Tag Archives: loss

From Rebecca: Family stuff

Those of you who have read Joe’s blog for a long time will know that he has written many times about his struggle to hold on to items he inherited from his parents, even when he didn’t have the space in his apartment to keep all of them. He had to let a few things go in periodic clean outs, and it was difficult for him each time. This is on my mind today, because my family is struggling with a similar issue of losing family stuff, and it is a heartbreaker. We thought some items were safe at a family member’s house and it turns out that they were not.

The items are from my mother, who passed away, and my stepfather, who is still alive but has a lot of health issues. One item in particular was a stuffed leopard that my sisters and I had as children, that our mom kept and then it went with our stepfather when he moved after she passed. After one of my sisters asked about it this week, another sister found out that at some point it was thrown out after something got spilled on it. The other stuff was important too, but this is the item I really cared about and it is gone. I really wish that we had taken it the last time we were all there together a few years ago, but it didn’t seem polite at the time. I ached about the loss for a few minutes, and then thought, okay, there is nothing we can do about it now.

An added complication is that, due to certain circumstances, when our stepfather does pass away, all of his stuff might be lost, and there might not be any items from him that we inherit to remember him by. Does this possible loss matter? Just how much do we need family heirlooms as reminders after loved ones are gone?

I do cherish the items I have from people who are no longer with me. It is nice to look up on my bookcase and see a scarf from one of my grandmothers, the statue that reminds me of my other grandmother, my copy of the spiritual book that my mother gave to each of her daughters while she was still alive. These items sit among the ones I have from people who are still with me, like the pictures of my nephews and niece growing up, the candle my mother-in-law gave me, and something from a dear friend who is like a sister to me. I like the memories and the reminders of my loved ones. My life is richer because of all the people in it. But I also know that I don’t lose that if I lose the mementos.

If I don’t end up with my stepfather’s pocket knife, I still remember him using it. I still remember him cooking meals and joking with my mom in their kitchen filled with knickknacks, cutting the lawn on his sitting mower, pointing to his picture of a ship he crewed on and telling me about his experiences on it, sitting at his computer, fixing the latest of his parade of vehicles, and trying to figure out his latest electronic gizmo. My stepfather was a force of nature once upon a time.

I don’t think of my stepfather like that much anymore, and maybe I do need reminders. Maybe other family members will have to do that for me instead of his stuff. And that is okay. And maybe I will end up with an item of his to spark my memories. That would be good too.

Joe will be back with a blog entry next Wednesday. Until then, take care, have a great week, and happy reading.

Advertisements

Top ten lists of things to discuss other than politics

Greetings, readers. I am absolutely fed up with all of the mud-slinging political ads on TV, as well as the news reports about how each candidate is better than the other. Local and state races are bad enough. Please, don’t get me started on Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump! Grrr.

Here’s a list of other topics I talk to my friends about. They’ll be in no particular order this time around. Here we go.

#10. Pets. [I know I can talk about my kitty-cat Keekee for hours, and I like to hear other people talk about their beloved animals.]

#9. Talk to a friend over coffee if that friend is having difficulties. [Sometimes talking about our problems with someone who cares can help a lot. And it helps to remember that the world is bigger than politics, even elections on the national level.]

#8. Talk about the weather. [Sunshine, stormy or in between, everyone has some weather. And some people are still recovering from last week’s hurricane Matthew. They definitely have more to talk about than the candidates.]

#7. Chat about sports. [With so many different games, so many teams, in so many cities, there can be hours of avid conversation.]

#6. Discuss your favorite cars {old or new}. [Not everyone gets into cars like I do, but a lot of people have vehicles. It is fun to compare driving experiences, horsepower, styles, and colors.]

#5. Rant about your boss or co-workers. [First though, be sure they can’t hear you!]

#4. Talk about the latest technologies. [There are so many shiny new things, and they are so exciting.]

#3. Chat about a trip you once took. [A change of locale, different food, maybe a different language and culture; all these can be part of an interesting conversation.]

#2. Tell your friend about a dream you had. [Everyone can relate. Almost everyone has a weird dream they can remember and share.]

#1. Console someone who just lost a loved one. [This will really bring things into perspective. A bunch of politicians yelling at each other means nothing at this moment. Our connection to one another is so much more important.]

