Monday, November 28, 2022


Dear John,

You know how your family gets - relentless positivity is always preferred. Let's talk about what we're thankful for. Well, I could absolutely not do that this year. It's not that I am unaware of all my advantages. I am grateful for so many things. But I am also terribly sad to spend my first Thanksgiving this century without talking to you. Even when you were in Uzbekistan, I could still talk to you. And I resent that this year has brought the deaths of 5 people I know...and only one of them was from Covid. So I was not going to be able to muster up any positivity at all.

The problem was that none of my other choices were attractive either. I couldn't stay home and make a turkey and mashed potatoes for 2. I didn't feel like driving 3-5 hours to my sisters' houses. (I should have gone to my oldest sister's though. My niece's boyfriend, who is 46 to her 25, came to dinner.) I thought about volunteering, but didn't have the energy. S finally said "When are you going to decide what we're doing for Thanksgiving?" So we went to my closest sister's. 

It was nice.  We had a basic dinner.  I made apple & pear crisp for dessert.  S had a good time with her cousins - you know how she and E like to irritate each other.  I appreciate that you were open to E coming to visit when she was in college here.  You were always good to the nieces and nephews, even when they were working on your nerves.  We also did a couple touristy things.  You would have liked visiting the town we went to see.  

Your friend B sent a text - he was missing his mom on his first Thanksgiving without her.  I don't' know if he managed to get anything out of her husband or if he's still fighting.  He's a good guy.  

I'm about to be off for most of December.  I'm going to start going through your watch stuff.  That's going to be a chore.  I wish you were here selling that stuff and messing with it.  Keeping me company while I paint.  I miss you.



Monday, November 7, 2022

Veteran's Day

 Hmmm - maybe that's the reason I'm kinda down this week.  Veteran's Day was the only day of the year where you were guaranteed to make a plan, get out of the house, and sort of enjoy yourself by taking advantage of all the free meals available to veterans.  We'd have a trip for breakfast and a trip for lunch.  You'd get White Castle sandwiches, and coffee from everywhere.  You'd get Little Caesar's pizza, Chicken Salad Chick selections, vouchers from Freddie's and Texas Roadhouse, and every year you'd even dine out - something you almost never did - at Red Robin to get your Tavern Double Burger.  You would definitely be telling me to take your ID and collect your vouchers and pizzas and stuff while telling the businesses that you couldn't leave the house.  You were determined to get back everything you had given to the Army, however you had to do it.  

I'm getting the house power-washed today.  My friends recommended a guy - he seems nice in spite of his apparent political leanings.  S asked if we couldn't find someone more like-minded to do the work, but I told her it wasn't likely.  I had my Planned Parenthood postcard in the window when he came to do the estimate, so I'm sure he knows where I stand.  I hope he gets all the crap off the side of the house - he says he has a telescoping brush, but you know...been there, done that, and still had to get the ladder out to get as high as we could reach.  We shall see if I have to renegotiate the price after the fact.  Sigh.  I also took out all the screens - he said he'd wash those as well as the window sills (which are quite filthy, I have to admit.  I am slacking on cleaning.  You know I hate that stuff.)

Meanwhile, I got into it with the village again.  They told me in June, right before we left for Chicago, that they couldn't see the fire hydrant.  So, in July, I cut back the grass that was "in violation" - although it was planted outside the radius, it was drooping over.  I saw the utility markings and flags the other day, and then they pulled up in their truck while I was out raking up pine needles for the third time.  (I finally just put them all on the spite berm, since the mulch won't stay and I'm tired of paying for more mulch to disappear.)  They just said "Hi," in a really snide manner.  So, after they left, I went and got my phone and a tape measure to show that I was in compliance with their ordinance.  I cut down additional grass for good measure, and then started emailing people.  "Shane" responded to say that since they hadn't heard from me, they were going to go ahead and clear things up and charge me for it.  I told them I was in compliance, and if they wanted to remove anything outside the 4 foot radius, they could go ahead at their own expense.  Or maybe paint the fire hydrant a different color since they can't see it in the constant shade.  I also threw you and BW under the bus, complaining about how I told you that I didn't think planting things there was a good idea, but you went ahead and did it anyway.  Now I get to pay for your poor choices.  

