Monday, March 26, 2012

Y-O-D-A .....YODA! yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, YODA!

Eric has fallen in love with a Weird Al song about Yoda and this is the boys version of the song with Eric enthusiastically playing drums and singing, Aiden just chilling with the bass, and Kyle trying not to be embarrassed.  Mom, Luke and I were the captivated audience.....

Our weekend was wonderful and included a surprise visit from Mom.  I was laying in bed with a migraine thinking I wish Mom were here, I need a hug from Mom and within minutes Luke opened the bedroom door and said in astonishment, "you're mom just pulled in! did you know she was coming?"  I didn't and I started bawling like a baby and Mom and I hugged and cried and I felt that teensy bit better because my Mom was there!  :)  Apparently, the boys knew that she was coming but they kept it a secret from Luke and I.  Very impressed boys....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nice Job Arranging the Fruit, Luke!

Men and women are different for so many reasons.....example # 387.....ways to arrange things in the kitchen.  In this particular case, the objects being arranged are fruit.  Basically, it's Luke's fruit sent to him by friends in Florida and I just let him deal with it.  After I took a nice shower, I come to the kitchen and see how he has "nicely" arranged the fruit in front of the toaster oven and in a very outlandish manner.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so I will stop and let you see for yourselves....

Please feel free to comment.......

Live Laugh Love

On this beautiful March Sunday, Luke and the boys are off skiing at Butternut and I am home cleaning and just doing that kind of stuff that mom's do when they are home know browse facebook, walk in circles trying to think what I should do to take advantage of my time alone, and look at texts that my husband keeps sending telling me they are having fun and will see me soon.  I have not accomplished anything really since they left.  My intentions now are to update this blog with posts from other blogs from the past few years.  You know, consolidate my blogs.  Let's give it a go!  Rock and Roll.....(had to choose that as our family blog name, it's one of Luke's most used expressions!)  Really the hard part will be updating the past few difficult months since the last time I posted.....but really it is time...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 2011

I think the best word to describe myself during the month of December 2011 would be numb - oh and exhausted.  I expected that facing the holidays without Dad was going to be excruciating.  Instead, I found it mind-numbing.  Me, the person known to all my friends as a "Christmas freak"  or more kindly as the one who loves Christmas more than the average bird,  could not find any spark for the holidays and only found a little fuel to pretend that I cared, for the sake of the kids.  And this was not because I was sobbing all the time or so so's because I was numb.  That was my first stage of grief and apparently it lasted all of December.

The first week being back at home after Dad passed away was like a dream.....a dream where I obsessively cleaned our house top to bottom, got all the Christmas decorations out, ran errands like a mad woman, and then cleaned some more.  Cleaning seemed to help me maintain the numbness and I think that was just necessary for me at the time.

Only 4 days after Dad's funeral, Mom came up to spend a Saturday with the boys and I.  It was a strange day for sure although there is no name for that kind of word, just a void that we knew couldn't be filled although all of felt the need to fill it somehow.  Mom helped us decorate for Christmas.  I'm so glad she was there for that.  She is the best Christmas decorator I know and the reason I love Christmas so much.  She made it so magical when we were little kids.  I will never forget the magical Christmas's of my childhood and how fortunate we were to have two parents who loved us and each other and loved spending the holidays together and creating that feeling that I can only describe as magical!  I hope I have managed to give the boys the magical feeling of Christmas that my mom instilled in me.....

We celebrated an early Christmas with Joanne and Marc on December 7th because we wouldn't be able to make it down to the Cape for Christmas with the family this year....or ever....really....owning a retail store gives very few days off for holidays, especially the busiest ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We exchanged gifts with them and the kids were in love with their new blankets that Joanne made for them and I was in love with the amazing rocking chair that they made for us together.  It's so comfortable and looks so nice in our living room!  After the gifts and dinner and a quick game of Chinese Checkers with Papa, we all headed out to Kyle's winter concert at school.  The music was great and overall it was a great day with Joanne and Marc.

Kyle had an awesome time at the Iron Horse on December 10th with his friend, Nico and Nico's dad, Matt as well as Luke.  They watched a show performed by Albert Cummings.  Nico and Kyle, the budding musicians sitting in the front row were actually asked on stage by Albert Cummings and Nico played guitar and Kyle played drums with him!  It was awesome!!!  The picture is blurry but this is Kyle playing with Albert Cummings:  okay for some reason I cannot download the picture, but I will try again later!  On with guitar news. Kyle has been taking private lessons since the beginning of the school year and got a new guitar for Christmas.  He is in love with playing the guitar, just like his Dad! 

