Sunday, January 31, 2010

Early call

Here is John being the cab driver for Travis.  This was taken in the early summer of 1973.  I can see that the driveway is still gravel and in August of that year, the day before Aaron was born, we poured the driveway.
It was a very early call this morning.  At 5:45 AM there were footsteps in  my bedroom.  I went downstairs to turn cartoons on for Henry and then got 45 more minutes of sleep before Henry and I went to 7:00 AM church.
After church it was sausage/eggs and Star Wars movie and then John/Mary came over for a short time for Kona coffee.
I had an interesting dream last night.  Never before had I dreamed this but in my dream Gail was healed.  In my dream I had goose bumps as we were running around the house rejoiceing that Gail was healed.  THEN I woke up to reality and that was the end.
Not much to say this morning.  I am not real happy with Sunday mornings.  They do seem more empty than other days of the week.  On the not too good memory side one Sunday Gail was so upset with me she walked home from church and on the other side of memories some of the best are when we would have coffee and rolls and the kids would come over and just sit around and talk.  A person has to take the not so good with the good I guess.  It is kind of funny but I do need to remember some of those negative times and as I recall them they are not as negative as they were when they happened.  I guess to summarize it many many things are now looked at in a different light after I lost Gail.  Things that kind of were important now seem to be less important and many things that were not so important are now really important.  A small example is holding hands with Gail.  She loved to hold hands and for me it was not such a big deal but now as I look back at many of those times holding hands was a wonderful thing to do and those times I cherish much now. 
Tomorrow will have a camp flavor.  I will meet with the Boy Scouts in the morning and then there is a camp meeting at my place in the evening.  For the week there will be several meetings but the kind of meetings I will go to will be fine.  As I look at the week there will be at least 6 meetings Monday-Thursday.  Those old school meetings, I miss them NOT.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

See any resemblence??

It was Henry night.  I think that Henry looks a lot like his dad in these pictures.  They are about the same age here.
It was a fun night.  As you can see there were hot dogs with cartoons, battleship and a movie.  At 8:15 Henry asked if he could go to bed but of course there had to be a grandpa story first.  He found out how we made a shower out of a barrel and old boards compliments of Ronald (Red) and I am sure his wife Glorine stills remembers how that shower worked.
Perhaps I need to stop sharing some of these lonely times but at least one more time here.  Man tonight it was so hard and I am not sure why.  It kind of was like last night and that was kind of difficult but tonight as I walked downstairs from telling Henry a story I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs "I don't like this and I want Gail back".  I was glad that the tears did not come until I was downstairs.  Maybe it is just that all of those grandchildren are so cute and so sweet that it is hard not to share the experience of being with them with my Gail.  It is the same old story she is in a better place but I miss her so so much. 
It could be that Jenny (Dodge) was here for about an hour and we talked most of the time of times past.  Jenny had so many experiences with Gail and I and the memories were so fresh as we talked that I just wanted Gail to be back here.  Jenny said she used to love to come to parties we would have and I know many people were like that because Gail just did parties like it would be the last one in the world.  EVERYONE loved them and had such a good time.  Never did we ever run out of food, drink or fun when Gail planned something.  And of course at the end of every celebration when everyone was gone we would sit down exhausted and she would say you did it and I would say no you did it and in our hearts we knew we were so one that WE did it.
Sometimes I think I share too much or express too many of my feelings so will sign off.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Liam night


















I picked up Liam this afternoon and it was grandpa and Liam night.  The picture on the right was taken at Christmas but the picture on the left was taken during dinner tonight as Liam wanted to roast hot dogs in the fireplace.  He is now sleeping (I think!!).  He was tired so he went down about 8 with 2 stories from grandpa about how he had no potty in the house when he grew up and no bathtub.
It got cold in the house tonight.  I usually do not have the fireplace going when it is this cold (+4) but of course tonight was special.  I did not think of turning the heat up but when the fireplace is on it warms the living room so the heat does not go on but the rest of the house gets very cold.  As I sit in the den at the computer the temp in here is 62, a bit chilly I would say.
I wanted to have overnights but I knew the first time it would be difficult.  It is so much fun to have the kids but to not have Gail here is sad.  Liam likes to talk about grandma so we talked a bit about her.  He said he would like to make something for her.
I took a tape measure to the cemetery today with the idea of measuring some stones and then I was going to stop in and perhaps order one.  When I arrived at the cemetery I realized I need more time.  There are several kinds with benches and also it is very clear that in the winter the only way you are going to see much of the writing is A if the monument is large or B if the writing is fairly high.  So---I need to think a bit more.  The last thing I want to do is get something and not be happy with it.  I do not need to go out to the cemetery and say everytime that I wished I had done things differently.
For people who have not done this (I think that would be most) it brings you face to face with your own mortality as you make decisions about what monument to put YOUR name on and how to put your name on it.  I will be putting Gail's name, date of birth/death along with my name, date of birth and I will leave the date of death off for now!!!!!!!   So as you look at monuments they seem to stare right back at you and say in their own stony way: "Life is fleeting and you too will be here before long."   I am not saying I will die soon I just am saying that life seems to move in a blur and all of us will be facing death it seems in a short time.
Perhaps I have said this before but in this whole process of death, funerals, cemeteries and monuments among many other things I think I could give a great speech on the positives of preplanning and paying for things like this.  That would save many difficult decisions at a time of emotional stress and it would also save a lot of money.
I actually got some work finished today, I got about 40 containers of old paint out and I finished the birthday potato salad which was the most satisfying event of the day. 
No news from Aaron/Amy yet.  Aaron called last night and Leo was on the phone.  He talked and talked and I thought maybe his little sister had come but no, not yet.  Aaron said that Amy continues to work but if the little girl does not come over the weekend they will see the doctor on Monday.  I would imagine that you can't wait too long or that little girl may just walk home from the hospital.

More pictures, less words

Here is the inside scoop on Gail's family camping.  Now you have seen INSIDE their family tent complete with a fancy table, clothes hanging from the rafters, pots and pans and the works!!!  I think their camping trips were really special and the places they went were great.  This is on their trip to Expo 67 in Canada.  It does look a little like grandpa may have had enough goofing around by those kids or perhaps he hasn't had enough of his morning coffee yet.
Not much today.  I was lazy yesterday and don't know for sure what I will do today.  I am about ready to sit down for breakfast.  I already ordered off the CL menu and it looks like a feast.  Homemade potato salad, a 1/4 pd burger and Kona coffee with a little Baily's cream in it.  I know it is breakfast but unless you can enjoy life and live outside the box life isn't worth living!!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A day of blessings--A day of memories


Here is Gail, John and I in the summer of 1970.  My all time favorite car with the hardtop and a V8 400 that ran so quiet you could not tell the car was on!!  I have never been a car freak but I did love this car.  It had an 8 track!!!!
Yesterday, another first.  I had been with Gail for my birthday the last 41 years and had enjoyed a phone call or letter the 2 years before that.  I would guess that of those years we had Grandma Lee's potato salad made by Gail and hamburgs for maybe 25 or 30 of those years.  Of course the day was so void, empty, desolate, whatever word one would want to use that means something was greatly missing.  BUT there were so many blessings as well and for those I am so thankful.  I received may calls, cards, cookies, among other things.  The kids had a great meal at John/Marys with Cynthia's homemade potato salad that was excellent and the burgers were some of the best ever.  We missed Aaron/Amy/Leo like we always do but there was Henry, Liam, Faustina, Audrey and Jude there.  There were tears when we talked about Gail not being there but we (family) are accepting of God's way and know that time will heal the wounds.  Time will not totally fill the void but then life changes all the time and we can chose to accept and move on or we can chose to reject and be bitter.  Several years ago Travis gave mother a small marble item and on it said "As for Me and my House, We will serve the Lord."  Mother ALWAYS kept it visable so now it is on the buffet and I feel that it means we will be sad for now but we will move on and live in God's kingdom here on earth.
I am not going to name anyone who called, wrote or gave something as I know I would miss someone and I did appreciate all and everything.
So today is a new day and we will look beyond ourselves and hope for the best.  No birthdays coming up in February BUT there may be birth day anytime now in Madison.  I currently have no big plans, no travel in sight and I think I will settle in for the long winter left!  The temp has been chilly and will stay that way for a while.  Tuesday night I turned the heat way down before I went to bed.  Gail and I always did but then we had each other to keep warm!  Wednesday morning the house temp downstairs was 54--a little bit chilly.  There is nothing like pretending to camp out in your living room.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hail hail the gangs all here--1960 or 61


