Forever grateful

Views of life

Unforgettable  (Fictional Short)

It was late.  Practice was late as we readied to meet our cross-county rival’s.  

Remi’s Mom had invited Lou and me over for dinner and to spend the night so we could finish our science project which was also due tomorrow.  After a pasta and sauce dinner Remi, our quarterback both on the football field and in our science lab, led us to the basement to finish our small homemade blimp.  Remi was deciding between MIT and Yale both with full academic scholarship.  He knew more about science than the rest of our class combined.  He also threw a helluva pass!

Sweet Lou James played left tackle.  At 6’9″ and 290 he was the largest human being we had ever known.  He was also the nicest.  Sweet was a nickname but completely descriptive, except on the football field.  He was a man among boys but did not let that stop him from competing.  His size and play had landed him a full ride at Ohio State.
Mrs. Remington had to shoo him out of the kitchen after dinner because he was trying to clean up and do dishes.  “Go get that project done, you boys need sleep!” was her scold.

Lou had to bob and weave in the basement between the beams but the job got done.  Now it was time for bed.

Remi didn’t have to show us the guest room.  We knew where it was as we had stayed often over the years.  As always the twin beds had the covers turned down and fresh flowers graced the antique dresser.  We laid awake for a bit talking until Remi had had enough and went to his room.  The whole time we were in there Lou was fiddling with a piece of paper.

It was over two years ago that we spent that night at Remi’s.  I was back in town and wanted to say hi to Mrs. R.  Remi was at school but she brought me into her home like a family member.  I could see the tired eyes that held a certain disbelief.  We all were still in some stage of grief.  When Mrs. R went in the kitchen to get me a drink I glanced through the open door of the guest room.  As per usual the fresh flowers were there.  Next to them was a paper airplane of sorts.  It looked like what Lou had been working on that night.  Curious I had to have a look.  

The note read: “You’re the best Mrs. R! Thanks.”

They said it was a heart defect that stole Sweet Lou James.  The biggest man I ever would know. 



View From the Other Side


When I was young I used to look out the window of my bedroom across the valley to the hills beyond and wonder what was there and where the cars on top were going.  If I were to walk beyond and keep going it would take me to Lake Erie and beyond to the Great Plains and The Rockies and eventually to the Pacific Coast.  It called me.  I wanted to go even at a young age.  I did eventually travel a bit but not to the extent of my dreams.  We make little tiny decisions every day that affect the rest of our life.  I have come to the conclusion after deep introspection and self searching that we are not really in control.  The little decisions we make put us on THE road, the only road that we are destined to take.

I started this blog as a release of emotion for myself with the hope that someone else could benefit from this release.  My thoughts put down, in an essay of sorts, has helped me through some tough times and has given me great relief and solace.  I hope that even with my limited readership it has done the same for someone else.  The journey of caregiving  morphed to a journey of grief.  Each had its own challenges and, oddly, rewards as well.  I want to thank those of you for your kind words and comments along the way.  I think it is time (one of those little decisions) to end my caregiving blog.  I will write again in another venue, perhaps another time.  We will have to see where the road goes!

So maybe this is what it looks like from the other side of the hill, beyond the sunset.  How life has twisted and turned!  As always, my eyes are wide open and full of wonder like the kid looking over the hill.  I want you all to know how much I appreciate you in my life.  Go every day, search, love, believe, want, be satisfied, listen to the birds, find a new band, look at the horizon and wonder, “what if?”, but most of all…..SEEK JOY!  It is out there, every day, even at the worst moments of life.  Be strong and face life with courage.  You are on the path given to you.  Make the decisions with that in mind.

Seek joy.  Peace my friends.


Just Be

When the day is dreary it is sometimes difficult to get up and go out.  A book, a cup of coffee and a fire are all inviting ideas to escape the walk.  Nice ideas, however dogs still need to walk.  I don’t have the curl up by the fire pups.  Mine need to be walked.

So with an extra layer and wintery garb we head out on our daily trek.  It is rainy with a slight breeze and the fog is rolling over beautiful Hemlock Lake.  The fog quiets the world like the Principal at school subdues the unruly students.  It is serene and inviting.  It is perfect in a way.

How often is it that we anticipate being uncomfortable so we avoid our tasks or responsibilities.  It could be a social event we are unsure about, that walk in the cold, that swim in the ocean.  I wonder if by avoiding the discomfort I missed out on something special.  

