January 29, 2015

Awash in nostalgia...

As you know, I recently had to fly home for my dad's funeral.

As awful as it all was, I was given a great gift; an AMAZING gift, while I was there.

I once mentioned long ago, I didn't get any of the albums after my mom passed; that I practically had NO pictures of my childhood.  (I might have been unduly angry at my brother for that.)  The rest of it, I didn't care about...but those pictures?  It broke my heart.

The day before the viewing, my brother called and asked me to follow him home afterward.  He had been able to get his hands on quite a few of the albums before my mother's husband changed the locks.  Again, the bastard.

(WHY, it has taken him SIXTEEN years to let me know that he's had these treasures in his possession is beyond me - but whatever.)

Unfortunately, I was only able to carry three home with me on the plane.  But my brother has promised that he would send the remainder to me so that I can scan the pictures so we can share them.

Upon arriving home, I began to pore over the albums.  As these three were some of the earliest albums I don't remember much about those years (as they span the year before my birth and up to the beginning of my second year), but I do remember seeing these pictures later on in my childhood.

I have spent hours upon hours, sometimes tedious hours, removing the pictures from the albums, scanning, cropping, naming and saving pictures - all while reminiscing over days that are so far gone.  Gazing lovingly on people who were once a huge part of my life.  Others, while not part of my daily existence, still hold a special place in my heart.  Even others who have been out of my life for years - either by their will or God's - but still have a piece of my heart.

As you know, my parents were divorced.  If I'm recalling correctly, it happened when I was about 10?  Maybe 11 or 12.  Either way, old enough to remember all the ugliness when it went south.  Looking at these pictures reminded me that they had once been in love.  And that they'd loved each other a lot.  And us.  They loved us a lot.  The evidence is in the pictures.  The pictures tell a story.

Like this one...

My mother was quite the shutterbug.  That damn camera was ALWAYS in her hand.  Good times or bad.  I told the Husband just yesterday - in the midst of the scanning, cropping, naming & saving of pictures - that my mother would have been in hog heaven if she had been around to experience the digital camera!  Think of the money she would have saved if she hadn't had to have every single roll of film developed.  And although, I sometimes despised her having that camera at the ready at all times, now I'm grateful she did.

In all the albums, except one, my mother was quite proficient at adding all the names, dates & purpose of the pictures.  And that one album is the one giving me grief.  The one conundrum I am wrestling with is what is the best way to identify those vague people that I know are family but aren't quite sure who they are.  My brother might know some of them.  My cousin would know more.  But I certainly don't want to over burden anyone with the task of identifying people from so long ago.  I am not using the words "over burden" lightly - each album contains at least 112 pictures apiece.  In the one album, I would say 90% of the people are vague to me.  In the other albums, I would say there might be about 20% that are vague - if not downright impossible to figure out how they fit into the scheme of things.  So this is something (else) for me to chew on for a while to figure out the best and easiest solution.

So while I wait for the next promised box of albums, I shall continue to pore over these.  Treasuring them all the while.


As a quick side note - if you, or loved ones, have the old magnetic albums from the 60's & 70's pull them out and start removing those pictures!  Apparently, the glue used back then will eventually make those pictures difficult, if not impossible to remove.  I resisted going the chemical route at first, but after one ruined picture I headed to Michael's and bought this miracle product called Un-du  (thank you, Google!).  Although it's kind of a pain the way the applicator is positioned, this stuff works miracles!  Once I bought this stuff very few pictures suffered tears...unless I got in a hurry.  Unfortunately, I had one whole album where every single picture was stuck - and it took hours and a lot of patience - but it's done.  Until the next batch of albums arrive - hopefully, soon.  And, as always, I was not compensated for this recommendation.  I bought the product and my opinions are my own

January 22, 2015

Today my anal-retentiveness kicked into high gear for no good reason after all.

As I was running ahead of schedule this morning, I decided I would get a head start on TOMORROW and wrap my friend's birthday present.  Her birthday is actually on Saturday, but my plan was to wrap the gift today, bring it to the office tomorrow and take her to lunch to celebrate.

But, as we all know, the best laid plains, etc., etc.  Which is the long way of saying that plan fell to pieces from the get-go.

As I wrapped the gift, I realized that the paper I had thought was pink and white when I bought it was actually red and white.  This was a disappointment in that the ONLY ribbon I had that would match the paper was Christmas ribbon.  This would NOT do.

So I resolved, that I would work my lunch hour around the fact that I would need to run to Michael's - with my fingers crossed that they would have what I would need - to pick up white, satin ribbon.

With that pesky problem semi-solved, I decided to write out the card so that all I'd need to do tonight was tie the ribbon.  And then I discovered (oh, the horror!) the color of the envelope was a bright blue.  Definitely would not do!

