Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hello New Year


I just had a long long entry written to go with this picture.  I erased all of it as it did not do justice to Gail or our heavenly Father.  Here is Gail, the little girl who was so sweet, so innocent and remained that way until the day she met our Lord.  Here is Gail, our beloved wife, mother and grandmother, waving hello and telling us that the New Year will be filled with joy, peace and love for all who seek the Lord and rely on Him for all their needs.  Amen
Happy New Year and may you enjoy health, happiness and peace in this new year and new decade.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sitting at home makes one mind wander!!

One more note for the day.  I could not sit at home too long as way too many thoughts would go through my mind as I sat.  So I put my merrell slip on shoes, my poly longjohns, my wintergreen fleece pants and my camp hooded sweatshirt to go riding and looking.  I ended up at the Galleria in Edina, never been there before and I would say may never go there again.  A tad on the upper side I would say.  I saw mostly coach purses, leather or fur coats, skinny tight pants with bulges in the back.  I think those bulges were wallets full of money!!!!  Then any store I went into there would be some nice pretty lady come up to me and ask how I was.  I would say I was fine but what I really wanted to do was shout in her face, "I am sad because we lost our beloved Gail".  Of course I would never do that but it would have made me feel better!!!!!
I missed the birthday cards that Gail usually would get.  I knew they would not come but I did miss seeing them come in the mail and being so proud of my Gail that so many would send her cards.  I also missed dreaming about what I could get her.  Often I would dream and then I would give her a kiss and hug and just say happy birthday.  Gifts would come at any time of the year but usually not on birthdays or special occasions.
I have been thinking a lot today about how I should use my time and I may do something like Carmen's Creative Carpentry and make a few special pieces of furniture each year and then sell them for MUCH money---right!!!!  No the making is kind of serious, the MUCH money is a pipe dream which is not realistic nor important.  To start with I have an idea for a wall in the den that I think I may start with, can't tell now but I may do something interesting.  We can not allow life to get dull and boring. 

I am back


This was taken in the winter of 1968, close to Gail's 23rd birthday.  We are standing on the steps up to our basement apt in Ms Cox's house on the hill in Minot. Our first year of marriage we moved in June, in August, in December and again in March.  What fu??!!
I have returned from the gravesite and breakfast.  We missed having A/A there but everyone else was there and it was nice to do that.  On the way home I stopped and bought a mocha for Gail and drank it myself as I sat in Barns and Nobles to read Wood magazine.  The rest of the day will not be exciting.  Low key and at home with some work on papers, a nap as I didn't sleep much last night and I am sure many many memories of the "good times".  Maybe I will do some dreaming of "good times" in the future.  I have not been able to do that yet but I may try today.
Gail would have loved the day.  Not too cold at +21 and there are snow flurries in the air.  I think Gail would have wanted to get the grandkids to make snow angels.  For sure she would want to go on a long walk.  I did drive home along the river as Gail and I often did that.  The gates to the parks are closed for the winter so could not go there.
The grand kids were so good at breakfast this morning.  All of them wanted to sit by Uncle Travis and Faustina got to sit on his lap.  When Travis got up to use the restroom it looked like the pied piper going some place with that trail of kids behind him.  If I was not sure of who I am grandpa could have been jealous.  As it was I just smiled and had another sip of coffee.
I will end with my all time favorite Gail's birthday story.  When she turned 50 I ordered an Amish table and 8 chairs and it was a surprise.  We got it and stored it in Lizzia's garage.  Then we got Lizzia to invite her over for tea and while they were having tea we brought the table over and set it up.  When it was ready we rushed over, covered her head with a blanket and brought her home.  It was such a surprise and so much fun.  After that it was no more visitors falling through the seat of our dining room chairs!!!!!  Then that night we had a surprise party at our house and had Al/Deb invite us out for pie.  Then in the middle of pie we had them get a phone call and they said they needed to go home because of the kids.  When Gail and I arrived home there were 50+ people in the house and she was so surprised.  For sure our marriage and Gail's time on earth was very full of life, of love and I am so thankful. 

Happy 64th birthday Gail


I think a picture is worth a 1000 words so here are several thousand words!!  Grandma reading, Gail in her Wintergreen coat, Grandma making the last batch of lefsa she ever made, Leo modeling Grandma's last sewing project, Grandma dancing with Henry, Gail in Hawaii and Grandma packing deer meat.  The pictures show Gail at her best, serving and loving and being with HER grandchildren.  I could say so many things but perhaps most have or will be repeated in the months past or in the months ahead.  Cynthia sent me a forward thing named the invisible woman.  That was Gail.  So many times and after so many events you could say to yourself where was Gail.  If one would examine what just happened you would find out that it could NOT have taken place if Gail hadn't been part of it yet you really did not see her.  She often felt badly about the lack of order in her home or the fact that she may not have finished something but in the finally tally she was the conduit, she was the glue, she was the paste that held things together, that made things successful and she was Christ to so many people so many times.
I salute you Gail for who you were, for what you did, for how you served and for all the love you so freely gave to me and everyone you touched.  My only hope is that I too may reach heaven some day and when I do I will be able to touch your garment, hold your hand and hug you once again.
In an hour and half family in town will gather at the gravesite.  After that we will go out for breakfast.  I think the last time we gathered for breakfast out on Gail's birthday was on her 60th and we surprised her at the Hot Plate in Minneapolis.  This morning there will be tears, there will be laughter and there will be memories and memories and more memories.  We will talk about how much we loved our Gail, how good she was, how much we miss her and how she influenced our lives so much.  I will recall her 50th when we surprised her with the table and then Al and Deb took us out to Bakers Square so about 50 friends could gather at our place to surprise her.  Maybe I'll mention when the Dodges had a surprise party and as we pulled up to the house Lizzia hide in someone's front yard and an almost naked man opened the door to ask her what she was doing in his bushes and of course I can't forget the only birthday we spent alone before family.   That was in 1968 in Minot where the temp that night was -28 and the next morning a window had blown out of our car.
Gail, we said good bye 15 weeks ago but you remain in our thoughts and in our hearts daily.  Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Servant always


Here is a picture of Gail hanging clothes.  I am sure she was helping her mother.  I don't know how old she is but my guess would be 8 or 9.  If you look at the picture on the right she has that same famous smile.
Not much happening today.  I worked a bit on my 2010 calendar this morning.  John stopped over for a chat and I cleaned up the dishes, there were not many.
I do know that 4 years ago today Gail and I were traveling back from the family outing and I was thinking of a special dinner I would be making tomorrow for her 60TH birthday.  I remember that it actually turned out well and it was like 5 courses starting with homemade squash soup and ending with a ice cream and orange dessert.  I had given Gail her present earlier which was a Wintergreen wool coat with a coyote fur collar.  I will put a picture of Gail with that tomorrow.  Cynthia is now enjoying the coat.  Gail only wore it a few times because she thought it was too nice.  I am sure as time went on it would have become her only winter coat but that was our Gail.
I am looking forward to Al and Deb's 3rd annual ping pong and cribbage tournament this Saturday.  I am not sure what I will bring as making food to bring places is a bit chancey for me at this point.  I think Gail usually brought her hot artichoke dip with bread but that is too fancy for me to make.  Maybe next year.
I probably said this dozens of time in the past but as I look around and think of what I would like to do it is almost mind boggling.  Gail did so much and I did so much but much of what I did Gail never did and much of what she did I never did.  An example would be I did all the car things so Gail probably had not put gas in the car for many many years.  I actually don't think she ever thought to look at the gas gauge.  On the other had I never did the clothes, they always just showed up folded in the dresser.  So life changes, it becomes a bit more complicated and actually more time consuming but I, like anyone, need to change with the times, rely on the Lord and move forward with what God has for me. 
Time to sign off.

