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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not my best choice

Writer's group in Knoxville continues to inspire me to want to be a better writer. I love those people. What I do not love is the glass of wine that kept getting refilled. Well the wine was good but I have been left me feeling nauseated and blechy all day. The high point of today was seeing my nephew compete in Chattanooga Christian's decathlon. I don't know how he will do tomorrow but at the end of the first five events today, he held the top slot. I am so proud of him. I wish Sharon could call Mom because then Mom would make a point to call me and casually mention it with a voice full of pride. You could always hear her smile over the phone. The lowpoint of today besides having a hangover at 39 (since I ought to be so much more mature that that) was watching tv and getting hit with all the Mother's Day commercials. I think I may have to turn that tube off for the next month or so. It's too draining to constantly pretend I'm not affected.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen, Indeed.

My Easter Sunday began about 12 midnight when Kelsey came into my bedroom to find me reading and announced, "there are already eggs in the hall." At that time, I did what I consider a rather Oscar worthy performance at my shock that the Easter Bunny could come into the house and plant the Easter eggs while I was still awake without me even noticing. I'm not sure she bought it. Of course, she is ready to know except she keeps asking me when Christopher is around. I don't know if that is her way of assuring she gets to keep the fantasy or just bad timing.

This is the first Easter of my life that has not involved my parents. We always drove down from Knoxville either before or after church. This is also the first year I didn't get a chocolate bunny since Mom always got me one and no one else thought to. Of course, this is probably true for my sisters too unless their husbands thought of it. I know it didn't occur to Jeff. I don't need the chocolate but I do miss the devotion that came behind it.

After a fantastic Easter service at OBC, we drove up Lookout to spend Easter at Sharon's house. I love her home, it is like a retreat that people pay money to rent. It has the added bonus for me of having precious people already there. I can't imagine how I would be pushing through the loss of Mom and Dad without my sisters. I was also so glad to see Sharon's kids. A bonus I didn't expect came in the form of Gary (Cindy's eldest) and his wife and daughter. Cindy didn't come because her mother-in-law has decided she doesn't want to be part of the big family celebrations now that my Mom is gone. So I was so glad to have Langes there. I would have liked to have them all present. We talked a bit about our upcoming beach trip and little Lucy was adorable.

Tomorrow night, I plan to be in Knoxville and get to go to my writing group. I am so looking forward to that so no blog for that night. I hope everyone out there had a fantastic Easter and that each of you grew a little closer to our risen Savior.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Eve

I have discovered my grief hangs on my frame heavier than any extra weight from eating. It makes me tired, not want to exercise, and brings the desire to drink a lot. In talking to my sister tonight, I had to acknowledge that I shy away from too much thought about this change being permanent. She said the same thing. Perhaps it is true for all of us. That we allow ourselves only to touch on uncomfortable thoughts for brief moments in time. I know the few times I have allowed more time than that have brought sobbing.

I feel like a little kid again and want to go around proclaiming, "It's not fair." It is the normal order of life and more than fair for my Mom but it isn't fair to me. I wonder if Jesus ever complained to his father that it wasn't fair what he was having to do. If he had any human moments I think he would have had to. Look at all he endured for no other reason than he loved us. I hope Mom is dancing with him tomorrow. She always loved line dancing. She was really bad at it. Her rhythm was a little off but her enthusiasm was high. I'm just missing that enthusiasm and wry sense of humor in mine. Part of the family is gathering together tomorrow. It will never be the whole family again. But I guess for Mom it was no longer the whole family once her Dad died. Generations on generations of loss with none of us truly understanding until we lose the ones most important to us. I believe this is where our faith becomes a crucial part of survival.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What's in a name?

Apparently not much, according to my title last night which by default became the first few lines of the blog. I just forgot to plug anything into that little blank box. How nice of blogspot to do it for me. Jeff took off work today and for the first time in months did not have to take a work call all day. We spent time playing board games with the kids, he grilled hot dogs at lunch, and then began creating a path in the woods to foil the sneaky copperheads that alledgedly live in those woods. We figure if we have a clear path surely we would notice a snake lying in the middle of it, or even slightly to the side. Neither of us are big fans of that belly crawler.

I also hope to someday be able to be in the woods without having to wear full battle dress uniform to avoid poison ivy. It is something of a phobia for me now. I have actually had bad dreams about the rash associated with those shiny green tri-leaves of itch. We ended our evening eating on the screen porch, followed by a movie. It was a very uneventful day and one of the best I have had in a long time. While I have never understood why "Good Friday" is called good since it contained so much bad, it was in fact a good friday for me. The only thing I can figure is that the name of the day relates to the good for all mankind because it wasn't so great for Jesus. As Christopher said when his teachers were reading them the Easter story, "This is freaking me out a little." I think the fact that cruxifiction freaks him out is a sign of a postive psyche. Shouldn't tomorrow be called sad saturday or something? Either way, I am looking forward to resurrection sunday and not just for the Easter Bunny.
I dreamed about Mom again last night. In this dream we were all out next to a tennis court. She stood on the court with Dad and talking and laughing. Her hair was short and she was very tan. She looked very young. I ran up and hugged her and apologized for the people magazine thing. She laughed and waved it away saying, "don't worry about it." I can't remember what else I said but then she had to leave. I tried to chase her but she disappeared. In the dream, I threw myself down on the court until someone came and carried me off. Then I vowed I would become a great tennis player. But, I have to say my motivation for that is a bit less this morning.