Recently I have looked at life differently.  I see a life that was molded for the purpose it was to assume.  Guided by unseen hands. The thousand daily decisions that each of us make seems to be a woven fabric of joy and tears preparing us.  I think I have learned to not fight it.  Enjoy the walk in the mist.  Step out into the world and wash yourself with the thought of just being.  No pressure.  You are on the path you need to be on.  We get into trouble when we force ourselves to something different.  

Peace and joy!

View From the Top

Perspective.  So often our goal is to reach the top.  The view is magnificent….sometimes.  There are times that the summit is the best and there are times that the viewpoint where you are currently is so much better.  

Can you look over a valley floor from the hillside and see the pain of someone’s heartache?  Can you imagine the joy of a playing child from up there?  Distance lowers objectivity and creates an insulated perspective.  

Can you really say that our leadership whether corporate or governmental provides the best viewpoint for the workers and the governed.  Are they creating dogma in a cloud, shrouded from reality?

Even in our own families we make decisions without full clarity.  We, the people of the world, are complex and integrated in our surroundings and clouded by the judgements of others.  We must find our inner voice.  The one that works through the fog to the truth.

The walk was damp and foggy.  The silence was brilliant.  Life’s arteries were filled with the snow melt and we’re rushing to the lakes below.  Growing larger and faster as each vein collided with the next.  Singular of purpose, refill, revitalize, rejoice.  Wildlife quieted in reverey.  “Just be”, the trees whispered.  Find clarity in the fog.  The world rejoices.  Don’t look.  Listen.  Whatever your viewpoint today.  Listen.  Peace and joy are there, even in the cloud.

A Path Well Walked

 A hiking path, well marked, winds it’s way through the barren trees.  Littered with footprints in the snow from previous treks.  We walk enjoying our conversations as they peak and wane.  How many times before had we taken this well worn path individually, divided by schedule and responsibilities.  How many others were like us?  Baring their souls to the trees in an effort to be healed and praying for understanding.  We are fragile.  Our lives thrown asunder by life itself.  Yet we are resilient.  Bearing burdens of trials and tribulation.  In the end, we are often as strong as we have to be.  The path of troubles you are on has been trod by many.  There are few unique problems in the world.  We exist.  We strive.  We struggle.  Then, when least expected, there is company on the walk and perhaps the burden of the soul is eased.

Peace and joy my friends.

Soothing the Soul with Music

I don’t know about you but in some form or another music has been one of the biggest influences on my life.  It creates or reflects a mood, offers entertainment, initiates thought, provides subtle background.  It is a vehicle.  There is nothing like it.

My tastes in music have changed dramatically over the years.  Pop, folk, country, blues, jazz and Christian music have all spoken to me at one time or another.  What I always seem to come back to is a great voice.  I think the human voice with minimal accompaniment by acoustical instruments is the purest form of emotion.  That is my go to.  Others have their own styles that speak to them.

The key is to use the music, or whatever it is that helps you, to understand your own thoughts or get through the tough times.  I write as well to work through my “stuff”.  Many times before I write it is a song that starts the thoughts that turn into the article.  Find your vehicle, find your voice, sooth your soul with music.

Peace and joy to you all!


Filling Your Basin

Typical spring day, cloudy with occasional rain.  The air is clean and moist with a gentle breeze.  A bald eagle rides the air currents facing into the warm south wind and with a gentle flap of those enormous wings, it keeps him almost stationary over the intended target.

Walking along the  lake it is wet and a bit sloppy in spots but it is an old roadway so much of it is dry to walk on.  The pups will need a towel when they get home but they revel in the dampness and the odors from other dogs and wildlife.  The hillsides gather the morning rains into rivulets  that cascade down ravines splashing and tumbling to the lake below.  Last summer’s drought is a memory and the winter and spring have refilled the basin that was very low last fall.

Losing someone close creates an emotional drought that affects every aspect of your being.  The stress and physical demands of caregiving drains the basin of emotion.  Often the only important need tended to is that of the patient.  Suddenly that goes away when you lose that person.  What is left is an emotional drought.  That does not refill overnight.  It takes time and patience.  It takes a return to life, a refocus of values and resilience.  Nothing happens without working at it.  Maybe it takes some time to refill the basin but I hope and pray that in the natural course of life that the basin is full and strong for the next time it is needed.

I wish you all a full basin that overflows with peace and joy.


I love to take photos especially landscapes and nature pics.  I do not consider myself a photographer because I think you need to know about cameras and composition.  I have no knowledge of those, I simply frame and snap what I see.  I have opportunity and try to take advantage of that.  Photos are easy because if they are bad, you hit delete.  Other things are not so easy.


