Sunday, February 28, 2010

Good bye February

I posted this picture just because once again I can see that famous Gail smile.  It just seems to be there all the time.  It had to have been the love of Jesus coming through her to all around her.
I am not sure this idea is a repeat but for some reason I have been thinking much today about how life is now different.  I have and I am sure I will for a long time think about Gail, how much her absence is in me and how empty many parts of my being are now that she is gone.  However today I have just had new life on my mind and how challenging it is, will be and has been.  Not in a complaining way but in a contemplative way, I have been thinking about how I need to change some of my thinking to accommodate this change.  An example was having the men over here on Saturday.  In the past if that were to happen Gail and I would compartmentalize things and she would do this and I would do that.  Now the WHOLE thing is me and that has been different.  It is a whole new mindset that I am not in yet.  For last Saturday I needed to think about the house being picked up, the food we would eat, purchasing that food, getting up in time to make it, cleaning up after and the list just seemed to go on and on.  Again not to complain but just that whole new things will take a lot of getting used to.  As I look towards spring I have flowers on my mind (that was mostly Gail's domain), I have the lawn in mind (that is the same), I have spring clean up and the list just seems endless.  I was thinking that maybe my "honey do list" was not so long after all!!!!   Anyway that is what was/is on mind today.  I don't think there will be any down time in the near future and that maybe is good.
March will not only come in like a lamb, it will come in like a nice little tame lamb, whoppie.

Big brother--Little sister

Leo is on the left and Ruby is on the right.  I thought they looked a lot alike but as I look at these pictures I am not so sure now.
Not a lot of news today.  Sundays are always interesting.  It just seems that my mental approach to life and my attitude is different on Sundays and not really in a good way.  It still is a difficult thing to stay in church for the entire time.
I was able to spend the evening with Faustina last night and she is quite the gal.  She knows what she wants and she know how to get it.  She did not want to sleep in the crib upstairs.  I let her cry for a time but in the end I just said you win this time Fauster and I brought her down.  She fell asleep in my arms and as I looked down at her she certainly looked the part of one of God's baby angels.  After she had slept for a while I tried to put her down again but she cried and at that point I was not in a place to listen so down we went again and she fell asleep quickly in my arms.  I am not one to sit in a chair for a long period of time but there we sat, Faustina sleeping like an angel and grandpa thinking how blessed I am to have grandchildren and how much I miss grandma.
Another perfect day weather wise.  As I write it is 33 with sunny skies.  The moon the last few nights has been brilliant in the clear sky.  I have to admit that those kind of nights remind me of years gone by when Gail and I would enjoy that kind of evening.  Even as late as last summer there were some times we would sit on the deck and soak in God's unbelievable art work at night. 
The breakfast for the men yesterday morning went well.  The sausage, which was grass fed pork, was tasty as were the blueberry pancakes and eggs with garlic.  The White Rock coffee topped off with organic cream made the morning nice.  After we ate we had a wonderful prayer time and people left after about 3 1/2 hours.  As I read what I wrote it sounds like the focus was the food but really the most important part was the prayer time.
Each day for this coming week the temp is supposed to be a degree warmer until we hit near 40 by the end of the week.  I hope spring is here but I would not bet on it.  As I looked at my weather calendar I noticed that for most of March the record temps are well well below zero so I will not hold my breath for a warm bike ride for a while.
Yesterday I received calls from Joan and from Gail's brother Mark.  When a person thinks about long distance calls years ago and what they cost and then say really there is no cost today it is a shame most of us do not call more, even for a short visit.  I think each time I get a call I say to myself I will call more but really I do not follow through with that thought.
I did an old Gail/Carmen thing yesterday.  I did not prepare enough for the men coming so at the last minute I took everything off the buffet and table and put it in a box!!!!  Now I NEED to redo that so I don't forget some of those papers etc.  I THINK I am getting better but I am not sure about that.
I am going to take a walk this morning.  I think the fresh air will be great.

Friday, February 26, 2010

No pain, no gain

That saying sticks in my mind.  Today, for no real reason, was the most difficult day in several months.  I don't know why, I don't know the trigger, I don't have a clue but the day was long, sad, tearful and not good.  I guess I just have to hang on to there will be difficult days and then they will get better.  I had the feeling that I was not supported, not thought of and kind of forgotten.  Now I know that is not true but never the less I had to fight those stupid feelings all day.  Of course I know that everyone has their own lives, everyone is busy and life just flies by but oh those thoughts and feelings just need to be prayed against and not accepted.  It may have been a combination of monument, old papers, old pictures bringing up memories that at times seem so fresh and at times are just hard to fight against.  On top of that I have begun to feel that I am too lost without Gail, just abnormally so.  After all it has been close to 6 months and at times I feel that I just lost Gail yesterday.  For the first time in several weeks I found myself saying I need to talk to Gail about that or I can hardly wait to share that with Gail and then coming to realize that I can't do that now.  Maybe tomorrow will be better.
I did go to David and Rachelle's engagment party which was nice but even at that I found those darn tears slowly etching lines in my face and for some reason I was very aware and not happy doing that at a party.  I do think I should be over that so I did leave a bit early
I do need to get ready for breakfast tomorrow morning as I think there will be about 10 men here.  I think I am going to bed early and then try to get up early.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A task near finished