Kelsey woke up this morning saying, "Is it time to start our Easter fun?" There is some pressure in being the activity directory for this family. What I'd really like to do is make the whole family help me clean but that doesn't say Easter fun to anyone. It doesn't say fun for me either but the afterward, when it's clean seems pretty good. I am feeling so trepidation about Easter. Our family isn't going to be together. We are going up to see Sharon's family but the majority of the Lange's are going to Calhoun except my nephew, his wife, and their baby. They have decided that my niece is too much of a bad influence to have her around their daughter. I hate their decision especially right now when we need to be together so badly but it is their's to make. I wonder if this means they will not be going to the beach with us either. If they won't make exceptions for holidays then I'm guessing vacations won't work either. I may not see my great niece again unless I stalk them down because they rarely just come over here. I let them know my feeling but it didn't change theirs. That is really all I can do. Well, I'm off for some "Easter fun."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Out of Nowhere

I stood in the check-out line at Bi-Lo fighting off the crying attack that threatened me as I looked at the People magazine in the display rack. I can't even remember whose picture smiled from the cover. What did flash in my mind was a conversation I had with Mom about six months ago. She ordered a magazine subscription from my niece and told me, "after I get them, I'll just give them to you because I know you like to read them." Did I say thank-you or even spend a moment telling her how much I appreciated everytime she thought of me? Nope, I just said something along the lines of, "Nah, I'm trying not to bring new stuff in." Her face fell a bit and no amount of backtracking could fix it. I can never fix that moment. There are so many things I wish I could beg her forgiveness for. She was so kind and thoughtful and so often I missed the moment. I did manage to keep myself under control for that moment. Until I was telling Jeff about it when I was fixing dinner. At that time, I began crying and found myself unable to speak. Kelsey sweetly came over and hugged me.

She said, "I miss Nana too."

Christopher was playing a game on my laptop and said, "I think you need to stop thinking about Nana. It always makes you cry."

Clearly, he is done with my grief. Maybe he won't remember that one once I have passed on and he is standing in line at the grocery store. Yeah, right, like he will ever be grocery shopping. Man, this grieving thing hits out of nowhere.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

shopping crazy

So perhaps for the first time in my life, I went shopping with a friend and had a good time. Perhaps it was that we only hit a few stores and there was a time limit or maybe it was the company but a task I usually abhor, felt fun. I also accomplished several things I'd been putting off so it was a win-win situation. I bought the kids a few things and in anticipation of egg hunting, hid them around the house for them to find. It didn't take that long and they loved it. I wonder why I don't do things like that more often.

The only downside of the outing was the announcements and postings about mother's day seemed pretty constant. I'm sure they only came up occasionally. I guess we have Easter to go through first. It looks like we may head up to my sister's house on Lookout mtn. Kelsey got very excited and said, "Their house is huge. It will be an awesome Easter egg hunt. I had to bring her back down by telling her the Easter bunny would come here on Sunday morning before we went up the mountain. She took it well. After all, a candy free for all is good no matter what size it comes in.

My other accomplishment for today is rearranging the laundry room. I lugged a rusting cabinet out of the laundry room into the garage tonight. Jeff is going to have a fit when he sees what a mess I made. However, I have been asking him to do this for some time so it seems as if that is just a natural consequence, right? We'll see if there is any real fall-out. I hope I feel as inspired to clean out tomorrow as I do tonight. I'd like to stay up late doing it but school mornings come early.

I love our school but the headmaster has asked all the members of the parent-teacher conference to find a golf team to participate in the tournament. The thing is it is $300 for a four person golf team and the only golfer I know is my brother-in-law. I don't really have the money to sponsor a whole team and I think I've hit the family up quite a bit for money this year. It stinks not having parents who know people anymore. *Big Sigh*

I am grateful tonight for time with a good friend, that Jeff is taking off Good Friday, that we are making progress on getting our pool liner replaced so that we can hopefully watch out little ones jumping in and out of the pool with blue lips, that we are making plans to see good friends in Knoxville on Monday, and that my little ones are healthy again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Batter Up

First softball scrimmage tonight.  Tonight marked the only softball game I have ever played without either of my parents attending. The first of many. Now, let me clarify, the last game I played before this one was when I was about 11. Once I got there tonight I was fine. But my stomach did an entire tumbling routine in the car on the way over. I imagine I will be searching for the ibuprofen tomorrow but I had a lot more fun than I anticipated. It has been a long time since I've been on a team. I'm no Babe Ruth (I hate gambling) and no great shakes on the diamond but I got one solid hit and didn't fall down when attempting to play catcher. In that department, there is only room for improvement.