Christmas celebrations in the house began when my Mom can to our house on Thursday, Dec 22 to spend the holiday weekend.  This was also the boys last day of school.  The excitement in the air from the kids was somewhat infectious, although Mom and I were mostly still numb and dumbfounded by the entire experience that just seemed to be happening to us, rather than requiring our participation.  Well, I shouldn't speak for Mom, but that is exactly how I felt.

On Friday, Dec 22 Mom, the boys, and I went for a little trip up to Pittsfield to visit the Berkshire Museum.  The boys and I did the same thing on the first day of Christmas vacation last year.....maybe a tradition in the making?  It's fun to see the Festival of Trees.....100's of Christmas trees decorated by area businesses.  Spectacular actually. 

Then it was time for making Christmas they say a picture says a thousand words...I'll let these ones speak for themselves...

Nothing better than decorating Christmas cookies with your cousins and having free reign of the frosting and sprinkles...the joys of Christmas!  :)

In the middle of the fun, we did have a minor setback.  Mom had a gallbladder attack that involved a visit to the ER in Great Barrington late Friday night into early Saturday morning.  With records in hand and strict instructions to avoid any fat in her diet, Lindsey and I brought Mom home from the hospital very early on Christmas Eve morning.  Chris arrived later in the morning with Haley and Emily and the excitement levels increased drastically.  Christmas Eve was fun and we all tried our best to be happy and not feel the void that was heavy on our hearts, missing Dad.  We talked about him and remembered past Christmas's and had many good laughs and some good cries as well.  A few more pictures that say much about our Christmas Eve and Christmas morning:

The rest of Christmas vacation was filled with many visits from friends and family.  The boys spent a lot of time with their friends, at our house and their friends' homes.  On December 28th, we had a mini Mt. Holyoke reunion.  Becky and Missy came to visit with their kids.  I'm astonished that between the three of us we have 9 children!  WOW!  We've been busy!

Joanne and Marc came for another visit in December!  They spent New Year's Eve with us.  It was a lazy end of the year.  We were all exhausted, some overwhelmed, and a couple of us sick (that would have been Eric and I).  I personally was happy to say "Goodbye 2011" while at the same time felt like I was losing something special.  It took me a few days of pondering this to realize that entering 2012 would be new territory.  It would be the first entire year of my life without my Dad in it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 2011

November 2011.  Well, this was a month that changed our lives.  Well, it started off with a snow storm and a week long visit from Haley and Emily and ended with Dad's funeral.  Let me try to describe the month that was filled with impossible, wretched, demanding, despairing, astonishing, implausible, uncertain, and ultimately the most loving and caring of moments and experiences I have ever known in my entire life. 
I spent 21 out of the 30 days of November in Monson with my family.  During the beginning of the month, the uncertainty of what lay ahead of us loomed large in my mind and heart as well as I know in Lindsey and my Mom's.  Dad did not speak to me too much of what lay ahead and I felt a slight distancing from him.  The transitions we saw and experienced daily were all part of the journey that Dad was taking.....leaving this world as we know it and moving on to the next part of his journey......(this part I do grapple with as I have many ideas and suppostions but no concrete belief about where Dad "went" when he passed....this grappling continues now, in March of 2012 and I wonder if I will in fact figure this out).
It felt good to be at my Mom and Dad's house, helping out, just being there.  I felt it was the place I needed to be.  Katie and Will and Joanne and Marc did a great job helping Luke out with the kids at home so that I could be with Dad on his last leg of the journey. 
I remember much of the month in slow motion while in reality everything happened so fast.  Dad was golfing and working outside laying sidewalks at the beginning of the month.  He was weaker and more tired, but still very active as much as was possible for him.  On Sunday, November 13, we had an early Thanksgiving celebrating at Tom and Esther's house with Ba and Bumpy, Paula, Lisa, Brian, and Ben and Linds, Chris, Haley and Emily, Luke, Kyle, Eric, Aiden, myself and Mom and Dad.  We had a nice meal and it was a warm day and ALL of the men played a game of wiffle ball afterwards with Dad as the designated pitcher.  :) 

Dad was not feeling well but still so functional.  The week ahead proved to be one of big changes.  From that day on I stayed at Mom and Dad's until the night of Dad's funeral on Nov. 29. 
We met with hospice that week and they seemed impressed with Dad's fortidude and his attitude.  This was on Tuesday the Saturday the 19th, when Linds had also come to spend the weekend, Dad had weakened, become jaundiced and was in a completely different place than he had been the fews days before even.  Hospice quickly agreed that the disease was progressing rapidly and there would not be much time left.  On Sunday the 20th, Kyle, Eric, and Aiden and Haley and Emily all came to say goodbe to Pa/Papas.  This evoked a gut-wrenching saddness in all of us that I still cannot think about without nearly suffocating in tears.   But we were lucky to have that time and so astonished by Dad's capability to withdraw from his pain and sickness for those brief moments to hug each of the kids and speak special and unique words of love to each of them. 