I am also signing up for a watch show that your associate PD is throwing.  It's about halfway between our house and his.  I think it will be a good place to let go of some of your stuff.  First, I have to get an idea of what the stuff is, and what it's worth.  Then I'll have to cart it all down there.  It's a 2 hour drive, so, not terrible.  And some of the guys from the FB group are already sniffing around.  PD shut them down - he seems like a good guy.  

Power Ball is up to almost $2 billion.  You know what would be nice?  If you could pick the numbers on my ticket for me - I would like to be a billionaire (at least for the 15 minutes before I started spending it.)



Saturday, October 22, 2022

Driver's license

 Dear John,

S passed her driving test with ease and got her license.  I don't know if she was correct that the test was easier in Town G as opposed to Town E.  But there was certainly a lot less traffic there.  In fact, the only person on the street was the dude who was walking along yelling at someone I couldn't see.  

You would definitely not be letting her go places on her own already.  You'd let her drive to work or send her on errands for you.  But I let her take her friend home, and take another friend to McDonald's, and take yet another friend to Target.  You would bemoan the waste of gas.  You would be concerned about accidents and liability.  Of course, you might also have sold her the Altima already.  I'm not sure.  

While she was working today, I took the dogs to the library.  My favorite librarian likes to have them visit, since she's a dog (and cat) person married to a cat person.  My other favorite librarian quit working at our library - I'll have to go visit her at her library one of these days.  I miss chatting with her - she's fun and funny and earnest.  

After the library, I came home and sorted baseball cards for a while.  Then I had to go out and do some yardwork.  The pine needles are covering everything this year.  Yesterday, I swept two bucket loads off the driveway.  Then the wind changed direction, so today, I took 4 wheelbarrow loads collected from the driveway, and off the grass, down to the back.  I wish it would rain so I could burn the yard waste.  If I tried it now, the whole stand of trees would catch fire.  Sigh.  Climate change.

I also had to spray weed killer on all the stuff growing in the grass.  You would never have let it get as far as I did.  The grass looks terrible since it's been so dry.  I hope for some rain so I can throw some seed out there and hopefully help the lawn recover.  We have a mole in the back again this year.  I can't be bothered to care about it.  The lawn guy hasn't been in the neighborhood in 2 weeks, and I haven't had the lawn mowed in 3.  It's in sad shape.  I'll probably have to do it one more time, with the bagger.  You know how I love doing that. 😡😡😡

I think tomorrow, since the weather is supposed to be warm again, I'll try to power wash the house.  I did it in spring, but I can't get very high on that one side.  I know you didn't mind leveling the ladder for yourself, but I'm not confident of my abilities. Even if I were, I still can't reach as high as you could.  My friends have a guy who does their house, but I don't know.  Maybe I'll see if he's available this week.  I know I could do some of it, but not all.  So maybe I'm better off having someone else get all the mold and dirt off, instead of doing the half-assed job I'm capable of.  

I really hate worrying about this kind of thing.  Who has to wash their house?  I grew up in an all-brick house.  Tuckpointing once every 40 years was all that was necessary.  Siding that collects mold and dirt?  No thanks.  If it were possible, I would get the rest of the house bricked up.  Hmmm, I wonder if that's possible?  I don't think you had a brick ledge put in on the other 3 sides when you did the foundation, so I would guess it's not possible.  Power washing, it is, I suppose.  

S's puppy is asleep on his back next to me right now.  It is absolutely the cutest thing (I mean, aside from being able to see his junk).  He looks so relaxed and comfy.  I think you would like him - he's a lot like you.  He barks at anything unfamiliar.  He wants everything to be unchanging, so he doesn't have to adjust.  And he prances when he walks - he reminds me of you imitating your nephew E.  I guess I just look for you in everything.



Monday, October 10, 2022

Sweet 16

 Dear John,

I didn't realize how hard today would be for me.  I've been crying off and on all day.  I didn't know how much S's birthday would make me face how much I've lost.  You were the only one who was there to see her right after she was forcibly retrieved - she refused to come out after 24 hours of labor.  You were the first to hold her.  You changed her and fed her and comforted her.  You saw all her silliness and sunny personality (before she became a non-stop complainer.)  You cleaned her up every time she threw up on me, so I could clean myself up.  You took her to school and were there when she came home.  You had epic wrestling matches and ambushed me when I got home from work.  You fought over phones and chores.  You went on late night missions (to take the trash out or search for wildlife).  And now you're gone, and I have no one to remember with.