Pictured is pretty close to what will go on our grave site.  To see your name on a grave site monument is not the most wonderful thing in the world but in fact it is for me in this time necessary.  I have yet to make final decisions on everything but this is very close to what will be put on the grave in early summer.  It sounds strange but it has been a most exhausting journey for me.  Tears have not been very much a part of it but my energy is drained to empty and I think it is all this granite stone that I have been so consumed with over the last several weeks.  I have decided that the granite will come out of the only granite quarry in the Dakotas which is in Milbank SD.  I still feel Gail and I have much of North Dakota in us.  The scripture is one of Gail's favorite and it is out of Grandma and Grandpa Saunders Bible from the 40's and the names will be sandblasted in Gail's actual handwriting..  I chose this translation of the scripture because of the last 4 words.  I have not made the final decision on everything nor has the final price been settled on but everything will be completed within a few days.  It will take 60-120 days to be in place.  My prayer is that I will not have to borrow money to pay for it and the finished monument will be something that when I visit Gail's grave site I will say well done, I like that.  For some of you this may seem like a strange journey and actually a few months ago I would have said that but something deep inside of me says that I need, I want to do this for Gail, for family and it will be important for us all.  I did not think like that my whole life but I do now and I am not sure why.  I know Gail is not in the ground, I know she is in heaven but I want to continue to honor her by making myself a better person each day.  By doing this, by visiting her grave site, by praying with her and by asking God for grace to change through the grace of Gail I think I can be a better father, better brother and better friend.  I think Gail's legacy should be that she made everyone feel special and she encouraged people around her to love God more.  I desire to honor her not so much with physical things but with myself.  IF only I can touch people then Gail continues to live on in this world.
I am going to bed now and I need to get a good sleep.  I do not like to take anything to help me sleep but I actually took a couple of sleep aids 20 minutes ago to see if  I can sleep through the night.
I am so looking forward to some warmer weather. I need to be outside more and warm weather will help.
Paul W was here for a couple of hours tonight, that was fun.  He brought some of his homemade beer and I provided the pizza.  We ate at 6:30, I am hoping that pizza does not give me heartburn!!!  These "golden years" are not always so golden when it comes to eating that late and bed time.  It used to be different but I do not desire to go back to the good old days, I will be happy with the NOW.  I haven't felt wonderful these last few days but I have felt close to God and that is a very good feeling.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Time of memories

Here is Gail in Nova Scotia in October of 2007.  She is writing, most likely a postcard to someone.  She loved camping, the fire and cooking outdoors.
Not too much done today.  I did go to Schoenrock to talk a bit more about a monument.  I will be happy when that whole thing is finished.  It will not be completed for some time but it does wear on me.  I have decided what scripture I want on the monument if it can be put on.  I took it out of the Bible that Grandma and Grandpa Saunders used when they were first married.  Gail had been using that one for the last few months of her life.  It is And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.  Romans 8:28
Gail had marked that as one of her favorites.  I am not sure we can fit all of it on the monuments but will talk about that tomorrow morning. 
I am mindful of the fact that coming up in about 2 weeks it will be 6 months since we said good bye to Gail, mother and grandmother.  I just can not believe it has been half of a year.  We have a video camera and I had not used it for a long time.  I took it with me to Madison last weekend and as I was looking for the tape I wanted to use I looked as some tapes with Gail on them.  I am not ready for that yet.  She just looked too alive, too real, too "right here now" so I will save those for another time and I am sure that I will be so happy I have some of her.  I am sure in time I will say I don't have enough with Gail on but right now I can't go there.
I attempted to go into the attic and put somethings away today and the things I need to do almost overwhelmed me.  Gail had so many ideas and saved so many things there just are many many decisions to make so I closed the attic door and will leave that too for another day.  I have said it more than once but what to save, what to give, what to throw --it all is just too much for now so will save things to do at a later date.
Some how I have a difficult time paring down my activities.  Tomorrow there will be 6:30 breakfast, 6 PM dinner with Paul at my house, Friday a meeting here, Saturday 10 men coming over for breakfast and Saturday night I get to entertain Faustine for a few hours.  Perhaps 10-15 years ago that would have been a yawner but now that sounds busy!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What is beauty

I went back a few years for this picture.  I needed some beauty tonight.  Gail's absence is heavy.  It feels like a heavy fog over a quiet stream early in the morning on a warm summer day.  This picture lifts my spirit a bit.
I am in a bit of a planning mode.  I went to two different Home Depots tonight looking at toilet.  I also looked at possible wall covering for the 2nd floor bath that I would like to work on soon.   I also started a list of things that I think I need to do and things I think I need to buy.  I think that planning along with a quiet day just magnifies Gail's absence so much.  Thinking alone, planning alone, looking alone and projecting projects alone just is for the birds.  Of course I can do what I want, in the way that I want and spend what I want but that is not the point at all now that Gail is not here.  One of Gail's weaknesses was that she often could not tell you what she liked until she saw it which meant that often when we talked she could guess but not make up her mind.  For me that was often frustrating but I would take that NOW.
I really need to get back to writing some things down but I needed an upper and maybe just putting words down and looking at the picture has done


This is a better picture but still it is too light, don't know what happened.  It does give a better picture of who Ruby Gail is.
Have finished meditations this morning and had pancakes and sausage with Liam.  I made a new recipe and it was very good.  I think I will use that Saturday as North Summit men are coming for 9:00 breakfast.
Today is going to be a bit slow which I need right now.  I think I will get a few things done but no more company or going the rest of the day.  It seems like I have been on the go for several days so this is nice.  I started a fire this morning and will probably do that tonight as well.
Happy birthday Ryan Saunders, I think you are 23?? 
I have not a lot to say today.  It seems that perhaps my brain is just on empty right now.  I know for sure that is where my heart is.  I find my mind wandering back to Gail a lot.  IF she were here we would probably be sitting in the living room talking about the day now or maybe just doing small things around the house.  Sometimes my heart seems to tetter on the edge of home and never never land.  As it balances on the edge and I try to guess which way it will lean my emotions go between tears and laughter.  What a difference it makes which way it goes.  I am finding that now I don't have to be busy 100% of the time to have my emotions stay out of the danger zone.  Sometimes I can just sit and smile and remember the good times.  However I need to be careful as when that happens Gail often ends up in sainthood, as in perfect, and I would like to stay real!!!!   It can be crazy how time has a way of carving out the difficult times and discarding them and just perserving the good times.  I guess that may be the way God gives us a glimpse of heaven here on earth.
I need to see if the fireplace needs more wood.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Leo the Biker

