About Me

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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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Small Change

Prior to Lisa’s death, we didn’t use cell phones very much. Lisa had one and only turned it on when she wanted to talk to me. She would immediately turn it off after the call. That drove me nuts since I would tend to remember something I needed to tell her after the call was over and her phone was off. Abby had gotten one just a year or so prior and was supposed to use it only when needed. Otherwise she was supposed to use the house phone. Matt didn’t even have a phone yet. Of course, after his moms accident, the first things I did was get him a phone so that he could be in touch with me at any time he needed or wanted to be. As for myself, I leapt from keeping a cell phone in my brief case to having it with me and turned on 24-7. I literally have not turned my phone of for two years now. I suppose that’s a small indicator of how our lives have changed and what life is now like without Lisa. Maybe in the not to distant future I will feel comfortable enough to turn my cell phone off at night.

In my lifetime we have gone from one corded phone in the house to a cordless phone in every room and a cell phone in every pocket. There are so many distraction for kids these days it’s a wonder they even know what the outside of a home looks like. There are countless ways for them communicate with each other including but not limited to cell phone, e-mail, Facebook, my space, twitter, texting etc… I have been forced to become the communication Nazi since every time Matt sits down to do homework I constantly hear his phone vibrate. He lacks the self control to keep it in his pocket so I have been forced to put some controls on it. I have started forcing him leave his phone on the kitchen desk whenever he starts working on homework. I just hope I don't have to also unplug his television, confiscate his I-pod touch (it has wireless capabilities) and turn off the computer in the study. The only saving grace is that kids these days are oblivious to the fact we have a home phone. Of course if they did realize there was a phone in the kitchen they would not be able to use it since they would have to get the needed phone number from their cell phone. You have to laugh at them…

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Star Gazing

It feels good to have September behind me. With the exception of Thanksgiving at the end of November I basically have two months to enjoy without significant date reminders of our loss.

It feels so good to just feel good. To NOT feel overwhelmed or distraught is a welcome relief.

I have come to know what is really important in life but I still find myself not taking time out to enjoy those important things. Some days I have trouble following my own advice… However, I did this morning for just a moment or two. I was on the way out of the house going to my truck for my daily commute to work and realized how cool and dry the air felt. I just stood there for a few minutes letting the cool morning breeze wash over me. Since it was only five in the morning the stars were still out. I just stood there looking at the stars thinking about Lisa and grinning like a big dummy. I find these days that when I think about Lisa momentarily I just get this big unexplainable goofy grin on my face. I love to just stand there in the dark some mornings and enjoy a quiet moment to myself. Just those few moments can be so rejuvenating and comforting. Taking a few minutes like this gives me time to ponder all sorts of issues and topics. It gives me a quiet moment to pray and give thanks. Thanks for all that I have and all that I have had.

School will be out for fall break soon and I have made Matt a promise that I will not work the entire time. I promised him that we would at least take a couple of day trips and spend some quality time together. While I have an overwhelming desire to spend the entire five days working around the house and in the shop, I have promised him that I would not do that. I think it is important that we spend a few days together just being father and son. No work, no school, no chores and for sure no cooking. After all, in just two short years he will no doubt be going off to college himself. At that point I will have more time on my hands than I know what to do with.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No More Coffee!!!

So often folks tell me what a great job I am doing and how much of an inspiration I am to them and others. One’s head could grow quite big from such a cult fan following. However, I don’t think that I have earned the praise that is so kindly given. To me, I am just doing what must be done.

Yes, I have experience a devastating loss and yes it has been truly one of the most difficult times of my life. However, let’s face it, I have one “grown” child that has moved out and is holding her own at this point. I have one in high school that is now a driver and can get himself around. They both are good kids with a solid head and good hearts. They give me little if any trouble. Granted I am stretched a bit thin at times trying to take care of all the mom stuff and still not let my dad stuff suffer too much. However, all in all, I could have much more on my plate.

All I have to do is look around just a little to see how much more others have on their plates. Plates, heck for some it’s more like a platter full. If you have been reading much of my ramblings here, you know my motto these days is “things could always be worse”. There are many out there that have it much worse. I don’t have to look very far... I have an employee who had a daughter that just died. The daughter was a single mother that just had a baby about a month ago. The employee also lost her mother to cancer this past year. The father of the child is nowhere to be found. Now here is this lady that is almost 45 taking on the responsibility of a newborn baby. When this baby is 18 she will be 63. This is the one that will deserve the praise not me.

We have a family friend that has been diagnosed with ALS. She has two wonderful daughters that are far too young to be without their mother. There is, I am afraid, too much of a chance that she may not be with them much longer. Shane her husband will no doubt be devastated and broken. He will be the one that will need and deserve the praise.

