Unforgettable, Part II

We’re continuing with the Unforgettable Friends theme from yesterday. A good friend suggested we talk about the grief that can accompany the loss of those Unforgettable Friends.

Some are friends for certain times in our lives. They are with us for a season, for a reason, and they do not stay in our lives. We learn lessons, both good and bad, from having them in our lives. How do we deal with that?

Oh gosh, those who are friends for even a period of years, can have a positive effect on us, even sharing valuable life hacks with you when you need them. You can be friends for thirty years, Things can often change dramatically and you are no longer friends. You’re grateful for them when you were friends. The time is no longer right for you to be friends. You go your separate ways, and have no further contact. It happens, and usually it’s for the best.

We made room for other relationships. Sometimes the new people you meet are the ones you need right now in your life. You learn and grow further. God puts them there sometimes. Show your gratitude to them, to your higher power or God, and recognize the gift they are. You come to recognize those chance meetings are really part of a big picture.

Of course, we have lifelong friends. Those are hard to lose. Death, the final goodbye, is such a thief. Stolen from our lives and our hearts, grief from these losses can be crippling. The Babe and I have had substantial losses in the past three years. All ages, walks of life, and beliefs. Our veteran friends Nugent, Danny, Jay, Lenny, and Kenny. Our songwriting friend Rick Tiger. Our lifelong friends Lou, Janet and Patty. And work friends Gary, and Tony.

They have all left our lives and we miss the places they were filling. We cannot fill the emptiness they leave. Excesses does not fill the voids; alcohol, gambling, overeating, random encounters, etc. Some folks become angry, negative, and act out. There is no shame in needing to talk with someone. Many people claim talk doesn’t help. It does. Sharing helps us give voice to what we need, what we fear, and what we need to heal. If we don’t, we can cause lots of damage to others.

The damage can affect our children, our jobs, our personal lives, and our future happiness. After our dad died, I withdrew. I held back even from my kids. That was damaging to my daughter, who was the youngest. Losing my dad was so enormous, I wanted nothing else to hurt that bad. My grieving was not healthy. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about loss, grief, and going on. For my future, I hope knowledge will help me cope when I think I cannot. I learned the hard way, withdrawing is not a healthy way to deal with grief, no matter how big it is. It’s also part of why I became a Peer Support Specialist. I hope to be a listening ear for folks who need to talk. I’m available.

Katina, thank you for suggesting we write about this part of Unforgettable friends. We have wonderful memories of friends, relatives, neighbors, and colleagues. Those keep us, along with our faith we will all be together again. If you need help with grief, contact our friends at the Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska. They are the oldest grief organization in the United States. They have been present with Gold Star Families, survivors of 9/11, Oklahoma City Bombing, and many other terrible disasters, losses, and attacks.

Have a beautiful Sunday. More quilting in my future today. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what I did while quilting. I’ve never done it in over 50 years of using a sewing machine. Such a deal! See you tomorrow! Thanks for being here. I appreciate all #1067 of you.

Thankful Thursday

This is a joyful season, it celebrates the birth of Jesus, we have celebrations with family and friends. We have two family friends who won’t be joining in the celebrations this year; tonight we attended visitations for a young man whom the Babe has known since he was a little boy, a man with a little boy who passed away last week. The other visitation was the wife of a man who worked for the Babe; they have a large family, she had cancer, was given six months, and lasted only six days. Oh dear. Both terribly sad.

Unfortunately, holiday season or not, life continues being played out every day of each year. People are born and people will die. Calendar be damned. The year my father died of cancer, it was so hard to be checked out at the grocery store; checkers don’t know what your family may be going through. They would ask about Thanksgiving, I’d make something up. Of course, Dad was in the hospital, and Mom came over to eat with the kids and me. Then she went back to the hospital. Dad died shortly after that, on December 7. Day of Infamy.

My heart hurts for people who have loss of life from disease, pandemic, cancer, or heart attack during these holidays. It’s hard. It’s hard to continue shopping and wrapping and decorating and baking and having joy in our hearts. My family lost our Grandpa on Christmas Eve, 1964, when I was twelve years old. What a shock. I remember hearing Mom cry late at night several days later. She never showed emotion or talked about it. But I heard her sobbing and couldn’t do anything about it. She’s never been one to want you to hug her to comfort her. She pushes you away and insists “I’m fine! ” And even though you’re only twelve, you know she isn’t.

I remember after that, sometimes we’d take Grandma to Sunday Mass since she didn’t drive. I also remember her at Grandpa’s grave at the cemetery, commenting while looking at her name on their joint headstone, “Just put this year on it. I know I won’t live beyond this year.” No one talked about it, as kids we weren’t to comment on adult matters, but it affected us. Grandma got a driver’s license, car, job, and a new life. She worked at the Admissions Office of a Hospital, and as a Housekeeper for several priests. She loved cooking for them. They loved her.

