Posted tagged ‘sons’

Dreams Do Come True

May 19, 2013

From Alaska son

From Alaska son

Last Sunday was Mothers’ Day. Since I am a mother, I made a decision to treat myself to a day when I did nothing. Well, I did things with my hubby. We took the day to visit, take a drive, eat out. Just do whatever we felt like doing—together.

I visited with my sons, two at the cemetery near my mom and dad, one by phone as he’s in Alaska, and one in our home as he lives with us. I sat in my living room, thought about the next book that’s cooking in my brain, watched the lake, and started reading a new book. I enjoyed the home made key lime pie my hubby made for me. I admired the lovely flowers I received from the men in my life who love me.

From youngest son

From youngest son

It was a marvelous day.

A vacation day if you will.

Something I don’t take as often as I should.

But since my last post, I’ve accomplished something I never thought would happen. Three of my books finaled in three different categories of the same readers judged contest, The Write Touch Readers Award. The winners will be announced on June 1st—just a few weeks from now. The books were as follows:

An Island No More—romantic suspense. (This book took second place in the Bean Pot Readers Choice and has finaled in the 2013 Award of Excellence contest.)

Better Than Dessert—mainstream.

Seasons of Wine and Love—single title.

From hubby

From hubby

I got the call one evening when I was exhausted. I’d been caring for our disabled son who lives with us and been up for 40 hours straight. I’d just showered and gotten into my jammies and was on a path for bed when the phone rang. I ignored it instead crawling into bed.

But my hubby walked into the bedroom and insisted I take the phone. Of course, I figured the call couldn’t be a good one. (I tend to get negative when overtired to the tenth power.)

I picked up the phone and said hello. Hesitation colored my voice I’m sure. That didn’t last long.

Of course, I was beyond excited at the news. (I’d hoped to final with one book but when she continued with number 2 and 3, well, I was flabbergasted.) However, I was also half asleep. I’m sure I didn’t make any sense during our conversation and I’ll have to apologize when or if I see the woman at the awards luncheon—yes, I’ll be there for that.

Those lilacs brought spring into the room

Those lilacs brought spring into the room

After the call I fell asleep and slept for maybe nine hours. When I woke the next morning to coffee, I sat in my chair and looked at my husband. Then I said to him, “I had the strangest dream last night.”

“You did?” He set the paper down and turned to me. “What was it about?”

“You woke me up and insisted I take a call. The caller told me three of my books finaled in a contest.”

Dear hubby chuckled. “Honey, that wasn’t a dream. That happened.”

“Don’t tease me.”

“I’m not. I listened in on the other phone. You really did.”

Well, let me tell you hearing my dream really wasn’t a dream made my day. My week and ever since. Writers always dream of getting calls such as that one—ones that bring news of success because finaling is special. It is another measure of success. However, I’m so glad this is one dream that wasn’t a dream, but real.

I wonder–have any of you “slept through” a moment of success?

Yellow roses were the first flowers hubby sent me--delivered to my classroom.

Yellow roses were the first flowers hubby sent me–delivered to my classroom.

P.S.  Today is hubby and my 34th anniversary. Our romance started with another phone call. His to me. Sort of asking me if I dated. I answered “not really.” He asked why. I answered “No time and more importantly no one’s asked.”

I’m so glad he asked.

When A Pitcher Lives With Hoarders

May 5, 2013

So close to the lake no leafy trees yet.

So close to the lake no leafy trees yet.

I’m not quite willing to say winter has truly decided to leave us and spring has arrived. But maybe it’s happening. I hope. At least I’m more optimistic than I’ve been though we did have some cold days and nights early last week.

It could have been worse. Areas of Wisconsin got over a foot of heavy snow, so much schools closed down for at least a day. When I heard that I was thankful for the dreary skies and sleety rain.

However, what has happened in the past few days allowed my hope to spring forth. Thus you have the photos of the few plants that have filled out and/or bloomed in the past day and a half. Aren’t they lovely? I had to take photos of them and post.

But to keep this in perspective our trees are being stubborn as you can see from these other photos. Sure the evergreens are green but they don’t count. We still have BARE LIMBS visible. We’ll need more than a few days of warmer temps and sunshine to have these trees leaf out.

But they're trying...

But they’re trying…

A few miles further inland the trees are now in leaf. In fact the magnolias are blooming. Ours has barely budded. I checked on my walk around.

What I also noticed which I guess is a sign of spring is the dandelions are out in full bloom and spreading fast. So are the weeds which are abundant. Why is it those nuisancey, nasty bits of vegetation manage to survive the worst of weather? (Okay, I’ll admit it…the only dandelions I ever loved were the ones my sons picked and gave to me before they learned how much work it was to get rid of them in the lawn.)

