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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Six

Much like the snow outside my door, my time off from work is slowly disappearing.  I don’t have to go back to work for another six days but I’m already thinking about how much I will miss being at home with the kids. I hear so many people say that they will be happy when the kids get back to school.  Not me, heck I wish we had another month off together.  In fact, it’s times like this that make me wish that I could have just quit working and stayed home with the kids.

How wonderful would that have been?  To be here every day when they woke up and to greet them when they came home from school.  Then again, I know that pretty soon they will both be gone and at that point I would be wishing I had my job back.  Well, maybe not…

I suppose that’s how life tends to be.  It’s never just right.  It never seems to be exactly like we want it to be.  It would seem we are never happy enough.  I guess that’s what makes us human.

I can tell you I wont miss the shopping and re-shopping.  Matt and I spent the better part of the last two days taking care of exchanges and returns.  I also had a couple more gifts that I needed to pick up for later this week.  It hasn’t been too crowded on the roads or in the stores however.  That makes it a whole lot easier. I think the snow and cold has kept the lesser of heart holed up at home.

I’m ready for some shop time.  Yesterday we picked up about six hundred feet of insulation and I think I’ll work on that today.  I have just a couple more studs to put in place and after I get the insulation in I can start hanging the drywall.  A day out in the shop will be a welcome change of pace for me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas

The last few days have been good.

We attended church on Christmas Eve and enjoyed a great candlelight service.  After church we spent the rest of the evening with our friends Roy and Diane.  We had a great meal with them and it really helped to be out of the house and have my mind occupied.  It was a good Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning was not too bad this year.  Of course, the roles have reversed over the years and now I’m up before the kids.  They still like me to do the Santa thing and I’m happy to play along.  This year, I did it a little different and put everything under the tree after I woke up rather then before I went to bed.  Like I said, the roles have reversed over the years and the kids wind up staying up a good bit longer than me.  So, I was up by about seven downed the required cups of coffee and then got busy.  I did the Santa thing and got all the gifts put under and around the tree.  In order to keep occupied I got busy in the kitchen and whipped up a breakfast quiche.  I found a good recipe that called for spinach, mushrooms, Swiss and cheddar cheese, eggs and sour cream.  I “manned it up” a bit with the addition of some bacon, onion and just a little cyan pepper.  It turned out great and the kids even told me that I need to make it again.  That’s always a good sign that they’re not just being nice when they say they like it.  About the time I was finishing up with preparing breakfast I found Matt on the couch.

When I told him to wake his sister up he called her cell phone.  Really, her room is literally ten feet away and he called her cell phone!  He said that was the safest and surest way to wake her up.  Can’t say that I disagree with him as she can tend to wake up a bit annoyed.  Once Abby rolled out of the bed we took to opening gifts while my super delicious quiche cooked.

The gift opening is when I tend to feel odd and miss Lisa.  We always took so much pleasure in seeing the kids open all the gifts on Christmas morning.  We would always sit together , practically in each others lap, on the couch and watch them.  However, this year it didn’t seem quite so awkward.  I think the fact that I stayed so busy seemed to help a good bit.  I was just happy not to be sitting there feeling like I wanted to puke and cry all at the same time.

After breakfast I got things cleaned up and started on dinner.  Yeah, I know, food, food, food.  I had a plan though and it was working for me.  For dinner I cooked an eight-pound standing rib roast.  Nothing says "I’m a man and I know how to cook", like prime rib.  That’s right I did the whole bit.  Prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus.  It was nothing short a lip smacking good and my big outside dog Anna really enjoyed the rib bones.

Lisa’s mom and dad were supposed to join us but bailed on me at the last minute.  They just didn’t feel good about coming to see us with a snowstorm being called for.  While we have had snow in these parts, usually in March, we have never had a white Christmas.  We did yesterday and it was a wonderful sight.  I just love snow.  We get just enough each year to make us love it.  Anyhow, when Al and Lois bailed out on me I called some dear friends and they spent the evening with us instead.  It turned out great…

Tonight, Matt and I went to see the movie True Grit.  I loved the first one and this one was just as good.  Just a great movie...

Like I said, It’s been a pretty good past day or so…

Friday, December 24, 2010

On The Dark Side

Up at five-thirty this morning, so much for sleeping in.  I was actually awake well before that but just lay there tossing and turning.  I suppose I tend to lie there and toss around for a while rather than get up and sit here alone.  

I woke up thinking about Lisa this morning, as I do most days.  What kept rolling around in my head was would she be happy with where we are or how we have done in her absence.  Would she like what she sees or would she be disappointed in our progress.  I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with this question of late.  In fact, I asked Matt this question recently.  I asked him if he thought mom would be happy with how we were doing.  You know what he said?  He said “I think what’s important is how do YOU think we are doing”.  Smart kid…

Tonight is Christmas Eve and I’m sure the next day or so will be bit thorny.  Tonight we have plans to spend the evening with friends.  Tomorrow Lisa’s folks are coming over to spend the day with us and share Christmas dinner.  My prayer is just that we can pick our way through the briars and find some joy in having each other and being together.

I detest that it seems we have to be somewhere other than at home for Christmas Eve.  Maybe one of these days we will feel like that’s the thing to do once again.  Maybe we can do that without it feeling like there is a big ole hole in the house.  Maybe one day…

Over the last couple of days I have been working on the last section of the garage.  This single bay is the dark side of the garage and needs a bit of work.  It’s unfinished and only has a couple of dingy old lights.  So far, I have installed a new window, put up a new wall and interior door and rewired the electrical.  I put up the new wall and door to have a separate clean storage area.  Our little farmhouse has very little storage space and we desperately need somewhere, other than the barn, to store stuff.  This room will be sealed off from the rest of the shop and I have no doubt will be filled up before we know it.