As a side note, I generally don't have these issues with gifts for office friends.  Usually I just use a gift bag, tissue paper and toss the card in.  But since I've perfected my ribbon tying skills over Christmas, I thought I'd present a token gift in a beautifully wrapped package.  Again...all part of that infamous plan that is typed out up there. *sigh*

Now, I was quickly running out of all that extra time I had started out with so, I just left my sad, little, un-ribboned package on the table, grabbed the card and headed to work; all while wondering if I'd have time at lunch to run across town to the local stationery store to find an envelope that would fit AND Michael's...

Of course, that would have been the height of insanity.  So, while driving to work, I resolved that I would somehow manufacture an envelope today.  And what can I say except thank God for Google & WikiHow?  I found a quick and easy tutorial.  Except instead of plain paper, I used a heavier weight stationery and a glue stick and, what do you know?  It WORKED!  Now, I was in possession of a beautiful white envelope to match the pretty red and white paper.  All that was left was to obtain the white, satin ribbon.

I may or may not have literally inhaled my food in order to make it to Michael's and back during my lunch hour; I'll never tell.

Then, as I was patting myself on the back for everything falling into place, my friend came over to chat for a minute this afternoon and casually mentioned that she'd be out of the office tomorrow.

BOOM!  Just like that all my scrambling was for naught.

Well, not really.  It just extended my deadline.  So I'm going to look at it like this...it's one less thing that I'll have to worry about this weekend.

Now let's just hope I remember to bring it to work on Monday.

I know I've been MIA for over two weeks.  I've dithered over what to post after my last post.  And then I realized.  I don't have to pick at that scab just yet.  

But, I did want to thank you all for your thoughts, concern and love.  In my last post, I had wondered who would hold me up during the funeral and I now know that YOU, my friends and family were there for me.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Love you all.  xo

January 4, 2015

He's with the angels now....

Today has been a rough, rough day.  And only four days into the new year.

On Christmas I discovered that my dad was in the hospital.  I had called to wish him a Merry Christmas...but the phone went straight to voicemail.  A couple of hours later, my brother called and told me that he was in the hospital.  They wanted to replace his heart valve.  Why my brother hadn't called me earlier, I don't know.  He said that my dad had lost his voice due to coughing so much, that I might want to wait to call until he could speak, and that they were going to do a CAT scan (MRI?, I can't remember) to see if there was anything else that needed to be repaired.

He called me a few days later to tell me that the test had revealed a large mass in my dad's lungs.  They scheduled a biopsy.  It was either cancer or it could be an infection.  The next day I was told it was cancer - and terminal, because his heart was in such a fragile state that it couldn't withstand surgery to remove the mass or any kind of treatment.  My brother warned that it would be days or weeks; but to prepare myself.

I prayed.  I prepared myself to let him go.  I thought I was ready.

I was wrong.

I received the call this morning.  As I was on the road running one of the many, many errands I had planned for today.

So, I stuffed the grief far, far down.  After all, I was ready to let him go.  And I had a lot to do.

You know what happens when you stuff the grief far, far down?  You end up with a headache.  And your throat hurts.  And your chest is tight.

Maybe that also happens when you don't stuff the grief down.  I don't know.

But, eventually, the tears work themselves to the surface and the nerves are raw.  Especially after you steel your spine to make the phone calls.  Once the words, "he passed." cross your lips.

I do know that this is much harder than I expected.

I feel guilty.  I had planned to go to Houston this past Spring.  But, for whatever reason, I didn't.  Then I planned to go this past Fall.  But news about my company made me nervous, so I didn't go.  All that equals guilt.  Major guilt.  And now I'm about to take the trip I should have made last year.  But this time to say goodbye to him forever.

When my mother died, I had been expecting it.  For years.  I was heartbroken but prepared.  And my dad was there to hold me after the funeral.  Who is going to hold me at his?

Once the word has spread, the phone calls and texts are coming in - and I'm crying with every one.  I've even heard from family that I haven't thought about in years.  Apparently, even years after my parents divorced, he is well remembered and well loved.

As one aunt recalled - he was a handsome cowboy that loved my mother with all his heart.  She, obviously, was remembering when she first met my dad.  Did he still love her when he died?  Who knows.  Possibly.  My mother once told me that she would always love my father but that she couldn't live with him.

My childhood memories of him recall a kind and patient man.  I think my mother was pretty much the only thing that could provoke his anger.  His idea of punishment was tell me to sit right "there" (somewhere off to the side) as he worked on whatever project he was working on until "he got tired."   I don't recall sitting there very long.

Despite the fact that we weren't as close as I had wished in these later years - blame to be placed on both sides of the fence - I loved him dearly and I know he loved me.  And I know that the world has lost another wonderful human being.  And it makes me cry.