This is a picture of Gail's dad (grandpa Saunders) and his Boy Scout Troop.  It is by a fish house on Lake Tewaukon 1/2 mile from my home.  I actually can not remember what we did that day but I can tell you that for our cooking merit badge in the summer we cooked meals in the sand on the east end of the lake.  Then to get back to Cayuga we walked the 8 miles.  I remember actually running much of the way through fields etc.  Grandpa Saunders had such a servant's heart for the community.  Many details are sketchy but I remember that we were not always perfect scouts.  Grandpa is third from the right and as you can see Carl was about the same size and I was bigger than Grandpa but of course at the age of 13 or 14 he was Mr. Saunders to me.  Gail's brother Allen is fifth from the right in the front.
Yesterday was busy and I did not get any work done at home.  In the morning we had meditations and I wanted something special so I started a fire in the fireplace at 5:15 AM so it was toasty warm by 6.  When the guys left I spent some time just sitting in front of the fire but after that I spent much of the morning searching for my wallet that in the end was on the floor of the monument store I was in Monday.  Cynthia and the kids came and brought lunch and then mens' group met here in the afternoon.  At five I met Joe F for dinner at the Blue Door Pub.   Joe lived next to us and is 5 years older than John.  Many people think they are brothers as both have red hair, slender builds etc.  Joe's wife recently filed for a divorce so as I talked about Gail and cried in my beer he talked about his experience but he did not cry in his beer.  When I arrived home I gathered 2 items and then went to Sam's Club to return things and to Home Depot to return things. 
As I mentioned yesterday I have been thinking much about God times in my life. Yesterday after meditations I sat in front of the fire and just thought, cried, prayed, enjoyed the warmth and remembered God Times around the fire place, many many of them.  Some of the most wonderful God Times were when for no reason other than our love for each other we would drag something down stairs, spread it on the floor in front of the fireplace and sleep there all night.  I remember laying near the fire looking and listening and holding Gail tightly in my arms and this morning I said those were certainly God Times.  It seemed like it was a little bit of heaven right there by the fire.  It was great and much like the times when a person camps outside and at 1 or 2 AM the sky is clear and you think that you could almost reach up and touch God.  It is great because when we looked for a house a fireplace was not even in our dreams say nothing on our list but God just said here is a little something special for you and over the years it provided so much fun for the family.  Thank you Lord for your faithfulness and your goodness.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Time for some home made cranked ice cream


Grandpa Saunders is providing the staying power, Gail the arm muscle and the boys are supervising.  Grandma Saunders' home made ice cream receipt is absolutely the best in the world.  I think we made it for the last time at Amy's shower in July but I am not sure of that.
I think I am into one of those weeks where there will be triggers all over the place.  I traveled to the fair grounds to start the paper work for work there for this year.  It was Gail's idea that we work the fair after I retired so we signed up in July of 07.  At the time we had our choice of two kinds of  work during the fair.  One was the park and ride and the other was cleaning bathrooms!  Guess which we picked!  That led to doing other parking duty during the summer.  So driving there today the eyes were quit blurry and the tissue box was close at hand.  Then it got worse---I went to look at monuments.  Isn't it a quick snap shot of life as we await new life in Aaron/Amy's family and prepare to purchase something for Gail's grave site all in the same week.  Actually the big cry came in the afternoon.  I received a package from sisters Helen and Joan.  Inside was a pound of Kona Coffee from Hawaii.  Helen had fooled me a while back by saying she was changing her coffee habits and what kind did I like the best.   Man I swallowed that line totally, I blame it on the numbness after Gail's death.  If that is NOT the case I am losing a step or two and it is just too early for that to happen so Gail it is your fault.  For some reason the tears streamed down when I opened it.  I don't think it was happiness for the coffee, although it is the BEST, but rather it was the love, the idea behind it all.  Anyway I got over that and then took an afternoon nap.  Later I worked some more in my bedroom.  I finally got down to a fairly large box and said I just could not make decisions or handle it any more so I filled the box and it is sitting in one closet for another day.  I do however now have a fairly orderly and neat room to sleep in.
I like to talk about "God moments" which for me is a short short time when a person feels God so so so near.  I was thinking of those moments today and realized that each time Gail and I would walk to the Winds for a meal, that was a God Moment.  We usually brought something and I would carry that in one hand and then we would always hold hands.  We never talked about it but those were special God moments.  The walking hand in hand with Gail was part of it and the anticipation of having a meal with the Winds was the other part.  I am so thankful for those times and it makes Gail's memory so sweet and her loss so great.
I also remembered something else yesterday.  For much of December and January I had been wearing long johns and staying so cozy warm even in the house when it was 66.  Well I stopped wearing them about a week ago as the weather was so warm.  Yesterday I took a walk outside with a breeze and temp of 20.  Suddenly I realized I needed my long johns which I had forgotten about so today it is faze two of long john season.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Welcome back to winter


It is windy, the temp is 22 and there has been a light light dusting of snow.  It actually is pretty out and we would want this in a Minnesota January, right?
This picture is of my sister Helen, Judi, John, Esther, Bob and Gail's mother Marian.  I am guessing our John was a week or so.  He was born on a Monday so this probably was on the next weekend.  Judi's parents lived in Devils Lake so we really got to see them often.  John also would come to Devils Lake often for two weeks of guard camp in the summer.  Our John was the first grandchild on Gail's side so he was often the center of attention.  My sister Helen, I am not sure why she was there but I would guess she came to see John.  I tend to forget that at this time Helen was only 19 (I will not mention how old she will in August) and I can't remember what she was doing.  I think it was later that she joined the Air Force and my parents were so proud of her.  As I thought about the comment that Helen was ONLY 19 I thought but I was only 22 and Gail was only 23!!  WOW
I know I blogged just a few hours ago but I can't get myself out to get the paper as it will be full of you know what concerning the game so thought I would put up another picture.  An unimportant side note.  I got a call from the St. Paul paper 2 weeks ago with a special.  I could get the Thursday, Friday and Sunday paper for 6 months for 25 cents a week.  At the newspaper box those 3 days would cost #1.50.  I think they need to sell papers.  So now I am getting the paper 3 days a week.  Of course they plan on people forgetting to cancel at the end of 6 months but it is on my calendar!
 I almost forgot to say why I signed on the blog this morning.  I climbed, carefully, up the ladder this morning to look at my installed wire and the entire gutter, about 10 feet of it is totally clear---success!/()!!!

