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misty



MistyEighteen years.  Tim and I had Misty for eighteen years.  My mother bought her at a small farm outside East Aurora, New York in 1991.  She had a good life.  But it came to an end sadly on Sunday morning.  I know it is only a cat but any pet becomes a part of the family. 

She endured planes, trains and automobiles…once all in the same day. 

She was the loudest, most talkative cat anyone had ever witnessed. 

Despite being bright white, she was a great hunter.  We cannot believe her prey never saw her coming.  However, she was a terrible jumper. 

She was a terrible groomer so she had to get shaved several times…not a pretty site for a long-haired cat with a bushy tail.

She survived all four of our toddlers chasing her, pulling her tail, and attempting to nap on her perfectly soft ‘bunny’ fur. 

She made a habit of laying across the papers on our desk while we tried to work. 

When we lived in Alabama, her best friend was an Armadillo.  They played everyday.  We never understood how it worked but we still think it would make a great children’s storybook idea.  Also in Alabama, Tim nearly killed her after treating her with flea formula for DOGS.  It was a rough night.  She was a master roach killer (again Alabama…things were nasty). 

She would only drink water out of the fish tank or toilet bowl.  Of course, if we were willing to provide her with a glass of water with ice water, she would also accept it. 

She would climb our Christmas tree. 

When I took her to college, she escaped the moment we got out of the car.  She was missing for two weeks until Tim rescued her by climbing the massive limbs to retrieve her.  It forged a relationship like no other until the day she died. 

After each child decorated the box, we buried her beneath the Misty Tree in our backyard (yes…she had a tree…a white dogwood).   So long fuzzy cat!

mistyRIP

vintage



The vintage thing is in.  You know…the t-shirts that look old but aren’t.  The jeans that are ripped but not by you.  

So, I dipped into my drawer the other day to pull out a t-shirt from 1984!  How do I know this?  Because I used to sing in the Children’s Chorus at the Lyric Opera and the t-shirt happened to be from the ’84 season. 

I am more of a purger vs hoarder.  But this particular t-shirt always stayed with me because it was worn to soft perfection.

So does that mean I am cool and hip if I wear it?  Or am I old and strange for keeping it?  Perhaps even trendy because now I can say I have a true vintage item?

sweet caroline



July 17th…one year ago many lives changed forever.  My Aunt Nine died suddenly…amazing wife, loving mother, loyal sister, beloved aunt, and incredible friend.

It is no less shocking for any of us today than it was a year ago. I have avoided reading any of her comments from the ‘Letters from Tim’ blog until today…I figured it would be too painful.  But I must say, she cracked me up.  Caroline had a great sense of humor even in the most challenging of times. 

May she forever remain in our hearts.

Caroline-0014

interview



Dick Wolfsie, of WISH-TV/Channel 8, interviewed us a few weeks ago as we passed the year anniversary of Tim’s return from Iraq.   The interview airs tonight on the 5 o’clock news.  It will also be available tomorrow on Dick’s Home Page.

trashing



I learned the art of ‘trashing’ from my Aunt Nine.  You had to know her.  She could pick anything out of someone else’s trash bin and turn it into something either useful or ecelectic. 

As recent graduates, Tim and I had close to nothing in the way of home decor.  On one visit to Nine’s house shortly after graduation, she whispered, “It’s Thursday night.  Let’s get flashlights and go trashing.”  I thought she was nuts but was up for the adventure.  Sure enough…we found some real treasures.  Her husband, Wally, hated this practice as it took up space in his ever-filling garage and basement. 

In any case, as I passed the trash this week I was reminded of my ‘early trashing day’s’ when I eyed a perfectly good basketball hoop (the kind that isn’t permanent but weighs about 400 pounds!).  Anyway, it seemed like just the thing for the kids with the summer approaching.  And I figured it would cost me only five bucks for a new net. 

I call Tim as I pass the hoop in the morning.  He says we don’t need any more junk.  I agree. 

I pass it after school with Briggs.  The trash collector didn’t take it.  It is still sitting there waiting for a new home.  I call Tim.  I say Briggs wants the hoop.  Pick it up on your way home from work.  Sure enough an hour later he pulls up with the load in the back of his truck.