I suppose our life is kind of like the garage.  There is a small section that is dark, messy and unfinished but if you continue to the other side it's brightly lit, clean and tidy.  If we keep moving forward we WILL move into that brightly lit side and hopefully that dark side will one day not seem so dark and messy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Goals

While at work last week I was tasked with the mandatory and mundane task of completing my annual review.  While listing my accomplishments for the past year and my goals for the coming year, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how fast life has and continues to change for me.  It occurred to me that while at times the calendar has seemed to be in slow motion, the past three years seem to have actually passed by at lightning speed.  It also, forced me to think about goals and accomplishments in my personal life.

While I haven’t had the time or energy to complete the renovations and improvements on the house I do feel that I have been successful in keeping my focus on what’s important.  There will be time for renovations in the not too distant future.  That will wait until I complete the goal that’s driven me forward since the day I lost Lisa.  The goal that I know Lisa would have wanted me to make my most important.  The one goal that I know she would have wanted me to attain.  The goal of raising, caring for and loving our children...

While I know I’m far from perfect, I think that all things considered I’m doing okay.  Sure I’ve made mistakes and sure I could have done some things differently but overall I’m happy with the way that I work toward this goal.  For me, that’s pretty big considering I can remember sitting at my desk one day telling a buddy of mine that I just wasn’t so sure that I could pull this off.

Those early days were filled with desperation and feelings of inadequacy.  Those feelings have, for the most part, been replaced with feelings of triumph and self-confidence.

Christmas break is finally here.  I’m off for the next two weeks and looking forward to spending some time with the kids and sleeping late every day.  I’ve finished my Christmas shopping and even have everything wrapped already!  I know, not bad for a guy, right!

To kick off the start of my holiday break I made one of my favorite dishes for dinner last night.  Pan seared scallops with angel hair pasta.  It’s really easy to make.  You just pop the scallops in a pan with some oil or butter, I like the butter, and brown them.  When they get done in the same pan you sautĂ© some finely chopped onion and garlic then add about a cup or so of Half & Half.  Flavor that with basil, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Yum!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cha Cha Change


Sometimes change is good…

I’ve talked about change a lot in this venue.  Some folks like change and some don’t.  My “baby girl” hates change.  Heck, if we don’t get just the right seats on Sunday morning at church she just about nuts up.  She likes things to remain the same and bucks any mention of changes. 

As for me, I don’t mind change so much.  I do however, like to be able to choose what changes and when it changes rather than have it forced onto me.

So in the spirit of not minding change, I changed my blog background along with a few other things.

Most obviously you will note that the profile picture is now a picture of me rather than of Lisa.  Since I started this blog, I have never included pictures of myself.  I suppose what led me to change this was an email from someone recently.  They, understandably but mistakenly called me Lisa when they wrote to me.  I say understandably since there was no indication associated with the blog of who I actually was.  Well, none other than my email… so I figured it was about time I changed that.

Now if we can just get to church in time to get our regular seats on Sunday, all will be well.  At least in Abby’s mind…

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Dude Gene


Time and time again, when I talk to another person who has lost a spouse I find that we have an immediate connection. We understand each other. It’s almost like we are part of some morbid club. As my friend Janine says, we get each other. And, I like communicating with these people because I don’t feel the need to defend myself on some things or for that matter even explain some things. We are kindred spirits and can relate on a different plane than with others.


Mostly, for that reason, I tend to go out of my way to communicate with other Widowers or Widows. The puzzling thing for me is that from the very start of all this, I have found very few Widowers. I’m not just talking about bloggers either. I mean that I don’t even see them in my community. Take our church for example. While we have a number of Widows, I am the only Widower as far as I know. Looking at my community as a whole, I can see even more Widows but still only know of a couple other Widowers. Additionally, most of these Widowers have already remarried.

There are some out there. Some really great guys that are struggling through it all and doing an amazing job. Look here Matt Logelin and look here Socrates Newbold. Like I said amazing…

Anyhow, so what gives…?

I can understand that there are very few men writing about this in a blog. I totally get that. Most men, and I think being one gives me permission to make some assumptions here, tend to not be that open and willing to talk about affairs of this sort. I think most guys are too “manly” to talk about their feelings. Especially in this sort of venue. So sure, I can understand them not being here on the internet spilling their guts. That still doesn’t explain why I don’t see them around me here in my church or community.

My friend Cindy has a theory. She theorizes that we guys are in need and tend to remarry much faster than women do. She thinks that these guys need someone to take care of them. She sees guys get re-married as fast as six months. Cindy thinks that I’m an exception. Why am I and a few others like me the exception? Are we missing some vital “dude” gene that drives these other guys to get remarried so fast.

Maybe Cindy is correct…

Regardless, I do wonder where all the widowers are.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tree Time


Thanksgiving was the first holiday that we had to endure after we lost Lisa that September.

I was still in shock and lost.  Grappling with a mountain of anxiety and fear, the last thing I needed was the stress of the holidays.

I decided that we needed to get away.  I may have been running away but it was the only way I could deal with the holiday.  I didn’t want to stay home or go to her folks or my folks place.  I needed somewhere I could hide.  I needed somewhere new with no memories.  My Brother was headed to Savannah to his In-Laws and secured us an invitation to join them.