I needed Gail













I am not sure what Aaron/Amy were doing here but they will have smiles like that again soon as they wait for that baby to come.  She is due (she means the baby!) January 27 so lets see what the date will be.  For Amy's sake I hope it comes early but my prediction is February 1 at 5:45 AM.
I finished watching "The Greatest Game ever played" on TV.  It was a wonderful movie.  But it is a bit late now which means it is Monday.
I needed Gail yesterday.  I decided to get the ice out of the down spout on the south side of the house and to do that I needed to get up on the top rung of the ladder.  Now that is a bit dangerous on the ice etc so I needed Gail to hold the ladder but, no dice so I did it solo.  No fall so all is fine.  After the meeting I got the remainder of the ice out and then after the game I actually put the cord in so all done with that.  I kind of like challenges like that.  I tied a window weight to the cord, climbed the ladder and lowered it down with the weight first.  Kind of neat and fun but of course it would have been much smarter to have done all that last fall in the daylight but then it would not have been so fun or exciting!! 
Looks like winter weather will return shortly so January will be back after taking a few days off.  BUT remember 1 week from today we will be into February.  To me winter is on the down hill when we get into February.  Now that does not mean no more cold weather and snow but in my mind it is coasting to spring after January is in the rear view mirror.  On February 1st our average high is 4 degrees warmer than the lowest of the year, the average low is 3 degrees warmer and we have 57 more minutes of daylight than our shortest day.  I love my Kare 11 weather calendar. The daylight is almost more important than the temp.
The Vikings could not get past mistakes.  It would have been nice to see them go to the super bowl but for me it was not a big deal.
Another short God story.  In the summer of 1971 I drove ready mix cement truck and it was that summer that we bought our house.  I started working at the school about the 3rd week in August and my first pay check would come October 1.  With that long stretch, a new house and many other things by mid September we had NO money.  We were about to ask our parents for a very small short term loan for 3 weeks.  We did pray Lord please somehow carry us over to October as we did not want to ask our parents for help.  I asked Gail if she would help me with making some things for my classroom.  She went to get some letters from our file.  Our important papers file was near the file with cut out letters and Gail picked up the wrong folder.  As she opened it there was a pay stub from my summer work with the check still attached!!!!!  That $100 check carried us over to October 1!  Of course in 1971 they did not have direct deposit.  Now a person can say that was just carelessness on our part but no I would say the Lord some how had us put that check in the file knowing we would need money in the fall.
I am wondering if I need to start setting some weekly goals.  I do get some things done so maybe I do not need to start that yet.  My week is pretty free.  I have a short meeting with Dick A to see if I should sign up for the state fair.  I plan on doing it if he will give me some of the jobs Gail and I had in the past.  I will not work 12 hour days standing in the hot sunny parking lot parking cars with the guy they have in charge of that so I will see what Dick says.  Gail and I wanted to do things we had never done before and we wanted to do them together so of course I can still do the "different things" but no together of course.  Gail's last job at the fair grounds was she and I working the lot for the Eco-fair.  We did the lot on the north side of the grandstand.  It was a wonderful weekend weather wise and a fun time.  That was the first weekend in May and Gail looked and felt great at that time.   It is fun to remember times together with Gail and sad that it will not happen again.  I talked with a lady (she is maybe 10 years older than I) at the meeting today who lost her husband in August of 07.  She said life does become enjoyable again but for her it took at least a year.  I know that I will have sad times, perhaps forever, but for sure in the many months ahead.   I do believe that God will give me a glimpse or a reprieve from sadness so that I may enjoy the moment or the hour or the day or maybe even the week!!  I may as well think positive and big, right??
I have asked the kids for input on what we should put on Gail's grave site.  Travis sent me 3 scriptures that mother had written down for him and said they were 3 of her favorites.  Here is one:
Romans 8:28   And know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him: who have been called according to his purpose.  I guess I will have to wait before I find out what God's purpose was for Gail to join him last September.  I am betting that EVERYONE loves her as much as we all loved her here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday


Here is Gail carrying John.  She would have been 7 months along.  She always loved everything about babies.  She loved carrying them, she loved caring for them and she even loved washing diapers!!  I am not sure why but we do not have a lot of pictures when Gail was carrying any of the children.  As I look at old pictures from 65-75 I am beginning to believe the only clothes I had were NDSU shirts.
I worked in my bedroom some of Saturday.  I am close to having it all cleaned out and things that need to be gone are mostly gone.  I think I went through the last box of cards in the room.  They were all from 1974 when Gail almost died in the Fargo hospital.  I wanted to get the room cleared out but of course it is so void of Gail now.  I have some things on the dressers but her dresser is empty now and all of her clothes are gone.  It will take me time to get that feeling that it is the norm now.  I know it sounds strange but I still often say I can not believe that she is gone physically from this earth.  I saved 2 cards that I came across yesterday.  One was a Christmas card to me in 1968 and she put a note in it saying our first Christmas together was the best ever.  The second was a Valentine Card that said that same thing.  Talking about Valentine's Day it will be empty this year.  We never gave each other big gifts or anything but I remember about 5 years ago I sent her a Valentine Card everyday for 2 weeks before the 14th.  That was fun and when she figured out what I was doing she would wait for the mail.
I will start to look at monuments for Gail's grave site soon.  Something I am not looking forward to.  It will be good to have something on the grave site as it is so so nothing there now.  I am thinking that it would be really nice to get one that a person can sit on but I do not know if those will be too expensive, I hope not.  I would like to have a monument in place by early summer.  
At 6:00 AM this morning it was 33 so it must not have grozen last night.  I do wish it would have been colder yesterday as we would have gotten a lot of snow but as it is we lost some with rain all day.  Right now it is dirty and not pretty out so we do need some white cover.
When I was food shopping yesterday I picked up a "Cook" magazine that has stew and soup things in it.  Some of them look very good.  I will have to try something different in the weeks ahead. 
The coming week is the last in January, hard to believe.  My schedule looks very light which will be good.  Not anything going on that is busy so maybe I can get out in the garage and clean a bit.  Also want to continue to clean things out in the house.  I really should make one visit to a monument place and at least start that process.  Also will make a trip out to the hazardous waste place.  I put about 50 containers of old paint etc in the truck.  Some of that was left over from when we moved in!!  I will also get several things out to the recycle tomorrow so like a snail there I go making little ity bity steps on the road to who knows where?
No I just heard my coffee pot gulp which means it is ready for me to drink.  Will spend some time reading the paper and drinking coffee, what a life I have!!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


That is John on the left with water ski at Uncle Hugo's cabin and of course on the right is Travis and Aaron.
Here we are January 23, my grandma Lee would have been 119 today!!  She was born in Norway and her family moved here when she was very young. 
I was looking for a calendar this morning and we always kept some of them on the inside of a cabinet door near the back door.  As I looked on the left side there was a paper in the shape of a little blue bear.  I knew it was there but had not noticed it for a long time.  I had written "I Love You" on it and had put it on something for Gail a long time ago, perhaps 5-10 years ago.  I never asked her why she kept it there but that was my Gail.  Of course that was a trigger for some tears. 
I have found that in the last many days it helps me to think of all the blessings God has given me and how he touched our lives so very strongly and so many many ways.  In the days and weeks ahead I will be sharing some of those times.  I will start today.
In the early 70's Gail and I started going to prayer meetings in Devils Lake where we lived.  I remember we had 2 big questions.  One was should we start tithing (sp) to the Lord and should we get up early in the morning to pray.  My salary at the school was not very much and money was tight as we had just purchased a house a short time before and John had started school which had titution.  The praying part was when can we squeeze prayer time in.  Gail usually had many many things to do and at the time I was putting in long hours at school and then trying to help out with the boys when I got home.  The first thing God let us know is we should give 10% to him and he would provide.  John needed shoes as the boys had tonka trucks and they ALWAYS went up and down the sidewalk with their hands on the front of the trucks and then they would drag their feet to stop.  They would do the same on the trikes.  Well Gail went up town knowing what kind of shoes she needed and she knew they would probably cost $10 or so.  She just said a prayer and said Lord please help us save money so we can give more to you.  She stopped at Pennys and there on the sale rack for $2 was the shoe she was looking for and in John's size--thank you Lord.  The second situation was prayer time.  We kind of thought the only time that would work was early in the morning but that really was not very appealing!!  Well a day or two after we discussed our prayer time our alarm was set to go off at 6:00 as we just did not think we could get up before that.  Well at 4:00 AM our bed completely broke as both of us were sleeping and our mattress was on the floor.  As we gathered our wits and looked at each other after we realized that the house didn't fall in we just laughed and laughed and said, "Lord, you win"!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Happy Friday