A very difficult day


This picture is of Gail and Cynthia finding play tickets in their pizzia at Lizzia's house.  They were so excited.
It is no almost 1:00 AM and I can not sleep.  My oh my Monday was a difficult day.  I decided to go through many papers that had piled up for the last several months.  I just could not stop those tears.  Everything from the last thing Gail wrote 3 days before she died to notes from 5 years ago.  I just kept thinking, remembering, wondering and about everything else.  I keep saying that things will get better after her birthday on Wednesday but I really do not know.  When I really sit down to think about these last 11 months I just say I can not believe it and I do not want to accept it.  I know I must believe and I must accept and I must move on but today I just could not get so many thoughts out of my head.  It may not help that I don't sleep real well and I have a sore throat and sores in my nose but regardless of what is happening this morning was like a bad dream.  I just walked around the house and thought about all the dreams we had and now everything is in my lap and I said I don't want it to be this way.  I want Gail back.  Maybe today will be better.  I will try to get some sleep.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Living in luxury

Here is Josh with Neil and Aaron with Cynthia. Josh was best of friends with the 3 boys. He, Travis and John were in many bike races together and we have many memories of our CA family vacation that Josh was part of. Neil and Cynthia are close in age, Aaron and Josh's sister Carolyne are close in age and Josh was between Travis and John.
I am living in luxury today. Here I am lounging in my poly underwear, my Wintergreen warm pants and my Patagonia fuzzy top and of course my slippers. As I sit at my computer I can see the temp gauge across the room which has the outdoor temp and it is starting to go down a bit and it is 9:45 AM. Well I just may stay inside with my winter wear on and enjoy the good life. I even am enjoying a quick release gadget for my tripod thanks to Santa John. Couldn't be much easier than this. I also am enjoying my 1/1 macro lens that works with my digital camera. You probably know that I am putting up a big smoke screen for missing my Gail. Actually I am comfortable but for sure I wish I could be uncomfortable with Gail-- it is not to be.
I am so ready for Christmas to be in the past. Christmas without my Gail was kind of like a hamburger without homemade potato salad, tolerable but not enjoyable.
I had my delicious Kona coffee this morning but I failed for breakfast. I broke down and had warmed over sloppy joes, it was so easy as leftovers were in the fridge. Maybe I will turn over a new leaf in 2010. I had better as it is the start of a new year, a new decade and for me perhaps a new whatever. I am not sure how a 62 year old can be new but trying is better than turning over and giving up. I may call my life a success if I can keep the house ordered, the floors dusted, the dishes washed, the clothes clean and then don't eat too much. I really should bring a sack of cookies, candy, nuts etc. to John/Mary as those boys can run it off in an hour and that is not so easy for us more mature people!!
No, I need to do more lounging, more photos and maybe a nap!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I learned a lot!!!!!!
























On the left is Audrey and on the right is Faustina
I went to the Mall of America and Southdale and learned many things. Some of them:
1. Driving in the Mall of America parking lot on Sunday afternoon you need Nascar driving skills and then a little luck may be good too.
2. Almost everyone at the MOA is younger than this dinosaur.
3. If you were to buy a cup of coffee at every coffee place at the MOA you would have to go to the bathroom often!!
4. There is NOTHING I need to buy.
5. I think everyone in America shops on Sunday afternoon.
6. There are many more lookers than shoppers.
7. Victoria's Secret is misnamed. As I walked by I looked at the pictures and she has no secrets!!
8. I have read that ads for Abercrombie and Fitch are suggestive. I walked into the Southdale store and that is not true, they are porno.
9. Too many people eat too much food at the malls
10. If you go to the MOA take your coat off as soon as you arrive!
11. I was reminded again that now that Gail is not here my desire to shop is perhaps 10% of what it was and I wasn't big on shopping before. Much of what I would window shop or just look and dream about was related to Gail so end of story.
Now you know what I learned. Not too useful. I also found out that I am out of the loop as far as shopping goes. I went looking for a store that doesn't even exist anymore. How bad is that?
I am doing nothing the rest of the day and I think that will be OK.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ramblings

Henry, Liam, Leo and Jude all lined up for that important picture.
This blog gives me a way to lay out thoughts. Tonight I need to ramble so if you are reading this and thinking you should be doing something important you may want to skip this!
Here I am alone again. Everyone has left and it is very quiet. I haven't even turned the music on. The light in the living room is only shining on baby Jesus. The tree stands decorated but dark as it has all Advent. Christmas 2009 is now history. Aaron and Amy will drive back to Madison tomorrow and it may be several months until they return here. John and Mary will turn their attention to getting ready to head to South Bend towards the end of next week for New Years. Travis said he will call Monday and I am not sure what Cynthia/Mike will be doing. I do know that Cynthia has been having some eye problems so she needs to figure why and get that behind her. The next "day" will be next Wednesday as Gail would have been 64 on December 30. Some of us will gather at the cemetery at 7:45 and then all go out for breakfast at 8:00. I do remember many of Gail's special birthdays. The nativity scene on her 40Th, the table on her 50Th, the special meal on her 60Th and there were others as well. I also remember the first birthday we celebrated together, it was in Ms Cox's basement apt which we were renting for 3 months and I made her a cake and gave her a cutting board. I have the picture hanging in the kitchen now.
I have many thoughts tonight. Last year Gail and I were probably sitting in the living room talking after all the business of the day. We had NO idea that Gail's cancer had returned to her body. We were "up" as we had been walking and losing weight. We were in the middle of the 18000 piece puzzle and Gail just could not stay away from it. Life was good as Cyn was expecting in May, it looked like we were finally getting some house projects done. All 1100 shakes were up and I was looking at doing the windows next summer. Little did we know and little did I know what the next Christmas would be like. Tonight it is so different of course. Gail is in heaven, Family continues to grow and expand. I am in the beginning of trying to figure out how to be an "I" again. I took a short walk tonight down the street. As I looked in the windows of homes some had lights on, some were dark and some looked like the owner may be away for some time. Many of the people I know somewhat. Judy, next door is dealing with her husband in a nursing home and she says living alone is very difficult, Mary Pat next to her is single and I don't know a lot about her but I do think why?, next to her is a couple who I say hi to and next to them is a lady who lives alone. Across the street there is a house where I know the marriage is very different and not very good, next to that is a couple who came to my open house and seem so nice, and next to them is a house that I don't care to know any more about. Down the street there is a man who comes and goes as if he is always on the go and gone most of the time. I thought God has all of us in such different situations and we need to make the most of what we have. I have always said and I do believe that when the door shuts in the front of a house nobody knows what happens behind that door. It may be life giving or it may be terrible but often we do not know. With all those thoughts I had to say I am grateful. I am grateful for what God has given me. I do not know why he chose me to live in such a wonderful Christian Community, I do not know why he gave me Gail for so long, and I sure do not know nor understand why Gail had to leave at the age of 63, I don't know why I have 7 healthy children or why I am blessed with almost 7 grand children. With all the blessings I am still so lonesome and so sad and so empty and God has told me that he understands but he assured me it will pass and there will once again be sunshine in the morning.
I printed out our new family picture but I am not sure when I will be able to put it up. There is something in me that says when I take the one down from last year and put up a new one there will be another moment of "truth" to Gail's being gone. I know that she is gone but there are little moments that trigger the truth and this will be one of them. I thought about putting an insert of her in the family picture but of course I know that is not the thing to do.
I have been thinking much about the passing of loved ones in my life. I have thought about my grandpa and grandma, about my mother and dad, about Gail's dad, about Scotty, about DeeAnne and others as well. The more I think the more I realize that life is short, it is precious and one needs to make the most of each moment. Actually I think that one thing that was so special about Gail was she lived for the moment, in the moment and did not dwell on moments in the past.
I have run out of words, out of emotions and out of energy.