The drive to Savannah was horrible and I literally almost had a nervous breakdown in the process.  Taking our first family trip to an unfamiliar place on unfamiliar roads was just about enough to push me over the edge.  Just about the time I was about to fall apart we made it.

And that’s kind of how things have gone over the last three years.  Just about time I don’t think I’m going to make it, I do…

I wouldn’t say that the holidays have gotten any better but I will admit that they have gotten a little easier.  I still loath holidays but I do find the fortitude to endure them a bit more. 

That first year we were in Savannah and last year we stayed home but spent the day with some very dear friends.  This year we spent Thanksgiving with my folks in Alabama or as the kids like to call it “opossum hollow”.  While I love my family, these get-togethers still drag me down.  I tend to feel like an oddity and a third wheel when we all get together.

We’re back home today and there’s work to be done.  Matt and I will head out this morning to find a tree.  I think this year I’m going to let Matt run the chain saw.  As for me, I’m going to put a smile on my face and try to hide the fact that I’d rather burn the tree than decorate it… 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No Distractions


Something really nice finally happened this week.

After all the bad news over the last couple of weeks and seeing friends and families struggle through so much, it was nice to just have a little something special happen.

It actually didn’t start off so special considering it all started with me having a meltdown with the kids last night.  I suppose I just got a bit stressed out and finally let a few things fly.  As typical with me, I went a tiny bit too far.  Okay maybe more than just a tiny bit but it’s my blog so I get to choose the adjectives.

Anyhow, what started off in a negative manner wound up with me and the kids having one of those moments that you just want bottle up and save.  After my little explosion we gathered in the living room and I made my apologies.  Then for almost an hour we just sat there talking.  No television, no cell phones or laptops or I-Pods.  It was just the three of us sitting there talking and laughing.

We just sat there talking about everything from the events of the last week to what to do for the holidays.  Of course in typical fashion Matt kept us cracked up most of the time with wise cracks and jokes.

I wish we could do that more often.  We all get so wound up living life and running in different directions it seems like we never take enough time to just be together.

All I know is it struck me how wonderful those few minutes were.  And it just happened…

Yeah, we still miss Mom something awful and always will.  However, we still keep plugging away and its moments like the one we had last night that give me confidence that it’s going to be alright.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Speechless


Writing has been a valued and cathartic exercise for me over the past few years.  Writhing in my journal or here on my blog.  It’s proven to be a dependable exercise that can help me think thing through and get things out so I don’t simply implode under an unseen weight. 

It’s not often that I don’t know what to say when I sit down to write but that’s been the case over the last few days.

You see, a parents worst nightmare came to true this past Friday when they received a call much like the one I received three years ago.  The call was to let them know that their beloved son had been in an accident and not survived.

And here I sit frozen… I know not what to say or do…

I want to reach out to them.  I want to comfort them.  I want to help them in some way but I cant. 

I couldn’t even bring myself to attend the funeral and I feel just horrible.  I suppose for the most part due to the fact that it was held in our church.  In the very sanctuary that we held Lisa’s memorial service.  I suppose I could find many more excuses but when I search my heart the bottom line is I just couldn’t do it.

I feel so very inadequate and struggle with the senseless loss.  All I seem to be able to mutter is why.  Why.  Why.  Why…

Although even as my old wound is opened and pains me I can’t help but think about what this family is dealing with.  I can’t help but think about how much they must be hurting and reeling from this devastating news.  They have such a long and arduous road ahead.

It’s just so sad…

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nine Hammers




Death seems to be all around me this past week or two.

Last week I received news that one of our employees had died suddenly.  Johnny had worked for us for over 17 years and was a great employee.  Moreover, he was a great guy.  Just a decent man that rarely complained or spoke ill of anyone.  He was the kind of guy you just like to spend time around.  Quiet and unassuming even though he was well over six foot and could be an ominous presents.  Johnny was also one of those guys that had to be dragged to the doctor kicking and screaming.  Unfortunately, Johnny had lung cancer and didn’t even know it.  He got this news just a week before his lungs filled with fluid and his body gave up.  I got this news via a text message while I was actually at another funeral.  The father of another employee had died just as suddenly from heart failure.  Two funerals in less than a week…

Now I get word that the father of a dear friend is about to lose his battle with a failing body.  Possibly days or just hours from now he will quietly end his life of 80 years and leave behind a grieving family.

My heart breaks for the ones that are and will be left behind.  I wish to comfort them but know from my own experience that no matter what I say, it will not help them.  Meer words just have no volume at times like this.  In fact words are so insufficient at times like these I tend to just shut down and not say anything.  Instead I prefer to just have a physical presence and be prepared to act when called on.  I prefer to speak with my actions and offer a silent hug of reassurance.  I prefer this over saying anything that will tend to do no good or worse cause unintended offence.

I continue to become more pragmatic on the subject of death.  After all, it’s inevitably something that will happen to all of us sooner or later.  Eventually each and every one of use will go.  Some too soon and some not soon enough.  Some of us will have far too short a time here and some of us will have more than our share of time here.  Some of us will go due to what may seem a tragic and unfair reason and some of us will go due simply to the passing of time and natural reasons.  Still, no matter why or when, I consider them to be the lucky ones.  Because, while my heart breaks for those left behind, they will soon be in a better place joining loved ones that have already move on to be with the Father.