Here is a picture of Gail and I in April of 1968 as we had driven 400 miles from Minot for the shower.  Gail is wearing a dress that she had made and I am wearing the Pendelton jacket that she bought for me and I loved to wear it.  Actually it is still hanging in my closet!!
It seems like the walks and side streets may be a bit icy this morning.
As I was laying in bed last night I was thinking a lot.  Sleep really was not too near and I thought and thought about why someone would miss their spouse so much.  We all know that in a marriage there is the serving, the emotional bond, the expressions of love, the physical love and the life together but there just seemed like I was missing a word or phrase that would give more meaning to my lonesomeness.  After a long time I came up with PURPOSE.  Much of my purpose in life revolved around Gail. I lost my purpose.   I went to work so I could provide for her, everytime I would go home I would call to see if she needed something.  If she needed something at the store I was there in a second, I was concerned about her health, I wanted her to be happy and for sure the list goes on.  That is it for me, PURPOSE.  I am not putting Gail above God as I do live for him but really much of my purpose in life was to make sure Gail had everything she needed to be happy and be able to do what she needed to do.  I think that is it, I miss having a purpose in life right now.   I am sure that my motives were not always 100% pure!!  Sure Gail did so much for me and I know that.  Just yesterday, as I was making chicken pot pies, I was thinking that never again will I enjoy Gail's cooking.  She was such a wonderful cook and I think anyone who ever came to our house for a meal knew they would be in for a real treat.  Even any sandwiches she made were super.  Never will I enjoy that again.  Now it is me and my cooking skills are so limited my menu of meals that I am good at must be at about 3 now and I can't find one of them.  I know that many many things are more important than food but wonderful food certainly enhances many social gatherings and it makes life more enjoyable!!
Well, now I need to think more about purpose and how I can replace the "Gail purpose" with something else.  Perhaps woodworking or serving more or I don't know yet.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Grandpa day


Here is a picture of Mark, Deb, Al and Gail.  I am not sure of the date but Al has on a St. John's shirt and he was there I think in 67-69.  I am not sure what they are doing but it is cute!  As you can see Gail had on that darn cute cute head band again.
I tried a modified grandpa day.  I took Henry, Liam and Audrey for 2 1/2 hr.  I did not dare venture with Faustina too as well as all day.  Then Travis came and I did not even see Henry and Liam for the first hr as they worked with Travis on the fort so I guess one could not really call it grandpa day, just a short time with some of the grand kids.  I did then make dinner for everyone including the Winds.  Everyone said my chicken pot pie was a winner so I will keep it.  Actually I would have to say I liked it too.  Cyn then brought a great salad and Susan brought a super super lemon cake so it was a fun evening. 
As everyone left Jerry asked me if I wanted to come over to watch a movie and I said I was tired.  That was true but really I think the emotion of the day, kids and dinner without Gail was enough for one day.  Some days now are better and some are not so good.  Today with all the people and to do those things without Gail there was an extra emptiness in my heart.  Not too much sadness, not too many tears just kind of like a spring rainbow with a band of black in the middle.
My 7:30 meeting was canceled because of icy roads.  We meet every 2 weeks so I am guessing we will not make it up but rather just meet in two weeks. 
I do think I will go to bed early tonight.

Thursday


This is Gail in August of 1969.  She is standing by her 2 speed bike which was a graduation present as she completed her Masters Degree.  She is carrying John who will be born in 3 months.  The bike lived on in our family for 25+ years where it went to bike heaven at college.  In it's later years it was famously known as the frog bike. 
Not much today.  I will pick up Henry, Liam and Audrey at 3:00 and then have John/Mary, Cynthia/Mike and the Winds over for dinner at 5:30.  I do have a meeting at 7:30 so dinner will be kind of eat, talk and run which is fine. 
It is strange how Gail pops up in my life now.  As I sat down to eat breakfast this morning and prayed I just could not get all my words out as my voice broke and I remembered her.  As I thanked the Lord for all his blessings I had to work hard at getting the words out.  I KNOW that he has blessed me so richly but it was hard to say it this morning.
I need to get moving as the dinner has to be finished before the 3 little monkeys come and that Audrey is a handfull for grandpa as she practices her mountain climbing skills on beds, chairs, tables and anything in sight.  I am glad she has not graduated to those climbing shoes with spikes on or John/Mary's house would be full of little holes!!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just a picture


Not much to say tonight.  I found a box with about 50 slides in that I think Gail brought back from her mothers when she moved.  Most of them are before we were married and I would guess Grandpa Saunders took them.  Here we are (posed I would say) in Uncle Hugo's boat.  Again you can see that famous Gail grin that she never seemed to tire of giving to everyone.  Hugo made the boat in his basement.  Very nice.
This was taken in the summer of 1967, the year before we married.  It stormed that evening and since I had ridden my motorcycle grandpa would not allow me to ride home so I stayed over night.  Gail came in to the boys room with her cute little night grown on to give me a good night kiss and I about melted right in the bed.
I dropped 2 trays at Lizzia's house that were here from Christmas.  I brought the Gail book that Mary gave Cynthia for Christmas and Lizzia could not get enough of looking at it.  I thought I may have to stay all day!!!
I have men's group in 30 minutes so must go.

The apple does not fall far from the tree


Here is a letter that Gail's dad wrote to her.  I do not need to explain anything, it is all there!!
I found the hospital bill for the time Gail broke her leg when her dad backed the truck over her.  Here are the list of expenses: (keep in mind that these supplies were for 22 days!!!)
22 days in the hospital @ $5 per day         $110.00
Op room services and supplies                      $2.00
Anesthetic                                                           -0-
Lab services                                                   $5.25
Medicines                                                        $2.80
Treatments                                                      $1.00
X-rays                                                             $20.00
Special nurses board  0
oxygen                0
Cast                                                                $15.00
      Total                                                   $158.55
The bill was received and paid 11/20/1951
It does look like our health care has changed a bit.  Gail was almost 6 at the time and her leg healed fine.  In fact a short time before she died we were debating which leg was broken and we were not sure.
I went through a box yesterday that I had not gone through before.  Some interesting pictures and papers.  In it was Gail's health record book.  It is interesting and funny.  More later!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A very guiet day

No picture today, not much work done today, a very quiet, slow and peaceful day.
We had meditations this morning and then Jerry W and I went out for breakfast.  I did make a trip to the refuse with an old appliance.  I have been spending much time just praying and thinking.  I think I am at a place now where I can "think" and it is not so so difficult.  I may as well say it, of course when I sit my thoughts often drift to Gail and what if she were here.  I guess that will happen, perhaps for ever I really don't know.  I found myself looking at the months and seeing when the average temp gets a bit warmer!  I can tell you that our average high is not above freezing until late February.  I thought it would be before that.
Tax forms have been coming in and I got to thinking I suppose that for 2010 I will have to pay more taxes as a single.  I will have to check that out.
Actually I did do something yesterday.  Gail and I had a safety deposit box for several years but we really did not use it for much so I canceled that in December and yesterday I purchased something that should be fireproof and safe to keep important papers in.  I had thought about that for some time but just had not done it. 
I need to do something a bit different with the grandkids.  I do not see them a whole lot.  I would say that I have seen Henry and Liam maybe 2 or 3 times this year.  I think I enjoyed them almost as much as Grandma but she was the one to make things happen with them.  I can't do what she did but I need to do something better than I have been doing.
Time to get some things done.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A sad day


Here Gail is enjoying pancakes with Prince Edward Island blue berries.  She LOVED blueberries!
Today is a sad day because I heard that Fr John Oderman died in North Dakota.  He worked with us in Catholic Education at the school in ND and he was a wonderful man.  Gail and I never forgot one of our talks with him.  I think John was about 5 or so and he was giving us fits to say it mildly.  As we talked to Fr John he said that all little boys had a wild pony in them that needed to be tamed.  For some reason that was just what we needed to hear.  I am sure Gail was so excited on Saturday as she met Fr John again in heaven. 
I actually got some work done today.  I took all morning to take down the 18,000 piece puzzle.  I did not take it apart but rather I kept the pieces together and the colors we had separated in zip lock bags and then the parts that were finished I put them together on several boards and put wrap around them.  I need the space  as I intend to get the new electrical panel in sometime in spring as the old one is surely a safety issue.
I also purchased a red plastic container and some bubble wrap to put away about 30 glass Christmas things.  In addition to those things I did get a bit more ice off the walk in front. 
Your prayers were answered.  Tony, who was here last weekend and went home with a lung problem called me this evening and said that the dr does not think he will need surgery and he hopes to go home tomorrow. As of this afternoon the lung was once again working.   That is good news.
I spent some time going through the book that Mary made for Cynthia for Christmas, it certainly gets those darn tears flowing.  I can not have the book laying around much as that picture on the front is tooo much for me.  I do not think I fully realized how much mischief those eyes showed when Gail got that goofy goofy grin on and looked out of the corner of her eyes as if you had better beware!!!
Two weeks from today we will be into February, look out new decade here we come!  You had better get some things done before Christmas arrives !!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A prayer request