I have tried not to dump this all on S - I wanted her to have a really great birthday.  It's her 16th, and that's such a milestone.  My sister J (the older one) and T and E came over to spend the day yesterday.  We went to the Botanical Gardens and walked around for the afternoon - and then we went to The Hill for dinner.  I guess I didn't realize, but S doesn't actually like Italian food much.  Today, we had a few presents to open, and in the afternoon, she went to play volleyball with friends.  She didn't take a key, and didn't tell me until late that I didn't need to wait for her.  So she was stuck sitting on the driveway while I finished shopping.  I made twice-baked potato and filet mignon for dinner, with a salad.  I hope she has had a good birthday. 

We were talking about cars, naturally, since she's excited to get her license.  She asked if we got the first Maxima because of her.  I got very upset, because we sort of did, but also because we got it just after our first two miscarriages.  I told her that I'd tell her about it one day, but not today because I'm pretty emotional.  She was all "Ooookay..."  Then we talked about the cars you had when I knew you and she made fun of your Titan.  Apparently, she's not a fan of Nissan trucks.  I told her about that Mustang you bought for your brother, who never came up with the money, so you sold it after a couple months.  She said "Uncle M is kind of a flake, isn't he?"  Yes.  Yes, he is.

Speaking of which, your sisters all sent texts wishing her a happy birthday.  Her older cousins did too, and one apparently is sending a gift.  Your mom just sent some pictures and birthday wishes at 8:45 this evening.  Love that very vague "Let's get together soon."

We're going to go Friday after school to try and get her driver's license.  She wants to go to one particular place, since she thinks the driving test will be easier there.  I'll have to pick her up from school, so she can get through the line...or else we're getting up early on Saturday morning.  Then she's got a hair cut, and then we're having another birthday party in the park.  It's a little bigger this year, but no boys were invited.  I can't make up for you not being here, but I hope I can provide some happiness for her.  

I can't tell how much she misses you.  She never says, which I think is because she doesn't want to upset me. But I know it's a lot, because she's started trying to wrestle with me the way you two used to do.  

This is really hard.  Because there's no way to fix it.



Saturday, October 8, 2022

Heart issues...

 Dear John,

I went to the cardiologist yesterday.  I wasn't much pleased with the nurse-practitioner that they set me up with.  The doctor I liked left, for Tennessee according to my internet stalking skills.  That's a little too far to drive, even though I thought she was really good.  Anyway, although the NP had a good grasp of my SVT issues, her approach was the standard "take blood pressure medication which doesn't actually address the problem or have heart surgery which will cure it."  While I know an ablation would fix the problem (in theory), there are 2 things holding me back.  First, if this didn't show up until I was about 40, how do I know that another pathway won't misfire once I take care of this one?  And second, it's heart surgery.  That's inherently hazardous.  But I did make an appointment to talk to the electrocardiologist.  We'll see if he can persuade me that it's in my best interests to get the problem fixed.  Then, of course, I had another incident last night.  It was relatively short-lived; only 4 hours this time.  

While I was in the office, I was reviewing my records of incidents.  I didn't remember having one the day before you died.  The only time I told you about the incidents was the one time I had you take me to the hospital, after 36 hours of palpitations.  I probably should have shared the incident on March 22nd - maybe that would have changed your mind about leaving.  Of course, discovering that made me cry in the doctor's office.  Always my favorite thing - being emotional in front of other people.

S's birthday is on Monday.  She's turning 16.  I know that was an important time in your life - your love of vehicles of all sorts was legendary.  And at 16, you gained access to owning anything you could pay for.  I wish you were here to share that with S.  She's so excited to get her driver's license and has been pestering me about it at least weekly.  She already calls the Altima her car.  Then she asks when I'm going to get a new car so she can have the Maxima.  I think I'll pick up a cookie cake for her once I drop her off for work today.  We have some plans, so we'll see how we get through this weekend...



Friday, September 30, 2022

I don't even know how this came up

 Dear John,

We were watching Abducted in Plain Sight (you would have hated it and turned it off, because these people are unbelievable naive and stupid).  And somehow, S started telling me about the time you were in JC Penney's and your mom wouldn't take you to the bathroom and you ended up pooping your pants.  Then you described walking along, shaking out "rocks" from your pants.  I don't remember you telling this story, but it sounds like something you would have said.  Anyway, we got a good laugh from it.

