Monday, August 29, 2022


 Dear John,

September is going to be a busy month.  My oldest sister is coming to help me go through the baseball cards.  S is going to homecoming.  I have to schedule various beauty appointments for that.  S will be working, but she also has started managing the volleyball team.  And she wants to go out with her friends.

Last weekend, she went to her 3rd Quinceanera - I would never have thought she'd go to one, let alone 3.  This weekend, she wants to go to the Goodwill outlet to go through "the bins."  I guess it's a TikTok trend, but she's been wanting to go for a while.  I'm just glad she has someone to go with - I am not a huge thrift store fan, and she loves to spend time there.  Speaking of which, this boy who's been trying to flirt with her for months wants to go thrift shopping with her.  He wants to change his style, but needs encouragement.  S says he's a player, so she's not interested, but I don't know whether she is or isn't.  She said she doesn't really want to continue flirting with him, because she might start having a crush and then end up disappointed.  I guess she's inherited her parents' approach to romance, which is...don't bother.

Your prediction of the chaos in the house has come true.  However, in my defense, I'm very sad and that makes me unmotivated.  It took me a month to take the gas container for the grill to be refilled.  In the middle of summer.  I need to finish the laundry and sweep the floors, but I will probably only get one of those things done.  

We went to the dentist last week.  I don't know if you remember, but our hygienist's brother-in-law died in a manner similar to yours.  If I remember correctly, her sister went wild after that.  She was very sad to hear about you, and it was hard for me to go there.  Whenever I see her, or the receptionist you went to high school with, I'm just so overcome.  But then I saw a picture of the hygienist's younger son, who is sporting quite the mullet, and I laughed.  Then we talked about how her older son is on the golf team and that is not exactly the path she thought he would have taken.  Now she has to hang out with country CLUB types instead of country types.  It's definitely different.  We were supposed to have dinner with your mom afterward, but she said she wasn't feeling well and put us off.  She had dental work done in the morning, I guess.  Anyway, S and I went to the expensive wood-fired pizza place and got a potato and bacon pizza and some wings.  I suppose it's good for us to do things that you would never have done.

The dogs are doing OK.  The puppy keeps running into the couch - I think he's going to give himself a TBI, if he hasn't done so already.  They bark a lot - you would hate that.   But they're very funny and the pup is cuddly.  S cuddles the old man too, but he gets a frightened and pained look on his face when she does.  

R, next door, passed away.  Not sure what the fire department EMS is going to do, now that they've lost their best customer.  I am surprised that he lived as long as he did, especially through Covid times.  But it's good that he's no longer suffering.  I hope that means there will be no ambulances in the cul-de-sac for a long time now.  I did not like seeing that one ambulance here.  On the plus side, the VA seems to have paid their fees, since I haven't heard from them again.

Wishing you were here to discuss all this in person...



Monday, August 22, 2022

Good thing I can recognize when I'm being ridiculous

 More song stuff - but in relation to reading signs from the universe...

I keep hearing that Shaggy song, Angel, on the radio.  It's pretty old, so there's no good reason for me to have heard it 3 times this week.  So, there I am, this a sign or is something else going on?

Today, I started watching The After Party on Apple TV+ (free for 3 months with my daughter's new phone).  Now I know why Angel is have a resurgence in popularity.  It takes a bit to go from streaming to TikTok (I assume) to the radio.

The After Party is dumb, predictable, and yet still worth a watch.  I gave up on The Morning Show, really enjoyed CODA, and am going to finish Ted Lasso without my daughter if she doesn't get back to watching it with me.  We've only got another 5 weeks!

Saturday, August 20, 2022


 Dear John,

I've dreamt about you the past couple nights.  I used to have dreams about my dad like this, but never about my mom.  I wonder why that is. 

In the first dream, you came back like you had been on vacation.  You were checking all your things, and when you got done, you were so angry about me spending so much money.  That's a pretty good estimation of how you would react to my spending.  But, first, I'm done spending, and second, my typical response to your annoying actions was to spend more of your money.  The more you would harass me about...anything, the more likely I was to go buy a new sweater or something. So I guess you can imagine how much money I've spent since you have made me angry by leaving me.

I don't really remember much of the second dream, except that a condom was involved.  That was really weird.  But still, you were alive again - like you had been away somewhere.

When I had these kinds of dreams about my dad, he was always very distant and different from how I remembered him.  The ones I have had about you, you're more like you were when we first dated.  Happier.  Lighthearted. 

I've been having the SVT episodes - this time it was only a few weeks between them.  I hope that's an anomaly, or I'm going to have to have the ablation surgery.  I don't want to do that to S - she would worry.  I can tolerate every couple months, but 3 weeks?  No thanks.  I do have to set something up for her care in case something does happen to me.  My sisters will take over for me - she would not want to go with your family.

Speaking of which, we went to K's for lunch the other day - almost everyone was there.  Just a few of the boys didn't make it.  It was OK.  S seemed so light afterwards - it was so strange.  I think she was just relieved that no one brought you up.  I, on the other hand, felt so sad when I saw the photo of all your siblings and your mom together.  It was so incomplete.  

I miss you - and I hope to see you in my dreams again soon.



