My memories of him

otto-tune Twenty-five years ago today, Otto and I walked into a courthouse because he said that he had some business there. I was dressed in turquoise shorts with a white T-shirt that had arrows pointing to the sleeves and the neck to show where the arms and head went.

Near the hem of the T-shirt were the words, “blonde T-shirt.”

We marched into the Justice of the Peace office, and Otto asked for a marriage license. I think my heart stopped. We had known each other for a few years by then. He had been an instructor in the electronics school I attended. When I went to Japan for my first tour of service, he was retiring from the Navy.

When the clerk asked for 70 dollars, we had to search through all of our pockets, purses, and crevices for enough change to pay for it. We managed to come up with 69 dollars and 90 cents. The clerk pitched in ten cents. Thirty minutes later we were married by the JP in a little garden outside.

Oh yes, for the first time after knowing him for almost four years, I learned his legal name. Nope, it wasn’t Otto.

I had been on adventures before meeting this man. I went to South Africa for two years and was able to see Johannesburg and Cape Town. It was a dream that came true in an unexpected way. And when he went his way, and I went to Japan, I enjoyed my adventures there.

Together we traveled around Panama, seeing the canal and some of the small villages in Chiriqui province of Panama. It had beautiful sand beaches and villages cut into jungle. There was even a small zoo where a monkey got close enough to me to try to steal my hot pink ball cap.

We transferred to Germany where we hiked to crumbling castles that overlooked the river. We walked through one of the towns where famous jewelers made jewelry from stones that had been shipped from Africa and other exotic places.

He was there when I almost died in his arms.

The one thing that I will always remember about my dear one was his sense of humor. He loved to stir things up. When he first met me and discovered that I was sensitive to blonde jokes, he told me one blonde joke every time he saw me. I learned to laugh at it.

He told me something important when my moods were so extreme because I was on prednisone and other harsh drugs. I had to take them to live. It didn’t make living easy though. He said, “Everything has a negative and a positive. You can switch how you feel about it.”

Today I want to remember that irrepressible smile that warmed me. I wanted to get closer to him.

I only hope that I will see him again, hold him in my arms, and smell his scent. That he will whisper one of his tasteless jokes in my ear so that I laugh.

Today I’ll wear his favorite color– red.

So another holiday (remember to smile)

Out_house_useage_ The fourth of July weekend is here and if Otto was with us, he would be 69 next week. Two years ago this week, we were frantically going from doctor to doctor to find out why he didn’t feel good.The cancer word was being whispered.

Last night, I watched the clouds form. I sat in my chair, listened to the crack of thunder, watched the lightning, and counted the seconds between lightning and thunder.

I talked to him. If he were here physically we would have an upstairs apartment and he would be watching the storm. When I slipped onto the balcony with him, I would snuggle under his arm and we would watch the storm. I was safe there.

I was the gloomy one– the Eeyore. He was the one who knew how to smile at life’s idiosyncrasies. At the very least he always had a quip on his lips. I had heard most of his jokes — he cleaned them up in polite society, but when he was with his buddies, he had some of the funniest and dirtiest jokes around. I didn’t see his pranks, but I heard about some of them. Let’s say that there was a little bit of Loki in him.

He had to be more circumspect when he worked for the State– which is why I didn’t show this photo of him joking around an outhouse while he lived. Still this shows his spirit and what I loved most about him.

Funny– he had a hard start in life. He was a preemie and almost didn’t make it. He spent most of his young life in foster care. He had to learn how to take care of himself at a very young age. He was my light in a very dark world of chronic illness.

So I miss the door opening around five-ten p.m. in the evening. We also greeted each other with a kiss and a hug. I miss the smile, the jokes, and even those days when he couldn’t even muster a smile because his day had gone badly.

I miss his quizzes. He was a master at electronics and used to teach it in both the Army and the Navy. But mostly he was the one person in my life that saw me as worthwhile.

A strong man. A kind man. And sometimes a scary man.

He was a Vietnam Vet– and he did know how to protect us.