She would have never traveled to Italy with one of her daughters if Grandpa hadn’t died. She went to Vegas with another daughter. She loved becoming a great grandma, and loved on those babies. Part of her grief moved her forward to a different life than the one she had with Grandpa. Mom became a Docent at our Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo for 30 years after Dad died. She hand fed elephants, rocked a baby gorilla and orangutan, and eventually had a Snow Leopard named after her: When you see Rosie at the Zoo, know she’s named after my mom. What an honor!

Despite these sad losses at this time of year, I hope the survivors of those lost know there is still a lot of life to live. There is an entirely different life ahead of them, one they may have not experienced if not for what they’re experiencing right now. It isn’t meant to sound harsh or uncaring. It’s meant to offer a shred of hope and light at this difficult time. It’s so hard. And life has to go on.

My prayer for all of you is you don’t experience this loss at this time of year. If you do, it takes a long time to heal. That said, it does heal. Life can be happy again. Tomorrow, we have a funeral to attend. And offer our love to our friends. Stay safe, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

As I Recall It

We’ve talked before about losses we’ve all experienced because of COVID; loss of security, loss of food security, loss of jobs, loss of family and friends, and the loss of regular schedules for school. It’s a lot.

Many people have recovered well from COVID, the variant, kids are back at school, many folks are back to work, donations are being secured for those food insecure this holiday. The one loss that cannot be regained is the loss of our family and friends.

The Babe and I lost three men friends this year. One was from COVID. Our table at the VFW has fewer occupied chairs. We have two more widows sitting with us for a total of three. I’m the only married woman left. There were three of us. We deeply miss Nugent and Lenny. They were buddies; when Nugent needed his nails trimmed, Lenny would take him to the Nail Salon, and he said they had “toe-ectomies.” Lenny had a way with stories. They always pointed to him as the hero. They might end with him telling you to go to hell. They might end with him declaring “Fix! Fix!” He usually got the girl in the end, during the summer of love when he was a life guard at Peony Park.

Regardless of who got the girl, Nugent had a good friendship with Lenny. He had one with the Babe, too, but it was a more professional one. Nugent had a fabulous bar in his family room, and it was always perfectly stocked. He had great stories, and they were told masterfully. We miss him. He was quieter than Lenny, but every once in awhile, he’d release a thought and crack us all up. A nice, nice man.

Today, I read the small book our friend Rick Tiger wrote, “As I Recall It.” It’s a little book that recalls some pretty significant events in his life. He is modest about his success. He is modest about his talent. He is humble about his beginnings. He makes it clear he and his siblings had deep love from their mother and didn’t want for much of things of the heart. They knew they were loved, they knew they all had to help, they knew they had to behave. And they did that most of the time.

I love the segment where he admitted he and one sister fought over most everything. He, however, knew she was being bullied. And he took care of it. His taking care of it landed him in the principal’s office often. He told his truth and being called to the office was the extent of the punishment. I love that he told about that. It explains his deep love for his family; his wife Joyce, their daughters, and their Grandbabies. What a rich life he describes!

Many things make Rick’s family and friends miss his spirit, smile, and simplicity. He was an honest lover of his wife, Jesus, and Louisiana. Just listen to the words, the piano, the voice. The fog keeping you from leaving, having a cup of coffee while you wait it out, the bourbon sunsets, lose a friend; the saints come marching in. It’s a love song to his state, and it makes me want to travel there to see what he describes. It’s beautiful, to put it mildly. Someday, I hope to have the skill putting words together he had.

I miss Rick for the instant friendship we had. He wrote songs that described times in everyone’s life. Falling down and out of love. Whiskey and Holy Water. The Good Side of the Bar. He was as down to earth as your best friend. He valued everyone. He was a person you weren’t embarassed to ask to pray for you or yours. Every time the Babe had a procedure the last five years, I’d ask Rick to pray for him. He did, without reservation. And he’d text me and ask for updates afterwards. A humble, honest man. What a treasure to have had a friend like this.

I’m grateful for all three of these fine friends of ours. Without knowing them, our lives would have been quieter, smaller, and we would have had fewer laughs. We wouldn’t have had beautiful music to tell our stories, and listen to the wisdom Rick had. I’m grateful to still have the gift of all his CD’s, autographed, and his short book. All autographed.

Thanks for the memories, Rick!