I was drinking a glass of wine, which seems to have interfered with my vision.  I feel like I don't have binocular vision right now - I can see individually from each eye, but both together don't seem to work.  I wonder if this is how your vision was working at the end.  You complained for a couple years that you couldn't see out of both eyes at once.  I wish the optometrists could have figured it out.

Speaking of which, I have to make appointments for S and me for eye exams.  I tried to make one, and once I had gone through the process with one company, I got an email saying they don't take our insurance.  Sigh.  On to the next place, I guess.  S said she wouldn't mind going back to the lady she saw last year.  I didn't like her, but if S does...I guess I don't mind.

When my sister A was here, we made some headway on organizing the baseball cards.  I'll be continuing to work on them for a while.  I can see why you chose not to deal with them - it would have been very depressing to you to face the lack of return on your investment.  I'm not sure what to expect when I try to sell them, but it will probably be far less than I think today.  Fortunately, one of my online friends (the one you thought was completely full of shit all the time with his Army proclamations (but also felt a little comradery because he is Army) has had some suggestions.  I hope he will be able to hook me up with a decent/honest dealer.  We shall see.



Thursday, September 29, 2022


Dear John,

We survived homecoming.  There were a few blips - which wouldn't have happened had you been here, because you would have objected to the expense.  We went to get our nails done, and I expected it to take 2 hours, but it took 3 because they were understaffed and overbooked.  That meant that S and her friend missed all the free food at the tailgate party, so I had to get them some dinner.  At that point, S was upset but ultimately decided to skip the football game.  It had gotten cold overnight, and it was drizzling, so she decided she didn't want to sit outside in that.

The next day, we got up early to get her hair done.  I was unsure about the hairdresser - she has the same last name as a former CSI who left rather suddenly and ignominiously, so I was concerned that it would be his wife.  Fortunately, it wasn't.  I liked her, but the hair style she created kind of made S's head look a bit like a football.  But it was fine - the 8 am appointment meant that her hair fell into a beautiful look by 4:30, which was picture time.

We went to the park by the library to take photos with the group.  (I went in to the library to pick up my movies.  The librarians were busy peeking out the windows and discussing how short many of the dresses were.  I showed them a photo of Selah and they approved of her dress.  It wasn't too short and she looked absolutely beautiful.)  I forgot to mention that my sister A came down - ostensibly to help with the baseball card issue, but also to be there for us during the first significant event without you.  She came to the park, and we were marveling at all the well-dressed and made-up moms who appeared to be reliving their high school days through their daughters.  

It was really weird, though.  All the girls would see each other and coo over each other's dresses and hair and shoes, but with S, they didn't do that.  There was no "I love your dress!"  Or, "OMG, your hair looks great!"  I hate that for her - other girls seem to think she doesn't need the same care and attention they give to each other and it's hard to watch her disappointment in not receiving it.  I did tell her that one of my friends in high school used to ask me "Why are you so hostile?" So maybe we share that quality.  I'm sad for her that she doesn't have a best friend like M, who I have known since we were 8.  But I hold out hope that she will find a friend like (other) M, who I met in college.  The both check in with me a lot since you've been gone.  It helps to know that I have people who know I need them and step up to be there for me.  I hope that I will be available for them if they need it, and I hope S finds her Ms sooner rather than later.  

After pictures, I drove S and two of her friends to a restaurant.  S was irritated with me that I didn't find a place to park while they waited for the rest of the group.  Instead, I kicked them out of the car.  My sister and I went to your favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner.  It was nice.  S then went to the dance, and then stayed over at one of the girl's houses.  Initially, she thought her two "friends" would be too annoying for her to tolerate.  But she adjusted, and had a good time at the sleepover.  As usual, she was super-cranky when she got home.  

We all went out to brunch with my sister's friend who lives locally.  It was fun.  After that, we went to Kohl's to shop for S's birthday present.  She ended up getting 6 shirts with her aunt's discounts and budget.  A gave them to her immediately, but there's another gift that we picked up while S was at the sleepover.  

I'm not sure how we're going to get through her birthday, but her solution is to go somewhere.  I'm trying to figure out where to go.  I don't want to fly anywhere.  We might go to my sister J's house - I'll have to check with her.  Or maybe we'll take a little road trip.  I don't know - especially with the dogs.  It's going to be a hard thing to manage.  I wish you were here to celebrate this particular milestone.  16 is a big day, and your presence will definitely be missed.