I'm thinking about some writing stuff again. I don't know if it is a desire to escape or just life trying to tap me on the shoulder to remind me there are other things I can do when I'm alone besides cry. I have several stories in the works that I need to finish or I might start on something new. One of the critiques I got on a story I wrote "Godstones" was that the protagonist didn't break enough when he found out his dream was never going to come true. I wonder if I can write that better now that I know what it feels like to be broken? Regardless, it is difficult to call myself a writer if I'm not writing so I'll be thinking of some goals on that soon. As far as things I'm grateful for today, I am so glad I didn't hurt anything at the game tonight. I'm grateful God has blessed me with a husband who didn't freak out tonight when I said, "I think I have a tick on my head." Worse, I did but he got some tweezers and dealt out some death to that bloodsucker. I'm also grateful that I have two sweet kids that asked how the game went first thing when I got home. I'm not feeling so grateful that a boy called Kelsey today and they talked on the phone for over an hour. She's only nine. However, I did think her big smile when talking about it was pretty cute. Now, if I can just take the next ten years or so I'll be doing all right.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

family woes

Tonight, I had to chose to unfriend a family member on facebook because I didn't want to be part of the drama anymore. It is the first time I have done this and it felt odd. I think in part because Jeff's family has cut us off, I have always tried to be very accepting. But I don't think it benefits anyone to get involved in a pseudo power play and sometimes it is best just to remove yourself from the situation. I was worrying and complaining and out of nowhere Jeff started praying. It was the most wonderful thing he could have done for me. It took me from stress to crying but good tears ones that moved me beyond a place of feeling like I was helpless to one in which I know God cares and is able to help if people will only let him in.

On an upside for today, my family and I went to see Rio at the movies and it was great. We went to the theater in Cleveland. When were leaving, I noticed an old cemetery right across the road. We drove the small, branch strewn, one-lane, gravel road around the graveyard before we stopped. So many of the headstones were so worn that no names or dates could be seen. A few of them, that we could make out had birth dates in the 1700's. Sometimes it is easy to forget how old Tennessee is. It made me think about these people's stories. How many people loved them the way we loved Mom and Dad. It would have been a great set for a movie because there was this huge dead tree right in the middle with the naked branches standing out among the green leafy trees that grew around the cemetery. So, in the end we all live, we all die, and if we are lucky we are all loved and missed.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Date Night

My beloved nephew came to babysit at our house tonight. Jeff and I ran out the door barely containing our glee. He'd said he didn't have to be home by any particular time (a fact I intended to check with my sister but never did) so we didn't get home until almost one in the morning. As Jeff said, in one night our nephew made almost enough for an x-box game.

We went first to Provino's. Jeff had never been there before and it reminds me of a restaurant we liked in Knoxville called Altruda's. It is so similar we even wondered if it is owned by the same people or some twisted spin off. Then we stepped next door to view the movie Sourcecode. It was more of a renter than a see in the theater in my opinion. There were way to many holes and things that didn't make sense in the explanations. I am glad movies like Inception and Avatar have brought out some budgets for sci-fi movies but I'm already seeing the quality slipping. Then, just because we could, after that movie we drove over to the three dollar movies and saw "Just go with it," and I will say unequivocally that I loved that movie. In many places it was laugh out loud funny and it also had some sweet and one funny/disturbing moment in which a man picks up a coconut with his behind. Jeff and I both agreed it was the better of the two films. So now it is late and the bed has been calling for the last couple of hours but this time I am picking up the phone. Whew, church is going to come early.

Friday, April 15, 2011

fresh blood

Kelsey is going to compete in the Charger Challenge tomorrow in the high jump, softball throw, standing long-jump, and the 200 if it doesn't rain too much. I am excited for her. Then there is a benefit for one of my friend's mother's in Lookout Valley. I hope the weather cooperates.

Turns out I didn't need to send that email after all. Cindy talked to probate court this morning and they suggested we get a new lawyer. As she was telling me this, my call waiting beeped and it was my Sunday School teacher who happens to be a lawyer. His firm does do estate stuff. So, here we are several hours later and we have new attorneys. At least this time I feel like they will let us know what is going on.