With his hands on the bike and his Grandma beads around his neck Leo looks the biker.  Grandpa and Leo may not be able to go for a bike ride this year but it won't be long.
Another busy day, what can I say.  Made pancakes and sausage for Henry and I this morning and then took Henry to school.  Stopped by the cemetery on the way home and talked to them about a monument.  Stopped by Nokomis store on the way home and got home in time to go out for lunch with Jerry W.  Returned home in time to get things ready for a meeting at 3:15 and now am waiting for Liam to arrive for his sleep over.  I am getting a tad concerned about the sleep overs as I know I do not make things as interesting as Grandma nor do I make pancakes as good!  The pancake recipe this morning called for 1 t of salt and I did say to myself that was a lot of salt but went ahead and followed the recipe.  They were OK but it was too much salt.  Will make a different kind tomorrow and see how they turn out.
At the Highland Grill I met a co-worker who is older than I and I had not seen for some time.  Was nice to chat for a bit with her.  At one time I did painting for her.  She and a sister in law were both celebrating their 75 birthday.
Not much new today.  Life continues to fly by at a break neck pace.  Jerry and I had a great conversation today about how life changes when one comes face to face with mortality and a person is closer to the end of times than the beginning of times.  I was saying that I plan to live a long time and I hope to live a long time but if I were to find out that I was sick and had a fairly short time to live I would have a very different attitude now than I would have had a year ago.  Different things are important and things have a different place than people in my life now.  I remember Gail and I having conversations after her first bout with cancer and we decided that if we had a short time to live we would not change our lives at all.  That is for sure the way Gail lived her last months but we did hope for a healing.  Still we would not have changed anything.  I am not satisfied with who I am, I want to be a better person but I am content with where I am, where I am going and what I am doing.  That said I expect and hope to live many many more years but when the time comes for me to meet Gail once again I will be excited.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Many Faces

I arrived home late afternoon Sunday.  The travel there and home again was certainly perfect winter weather.  Not much traffic, not snow on the roads and sunny.
It was a nice time.  It was fun being with Aaron, Amy and family.  That Leo could play or listen to books all day long.  He sure is a special guy.  As for Ruby Gail of course she is special.  I would have to admit that this grandpa is not the best at holding tiny babies but it was fun.  We really needed Grandma as she would have had so much fun.
I was thinking on the way home that it is strange that I am so lonesome.  Millions of people live alone and it is what they chose or want or whatever.  I know it has only been 5+ months but still I have had this feeling inside of me that I needed explained or something.  As I was thinking, praying and just being silent before the Lord as I drove it came to me.  It is not the loneliness that is hard, it is the absence of Gail.  When I thought of that there is a BIG difference.  Now I understand and I will not tell people that I am so lonely, I will say that it is very difficult getting used to the absence of Gail.  When I think about it in that way I understand much better.  It does not make me feel better but I do understand more.  I guess what it does is gives me hope that as time passes Gail's absence will be felt less and therefore life will be more alive and better and that for some reason is easier for me to understand and accept than to think of "when will I be less lonely."
I am so excited, Aaron did so much to my bike and it looks so nice and will be so fun to ride.  Now we need to have warm weather to ride.  I remember that when John and Travis were going to high school they always had a week of spring break in March and often they were able to train outside on their bikes at that time.  Don't misunderstand me, I am not training, I just want to ride.
As we look at tomorrow this is the last week in February, wow.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Not a lot to say.  I am with Aaron/Amy/Leo and Ruby.  Ruby is a cutie and really very good.  Leo is of course just super and loves to play and read books.  He and grandpa played in the basement this morning for at least an hour.  He talks a mile a minute and has so many ideas it is great. 
There was a light snow here last night and today and they are saying that starting Sunday night through Monday they could get up to 9 inches so I think I made the trip here at a good time. 
I think I should have good traveling tomorrow.  Coming down the driving was perfect.  Sunny, warm and the roads were perfect.
Will have many pictures to put on of Ruby when I get back. 
As anybody could guess it is somewhat lonely and subdued without our wonderful Grandma and my beloved Gail.  However with each passing event, by that I mean trip or whatever, things seem to be falling into place in a more natural way.  I am not sure it will ever be "natural or normal" without Gail but perhaps with practice we can come close.  I have to remember to keep happy and postive as it is so easy to swing to the down and out mode which I do not want to do.  I think it is natural and OK to be there for short periods of time but if/when that happens I would perfer to be at home alone where only I can feel it's effect.  I really feel that family and for sure the grandkids need to sense and know that Grandpa is OK and fun to have around.
I will blog tomorrow when I get home.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Way off to the side!!!

Here is Gail with Leo the weekend he was baptized way back in 2007.  It is hard for me to believe but this picture was before our camping trip, before our Hawaii trip and at a time when Gail was feeling the best she had felt in many years.  Our goal and our hope was to live to old age as a couple and then slowly fade away as a couple.  My goodness how our plans are often interrupted by real life. 
I went to a funeral this morning.  I sat by myself kind of off to the side.  Those events are just too close to real life for me yet.  At least this time I brought some tissue.  I did not stay for the lunch.  I will get to that stage at some time but for now it  a challenge to hang in to the end of the funeral service.  Terry died suddenly at the age of 71.  Sue did not get to prepare or say good bye but she is surrounded by so many loving family and friends so the journey will be difficult but full of loving support.  It would be so nice if one could just skip through those first few months but of course that is not possible.  I will pray for her daily.
I am off to Bucky Badger land tomorrow morning.  I intend to get to Madison in time to go with Amy to get Leo at 2.  I need to be sure to remember to bring the 2 most important items.  My camera and clean underwear!!!   Nothing else matters.  No actually I have gifts from John/Mary and Lizzia so I had better put those in the car. 
I am becoming ever so gradually more comfortable in this single life.  I have come to the conclusion that the large hole in my heart will always be there, a covering will heal over it and remain tender to each new situation or to so many thoughts.  However I do know that because God will heal over the hole he will use happiness and laughs instead of bricks and mortar for repair.  For that I am excited and thankful.  Come Lord in your mercy and love to enter into me in a new and fuller way.
I have begun to have some ideas how I can/should use my time.  It is not that I have ever lacked for things to do or been bored but I think God is saying that I need to reach a bit more outside of myself.  Gail did that ALL the time and I will not copy her but it is a wonderful thing to live for others and not oneself.  I think we generally live in a selfish world and I do not put myself outside the realm of that world.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A different kind of a FIRST