Well, there you go; my list of topics to talk about other than politics. Do chime in with your list if you want to, here or on Facebook. Until next week, have a great weekend, take care and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Two entries in a row!

Actually, two entries in a row from me usually means Joe is in Maine, but not today. He is getting ready for his weekend trip to New Jersey with Traci, for his Goddaughter’s wedding, and asked me to do the entry again while he does things like laundry and packing. He is over his cold and feeling much better.

If he was doing today’s post, his topic probably would have been the crash of TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996 as the 20th anniversary is coming up. It is possible that he might still do an entry about it next week. Regular blog readers know that Joe loves planes and simulated flying, and watches shows, like Air Crash Investigations, to find out what goes wrong when planes crash. It angers him when people die because of problems that could have been avoided, and it saddens him when people die when it could not be avoided.

Switching topics, I read a book this week that really got me thinking. It was a novel by Liane Moriarty called What Alice Forgot. It is about a woman who hits her head and loses the last ten years of her memory. To Alice it is the year 1998 and she has to adjust to the fact that it is really 2008. In 1998 she was happily married, pregnant for the first time, with close relationships to her sister and friends. In 2008 she is in the middle of getting divorced, has three children, has a thinner body from a diet and exercise routine, all new friends, and the people she used to be close to are angry with her or distant. She is confused by all the change just a decade made to her life. She doesn’t know her children, and is amazed by how wild and precious they are, with such distinct personalities. She seems to have a full schedule with many projects, school functions with her kids, a lot of appointments; she had a busy life. In the week after her accident, she approaches decisions and interactions in a fresh way, as an outsider to her life, because she doesn’t remember any of the recent history that would have dictated her responses. It seems that a large part of the time she had been angry, tense, bitter, willing to lash out to hurt others, and lonely. When she relates to people from how she felt about them in 1998, she changes the relationships for the better. She doesn’t remember her appointments, so when one comes up she either misses it or has to wing it. Then she gets her memory back, including memories of her children being born and growing, and the real trick becomes to keep the positive changes while not losing the good things from the past decade.

As I read this book, I started to think about what changes have been in my life in the last decade. If I had a pause in time with a fresh slate, what would I want to change, and what would I want to keep? I did lose a lot in the last decade – my church disbanded and I lost touch with my friends from there, my mom and father-in-law both died and I miss them both, I have let my step-dad drift out of my life, and my jobs are completely different. I gained some things too – I am close to my dad, sisters and my nephews and niece, I work with my good friend Joe, and I have a much closer relationship with my dear mother-in-law. One of the things that has remained constant is my love for and from my husband, Darren. I don’t know if I will follow through on these things, but I should see my friend Nora again and visit my step-dad Bob.

The other day I was hanging out with Darren, no TV or books or other distractions, and it was nice. I noticed my mind was racing with what I still had to do that day, and I thought of Alice. I relaxed and tried to think about just that moment and enjoy time with my husband. No history, no future, just him and me. I need to do that more.

If Joe were writing this he would also add something about the people killed in violence these past weeks. The deaths that happened just before the ambush in Dallas, during the attack on police in Dallas, and yesterday in Nice, France. From both of us, to the family and friends who lost loved ones in these events, our hearts and prayers go out to you.

Until next week, stay safe, be cool in the heat, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Letting go of an historic place

I live in a place that changes all the time. State College is a college town, with the main campus of Pennsylvania State University located here. We have construction and new developments all around the area, for retired people moving back, professors and their families, and students that need off campus housing. I used to know the names of all the streets, but now there are a lot of streets I don’t know. Businesses come and go, especially downtown and in the mall, and old buildings get torn down for new ones.

There are some businesses and buildings that have remained for decades, standing in the middle of all of this change. I like knowing that they are there, and that even though I don’t often use their services, that they make up the framework of my town. I almost never go to the Nittany Mall, for instance, but I like that it is still there. Schlow Centre Region Library is one of the anchors of downtown.

One of those mainstays is clearly struggling, and may shut down. A motel and restaurant, it has been here since before I was born. I don’t want to use the name in respect for the current owners, who are fighting hard to keep it afloat. They had to file for bankruptcy this year and have tried several things to save the business.