One point of interest, when I contacted the stockbroker to let her know we had a new attorney. She suddenly became very helpful. Offering papers that she had previously not known where to get that sort of thing. Maybe it was all a coincidence but I have a hard time believing that. Why can't people just do what they are supposed to do without all the rigmarole. Speaking of which, I had better go do the dishes before my family sues me :).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

frustration

Tonight, Christopher still has a fever, Kelsey is bruised on both sides from attempting the high jump and not getting the form right, and I am still frustrated with all this estate stuff. After debating for about 15 min with Jeff, not that he disagreed with me more talking about pros and cons, I decided to compose an email to the lawyer and his assistant that we are dealing with. The potential pros of the email is a better working relationship and less frustration, since when Sharon talked to the assistant today, she said she sounded irritated. The potential cons are just more frustration. So I am posting below the email I sent. See what you guys think. On a different note, a friend of mine here who lost her mother this year also has just gotten the news that her father has spots on his lungs that have to be biopsied. My heart hurts for the fear she has to be feeling right now. Losing Mom and Dad has put me into a new perspective on loss of parents. It is like before I had kids I thought I knew what it would be like and then had kids and found out how different it was. It is the same experience with losing parents. Which is why I wish those "helping" us would be more understanding. Here is the email I sent.


Mr. Benton and Ms. Randall,
 
As much as I hoped to avoid too many face to face meetings because of the difficulty of locale, perhaps you were right and we do need to all meet. I don't know if either of you have lost your parents but it seems as if you don't understand our need to make this go as fast as possible. Every moment this drags on and every task that is related to it is like a chant of "you're having to do this because your parents are dead." There is a strong desire within me to reach the place where I can begin to figure out what "normal" life is like without my parents.  
 
In addition, there is the added pressure of knowing my mother would hate this delay since the whole reason she did a trust was to limit the amount of taxes (something she talked a lot about). Of course, as long as it is in the trust, as you know, it is in the 38% tax bracket. Not to mention the stuff that has to go through probate and now we have to do a title search too.
 
It would have been great if things had been neat and tidy and in one place as Mom seemed to think it was. However, that didn't happen. So, we are now dealing with the fallout of not only both our parents dying within two weeks of each other but all this stuff too. We are asking a lot of questions but getting different answers from you, Edward Jones, and the court so we don't even know who has the correct answer. Perhaps you believe you have communicated this clearly or just didn't realize how much we didn't know. 
 
You mentioned you believed I was a detail person and I guess you are correct because I need a list of what needs to be accomplished, what our role is (what you will and will not do), and what kind of time frame we are looking at before we can be done with this business of death.
 
Thank you for your attention to this and I'll look forward to your response.
Nancy 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

hangin' with the homies

Late start but got to meet some of my chatt friends at Panera this morning. Out of the six of us, I've known them all at least since my sophomore year of high school, most of them longer. Strange what proximity does for those old friendships. I went from there to the grocery and then got a pedicure. I chose a lovely lavender color that seemed very Easter like but then had a rough afternoon so it seems too cheery now. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Both Jeff's cell phone and his work phone have rung all day long. I have almost not been able to speak a complete sentence to him without interruption and everything at his work is an emergency. It is stressful for me to be around it. I can only imagine how it feels to be on the receiving end. He did leave the phone here when we went to the Easter egg hunt at church tonight. It would have been a great time but Kelsey ate some candy that we suspect may have had some peanut stuff in it because she started talking about her tongue and throat itching and finally threw up after we got home. The vomiting occured all over the bedspread because she was asleep when it happened.

It is times like this when I am so grateful for my husband's iron will (and stomach). He cleaned up the mess and got understandably annoyed when he found me watching tv while he cleaned it all up. I admit that would have pissed me off too. However, I am quite sure that position has been reversed before. Not exactly, since I am not usually on puke patrol, but certainly occasions when I am working while he is relaxing.

Tomorrow I go to the eye doctor to see if I can find out why it feels as if someone took an ice pick to my left eye. Hopefully, he will give me some drops and send me on my way no longer feeling so uncomfortable. It only really hurts if I look down, or up, or to the side. So, basically, as long as I stare straight ahead with no rapid movement of my head I'm good. I'm heading off to bed because there is a parent council meeting tomorrow. I need to be well rested to set appropriate boundaries as the need arises. Kidding, love that school.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

pain in the eye

While I'm quite certain it isn't a tumor and is sinus related, the recent deaths in my family have created more of a hypochondrian creature than existed in this skin previously. I say that in the sense that the pain behind my left eye has made me wonder if something else is going on. Let me be clear. It has only been for today and hopefully will be gone tomorrow.

I practiced with the church softball team for the first time tonight. Let's just say I am the weakest link. However, I am a member of the church and I do possess two chromosomal X's so I bring a couple of good things to the plate. I also did manage to make both my glove and the bat connect with the ball on more than one occasion and fortunately not at the same time. I'll consider that a victory. This will be the first team I've ever played on (with the exception of a bowling league in college) that my parents haven't attended at least one game. I guess there will be a lot of firsts like that in the next year. Like when I consulted the school schedule for next year to look at vacations and the words GRANDPARENT'S DAY leapt out at me like a school bully with a fistful of my lunch money. There are so many things I'd like to talk over with my mom. Although the first thing I would ask her is where are those papers we need to settle your estate?