Here is Gail and Aaron by our tree in about the year 1983.  Gail loved those boys so much.  She always thought they were the best boys in the world.
My prayer request is for Tony who was here the last few days.  He developed a pain in his right chest yesterday.  He and his sister left for Rockford IL about 11 this morning.  Cara just called and said Tony's right lung is collapsed and at this time the Dr have not said what they need to do.  He is in pain and we should pray for a healing.
I have not much to say.  I think now that birthdays and holidays are over I just need to stay focused on God and live through these next few months as time heals some.  I could say everyday how much I miss Gail but that may get old.  I could say daily how lonesome I am but that may be boring.  I could say daily how much I need Gail but I need not say it everyday!!  So what is a guy to do.  I will daily pray, daily keep busy, daily focus on family and always continue to live as I think I should and then the rest is up to God.  I know God is close, I know he is in control, I realize that God's plans and his intentions for me are far better than anything I could come up with but the bottom line is I need/I must walk the walk to a full life again myself.  I can not hurry it, I can not avoid it and for sure I should not do it my way but do it his way, in God's perfect plan.
I did finish throwing out some of the old slides and now I have the number of slides down to 1200.  I guess I still have a lot of work to do with them but it is a start!
Tomorrow marks 4 months since Gail's funeral September 18---time does go by so so fast.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

That goofy smile!!


Here is Gail as she was getting things ready for my surprise 50th birthday party which would have been in 1997.  I love that smile that she would get from time to time.
It was a slow day.  Tony is still here and will leave for Rockford tomorrow.  Joel K came over for about an hour to talk to him.
I worked on slides much of the day.  I have almost gone through all of them and thrown maybe 200.  So now I have no pictures of elk, bears, mountains, clouds, airplanes etc!!!!  It was not too difficult to go through them but my it made my heart ache for Gail. for her touch, for her smile, for her giggle, for her hand and just all of her I guess.  The knowledge that she is in heaven makes me happy for her but her absence in my life daily makes me so sad and lonely. 
I find that I am more able now to talk in the "I" terms and even think sometimes in the "me" terms but it is still difficult to say "my house" or "my grandchildren" or "my kids".  The "we" just comes so naturally and easily and the I kind of sticks on the end of my tongue as I try to say it.  I guess I could brand the "I" word the peanut butter word!!!   I don't even like to practice saying I.  Enough.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Midway point of January


This picture was taken in Prince Edward Island on our 2007 vacation.  For some reason it has always been one of my favorites.  I am not sure what you feel like when you see it and I can't explain what I feel like but I would say that looks like me today!!!
Anthony Dal Pra got here last night and will be here until Sunday.  He and his sister came up from Rockford.  It is good to have company for a few days.  He has no agenda so it is just hang out, read, talk etc.
I did work some on slides today.  I would like to get about 1500 in order and then put them into the computer so I can keep them and use them.  If  I could get that done this winter that would be a big job done.  We will see.  Going through them there are so so many memories.  That is fun, good, sad and difficult all rolled into one.  I have come to realize that we did like to take pictures.
Travis was here for dinner and then we talked a bit before he left.  I said and he agreed that so often when I think of Gail gone it just does not seem real.  I just think of all the things we did, all the plans we had, all the dreams we had and then I look up on the mantel at her smiling face and I say it just can not be true.  However it is we know and I do know that it is time to start to live my life as it should be lived.  Well I think I have been doing that but I mean to live as if there are more dreams to dream, more plans to make and more things to do.
I have not had a lot of energy in the last few weeks.  I have been sleeping until 7:30 or 7:45 at times.  It seems that motivation is somewhat hard to come by.  I really could not tell you what I have done this month.  It seems that I have been busy but I am not sure I did much.  At times I ask myself if I should take some kind of trip and then in the next breath I say it sure is nice to be at home and not be planning anything---what is that all about??  I do know that I need to be real careful not to feel sorry for myself.  I can say well my sister Joan and Ron are older than me and they are still married, my brother Dave and Marlys are older and they are still married and so on.  Of course I don't dwell on those things but it is a challenge at times to not go there.  It is also tempting at times to not go someplace because it is just me.  I have done pretty well with going places like weddings, funerals and events like that but it would be so easy to just stay home much of the time. 
Well tomorrow will be a new day and we shall see what comes my way.  I hope I can see what needs to be seen, go when I need to go and do what needs to be done.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

God's love

Here is an experience I had the other night.
As I trudged upstairs for bed my mind wandered back back back.  I thought of how many times I had done this when I was growing up on the farm.  In the summer I would think of the muggy and hot bedroom I was headed for.  No air, no finished walls but I hoped for a west breeze so that I might feel the coolness of the evening coming in the window.  In the winter it was run up the stairs, undress in a flash and leap under the covers as I knew that the temp would be well below freezing in my bedroom.  It would seem like a long time before my body heat would warm me all over.  From that it was on to married life with Gail.  I thought about counting the times I would hurry up the stairs and spent a short time warming the covers for her or the times she did that for me.  We enjoyed sleeping in a cool room but it was a treat when we decided to use flannel sheets in the winter.  My mind then went to the months before Gail left us.  We decided to sleep in separate rooms as she was up much, restless a lot and so we used walkie talkies to communicate if she needed me.  I tried to recall the last time I slept with her but could not remember.  It seems like an eternity.  As I got into bed a few nights ago I tossed and turned a bit and then tried to settle down for the night.  I could not.  I found myself awake as if it was 7 AM.  I sat up and looked at the time and realized that I had been in bed all of 25 minutes.  I lay awake thinking of God, of Gail, of family, of friends and I thought my oh my how my life has changed and how Gail influenced me in so many ways.  I thought of her smile and how much love she showed me through that cute little smile, I thought about her gentle words (most of the time!) and how she tried so hard to make me a better person, I thought of how much she gave and gave and gave, I couldn't stop thinking of how much of herself she gave to each of the kids (I think she gave 100% of herself to each one), I thought of how she loved family so much it was almost a fault but not quite, I thought of how many times she said she wanted to be the grandma that she never had to our grandchildren and then I thought of something I had totally forgotten.  In 2006 and part of 2007 she had high blood pressure.  The week after I retired her blood pressure dropped to below normal and never went up again.  I though how could she have loved me so much that it would show physically like that.  By this time I was getting sleepy and as I lay back on the pillow and drifted off I wondered really what is it like in heaven.  Will I see her, really?  I woke up the next morning and felt like God's love was so close, so real and so powerful.  Then I realized that it was really God's love coming through who Gail was in my life.

