Life

Saying Goodbye is Tough

On Tuesday we laid my grandfather to rest.

He would have turned 84 on Wednesday. Until 7 months ago he was a healthy, vibrant 83-year-old man who had not a care in the world. He had a loving family. He enjoyed seeing his great-grandchildren every chance he got. He loved talking politics (even if he was the only Republican in the family…). He watched the stock market like a hawk. He liked the St. Louis Cardinals and the University of Illinois football and basketball teams.

He was my Grandpa T.

But liver and lung cancer took him from us.

In March he fell. He had fainted. When he fell he caught his arm on the dog crate and had a terrible gash open up. That wound would be the first of many issues he faced in the next 7 months. They finally determined that his fainting episodes (he would have numerous) were due to a racing heart issue. He had a procedure to fix that. It worked. Then he had some issues with his prostate and not being able to urinate. He had to have a catheter. He finally had to have some sort of procedure where they “microwaved” his prostate. That seemed to help things. All through this, he was steadily losing weight. We knew there was something else going on. But he was a stubborn old man who played his personal health very close to his chest. In March he weighed a healthy 175 pounds. When he died he was 120 pounds. When he was finally diagnosed with the cancer it was a crushing blow. Honestly, he had taken pretty good care of himself his whole life. He stayed active until he was unable to. But by the time he was finally diagnosed treatment was not an option. We discussed hospice instead.

Never in a million years did I think I would watch my grandfather slowly die. But I did. Over the months, weeks and days, we slowly watched him essentially waste away. He had to have been in a great deal of pain, but he was stubborn and nearly refused to ask for help. His pain tolerance level was ridiculously high. So near the end when he finally admitted that his pain level was a 9 on a 1-10 scale, we knew it had to be out of this world pain. We were lucky that we were able to keep him at his house for as long as possible. When he was a few days away from his death they took him to the hospital. He spent a couple of days there and then was moved to hospice. He was in hospice for less than 24 hours before he passed peacefully just before 1am on Oct. 17, 2015.

I was never close to my mother’s side of the family. There was no real reason for this, it’s just how things happened to end up. But the last few months I spent more time with my grandparents than I probably had in the last 5 years combined. I’m thankful for that now. His last words to my dad were “I feel like shit.” That was my grandfather. Classic Grandpa T. right there.

I was lucky enough to have one final conversation with him the night before he was moved into hospice. It was the night he admitted he was at a pain level of 9. And while most of his conversation made absolutely no sense, he left me with the most precious words ever. As I was leaving he told me he loved me. Those were his last words to me. It’s a memory I will cherish forever. The next time I saw him it was just a few hours before he passed and he was completely unaware of his surroundings. I was very glad that I had made the decision to visit with him the night before. I was able to say my final goodbye.

Of course that didn’t make his actual passing any easier. I was still heartbroken when my mom called me Saturday morning with the news. But his pain was over and that eases my pain a great deal.

It’s tough to tell someone goodbye. It’s tough to walk out of a hospital room knowing it’s the last time you will see someone alive. It’s tough to sit through a funeral knowing that once the casket is closed you will never see that person again. It’s tough to know that my children never had a chance to fully know him. It’s tough to figure out how to tell your 3-year-old Grandpa T. has passed away (something we still haven’t dealt with…).

But it’s a part of life. It’s the sucky part of life. But it’s life. I was lucky to have him in my life for 30 years. And I have a lot of wonderful memories of him. And like all people dealing with grief, we will heal. Slowly. But it will happen.

But those last words … “I love you, I truly do.”

That’s the beautiful part of life.

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Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, Oct. 12, 2015

Mailbox Mondays

I have been in a terrible reading slump. So it makes perfect sense that I picked up at 700+ page book at Target last week … right?

The GoldfinchTheo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a wealthy Park Avenue family. He is bewildered by his strange new home and, tormented by his longing for his mother, clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that has come into his possession.

As an adult, Theo moves easily between the antiques store where he works, the drawing rooms of the rich, and the underworld of art. He is alienated, unmoored, and in love – and drawn inexorably by the power of that painting into a narrowing, dangerous circle.