Hail hail the gangs all here

It was a day that Gail must have been smiling on as she would have enjoyed a grand time. Everyone here, kids running around, good food, laughter and all the rest that make a family gathering so wonderful.
Here is our family for today. In a month there will be another added. We missed Gail so much. Grandpa gave everyone personalized calendars and the memories were touching. Mary gave Cynthia a book of mother that Mary made and it invoked laughs, tears and memories from years gone by. There was much talk about our Gail, honey, mother, grandmother and champion family person of all time. If she could have been here it would have been a perfect day but instead of the hugs, the kisses and the warm laughter there were "I remember....", "I can't believe mother did......", "I know mother would have ...." and the list could go on and on. I detected more tears, more smiles and a spirit of "if only" but no that can't be so we live on and we will move forward in honor of mother.
Everyone brought food again and many of us ate too much. My sloppy joe receipt was a keeper so I will have to remember how to do it.
What did I take away from this day? Well a few things are: life is changed and it will continue to change, we will miss Gail forever, Jesus is the reason for the season, grand kids are certainly grand, I am so thankful for my children and I am so proud of them and lastly I have kind of put some meaning to my love for Gail and her love for me. I am happy with the results of what God put together when we were married. Gail had her faults, I had more but in spite of those our intentions were good most of the time and God honored our efforts. I now have a better understanding of the physical side of love, the emotional side of love, the spiritual side of love and perhaps most of all the intangible side of love. Love is something not to be sought after but rather cultivated and nurtured when God gives it as his gift to each of us.
Travis, Henry and Liam are still here so I will end with one last sentence. When human efforts, when human work, when human plans fall apart there is always God's love that covers all.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Not so difficult but oh so sad

Of course the day was highlighted by grandchildren. Here you see Liam flexing his muscles as he has eaten 2 helpings of veggies. Each bite he and Travis would bump forks and down the veggies would go. You also see Henry saying with his smile that it's good for Liam to eat like that but we all know who is bigger and stronger.
Much time and effort was put into a huge snow pile in the front yard. It now stands with a flag on top, a tunnel through the middle and much work having been done. The main work was done by uncle Travis with Henry in big time support with other assistants!!
The day was not too difficult as I was kept busy from shoveling, to rubbing the rib eye roast and putting it in the oven to many other things. The food was simple but very good. Travis has become the shrimp master and everyone brought something. However it was a very sad day. I could tell that the joy was not there. Not in me, not in the kids and not in others. I was so proud of everyone as there were no complaints, no tempers and things like that but it just was a sad Christmas day. That was to be expected and I felt everyone did so well. Tomorrow we gather for a family picture and to open up the gifts as we adults exchange names. I will have to rise early enough to wrap some presents and to make sloppy joes by 11:00.
I have a new understanding of our family now. I thought about me decorating the house, Cynthia making some of mother's receipts like lefsa and everyone doing many things to make this Christmas season a happy one. I would say we were successful but the truth is even if Cynthia could make better lefsa than Gail or even if I made the house prettier than Gail it isn't Gail as she is just totally irreplaceable and that will always be the way it is. As the years go by we will continue to do some things the same and we will change some things but life is different without our Gail and it always will be that way. In realizing that I know that next year things will not be so sad but they will not be like they used to be with Gail.
I can't help but have my heart a bit torn when I watch the grand kids. Gail was so in love with them and was so here for them. Now I know that they will be fine and of course Gail is wonderful but it hurts just the same.
I parked the car on a side street after church this morning so I got it after everyone left tonight. As I came home I drove past the house 2 doors down where a single lady lives. She had been gone today and the plow had pushed snow in her driveway about 3 feet high and 5 feet wide. I doubt that she has a metal shovel and if that freezes it would be almost impossible to move so I went down and shoveled it. Travis had done mine so a good turn deserves a good turn. We received much snow and much rain today with temps in the mid 30's. Never have I seen so much snow piled up from the plow as it just snowballed in front of the plow. I did take my time as that is hard heavy work.
As I sit here at the computer it is so strange. Music is on the TV, I just heard ice cubes drop in the ice maker, most of the house is so still and quiet and I am alone. I wish Gail were here to talk to, to hold hands with or to give a special Christmas squeeze. I also wish she were here to make the sloppy joes!!! If Gail were here when everyone left I would have turned to her, given her a hug and said,"You did it, you pulled it off again." She then would have said,"We did it, you did as much as me." Then I would have said no, honey you can do anything and you always do it the best!.
I am really exhausted. I got to bed at 1:00 this morning and was up at 6:15 with several wake ups in between so it is almost bed time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jesus came

Jesus came tonight and what a wonderful thing. He came to save us and to give us everlasting life. Amen
Life has changed so much. Christmas Eve for years and years was the highlight of our Christmas. That was the time we went to church, that was the time we opened gifts and the kids of course could hardly wait for that time. I remember one year we actually opened gifts on the morning of Christmas Eve so we could play new games all day. The past many years there would be lefsa made in the morning, 4:00 mass in the afternoon and so on.
So what happened today? It was a nice time. Travis, Aaron, Amy, Leo and I were here. We had a very nice meal and about 7:30 A/A/L headed to Amy's parents. Travis stay for some time after that and then headed home. Never in my wildest dreams did I think last year that in 2009 for Christmas it would be like this. Here I am alone in my house finishing some gifts, having a snack, missing Gail and waiting for Christmas day. Still it is so hard for me to believe that our Gail is gone and I am alone. I have a little more work to do with gifts, then put the stockings out, take a bath and get some sleep. I am not complaining but I would say that where ever you are and who ever you are with enjoy the time and don't say something like next year I will have more fun to do more things or go more places. Don't put off until tomorrow or next year what you may like to do now.
Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

December 24, 2009


This picture looks like it could be today but it was taken in 2007.
A short diary today. Last year at this time Gail and I were making lefsa and getting ready to have Christmas Eve with Aaron/Amy and Leo. Time changes so many things. I am putting my best foot forward to be happy, engaged and with the Christmas Spirit. As I said yesterday the house has this empty feeling and spirit. I am so thankful for so many things but I miss my Gail so much, to the point of feeling sad much of the time.
Everyone went outside this morning in the new 8" of snow. We jumped on the tramp, made a bunny trail in the front yard and had fun. Wallace likes the snow to a point, that point being he doesn't like to do his duty in it. I was glad I had my trusty 25 year old Honda snow blower going as it was so much easier than shoveling so much. The snow can be and is often fun but for driving it is not so good.
It will be a quiet Eve tonight. Just Travis, Aaron, Amy, Leo and myself. We are going away from the Christmas eve fish tradition and having crab legs which I have never tasted. It looks like they are easy to do. After dinner A/A/L will go to the Larkins and it will then be a quiet night. Now tomorrow, that will be a bit different with more grandchildren, more adults and more of everything. They are predicting 4-12" more snow so I will say that we may not get out to the cemetery. I will spent some extra time near the Advent candles tonight.
May your Christmas be filled with peace, joy and the Holy spirit in it's fullest form.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A fun time

