The World Has Lost, Again.

Yesterday, another call came we were expecting, but of course, hoped would never come.

Our friend passed away yesterday from ALS. Janet Lorentzen Nichols, friend to everyone, and my strong supporter when I was divorced (and before) succumbed to this horrible disease. Her husband, Don, was with her constantly the last months, as she slipped from walking to bedridden, talking to silence, and into a semi coma. By luck, I stopped and saw her Friday, telling her goodbye with a kiss on her forehead. Don is a rock, but a realist. Being a retired Firefighter, a Battalion Chief for the OFD, he knew the steps a body makes toward death. He called me Saturday afternoon. I didn’t expect it that quickly, but I was glad for all of them, her pain and fight was over. And now, ours begins.

Who is included in the group ours?

Don, her husband of over 50 years; her sisters (she was the baby in the family), numerous family members, nieces, nephews, in-laws, her two sons and their families, her daughter and her family; and lastly, but in abundance, all the friends she had. It would not surprise me if she, as an individual, touched thousands of lives during her lifetime.

I met her in 1980, as we had kids the same ages. Frankie and Janice (different grades in school), Nick and Donnie, Becky and David. We became fast friends. Back then, there were not many stay-at-home Moms in our aging neighborhood. The houses and long-time residents were all younger than we are now, so it was great to add a young woman as a friend, for both of us.

We added sidekick Kathy Snell along the way. Kathy babysat a bunch of children, and was mine when I got divorced and starting working. She and Janet were besties as I lost touch, moving into a different neighborhood and world. In those couple of years, between 1980 and 1982, we walked our babies hundreds of miles in their strollers as the older ones walked; spent time at the then-new Lynch Park at 23 & Martha Streets in South Omaha, made countless Zoo visits with picnics, made hundreds of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches together for the kids as we visited, talked, and solved the world’s problems. It was good to have a friend my age. It was a blessing to have Janet as a your friend.

We reconnected in about 1995, after a motorcycle accident took their son-in-law Dan and critically injured Janice. It was the day of Donnie’s high school graduation. It was also my birthday. I saw it in the newspaper, a little blurb on an obscure page, and my heart went to the family. They have endured so much as a couple, a family, and grandparents.

Two things stand out in my memories of Janet. First, she could talk faster than any other human being on earth. And never take a breath. I was still horribly shy then, so if and when she did take a breath, I’d add my two cents, then she’d continue, talking and setting the Guinness World’s Record for human speech. I believe she could out talk an auctioneer at a livestock show.

Second, Janet loved to cook. As the kids grew up, she worked as a lunch lady for the school systems. She would get to know the kids in line, many having her love and concern because she was that way. She loved you and was concerned. I’m sure some may have never had someone love them just for existing. She loved making food, sharing it, and showing her love with it. Those lucky kids. Hot lunch every day made by someone who put love in as the main ingredient. We were all lucky.

Later, she worked in Douglas County Child Support Enforcement. She learned Spanish so she could help people who did not speak English as their primary language. That is love and dedication, at work. That was how Janet lived her life; serving others. What a good friend, woman, and citizen.

As my the Babe and I sat on the deck this morning, the clouds came, a brief shower, clouds parted and eventually, it became sunny. Now it’s extremely hot. I thought about Janet and her first morning in heaven. I wonder what that was like. She’s probably not finished yet with all the reunions, and I’m sure she’s asking God all of her questions. All of them.

When we heard the cardinals singing, the Babe and I looked at each other. She was telling us to be sad, but don’t stay that way. Grieve, but keep living. As all of us left here without her, let’s tell all our Janet stories to each other. There are some great ones, I know. As long as we keep her spirit alive, she’s still with us. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. We don’t tell stories or blog to get attention for ourselves, but to honor the lucky one in this situation – Janet Nichols. RIP. Thank you for being our friend.

Shiny, Happy, New Monday!

After the last month being schedule-crazy, I have the entire week free until Friday. Mom goes to the eye doctor then. I am free to add in whatever I want to do. I am visiting a couple friends from way back in the late seventies. I’m looking forward to it.

Until visiting later today, I’m going back to writing first thing in the morning. The day is far more productive. Friends, we cannot often gauge how quickly we’ll change a bad habit. It is said it takes 21 days. So be it. It should take me until around my birthday to make progress towards changing the bad habits I’ve fallen back to.

I’m grateful to go visit friends who have played an important part in my independence as a single Mom. Janet babysat my kids whenever I needed her. I’ve always been grateful for that. Our friend Kathy was my main sitter, and Janet helped whenever she could. Her husband Don was an Omaha firefighter who offered support and encouragement when he could. I love the fact we’ve remained friends all these years later. As a couple, they’ve always been first to offer help. Good people, we need more like them.

None of us knows what our future holds. Health or illness? Work or rest? Gains or losses? The older I become, the more I know things can change so quickly. In 1995, I went from being healthy and basically fit to nearly being bedridden in one short week. A tumor in my spinal canal was crushing the spinal cord. The pain was something I will never forget.

The weather was chilly and drizzly yesterday. We enjoyed Netflix and meals from HelloFresh. I enjoy cooking so much more with tastier food. Let me know if you’d like to receive a complimentary box. No joke, there are no strings attached. Let me know by FB Messenger what your email address is. Thank you!

I’m going to organize some stuff, then visit my friends. It’s a hot summer day according to the forecast. I’d appreciate some more spring non-windy days, but I’ll take what we can get. Have a beautiful day and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

December 26. Is It Over?