So what was someone’s trash is now our treasure.  I might have to start getting out my flashlights again on trash night!

spring has sprung



It is amazing the effect weather can have on the disposition of children (and parents).  Either I neeeded to wait for the girls to be potty-trained or the weather to get warm because we have had virtually NO destructive moments in over a week.  Perhaps they were just feeling clausterphobic or had a bad case of cabin fever?  Needless to say, we are glad to see the buds begin to bloom and the grass turn green.  We are coming in dirty at night, and their appetites have significantly increased.  You know it is Spring when the Ice Cream Truck starts making its rounds every few days as well.

One of the kids favorite pasttimes is ‘going on adventures’.  We happen to have an enormous field of trees and tall grasses behind our home.  We likely are trespassing but I figure kids gotta be kids.  It is like watching a version of  Stand By Me or Sandlot.  I love to hear their adventures become wild and exciting.

Our neighborhood buddies, Jacob and Joe, took it to an entirely new level when they showed up afterschool with backpacks filled with survival gear, including: water bottles, popcorn, rope, etc.  Gage has now takent to drawing maps of the field in order to navigate our way around. 

Today, we saw a very large bunny, lots of coyote tracks, several deer beds, a ton of mud, and the beginning of Spring.  I would like to think these are the days that my kids will remember about their childhood.

Some pics below from the past few months.

stuff



I moved to and from college in a Honda Civic.  While I pride myself on being an expert packer (it is a Rowe trait I inherited), the hatchback was surprisingly efficient.  It transported all that was important to me in my 20s.  And that car is still cruising the streets of Indy, just as efficient as ever.

When Tim and I finally bought our first and only home in 1999, we moved here in a small U-Haul.   We had enough furniture to fill just a few rooms.  We unpacked the majority of our wedding gifts that had been in storage while Tim was in Flight School.  We figured we would never outgrow our home. 

Well, it is hard to believe that our home is at full capacity now.  How does this happen?  Admittedly, we have inherited quite a few items that our parents gave as they downsized.  But even the storage areas are suprisingly filled.  And, our garage is a total embarrassment…truly we can only fit one car and one motorcycle in our three-car garage.  How did we accumulate so much STUFF?  Granted we have four children, and with them comes a lot of STUFF.  But I am really good about purging clothes that no longer fit and toys no longer loved. 

As I look around though, I am struck by the same thought I had when my grandfather died.  I will take none of it with me.  I must remind myself that my ‘wants and needs’ are short-lived.   So, here is to my next round of purging!

home…



However trite it may be, I embraced the saying “Home is where the heart is” this weekend.  We traveled to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a charming, picturesque community east of Cleveland.  It is the kind of town that makes you love winter because, with the lake-effect, it is nearly always covered in snow.  The Main Street is lined with unique boutiques and a popcorn shop overlooking the steep falls.  The lightpoles (in large part due to my Aunt Nine’s efforts over the years) are always adorned with lights and evergreens.

I didn’t grow up in Chagrin but nearly every holiday was spent there.  I have vivid memories of driving up to my grandparent’s home seeing the giant-sized, antique Santa waving us in from the front doorstep.  Perhaps that is where my love for outdoor holiday decor stems from?  And, since I have had children we have visisted Chagrin at least twice a year.  While it might not be my home, it certainly is where my heart is.

The day before the Memorial Service was to be held for my grandfather, we stepped inside the Church of the Saviour.  This church is nothing short of spectacular.  The Gothic architecture, both inside and out, is inspiring.  As my brother would likely comment, “It ain’t no MTV church.”

For those who argue against organized religion, here is a gleaming example to refute it.  While I do not have a church to call home, this is as close as it gets.  The members of this church provided such significant support and “expressions of love” (as my grandfather coined) over the years that it was truly his home.

Within those walls, I was a flower girl for my Aunt Nine and Uncle Wally’s wedding.  In fact, before I walked in this past weekend, I could have described the floors of the church in detail.  For it was during the rehearsal for their wedding that I graced the alter with urine.  I am willing it is one of the only times someone has actually peed on the alter.  My mother had put the fear of God in me not to move.  Literally, I was so fearful that I left a large puddle where I stood patiently for the rehearsal to end.  I stared down at that terezzo floor until the procession began. Everyone soon figured out my secret as I went “squishing” down the enormously long aisle in my red tights and Mary Jane’s.

Within those walls, my son walked down the same aisle as a ring bearer nearly twenty-eight years later for my cousin, Betsy’s wedding. Thankfully, he left no ‘surprises’ behind.  He simply walked down the aisle and proceeded to fall fast asleep.