The title refers to the picture. Taken Dec 29 of 2007. We spent 3 days with John/Mary and family in Wisconsin at a cabin. Gail loved to do things outside. As you can see here we had built a fire and were playing in the snow.
Actually Christmas 2009 without Gail has begun. Aaron/Amy and Leo arrived this afternoon. Cynthia/Mike and kids came over for and with dinner. Travis also came. Cyn made everything and of course it was very good. A/A will be here tonight and most of the day tomorrow including Christmas Eve.
I held my emotions in fairly well tonight but my goodness the house really seemed empty. Of course that was totally the absence of Gail. I know things will go fine and there will be great food, lotz of fun and good conversation but for all of us from time to time things will be pretty empty. I think the last Christmas I was not with Gail was 1964. We never were much on giving each other presents for Christmas but the presence instead of the presents was always so important. This year neither will be here and life will go on. I will hang onto the memories this year and look forward to next time when I know the healer, our mighty God along with "time" will make 2010 a different story. We all know that nobody knows what next year will bring but I do know that my longing for Gail will not be so deep or so tender as this year. I really experienced kind of a miracle this afternoon. For some reason God gave me about 30 minutes of relief and there was that time when I was "up". It was so evident and so here that it caught me by surprise but I was so thankful for the time it was in my spirit. I am confident that the next time it happens it may last an hour or more.
I think it may be early to bed tonight as tomorrow, Friday and Saturday will focus around family and it should be fun.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Void of the usual smells

This is a picture of Gail's dad (Chic) (grandpa Saunders) who died in April of 1990 after having ALS for 10 months. Grandma/Grandpa stayed with us the last 3 months of Grandpa's life. I would guess this picture was taken about 1938-1940 or so.
As Christmas approaches I have become somewhat less joyful and I have been trying to put my finger on why. I think I have it. I have not put any Christmas scents in the air. No cookies being baked, no food being made, it is a total lack of Gail's wonderful presence in the house. Some how the stockings, the tree, the nativity scene and other things do not do justice to the overall Christmas spirit. At this time I am not going to try and change things this year but I will try to remember to do things better next year.
The group of men who do meditations on Tuesday had a nice breakfast this morning and then Larry B and I went out for lunch. Tomorrow I will have breakfast with Ernie R so all this means I will need to walk more. This evening I walked to Cyn/Mike and then over to John/Marys and home again. I think that is about 4 miles. After that I drove to New Brighton to deliver a gift and arrived home about 8:20.
I have said this before but will repeat it. Each day the reality of Gail's absence is more and more. Sometimes the loneliness is almost visible or touchable. I was so used to having Gail around all the time that each evening seems like an eternity. I have been remembering back a lot about when she was going through chemo. There would be days on end when she was so tired that she could do very little. In the evening we would sit in the living room and talk. Sometimes I would think that she wasn't listening so I would look closely at her and she would be sleeping. I would then pick up my book and read. In a short time she would wake up and we would start talking again and the scenario would be repeated. During those months of Jan, Feb, March and April that was our mode most of the time.
I have not been sleeping real well and I think I just can not adjust yet to being in bed alone. I would say that I usually wake up 3-5 times a night. I miss Gail's nightly pulling up the sheet so that it would cover the top of the blanket and then adjusting the bottom of the sheet so that our feet would be covered and then I remember that we had some of our biggest laughs in bed. There would be times when we would both be crying we had laughed so hard. As I recollect so many aspects of our life together it is interesting how the human voice, a person's touch in a certain way or that special look or that funny habit can be so in grained that a person almost doesn't think about it until it is absent and then the void is so large it almost seems impossible to overcome.
I have been thinking about my new single life and how I may be able to enjoy it as it has to be from God. However I have not been able to come up with anything yet but I am sure as time passes I will be able to make a list of things that may be fun. It has been 14 weeks now, that is more than 1/4 of a year and yet the pain, the loss, the emptiness is still so great. I am not complaining, really I know I am not different than anyone else who has lost a spouse but sometimes it actually seems to help in the short term to feel sorry for one self!! As I look at that what a goofy thing to say but it is true.
I think I will do my nightly mini retreat near the Advent candles.

Monday, December 21, 2009






















Thought I would end the day with a couple of cute pictures. On the left is Aaron with chokecherry stained teeth and on the right is Travis with that wild wild hair
May your Tuesday be filled with Jesus as we prepare for his birth this week.

A day to remember and a day to forget

As an eighth grader in Cayuga North Dakota in 1960 there were no sports for girls so Gail played the cheerleader part. From left to right is Patty, Peggy, Colleen and Gail. It is unusual but today Patty, Colleen and our Gail have passed away. I do not know about Peggy.
I have some hope that today may have been the fall before the rise!!! I put the finishing touches on my Christmas project of looking at pictures etc. and it was about 2 wet towels worth of those salty hot tears. I feel like I did way way back when Donnie and Walter jumped me as I was getting on the bus. I did even things out with them later one on one but no getting even today. It seems like I was hit from the left, then from the right and now I am just a deflated blimp!! But like I said things may be on the way up from here. Well, it is worth a thought I think. I even tried a Surly (if you don't know what a surly is you haven't lived!!) but it didn't help. It did taste good but it did not make me happy!!!! Maybe I should have tried several.
After the new year I need to find a way to put my 1200+ slides on digital. I tried to put some on a screen and then take a picture and it turned out about 70% OK or another way to put it would be 30% bad.
I think the day started out kind of bad this morning as I went to the bank to get a signature something so I could do some legal paper work. Those things tend to throw me for a loop because they are always related to Gail.
I am having fun with my digital SLR camera. It is actually more fun than I thought. Of course it is always fun when one can make something out of nothing (my light box cost 0) and then use it in place of something that could have cost many $$.
Again I recycled a lot. I had emptied many boxes out in the basement so I got rid of those. I kept true to my word, I did not clean or anything I just got things out to the curb for recycling.
Henry called and wanted to know about a movie we had watched last week as we had left it in the machine. I then went down in the basement and found the Stars Wars movie that he wants to watch again, that was good.
I just read on the computer that Tiger Woods' wife wants 1/2 of what he has. Let me see I wonder if I could live on 500,000,000 the rest of my life?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A day to light the fourth Advent candle

Here is Gail last Christmas with her "little angel" on the right and her little "blueberry eyes" on the left. Of course they are a year older now with many more ideas, unending energy and I know they are benefiting big time from Grandma's prayers from heaven.
It was a day that was almost routine. Church, some work on my project, a community meeting and then John came over and we watched most of the Viking game as they laid an egg!!
It is the beginning of Christmas week and it will be busy. I have a breakfast meeting tomorrow, another breakfast Tuesday, Aaron/Amy and Leo will arrive Wed afternoon, then Christmas Eve on Thursday and Christmas Day on Friday. I may as well be honest and say that I am looking forward to Christmas but I am also looking forward to having it behind me. I am not sad all the time but at church or at a community meeting or where ever there is Christmas singing I can not join in. When I try I cry in the same way I am crying now as I write about it. For sure I am lacking some of the Christmas joy but not totally however I still can not sing. I did have about a 20 minute time today where I lost it again. I thought of the birthdays since Gail died, I thought of Thanksgiving, Christmas coming up, her birthday and then my birthday in January. I do hope God understands because it certainly was a pity party but I could not help it. They actually do not come very often but I have found that when they come it makes it worse if I fight them so I just sat down for about 20 minutes and let it come.
Oh my I just noticed it is 11:20 and I do need to get up by 6:00 to put the recycling out before I leave for breakfast. Can you believe that now 6:00 is early for me when for 18 years Gail and I were usually up by 3:45. I could not do that now.
Lord please give all of us peace and joy in the days ahead.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