No picture today.  Travis and I went to look at monuments and I didn't want to put a picture of a monument up so.
My first today was different.  I will be attending a funeral tomorrow morning.  I wrote a card and inclosed a memorial in it to be used as they wish.  After I finished and sealed it I thought wait a minute.  Last September I received several memorials in Gail's name to be given to The American Cancer Society and several other organizations as well.  Well, People of Praise has set up a Gail Lee Servant Camp Fund so I tore up my letter, wrote a new one and enclosed a check to People of Praise with a memo for Gail Lee Servant Camp Fund.  It felt different but in the end it felt good.  I am so proud of how Gail served the Lord through camp and I want to see her continue to serve Camp with this fund which will help God work amoung his young people.  If anyone is interested in giving memorials in that way:
People of Praise
601 River Ridge Parkway
Eagan, MN 55121
Memo:Gail Lee Servant Camp Fund
I am hoping and praying that as the years go by it will grow and grow and help hundreds of young people get to knew Jesus in a personal way.
My busy week continues with the funeral and 2 meetings tomorrow. 
My Ash Wednesday was fine but I am not used to fasting much lately so it was a bit difficult which is fine!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New excitment

Here is a picture of Ruby Gail that I have not used.  I suppose that by now this is old as she is more than 2 weeks old now.  I am getting excited to see Ruby Gail Friday.
Life continues to go by so fast.  I have really tried to keep up with the suppliments that I know Gail would want me to do.  I say Gail would want be to but I do know I need those vit etc.  But I put them in a AM and PM container for the week.  It seems that every time I turn around I am filling that darn container up.
This is turning out to be a busy week.  And I missed a day because I did not arrive home until Monday so today, the first day home is Monday but really it is Tuesday!!
I went out to the cementry to get some questions answered and to take some pictures of monument I many like.  After that I lived a bit of my childhood as I chopped ice and drained water for over an hour. Perhaps that was not necessary but it was fun. I HAD to get outside with the sunny sky.   After that Larry B spent some time here and then Joe Bowar stopped for a bit.  Tomorrow I get to care for Audrey in the morning, Travis and I are traveling to Mankato to see gravestone and then men's group in the evening.  Thursday I will take in a funeral in the morning and then a meeting in the evening. as well as a meeting in the afternoon.  Finally when Friday comes it is Ruby Gail time!!!!  I had better check with mom and dad about that name.  I would guess she is Ruby but in my mind it will always be Ruby Gail.
I did not one stitch of work today and could care less.  How about that for a new me!  I have not taken the time to eat yet so will do that and then watch some of the winter games.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A last second God

I went, I stayed and I came home.  I found out that Julie's cabin is not fancy, not a million dollar manision but it is very nice, very comfortable and I liked it a lot.
I ended up coming back late Monday as I had remembered that Jim Ingram was going to drop off some camp things tonight.  
After arriving mid afternoon, getting the water and heat on I just kind of became a veggie for a while.  One day I did not even go outside.  One night I started a "nothing book", by that I mean one of those books you read if you want your mind to not be used.  I opened the 350 page book about 5:30 in the evening and finished it before I went to bed.  I had not read a book like that in a long time and it was kind of enjoyable.
I felt kind of badly.  Julie's neighbor call Sunday about noon and asked if I would like to come next door for a cup of coffee.  I should have said yes but I was in the middle of writing and so I said thanks but no thanks.  I did do much writing while I was there.  I started putting some of my thoughts about my life on paper and by the time I left for home I had 25+ pages.  I am not sure they say anything but I sure did write.  Also put down some of my thought to God at this time in my life.
I did not go seeking any great wisdom or any answers and there were none that came----Than on the way home as I was just driving and thinking God kind of popped up in my mind and said,  "Carmen, why are you asking me what you should do with your life?  Do you think it should change?  You know that I always let you and Gail know the right direction in the right time but as life went on you just lived.  You lived for me and your brothers and sisters.  Why would you change direction now?  Just continue to live for me and I will guide you."  At that point I came to my senses as my tires hit the tracks on the side of the road that they put so you don't drive in the ditch!!  I straighten out and said, you are right.  I will continue to live and let life unfold just as it always has and you be in charge.  So that is it, God is still in charge and I just need to listen but I need not strive for a new direction, a new life or new things.  So if or when people ask me what I am going to do now I will just say, "I am not going to change a thing.  Life unfolded on a daily bases when Gail was physically here and it will continue to unfold in the same way now that she is in heaven.  I am comfortable with that, I can easily live with that for now and perhaps forever. 
I am going to try to go to mankato later in the week.  If I do not get there this week it will be the first part of next week and then of course it is to see Ruby Gail on Friday.  I can feel it already, when I see her cute little face I will shed some tears for Grandma Gail even though she has already seen her.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Up North

I am about ready to head up north.  I had to finish my book after men's group this morning because I want to give it to Cynthia before I leave.  I don't think I have done this before but I would very much recommend this book to everyone, for those who have lost a loved one and for those who have not.  The book is A Season of Grief by Ann Dawson.  The book is divided into 4 parts and I would say the last 2 are very very much for everyone but actually the entire book is very good.  I know it was wonderful for me to read it but I feel there is so much in it for everyone. 
As one might say, "I'm outa here!"  As I pack the sun is shining, the temp is 24 and it should be a great drive and a wonderful day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