Once the boys left on that warm Sunday afternoon, the true meaning of hospice set in as Dad was placed in a hospital bed in the front living room and 24 hr care began by Mom, Linds, myself, Aunt Nancy (our angel who never left us- she knew we needed her there) and by other various friends and family who were always closeby and there with Dad.  To me, the last four days of dad's life were heartbreaking yet a testament to my Dad's greatness as a person.  It was obvious that he meant so much to so many people and that he truly knew the wonderful gifts of authentic and unconditional love and friendship.  Dad was a figther and we loved and cared for him until his very last breath at 2:48 am on Thanksgiving morning, November 24, 2011. 

The following days all blur in my mind and mostly I felt numb.  I watched my sister and my mother accomplish what seemed to me to be amazing tasks as they ran on adrenaline that I felt I had none of.....the services were hard but not as hard as I imagined.  What was the most difficult thing for me was leaving my Mom and driving back home that night after Dad's funeral.  I sat in the driver's seat of my van and waved good bye to mom and thought of all the times before that I had left that driveway and waved goodbye to mom and dad standing side by side watching us drive out.  I had always peeked in the rearview mirror and once we were leaving the driveway, Mom and Dad would say something to each other and go back to their "chores" or whatever they were up to....and now I peeked back through tears to see Mom watching us all leave, standing there by herself.  Hurt is not the right word to describe how my heart felt.....there are no words.  I felt lost....suddenly without a father and one of my biggest fans.  Life was changed forever in November 2011.....

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 2011

October 2011 was a strange month in many ways and a great month as well.  It was also emotional.  Dad decided on October 3, 2011 to stop doing chemo treatments since they were not working to shrink the cancer.  Although we knew that with his type of cancer it would come to this point, we all felt like we had been slapped in the face.  No more treatments?  It's hard to face what that really means.  But it was time for Dad.  He knew it and we did too.  So, Dad chose to live his last few...whatever time left....(he was told he had until Christmas at the latest)....doing things that he enjoyed and spending it with the people he loved. 
We did a family photo shoot in the middle of October on a beautiful fall day.  Jenn Young took the pictures and did an amazing job.  I am so grateful that we have these pictures to remember this time in our lives and to be able to see us all together. 
We did some more family lunches with the boys and I driving down to Monson a few weekends in a row to have lunch and play outside with Haley and Emily and to spend time with Pa and Grammy.  It was unimaginable to me that we only had a limited amount of time left to spend with Dad.  The kids knew about it and took it in stride.  They were sad but spent every last minute with Pa happy and having fun, just like Pa wanted. 

We spent a lot of time in Monson in October. The boys and I spent time there and I spent time there alone as well.  I was so lucky to spend about a week with my mom and dad and with my sister, just having family time and doing chores around the house.  Lindsey and I even removed all the wallpaper in Mom and Dad's dining room and painted it! 

One weekend we had a Mom, Dad, Jen and Lindsey weekend and it was FUN!  Lindsey and I slept over for two nights and just hung out together and had breakfasts, lunches, and dinners together, did yard work, watched movies, and just enjoyed spending time together. Plus we carved an awesome pumpkin.  Well, Dad did most of the work! 

On October 29, 2011 we all got clobbered with a huge snowstorm that dumped about 12-24 inches of snow on Massachusetts and poor Monson had a tough time with this storm!  Here in the Berkshires we never lost power and it was just a normal snowstorm.  But in Monson people were without power for days and days.  My parents were one of the last of the residents in Monson to get power back - they were in the dark for 7 days.  Good thing Lindsey and Chris came to the rescue with their generator.  It was crazy.  I wasn't even there but I tell you it was crazy.....On the plus side, Lindsey and Chris had to work (see, this is MY selfish plus side) and Haley and Emily were out of school for the whole week so they came to spend time with us!  It was great to have them here for that long.  They had their own bedroom in our guest room and moved in for the week.  We did a lot of fun stuff like played in the snow, went trick or treating (I think for the first time ever for all of them in the snow!!) went bowling, watched movies, went to a Mexican Fiesta for Eric's class at school, bought and played board games, played spies and then lots of other fun things.  Kyle, Eric, and Aiden had to go to school for many of the days that the girls were here and were excited every day that they came home and their cousins were here!  Haley and Emily came on October 30 and stayed until November 3rd!  It was a really fun week with the girls.  Not so much fun for Mom, Dad, Linds, and Chris....:(