You gotta love those glasses

I think this picture was taken about 1995 or so. I think we were out to Valley Fair on a day when the temp was near 100.
Not much to say today. It was a day of nothing. No work, no play, no fun, no project work and no Gail. I did go get some more paper to print Christmas cards on and then stopped in and ordered meat for Christmas day. Saturdays in December are not the best day to be out and about as there are people walking and driving any place you go.
I did get my walk in as I walked up to Highland and mailed some cards. On the way back I stopped in to Moeller Jeweler. I used to go in and dream about getting something really nice for Gail. I had not been in there since Gail died. Stores are really interesting the way they try to sell. First this lady came up to me and offered coffee and help. After I had my cup of coffee she came over a couple of times as I was looking at Tag watches. She said to me that she really was not following me around. Gail and the kids gave me a Tag for my 50 birthday. In my world they are a very expensive watch. After this lady had come up a couple of times she went over to another counter. Then this young lady came up and was so nice and wanted to show me some watches. I was ready to tell her that another lady had helped me already and then I noticed that her plunging neck line left little to the imagination. I had to remind myself that this was a jeweler store. Perhaps I look like a fool, I don't know but I walked out with 3 watches---no no I didn't buy anything including her low dress. I thought to myself that things like that may be OK for a late night bar scene or whatever but in an "up" jeweler store, I think not. With my Wintergreen pants and gray hair I would think that "dinosaur" look would be enough to discourage even the most desperate sales people. Anyway when I asked what the "average" Tag watch would cost and she said $2000-$3000 I decided no Tag for the Kids this Christmas!!!!!! (I know my Tag was not close to that price)
I received a Christmas Card and a little Christmas square from the lady who bought Gail's sewing machine. She said she sewed it with her new machine and she loves the machine. It was one of those moments where you feel warm all over and not only from those hot salty tears.
I was trying to describe in my mind how I have felt lately and I have come to the conclusion that I feel like vanilla pudding. That is to say not exciting, not colorful, not going any place, just good enough to sit and wiggle a bit. I think the saying is this too shall pass. I have no complaints. If I could go back 42 years and someone would say to me Carmen you can be married to Gail for 41 years or you can pick any other woman and be married to her for 65 years I would take Gail in a nanosecond so no complaints, no regrets, no what ifs but it still is a lonely Advent Season so far. Not bad, just lonely. The kids have been so great, the grand kids have been wonderful but for sure they can't and would not want to be able to replace my Gail (I can say "my" as one of the pictures on the mantle says "to my Carm"). I also know that they miss their mother so much too and no amount of work, no amount of planning, no amount of whatever can replace their mother. So all of us will go through Advent missing Gail(mother) but also knowing that she was such a wonderful person we are all richer for having her in our life for so long.
I have decided that I will go to a wedding January 9 in Rockford IL. I will be able to stay with Aaron/Amy on Friday, go the the wedding, stay with them Sat night and then come home on Sunday. Actually when I made that decision Gail actually stopped dancing for a moment in heaven as she knows that weddings were not my favorite thing but I know it is good for me to get out and about so I don't become a hermit. I wonder what it would be like to grow my hair into a pony tail, bathe only when I smell not so good and stop answering the phone and just spend all my time in the wood shop? My nickname would be Kermit the hermit. As I read that it does not sound too great.
Enough as it appears I may be losing it.
Lastly Mary had a very nice 40Th party for John last night. It was great dessert and drinks and many people came to let John know how much he is loved. Mary pulled it off with flying colors in spite of an interesting day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Looking-Remembering-Wondering-Red Eyes

This is Gail on her Buster with her sister Deb and brother Al. I would say as a cowgirl Gail looked beautiful, cute, sexy and every bit a future star!!
Because of my self promise to not work, not clean, not throw ETC. for some time I decided to start to go through some of the 1000's of pictures that I had gathered in one place but not really gone through much. Oh my but it is kind of fun but oh so many memories and so many tears. I have found something that I will pass along. When you go on vacation and see something you want a picture of make sure there is a person in the picture. Now a picture of the lion in the Bismarck zoo means nothing but with someone in the picture is becomes a keeper. I wish I had the money that we put into pictures without anyone in the pictures. There are groundhogs to waves to forests to you name it. As I look at some of those pictures I ask myself WHY did I take that picture. Also make sure different people take the picture so everyone gets in on things.
Again as I look at all the pictures of Gail there is ALWAYS that real smile that says I love people, I love life and of course she was in love with God which always comes through. Never have I seen her look the part of the plastic person that sometimes you see with people.
As I sit here with my dark sumatra coffee with a dash of 1/2 and 1/2 in it I can not but wonder what we would be doing if Gail were here and well. I have decided that it is OK to think like that. I think that if I am free to do that it may free me up to once again dream dreams and perhaps even dare to plan fun things without my beloved Gail. I know that will come and it is that thought that keeps me kind of ticking. I had dinner with the Winds last night and my goodness their tree is so beautiful. I had to think of mine and then know how much better it would have looked if Gail could have decorated it. I did not put myself down, I just lifted Gail up I think.
I think that as I remember Gail and then look at our children I get a better idea of what we gave them, what we did not give them and who I am and who they are today. I have come to appreciate that parents can not give everything that they would like to their children but then if they could what would extended family and community be for? I think that much of Gail's legacy is in Cynthia, Aaron, Travis and John. I know that when Gail met our Lord he did not hesitate to say "Well done my faithful servant and sister."
One interesting thing about my past that I have known but not thought a lot about. I don't ever remember my dad hugging or kissing my mother. I think that with that growing up it has always been a challenge for me to show my affection to people around me. I tend to show it with gifts but after Gail died I came to realize that love is more shown with kindness, hugs, kisses, embraces and serving. I can see so well in pictures how Gail loved through serving from a very early age. I really need to work harder at that.
I think it should be back to pictures and I will bring the tissues with me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

busy busy busy busy

Here is Gail in the blouse that was my all time favorite. It was taken before we were married as she has her high school ring on. I thought that she could be miss America in that outfit.
I have kept true to my word, kinda. I have not worked on the house or anything like that but the task of keeping up with everything is almost over whelming. It seems that I am watering things, taking care of the dog, fixing food, doing dishes, cleaning, wrapping, shopping, shoveling or many other things. I have not figured out if I am slow, if I try to do too much or if my state of mind is just not too good. I thought last night I might be losing my mind and then I realized that I couldn't be doing that because I lost it already!!
I visited Gail's grave site today and it was the hardest yet. Everything is covered with snow. Travis had made a path out to the grave site but it was so so so dreary, isolated and lonely it makes me cry while I type this.
I have been able to keep up with sending cards to all that I get from. That actually is not such a hard task as I have only sent about 30 out but to do it on a daily bases makes it a challenge for me.
I was excited yesterday as I made a light box for taking pictures of pictures and it works really well. It takes the glare out of the picture. I could not find my flood lights as I wanted to try it for the first time. Of course on the way to the store to purchase new ones I remembered where I had put them, in the garage. Why I do not know but when I arrived home there they were.
I have been exhausted the last few days. Last night I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 and finally went upstairs at 1:30. Then I slept until 6:30. I am over weight, behind in my work and often make mistakes---to that I may have to add lazy.
Technology is advancing so fast. When I purchased my first digital camera a card that would keep 400 pictures was about $30. I purchased a card today for $35 and with that same camera it would store 14,000 pictures. Now I have a different camera so I can only store about 5000 pictures, unreal.
I left Sam's Club with only the card but as I took some time to stroll the isles and look it would have been so easy to spent a lot of money. Of course for things that I really did not need but they certainly know how to market things.
I have that one looming project that I would like to finish before Christmas so I am going to work on that this afternoon. It is fun and not related to home, house or garage so I think I am OK.
One last thing. I have been so happy that I have been able to pray around my Advent candles each night. Gail and I would do that but as Christmas approached there were times when we just said Lord we are so tired please accept our "desire" as "doing". Well this Advent praying around the candles has been kind of a mini mini retreat for me each day and for that I am so thankful. Lord thank you for your grace and your promises. Also thank you for allowing me to pray for what I desire but accepting your will as my path in life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is the corner around the corner or here?