So, no, I really don’t feel like I am doing anything that magnificent or difficult at this point. This is a far cry from where I was two years ago. Two years ago I thought that I had the world on my shoulders. Turns out it was not the world but just a tiny portion of it. I have no doubt that two years from now I might even wish that I had the kids back at home needing me very much.

On a darker note... I am so bummed out... They closed the only Starbucks in Madison where I work. I drove past it every night on the way home and on some nights boy has it been a life saver!! No longer can I sip on hot strong coffee on the way home! Color me crushed and sleepy!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Enough Said

Just when you think they don’t get it…they get it…

I was just sitting there minding my own business this afternoon when I got a text message from Abby. It said, “I love you. Thanks for being my dad. Thanks for getting up every day and making the most of life! Thanks daddy!”

How cool is that?

As Abby likes to say on her facebook status – Enough Said…

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baby Steps

Coming home Thursday night I found a little surprise.

On the ceiling just above the sink in the kitchen I saw that unmistakable sign of a roof leak. It's been raining here for what seems to be for the last week. Of course the first thing I did was climb up into the attic to see what was going on. Sure enough, just what I thought, the old rubber boot around one of the vent stacks was leaking. Thankfully, it is small and can be cured with just a bit of caulking. However, I am taking it as fair warning and getting quotes for a new roof.

When Lisa and I purchased this house we knew there was a number of things that needed to be done. Being capable in all forms of construction and carpentry it went without saying that I was going to tackle most of the jobs myself. The roof included... So, I find it difficult to hire out the work. It was all I could do just to call a couple of guys to give me quotes on the job. It pains me to no end to hire work like this out. Unfortunately, I just have to face the fact that I don't have the time and have to keep my eye on other things.

Abby was kind enough to come over and bring me some lunch Friday. She knew I was stressed out by the turn of events and came by to take my mind off things. It was good to have her come by for a little while and take my mind off of things. She has her own unique way of helping me put things into perspective. After Lisa's wreck, Abby would not dare drive hardly anywhere. Just the thought of driving somewhere new drove her to tears. My counsel to her at that time was to "take baby steps". I told her to just go a little further with each try and to "take baby steps" toward eventually driving wherever she needs to. It made a lot of sense to her and now she, of course, goes anywhere and everywhere. Her counsel to me was the same she just said, "baby steps daddy, baby steps".

The weekend has flown by and I feel like I have been working to make up ground all weekend. I even went to our early church service this morning in hopes of being more productive today. While that helped, there is still a growing list of things that I need to and want to get done. While there is always next weekend, I am sure that I will be stuck spending precious time with roofers. With hurricane season well underway I am sure that more rain is on the way. I best take a baby step and hire one of these roofers before things get worse.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brace Yourself

I grew up hearing the same thing every night at the dinner table. Get your elbow off the table, don’t talk with your mouth full and don’t chew with your mouth open. One of my mother’s favorite lines was put some food in your mouth and don’t talk with your mouth full. That was her way of saying that she wanted us to shut up and eat our dinner.

I remember, a few years ago, having lunch with Matt at school. I noticed that most of the kids at the table ate with their mouths open. I thought it was pretty gross and could not understand how so many kids from such great families did not have manners enough to eat with their mouths closed. I figured it out fairly quickly. Soon after, Abby got her braces and started eating with her mouth open. I remember chastising her one night about this and she explained to me that it was due to the braces. She said it hurt her mouth to eat with her mouth closed. Most of the kids at that lunch table had braces so it all made sense to me.

Matt has had the same affliction for the last couple of years. I can’t stand to be around him when he starts chewing on a stick of gum. Over the years I have learned to be a bit less sensitive to this.

Well we have reached yet another milestone. Matt got his braces off today. I can now resume my parental torment and every night tell him to chew with his mouth closed, until it once again becomes habit.

Now if I could just come up with some logical reasoning that requires him to have his elbow on the table maybe I can cure that also.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We’re Getting There

Saturday marks the two year point in our life without Lisa.

The past two years have been a rollercoaster ride of emotion and changes.

With September here, as you can imagine, I have been doing a lot of thinking about where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. I can’t help but think about all the trips that we have taken with the kids over the years and I keep coming back to the well know phrase “Are We There Yet”. My response was always, “We’re Getting There”. That always drove the kids crazy. After a while, as she got older, Abby would hear Matt ask the inevitable question “Are We There Yet” and before I could reply I would hear her, from the back seat, say in a questionable tone “We’re Getting There”.