This desire is not fueled by greed. I just want to be done with all this. The business side of death can be depressing indeed. Once we are done (if we ever get done) I'll be able to report back if the grief business is more or less depressing without the specter of probate hanging over my head.

Monday, April 11, 2011

dreams

This morning I went back to bed and slept until ten. During this rest, I got to dream about Mom. She stood in a driveway and I ran to her and hugged her. She felt so solid and so real. I told her again how much I love her. Then when I woke, it felt like I had just seen her again. My cousin emailed me about my grandfather today. She encouraged me to not worry about grandpa because he had been a Mason. I don't know that much about the masons. In one of the letters my mother wrote to my father when they were engaged, she said her father already had a seat ready for him at the Masonic lodge. I also know Dad never became a Mason for some reason. Mom always had some concerns about their symbolism but I don't know enough to talk about it intelligently. Either way, as I told her, I dreamed about my grandpa soon after he died. He came and told me he was just fine.

After I picked up the kids today, we went down to CCS and Sharon's husband coached Kelsey in the high jump. I was so proud of her for continuing to try. She doesn't always fall into things automatically. She tries hard though. I hope she does well on saturday. Christopher and I split the time between running around the track and him throwing himself on the high jump mat. I think I may have two track runners in my future. My parents would be proud and and I know I am.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

blog lazy

I don't know whether it is a good sign or bad that the intense desire to post is beginning to fade. It isn't that I can't think of things to say but often I am too tired at the end of the day to march up the stairs to make an entry. Okay, that's only happened twice now but it is a marked change. There are still so many things to say but I often lack the finesse. I think the reality of the loss is truly setting in now. Mom and Dad are not going to come back.

I didn't have delusional beliefs that they would. But I think, on some level, it was inconceivable because they always had before. Like the assurance that the sun is going to rise. I don't care how many scientists told me the sun wasn't going to rise tomorrow. I'd still expect to see it when I woke up. Then as the weeks turned into months, I'd still look for it out the window since I'd grown used to its light and warmth. Now, obviously the consequences of that would be world-wide and on a much greater level than my grief. But it is that big to me.

I finished the book, "Heaven Is For Real," today. It is parents telling the story of their three-year-old's description of heaven after having a near death experience. The details he shares, their consistency with scripture, and the pictures he describes are so very thought-provoking. I have a strong faith in God instilled in me as a child but I still have times of doubt. Thoughts like, 'what if none of this is true and we die and that is it?' What if God isn't even real? If that is the case, it doesn't matter much in terms of how I live my life. I think the things outlined in the Bible are the best way to live.

I have also had many experiences that felt divine. It is just hard to remember that feeling when it isn't  happening. But when it comes to seeing those who have passed on before us again. It becomes a huge deal (especially right now) and in meeting Jesus, and God. The little boy describes meeting his sister when he was there (a baby his mother miscarried when she was only two months pregnant). A sister that he never knew existed, that the parents hadn't even known the gender. It is a book that refuels my faith and renews my hope that I will see Mom and Dad and we will be together in eternity. Along with almost everyone else we love.

I say almost because at one point after his experience the little boy becomes very upset at a funeral because the father can't answer whether or not the man in the casket "knew Jesus." Jesus told the little boy he had to die on the cross so 'people could come to see my Dad.' We had a grandfather who to our knowledge was not a Christian. I hope I am wrong and he is there too. It always worried my mother. So I hope she got a big surprise and found out that despite his gruff exterior, that Grandpa did acknowledge Christ as Lord. The little boy in the book made it quite clear that knowing Jesus was the only way to get there, that nothing else got you to heaven. He also said that nobody is old there which has me looking at my mom's high school pictures with a new eye since I guess this is how she will look when I see her again.So, as it always does, it comes down to faith. Where am I going to put my trust? What has been The Truth for me again and again in my life? Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the light no one gets to the Father but through him.

As I may have mentioned before, Mom said she was in a "win-win situation," either she got healed and stayed here with us or she died and got to be with Jesus. It is a faith with no explanation without Divinity. I know my mother and she wasn't one given to delusion or easily taken in. She pointed me to God and to his Son, knowing who she was, it would be foolish of me to doubt it now. Not to mention counter-productive given that so many people spend their lives with an uncomfortable feeling in their stomachs every time God is mentioned instead of recognizing the Holy Spirit pulling on them to take rest in him. In re-reading this, I think it sounds like I'm trying to preach a sermon. (I can't, hee, hee, I'm Baptist now and women don't preach) but that isn't my intention, I'm more just feeling my way around my faith. Looking for my footing now that the rug has been pulled away. I'm glad to find the wood underneath isn't rotten or non-existent, just the same floor that has always been there. I just don't have Mom to shine it up for me when it gets dull or worn. I have to pull out the polish myself so I can show it to my children and say to them when it is my time to go. "Look, this is a win-win situation for all of us because we are believers but ha, ha, I get to go first." :) As I type that, my heart skips and I think, 'oh, please God, let me go before my kids.' That would be another blog topic and I think I have more than made up for my missing night now. So......tomorrow then.