Here is a blossom from Gail's Christmas cactus that I thought was dead last fall. I almost threw it away but decided I would try to save it. It now is full of these beautiful flowers. I really enjoy it.
For the first time in several weeks I made myself breakfast. OK, I admit that the last many weeks breakfast has been out with someone or cheese and crackers or a hamburger or some cookies or maybe not at all. For a couple of weeks after the funeral I was so good about making something, sitting down and telling myself that I can do this! Then who knows why but that stopped. Well this morning for the first time I made a nice breakfast and this time it was not done with the idea that "I can do this my self" but rather it was done with "Here I am, alone and maybe I should do what needs to be done for good health". So maybe I am changing from a bad homemaker to an OK one!! Or maybe, just maybe, I am turning the corner of life and starting to live like a single dad and grandpa who has much to live for, many things to do and places to go. We will see, I know one time doesn't make it but everything has to start with 1. I also decided that I really needed to turn down the heat at night like Gail and I used to all the time. When I woke up it was 59 degrees so I turned it up, went back to bed for 30 minutes and got up to 58 degrees, figure that.
I drove Henry to school and then stopped in the book store to look at wood magazines. As I sat there reading and thinking I just sat as if I were frozen. I just told myself over and over again that life is OK, it is fine, it is normal without Gail. Is that true? I am not sure but it has to be. How can I stop in the store, read for 30 minutes and not let anyone know where I am, who cares? Well such is LAG (life after Gail) and it better be all right because this is the way it will be for the next many many years.
No, Wallace has a hair appt! Now I don't even have hair appt so Wallace must be special. I am thinking that maybe, just maybe I will try to cut him in the spring but for now in the winter that will not happen.
I need to do something other than sit at this computer and write.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

May I have your time?

















Can't get much more popular than that. As Liam, Jude and Faustina try to claim Travis as their own you can see Henry's knee as he is in on the action too.
A busy day but not work----which was fine. I started out with meditations at 6:00 AM. From there it was baby sit Faustina for 2 hours and home. Marie W came over after lunch and we had a nice visit, then an afternoon meeting at my place with dinner at Cynthia/Mike's and then a trip to the store.
I have discovered that my emotions are more under control now but in visiting with Marie, who is a special family friend, those emotions were oh so close to the surface much of the time. I had not had the chance to share with Marie since Gail's death so the talk was about Gail much of the time and those emotions are still very very raw. I am not complaining as I envision a cry about Gail is in the future for a long time.
I thought I had my interrupted sleep figured out and now I am not sure. Last night I was in bed by midnight but woke up at 1:30, 4:00, 4:45 and finally got out of bed at 5:15. Not what one would consider a restful sleep.
I have discovered that I have been listening to the words of songs more now. Most of the time I have on the satellite radio which is part of the TV package and I always have the holiday station on. Some of those songs are uplifting but some like, I'll have a blue Christmas, I don't really need to listen to!! As has been the case so much of the last 3 months when I keep busy I do fine but when I sit and think look out. Sometimes I think back on the joke about the pope and it ends up with something like look a busy, look a busy. Now it doesn't come through in words but in my mind it plays out quite nicely!!!!!
This doesn't sound right but still there are times when I just sit back, think about Gail being gone and say I don't believe it. She must be coming home late or tomorrow or next week. I think about the house, the family, what I eat or wear, where I go and I just can not believe that it is ONLY me who makes decisions or cares or whatever. Of course I know and I have now lived this way for 3 months but really is it real?? I read today about some famous person dying at the age of 91 and I thought that is 28 years older than Gail was, how can that be. We could have been together so much longer but no it was not to be so what should I do?
I haven't said this for awhile but I am going to try to get to bed early, I will see what happens.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I may need to park for a while


Here is a small portion of the shoes left at the front door for the open house last Friday. Kind of funny!!

I woke up this morning at 5:30. I knew I needed to get the recycling out by 7:00 and other than that my day looked wide open. As I attempted to get out of bed I felt like I may just have run into a parked car. My body felt awful. Headache, maybe a tiny one but I just felt like warmed over rotten turkey. I did not start to feel OK until mid afternoon. As I thought about how I felt and could not get into gear I came to the conclusion that I may have just run out of gas. I thought about how in the last 10 months there has been bad news, dr appt, more cancer found, Gail loss of weight, wheat grass enema's, more sad news, camp sandwiched into the schedule, the loss of Gail, all of the things after her death, throw away time, recycle time, clean up time, bill paying time, cry time, changes, long days, longer nights, memories, holidays, birthdays and of course the list is almost endless. I have come to the conclusion that maybe I need to just be. Maybe I need to eat, drink, sleep and not worry for a while about anything else. Am I more sad today than in the past, no. I am just kind of worn out and worn thin. I think my body is telling me that it is break time, rest up and welcome in the new year with a renewed vision of love, hope and service towards God, family and friends.
I have decided to listen to my body for the next few weeks and see if there is more to this life than going, coming, listening, planning and those kind of things.
Time to go watch some TV.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A slow day

This picture has Ester, Bryan and Roxanne with me. I would think it was taken about 1964 or so.
I went to Nativity 7:00 church this morning. For some reason this Advent Season going to church is not easy. I made it through about half of church and then left with teary eyes.
I was able to get into the cleanup mode a bit. There wasn't a lot to do after the open house but I left everything yesterday so I did pick up and do dishes. I now will spend most of the rest of the day on a project for Christmas. Can't really tell what it is here.
I knew that the Advent season would be difficult and that is certainly true. It is so hard to be happy and look forward to things without Gail. She was such a bright light in so many ways that with her light not here the darkness seems to be ever present. Her birthday is just a little more than 2 weeks away. I was thinking of getting up on December 30 about 6:00 AM and sticking my head in the snow until December 31 but then as I thought about it common sense told me that would be too cold and my family may have me committed someplace!!! It is hard to believe that we have only 2 full weeks and a few days of 09 left and then it is on to 2010---a new year and a new decade.
I just saw John pull up so will sign off.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What's a guy to do?

That is me and Bennie. Bennie was a St. Bernard and bigger than me. I liked to ride on him and we certainly were the best of friends. It looks like here I am trying to decide what I (we) should do. Well, that is me today. The party is over, now what? I have been kind of walking around the house sometimes deep in thought, sometimes in tears and sometimes just walking. I came close to shouting at God. What in the world am I to do. I just told God I was tired of acting brave, I was tired of trying to be so "up" and I was just plain tired of being alone. He said that was OK but he had things for me to do so self pity would not get it done. I said that was easy for him to say because he had it perfect and then he reminded me of what he gave up in his son and I had to sit down to collect myself. I then decided that I best change and I will try my best.
Judy, a neighbor, called to thank me for the party and then she commented on the grandchildren. She said they should go on tour they are so cute. She even mentioned Leo who was not here. My oh my I am so lucky to have children and grandchildren who are successful, polite, goodlooking and so full of love and care. To think that there is another little girl on the way is so exciting.
I did get Christmas cards off to family. Maybe I will claim a temporary disability and take the day off from doing anything meaningful. I think I can get by with doing that for one day. I may even fall asleep this afternoon.