As I prepare myself for this imminent funeral I can’t help but think about how long the road of grief has been for me.  My prayer is that this family will quickly recover and remember with great affection their loved one.

Tonight I spent a quiet evening putting my tools away.  It’s rare that I listen to music in my shop since most of the time it is drowned out by the noise.  Tonight I did and spent the night listening to Duffy and emptying boxes.  My tools are all organized and now readily available.  Now I’m just trying to figure out why a guy needs 9 hammers.  Heck, I never even realized I had 9… 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

FFA Road Trip

I continue to see progress in how things affect me or better how they don’t.  Only about a year ago I would have simply dreaded the thought of being alone for a week.  Now I actually tend to look forward to it a bit.  Matt takes off for a weeklong trip next week and I’m actually looking forward to the alone time.

He hits the road early Tuesday morning on a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana for the national FFA convention.  He’s really been looking forward to the trip for a long time.  He wanted to go last year but there just wasn’t enough room on the bus.  This year he had a reserved spot since he is an officer for his schools chapter.

I even put together a “goodie bag” for him and his buddy William.  After all, William is like a second son to me.  The bags are full of candy bars, chips, small games and toys.  I particularly liked the Spider Man swim goggles that I gave then both.  I’m not sure what good they will be but I tend to think they will get a laugh or two out of them.

Well, I finally finished those shop cabinets.  It’s only taken me ten months but they are finished.  While I’m a purist and wanted to make my own drawer pulls I decided to use some store bough ones.  I have 25 drawers and just happened to have 24 antique brass drawer pulls.  Don’t ask me why I had them but I did.  I think I bought them some time back when they were on sale at Lowes.  I’m only one short and figure I can find a matching one somewhere.  Maybe some time in the future I will take the time to make some myself.  However, for now I can put this project behind me and move on to the next phase of finishing out the shop.

Right now I think I’ll just fill up all those great drawers and finally get all my tools organized and put away.  It’ll be nice not to have to dig through boxes for my tools.  With all those drawers I’ll probably never remember where I put anything!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Road Trip


I took my very first overnight trip alone this weekend.  No kids, no dogs, no friends, just me alone on a weekend getaway. 
 
Abby had a full weekend of plans (as usual) and Matt was off attending an FFA event in Perry.  So it was perfect timing for a weekend to myself.  I took off for a one night stay in Augusta with some long time friends.  I found the trip to be somewhat bitter-sweet. It was great to take off and have some alone time but the solitude of the drive made me miss my sweetheart.  As I zipped along I-20 I could not help but think she should be there with me.  That’s the way it should have been, the two of us together on a weekend getaway.  While I longed for her company I plowed ahead non-the-less.  I suppose I just took comfort in knowing that she would be happy to see me doing something for myself.  I even imagined her smiling in approval of my little adventure.  Lisa always loved a spur of the moment weekend getaway.  I’m think I’m going to have to do that more often…
 
Sure, I have a thousand and one things that I need or want to do around the house but it sure was nice to just take the weekend off and relax.  It was very peaceful just having myself to worry about.  Heck, even packing was delight since everything that I needed was able to fit into one small bag.  I almost didn’t know how to act not having a slew of bags to lug out to the truck when I left.
 
We have a new addition down at the barn as you can see in the attached picture.  Her name is Pancake.  Matt decided that he would “show” a dairy cow this year.  I was a bit apprehensive about him taking on this new responsibility but it has been a great thing for him.  I was certain that I would be the one that would wind up feeding and caring for her.  Matt has been doing a great job with her however.  He has not missed a feeding and seems to enjoy the new responsibility.  He just about has her off the bottle and on solid food and has already started the process of halter breaking her.  She has a sweet disposition and tends to be quite playful.  I just hope Matt still enjoys his responsibility when the weather turns cold and nasty.  Walking down to the barn as the sun is coming up on a nippy October morning is a good bit different than doing the same on pitch black, cold and rainy February morning.
 
I am slowly making progress on my cabinet drawer fronts.  I finally decided to go with a glued up panel for those big oversized drawer fronts that I still needed to make up.  In fact I have gotten the remaining panels made and already have about six very thin coats of shellac on them all.  The wood has turned from a pale off-white to a rich amber color that highlights the grain and knots.  All I have left to do is give them a light sanding and one coat of varnish.  Once I get them finished I will try to post a before and after for you.  Oh yeah, and I still need to make pulls for them I suppose.  After all, drawers are not much good if you can’t get them open.

Friday, September 17, 2010

20 of 25

This past Sunday was the three-year mark and today would have been our 22nd wedding anniversary.  It makes me sad to think about it too much so I will not dwell.

While some might think that 3 years is a long time and maybe enough time… it is not.  It still seems like yesterday and we are still working to overcome our loss. 

We continue to deal with emotional swings that seem to come out of nowhere.  They seem to creep out of the shadows when we least expect them.  We try not to let it control us and we try not to let the calendar dictate how we feel but September continues to be a burdensome month.   I felt strong coming into the month but September has reared its ugly head and is trying mightily to defeat me.  I WILL NOT let it win…  I continue to remain optimistic in that each September’s passing seems to be a bit less cruel than the last one.  I think more than anything, if I could just come to a point where I thought that BOTH the kids were coping well and just not struggling I would be a pretty content human being.  Sometimes I feel like I am driving a car that constantly has a flat tire on one of the four wheels.  You stop and get one flat fixed only to drive a couple of miles to have yet another flat tire.  I suppose as long as I keep my spare in good shape, we will be fine and continue our journey.