If you view it as only pertaining to gifts, what you got, and what you didn’t get, it’s over. And that’s sad. If you view it as the joy of sharing meals and time with your people, be it bio family, friend family, or a mix of both, it is just beginning. And that’s wonderful.

Why? Because you get it. You understand the importance of building bonds, friendships, and what it takes to maintain them. You get a bigger kick out of giving rather than receiving. You understand sometimes the gift of time is the most important and appreciated in the life of many. You stay later than you plan because you know telling stories is important to some folks who have had drastic changes in life and health in the past year. Ah, the stories. Great from an expert storyteller. I love to listen, because some of them, no matter how many times you hear them, a new twist or turn can be added and there you go; it’s even funnier than before.

The Babe and I, along with our daughter Tracy, TJ, Addison, Gavin, and cousin Beth, spent another beautiful Christmas afternoon at the lake home of Tracy’s Uncle Lou. Lou is the person who brought the Babe to Omaha to work at his company. He’s known him for over 40 years. Through good times and bad. Through their mutual sicknesses and health. And now, as they’re both retired guys who manufactured a *(^$-load of block, brick during those years, and had tons of adventures together. There are stories to be told and lies to be made up. A bromance before anyone was concerned about such things. Two good men who are best of friends and brothers. It’s a joy to share. One time, I talked to Lou regarding a hospitalization and procedure the Babe was having. He said, “I’ll just stay home and pray. Remember, I’ve loved him longer than you have.” Truer words were never spoken.

My header photo today is of our friend, our Christmas Day host with the most, if you leave his home hungry or thirsty it’s your own doggoned fault, Louie! We love you and are grateful to share another Christmas together. Thank you, Lou, for your generosity, your stories, and most of all, your friendship. Let’s have a great 2022, with more visits and more stories. Let’s enjoy! And I believe we probably all need a power nap before the KC Chiefs play football today.

Folks, if you have a Louie in your life, make sure you make time for them soon and often. We all need to make priorities for what is important, and what is more a priority than lifelong friendship? Be safe out there today if you’re traveling or out exchanging gifts. This is a look at mine, I opened those Amazon boxes on Christmas Day and gosh, I’m glad I bought them. More reading and learning for 2022! But I won the book in the middle, “Venus the Monk,” by Cory Swanson. Thanks, Cory! I appreciate winning!

I appreciate you reading today, we are pre-planning our projects for next year, and it’s going to be awesome. Thank you for sticking with me. We’re so close to having some finished books to read. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday Visiting Friends

Hope you had a beautiful day. We did. The Babe had a day off from his Post duties today. We went to visit some favorite friends we haven’t seen in a while. They are also both retired and have grown children too. The woman is experiencing health issues, which will be permanent. They are such good people, and you hate to see this happen. Especially during these times.

Our visit was delightful. The man in so funny, we had a lot of wonderful laughs. It’s been a long time since we’ve had such a friendly visit. We will go back sooner this time. No doubt we will have a lot of time to spend with them. I hope so. The old saying is true, it’s good to have friends where you can pick back up where you left off. These are those friends. We are so blessed!

If it feels as if your elevator is out of order, maybe you need a change in routine. Sometimes we do from the monotony of everyday life. It gets monotonous doing the same thing day after day. Getting outside of yourself and doing something for others can add something to your life no doctor could prescribe. Giving does something to the mind and feeling of wellbeing that is hard to find. We all need to be active with others to live in the world.

Making a choice, taking a chance in life can change everything. Take the risk. It can be a little one. When you succeed, you’ll become bolder. You will gain confidence. You will take another risk. A calculated one. More success! Things change. Slowly and surely. You have made a change. Be proud of yourself! Do some more. It’s amazing where you go.

The self-help meme above names many things I do when things get to be too much. Too much sadness, listen to music. It’s a great escape. Writing about some things long ago has helped me feel better than I used to about myself at certain ages. The Babe and I grew up during a time our parents expected certain things from us and did not inflate our egos at all. No “Good Job!” for baby-boomers. No “You’re amazing!” either. Just a lot of “Next time do it perfect.” or “Next time, you can do better.”

When I read a good fiction book, the story makes me travel through time, whether it’s a WWII historical fiction book or a tale of Irish immigrants coming to America. The clock becomes a blur and I’m taken away on a magical trip. I love reading. Always have. I can only hope to do it forever. Mom has vision issues since her stroke, that is unfortunate. She cannot use audio books because of her profound deafness. That limits her access. My younger brother bought her a super duper bright flashlight she calls “The Beacon.” She laughs about it but sure uses it for when she needs a – well, a beacon – to find something she cannot see. She usually can locate the missing item. Good for her!

Tomorrow is the rheumatologist and the ortho guy. Checking on the arthritis and getting the last of 2 shots in each knee. I have to say, I’ve definitely noticed how the cold makes every joint in my body just hurt. I can’t attribute to anything but acknowledging we’re aging. It’s definitely not for sissies.

Being around longtime friends reminds us of that; yet it’s great, because I’ve known those friends for over forty years, from when we were younger than our kids are now. And we exchange the lies none of us have changed, but we know the truth. Friends always do. And that’s why we remain friends.

Call some of your lifetime friends during this Christmas season. Renew the friendships you had that are important. If they’re strong, they’re still viable. Seriously. You’ll enjoy catching up. And you’ll all enjoy the time. You’ll gather again. Before you run out of time. You’ll be glad you did. Be Safe out there. See you tomorrow.