We did it just for you

Here is a picture of Gail 4 weeks before she went to heaven, it was taken the day Jude was born. You can see the signs of her body being weakened by cancer but if you look closely you can see her eyes are clear, bright and so yet alive. Her eyes remained that way to the very end of her life here on earth. We had our party tonight just for Gail. Over 50 people came to celebrate the season and to give honor and glory to our Gail. I was so excited that over $250 was left in the basket for the Gail Lee Servant Camp Fund. I was and am so proud that Gail chose me to be her husband for all of her married life. She was special in so many ways. Don't get me wrong I am not saying she was perfect but really so special in so many ways. I know that she would have been happy with so many people coming and having a wonderful time. Even though I don't even come close to having the "Gail" touch in putting up Christmas things or in being the host of a party she would have been so kind and told me a job well done. So many people helped, so many brought food so it was a family, friend and neighbor endeavor and very successful. Some neighbors across the street now want me to organize a Niles Ave garage sale next spring. I think I will pass on that one. Back when Gail was with us the only garage sale I wanted to do was to put a sign on the outside of the garage and say garage sale, the building and everything in it!!!
I was so proud of my kids who were able to come and of course those grandchildren are always the hit of any party. I am a bit concerned about Audrey and Faustina as they keep stealing people's heart!
One neighbor shared with me a relative works with hospice and they say the milestones for losing a loved one are 30, 60 and 90 days and then 6 months and a year. Well Gail died 89 days ago so I would say we had the party at a good time. I was so relieved because I was able to talk about Gail and share about her without many choke ups. I don't mind those so much but it is nice to be able to share with others special things about Gail without being interrupted by tears all the time. You could guess, when the last person left and the door closed I stopped, turned around to the empty house and lost it for a time. I would give anything to have Gail back but that meeting will have to wait until my time is done here on earth too so I will continue to step forward and try to have that spring in my step and a smile on my face. I know it will come, when I am not sure but God's promises always are fulfilled.
Here it is 12:32 AM and I was tired 2 hours ago so it is bedtime.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I better be ready

Here is Gail at Uncle Hugo's cottage in 1964. My guess is she is ready to go to church. This is a picture different than any other picture I have of her. She again has that infectious smile.
Today is the open house. I THINK I will be ready. Cynthia will be over here most of the afternoon and Ernie R said he would come mid afternoon. I do want to go to Dick Berg's funeral at 11:00 so I best be working this morning. I have been praying for his wife Jackie and family. Dick had been suffering for a long time so he will certainly have a great Christmas but we do need to pray for Jackie, of course it will be difficult. I will meet John L for breakfast at 6:30. Getting ready has been an experience. I really am not doing a lot but my or my it has been difficult. I am hoping that I am using most of my emotion (sadness) up for this party. If the whole holiday season is this difficult the end of December can not come soon enough. I have been dreaming about Gail a lot, thinking about her a lot and feeling all of my inadequacies in getting ready for this open house. In printing up a note to put by the basket in case anyone wants to donate to the Gail Lee Camp Fund I just had to stop typing and have a talk with the Lord. I questioned God about his ways, his plan and most everything. In the end he simply said "I will not give to you more than you can do". I couldn't argue any more so I continued with my work. I am hoping that I did the right thing with putting out a basket for donations for the camp fund. I don't know for sure but what I did is done so we will see.
I better get dressed for breakfast.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Back to the future

For much of December I have looked like I did in this 1954 picture of me and the dog. I think it was grandma's dog. She named it Whitey because she said she loved it so much and if anyone ever wanted to steal him they would never guess his name!!! I would say that I am holding on to memories of Gail just like I am hugging the dog. My expression says that I am a bit sad but as long as I can hug this dog (memories) I will be fine and sometime in the future I will get better.
I trimmed the tree yesterday and set up the Nativity scene. I have to adjust the lighting but all in all I would give myself a B-. I certainly do not have the the Gail touch but I didn't expect that. I also cleaned up the kitchen yesterday and today I am thinking of only the open house. There is a glint of excitement and a hint of fear in me. I want people to come and enjoy the season but doing it without Gail makes me a bit fearful. Not that it will go badly, but rather it is so so difficult to be cheerful in her absence.
I received my first Christmas cards yesterday. They came from Tony/Dorothy Flood (I think it is Flood but the return address said Binde) and from Kathy D. I was beginning to think the cards we usually get were going to Gail and she was having such a great time sharing them with her fellow angels that she had decided not to forward any of them. I checked the postmark on both cards and they did not come from heaven but rather from Fargo and Bloomer. I can not believe myself this year. I never was one to hurriedly open Christmas cards but wow this year I have been waiting and waiting for the mail to see if any cards come. As I reflected on my attitude I thought perhaps I was self centered or selfish but I have come to think that in the absence of Gail those cards fill some of the huge void. That may be something called relational thinking or it may be true.
For people out of state you may be interested to know that we now have 7.6" of snow on the ground and this morning it is -4. However that is nothing compared to Jamestown ND I know. The weather makes it a bit more difficult to deal with the loss of Gail. It is not as easy to go out the door and go for a walk and things like that. It also brings a whole new set of "firsts" and of course those are often not fun. As I was shoveling yesterday I remembered that Gail always loved to get outside and shovel and just enjoy the winter. The drops of tiny hot tears almost made little holes in the crusty snow. As I looked back on the sidewalk with a thin crust of snow where people had trampled the snow and my shovel did not get it off the walk I saw a couple of those drops and I cracked a tiny smile as I thought perhaps my trail looked like a dog in a hurry!!
I have lost my heart. Not to the loss of Gail but to Audrey and Faustina!!! Of course I love those grandsons as much as the granddaughters but those 2 little girls are just the cutest in the world. It may be their age but I suspect part of it is little girls. Maybe I can envision Gail when I am with them but if they had good speech and asked me for the moon I would ask when they wanted it.
I need to get up and do some errands and some work.
I can't forget. It is Gail's brother Mark's birthday today. I can never remember ages but he is the youngest in the family so he must be about 52-54. Happy birthday Mark.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another first and another cry

That is my sister Helen and I making our version of a snow house. I would guess it was taken about 1955 or 1956.
It surely is winter outside. Many cars stuck, much snow piled up etc. When I returned home from doing some errands Gail was supposed to be at the door. If she would have been there she would have said she was worried about me getting in an accident, she would have had an apron on because there would have been a snack waiting and I would have handed to her the things which I had gotten. Instead when I opened the door everything was the same as when I had left. Many dirty dishes, the tree was still bare and there was no snack waiting for me. Such is LAG.
I have decided to do something different with the tree this year. I think I will not put lights on it. Instead I am going to put the nativity scene near the tree and put two small flood lights on the tree and nativity scene. I will put ornaments on the tree. There will be many memories when I put those up this afternoon. I will see but for some reason I just need to do something a bit different this year.
I think there are prayers for my back as I was able to shovel the snow without too much pain. It does seem to be a bit better now.
No, I really need to get something done around here as at the moment it looks like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And the word is there will be no government aid coming so I best do my thing!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I am not sure what Gail is writing but it was taken in 1964 which would have been the year she graduated from high school. I am sure she was deep into some project!!
It was a busy day. Meditations from 6-7 this morning, then I had breakfast with Jim C. After that I split some firewood and did some work outside. I did twist my back while splitting wood so that is not the greatest. Then over to the Winds to take some pictures for Jerry and then back home for a meeting. Tonight it was dinner at John/Marys as today is John's 40Th birthday. The meal was delicious and the evening was full of great conversation and of course little kids but in the middle of it all I lost it. I just could not get the thought out of my head how much Gail loved family things and her not seeing John turn 40. This actually is our 3rd family birthday without Gail, Cynthia, Travis and now John. I just miss her so much at those family events and part of it was how important they were to her. Of course one can say she is in a better place and we all know that but for the present that doesn't ease the pain.
So far December has been a very melancholy month for me. I have not been super sad, not depressed or anything like that but it has been difficult. I think some of it is the "merriment" of the season but I think more than that it is a slow but sure change of focus for me. I am ever so slowly beginning to build a memory bank of events without Gail. I now have memories of 3 birthdays without Gail, I have a Christmas tree venture without Gail, a Thanksgiving without Gail and the list goes on. It is a slow process but now I can think of missing Gail and all the things we did together but I can also think about my life and events in it without Gail. For me that is a BIG change and a difficult one to get a handle on and to maintain a sense of happiness. I really do feel that as time goes on I will be fine as a single guy and there will be many things about it that I like. Of course Gail will always be in my mind and I will always miss her but time will take some of the pain and then I will once again be able to enjoy life and the things the new me can do but for now that does seem far off. In my mind I try to hurry things along but I have come to accept that there is no "hurry" in the whole process, it just has to run it's course, darn!
As I drove home from John's party I had to pull over and dry my eyes. I have not had a good cry like that for some time. I almost came to the point of anger but was able to avoid that and as I pulled into the snowy driveway I was in a pretty good place. I hope it is still OK for a man to cry because if it isn't I could be in trouble.
Another day without decorations on the tree but once again I will make a promise to myself to do it tomorrow. We will see. I will have to shovel the walk tomorrow morning, winter is here to stay I think so let's be happy about it.
I have been thinking MUCH about Gail's last few months of life. The more I think about them the more precious that time becomes to me.
Time to quit. At times I think I am a bit long winded.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I wouldn't go there