The folks at the VFW Post 2503 are disappointed we won’t be able to have Rick back again next year. Word spread quickly about how much fun it was that night. He sat at a table with all of us and talked for about a half an hour before he started singing. Hugs were exchanged, and we all made new friends. Thanks, Rick and Joyce. Joyce, know there are lots of others thinking of you and your family during this holiday week. May the angels surround you with comfort and love. Take care of yourself, and kiss those grandbabies! They cure everything. Folks, Rick’s music is available for gift giving this season. And so is his book. I can hear his voice in the words. What a great storyteller. I do wish we could have had a song-writing session next summer. It was something we talked about, and I could have learned so much from him. Songs are stories set to music. You know how I love great stories.

Thanks for reading today. Keep your loved ones close; we just never know. Make memories this week. Remember good ones, too. See you tomorrow!

p.s. I made a major boo-boo yesterday. Misspelled a word in my title. Oh well. Sorry! Being human, I think it will happen from time to time. Take care, be safe out there!

RIP, Rick Tiger

I was stunned Wednesday morning when a mutual friend messaged me about Rick Tiger’s death. My first thought went to his wife Joyce, their family, and all of the people who love him. All of us who were his friends. We are many. Our header photo is the VFW folks who were present when he sang for us in July. It was a fun night. One couple left early, because the husband wasn’t well. Lenny greeted Rick in heaven, I think.

Some of Rick Tiger’s Songs
Coffee and Conversations Here Daily!

This photo is a pic I sent Rick after he appeared at our VFW in July. We had a very small crowd, but we had such an intimate evening. Rick sat at a table with all of us and asked about our lives, what we did, and got to know us as much as he could. He was wonderful, as always. He laughed at himself, was such a host, and did what he knows best. Spread love, lessons, and support for our troops, and prayers for our great nation.

At the VFW that night, I told him how I’m very curious about what it takes to write a song. He told me, “next time I come to town, we will write one. Then you’ll know!” Bless his generous heart.

Back to the picture. Rick has a song from a few years ago, called, “Coffee and Conversation.” It’s a lovely song. The Babe and I are reminded of it every day we sit on our deck and rock in those chairs. The song reminds the Babe of how his Grandparents started the day on their farm. As kids, he and siblings spent a lot of time with Grandma and Grandpa during the summer. The whole scenario is lost on most of America these days. It’s just one of Rick’s beautiful stories. I’m so glad to have met and been friends with this man. What a gift. Him. His Music. His Prayers whenever we asked. He leaves a huge empty spot in the lives of many.

How meaningful for my Goldie, the two year old yellow lab, pestered me out of my office/studio, and outside to sit on the deck. Rick told me we would write our song out here. Coincidence? I think not. I firmly believe in messages from God and those who have gone to heaven before us.

Instead of writing words with Rick, at this spot, I’m writing them about him, with a broken heart complete with tears. My words? They pale in comparison with what he can do with a story. His Stories! Included are misfits and born again. Whiskey and virtue. Forgiveness and Jesus. Joyce, my how he loved Joyce! And he always will. We will miss you fiercely, Rick. Hope all who read this will tell a Rick story, and heal their heart a little. It helped me just to finally be able to sit down and write it after avoiding it all week. And that pesky puppy Goldie took me to where I needed to do it. Thanks, Rick. For everything. And especially for writing with me this morning. I’ll never forget you.

Some Saturday!

This was some great Saturday! The Babe and I were at the Post for their Craft Show. We enjoyed talking with the various vendors and seeing their talents. Woodworking has really come around again; we had three booths with that craft displayed. The usual jewelry makers attended, along with crocheters, knitters, seamstresses, and even a guy who sold golf equipment. Something for everyone.

The weather was overcast and chilly again. I believe it’s going to be like that again tomorrow for Mother’s Day. I remember going to see my mothers-in-law on Mother’s Day – both Josephine and Liz were such gracious ladies. Josephine had seven children; Liz had four. Josephine was ten years older than my mom; Liz and my mom were the same age. Both women worked very hard inside and outside of the home; my mom did not, mostly because Dad didn’t want her to. At least that’s the story she told. I don’t know my dad’s feelings on the topic.

I think since Josephine was older, she kept to the traditions which were “old school.” She needed to supplement the family income, the money she needed to take care of the kids and home didn’t make it home regularly. My father cashed his check at the bank; or at least Mom did after he endorsed it. My exes father cashed it at the local taverns he frequented. There were many kids whose Dad’s did the same. I am so fortunate my father wasn’t that way. He was a good provider.

Josephine believed the man headed the household, and the woman was the heart. She deeply loved her family. She had a hard life, but she was one woman who wore the title Mother as a badge of honor. She sacrificed for her children and loved when they would visit. Liz was the same way. She made time to visit with company, both in her home and at the nursing home where she lived for over twelve years with M/S.