Sept 14-Jan 14


Here is Leo.  He loves those animals and would not let grandpa have them!
As of today it has been 4 months since we said good-bye to Gail.  I know what she probably is doing today, laughing, dancing and perhaps is well on her way with a project in heaven.  If she were here she would be concerned that we get our walk in, she would be doing some sewing project and she would be so excited for Aaron/Amy's little girl to arrive. She would be pressing me for how soon we could go after the baby is born.  I so miss our conversations, our laughs and our dreams.
This is the first day in many that I have nothing planned.  No eating out, no company, no anything.  Well actually Anthony Dal Pra will be here tonight and stay for a few days.
I am excited, Cynthia/Mike will go to Madison this weekend and they will bring my bike.  Aaron will have it tuned up, put new tires on it and change the handlebars.  I forgot to ask him but I think I will ask him to put a new seat on it too.  Not a big fat big butt seat but one that is a bit softer than the one I have.  That will be nice.
Yesterday I was able to have lunch with George Wolney.  George lost Patty 6 years ago and he had wisdom to share with me.  That was nice.  He did say he was 72 when Patty died and that would be quit different than me at 62.  George said something yesterday that I had not heard.  He said for him the second year was the hardest.  He said after the newness of losing Patty, after the paper work was done, after the house had gone through some changes and after he had dealt with some money matters then he just kind of said what now!!  So for him year two was the most difficult.  We also talked some about how important the Lord is in the whole process and of course we had to ask how how can anyone do it without God right my one's side.
As we were eating Julie and Carolyn Becker were having lunch so was able to say hi to them.
I had Ernie R over for dinner so we could talk about plants.  I would like to start some flowers and veggie this winter so they would be ready to plant this spring.  Ernie has done that for a few years so I am hoping to use his failures and successes as I start.  Gail and I had talked about that but never did it.  We then had men's group here.  So all in all it was a pretty busy day and of course no work done again.  Somehow that does not worry me yet!  I was thinking yesterday that I may set up a place in the basement and do some work on the screens this winter.  I made two very nice saw horses last spring so I could use them to lay the screens on.  In starting plants I will also have to make something to put the trays on and then to put lights on them.  As I think about those things and then say I want to start my woodworking called "Carmen's Creations" maybe I will have enough to do. 
I just looked up and I see that the temp outside is +20 which is nice but inside it is 59 so I must have forgotten to turn up the temp this morning.  I had better start to move a bit or I will get rusty.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No work done!!!


Here is Cynthia in the middle with the Jirek sisters on each side.  I think Gail took care of them some times.  They sure look happy!
A busy day yesterday and no work finished.  I had meditations at 6:00 AM, went out with Jerry for breakfast, went to Mark L for lunch and had men's group over at 3:15 and served soup.  No work was to be done for the day--not a big deal!
Had a dentist appt at 8:30 this morning and now will meet someone for lunch in Burnsville at noon.
I just got a call from Cara Dal Pra who is in Rockford IL and she asked if her brother could stay here Thursday-Sunday so that should be nice.  Cara is coming to get some things as she is taking a semester off of school to be home and help with the family business. 
I don't have a lot to say today.  I did think that this week would be a time I could start to get a few more things done around here but now it seems that most of my time is filled up with coming and going. 
I still am and perhaps will be in the middle of many decisions.  It is oh so difficult for me to decide what to keep and what to give or get rid of in the house.  So many things are "Gail" and that is difficult.  I will pick up something and know that Gail had something in mind for that.  But what would I do with it.  Well the answer is often I would do nothing with it but is it worthy to be kept or not???  I really do want to declutter my house, my life and my garage.  It seems to me that to live a more simply life and focus on people would be a good and worthy thing to do.  I do think that is the direction God is leading.  I have also thought much about doing some things that I have never been able to do.  The idea of "grabbing the moment" and living it for God and for family is very appealing.  For me the decision comes when there is a gray area of self vs others vs God.  I do not want to be selfish but I do think God is saying to me that life is about serving, loving, giving and being and within that structure there is also a place for self enjoyment.  As I say that I still am a bit concerned that there is too much of "self" in my thoughts and actions.
I need to get somethings ready before I head to Burnsville.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A 1978 family reunion


How about those great looking people.  Much hair, slim and trim, clothes of the 70's and everyone in our beloved Cayuga Hall where many many events took place including our wedding dance 10 years before this picture was taken.  Deb Saunders would beholding John and the Binde's had Dawn and Dorothy and then there were the 4 oldest grandchildren: John, Lisa, Travis and Aaron.  The Cayuga Hall was truly a community place.  That was where basketball happened, roller skating happened, wedding dances took place, Memorial Day lunches happened and EVERYTHING of importance happened.
I am tempted to say the good old days but if I said that it would belittle how wonderful God is and has been to all of us so I will not say that.
I have been thinking much about God's grace.  What God does and how he does it is wonderful.  As I think back on Gail's last weeks I realize more than ever what God did and how he did it.  How he ushered her into his kingdom was so beautiful and grace filled.  The transition from here to eternal life for Gail was one uninterupted journey.  I know there was physical pain but all of the prayers were honored to the point that Gail was with us at times and at times she was with God right here in the house.   Because of the way God took care of his daughter there is no way I can question or even wish that things would be different.  Of course I wish Gail were by my side now but really in God's perfect plan and the way he so lovingly took care of Gail I have to rejoice.  Now of course the hard part for me is who am I, what should I do, how can I live without the love of my life and all those things are earthly questions for me to ponder and answer.  I do know that God will give me the answers through family, through friends and through his word but the question is not will he but when.  I think I read someplace that it is good to be patient, I should try that starting right now.
Today will be a bit busy.  Meditations, breakfast, lunch and then men's group all did or will happen so I need to move!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another day of memories


I came across this picture of Gail as the flower girl in Jerry and Rose's wedding.  The year, I am not sure but I know we went to their 50th in maybe 2004!!  If that is correct they were married in 1954 which would mean Gail was  8 in this picture as they were married in the summer.
I went to Leonard Kadera's funeral this morning.  He would have been 97 in May.  I think he had 105 grandchildren, great grandchildren and maybe great great, that I do not know.  The funeral was difficult.   I thought that may happen and I told myself to be sure to bring tissue but of course I forgot!  Mary Lynn Gaffney was kind enough to give me some.  That is about par for the course, here I am trying to live the single life and I still need women in my life.  For those who do not know Mary Lynn she is happily married to Brian and I only needed her for the tissue!! 
I was able to get a few more things rounded up for the recycling today.  Another bag of clothes and several bags of papers.  Sometimes it is difficult to know what to keep and what to throw.  Often it makes me sad as I know I am throwing things Gail treasured and had some project in mind.  But I do know that I would never use those things and nobody else would either.  So God had something in mind that neither Gail nor I knew about and I still do not.
I just could not contain those pesky tears during the funeral.  Some come from sadness but most actually come from loneliness.  I think that now, 4 months after Gail's death, I am beyond some sadness as I can tell myself she is in a better place but that does not take the lloonniinneessss away.  Mary Lynn was lucky that I did not take her hand and squeeze it out of habit during the funeral!  At times like that it sure is tempting to ask why but as I have said before that is a road without a destination.  I could not help thinking during the funeral about Gail's and my dreams about living into old age together.  Now I do wonder what living into old age will be like as a single man who needs to get his act together.  I thought about health care.  This is a bit stupid but I am due for that test where they put a scope up your you know what!!  They will not let you drive home after so you have to come with someone.  I am sure I can find someone to do that but I thought what would happen if I put an ad in the paper asking for a driver home after the scope test!!!!!  Of course I would not do that but just the thought puts a little life into one's being, life that for now is begging for some joy.  Now I am not saying that ad would bring joy in fact it may bring things one would not want in their life.
I am looking forward to warmer weather.  I plan to get out in the garage and get some order and then look at some projects.  I have not done anything, including ordering, since Gail's cancer came back almost a year ago.  My saw, drill press, jointer, planer, router and all the rest of my friends out there are lonesome.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Home again home again


Here is Leo and Liam at Christmas.  They are good buddies.
I returned home late this afternoon.  The visit with Aaron/Amy was good and the wedding was nice.  The Dal Pra Family has many friends so the wedding party had 8 gals and 8 guys with 4 junior ones and 3 little boys so the wedding party was huge.  I stayed at the reception for about 3 hr and then headed back to madison where I arrived about 9:45.  It was the first trip I had made alone since we lost Gail but the CD's that Cynthia let me use helped the time go by.  Of course doing something like that alone is not the most fun in the world but I would say the weekend was OK.  I feel that now I can get down to fixing the bathroom upstairs and other things around here.  I need to find the energy and motivation for things like that. 
Tomorrow I will go to a funeral at 10:00. 
I received a book in the mail Saturday.  It came from PA.  For some reason I do not recognize the name.  If the sender could e-mail me at carjlee@gmail.com and let me know who you are that would be great!!!  I will read the book.  I hope it is not from someone I know well and I totally forgot!  I can't lose it yet....
Being with people at the wedding without Gail was difficult.  That really is not my element and without Gail I really have to work hard to do what is needed.  It may take practice, something I am not real good at.  I guess they say practice makes perfect. 
Tomorrow is the 11th which means January is more than 1/3 over--time does really fly.
As you read this it is easy to tell I do not have much to say tonight, time to get a bite to eat.

