Sunday, August 19, 2012

Remembering Betty at One Year

To describe the past twelve months as annus horribilis would be an understatement. Today marks one year since my mother-in-law left this life.

Betty made my life better by being part of it. I had the opposite of a stereotypical sitcom mother-in-law. Betty accepted me. She was warm and engaging and enjoyed spending time with her family.

Lucy and I made quite a few trips "up north" while we were together. We could count on a four hour drive each way (though it dropped to three-and-a-half hours after Minnesota 33 was redone in Cloquet and the Highway 2 overpass was completed). It meant we would pull in after 10:00 pm on a Friday and we would have to start the return trip by 2:00 pm on Sunday. We would always have a warm greeting waiting for us when we arrived. That made the trip worthwhile. It was also nice to unwind in a setting that was so peaceful and beautiful. Northern Minnesota's natural beauty is second to none.

Along with a warm greeting, there would usually be fresh baked treats. Scents of blueberry pie (when in season), cardamom bread, or home-made bread would waft through the house. Getting out of a car at -35°F and walking into a warm house with bread fresh from the oven is an indescribable treat. I swear I gained three pounds every trip we made back home.

Lucy's love of reading and poetry came from Betty. Betty's taste in fiction was broad. I remember seeing several Rod McKuen poetry books on the bookshelf. Suzy told us at Bob's funeral that Bob and Betty would go the library a lot after Bob retired. She would browse for a couple novels to check out while Bob would read the local papers.

Betty was also an artist. Lucy had saved some sketches Betty had drawn in letters to Lucy. Betty also painted a few watercolors. Barns were a favorite subject. She was also quite the photographer, another talent Lucy inherited. I once had a high school art teacher tell me the only thing I would ever draw well was criticism, so I do appreciate the talent and time Betty put into her creative ventures.

While Lucy was doing her family history research, she received a treasure trove of information from her aunt Kay. Included in the hundreds of pages of information were a couple articles Betty wrote for some local history books. They were very well written, informative and entertaining.

With all of Betty's interests, talents and skills, she made time to be an outstanding mother to four children. The love they were raised with molded them into caring and compassionate adults. That love is now passed on to their children.

She may not have been my biological mother, but she was my second mom. It's been a year, and I still miss Betty. A lot has happened since then, some good, some tragic. It's easy for a family to stick together during good times. She would be proud of how her children have stuck together during the adversities.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Silent No More Walk/Run September 8

I will be participating in the 13th annual Silent No More walk and run for ovarian cancer. Despite losing 70 pounds, my left knee is still not able to handle a 5k run. Now that I'm able to throttle back a bit on the hours at the office, perhaps I can get some bicycling in next season to get the knee strengthened.

Rosland Park is in Edina near Southdale. We were allowed to park at Southdale last year but not this year. Here's a bit more information about the event:
Limited parking is available at Rosland Park primarily for handicap parking and an area for Survivor Drop Off. Additional parking is available at the office buildings at 6600 France Avenue and 6800 France Avenue ONLY - please follow the directions of our parking volunteers! A shuttle bus will provide a ride between the southern most lot at 6800 France Avenue to Rosland Park starting at 7:30am-11:30am. Please allow for additional time to walk or ride the shuttle to the park.
Early Bird Registration Fee of $25 adult and $10 Youth ends at 12 midnight on 8/27/12. Regular registration fees are $30 adult and $12 Youth beginning 8/28/12.1/1/2012 - 8/27/2012
Day of Registration / T-shirt pick up9/8/2012 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Survivor Photo9/8/2012 8:30 am - 8:40 am
Program - Honoring the Women of MOCA9/8/2012 8:45 am - 9:00 am
5K Run9/8/2012 9:15 am - 9:45 am
2K Walk9/8/2012 9:45 am - 10:30 am
Kids Fun Run9/8/2012 10:30 am - 11:00 am
Awards9/8/2012 11:00 am - 11:15 am

2K Walk: $25.00
Adult 2K Walk - Early Bird registration of $25 ends 8/27; Regular registration fee of $30 after 8/28
5K Run: $25.00
Adult 5K Run - Early Bird registration of $25 ends 8/27; Regular registration fee of $30 after 8/28
Youth: $10.00
Children 12 and under - Early Bird registration of $10 ends 8/27; Regular registration fee of $12 after 8/28
Sleepwalker: $30.00
If you can't join us on race day or just can't get out of bed, register as a Sleepwalker and you will receive your Silent No More Walk/Run t-shirt in the mail after the event.
Updated information on the Walk/Run can be found at our website at
I'm doing this to in honor of Lucy. We participated last year and she had every intention of participating this year. I formed a team if anyone would care to join me. The team link is at I set some low fundraising and recruiting standards (already reached in both cases), so I'm not hitting anyone up for donations.