Friday, April 8, 2011

a friend's loss

I just got an email that a friend from my church in Knoxville, Sabra, lost her nephew to a car accident. Her son was close to his cousin. The family has to be in such shock. I think nothing could hit harder than losing someone who had so much more life to live. Then, I think of my own nephews and my heart rises to my throat. I have high expectations for each of them and eagerly wait to see what and who they will become. Sabra will not have that opportunity with this precious child and that makes me so sad.  Even though I ache with missing my parents, at least I know how they turned out, who they became, and that they were wonderful.

I know my friend Tricia lost her niece last year when she was only a baby (the niece, not Tricia). At that time, I remember thinking it is the loss of possibility. Not that you don't love and adore the little ones because that grief is there too. It is that there is the addition of how much they missed.

Each person's loss is different and how they cope is as individual as how they don't. Recently, I have felt so teary. I want to do this well. Right now, I'm not sure I am.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

a new waiting game

Unlike you may have feared when I did not post last night, no one has died. To my knowledge, there aren't even any illnesses current in the family. Instead, I drove to Knoxville yesterday and didn't get home until after ten so went straight to bed. I woke up this morning and remembered I forgot to blog last night.

My primary purpose in going to Knoxville was to meet with my stockbroker. She is phenominal investment advisor. After two hours with her, I felt truly educated. The downside of that two hours became the lack of time I had to spend with my friend Lou who drove across town to meet me at Earth Faire. We got to see each other face to face for about 12 min. We talked really fast, it was almost manic in its nature. She is getting married at the end of this year and truly looked glowing, the prettiest I have ever seen her. She had to rush out to get back to work.

The other reason I scheduled the meeting on Wed was to tell my girls in person that I am staying in Chattanooga. It felt a little like wanting to break up with someone but not wanting to do it by email or on the phone. I met Ashley first, at a wine bar. We tried sitting outside. The wind blew so hard that my menu smacked me in the face right after I ordered. I wondered if it was the universe punishing me for my choice. Still, she and I fell into an easy rhythm just like I'd never left. She said she'd had a feeling I was staying because in an email about being sure to save office space for me, our co-worker, who goes to my church in Knoxville indicated we might not be coming back for a while. She knew this because I let them know before the church here contacted them. I hated that she hadn't heard it from me. I didn't think about that other connection.

While many points of interest existed in our conversation, one I want to pass on is her praise of Vitamin B. She said it has made a huge difference in  how she feels. It seems that unless you are below the equator, you do not get enough and will feel better if you have more. But you have to take it in huge amounts because so much of it just goes out with the regular systems. So after our vitamin and other talk, we were joined by fabulous Joy just in time to move over to the restaurant where we were meeting everyone else at Pei Wei, the cheap counter version of P.F. Changs.

So I had to let everyone else know, hated doing that. Not for them, I mean for me. They will be great but I loved the conversation. So many nuances that I know, longtime jokes like Karen's boob job or Becky's cleaning. I miss those women, more when I'm there and am reminded what I am missing. Ashley also mentioned a book she'd read or heard about called "Heaven is real." It is about a little boy who had a near-death experience. The odd thing is I saw my previous BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) leader and after asking me how my parents were (awkward) then told me I needed to read "Heaven is Real." I found that to be a bit too much of a coincidence. So I guess I will be buying that book.

The estate stuff is dragging on. It seems it will be a minimum of nine weeks before this thing gets settled. It isn't that I'm after the proceeds, it is that every day that it isn't settled, it is like an extension of Mom and Dad's death. I can't ever get back to normal life. I don't even know what normal life will look like but I'd like to get a chance to try.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

running around

Much of this morning was spent searching through papers for the deed to family property in Calhoun, Ga. I did not find it. I looked up the number for the Gordon County clerks office but wasn't able to reach the person who does the real estate. So, I figured we needed to get into the safety deposit box. If, in fact, there actually was a safety deposit box, and if they would let us in. My oldest sister is in charge of everything right now which makes things a bit harder to divvy out. So she had to meet me at the bank but we only had one death certificate instead of both so she had to go get Dad's from Sharon's car since Sharon was teaching today. I tried to call the social security office randomly throughout the day and got continual "we're sorry all circuits are busy," messages. Then I had to go fax things to my stockbroker in Knoxville. I have a meeting there tomorrow. The upside is I will get to see my girl's night out crew. I hope also to forget about the disaster that is the upstairs for at least a day. We got an email about a friend of mine in my Knoxville church, Jennifer McDonald. She is not doing well with the brain tumor. They were trying to find a charitable organization that would fly her to Duke.