Yes, even in the plant world the forces of the “Evil Empire” rule far too often. 😦

Upon opening my garage door this morning...

Upon opening my garage door this morning…

While I’m on a rant of sorts, this past week made me face the fact I’ve been trying to avoid. Both my husband and our disabled son are hoarders. I finally bit the bullet and cleaned out the refrigerator. It took all day—mostly because my husband hoards leftovers in there and then he forgets about them. So a found many disgusting life forms gelatinous or furry and of varying putrid colors. I’d have to take breaks just from being on a sensory overload of horrid derivation. I lectured. He smiled and ignored all I said, I’m sure.

But that task did prepare me for dealing with my son’s living area.

As a vent dependent quadriplegic, my son is able only to move his head. Which means his caregivers and family must do everything for him. So if he hoards, that means we all contribute to it. So I guess I must count myself among them.

However, I’ve been on a rant about that. And it’s not easy to be on a rant against someone in his condition. Here’s the backstory. His living area needed new flooring. That meant I spent the whole week cleaning up, packing up, and finding places to put his “stuff.” (Think in my roomy living space because I’m not a hoarder).

For example, I uncovered 5 keyboards—none of them in use. Pieces of electronic equipment he doesn’t even know what he used to use them for—once upon a time. 1000s of CDs, DVDs, video tapes, cords, power cords, things I can’t put a name to because I don’t know what they are or what they might belong to. Neither does Steven.

In my garden. Just buds yesterday.

In my garden. Just buds yesterday.

Can I get rid of them? At least the duplicates and/or triplicates?

“No,” he answered.

Think broken stuff, unused clothing and old tennis shoes. Old magazines, file folders, cards. Just piled up.

So I asked again, “Can I get rid of this stuff?” and got the same answer. (Sorry, it’s going…and that will be another long and sullen day together.)

I know this is a control issue since he has no control over his body or his life. But still. From the dust on most of what I’ve moved around and carried upstairs, and eventually now to the dumpsters, he’s never looked at this stuff. In years. I mean major dust bunnies. Most of them as frightening as those alien life forms I found in the fridge.

Coral Bells made it through winter...

Coral Bells made it through winter…

I also know he’s inherited it from his father. So you understand this is a constant battle I fight.

Also you know what I’ll be doing next week. It will likely take me that long. I’d much prefer writing the beginning chapter/s of my next book where my main characters won’t have this flaw, though maybe a secondary one might. I’ve certainly got a lot of material to work with now.

Hope you have a great week.

I''m thinking spring and planting next...

I”m thinking spring and planting next…

A Blizzard, A Loss & Super Bowls

February 3, 2013

This morning.

This morning.

Two years ago today at this exact moment my son Jimbo died.

We’d had a terrible blizzard the day before when the hospital called me that he’d turned critical. In fact they’d done a code and brought him back to life but he was on life support. Since I was his emergency contact they asked if he had an advanced health care directive. I did. Then they asked since it wasn’t safe to drive could I fax it to them.

I could and did.

Maybe half an hour later the doctor called again and suggested I get there as soon as I could, especially if I hoped to see him conscious because he’d had another episode.

Of course, I couldn’t get there at that time. Everything even the malls were closed. I live in a rural area and the winds had created a drift of 5-6 feet in front of the garage. We couldn’t open any doors to the outside because of the drifts.

Yesterday morning

Yesterday morning

The nursing staff told me they’d call with updates until I could get there and I should feel free to call whenever I felt the need.

The rest of that day and all night, I watched the weather bulletins, checked road condition reports and closings, an prayed for the snow to stop and the winds to calm. I thought about Jimbo as a baby, all the happy times and difficult times of childhood, teen years, adulthood.

I waited to hear the sound of snow plows and shovelers. Finally the next morning about 10:00, the plows and shovels arrived and made the first swipe through. My SUV had 4 wheel drive. I bundled up, watched and waited. When I judged the remaining drift in front of the garage was about just below my rear bumper but 6-8 inches beyond was pretty much clear to the pavement, I kissed my hubby, said I’d call when I got to the hospital, gut in my car, started it, hit reverse and pure motherly determination plus good tires got me through what remained of that drift.

Friday morning

Friday morning

Driving to the hospital took a long time. Most side roads were still unpassable and the few main roads were one lane, sort of, both ways with huge drifts on either side. In open areas even though the winds had died, drifting was going on. I was so thankful for my plucky car.