As I think of him today, I don’t want to cry and wail. I did that for months after his death. No, I want to smile. I want to remember his jokes and his joy. I want to remember that he loved me so much. I want to remember his bravery and his willingness to poke at the bear when she was grumpy–

Day after Summer Solstice and Strawberry Moon

Lone Tree Full Moon

From Pixabay

 

It was a hot day yesterday about 115 degrees and I was invited to sit in a friend’s pool for a few hours. Yes, I accepted.

The sun baked down on our heads and the only reason I didn’t get a sunburn–I have that light light skin– was because I was in the water and under a tree. It has been a long time since I have sat in a cool pool of water and watched the wasps land to take a drink. My late hubby and I would sit in my brother’s pool many years ago when I was half out of my mind after taking some serious prednisone and chemotherapy. There is something calming about sitting in the water, feeling it lap on your skin, while the air is as hot as an oven. The only thing better is a slight breeze to whip up once in awhile to cool your wet hair.

So we sat in the pool and swapped stories. New friends and old stories. When I was a young girl, my father had a friend who would come every summer to visit us with his family for a couple of days as the sun began to heat up the high desert. We didn’t have a computer or even a TV in the house. So when his friend came, we would sit around a round table, drinking lemonade and eating crackers, and my dad and his friend would swap stories.

Before my father became a hermit, he was in the Navy and was also a door-to-door salesman. I had heard most of my father’s stories. Because we had to make our own entertainment, we would tell or read stories to each other on Sunday evenings. However, his friend had other stories that were more colorful and were not quite fit for children’s ears.

When he would start on the stories, my parents would send us out to play. I would sit quietly in the corner so that they would forget I was there and I would listen. It was then that I gained a yearning to travel and see new places.

I miss the stories. Today, we have so many electronic toys and gadgets. So many of our stories are processed through the same clearing house. We don’t talk to each other any more. We don’t tell each other stories.

There is this push to read to the children. It is a good goal. Maybe a better goal would be to take a night a week and tell stories to your children of your lives and the lives of your parents.

We are all made of stories.

 

It’s been an emergency week here

IMG_0055Foxy my little chihuahua-terrier mix was sick on Wednesday. She was vomiting yellow foam and then couldn’t keep anything down–food or water.

I called my vet, wrapped her up, and took her down to be looked at. After x-rays and blood tests, the doc told me that my poor doggy had pancreatitis.

Then came the questions – What did I feed her? Did I feed her human food? Did she get into anything poisonous. Since the answers were all no, the nurse asked me the same questions two hours later. Finally I told her that I checked the house and anything dangerous to the doggy was above her reach–even jumping reach.

Then I explained that Foxy was a rescue dog and had been living on the street when she was found. When I got her I had to have her washed a couple of times to get that black oil out of her fur. She had found a way to keep her smell from attracting the coyotes in the area.

So they gave her a shot to stop the vomiting, they started her on an IV to flush the toxins out, and they gave me a prescription on food she could eat. It is a liver diet.

I picked her up in the evening and took her back the next day.

Needless to say, the entire thing screwed up my writing and my mind. Thankfully, Foxy is getting her energy back. I have to give her a daily pill and also some type of liquid to put in her mouth.

Two days I have used guile to get the liquid in her mouth (a treat). It didn’t work this morning. I actually had to open her mouth. So I have a genius dog– go figure.

Anyway I have been doing a lot of cuddling with her for my health and hers.

I couldn’t lose her this month. September 19th will be the day I lost my late hubby –one year ago.

He would have been 68 today

Out_house_useage_Last night I knew today would be a punch in the gut. My late-hubby, Otto, would have been 68 today.

There were a few tears when I woke up about 4 a.m. this morning after a restless night.

Instead of thinking of his death, I want to think of his life. This picture shows that smile that made me love him. And yes, the inappropriate picture to prove that he did know how to use an outhouse.

Now if I could just remember his jokes– although most of them are inappropriate as well. He liked to get me with this one.

If you call a guy who works in the matshop a matman,
What do you call a woman who works in a matshop?