LIttle did you know

As I was in the book store yesterday I noticed that the new 2010 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is in. (I didn't buy one!) Little did you know that here is the picture that started the whole Sports Illustreated idea.  Now I think they have taken it way way too far but this was a fairly modest start don't you think!!  By the way it is Cynthia when she was about 4 or 5.
I will be headed up North tomorrow.  I am not taking my computer so I am guessing that I will not blog until perhaps Tuesday.  I am not looking for any miracle or cure or anything like that.  I am almost finished with the book I have been reading and it has helped me with ideas I had already.  I perhaps have said this many many times before but here is where I am at:
  • I know Gail is in heaven very near God so I am so happy about that
  • I do not feel sorry for myself nor am I angry or upset.  I realize that many many people have lost loved ones before me.  Of course the people who come to mind are Grandma Saunders who lost Grandpa 20 years ago, Mark and Mary who lost Scotty, Deb and Dale who lost DeeAnn and Allen who lost Jeanne, Glorine who lost my brother, John who lost my sister and my parents who lost a son and daughter.  So as you see I am not alone nor am I the last.
  • For me I just plain miss miss miss miss Gail.  Sunday it will be 5 months.  I miss her smile, I miss her laugh, I miss her gifts, I just plain miss everything about her not being here.  There is no cure or anything that can be done to change that.  I really do appreciate all the prayers and I hope people continue to hold me up but I realize that I just need to walk each day in God's presence and as the days, weeks and months go by my pain will be less and my lonliness will get less.  I do not anticipate those things going away, I just think they will become less and I will be able to carry them with me as part of me.
So that is my story for now.   I plan to spend Saturday night, Sunday and Monday praying, sleeping, reading, thinking and trying to get my mind and body in a better place than it is now.  I hope and pray that when I come back, most likely on Tuesday, I will be a bit refreshed.  If God chooses to reveal something extra special to me that would be wonderful but I am not looking for that.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Journey like no other

Here is the 13 mile bridge that connects Prince Edward Island to the mainland.  Once you start to travel over to PEI on the bridge it seems like it will never come to an end but yet the way it is constructed there is no turning back so you must keep going.
I feel like I am on that bridge.  It seems like my journey will never end but there is no turning back, I must keep going.  There are times that the quietness of the house seems to smother me and then there are times when that same quietness seems to bring God right to the forefront and I meet him face to face.  There are times when Gail's absence seems to make life unbearable and then there are times that she seems so near that I can smell the freshness of her breathe and touch the softness of her hair.  The task of fatherhood, of grandpahood, of housekeeper, of brother, of friend seems so impossible at times without Gail and then at times it seems she is so near encouraging me and telling me I am doing OK.  It often seems that I just can not do this life without my Gail and then God will gently reach out and lead me in the right direction and I say I am OK.
This journey I am on seems to be changing me, seems to be softening me, seems to be scaling back a crust, seems to be changing my priorities and when night comes I can almost say I am becoming a better person than I was.  I am becoming more compassionate, more understanding, more in love with God---I think God may be taking my hurt, my pain, my grief and molding me into a new creation.  I didn't want to change, I didn't want to embrace pain but maybe, just maybe God will have a new creation when the sun shines once again.  I do want Gail in my arms again but perhaps, God in his wisdom and mercy, he is using pain for his gain and his glory.  I don't know but it seems to be happening.
I will be getting out of town Saturday noon and will not be back until maybe Tuesday.  This whole journey has been and is a challenge, a struggle and I am exhausted.  I want to get away from the hustle and bustle for a short time to catch my breathe. I think I will use tomorrow to get some things in the house in order, Saturday morning there will be men here and then I will hit the road for a while.  A wonderful sister lovingly encouraged me to use her cabin for a few days and I will do that.  I will have my cell phone on for emergencies but will not worry about anything until I return maybe on Tuesday.

Deerburger anyone??

Here is Gail in the fall of 07 doing her thing with packaging.  She was always so organized, neat and perfect.
I forgot to blog yesterday.  I guess I have just been in neutral the last few days.  Much happening but my body and my mind is just not at a wonderful place.  I continue to read the book, continue to have much going on in my life but as for meaningful things happening it just is not.  I am thinking of getting lost Saturday afternoon and staying lost for a few days.  I think it would be good for me to sleep, eat, think, pray and just not be interrupted by things, people or animals!!  I will see.  There is a men's group thing here Saturday morning and after that maybe I will be invisable for a couple of days.  I will have to see what happens.  I actually looked into little cabins, or hotels but they were too spendy so will look at something else.
I think Valentine's Day coming, looking at monuments, reading the book are perhaps a combination that is good but difficult.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Luke 8: 46 and 48

But Jesus said,"Someone touched me: I know that power has gone out from me."
Then he said to her,"Daughter, your faith has healed you. "Go in Peace."

Those scriptures were given to us by at least 4 different people in at least 3 different states and of course our understanding and hope was that Gail would be healed of her cancer.  As one looks at the picture of course you can see that her body is frail but if you look at her eyes they are bright, beautiful and so full of life and this was less than 4 weeks before Gail's death.
In the book I am reading this struck me.  I will paraphrase here but the thought is from the book, not from me
In times of despair and sorrow we reach out for our Father, and in the reaching we sometimes touch the hem of his gown.  And in that touching, our souls are filled with unimaginable beauty and peace which then flows out into our world in many many different ways.
I now understand what that scripture meant for Gail.  It meant that in her desire for physical healing, in her sorrow of her physical state she touched Jesus and he filled her with his Spirit in a new and powerful way.  That Spirit held her from much pain, that spirit allowed her to be of clear mind until the very end, that spirit came through in her eyes to each and every person who come to visit her.  So I now know that she did indeed touch his gown and he did heal her but not in the way that we had in our minds.  Thank you Lord.

My four young men

I may have posted this before but if I did here are my young men again. I did promise I would present the guys on equal footing with the girls.   Henry John, Liam Ansel, Leo Charles and Jude Michael.  Here are the words or phrases that come to mind when I think of these guys Henry-project man, Liam-living on the edge, Leo-loves books and Jude-smile-smile-smile. 
I continue to read the book and that is good for me.  I have done few things and that is OK for now.  The book I have been reading is about a mother who lost her son.  As I think about that I need to keep in mind that on top of losing my loved one I lost my homemaker!!!  I noticed things on top of the china cabinet and thought what am I going to do when it is time to change those things?????  God is going to have to lead because my homemaking skills go about as far as I could throw my bowling ball!!!  I do suppose that I can not leave the house decorated as it is forever?  Also, it is getting dusty and the story line goes on.  As I served dinner last night I thought to myself my kids are pretty tolerant as in my way of doing things there is not even a hint of any womenly touch!  I had to think back when I was growing up and my grandpa Sampson lived with his son Jim.  We would go visit them and to me it seemed like their house was very stark and there was not one thing in the house that would remind you of "home".  Now I was young so my memory may not be correct but I do remember grandpa's brass spitune (the thing he spit tabacco juice into).  Now I have no idea to get one of those things but the picture is in my mind!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Look out!!!