Friday, August 12, 2022


Dear John,

I'm watching a movie tonight.  I tried to get S to join me, but it's rated R and has nudity.  She wandered off to talk to her friend on the phone.  You would have been bored by the movie.  Now that I can watch whatever I want...I don't want to watch much of anything.

S and I have been watching a show lately.  Somewhere in the middle, maybe the end of the 3rd season, the main character's husband died.  I almost burst into tears.  I remember how you would always say "Are you crying?" during sad movies - and you would laugh at me.  It was rare that I was crying, though.  I might tear up for a moment, but that was about it.  You never cried at movies.  You only cried a couple times, when talking about your family.  I wish you hadn't held so much inside.

I guess yesterday was the 8th anniversary of Robin Williams' death.  He was kind of a touchstone for you.  You met him when he came to your camp in Afghanistan.  I put the photo collage that my brother-in-law made for you with the autograph and your photos with him on our bedroom wall.  You were very upset when he died.  And then you went ahead and duplicated his manner of death.  It's hard for me to hear mention of him because of that.  And yet he was one of my favorite performers.

Anyway, the movie is bad, and I'm watching it anyway.  Nothing is as terrible as that Chloe Grace Moretz WWII movie that we had to turn off.  Maybe the latest Matrix movie will be better.  But I doubt it.



Saturday, August 6, 2022


Dear John,

I feel like I'm waiting. I'm not sure what I'm waiting for, but I am stalled and I don't know why.  I mean, I'm waiting to hear about adding my dependent to the DIC from the VA. And I'm waiting to hear from ChampVA.  And I'm waiting to hear about your Social Security Disability. And I'm waiting to hear about your stock account with the contracting company.  But none of those things affect my daily life.  So I don't know what I'm waiting for.  Am I waiting for retirement, so I can leave this house and start over somewhere new?  Am I waiting for some sort of sign that it's time to get rid of more stuff?  Am I waiting for you to return, because it feels a little like when you where in Afghanistan and didn't have access to the satellite phone or the phone bank that you had in Uzbekistan?  

I know you're not coming back. I keep seeing your face as it was when I got home that day. I can't remember what you looked like sometimes, but I can see that expression.  It was sad and resigned, but also a little peaceful.  A few weeks ago, I felt like you were near - like you had your hands on my shoulders.  I don't feel you any more though.  Maybe that feeling will return.

Your daughter is doing well. I'm glad she's seeing the therapist. I don't know if she talks about you, but she has someone besides me to complain about her peers to.  I wish I could read her better - I have had to tell her that I think maybe she does come across as mean rather than sarcastic.  It's hard for me to tell and I know her better than anyone now. She doesn't bring you up, but doesn't seem to mind when I do.  I hope she'll be OK.

Missing you a lot today - maybe because it's my mom's birthday and you died in the same date as her.  I don't know, but it's rough.


Thursday, August 4, 2022


 Dear John,

Another week has gone by.  I went into your watch room today.  I'm overwhelmed by the amount of work that will entail.  10 years of pocket watch acquisition - parts and watches and tools - It's so much.  You spent so much time on those watches.  It was great to watch you learn - figuring things out for yourself and working with mentors whenever you could find them.

Of course, I also got to see people trying to take advantage of you.  I knew you weren't dumb from the moment I met you, but apparently you gave that impression to some people.  You were a negotiator - you always knew what you could get out of something you were buying so you had a good idea of what you should pay for it.  But so many of the watch guys thought that they could con you into letting them get the majority of the profit...or make you take a loss on something.  Dave and Jared and Tom - all thinking they could put one over on you.  I think Jared may have texted you the other day, but since you didn't save any contacts in your phone, I'm not entirely sure it was him.  Only Paul knows you're gone, and that's because you left me something to mail to him.  He said he'd help me sell your stuff, but I just can't do it yet.  First, because I can't find the key to that safe.  Second, because I would have to organize it all and I just don't feel up to it.  Third, because that was such a large part of you.

I finally sold that giant pocket watch clock at the garage sale.  I sold it for a loss, but it's gone from the garage.  I was actually pretty cool when I plugged it in - which doesn't mean I wanted to keep it.  I also gave the H's your Hard Lemonade bar light.  We never got around to hanging it, and they actually use their bar.  I think you wouldn't really mind, especially since SH has been helping me a lot since you left.

I was working on my paint-by-number picture at the bar, the other day.  I couldn't stop thinking about how you would be working across the way in the watch room.  I started doing those paintings to have some reason to get away from you and S when we were all stuck at home during the pandemic.  But then, over the last year, you started coming down to work on your watches while I was painting.  You'd play music and work on watches, and you'd get mad at me if I went back upstairs without you - "Never leave a man behind!" you would say.  It was nice to spend that kind of time together and I miss it.

Today, though, I went down and played the piano.  I was more terrible than usual, as it's been a while since I played last.  You found my playing both annoying and amusing.  It was the annoying part that kept me from playing too often.  Next up, I need to find a piano tuner.  And get the gas for the grill refilled.  And straighten out your stock thing with the contracting company.  There's always something else to do.  Ah, well, it keeps my mind occupied.