it seems, has no way to “work out”. As Lisa was fond of saying, it is what it is... How on earth does something like this “work out”?

I don’t wish to live my life like this. I don’t like being scared and I am going to make a concerted effort to not be scared. I think the best way to do this is to live life a bit more. I need to get back to the state of mind that everything, or at least most everything, will work out. Easier said than done, however, since this would required me, in my opinion, to put my grief away and to try and move on one might say. To me and this is just me, it would require me to at least in some degree or way, forget what has happened or forgive my loss. I don’t know if this is making any sense… I think that I say all this because I worry that I am too wrapped up in my loss. I don’t want my loss to define who I am… I don’t want it to be who I am… I have too much more to offer than that. Granted it is a part of me and will be for the rest of my life but right now it seems to be defining me too much. It seems to be controlling me far too much. I want to be in control at least as much in control as I can be.

Yes I know who is really in control. While we have lived our lives thinking we are in control we are really not. My friend Janine, pointed this out for me recently. Janine is a widow and has also learned how not in control we are. While yes God is actually in control we do still have free will. We have the free will that God gave us to use to control our lives from day to day. Sure he controls our destiny and has a plan for us but he still likes us to keep the wheels between the lines day in and day out. So yes, I want to be in control as much as I can. Now I just need to figure out how to do that and do it without being so dang scared of so dang much.

Sometimes I think I just over-think things way too much…

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Devastating News

I have thought about Lisa a lot if not constantly this weekend. So much so that last night while talking to my friend Linda I actually caller her Lisa at one point. I think that this has mostly been due to some very disturbing news that I received this weekend. I received news that one of Lisa's co-workers and friend has been diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. Not only is Karyn our friend she was one of Matt's sixth grade teachers. Also, Abby cares for Karyn's two beautiful girls in the after school program when school is in session. Abby has baby sat the girls and they have been here to the house a few times and always crack me up. They are like their mother, beautiful, full of life and wide open at all times. They are always smiling and interested in their surroundings. Last time they were here they could not wait to go down to the barn and stuff the horses full of carrots.

I want to desperately reach out to Karyn and her husband Shane but I just don't know that it is time yet. They are, from what I understand seeking a second opinion and just now probably still trying to wrap their heads around this horrific news. Since, ALS is basically a death sentence, I can only dream of what they must be going through. I can only imagine what is going through Shane's head and what he has in front of him. For now I will pray for Karyn, Shane and the girls.

Why oh why... Why Lisa... Why Karyn... I have a lot of questions for God when I see him. Not that I want to interrogate him but I just want and need to understand. Why such wonderful individuals and persons that have so much to offer the rest of us.

I have much on my mind as I prepare for the coming weeks. We don't have much going on this week and it should be a fairly low stress week. This will be Abby's last week at camp. She is scheduled to come home next Sunday and Matt is scheduled to be off for a three day 4-H meeting on the following Monday. He is planning on driving himself the 45 minutes to the meeting. I have no doubt I will be as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs until I know he has arrived safely at his destination. Then the following week we are scheduled to be on vacation. I don't think it can get here soon enough. I am ready for a full week off from work and some rest and relaxation. Nope, it can't get here soon enough...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Gone to LA

Yes, we are fine!!

I have had a very busy schedule for the last week and left for my parents in a mad dash out the door this past Thursday. Since I don't have a lap top (I keep saying that I am going to remedy that) and really did not want to use dads computer, I have been out of touch for several days now. We can not even get a cell signal at their place. I don't have much time to write as I have much to do. Animals to feed, laundry to do and everything needs watering. It is so dry! I now feel awful about complaining about all the rain we had this spring.

We had a good trip to the folks. My only issue is the picture you see of my co-pilot. Asleep in the back seat most of the way home. When he was not sleeping he had his ears plugged with the I-Pod. Well, so be it, like I have said in the past things have changed and my co-pilot cares not to hold my hand as we speed down the interstate. The silence, if you can call Matt snoring and tooting in the back seat silence, gave me a lot of time to think about some things. I have many things that I would like write about but my time is limited.

I plan to do some writing as soon as time permits. Maybe in the morning before church I can pound out a decent post. This for now is just to let everyone know, yes we are fine