I’ve spent as much time as I could in my shop the last couple of weeks.  I enjoy the work and it’s a good diversion and good therapy for me.  The weather has been awesome and I have enjoyed being able to throw open the doors and windows and make as much saw dust as I could.  It’s been profitable time spent.  I finally have a counter top!  Twenty feet of counter top! 

I have also installed 20 of the 25 drawer fronts.  I have been milling the drawer fronts out of some Leyland Cypress.  The wood came from a farm just down the road from my place.  I have a buddy that took out a bunch of Leyland Cypress trees about four years ago.  We had a guy saw all the trees into lumber.  The wood has dried nicely and when milled looks something like a cross between spruce and pine.  It’s a little bit pale and knotty but I like the character that the knots add to the wood. 

I’m going to put an “old school” finish on it.  No stain, just a few coats of shellac.  Most folks don’t use shellac these days.  It takes a bit more effort and tends to darken over time.  In this case however, I think the shellac will bring a warm amber color to the otherwise pale white coloring of the wood.  It will enhance the knotty grain and texture of the wood nicely.  As the finish ages and mellows in color it will tend to go nicely with the green upper cabinets.  Listen to me, I sound like I’m getting cabinets ready for some cookie-cutter home in an upscale subdivision rather than my shop…  And once again, I painted them green because that was the only paint I had laying around my shop that weekend!

The first 20 drawer fronts have been easy since the tallest one was only six inches.  The last five however will be a bit more involved.  The fronts for these drawers will have to be over ten inches tall.  I will have to glue-up these slabs from narrower stock or else do a frame and panel using some thin plywood.  I hate to use the plywood since all of the other fronts are made from solid wood.  However, that big of a slab will tend to warp and twist.  I may risk going for the glue up, as it would look a lot nicer than the plywood.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clearing Ahead


The kids are back in school and we are all falling into our weekly routines.  Matt is finally getting himself out of the bed without me being his alarm clock and Abby is settling back into the grove of being back home.  Everyone is back on a normal daily schedule with classes and after school activities.  While many might think a normal routine like this is boring and dreary, I find comfort in it.  It gives me a “normal feeling” that I have deeply missed over the last few years.  I obtain a sense of tranquility quietly sitting here tapping on the keys of my laptop while the kids grind away at homework and school studies.

It will soon be my favorite time of year.  The leaves will soon start turning and the morning air will turn crisp and dryer.  I’ll shortly be finding excuses to get outside without being stifled by oppressive heat and humidity.  It will soon be cool enough to spend whole days out in the shop cutting, milling and sanding chunks of wood into something beautiful and useful.  Even with power tools running and the air filled with wood dust I tend to transcend into a hushed state of ease when I’m out there.  Even as I slide a piece of wood across the table saw with my fingers mere inches from a spinning saw blade I am at ease and without fear.       

Even with September approaching I feel more at peace than I have all year.  There is just something about being back in our routines that helps me calm down and relax to a larger degree.  In fact I’m not even dreading the approach of September like I have for the past couple of years.  Don’t get me wrong, I truly have learned to despise that day on the calendar and pray for it to pass quickly and without incident.  However, this year it feels different for some reason.  I suppose every year it tends to feel a little different… Maybe that’s just the passage of time…  The passage of healing time…

Still, I know better than to let my guard down.  One thing I have learned over the past three years is that every time I think I’m out of the woods, another forest seems to be standing there in front of me.  Nevertheless, with every thicket that I fight my way through I become stronger and more resolute.  I know that there will be another clearing ahead that will give me time to rest and recover before diving into yet another forest filled with dense underbrush.  It’s in those clearings, I have a chance to clear my head and regain my energy. 
    

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer Vacation

I continue to be haunted by my love for Lisa.

You see we just got back from our annual visit to the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island.  It was, as always, a wonderful place to get away and be treated special.  I did pretty well for the most part.  However, it was difficult to see all the happy couples walking throughout the hotel holding hands, smiling and enjoying their children.

I just cant help but think, “that was us” when I see them.  It reminds me of what I have lost.  It makes me mad that I don’t still have that.  We just had so many good times there.  It was always fun and relaxing.  It’s not so much fun when your at the pool with an empty chair next to you.  On one hand, I think that it would be good to find a new place to go and do something different.  On the other hand, we have many good memories of time spent there.  I even discussed the possibility of finding a new destination with the kids and they didn’t even want to think about it.

All that said we had a pretty good time.  My brother and his family even came to the hotel for one night.  That helped break things up a little bit.  It was nice to have them with us for a while.  To mix things up even more, I let Matt bring a buddy this year instead of Abby bringing someone.

Of course, Matt’s first choice was his buddy William.  They get along great and I don’t think that they have ever had a cross word with one another.  They are easy to please and have gotten to the point were they really don’t need constant supervision.  Well they might need a little supervision considering they each showed up at the pool one afternoon with a tattoo sticker on their lower back. I’m not sure where they got the stickers but we all got a pretty good laugh out of their antics.