That’s kind of where I think we are these days, “We’re Getting There”… We have made great strides over the last two years but yeah, we are still “Getting There”. We all three still have our days or even weeks, but overall, “We’re Getting There”. I also think overall we have done pretty well. Sure we have made mistakes, or at least I have, but nothing that horribly bad.

Thinking about the first six months after the accident really puts things in perspective for me. I was a mess back then, a nervous wreck. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my battles and problems but in comparison to back then I am in pretty good shape. My ups seem to last a lot longer and my downs seem to come and go a lot faster these days and for that I am very grateful.

I suppose time does heal all wounds… or at least lets a scab form over them.

For now I remain positive and try to look to the future. I look forward to what life has in store for me and the kids.

Today Abby reminded me that last year on the 12th we all three got dressed up and went out for a nice dinner alone. She wanted to know if we could do that again this year. I think that’s what we will do again this year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Parenting 101.2

Back to my discussion about parenting. Like I said in my last entry, it’s a little harder being a parent on your own when you have had the support of someone else for as long as you can remember.

Case in point…

Abby made a mistake Monday it was nothing earth shattering nor anything that will scar us for life. Just a mistake that many of us have made ourselves. Well, she finally came by the house last night. She was not in the door two minutes when I asked her about it. Big mistake… My mistake… Things went down-hill pretty fast and she made a bee line out the door and headed off to the sanctuary of her apartment. Apparently she had beat herself up enough over the last day or so and was in no mood to hear a lecture from daddy.

If Lisa had been around she would have warned me not to do that. She would have cautioned me to at least let her get in the door and say hello and whatnot before I jumped her about the mistake. Who knows, if I had just kept my mouth shut for about ten minutes she might have brought it up herself. Not me… Not Mr. Dad… I jumped right in there and wanted to discuss and cuss it. Big mistake dummy…

Hind sight is truly 20-20… I did the right thing and sent her an apology this morning. Low and behold she also apologized. We are going to have dinner together tonight and then knock out some shopping that I have been putting off. I suppose I am not going through anything every other Dad is going through I’m just doing it by myself when I thought that I was going to have my backup with me.

My role as a father has been static up until the last two years and in the last two years it has changed, changed and changed again. It has changed so much so fast that I have had a lot of trouble keeping up with it. I am trying to keep up with it but sometimes it’s like trying to put on wet socks! You know how it’s supposed to work but you can’t just pull them on like you always have done. That’s how it is, I know how to be a parent but I just have to keep changing so that it I can get it to fit the stages that Abby is moving through at what seems to be lighting speed.

I once told my Dad that he was an idiot until I turned 30 and then overnight he became the smartest person in the world. I can only hope that it does not take Abby as long as it took me.

I wonder if being a parent is covered by the Geneva convention or considered a harsh interrogation technique???

Matt Update

Matt is doing so much better… His mood has improved and he seems to be very engaged in school. His grades are fantastic and he is showing a lot of interest in his extracurricular activities. We have had several good talks over the last week or so and I am comfortable with his mood at this point.

That’s a tremendous weight off my shoulders and gives me a lot of comfort…

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Parenting 101

Sometimes I wonder if I just put too much pressure on myself to have everything perfect.

In talking with a friend this weekend I pretty well lost it. Not a major meltdown but I think that I finally got to the point where I just had to let some emotional steam off. My poor friend was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I remember that I was jabbering something about the fact that I am so tired of doing all this by myself. Carrying the burden of two by myself was just taking a toll on me and I was missing Lisa something fierce. My friend made a couple of pretty good points. Will Matt really know or care if the house is properly dusted? Will he care if the rugs have been shook out properly and the floors cleaned properly. No he would not was my answer. So, why is it that did not give me the comfort that I sought? I finally figured it out.

I am way too OCD… I don’t really do it for Matt. Well I do and I don’t… I do all this house work and cleaning and try to keep things like Lisa did because it matters to me. Thing is, why the heck don’t I take the time to get someone to come in and do some of the work for me. It’s not like I can’t afford it. I don’t know why but I don’t.

It’s not just the Mom or Dad work that is so draining. It’s the parenting also… I worry that I am going to screw this up in the 11th hour. I worry that I am going to miss the mark with Matt. Sure he is a great kid but I worry about him constantly. I am constantly second guessing myself on everything from a parenting point. It was so much easier with Lisa. We parented as a team. We would back each other up or redirect each other when one of us was missing the mark or taking the wrong approach. Like they say, two heads are better than one. I suppose learning to parent on my own has been, and continues to be, one of the biggest challenges that I am still learning to come to grips with. If I had to sum it up I would say It’s like learning to parent all over again. It’s like I have gone from graduate level parenting back to parenting 101. Now I just wish I could find the stinking text book for the course.