 

And then I just joined Book of the Month (based on Beth Fish Reads’ recent recommendation) and received my first selection:

Fates and FuriesThey meet in the final months of college, and by graduation, they have married. It’s 1991. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. There are lean, romantic years that follow: potluck parties in a Manhattan basement apartment; a wilting acting career that doesn’t pay the bills; a household that seems to run on good luck and good sex. A decade or so later, though, Lotto and Mathilde are on their way. He is a world-famous playwright, she is integral to his success. Their life and marriage are the envy of friends, the very definition of successful partnership.

It is with an electric thrill, then, that the reader realizes things are even more remarkable than they have seemed. In an emotionally complicated twist, the perspective shifts, and what began as a story about one extraordinary union becomes so much more. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, in prose vibrant and original, Fates and Furies is a profoundly moving, surprising, and provocative novel about the yoke joining love, art, and power, and about the influence of perception. Exquisitely imagined, it is a book that defies expectation, stirring both the mind and the heart.

Miscellaneous Ramblings

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot…”

… fire away!

I am looking for your best book recommendations. The best 30 actually. Here’s why…

I have been a longtime member of Paperbackswap since 2007. When they started charging for membership back in February, they were hit with a backlash of people’s outrage. Membership costs had always been something that was a potential, but I don’t think anyone ever really thought it would become a reality. I personally chose to stay on as a standard member (meaning I paid more money to have unlimited swaps) because at the time I had 46 credits and about $25 in PBS money logged into the site that I was going to lose if I chose to leave. So I decided that I would stay on for at least a year and see how things went.

Eight months later, I’m facing the reality that I’m going to be ready to step away from Paperbackswap when my membership is up for renewal in February. I have noticed a considerable drop in requests coming my way (of course, I also don’t have many books listed in the system either – when we moved last November, we paid per pound and the books that I had already read went to the donation pile…) But the real truth hit me last week when I had a request come in that I actually ended up cancelling because I didn’t want to take the time to dig out the book, log onto the site on my computer, print the postage, wrap the book and mail it. It was at that point that I decided that my interest in the site was obviously gone and it’s time to wrap things up.

But there’s still my 30 credits that I have hanging out there. These are credits that I have earned over the years for books that I have sent to other members. I don’t want to just lose them all.

So I’m asking you guys, my readers, to hit me with some of your best recommendations. Keep in mind, that I’m really looking for books that will be readily available in the PBS system. This means more backlist books … books that aren’t the “it” book of the moment, books that are by well-known authors and are easily found (still in print).

So leave me with one, ten or thirty selections in the comment sections … you never know, I might find a new favorite this way 🙂

Life, Miscellaneous Ramblings

Sometimes I just got nothin’….

I have no reading mojo.

I have no blogging mojo.

I just got nothin’.

But that’s okay. I’ll come out of my funk eventually. Until then, I’ll just continue to buy 700+ page books at Target that I doubt I ever read (The Goldfinch) and I’ll pop in here occasionally.

I’ve been seeing a lot of people “rebranding” recently. I have a feeling that this is the direction I will be heading as well. I am so much more than just books these days. I always feel like I bore people with my mundane life, but ironically, those personal posts are the ones that I always enjoy reading the most from other bloggers.

I’ve been doing a lot of online stalking of journaling/planning addicts. I’ve been doing crossword puzzles in the evening while my husband and I catch up on our TV shows that we’ve been putting off for months (our DVR is quickly running out of space…). Essentially, I’ve been doing everything but reading.

Until I figure out what’s going on and where my mojo has gone to … stay tuned 🙂

Life

Family Vacation, September 2015

Well, we’ve been home from vacation for far too long (boo!). But when we first got back I had to jump straight into my insane time at work. Then I came down with a cold (which I’m still nursing….this thing will never end) and I didn’t feel like getting on the computer much. But now it’s time to sit down and “document” our vacation.