A trip to the beach is always a wonderful treat but it’s always great to be back home.  I’m going to think long and hard about finding a new place to spend our summer vacation.  I’m leaning toward trying something new and making some new traditions and memories.  I think that might be a healthy choice and enable me to continue to move forward in my life without Lisa.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mr. Giggles


Okay, so I forgot that he needs notebooks, pens & pencils.  So back out we went today to finish up the back to school shopping.  I’ve only had to do this BTS a couple of times so give me a break.  Hopefully, I have not forgotten anything else…
You’re probably wondering about the picture… Like I say, the boy cracks me up and always had.  Matt’s always had an exceptionally witty sense of humor and he cracked his mother up more than anyone.  Very rarely did a family dinner go by with Matt doing or saying something that would make the whole family laugh.  I can still hear his mother laughing.  She had a wonderful laugh that came from somewhere deep within her.  It’s one of the things that I miss most about her.  Anyhow, last night was no exception and Matt was up to his usual antics.
The two of us were quietly sitting there having dinner.  It was nothing much, just some hotdogs, potato salad, fruit and chips.  I was zoned out and staring off into space.  I was thinking about something and was not even aware of what was happening around me.  All of a sudden I heard Matt giggle.  It was a muffled giggle, however.  It was strange enough to knock me out of my trance and get my attention.  When I looked up, this is what I saw.  Yes, those are grapes!  Nineteen of them to be exact!  There’s never a dull moment with Little Brother at the table.
The boys club gets busted up tonight.  Baby girl will be home from camp tonight.  She’s finished her job up at 4-H camp and is on her way home right now.  It’s been a solid year since we have had her at home on a fulltime basis.  I’ve enjoyed it being just the boys but am happy to have her home.  Yes, it will take a bit of getting used to having her here but we love her and will make it work.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Redneck Shopping


For me, shopping is probably one of the least desirable parts of being a single parent dad.  It’s a rare occasion when I enjoy shopping but I did yesterday. 
Little Brother has been pestering the tar out of me to take him over to Atlanta and visit the Bass Pro Shop.  So, I finally took a day off and we spent it shopping together.  The boy needed some new shoes, shorts and shirts anyhow.  The Bass Pro Shop is not far from the Mall of Georgia.  I decided we could kill two birds with one stone.  Since he likes clothes shopping about half as much as I do, I figured a promise to follow up clothes shopping with a visit to Bass Pro would work in my favor.  The kid will spend six hours shopping for rods, reels and lures but after thirty minuets or so looking for shoes or other clothing related items, he’s toast.
Considering the fact he wont even think about putting on a pair of jeans until almost December, new shorts are the order of the day when back-to-school shopping for Matt.  Things went pretty well with our trip to the mall.  We successfully acquired several pairs of shorts and the shoes he needed.  After a few hours I could see I was loosing him so we hit the food court for a quick bite and then made the short drive over to the Bass Pro Shop. 
The place sells everything from bait to luggage so I decided to see if I could persuade him to try on some shirts while he was there.  I also agreed to let him roam a bit on his own while I looked around for a few things for myself.  I gave him about thirty minutes and then went looking for him.  Surprisingly, when I found him, he had an armful of tee shirts and a couple of ball caps.  Other than one of them being the wrong size, he did pretty well.  So with that accomplished I released him to head over to the fishing gear.  While he salivated over fishing gear with glazed eyes, I found a bench and made a couple of phone calls.
On the ride back home we both agreed that the trip had been a successful one.  Matt said he was glad that we were able to get his back-to-school shopping out of the way.  However, he said, “you know you might be a redneck if you do your back-to-school shopping at the Bass Pro Shop!”  With a chuckle, I agreed…

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brave Heart


Matt is home!!  

He made the seven hour trip back this morning and got home this afternoon.  He only had to stop and call me once due to being frustrated that his GPS was not taking him on the route he wanted.  I got him back on track with a quick visit to the MapQuest site.  Still, he was not very happy with his little GPS unit.  My nerves are a bit tattered due to undue worry but all is well.  It was difficult concentrating on work today knowing he was on the road by himself.  Like I tell the kids, I don’t worry about them, I worry about the other idiots on the road.  He was very proud of his accomplishment but was tired and happy to be home. 

In my life without Lisa, I still find it hard to let go and allow the kids to fly on their own.  This was one of those things that but I’m glad that I let him do it.  I still remember the first time I drove on an interstate.  I had to drive through Atlanta.  I held on to the steering wheel so hard that my knuckles were white and my hands were slick with sweat.  It was very unnerving and stressful.  I think he will always remember this drive, on this trip over this summer for a long time to come.

I gain a level of comfort knowing the kids are growing, maturing and developing the way she would have wanted them to.  Things are flying by so fast these days!  It’s hard to believe that Matt only has two years left in high school.  It seems like just yesterday he was still in middle school trying to stomach walking by his moms classroom knowing she was no longer there.  I still don’t know how he did it…  He's the bravest young man I know!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

20


It’s been a while since I have written anything for this venue.  I have been doing more private journaling and find it to be more helpful at times since I can write anything in my private journal.  There’s much that I don’t share here and probably never will.  So I keep some things locked away in my journal.  After all, believe it or not, I am actually a fairly private person…

Both the kids have been gone for the last couple of weeks and I have been, for the most part, alone with just the dogs.  Of course, with Anna (my big Bernie’s) spending almost every waking hour rolling around under the deck, it’s really just me and Ally (Lisa’s little Yorkshire).  Except for dinner with a few close friends it’s been pretty quiet.  I have grown to appreciate the quiet and actually look forward to it now.  That’s a far cry from where I was two years ago!