I used to do our own taxes because we were always trying to save money.  I was never confident that I was doing the right thing.  We had accounting help before and truthfully I was not happy with one of the two people we took them to.  It was important to me to have full confidence in that person.

With all that went on this year I took my taxes to a person I know who is a CPA.  For the first time in a very long time I did not stress over this job.  I realized that I had complete confidence that they were going to be done better than I could possibly do them.  I’m really enjoying the stress free part of having someone do my taxes.  From now on if I can afford it I will let the experts handle them.  In the case of taxes it is not what you know it is what you don’t know that gets you.

It has been that way with grief as well.  I thought I was doing pretty ok on my own.  I guess it’s a guy thing.  A few things have happened in my life and I realize that this might better be handled with the advice of experts.  I have joined a couple of groups and I have recently talked to some friends that have also lost their spouse.  It’s easy to be wrong, that takes no effort.  They are experts for a reason.  It isn’t easy, it takes work.  Grief is a big ol’ boulder.  It doesn’t move with the nudge of a shoulder.  Sometimes you have to chip away at the rock, breaking it into pieces you can handle.  The tools to break that boulder lie with the experts and friends who know.  My friends still have varying sized boulders in their space, but with time and work they get smaller.

I am not now nor have I ever been sorry.  People often say I’m sorry for your loss.  I don’t dwell on the loss, I revel in the life that was.  I politely say thank you realizing they are not experts.  There is a boulder in the yard.  I’ll chip away at it with help.  It will not define me but it will always be there.  Hopefully with work and time it will get smaller.

I have a new title and I don’t know the job description.  For right now I will do what I have almost always tried to do.  I’ll try to do what is right for me and those I love.  It may take a while to get through the yard for a while until I chip away at that boulder.  If you see me and I’m smiling you will know that I am getting there, chipping away, happy to have lived completely enough to have lost someone I love.  I go through this imperfect life as always seeking peace and joy.  Humor and perspective are awesome boulder chipping tools.

Love your life, seek peace, seek joy!




Fixer Upper

Laurie loved the show Fixer Upper.  Incredibly popular because of the hosts’ playful easy manner and rustic farmhouse style like Laurie’s Christmas fence, I couldn’t help but make parallels to life in general.  Like the old gold miner’s town we visited in Arizona there is something about older styles and buildings that draws us to its nostalgic charm.

In 2011 Laurie and I went to North Carolina to adopt a pair of cattle dogs.  Zeezee is the girl shown and was a true rescue with unbelievable issues.  To this day she is very reactive and quite sensitive to noise and remains very excitable.  She is also so very loving and sweet and incredibly smart.  She has her emotional scars and her quaint quirky ways but those imperfections are what makes her such a special little lady.  She was very difficult for the rescue to adopt out and I am proud that we were able to give her a great home.

We as people need to rescued sometimes too.  I often think that adopting dogs give us purpose and makes us better as people.  I have said before I wonder who rescued whom?  We are so very imperfect, so human.  Having lost Laurie, I was drawn to this beach photo that I had fun with a few years ago.  Grief often makes you feel like that pic.  A little unsteady, wavy, kind of stretched out mentally.  I know there is purpose for all of us.  After caregiving for the last few years and then losing my beautiful bride, in an odd way, it makes you feel like you have less purpose than before.  I am searching for my next purpose.  I have been lucky, I suppose, because so many people never really identify their purpose.  I have had several that I know of and so many more that I have not!  We try to be perfect to a fault.  What we are is perfectly imperfect.

There is beauty in the imperfection of nature as well.  We went to Sedona years ago.  Insanely beautiful.  After an impressive hail storm our guide drove us for sunset opportunities on a hill overlooking the valley.  I snapped this rainbow photo as the sun popped out after the storm!  Perfectly imperfect.  The last photo was taken with an old phone that had a vintage camera app.  Again right after a storm on Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  The camera phone brought out the purples and to this day is one of my favorite pics.

There is such joy and vitality in imperfection.  How often do we love a singer with a raspy voice.  We call it character.  The old farmhouse imperfect look, we call that character.  A colorful person that draws your attention, we call that person a character.  That dog that has been through so much who is now our best friend, we call a character.  Perfectly imperfect.  I guess no matter the circumstance, we are all Fixer Uppers!  There is beauty and joy in that.  Let’s give ourselves a break.

Peace and Joy to all!








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