One could be tempted to say oh for the good old days. I thought about that and decided I will not go there. How could I "want" for the good old days? If I were to do that maybe Gail would have decided to not marry me, maybe I wouldn't have lived in St. Paul, maybe I would not have 7 children(3 by marriage), maybe I would not have 6+ grandchildren, maybe those blessed wonderful 41 years with Gail would turn out to be with nobody! No I will take where I am today having been blessed with so much in family, friends and community. Now if the "good old days" could take me back to good health for Gail and the dream of living into old age with her I would take that in a nanosecond.
The picture was taken in the summer of 1966 and that is me with my beloved Harley Sprint which was my only transportation until I married Gail. In those days I lived for the rides that we would go on and Gail would hang on to my waist so tight. Even though I loved my cycle so much the day we were married I gave it to my dad and having Gail instead of my cycle was the best thing I ever did.
I am still in the half work, half lazy mode today. I did some things but not enough yet. Travis, Cynthia and Faustina were here for some time this morning and that was good. I am upset with Cynthia because she left too much delicious lefsa and I am going to get fat!! I took a walk and ended up sitting in a book store and reading wood magazines for a while. I also bought some of Regina Candy's home make candy canes. I usually order them but forgot and I could not believe they had 4 left so that is all I got. I also stopped at Davanni's with a $20 gift that was dated Dec 19, 2006. They actually took it and gave me the balance in cash. So I had lunch and walked away with $12 in my pocket.
I put out much for the recycle again. That is so nice to be able to recycle things. I am guessing that I put out about 30 boxes that I took apart and another 10 bags of papers. I will be happy when that kind of work is finished. I think I am getting a bit burned out on recycling etc.
I think it had better be back to work.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Not a great picture but it was taken at Hugo's cottage in the summer of 1966 which was after my freshman year of college and Gail had finished her sophomore year. The top picture is of Hugo, Gail's favorite uncle. Hugo had 4 brothers and all of their names ended in o. Some of them were Otto, Hugo, Waldo and there were 2 others!
I was not able to get to the tree trimming today. I will see how I do tomorrow.
My sister Joan called and my sister Helen called yesterday and I so enjoyed both calls.
I went to a wood store today, Rockler, but did not buy anything. It is funny as now I don't have to be concerned about anyone else and could buy what ever I wanted but that really is not important to me. Of course when I say that I am limited by $$ as are most of us but what I mean is what we may tell our self and what is real are often two different things. In the past I may have said that I wish I could buy something but then I may say that is not a good idea because Gail needs this or we need this. But really the "thing" is not important, what really is important is people. I have always thought of myself as not a people person but as time goes on now I have come to realize more and more that life is all about people and NOT about work or things or money or anything else.
I am becoming a bit up tight about my open house on Friday. I have not had an ounce of energy or desire to get ready for it. I had better change or Friday could be a total disaster!!
Some time ago I called myself the plastic person because I had so many plastic containers from food that was brought over. Well I was wrong, we actually live in a plastic culture. I have been good about walking and getting my miles in each day. Well I would say that for every person I meet maybe 1 in 10 make eye contact and say hi. The rest look away, look at the ground or just stare ahead as if they are plastic. It could be that my face scares them but I doubt it, I think they may be plastic. I will continue to look up and say hi but I don't know if it will make any difference.

Isaiah 30:19-21

I have been reading the churches readings for my Advent reading by the candles and here is what I read last night.
19 Yea, O people in Zion who dwell at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it. he will answer you. 20 And through the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Very good words for me.
I finally was able to fall asleep about 2:15 AM. I have once again been dreaming about Gail. Last night she had on her wrist a beautiful gold bracelet that reflected light in all directions. It had layers of gold that reflected light off of her face and I was so happy with her.
I will work hard today and try to get the lights on the tree and trim it. I had thought of just putting the lights on and not trimming it this year but then changed my mind. I would like the tree to be beautiful and shine for all the world to see just as Gail shined for all to see.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Almost a 90 day guarantee

Pictured is Gail's women's Group in September of 2007. In front is Mary Ann and then left to right is Dorothy, Karen, Gail and Carol.
I cut down my tree and have it in the house. As usual, John's family and I went to a family tree farm in Wisconsin and cut down the trees. On the way home we stopped for lunch in the same small town cafe. It was yet another event without Gail. I have come to put new meaning to the term "90 day guarantee". It has been close to 90 days since Gail died and with each passing day it is more real and for sure in 90 days it will be 100% real, I guarantee it. Today Henry and Liam rode with grandpa in the truck. We listened to the "Cars" CD music and were funny and laughed a lot but it sure would have been more fun with grandma. At one point Liam asked when grandma would be resurrected! An interesting question for a 4 year old. It is becoming more natural for me to try to be happy. Don't know if I will ever be able to get that down but I will continue to try.
I now need to trim the tree and Gail ALWAYS did that. I will give it my best shot but my guess is people will come into the open house next Friday, look at the tree and say I bet Carmen trimmed that tree! I don't really care, it will be what it will be. I am thinking about the idea of putting out our Nativity scene on the porch. It is so big, it actually is the same one our church uses!!! We have not put it up for a few years because it takes up so much space. I gave it to Gail for her 40th birthday. I may have to set it up outside this year. I would hope nobody would steal it or damage it. I will see.
I find my mood changes so fast. I can be happy, then sad, then teary, than back to something else again.
I don't have much to say tonight. Maybe the day was a bit too emotional or something. I do really want to make Advent and Christmas special this year but it does take so much energy to fight through the emotion of missing Gail so much. Lord, you need to be with me in a special way for these next few weeks. I am not sure what I will do December 30, Gail would have been 64 that day. I guess I should practice taking one day at a time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I am happy, I am not, I am happy, I am not, I am


Here is the picture I have on my computer screen. It was taken Sept 16 and it was the first picture we took on our 7 week camping trip in fall of 07. I have found myself fixing on Gail's face in the picture, she looks so happy.
I am in a melancholy way this morning. I went out with Jerry W for breakfast and that was nice but now as I sit here I have no agenda for the day. I realized last night that I may be finished with 60% of what I would like to do in the house. The last 40% may be 100% more time consuming, more difficult.
I am not really sad, not really happy, not really anything. Motivation is hard to come by today, excitement hard to come by, anticipation is hard to come by and energy is hard to come by. I am not sure what I will do, where I will go or who I would like to talk to. I could start to get ready for my open house next week but that doesn't sound very inviting, Cynthia asked if I wanted to make lefsa tomorrow and I am not sure, I should get a walk in but really that doesn't turn me on so I sit here kind of numb, kind of melancholy, kind of sad but not really any of those. Maybe what I need to do is find some way to recharge my batteries but how is the question.
Winter seems to have arrived. The temp right now is +17 with just a little white on the ground. The house does not seem very warm or inviting and as I look outside I could almost wish it were April but that is not possible and I am not sure that would help either.
It is Friday and this would be the day that Gail and I would do something after school. Maybe my spirit is just not in tune with the new "I". I will try harder to be happy and to face life with a good outlook. Perhaps I need to just get my coat on and walk, that may help. I think I will try that.