Someone asked me earlier this week if I still miss Lisa.  My answer was yes, without a doubt I still miss her.  However, I no longer am deeply and painfully grieving.  I think that I have just recently move to the point that I just miss her very much rather than mourn her loss. The days of going to sleep and waking up with her constantly on my mind are less frequent now.  Seldom do I have tear filled days with that raw emotion that welled up from deep inside me.  Yes I still think about her more than you might imagine but not constantly day in and day out.  So, yes I still miss her and probably always will.

Matt will be driving himself back from Jacksonville tomorrow.  He did a great job following me down last weekend so I am confident that he will find his way home without incident.  I’m actually surprised that he has not called to ask if he can stay another week.  After all, where would you rather spend a week of your summer vacation?  Watkinsville or Jacksonville?  Hopefully her will roll out of the bed before noon since it’s a six hour drive. 

I no longer have two teenagers since yesterday was Abby’s 20th birthday.  We had a good weekend together and had some good talks.  I can see her changing before my eyes.  Trying hard to be an adult and move beyond childish ways.  It’s been good having her come home from camp on the weekends.  It’s giving us a chance to get used to her being back at home a little each week.  She will be home full time in just another couple of weeks.  I suppose we’ll see how that goes.  Matt and I will need a little time to get used to having her home and I’m sure she will need a bit of time getting used to being here her self.  

Friday, June 11, 2010

In The Fast Lane



In my life without Lisa, a few things have not changed. 

When it was time to teach the kids how to drive I assumed the responsibility.  Lisa started out taking charge of it with Abby.  However, it quickly fell back in my lap.  Lisa just didn’t have the patients for it and they both usually wound up at the house in tears.  Of course, I didn’t have a choice when it was Matt’s turn.  When it was time for Matt to start driving I was on my own and I needed to get Matt driving so that we didn’t need to depend on others to transport him.

Thankfully, Matt took to diving a lot faster than Abby did.  I tend to think it’s just a boy thing.  Of course, all the riding he had done on motorcycles and tractors probably gave him a bit of a leg up also.

Since we live in a very small town, our kids tend to learn how to drive in very non- congested areas.  They don’t get much in the way of challenges when they start driving.  For the most part, they drive on roads with a 45 mph speed limit.  The biggest challenge they tend to face is passing a tractor while on the way home from school.  If things are really tuff they might need to negotiate a four-way stop at the same time as another driver.  The only problem with this is when the kids want to hit the interstate and drive down to the beach for the first time or run over to Atlanta on their own.  It tends to freak you out a bit since you know they are not nearly as good a driver as they think they are. 

This weekend I allowed Matt to try driving on the interstate.  He wants to drive to my brother’s place in Jacksonville this summer.  So, I thought it was prudent that I not let him do it on his own until I had supervised his ability myself.  With that in mind, this weekend we went to Jacksonville for a couple days.  Matt drove most of the way and did just fine.  In fact considering my constant nagging and criticism he did pretty a great job.

Another hurdle crosses successfully!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stuff Happens



What a day, oh what a day.

It’s funny how things work… You get up expecting your day to go a certain way.  You expect to do certain things and get certain things accomplished.  You have a plan and you think it’s a good one.  Then out of the blue, something comes along and totally changes all those plans and objectives.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I of all people should know better by now.  I should know better than to make plans and not keep in mind that there is a higher power at work.  One that has His own plan with objectives that we know nothing about.  A more important plan that revolves around a lot more than us as individuals.  A plan that defines and shapes more that what we can wrap our tiny heads around and understand.

I continue to try to remember this and not let it get to me.  I try not to let changes to my little slice of life upset me.  I’m not very good at it but I try.  I continue to do the only thing I know to do when God’s plan supersedes my plan.  I take deep breathes and tell myself that he’s got control and I’m am, for the most part, just a passenger.  After all, the things that I normally have in mind are really not that important when you think about it.  I mean really, how important is cutting grass, doing laundry, reading a book or changing your oil?  In the scheme of things, not important at all.

So why get worked up?  Well, I suppose it’s just human nature.  Okay, maybe just my nature.  Today the sun is up and He has granted me another day.  I again find myself thankful and in awe. 

Today, I WILL remember... 
Today, I WILL remember that He will not give me more than I can handle.  
Today, I WILL remember what is important and what is not. 
Today, I WILL remember to breathe easy and remain calm.
Today, I WILL remember that there might be a bump in the road but that’s okay.

Yesterday?  Well yesterday Matt came home from camp.  I had not heard a word from him all week.  I have grown to expect that however.  I suppose it’s just a boy thing.  Anyhow, he got home in one piece but not without a broken ankle.  Yes a fractured ankle. 

He was limping pretty badly when he got out of the truck.  I asked him what was wrong.  He said that he had sprained his ankle pretty badly.  One look at it and I knew that it was more than a sprain.  The doctor confirmed my suspicions. He said that it was clearly fractured but should heal just fine as long as Matt takes it easy on the ankle for the next four to six weeks.  The doctor said there was no need to cast it but he does want him to wear one of those big black immobilization boots for the next six weeks or so.  I am thankful it was not worse and Matt does not seem to be in much pain or discomfort.  Hopefully it will heal just fine and there is not a visit to an orthopedic surgeon in our future.