Thank you!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Come Monday" (it will be four months)

Unlike me, Lucy was not a Jimmy Buffett fan. After we had been dating a year, I took a job that required "10% travel". The problem was 10% was closer to 80%. I spent quite a bit of time in Los Angeles, so I was quite familiar with "I spent four lonely days in the brown L.A. haze, and I just want you back by my side."

Come Monday, it will be four months since Lucy died. I haven't been in the brown L.A. haze in over 25 years, but I still want Lucy back by my side. The grief counselors have said it can take a year for most of the healing to occur. I don't think they have counted on another family death and a very stressful job. If I were to believe Nietzsche, "What does not kill me, makes me stronger", I should be invincible and immortal by now rather than missing her with every beat of my heart. It's an adjustment alright.

I'm still having some problems with staying organized. I found my Houlihan's birthday perk tonight and had to use it because it was expiring tonight. Note to self: jambalaya just before 90 minutes of yard work is not recommended. No one ever recommends a big meal before a workout.

The Japanese beetle infestation is tailing off for the year. My roses are fairing OK. We have been getting slightly more rain, as evidenced by the new crop of mosquitoes. The cooler and less humid weather has been nice, too. On nights like tonight, Lucy and I would be sitting in the porch listening to the tree frogs, crickets and toads. We would watch the fireflies twinkle and enjoy the cool breeze. I haven't seen any fireflies yet, and I'm surprised to hear an occasional cicada.

The reason I'm posting tonight instead of Monday is I expect to be inundated at work come Monday. I was off Monday, Thursday and Friday.

And here's something for the computer geeks: On the plus side, I did have to replace the hard drive on my desktop system (Vista Business) which was relatively painless. And I have figured out how to get the VPN at work to deal with dual monitors at home. The downside, my two monitors are mismatched, so RDP (mstsc) has a hissy fit during certain screen operations. Costco might have some 24" Dell monitors that should work. That should allow me to spend less time in the office because I can work a couple hours from home with almost the same set up as at work. The video card I have is a triple head card, so I could run three monitors. The system at work has a dual head video card. RDP gets confused enough the way it is, so I'll stick to two monitors at home.

As I have been so painfully reminded these past twelve months, life is unpredictable. Lost opportunities can become regrets, so eliminate a huge regret before it happens. Make your hugs meaningful, and never miss an opportunity to tell your spouse, partner or significant other that you love them. Let your loved ones know you care for them, even if they know. Brighten someone's day by smiling. I did that with Lucy every day we were together. I miss her, but it's not the paralyzing sense of loss many people experience. I'm sure it's because we had no regrets with each other.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Requiescant in Pace

I did have to Google the title to be sure of spelling. Latin has some quirks when it comes to plural verb forms. The phrase means "May they rest in peace": Betty, Lucy and Bob. (Requiescat is the singular form).

Bob's funeral was very touching and upbeat. It was nice to see the outpouring of support for Steve, Suzy and Julie today as they bade farewell to their father. Despite the loss, there were still lots of hugs, smiles and laughter. Mourning is part of the healing process. It allows us to move the pain out and allow the good memories to fill in the void. There still will be tears and longing, but celebrating a life well lived helps the healing process take root.

Thank you to everyone who attended today. Thank you to everyone who sent well wishes to the family. Most of all, thank you for caring.

My memorial marker was installed today. I received a call from the cemetery while I was on my way to visit Lucy.
Someday we'll be together again

5, 6, pick up sticks...

(This should have published August 4th but didn't. Technology is cool when it works.)

The thunderstorm did very little damage last night. There were two impressive wind blasts that ripped through. My poor little anemometer showed a peak gust of 22 mph, but according to the Beaufort scale, the winds were closer to 60 mph at times. I did get about ½" of rain. Here's hoping I get a chance to mow the yard this week. I filled my yard waste container just with the clumps of leaves ripped from the silver maples

Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes! It's amazing how many restaurants start giving a senior discount at 55. Lucy was quite the bargain hunter and was looking forward to my birthday this year. I have a pretty good stack of Buy One Get One free offers. The problem is most of them expire between the 11th and the 18th.
Lucy's birthday was February 5th. We would each sign up for these offers. The six month spread meant we could burn off the calories by the time the next wave of offers came through.