Friday, January 8, 2010

An uneventful trip

I just put Leo down for the night.  I am in Madison and Aaron and Amy are to Aaron's work Christmas party and I got to stay with Leo.  He is just too cute. 
The travel today was uneventful.  Of course the trip was so empty without Gail.  I have not traveled like this alone before.  When I went to door county I was with friends, Travis went with me to devils Lake and deer hunting I had done alone before so that was not different but coming today it was so empty.  I guess I will try my best to get used to that and long term some of that will go away and then things will be OK.  I am sure tomorrow will be different as well.  It will be nice to see friends at the wedding but there will be no hand to hold, no arm to hang onto and nobody to stay close to when the reception gets underway.  I guess that is me for now and I need to be thankful for how good God is.  I know that I did not put Leo to sleep as well as grandma could have but I am sure he was OK.  I read to him and then sang to him for a while.  His new bed that Aaron made sure is nice. 
When Gail and I would come to stay we would stay in the basement which has a nice bath etc. and I am staying here now.  It is lonely being alone here---what else can I say.
I was thankful for the nice travel.  I called grandma S on the way and then listened to a story on tape that Cynthia gave me.  That made the time go faster.
Enough for now, I had better go check Leo to be sure he is sleeping.

Having a blast


This picture was taken in the late winter, early spring of 1982.  Several times the Saunders would gather for a great weekend of fun when Grandma and Grandpa returned from California.  Even though Travis has his eyes closed this is a great picture of everyone.  At family gatherings Gail often would leave this kind of fun to others as she tirelessly would work in the background getting food or just serving others.  Because of her servant's heart it was so easy to forget how much she loved to play, goof around and just have a lot of fun.  I have to believe that God, in his wisdom,blessed Gail with much fun as she serviced others.  She was always doing something for others.
As I was doing things around the house yesterday I sat down for a short time and suddenly it dawned on me that I had done NOTHING to get ready for leaving today.  No gift, no packing, no clothes washing, no card and you name it no nothing.  I realized that I had better get on the ball as there is no GAIL to share the "getting ready" as we always did certain things in getting ready to go.  So this morning I had better get on the ball and do things.  Actually the only thing I am a bit concerned about is that I have a shirt!  I better check as if I don't that is not good.  To wash it, iron it in this time I may be over matched.  I HOPE.
Mike, Faustina, Jude and Jerry W came over to watch some of the football last night.  Parts of the game were OK but Texas was a bit over matched without their star player.
I got a hair cut yesterday as my neck was beginning to look like a wheat field that started to grow.  The older lady who cut my hair said in 07 she lost her husband on Christmas Day.  She said it has been so difficult around Christmas now.  I told her I would pray for her as that would be so hard.
No, I had better see what I need to do in the next couple of hours.  I need to be on the road by noon.  I will return sometime on Sunday.  Gail is wondering what she did wrong.  Weddings were not my favorite thing to go to and here it is the second wedding I am going to since she died.  Not only that but to travel 400 miles to this one I am sure Gail is shaking her head---If they do that in heaven.  Maybe she has no questions but she is just so glad that I have changed!!!!
Have a great weekend and stay warm

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Man of the day


Here he is, our birthday guy of the day.  Gail's brother Allen as he was as a freshman in high school.  He still has that great smile. 
I had a fresh insight into who Gail was and why she was so special to so many people.  Last night we had a men's night in our Christian Community.  We had it at our school/offices which is at River Ridge.  As we sat in the auditorium there were maybe 75 men listening to Joel's talk on friendship with Jesus.  The prayer service for Gail in September was in that same place.  Many thoughts flooded back to mind about that day but what really struck me was something Joel said about love.  Joel said that giving gifts is not love, it is a gesture of love.  Love is giving of ourselves.  I just sat there and said, that was 100% Gail.  She gave all of herself to everyone she encountered.  That is why so many many people have told me that Gail made them feel so special and they knew they had this special connection to her.  Of course, when you give yourself in service, in conversation or in whatever you are doing with another person they do feel special.  I don't think that was a new insight, it just struck me anew yesterday and it made my day.  As I have said before there was no "pretend" or no "airs" about Gail.  When you engaged in something with her you got her, totally.  Now there were times when a word or something came out and it caused some eyes to roll or some questioning but she was so honest, so up front that it was beautiful if not worrisome at times.  I think in that regard she was a version of her dad without some of the temper Grandpa Saunders had at times.  I do need to qualify that by saying that I talk about his temper not in a negative way however I did hear stories that could be interpreted a bit on the negative side!!!!  Actually I think many of us today could use a bit more temper if we would focus it towards many of the injustices we see in our culture.
Not much new today.  I do think that I am going to ask more questions on my blog.  I was totally surprised when I put out the date of my parents wedding ALL threee siblings commented.  Even to see a few words from them was great!!!!   Now let's see if I get comments on that.
I do need to get outside to shovel.  I am guessing we have gotten an inch or two of snow last night and today. 
I made some changes in the kitchen so I will have to see what Henry says.  When I changed the den around a bit he told me he liked it the way it was.  Which of course was his way of saying I miss grandma.  I was thinking of Gail this morning (I do every morning) and thinking that I am thankful she did not have to endure the cold weather during the time she was so frail.  In the last month of her life she had so little extra weight and I know if we would have been having temps like this she would have been cold all the time.  Within the knowledge that God needed her in heaven I am so thankful for his timing.  I miss her so much and as I write this the tears come.  Maybe I am in need of a good cry as I havn't had one all week!  I can tell that time helps heal those emotions as I use fewer tissues each week.  For the first 3 months I was wishing I had purchased stock in Kleenx. 
I need to get a walk in today but I think Henry is coming over to get something in my garage.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mid week


Here is a wedding picture of my parents.  They were married June 25 in either 34 or 35---siblings which one???  I am thinking 35.  I would say a very grand looking couple.  Both my mom and dad were wonderful people but I remember that for whatever reason through high school I actually thought they were perfect.  As I think back on that it amazes me.  We know that all of us have faults and weaknesses but I really think my mom was a very saintly person.  I still remember our shoes lined up Sunday morning for church and they often were polished.  That was quite a task as in the summer for my younger years the ONLY time I wore shoes was to church.  I still have calises on the bottom of my feet from nails, dirt, rocks, thistles and everything in the summer.
Yesterday was uneventful.  I got my walk in at the rec center, I spent time with Larry B here and in the evening for several hours I spent time going through some things upstairs.  It is not an easy task to go through Gail's personal belongings.  Things like swim wear, underclothes, mittens, hats, those uniform clothes that she wore so often and other items that a person has but others don't generally see.  I do think it is time to move those things on to others or to where ever as I certainly will not use them for anything.  At least I hope I would not use them!!!!  I think I am about ready to make a trip to Good Will with some more boxes of things.
For today I will get my walk in again and then spend more time up stairs.  I would say that as a person does some of these things it would not be difficult to questions what value or what good is one doing or how is one's life benefitting others or building God's Kingdom.  I will not go there but there are fleeting thoughts that go in and out of my mind.  As for people who know me it is quit a feat for things to go in and out of my mind!
It is 9:30 and already +6, wow.  I can not imagine doing the paper route in this weather.
It is time for a walk.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Aren't we all super stars??