This place means a lot to me, as my mom used to work there and met my stepfather there too. She worked in the coffee shop in the evenings, and once in a while my sisters and I would go up while she was closing it down. We would do little chores to keep occupied and she would let us pick out a pack of Lance snack crackers or cookies as a reward. My mom was really busy at that time, and we didn’t have much time with her, so that was a chance for us to have a few moments with her. Now that I think about it, at this time we got more time with Dad, as he was with us in the evenings she worked. She eventually got a job at the university, and then attended the university. We stopped going to the business as much.

The business had a coffee shop, formal dining room, and motel rooms. It was owned by one family for decades, who were big in the community. As far as I could tell, they kept the place maintained and in good working order. Then they decided to sell the business, and I have a vague memory of it changing hands a couple of times, and now the current owners are struggling. At some point the coffee shop was closed, I don’t remember how many years ago. I would drive by the business, confident that it was the same as always and would be around forever. I had no idea it was in danger of going out of business, even when a local restaurant set up shop there in place of the formal dining that used to be a staple of the area.

Then within the last two years, the business was featured on a national show focused on helping failing hotels. I watched it and was shocked by how much it had gone down hill. So much on the property needed to be fixed, and supplies were low due to lack of funds. It was clear during the show that the business I took for granted might disappear like so many other places around here. The owners are still hanging on, but for how long?

My first reaction to losing this business, which I haven’t been in for five years, was that I didn’t want it to go away. It means something to State College and it is important to this area and its history. It is important to my history. But is it really? Today, I don’t know. I went by it yesterday and saw a new sign up for their new smoking bar. Another attempt to bring people in, which might save the place or might not. And for the first time I felt like it was okay to let the place go. With so many changes to it, the old place I remember from growing up is already gone. I would be okay if this version of the business did close up and okay if it succeeded for many years to come.

Having said that, I imagine I would not feel so peaceful about it if the buildings were razed and something else in that spot. It would seem wrong. But I would get over it. I’m not the one who is in debt for this business and I’m not the one working every day to make it better; the current owners have a right to do what is best for themselves.

We have lost a lot of businesses and places in State College in the many decades I have lived here, but we have gained some good new ones too. If we lose too many historic places, we lose a lot of our history, and that would be a shame. But life is not lived in the past, however much we miss it. We have to make our lives in this area the way it is now, and very often that is a good thing.

Bye-bye to U.S. Airways

Greetings, readers. It has been in the works now for a long time that U.S. Airways has merged with American Airlines. Earlier in our work day I was trying desperately to find the date when the U.S. Airways entity would cease to exist. So far, no luck. I believe it is March 1st of this year.

I’m very sad about losing U.S. Airways. Although I don’t fly much anymore, when Dave and his family lived on Long Island, I would fly there to visit them and always use U.S. Airways.

I’m always a big fan of paint schemes and logos. In the world of airplanes that is called a livery. I’ve always liked the tail logo of U.S. Airways with a depiction of the American flag.

In the history of U.S. Airways, I can remember when it was simply called U.S. Air. Before that, when my Dad had to fly out to a meeting somewhere, he would take the Allegheny commuter.

If you all can remember my top ten list of airlines no longer with us, we can add U.S. Airways to that list very soon.

Here’s a list of airlines I have flown on. When I was a young boy, Mom, Dad and I flew to Germany on the German airline Lufthansa. I’ve also flown on the Dutch airline KLM. Very classy. When I went to see my aunt in California, I believe my cousin Ed and I flew Delta; I’m not quite certain of that fact but it will suffice of the moment.

Why am I so upset about losing U.S. Airways? Point #1: It’s been around for most of my lifetime. #2: I almost always used it. #3 and most important: With the loss of airlines due to mergers, eventually I fear that we will be left with a precious handful, and prices will continue to skyrocket. I don’t think the airline industry is in danger of going out of business, but I always thought that more competition is better than less.

So I bid an old friend, U.S. Airways, a fond farewell.

Until next week, pray for warmer weather, take care and happy reading.

P.S. Feel free to chime in with a list of airlines you’ve used.

(For my Facebook friend) In the blink of an eye

Greetings, readers. I’m going to have to be careful with today’s blog entry for it deals with a friend of mine, who was a caregiver for my late Godmother. My friend suffered a great tragedy; a devastating house fire and the loss of everything she held dear. Part of her loss was her four beloved dogs. Since hearing about this, I have been greatly affected.