If you want someone to defend your rights it looks like Travis is your man!
I have not much to say today.  I just am tired, lonesome and still dealing with this stretch of "I want Gail" thing.  You know people can say so many things and they can be 100% correct.  Things like "it will get better" or "Gail is in a better place" or "time will heal" and there must be 100+ more things that can or have been said.  Things I know, agree with and all that but when the sun goes down at the end of the day the reality is Gail is not here and I wish she were.  I guess I am just in the mode where I need more time NOW to digest, think, sit, ponder, wonder, pray, reflect and more.  I am tired, I am worn out, I am lost.  Not lost in the sense that I don't know who I am but rather lost in the whole mind thing. 
I have used some of my time today to shovel snow.  I have done 2 of my neighbors, Judy and Mary Pat.  I actually like to do those kind of things.  I know in the past both Gail and I would do some of that.  I also was able to talk to Mary Pat and ask about patching those kids jump things as the Boy Scouts want to know where to get them fixed so she said she would let me know tomorrow. 
I did make breakfast for Don F and myself this morning and then Don and I were able to talk for a while, that was fun.  Also made a meal tonight and had people over which was fun.  BUT I think I need to have some down time now.  Down time to perhaps cry some more and those tears washing down my face seem to help. I really do not know if anyone who has not gone through losing a loved one can understand.   In the book I am reading it said that to feel sorry for one self is OK at times so I will do that tonight.  As I go to bed in that queen size bed and toss from side to side I will feel sorry for myself.  As I look at that sentence it appears that I may be, well I won't say it but I do need those times where I can just weep, tears of sorrow seem to help cleanse my soul and heart.  I think I will leave the dishes on the counter tonight and just sit and read. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Awards galore

Here is Gail with her 4-H pins on and I would guess she made her outfit.  Her mom saved all those pins and they are in a plastic container upstairs.  Again, that smile that was so sweet.  Her brother Al has been putting old slides on computer and he sent this to me today.  I would guess she is middle high school but I do not know.
Wow, today was another of those days that one wants behind them.  I was ready to go to a community meeting and sat down at 1:00 to start a new book on losing a loved one.  The next few hours were tears, stop, tears, stop, tears, tears stop stop and it went on. I should know by now that this grieving has it's own time table and a person can not hurry it or slow it down.  I felt drained by 4:00 so I took a nap and of course I missed the meeting.  I surely have some good days or good times but days like this afternoon I just want Gail back so badly it hurts all over.  I did nothing today except read and cry and I feel like I have done more than a day of hard work. 
I need to get some dishes done and some things picked up as Don F is coming over for breakfast tomorrow and before he comes I need to get the recycling out.

Presenting Faustina Elaine, Audrey Marie, Ruby Gail

Now I would say that is the most beautiful, awesome, loveable threesome that one would ever see!!!!!!!
As you can tell grandpa is so proud of them and I know they will be the prefect young girls and young ladies as they grow.  Even tho I have not met Ruby Gail I can tell by her eyes she is a cutie and of course Audrey and Faustina are the greatest so I have my treasures (boys tomorrow!) and there is nothing else I need in this world. 
My only thought for the day is today is the super bowl and how today is so different than many super bowls in the past.  Different in that:
  • Gail is not here
  • I don't care who wins
  • There will not be 5 pounds of potatos made into FF for the boys
  • There will be no 1/4 pound burgers served by Gail
  • I may watch some but mainly to catch the ads
  • Even if I don't watch it much I do have a 37"LCD HD TV to watch it on
  • If I were to make a list of the important things in life the super bowl would not even make the list
The weather says we will get 5-8 inches of snow in the next 60 hr so we should once again have a fresh winter wonder land which is nice but what about spring??  I know it is only  February but can't God just hurry things along one time!   No, we do need winter for a time yet as I need more time to plant some flowers and veggies in the house.  I will try my hand at starting plants.  It will be fun----if they grow.  But I think some of the flowers need to be planted by mid February so I need to get a few things before I start.  It will be yet another "new" thing for me to try and see if it can be successful and fun and fruitful.
I did not get all the snow off the deck last snow fall and with more coming I need to do that this morning before the snow starts to fall again.  Back to work.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Another camping picture

This was taken at a camp site that was closed for the season in New Brunswick.  Each day I would set up the tripod and take a picture of Gail and I in our campsite. 
Kind of a busy day.  I went to the morning of reflections in the AM, that was good.  It was for men only and it focused on men and how they can/should live out their christian life.  One of the themes was that much of what one would call church or religious life today is aimed at women.  I do agree with that.  It is a long story and I can not go into it here but I would say that part of one of the talks was about prayer and what was said actually put some legitimacy to my prayer times.  I will not explain but it was said that a good way for men to pray would be the 3 Ps.  Ponder, plan and pursue.  I like that.
After the AM Will D invited me to his house in Minneapolis for lunch and he wanted to talk about some wood working project.  That was fun and the lunch was good.  Back home Faustina came for a bit tonight and she is fun.  She just says everything.  Of course I can not understand much of what she is saying but her tone and inflection is just like an adult.
Also got a call from Aaron.  All is well with them and with Ruby Gail. I was surprised but they are coming this way in late March.
I also finished my taxes in about 45 minutes and actually filed the federal by e-file.  That is nice to have it finished.  I do need to do something as for 2010 I will have to file as a single and I suppose my taxes will go up so I should have more withholding from my retirement check. 
Lastly it seems that there is ALWAYS something to do.  It is dishes, pick up things, wash something, put something away, make something and the list never never ends.  I am not complaining, just stating a fact that is new to me and somewhat surprising.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chowder anyone?