When I arrived at the hospital, I had no trouble finding a parking spot though not much of the lot was plowed. I found where my son was located—the ICU (this was a hospital I wasn’t familiar with) and asked at the desk exactly where my son was.

I could tell in the woman’s eyes I wasn’t going to like what came. She told me to wait and his nurse, the one I’d been talking with the day before, would go with me. In a moment she approached me gave me the most recent update.

It wasn’t good. She asked if I had anyone with me. I shook my head.

She took my hand and led me to my son.

Yesterday monring

Yesterday morning

I walked to his bed and looked carefully at this shell of my beautiful boy, my handsome son. I knew immediately they kept him on life support until I had a chance to see him. His life force was gone. It was up to me to set him free.

But first, I held him in my arms.

Doctors came and talked in hushed tones. A chaplain came and asked if I needed help in making decisions.

Of course not. I signed papers.

So I held him in my arms again while they turned off machines. He never took one breath on his own.

He watched the Super Bowl from above to see him team win that year.

And I’ll be thinking of him while I watch the game today.

About two hours ago

About two hours ago

Merry Christmas

December 23, 2012

Lighting the dark night...

Lighting the dark night…

I chose this as it’s one of my favorite Christmas Golden Oldies. I saw the original broadcast. I also chose this because I think the Peace on Earth message should resonate so strongly with us this year in light of last week’s shootings at Sandy Hook, the unrest still so prevalent in parts of our world, and most particularly within our national leadership.

My title sends my wishes to all of you who’ve stopped by and enjoyed my photos and my blogs this past year. For new visitors, you have time to read, I’d suggest you read my 2008 Christmas post.

Here is the link for Remembering John.

Have a great Christmas and all the days following. See you next week.

Mental Photo Ops

April 1, 2012

A breaking dawn this past week

My mind wandered for a few moments this past week. Okay, don’t verbalize what you’re thinking… 🙂

But in that moment what popped into my head was a mental picture. You know what I mean, don’t you? Those pictures permanently etched on our inner eyelids. And yes, while I think of the best way to introduce a new scene into a new chapter for my current novel, I close my eyes and let my mind wander.

This time, however, I didn’t come up with the best detail to start my new scene, but I did pause and consider those Kodak moments permanently etched in our minds. The one that came to mind was the first moment I saw my son Jimbo just a few hours before he died. He looked at peace. And dead. I can’t describe that look in any less blunt language. For all intents and purposes, he was–as his doctors carefully explained his condition to me.

They wouldn’t have had to. It was very clear to me.

No camera was there to record that moment–not that I wanted it recorded. But that mental camera of mine took its best shot anyway–and saved it. At the oddest moments that scene pops into my mind just like unexpected photos show up in odd places at times, such as in a sock drawer or in an old envelope.

A brief upper edge of dawn

I thought about other mental photo ops I have gathered. My father-in-law’s face when he gazed upon my newborn oldest son–and the man’s first grandchild. That was a good photo memory.

The little carrel in the graduate library top floor where I wrote the first draft of my dissertation. Never did get a real photo of that.

The split second moment in a temporary hospital morgue when the sheet was pulled back on a corpse and I had to identify my second son John.

The inner eyelid snapshot of my hubby’s car, the driver’s side door wide open, our garage door up and the front door to our home wide open as I drove up. That was the day our youngest son fell down the stairs, broke his neck, and would never use stairs again. A momentous event, actually a catastrophic one for our whole family, and one we have lived with daily for the past 17 3/4 years.

My mother’s last breath with my niece, my sisters and I surrounding her as that final tortured breath left her body and the best of Mom joined all those she loved who died before her. Only the negative in my mind remains of that indelible picture.

Here comes the sun...

So I thought about those mental photo ops I carry with me and the fact that once in a while they pop up. I realized most of those moments are not happy ones for me. Those happy ones I’ve managed to capture for real. And frame them, display them, think and talk of them often.

Shaking my head at those thoughts, the perfect idea to begin that new scene slipped into my brain. When I finished it a few hours later, I sat back in my office chair and smiled. I loved what I’d written in that new scene. It wasn’t a sad scene, but it had the elements to make it powerful for my potential readers.

Plus I’d come up with the topic for today’s post. 🙂

So tell me, please. Are your inner eyelid photos more happy or sad in their number?

Or don’t you have any such images?

Pink dawn light on waves with green grass--spring

Fill The Bucket

January 22, 2012

Na Pali Coastline is gorgeous

Yesterday afternoon as I was caring for our youngest son who is severely disabled, I received a phone call from my oldest son. At the moment he’s in Kauai Hawaii instead of Alaska. (Wise choice, I’d say, considering the winter Alaska has had so far. 🙂  )

Anyway, our conversation wasn’t overly long. He was on his way to see yet another part of that beautiful and lovely warm–79 degrees–he mentioned, but he wanted to check in to see if all was well with us back here since we got a serious taste of winter over the past week. (And yes, we’ve been spoiled this season which only made the week more miserable.)