This picture was taken in Devils Lake ND in 1977 when John was 7, Travis 5 and Aaron 3.  The city put on a field day where kids did different things.  As you can see they all 3 came home as super stars and of course have remained that way ever since!!  Of course at the time we had no idea that we had future state champion soccer stars, great bike racers, super basketball players and all around wonderful kids in our family.  They certainly took after their mother big time, even with their handsome looks.
Yesterday was quiet again.  I did remove the Christmas things including the tree.  I think next year I will be able to keep it up longer, like Gail and I did.  I think I will be able to do a better job of trimming it also.  I think I will try to stay low key this month.  Maybe I will like it so much I will turn into that hermit with a pony tail and dirty bib overalls.  On the serious side I have decided that I will make at least one fancy crib to sell this year.  Carmen's Creative Carpentery will be up and running when it becomes a bit warmer.  I don't know how warm it will have to get but right now it is +3 and that is way way too cold to work in the garage.  I can turn the electric heater on but that warms it up just a bit and it raises the electrical bill a LOT.
I also will be doing small things around the house this winter.  Yesterday I went through a box.  I found the Christmas letter we sent out in 1973.  It was printed in a little book kind of thing that was about 2 inches wide and 4 inches long.  It had a page for each person and it was run off at school on the ditto machine which most people do not even remember.  Here are the words in the card of 1973.
The front was in red and green and said Joy Joy Joy
I hope I never again do see
A year as busy as 73
My fate was easily to be seen
Not even about to putt on a green
Summer came and with winter gone
I was driving cement truck and landscaping lawn
Piles, mounds and heaps of dirt
Kept the sweat soaking my shirt
You'd know better what I'm trying to say
If we'd had the pleasure of your visit to pay
The work was slow but progress was seen
We finally finished on Halloween
In school I'm getting an introduction
To individualized instruction
It's a federal project just started this year.
We hope to complete it without a tear

It's a big job keeping my four men happy
I'm always hopping to a tune real snappy
Whatever it is, I don't mind a bit
I'm queen of the house and that is it
Homemade buns and other goodies
Are one part of my household duties
When time permits I try to get in
A little sewing and even some knittin
I'm up to my neck in many a project
It won't be long and I'll be Carmen's reject
If I don't hurry to complete one soon
Oh well, maybe next June.

I'm the big brother
I'm John Allen Lee
I help Travis and Aaron
so good boys they'll be
I'm four years old now
And have quite a ball
On my black figure skates
I seldom do fall
I like conversation
and talk really fine
So stop by my house
And visit any time.

My name is Travis
And I just turned two
I'm growing up
And most things are new
Most of the time
I'm on the go
And many a day
I'm quite a show
I'm learning to talk
I can open the door
So I'm hoping to see you
In 74

I am the latest
And surely no toy
I'm Aaron Charles Lee
A big baby boy
On August the twelfth
I came to this world
Expected to be
A cute baby girl
I'm a very good baby
I smile and coo
I'm really no trouble
Come and see me too.

With all of the referring to come and visit it sounds like we never had company.

There you have our Merry Christmas 1973!!!  Have a good January 5, 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010


This picture was taken January 3 as grandpa tried to give Teddy a big hug but Jude and Faustina got in the way!!!
Here I sit on Monday about 10:45 AM.  I am feeling sadness being alone but I also feel like there is a bit of fresh air, not the cold outside!  The temp as already climbed up to +1 today.  I have spent some time this morning looking back at the last 2 months.  To list some of the things: Audrey birthday, Cyn birthday, Travis birthday, Thanksgiving, John birthday, Christmas, Gail birthday, New Years, Saunders gathering.  Perhaps it should not have been the case but in reality those were heavy on my mind and heart as they came and went.  Walking through those family events, trying to put on a happy front and trying to be the dad and grandpa that I want and need to be--it was wearing.  But, those are now listed in my archives as history to be remembered but the desire to move on, to be in a new place in a new time is in my heart.  I feel that I can now look ahead.  Look at what I need to do, what I should focus on and perhaps, just perhaps, those darn tears will come less often, that aching heart may not be so painful, the memories that are so vivid maybe will have somewhat of a happy spirit to them.  I wish with all my being that 2009 was only a dream but it was not.  It was real, I walked through it, it changed my life and I think it is now time to move at least one step forward and maybe two.  If I can move forward like that maybe in a short time I will be walking into God's plan and purpose for me this year.  I think, I hope, I expect that 2010 will be very different, very alive and very interesting.  I hope and I plan not to focus on bad sleep, bad dreams, sad memories but instead to be postive, be focused on the good ahead.  I am so excited to be a new grandpa soon and to meet challenges and needs head on this year.  Come Lord in all your majestic love and grace to change me and make me more useful to building your kingdom here on earth.  Help me to take what Gail so lovingly gave me and make that into useable energy for you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A full week in the past---we'll see


Most of you didn't know that Gail was the great hunter!!!
I am happy that the week is history.  Wow, too many firsts and too many emotions for me.  As I look back on Gail's birthday, on New Years Eve, New Years day and the Saunders family gathering I breath a sign of relief and look forward to a week with fewer "firsts". 
Not much to say today.  Cyn/Mike/Faustina and Jude hung out for several hours here which was fun.  We watched most of the Viking game and they didn't lay any eggs today, in fact they looked pretty good.
I did not get in a walk today and I was thinking of going on one yet but it is a bit late. 
My wireless went down today and I just spent an hour on the phone with a guy who was difficult to understand but we finally got it working again.  The joys of computers.
I forgot but Mike reminded me that school starts tomorrow again.  It does not seem like it should be starting yet.  I do remember that Christmas vacation was my favorite school vacation because during our Easter break I was always working on camp so Christmas was about the only vacation that I could really relax.
I have noticed a bit of a change in my sadness.  The wound that Gail's death left does not bleed everyday now.  It hurts so much and it is always there but some of the constant bleeding has stopped.  As I think about that I need to remind myself to be happy.  I actually looked in the mirror this morning and then I looked and looked again.  (I am not used to staring at myself!).  As I stared I said to myself that I think I have aged much in the last year.  I would not say that in a bad way but yes, time, hurts, sorrows and grief tend to weather the face and show on the body.  I guess that means that I will have to try a bit more to be joyful, postive and then I will try to act a young 62.  I think most people know that I am not into fashion, looking really nice for others but I do want to remain as young as possible for the kids and the grandkids.  I think they are so special that they all deserve the youngest dad and grandpa possible.  Do you think it would help to get a sports car???
I am going to watch a bit of the football game and then get my beauty sleep at a good time tonight.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Here is Gail and her dad.  Looks like Gail has some kind of project in mind.
It was one of those days I will try to forget.  I felt that I failed at most of what I did.  I went to the party that Al/Deb were so nice to host and I just could not get into much there.  I held myself together for about 3 hours but then I just could not keep a happy face.  I came home and just needed to be alone for some time.  For me at this time the gathering was so so empty without Gail.  There was joy with many little kids around etc. but I felt that I just fell flat on my face.  Each time that happens I hope and pray that it will be the last---maybe this time.  Gail has been on my mind all day and I just am so lonesome but I am sure this too will pass. 
It remained cold all day.  The high may have been 0 or so.  I walked about a mile to the library this morning and when I returned home at 10:30 it was still -5. 
With New Years I am all mixed up with my days.  Must remember that tomorrow is Sunday.  With that in mind I will probably put off putting Christmas stuff away until Monday.  I have nothing planned tomorrow and I think I will keep it that way.  Maybe I need a nothing day to help me gather my thoughts, reflect a bit and then maybe I can move on some. 
I don't have much to get ready for but I will be out of town Friday, Sat and Sunday.  This tells my age but being on the road for about 400 miles each way I do hope the temps improve a bit. 
It feels kind of funny to not have any celebrations for a couple of months now.  In November and December there are holidays and many birthdays but there is now a break but of course that baby should come in 2-4 weeks so that will be exciting.  That will be the first grandchild that Gail will not have known at all.  She certainly knew Audrey and Faustina but not the way they are now.  I will probably say this hundreds of times but each time I see the kids I have to think of how Gail would have loved to see them grow and they would have benefited so much but God must have something else in mind.  With 4 boys and 3 girls things will be almost even.  I will have to memorize those birthdates etc.  I have the 6 down but as I get older and more come I am not sure.  Maybe I will have to use a cheat sheet!!
I had better not forget as I promised to meet Dave O at seven so I best be going soon.  When I get home it will be a hot tub and then to bed.