Within those walls, we ALWAYS had the first two rows on the right side for Sunday Service and holidays…my grandmother made SURE of it.  In fact, one of my funniest memories of her was sitting alone holding the first two pews after the Candlelight Service had begun on Christmas Eve.  There was standing room only and we were all late.  You have never seen a more divinely dressed woman, never without a hat, mind you, give her family the nastiest looking scowl as we scooted in to take our seats.  We still talk about it!

Within those walls, my grandfather spent three years authoring a historical book on the church with three other members.  He sang as John Wesley described, lustily, and with great emotion in the choir for years.  And, created two foundations for the church…one for the choir and another for pastoral visits.

So it was fitting that within those walls, this fine man was given what I considered the most extraordinary, and personal memorial I have ever witnessed.  Even if you didn’t know the man, you had an understanding of his extreme, yet odd, sense of humor.  He planned his funeral over a decade ago not ever imagining he would make it to 92 years of age.

So I left Chagrin with a feeling of joy and peace.  I left knowing that my grandfather would have enjoyed his funeral and would have been pleased with our clever changes.  I left knowing that particular relations had mended and we could still remain a family. I left knowing that home is not always a place…it is where your heart resides.

funny but weird



This must have been some promotion for GE (my grandfather was a lighting engineer for GE his entire life) but couldn’t they have hired a model instead of a mannequin?  I vividly remember this ‘lady’ taking residence in my grandparent’s home when I was a child.  He must have been the lucky one to take her home after the shoot. 

She always gave me the spooks but my grandmother’s basement was stuffed full of interesting items from floor to ceiling…a fireman’s nightmare, an arson’s dream, a child’s intrigue.  We came across this enormous poster recently and it brought about a lot of good humor, as you can imagine.

 

four months



The last four months have included some of the highest and lowest of moments.

– I have felt excructiating physical pain while telling a man his daughter died as he was waiting her arrival for dinner.  I have witnessed this same man plead to die so that he may give her his heart.
– I have been in the midst of an enormous family struggle that left us all feeling alone and missing a compass.
– I have learned the differences between Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing facilities. 
– I have learned that no matter what…at age 92…quality food, along with linen napkins, and dinner chairs equipped with arms (an added plus with wheels) is enough to make a man happy.
– I have experienced proud moments knowing that a move at 92, while not easy, was undoubtedly the best decision we could have made.
– I have learned it is best not to push the elderly into change but gently guide them in the right direction.  Not much different than children really.
– I have realized that a significant amount of time and energy was directed away from my children but I will never regret the time I was given with my grandfather.
– I have learned that homes for the aging need to be ‘safety-proofed’ but opposite to those requirements of toddlers.  Everything needs to be WITHIN reach not out of it. 
– I have learned how to put on Jobst Socks and realized that 92 year old feet don’t look so hot.  It is kind of like changing your own babies diapers…when they are yours…you don’t really care.  However, word to the wise…invest in regular pedicures.
– I have learned the importance of lasix but the significant downfalls of feeling confined for the sheer necessity of having to pee every 15 minutes from the diuretic.
– I have learned over and over again how important it is to have an advocate in a health care setting.
– I have learned I better start saving now.
– I have learned the intracies of Medicare and private insurance.
– I have learned to fold a walker as easily as a stroller and sometimes in the same trip.  A little flip here, a fold here and voila…throw it in the trunk.
– I have learned how to recite medical history with ease.
– I have learned how important long shoe horns can be to someone who can no longer bend at the waist.
– While not for long, I have learned how to sit still and just listen. 
– I have belly laughed at stories and recollections of a different era.
– I have learned that it takes a special person to work with the elderly and an even more special person to help them die. 
– I have whispered into the ear of someone I love that is unconscious but hopefully able to still hear (doctors say hearing is the last thing someone loses before death) asked them ‘to just go’ promising them that their mother, father, daughter, and wives are eagerly awaiting their arrival.
– I have learned that a dead body isn’t just a dead body when it is someone you love.  It can actually look quite peaceful and bring significant comfort.
– I realized that we leave this world with NONE of our personal belongings…absolutely no materialistic things.  You leave just as you came…having nothing but the love of your family.

This morning my grandfather died of old age. 

Thank you, Grandpa…for living an extraordinary life and leaving us all with so many great memories.

P.S.  My grandfather’s last parting humor is for his obituary to include his Christening image of he as an infant.  He was insistent upon it.  He was kind of cute.

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