Here is Gail on the steps of a little cafe in Morell, Prince Edward Island.  Perhaps 3 or 4 times a week we would stop at a local cafe and eat local food while we were in PEI and Nova Scotia.  Gail would usually order chowder and it was always wonderful.  At times it was difficult to find places open as it was in late September and early October and many many places were closed for the season.
Today was uneventful.  I did get a fairly short walk in and got a little work done, but not much.  Cynthia brought dinner over and Mike came from school and we ate together.  After dinner Cynthia and I were talking and she asked me if life is getting a bit easier yet.  My reply--
No, in fact it may be somewhat more difficult but I have fewer tears.  We are now coming up on 5 months and I am finding that life alone is really not a lot of fun.  I would not say it never will be but the reality of being alone, as contrasted with being married, is not very appealing.  I am trying to be proactive in my life but the truth is I have not gotten to the point where I can really think about the future, dream dreams or look forward to what is coming next.  I am so excited to see our new Ruby Gail and I will go to Madison fairly soon but in all honesty I do not look forward to the drive there alone or the drive back alone again.  It is not that driving alone is hard or bad but it is the contrast to what those trips used to be with Gail.  She would pack the clothes, she would make a lunch, she would make sure she had the cutting board in the car and the waste basket and perhaps even the kitchen sink!!  But really it was an event, a time together, a time on the road and it was fun(well the time both of us forgot to put our suitcase in the car it was not so fun!!). As we would pull out of the driveway we would sing "On that road again" and then when we arrived home we would sing "home again home again jiggity jog (sp) but you get the picture.  It sounds a bit silly, a bit corny but if any married couple thinks about their relationship there just has to be a part of it that is unique and corny to them and that is part of what makes a marriage special.
The short of it is I miss that aspect of my life.  Now I need to get to a place where I can be excited about new things, new activities and a different life.  I actually think that it is around the corner.  The question is how far away is the corner????  I know time is a huge factor so I will be patient and wait and in the mean time I will keep those memories close to my heart and mind.
Tomorrow morning there will be some talks at River Ridge so the morning will be taken up and in the afternoon I am not sure what I will do but I will try to make it productive.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reflections are the springboards of dreams

This picture was taken at our campsite in the Gaspe Peninsula which is the northern most part of Quebec, north of  New Brunswick.  I would say that it was the most picturesque part of our trip.  We were the only ones at this campsite which had been closed for the season and it was all wooded.  I am not making it up when I say as it became dark and we went to bed in the back of the pickup you could not see your hand when it was an inch from your face.  We left EARLY in the morning as we thought IF anyone came with bad intentions we would forever be missing!!!!   But---as we get into February and I begin to wait for the weather to get milder and spring to arrive I take time to think, dream, remember and perhaps even dare to plan a bit for trips in the future.  I am still at a point that I don't know if I could emotionally hop in the truck and head off like Gail and I did but maybe, just maybe it could happen.  As I looked at the picture I could smell the smoke and taste the food being cooked over the fire. 
A God memory.  Gail loved to be outside, she loved to plant flowers, she loved to garden and almost anything that involved nature she was into.  When we moved to St. Paul we gave up our huge garden spot in ND and Gail was so sad for that.  As we moved in to our present house it had a nice yard but not really a great place for a garden.  Well Gail was not thinking of gardening but she mentioned in the spring that we should meet our neighbors.  She baked some banana bread and with kids in hand we walked down to the end house to give them the bread and introduce ourselves.  We had no idea who lived there as we had moved in to our house in October and of course with winter coming you do not get to see a lot of your neighbors.  Well an elderly gentleman answered the door.  The short version of the story is that he had a vacant lot and he used to garden but could not any more.  He had been waiting to find someone to garden in his spot.  So for the next several years we had a huge garden allowing him to pick whatever he wanted but we grew more than we could eat.  A side benefit was that most times I would go over there he insisted I come in, site down and talk over a glass of wine(I would add that the wine was not your $20 bottle of wine but it was drinkable).  He was a retired St. Paul teacher so we had a lot in common.  Another example of how God more than provides for us when we truly try to follow him in our daily lives. 
Yesterday was busy.  Audrey was here in the morning, I picked up Henry from school at noon, went to Cynthia/Mike for dinner and had the area men here in the evening to share and pray.  Today I went out for breakfast to discuss somethings with a friend and it will be a meeting tonight. 
It was this week one year ago that we met with Dr. Morton and she said Gail's cancer was back.  It is hard to really believe that it was only 1 year ago and already I am saying that it has almost been 5 months since we said our good-bys to Gail.  Since that time we have created new memories without our beloved Gail by celebrating 6 birthdays, 2 major holidays and welcoming a new granddaughter.  It certainly is a vivid reminder that life is fleeting and each of us should do everything possible to love and be loved by those we are close to.  It is rather strange but growing up in the family I did I heard "I love you" very very very seldom.  I know that mom and dad loved me and I would kiss them both goodnight until I was quit old but to this day it is not natural or real easy for me to say "I Love you" to anyone.  Interesting.
I am going to spend most of my day at home until the evening meeting.  Perhaps I may get some things done that just kind of sit around begging to get attention!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A milestone

Here is Gail and Cynthia in the summer of 1982.  You can also see Travis and Aaron in the back.  Gail has that ever loving smile.
I actually hit a huge milestone yesterday.  Gail's and my bedroom is almost half of the upstairs, in other words it is large.  It has a high full length closet on the north and a low full length closet on the south.  In length I would say that is 25+ feet of closet.  Well Gail used much of the closet space for many many of her things, project items and I will not even begin to list any of the things stored there!  Well yesterday I completely finished sorting, cleaning and putting the entire room in order.  Little by little by little things have been leaving for various locations and yesterday it came to a conclusion.  I am going to make one change in the dressers but that is it.  No more stepping over things, no more boxes to unpack and it is a good feeling.  Now that does not mean that ALL is in order up there.  I did take some items and they are in the sun room but that will get in order soon so I am not worried.  I should say that there are 2 boxes in the south closet that I need to sort through.  I now have only one of Gail's dresses left.  It is the dress that she and Lizzia had matching ones in Hawaii.  There is NO good formula for going through personal items of a spouse.  I mean everything from underwear to project items to things you usually do not talk about.  I still have some tissue left from the second box but many many tissue were needed.  There was such a temptation to save this or save that but really in the end I just knew that some things others could use and really why not?  Then we all know that many things we have are not of use to anyone else so those things needed to be cleared also.  The room is not totally void of Gail as there are things on the dresser tops that I need yet.  I need to see them, I need to read them, I just plain need them and perhaps always will.  However I know that the greatest treasures of Gail are in my heart forever and they can not break there, they can not fade, they can not get lost---they are like indelible ink on fine stationary-forever there.
I need to get a bite to eat and then I get to baby sit Audrey this morning.  I am amazed that I am still alive.  Each and every time I see those little granddaughters they steal my heart.  It does not make any difference if it is that smile, that little tiny "nothing" butt or just that little hug on the leg they just are totally irresistible.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More pictures (click on the picture to get the whole thing)