Please keep my father-in-law in your thoughts and prayers. He's had a terrible year and is battling some heath issues. Losing my mother-in-law and Lucy eight months apart has not helped. He's one of the nicest people in the world, too.

It's still insane at work. I went in for several hours today and will get use the VPN tonight to try getting a bit more stuff done. The yard work is slipping a bit and the kitchen is getting cluttered. Lucy wouldn't be happy with that.

The rain perked up the tamarisk, and the blue flax are reblooming. The white flax might bloom again. The rudbeckia plants are blooming or close, and the bee balm and echineciaare having a banner year. Even the clematis plants which got pummeled in a previous wind storm are blooming like crazy.

I'm still trapping Japanese beetles, but it looks like they are winding down. I'm finding cicada skins all over the place and even got to see the final minutes of one emerging from the beetle skin and becoming a green he dragonflies are plentiful, and I saw a few iridescent damselflies this year despite the drought.

I did have to see Lucy today. Even when I was doing the heavy business traveling, we always managed to be with each other for our birthdays. The string is still intact, though I will miss her birthday kiss. That's one of the large number of adjustments one makes after losing a spouse. There are so many little things that go into a marriage, yet when all those little things are gone, it leaves a gaping hole. It's also part of the healing process. You learn to adjust and keep trying to move forward.

Thank you again for the birthday wishes!

Lucy's bouquet from the cemetery

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bob's funeral

Bob's funeral will be 10:00 am Thursday, August 9 at the Joseph Klecatsky & Sons Funeral Home - Eagan Chapel. Burial will be at a later date.

Please keep Steve, Suzy and Julie in your prayers. They have endured so much sorrow this past year. These are three of the best people in the world, very kind and loving, and I love them very dearly.

Thank you for caring.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Getting ready to say goodbye again

Losing a loved one is difficult. Losing three within a short period of time is horrendous. We were still healing from my mother-in-law's passing when Lucy died. Now we're dealing with the loss of my father-in-law less that four months later.

Bob was a great man. That was evident in how well his children were raised and how tightly they group together during adversity. He accepted his daughter-in-law and sons-in-law into the family and was quick to help with repairs if any of us needed assistance. His grandchildren were showered with love and he loved them very much. Even though he was on the quiet side, he had a great sense of humor and a very engaging personality.

He worked extremely hard to provide for his family. Bob repaired tires on mining equipment. He had a number of times being outside making repairs at -55°F or colder, or 90°F or hotter because the equipment could not always make it back to the shop. Bob work on on tires for wheelbarrows and the ten foot diameter tires on the giant earthmovers. I loved hearing him talk about his job, especially after he retired.

Losing Betty was hard for him. They were married 58 years and were blessed with four wonderful children. When Betty's health started to turn for the worse, he devoted himself to taking care of her until the end. Even though her passing was expected, it stall came as a blow to all of us. After her passing, his life was full of rapid changes and adjustments. None of us really had time to full heal when Lucy's time with us ended.

No parent should ever have to lose a child. Lucy's battle started out very promising but became more challenging as time went on. The last five moths of her fight were the toughest on all of us. Lucy's strength, determination and dignity displayed during her battle were a direct result of the love, strength and devotion she saw growing up. Lucy's loss was extremely hard on him. His health deteriorated quickly.

Now Bob is no longer with us. He'll remain part of us until each of our times on earth ends. The big paradox of life is it has to end with death, at least in the corporal or physical sense. Many, if not all, religions and spiritualites mention an afterlife where a soul (or lifeforce or energy) transcends after leaving the body. The afterlife is timeless and the person's soul can watch over those of us remaining behind in this existence. Bob has made that transition and is with Lucy and Betty. It's not the same as him physically being with us, but it helps provides a measure of comfort that he's at peace and can still guide us through our lives.

Steve, Liz and Micaela; Suzy, Derek and Kristin; Julie and Brady: thank you for keeping me as part of your family and loving me as one of your own, especially in these trying times. It shows just how great a man Bob was. You've honored his legacy well.

My father-in-law died tonight

Lucy's family suffered another devastating loss tonight. My father-in-law, Bob, died tonight at 10:45 pm. The irony is Lucy also died at 10:45 pm. His health has been in decline the past couple months. He was surrounded by his surviving children, his daughter-in-law, Liz, and me.

Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.