I sent an email to my trusty doctor friend Lou. She has got the connections. A friend of hers does flights with Angel Flight. I think they are going to be able to do it. Even with everything that has happened I know we are still all so blessed. I hate how much Jennifer's family is going through.

The kids and I met with the pastor today about their upcoming baptisms (and Jeff's). The preacher is going to make Jeff sit down so they don't all get drug under when he goes down. Kelsey and Christopher got to do a dry run (literally) with the preacher to prepare for the dunking on Sunday. Christopher was very animated today. He kept swinging his arms around when talking about God and Jesus. He balked at the white gown they want him to wear but the pastor helped him rename it a super God suit. Smart thinking on his part but I was afraid he would refuse to baptize Christopher since at one point, Christopher talked about Skelator from He-Man being like Jesus because he died and then came back with a mask over the burnt part of his face. I was quick to remind him that Jesus was real and Skelator was not but still I think it was dicey there.

I only care because I know Christopher would be disappointed. I have no huge investment in the actual dunking. Although, it is neat to think that my husband and kids will be baptized in the same baptismal I was. Kelsey gave Sunday School perfect answers to every question he threw at her. I couldn't have been prouder. If she believes half of what she said, she'll be all right. Christopher in the meantime was demonstrating with dancing fingers the people that knew God going to heaven and those that didn't going to hell and burning. He also talked quite a bit about God and the devil fighting. In fact, much of Christopher's conversations dealt with the devil getting "throwed down." But the pastor did not say 'get this kid out of here,' to my great relief. But then in the car, with a big grin on his face Christopher said, "What if I say no when the preacher asks me that stuff at the baptism?"

I swallowed hard and said, "If you think that's a possibility than we don't need to be doing this."
He quickly recanted as his desire for a dunking seems great. He did ask the pastor how long he would hold him under.

I am grateful for children that make me laugh, for being asked to play on the church's softball team and the opportunity that may give me, and for finally getting to go work out tonight with my hubby after what seems like two months.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Whew, it's all good

The biggest upset of today was that the trust lawyer did not have any record of what my parents actually put in the trust. He did have a previous career as a CIA profiler and gave us our personality types but not what we wanted. We can't find any sort of list either. Things have been stuck in the strangest of places. So, we are guessing about it. I think we were united today by annoyance with the people we had hoped would help us. They were very nice but didn't seem to have much information and that is what we really need right now. It feels like this process will go on forever. As Christine alluded to in her comment from yesterday, the money stuff is certainly a blessing but it has its share of headaches too. I will be glad to get all this behind us. Today, I am grateful for harmony with my sisters, that Jeff doesn't have to work tonight, and the rain which I hope will wash away some of my allergins. I am tired of sneezing and an itchy nose.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Family decisions

As I sit here typing, my feet rest on a stack of files full of old Edward Jones reports. Behind me are three garbage bags containing either trash, recycling, or shredding. This room was trashed before the cleanout began. It is much worse now. There isn't even walking space like I had last week. Poor Jeff will have to climb over stuff to get to his desk to work tomorrow.

Church was good today. The new pastor seems to be finding his feet. The focus of the sermon was treating others the way you'd want to be treated and how hard that is to do. I asked for prayers in Sunday School because tomorrow we meet with the stock broker and the person who handled the trust for Mom and Dad. The thing I've discovered in life is that money brings out the worst in all of us.

One of the things we have to decide on is this house we are living in. It is a very nice house on a great lot but probably not the one I would have picked had I gone out shopping. That being said, it would be nice not to have to move my children again (or me either since Jeff never has time to help in the packing) in less than a year's time. If we stay here I want to make it our home. I've suggested that we get a home inspection to make sure there are no major issues and then pay what Mom and Dad paid for the house when they bought it once any major issues are fixed, just like any buyer.

My sisters may not like that plan. To me, it makes the most sense and saves all of us the headache of getting a house ready to sell. Not to mention the weeks, months, or even years of waiting for a buyer only to in the end have to sell it for less than what was originally paid for it because the market is so bad. In the meantime having to pay homeowner's insurance on an empty house ( which goes up instead of down when you take your stuff out-explain that), the utilities, the termite contract, the homeowner's association, and the property taxes. And based on the stuff we had to do to get our house in Knoxville ready to sell, when we had already plunked $40,000 on upgrades, (and that didn't include the seven thousand we had to spend because our foundation was sinking) and then having to price it at eight thousand less than we paid five years ago, the odds of us making more than they paid for it any time soon are slim at best.

But my sisters' may disagree with my assessment, which will be difficult when it seems like the best plan to me. In that case, I guess Jeff and I will have to find another house with sellers that are more motivated. The big thing I wonder is, as time passes, if we stay here will my sisters always be wondering if they could have gotten more for the place? I don't mean to suggest that either of them are anything less than supportive but it's the money thing. My parents were not known to divvy things out equally and neither were their parents before them. They gave very generous gifts when it hit them to do so.