Here is our little cutie!!!!  As reported by proud Daddy Ruby Gail gave mom and dad 5 hours of uninterupted sleep last night and they will see what happens tonight!  They are now home and all is well.  Just like Gail is standing waving in one of the pictures at her prayer service here little Ruby Gail is saying hello to the world and all of her family and friends.  I KNOW that Great Grandma Ruby and Grandma Gail are so excited and rejoicing in heaven for Aaron/Amy and they will be praying up a storm for Ruby Gail daily.  She will be so blessed and we know she will get such good care at home from mommy and daddy.
A slow but peaceful day.  I so enjoyed shoveling the wonderful fluffy snow that I walked down a few houses and shoveled the front walk for a neighbor this morning.  I also had a victory this afternoon.  I realized that there may be somethings in the house that little monkeys should not get into so my plan was to put new door knobs on a closet so they could be locked.  Well I realized that the doors already had an old fashion locks on but I had no key.  So--I went downtown and bought 4 keys and presto one of them worked so I can now barriacade those little cutie monkeys out of my closet and I did not have to buy anything or change anything.  They have not gotten into the closet and actually I am not sure there is anything secret in there but I just felt better if it could be locked.  Thank you Lord.
Our Tuesday morning meditations were a God moment this morning.  It is just so good and should a blessing to be able to meet weekly with brothers in Christ to laugh, share, study scripture and come closer to Jesus as his friend which means one gets to know him better all the time.  Just like family or friends, the more time you spend together the less you know about them and the more you know them.  It is wonderful

Presenting Ruby Gail Lee

Here is Ruby Gail.  I think she certainly looks like a keeper!!!  I will share more pictures at another time but wanted to get this out to everyone.  I have not talked to Aaron or Amy since the call yesterday morning but Cynthia stopped in on her way home yesterday.  It seems that all is well.  I do not know if they will come home today or tomorrow.  Am sure Grandma and Grandpa Larkin are there now. 
We received about 2 inches of fluffy wonderful snow yesterday and it looks like a winter wonder land outside.  This is really the first snow in about a month so we now look like Minnesota is supposed to look like in early February.
I will post more pictures later today or tomorrow.

Monday, February 1, 2010

She arrived-----Ruby Gail Lee

Grandma Gail is rejoicing in heaven as she welcomes Ruby Gail Lee today.  Ruby arrived at 10:01 today.  She weighed in at 8 lb 6 oz and stood tall at 19 1/2".  I should add that Ruby was Aaron's grandma Lee's name and of course we all know Gail.   Aaron said everyone is doing fine.  I had to have a short tear session as I could not welcome the news with my Gail but I do rejoice for Aaron/Amy.  Aaron sounded so excited and happy.
I don't know who Aaron has been able to call at this point but he said it was fine to put it on the blog.  Amy's parents are driving to Madison now and Cynthia stayed there last night and she took Leo to day care before she left for the funeral.  It certainly sounds like a family approach to new life and I am so excited to now have Henry, Liam, Leo, Faustina, Audrey, Jude and Ruby.  I would say there is not a boring or mundane name in the bunch!!!  I am not sure how to celebrate but I will think of something to do for the special occasion.  Maybe I will have a hamburger for lunch!
I just knew the baby would come today.  I had a difficult morning.  It was one of those mornings where I could not get Gail off my mind.  I wanted to hold her, I wanted to kiss her, I wanted to look into her eyes, I wanted to tell her how much I loved her so to hear of the birth of Ruby Gail it made my day.  I will be so excited to see a picture  and then to travel to Madison in a couple of weeks to see Ruby.

Happy February

Here I am at Fort Totten pouring cement for some of their new houses near Devils Lake.  The dots on the drum are so you can tell if it is going around.  This would have been in 1973 and I was earning a whopping $2.00 an hour.  I almost did not drive that summer as the owner stalled at raising my pay from $1.90 to $2.00.  In early May I was actually out the door and almost in the car and he came to get me to say I would get the raise.
I posted this picture because it reminded me of Gail's funeral.  How you say???   Well as we were finished with the prayers at the cemetery and they started to lower the casket into the ground Henry and Liam were right there and Liam was so close someone came and got him back a bit.  John and Travis watching here reminded me of that.  Kids are so curious and always want to see, hear and learn.  It is amazing how we, as a society, seem to often do a good job of stifling that natural curiosity
When Travis and I went to Devils Lake last fall Lake Ready Mix had just stopped doing cement work and was full time into ATV now.  Joe Kraft, one of the owners was still there.
I was able to get several boxes out to the recycle this morning.  I swear that as I go through some of those things I should not but I feel badly.  Gail had so many plans, so many projects and she saved so many things for those that I feel I am throwing a bit of Gail out as I do this but I just know I will NEVER use much of those things so they do need to go.  There was a big box labeled "little boxes" and it was almost full!!  What is a guy to do??
Cynthia is in Milwaukee for the funeral of one of her girl friend's dad.  He got sick in October and passed away last week. 
I went to Mike's and John's soccer game last night to watch Faustina.  It was the first soccer game I have gone to for many many years.  Little Faustina now is not wearing diapers and her little butt is so small that her pants tend to fall down.  So she runs around with plumbers butt much of the time!!