It had been over a year since we had a vacation and 3 years since our last “big” vacation (Hawaii in 2012). And it was our first big family vacation for Garrett. He had been to Florida once to spend a few days at my grandmother’s condo down there, but this was on a whole different scale for him. We were a little more than nervous because this was also the first time that Nathan and I had taken Garrett on vacation by ourselves. We usually had other family members accompany us to help us. And we were leaving the country with him – we figured we were either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid! Ha! But really, things turned out pretty well so it wasn’t that bad. Poor Katelyn had to stay home with the grandparents, she was not old enough to go on the cruise with us and we didn’t really want to wait for her to be old enough, we needed the break ASAP. It was also the first time I had been away from her overnight, it was a little difficult but it all worked out 🙂

Now, on to the trip. We flew out of St.Louis down to Ft. Lauderdale the night before our cruise was to leave. We were booked for an 8 night cruise on the Carnival Conquest visiting St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Antigua and Nassau.

IMG_0126Carnival is not usually our first go-to cruise line, but I really fell in love with the itinerary, plus the price was good. That being said, we were actually pretty happy with our experience on Carnival this time around. The Conquest is a nice ship, but it is showing its age in a few spots and could definitely use a little bit of a refresher in the near future. But the crew really made this cruise exceptional, I was extremely pleased with the service we received throughout the trip.

First sea daysWe started our cruise with two full days at sea. When I was a kid I used to love days at sea because it meant I could spend most of my time with the other kids in the kids club. Garrett wasn’t too impressed with the kids club. He went 4 nights for about 2 hours each, so we did get some free time to ourselves, but not as much as we had hoped for. I hope by the time we go on our next cruise he will enjoy the kids club much more. So the first two days at sea were spent with some time at the pool and a really cool Cat in the Hat parade/story time! Garrett loved seeing the Cat in the Hat!!

Butterfly FarmOur first stop was St. Maarten. We chose to do an excursion to the Butterfly Farm. We obviously had to choose kid-friendly excursions, and while this would not have been something we would have chosen if we were cruising child-less, we really enjoyed our time at the Butterfly Farm. Garrett was a little leery at first, but he soon warmed up to the place and really enjoyed seeing the different colors on the butterflies. Overall, St. Maarten was just an okay place in my opinion, they never really recovered from the terrible hurricane 20 years ago, and the French side is having some issues with really high property taxes, so St. Maarten was not exactly as nice as I had come to imagine it (my parents went shortly before the hurricane hit and have raved about the island all these years – so I had really high hopes). But we did enjoy being there for a day trip.

AntiguaNext up was Antigua. We just planned a simple beach day. The last time Garrett had been to the beach he was about 18 months old. He was not impressed at that point, so we really didn’t know how he would respond. He’s quite particular about his hands being clean, so I didn’t figure he would be all that interested in digging around in the sand (he gets that little “quirk” from me – and I hate sand, the darned stuff gets everywhere.) But he ended up really loving it. Him and Nathan had to build the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse sand castle, ha! Nathan was mad at me that I didn’t pack his shovel and pail for the beach, but we just didn’t have the room!

St ThomasSt. Thomas was our third stop. Once again we chose a simple beach day. But this beach was absolutely gorgeous! We were at Magen’s Bay. Just such a beautiful place!! The trip there was a little crazy, quite hilly and such, but the views were stunning. I would highly recommend everyone to check this beach out if you’re ever in St. Thomas. Also, St. Thomas is definitely an island that Nathan and I would love to go back and stay like a week at sometime in the future – we enjoyed it that much!

Green Eggs and HamThen we had one last day at sea. This was the day Garrett loved the most. We got to do the Cat in the Hat breakfast! He was in heaven! This was also where my camera died (I had a second battery … back in the cabin!) so I only got a few shots here. I couldn’t believe it, but he even ate the Green Eggs and Ham. He’s a pretty picky eater, so I didn’t really know how he would take to the eggs being green, but he didn’t even notice! He was just too enthralled with everything going on around him to even notice, probably! It was a really cute thing the ship put together for the passengers. Nathan and I even enjoyed it!

NassauOur final port was Nassau. Nathan and I had been to Nassau once before on a cruise, and we had a lot of trouble deciding which excursion to choose. We wanted to head out to the Atlantis Hotel, but we figured it probably wouldn’t be ideal for Garrett (he hasn’t had swim lessons yet), so instead we decided to do a city tour with a stop at the Ardastra Gardens. We figured we really couldn’t go wrong with a zoo stop for our animal-obsessed son!

We just had such a wonderful time. I can’t wait until Katelyn is older and we can go as a family of 4 – what a wonderful time we will have!!

Misc Vacay