I know there have been times in my life when I have sat back and nickeled and dimed the fact that my oldest sister has four kids to my two. Because of sheer number, they have had so much more money invested in them than my family ever will. Or I've mulled over the fact that Mom made a big investment for her oldest son and mine will never have that option. Do I begrudge these gifts? No, in fact most of the time I'm thrilled because I love all these people too. I only mention it because I know if that greed (what's mine and who is taking what's mine) can hit me and I know how much I value these people than I know it can hit anyone. I don't know that they have but it would be very easy for my sisters to sit back and chronicle the things I've been given too because there is plenty.

It is easy to focus on what other's are getting and to worry that you aren't getting your fair share. Certainly, when I was focused on gifts given to others, I wasn't praising God for the fact that I wasn't homeless or thinking of all the people who would give most anything to be able to give their children what I can give my children because of my opportunity to go to college. It was all about me. Not exactly the 'love others as you love yourself,' suggestion of the Bible.

Not to suggest that I think either of my sisters would be greedy. They would just have a different opinion of the best use of resources. And that is what we are supposed to do, use our resources in the best fashion possible. But if it didn't jibe with my opinion.... So, all that said to say, I hope things go well tomorrow, that we can reach equitable decisions that don't leave anyone feeling cheated or angry. I love my family so. There has been too much going on for something so petty to cause strife on any one of our three sides.

So tonight, I am grateful for my sisters and their families, for the gifts that Mom and Dad left us of love and compassion, for my family who will go with me wherever we need to go, and for God who will use us wherever he puts us in the end because wherever we live here on earth, it is not our final home.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Now Dig Out, Dig Out, I say

I'm buried under a pile of paperwork which I have had to shove aside to get to the computer. Having finally reached my limit at an hour (after a couple of hours this morning and some last night) with spontaneous sobbing and then pushing forward for another thirty minutes. I am spent. I did get one drawer done last night and then four others today. Let me reiterate, these are deep filing cabinet drawers stuffed full of a lifetime of receipts and documents. There is the trash bag, large plastic black which I have already emptied, twice; the recycle bag which has also been emptied twice, and then the shredding bag. I have no idea where I am going to go to get all this stuff shredded. I certainly do not want to sit in front of this little garbage can shredder that was Mom's to do it. That would take weeks. This morning, I found my dad's medical record from the Army. I guess shred that too. He certainly doesn't need it now but it feels weird.

Sharon is coming tomorrow to help me. She is much less of a pack rat than I so much of the stuff I've pulled out will probably go in the garbage. If we can even get to it. I had hoped to have all the drawers cleaned out so that all we had to do was go through the stuff I wasn't sure about. I did find funeral instructions from Dad that he had done in 1995. In it he said, "don't spend too much because why you are doing this planning, I'll be living it up in the heavenlies." I quoted but that may be a paraphrase. I didn't feel like finding that piece of yellow legal pad paper again to see what the exact quote was. Lazy writing, I know. "Living it up," was one of his more favorite expressions. I had forgotten that.

The most frustrating thing is that I still can't find their most recent tax return. I'm wondering if it is with the lawyer we are meeting on Monday. One interesting thing I found was in Daddy's retirement papers. It recommended if the country were ever fully mobilized he be re-instated at the rank of Colonial. Maybe that is common but I'm still proud of him. I've gone through document after document outlining his achievements. I discovered tonight that Dad had aspirations of going to graduate school to get a teaching certificate while he already taught at Cleveland State. I don't know why he never went but I found two of his requests for more information and twice where UTK had sent him applications. Because of Mom's primary function as homemaker, I have found little of her in these files. Except for the saved engagement announcement in the yellowed newspaper. There is a lot of stuff I'd like to take the time to read but since my function is cleaning out, I have had to be very disciplined to make a pile for that and move on. It makes me so sad to see documented proof of lives well lived and people well loved that had to leave too soon.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Digging In

The play is done, my parents are gone, it is now time to confront the mess. And quite a disaster it is too. The downstairs can look allright, just like a normal home but the upstairs has stacks of papers, books, pictures, bins, and filing cabinets to go through. Part of me is reluctant to pursue this because it is an overwhelming task. The other piece of the procrastination is that it is difficult to go through my parents' papers. There are pictures in the filing cabinet and there is only a certain amount of time I can immerse myself in their stuff before I break. The problem is I don't know what that time limit is-somewhere between five minutes and two hours. I think really it depends on the day and what stuff I find.

The problem with getting anything done is that I have the normal stuff still to do. I'm not sure how some of these women do it. Clearly, they have so much more energy than I. I believe that it must have to do with a lack of organization but I've looked at the organizing stuff and I can't see how it is going to help. So bear with me through this process. I'm going to try to do one drawer tonight.

My grateful thoughts for this evening include breakfast with Tricia today, yummy parfait, and that Christopher made me laugh when he called dinner, "Stinky Bazana."