(a mattress)

(Matshop means maintenance shop btw)

So yea, I miss the easy laughs and just lying my head on his shoulders with his arms around me. I never thought I’d say that I miss his jokes.

A step into the light

lsgate

The sun’s rays peeped through my bedroom window. I stretched and limped into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. The normal routine is comforting. I don’t strain to hear him say “get up sleepy head” or any of the morning jokes.

I start the morning chores without crying into his shirts and pants. I have already given away most of his clothes, although I do wear his Pendleton shirts. They feel like a hug from him. Still I am a little apprehensive about the door, where I put a lot of his things. It opens sometimes by itself. Inside his his tools, his grave flag, and some of his coats. He was into Emergency preparedness. Soon I will go through his go-bag, but not yet.

I start a grocery list for me. I am still trying to figure out ways to make food for only one person. After his death, I couldn’t even look at food. It meant that we would sit down for dinner and talk. Afterwards we would watch the news and I would lean against him with his arm around me. Yes, when we fed each other, it meant more than when we said, “I love you.” Still live goes on and I must eat.

I don’t get that quick shock when I see his picture anymore. It still hurts that he is gone, but the stabs are not as intense and the heart is not as raw.

Many years ago I learned a truth. If I ignore this grief, it will hurt for far longer. I get these sudden urges to send him a joke to his email address or to tell him the newest outrage. He is gone.

There is a little light though. I am writing. I finally finished a rough draft of a story. Plus I enjoy my walks with my dog. I am not affronted by life. When I get a little stronger, I will take photos again.

He wanted me to be happy and to enjoy my life. Not today. Not tomorrow and maybe not this year. When the memories become sweet again, then I will have stepped fully into the light.

When the lines in our head crash

Are we golems? Do we following the coding in our heads (or the genetic codes in our bodies) exactly? What happens when the lines crash in our heads and we have to rewrite?

Sarah Hoyt has compared us with Terry Pratchett’s golems in that we have certain lines in our heads and in our bodies that we “must not cross.” Plus when we go through extreme physical, mental, and/or spiritual trauma, we have the chance to rewrite our lines, whether for good or ill.

It is a rare person who doesn’t go through some trauma. But, I had a small epiphany– To completely change my life track in my twenties, I had to be broken and then I had to pick up the pieces and glue myself together. It wasn’t easy. I needed help. My life view completely changed. I knew that if I wanted any bit of happiness in my life, I would have to take charge of it. I would have to be so independent that I didn’t need anyone. Glad to say that when I met my late-hubby, he caught me before the “I don’t need anyone” had completely solidified. We needed each other, but we were a complete unit.

Now I am back under the blood sun and my lines need to be re-written again. I know that I am broken because I can feel where I cracked the first time. I went to one grief group and found that the break is pretty common with those folks who have lost a vital portion of their life. (I lost a vital portion from disease and now from losing him.)

Every one knows the five stages of grief. What they don’t tell you is that you cycle through it over and over – sometimes several times a day. And that when the grief becomes easier to bear, you wonder why you were left without him. Then comes the despair.

Words are inadequate to explain how there is a real hole in your being in the center of your chest, how the pain radiates out and taints your perspective, and how the blood sun sits in your head and asks you “why are you still here? Why haven’t you committed Sati?”

Otto wouldn’t leave until I promised him that I wouldn’t follow him. I am holding on with all ten fingers–scratched, bleeding, and fighting. Without that promise, I would not have my Foxy. Without that promise, I might have walked into the blood sun.

One of the lines in my head is that I am loyal and that I would follow him and stand with him forever. That line has been obliterated.

One of the lines in my head was that I would do anything to save him and heal him. That line is obliterated.

One line that is thin and fraying is that I am a protector. I keep that one by caring for Foxy. She has saved me when the blood sun’s voice was strong.

There are other lines that are so deep that they can’t be broken even though I have done my best to bend them. Always care for your family was beaten in my head. I was able to change the meaning of family to mean those that were made-family.

There are only two roads for me… Despair and die, or live and one day be happy. Foxy makes me happy.