Now, what’s the plan for today?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summer Break

We have our first week of summer break behind us and it was a pretty good week.  I like the fact that I can lean on Matt a little bit.  Since he is just looking for excuses to drive that new red truck, I have no trouble convincing him to run a few errands for me during the week.  He stayed pretty busy all week and I didn’t sit at work worried about keeping him busy or what he might be doing.  It’s hard to believe he has been driving for a solid year now.  Last summer I would hardly let him drive into town on his own.  Now, I am considering allowing him to make the seven-hour drive to my brothers’ place in Jacksonville.  How things change…

Lisa’s mom and dad came over Friday night to take Matt out for a birthday dinner.  It was perfect in that Abby was able to come home for the weekend and also go with us.  I can’t remember the last time all four of us were able to spend some time together.  We had a great time…  The kids were in rare form and we laughed through most of dinner.  I have often sat through meals with my kids and in-laws desperately missing Lisa and wishing she were there with us.  That was not the case Friday night.  Friday night, I was simply living in the moment with four wonderful people that I love and adore.

Matt takes off for a week at FFA camp tomorrow and Abby took off yesterday.  I will be alone for a solid week.  Last summer, I was horrified at being alone for a week.  I would scramble around trying to find someone to eat dinner with just so I would not be forced to spend an evening alone.  That is not the case this year.  I have learned to be more comfortable with being alone and on my own.  I have learned to enjoy the freedom that it brings me.  Heck yeah, I’ll miss the kids but I don’t think that I will struggle with the solitude as I have in the past.

To quote a friend, “Time passing equals time healing”…  How true that continues to be…

Monday, May 24, 2010

TMI

Holy cow, that conversation got way too personal way too fast.

It all started with a simple hello...

We took Abby to her new camp assignment Sunday afternoon.  It was the first day for all the camp counselors to come together and all the parents and family were invited to attend the dinner.  These things are always awkward for us since inevitably some goof will ask me which of the other ladies in the room is my wife.

We were trying to mingle and meet some of the folks when Abby introduced Matt and me to one of the ladies that run the camp.  The lady, acknowledge both Matt and me and then dropped the bomb on Abby.  “So is your mother here?” she asked…  Abby was a trouper however and quickly beat me to the draw.  I normally try to be on guard for that sort of thing and field those questions for the kids when I can.  Abby was on her “A” game at the time and beat me to it.  It was a good thing since I was in a witty mood and was about to reply, if she is – we are all in for one hell of a big surprise.  Abby just said “no my momma died three years ago in an accident”.  I could tell by the way she was wringing her hands she was not comfortable.  The woman quickly responded that she had just lost her fiancĂ© a few months ago.

I not sure what prompts people to do that…  Like it’s going to make us feel any better knowing that they have suffered a loss also…?  And Abby lost her MOM not some boyfriend.  It was her mother for Pete-sake not someone she had know a few months or a year.  Her MOM, the woman that gave birth to her and loved her for 17 years.  The most important person in the her world…

She then tried to tell us how sorry she was for our loss.  I tried to graciously tell her that it was fine and we were okay and move the conversation along.  But no… She just continued to babble on about it.  Thankfully, it was just about that time we gave the blessing and got in line for dinner.  The kids and me made a dash for the line.  And heck, nothing says loving like fried chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes.

So the kids filled their plates and I grabbed a glass of tea.  I looked for the open bar but then remembered we were at a 4-H function.  As we sat down to the banquet table I looked up to see this nice lady had decided to join us.  They really should consider an open bar at these functions.  That or I’m going to need to start packing a flask.  I suppose she didn’t think that she had jostled us enough or ruffled our feathers quite enough.  That’s when she took over the conversation and began to tell us her life story.

Married twenty years then divorced… engaged to a wonderful guy who died before he could marry her… ex-husband sold his company to a major corporation for a what sounded like a whole lot of money… no longer needs to work and just travels… two kids 18 and 27… blaa blaa blaa blaa…

The kids and I continued to be cordial and tried to appear interested in her conversation.  It was finally time to leave so Matt and I gave Abby a big hug and wished her luck.  I no sooner heard the door close behind us when Matt grabbed me by the arm, looked me dead in the eye and said… Holy cow, that conversation got way to personal way too fast. 

All I could do was laugh… That boy cracks me up…

Friday, May 21, 2010

New Wheels For Baby Bear

Sometimes I look at others that are on this path.  Others that have suffered great loss and experienced what seems to be equal if not greater pain than myself.  I see them making great strides.  I seem them finding new love and reinventing themselves.  I see them moving forward, growing and overcoming.  Then I look within at myself.

I see how far I have come and how much better I feel.  While I am thankful for all the progress that I have made, I’m not satisfied.  I want more.  I want to get back to that point where I feel like my life is satisfying.  I’m not satisfied with just not feeling miserable.  I’m not satisfied with just getting by.  I want more than that.  

It seems, however, that from time to time I hit a wall and don’t see any progress.  I feel as though I have been at one of those walls for a while now. This is not the first wall that I have run into. I know it will pass.  So, I keep faith and keep breathing.  I keep putting one foot in front of the other and taking one day at a time.  The wall will crumble but I will not. 

Yesterday we picked up Matt’s new wheels.  He’s been driving the “granny car” for the past year.  The gold1998 Toyota Camry that his big sister cut her teeth on was a good starter car.  That old car has been banged around and beat up pretty well.  I promised him a year ago that we would find him something better once he had been driving for a while.  This week we found him a great little pickup truck just in time for his 17th birthday.  He’s thrilled and grateful and when we got it home last night he must have just sat there in it for over an hour.

Tonight he’s hosting his annual birthday bash in the barn.  They are out there right now acting like idiots and playing video games.  They are well supplied with plenty of pizzas, sodas and snack cakes.  I’m just waiting to see who pukes first.