My mom, once everyone left home, volunteered at the Zoo. She had her schedule of so many days to be there and even did some overnight babysitting of the nursery animals when needed. You had to make reservations to visit her. There was no dropping by unannounced. Partly because you wouldn’t find her home. If she was home and not expecting you, she startles easily. Even now, she prefers to know you’re coming, rather than have it be a surprise. She isn’t too spontaneous, she would rather script her days and keep to it. She has been that way. From high school years, I remember she would bowl in the City or State Bowling tournaments rather than spend the day with her family. I felt bad about that. We often offered, but she’d always say no to a meal at our home or visiting. Many years, I don’t receive cards from my kids, but do from Tracy. I get texts and a phone call from Frankie. It’s really not about all that. It’s about remembering.

Mother’s Day can be rough for a lot of Mom’s. Couples with multiple miscarriages. Couples who have lost older young children to accident and illness. Mom’s who couldn’t keep their babies but adopted them out to couples who wanted them. Mom’s who were good Mom’s but their kids decide to cut them out of their lives. It happens to good Mom’s too. I’ve read a lot about the topic. It’s amazing.

Be kind to those who seem distant on Mother’s Day. It hurts when things don’t work out how they should. When you have losses, you cannot talk about easily. I have a sister-in-law who lost a young child at two years old and an adult child in his 30s. So sad. In a world where just about anything can happen, it often does. Life is not fair.

As you approach Mother’s Day, if you don’t have a Mom, call someone you know who lost their child or lives far away from them. Chances are, they will be grateful. If you have a Mom, but she doesn’t want to be bothered, call someone who never hears from their kids. You will make someone’s day. It costs nothing but your time. We all can spare a little of that, can’t we?

Help cheer someone up tomorrow. You may not have another chance. Or they might not. I hope you have a beautiful evening, and splendid night. Be Kind, Thoughtful, Courteous, and Safe. Thank you for reading, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Just a Regular Thursday

Meetings tonight at the Post. Then we’re done for the month, we hope. Just listening to some tunes and getting inspired for creating today. I have a picture quilt, a panel I layered and need to quilt. If I can see to thread the machine needle, I believe clear invisible thread (rather than smoky) should give a nice outline.

It’s been another busy week, and I sometimes wish to sleep until I wake up on my own. Does anyone do that anymore? The dogs wake the Babe, and he lets me sleep until 7. I’ve got a lot more pain since the weather turned cold. I expect it, and it’s become a measure of the next level of my disability.

Like clockwork, the updated news presents itself in areas such as what hurts and how much? Does it come and go? Does stretching help? Not so much anymore. Does that sharp pain change at all during the day? How about at night? The ache, how does it respond to ice or heat? Was it like this last year? When did it start? Does it ever stop hurting? And so on. Sometimes I just don’t recall. I should journal these changes, but I just don’t think of it.

Our mom has had her complete life of mobility, few restrictions, and at 91 concentrates a lot on what she can’t do anymore. As a person who has had restrictions from the age of 42 until now, I try to point out to her how grateful she should be. I’m used to things I can no longer do. My height has shrunk so I can no longer reach items on the top shelf in the cupboards. Right now, I can ask the Babe for help. He’s so good to me.

You know, this keto thing is really something. It works. Nothing dramatic like sixty pounds in thirty days or anything, I suppose if you were an exercise nut you could do that, but we’re quite happy with what we are losing. The Babe has lost 20-25 pounds and I’ve probably lost 15 – 20. It really shows. And we feel it. Even during the holidays, I just don’t want the awful stuff we used to fill up on.

We may break the sugar addiction yet! Sometimes I would like to have a Midnight Dark Milky Way bar. I just wouldn’t eat the whole thing at once. Yes, I’d love some nice warm bread with butter melting all over it. Just not now. I have some more pounds to shed. Growing up in the 1950s, they often used food as a reward. Common, but not a good thing to do. Especially when your Mom baked the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. When bullied at school, I’d reach in the cookie jar and take several cookies to my room. I always felt better after that. Our parents would say, “Just ignore them, they’ll stop making fun of you.” It still hurt, although we didn’t cry in front of the bullies.

Retirement. Freedom to Create!

What a glorious thing to come out of what folks are calling the worst year ever. Losing weight and a sugar addiction. It feels good. I can frame 2020 as a horrid year. It’s frightening to look at and wonder where we will be a year from now; OR I can frame this year as a year to be so grateful; we haven’t had COVID; we have lost no one to it, and we have a comfortable life with each other. We’re relatively healthy, aside from aging bodies. We have a firm belief in God and pray. And we trust in God. He knows what’s best.

Goldie LOVES her new Charlie Brown Snowman from Bark Box.

Wherever you find yourself today, be kind. Be thoughtful. Be Courteous. Be Safe. Let’s stay well until we can get vaccinated and build up immunities. Wash up and wear your mask. It’s the least we can do. Keep your spirits up. I’m as happy as Goldie is with her new toy. Thanks and see you tomorrow!