But after we finished our conversation and I was sure both my oldest was in good shape, I thought about the trip my hubby and I made to that same island to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. Now you might be wondering why the odd number?

Well, he was a widower who’d been married 10 years when his first wife died tragically. I was a divorced woman who’d stayed 10 years in a marriage before I had the sense and gumption to end it.

Let's celebrate! He's almost done...

So, we both knew we could easily make 10, but 11? Well, if we accomplished that, we deserved to celebrate. We chose a place we’d both always wanted to see but had never been: perfect choice for a couple who had marital baggage.

Plus, a trip like this was on our individual bucket lists. (See, my title does fit. 🙂  )

Now, since I’ve been fighting a nagging headache all week, my brain cells have been flitting around faster than dragonflies during a mosquito infestation. So what thought popped into my head?

The comment my hubby made sometime in the last few months (repeated several times since) about having all the items on his bucket list checked off but one and he wasn’t at all sure he’d ever get to do that. What?

The first time he said that, after I picked my multiple chins up from the floor, I asked if he was telling me he was terminal or planning on kicking the bucket which contained his lists sooner than I wanted. He said no but was proud of the fact that he’d done what he wanted with his life.

Well, darn…I’m not that much younger than he is but my list keeps growing and I’ve still got items on it from years ago! So, what’s wrong with this picture, folks? I need some serious help here.

Suggestions please.

Or maybe I need to figure out how I can live to be 150, but look and feel like a healthy, energetic 55 year-old woman. Or maybe…

Do you have any ideas? Help me fill my bucket, please.

Bittersweet December

December 11, 2011

Painful but Pretty

December is one third completed. How can this be? Didn’t I just turn the calendar over from November to December?

But December has happened, and I have to say these first eleven days of December have brought both great sadness and monumental joy.

The month started off with an email from a dear friend. The email was very short but its message devastating. Her husband had died quite suddenly during the night. As I read this email I pictured him as I saw him last. My husband and I shared a lovely lunch together when they visited us. I will always remember this lunch and those few hours the four of us shared.

My heart aches for my friend. My husband has had several very close calls with his health and I’ve lain awake many nights making sure he’s breathing. I’ve spent too many nights in hospitals wondering if he would pull through. I’ve always been thankful that he’s survived those times. I don’t know why. But I feel my friend’s loss, perhaps because I’ve felt the whisper of what she’s enduring and by a miracle escaped.

But December is not an easy month for me and this recent death solidifies that fact. You might ask why?

Ed & Grace

Because December has claimed too many people I dearly love.

First of all, my beloved Grandpa, Ed. He died quite suddenly during a blizzard while he was shoveling snow. The date? December 23, 1959. Christmas wasn’t really Christmas that year though it was a holiday he loved celebrating. Why was he shoveling snow? Because he couldn’t miss work—that wasn’t in his nature, and it was to be his last day before he retired.

I had helped him shop for Grandma the week before and then I wrapped his gifts for her. We were all devastated by his loss.

My dearest Grandma, Grace, Ed’s wife also died in December. But several years later in 1976 on the 13th. I remember she called earlier that day and asked me to stop by after my night class. I did and what she wanted was to give me a few very old photos that she’d written who the people were and about when the photos were taken. We talked about them. Two hours after I left her, I got the call to get to the hospital. She lived a few more hours, long enough for me to speak briefly with her.

And then she was gone. That was awful. Another not-so-great Christmas. A terrible December. The only good part? I know my grandpa was waiting for her and she’d missed him all those years he wasn’t with her. But as a family we needed her during those years. I guess that was God’s plan.

Perhaps the most difficult unexpected death, however, was my son, John. December 22, 1999. He was far too young to die. My grandpa never held John in his arms; he would have had he lived. My grandma held him, loved him, watched him grow to a teen–always with a smile on his face, a deep love for his family and Christmas. But oh, how that loss still haunts me, especially during December.

So December has often been the cruelest of months for me and my family.

Zach--just a few hours old

But this past week—a joyful event occurred. My dear niece and her husband welcomed the birth of a son, Zachary Charles. Family members are already referring to him as Zach. This anticipated babe joins his big sister who was also born in December. Thank goodness for these two precious children. The joy they bring eases the sadness of the month.

So my message this week?

Life is bittersweet. The bitter makes us strong. The sweet gives us the courage to be strong.