When I read on Facebook about my friend’s loss, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would feel if that happened to me. My apartment has so many sprinklers in it that any fire would be quickly extinguished, but still if anything were to happen to my dear kitty cat Keekee I know I would be destroyed. I’ve found myself unplugging  and turning things off before I leave my apartment and making certain that nothing could catch fire. As the days have gone by, this compulsion has become a little bit less, though I am still keenly aware of it.

After I read over my friend’s Facebook posts, I typed her a private message with the usual, “If there is anything I can do, please call.” Even though my intentions are good, it seems to me to be a lame statement. How could I possibly fix anything for her? I’m not a carpenter, I can’t build her a new house, and I don’t have the money to buy her a new puppy. Actually, I think she would be offended if I did.

I’ve read the comments that people have left for her and I’m seeing tons of love and support from everybody. I’m hoping that makes her long journey back a little shorter and a little easier. To you my friend, and you know who you are, my heart goes out to you. Get a hold of me for anything you need day or night. My Godmother knew three of the dogs lost, and I know in my heart that she is caring for them right now in Heaven.

Yes, readers, your life can change in the blink of an eye. I’m sure a lot of us don’t think about that every day. In time the wounds and scars on my friend with heal and I will become less sensitive to my current anxieties.

Next week, look forward to a top ten list and possibly a From Rebecca post. Until then, have a good weekend, stay out of the snow, take care, and happy reading.

R.I.P. to a faithful friend

Greetings, readers. I got some very sad news this past Sunday morning in a text from my ex-wife Georgia. Our beloved pup Sassy, a cocker-spaniel and shih tzu mix that we commonly referred to as our four-legged daughter, passed away at age 10. The news hit me very hard. When I posted a mini R.I.P. on my Facebook page, I actually cried. Although I only knew her the first few years of her life, she took to me right away and in many ways became a daddy’s girl. When she needed to go for a walk, who did she come to and sit in front of? That’s right, me.

I feel bad missing out on most of her life, but things happened and Georgia and my paths had to part. From time to time I would contact Georgia and I would always ask how Sassy was. She and Ted also recently lost another four-legged friend, Cooper. So my heart definitely goes out to them; too many losses too quickly.

I know that when my kitty-cat Keekee goes to that big scratching post in the sky, I will be devastated. I know exactly how Georgia feels. I was the one who had to tell our vet to put my parents’ dogs to sleep due to cancer. Believe me readers, losing a pet is like losing a part of the family. In many ways they really are like little kids.

“Sassy, you were a good girl and daddy will always love you.”

 

Sassy, a cocker-spaniel and shih tzu mix, at age three or four.
Sassy, a cocker-spaniel and shih tzu mix, at age three or four.

 

Until Friday, have a good couple of days, take care, and happy reading.

A rough patch in my life

Greetings, readers. I am fighting through one of the toughest times of my life right now; the loss of a friend. Did this person pass away? No. I wish it could be that easy. She lives in my building and I run the risk of seeing her at any moment that I am not in my apartment. It should not affect my behavior, but I have caught myself putting my sweatshirt hood over my head to avoid seeing anyone in the lobby area.

Being afraid of life is a terrible thing. I have felt this way before, but not to this extent. I’ve decided not to alter my daily routine. Certainly I could have chosen different eateries to frequent, or hang out at places where I deemed she wouldn’t be. But that’s being afraid of life. That’s not acceptable to me. I won’t do that. If I do…, she wins.

What to do? I’ve told both my accountant and my writing assistant that I “Gotta get the hell outta here!” They both agreed. For my sanity I feel that at least a weekend’s break from State College, Pennsylvania is in order; maybe longer. This poses a problem for me because I have other obligations in town. However, my health does take precedence.

My two choices are to go visit my buddy and brother, Dave and family in New Jersey for a long weekend, or to visit my Aunt in California for a week or so. The former can be done by bus, the latter must be accomplished by airplane via Orbitz.com.

Whichever I choose, I’m sure of two things. First that it will be the correct choice for me, and second, it will benefit the visitor. I’ve not seen Dave or my Aunt in quite a while.

The next blog entry will be another top 10 list.  🙂   Until soon, stay well, enjoy life and happy reading.