family

A Cast From the Past

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Sometimes you run across a piece of paper that stops you in your tracks.

I was going through some boxes of old family “stuff” when I found a large old brown envelope of sympathy cards.  After sifting through several of them, I realized they were cards sent to my maternal grandmother when my grandfather, her husband, passed away.

Holding those cards transported me back to when I was about 6 or 7 years old.  He was the first person that I can remember dying.   I recall I had a solo singing Jingle Bell Rock in my school first grade Christmas program. I wore a green dress with candy canes on the bib and a white blouse with a scalloped collar.  I remember my mother wasn’t there to see me sing.  At that age, I couldn’t really understand what was happening.  Why my mom sat slumped over on the bed, her back to me, sobbing.

All I knew was my mother wasn’t there to see me sing.

Flipping through the cards now. So many beautiful cards, most simply finished with a signature. Names I didn’t know. People who loved and remembered.

Then, a different kind of card.  No lilies or angels or cursive sympathies.  Flat. Engraved with black letters. Someone had given a book to a library as a way to honor my grandfather’s death.  And it was a book about fishing.

It was a full circle moment for a couple of reasons.  First, I am a librarian.  So a book memorial has special meaning for me.  And then, my daughter, Dianne, who bears the name of my mother, loves fishing.  So knowing there is a book out there, in a library somewhere, all about fishing, to honor my granddad felt both sublime and bittersweet.

Finding that card was like a cord running through generations. A moment of connection with a long distant past. I had no idea my grandfather loved fishing, even though he lived a stone’s throw from Lake Chautauqua.  It was a smile down from a man lost decades ago as well as his daughter, to me and my own daughter who shares her name.

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family

Loss

Today was a hard day. I had to bury my dad.

His passing during the pandemic did not make saying goodbye easy. In actuality it was far more complicated than I could have imagined.

The delays started with scheduling. Only one funeral a day impacted how many days after death the funeral would actually take place. This was the first oddity.

I am choosing to write about this only because many will never know or experience how the pandemic impacted saying good-bye for me and my mom. Life offers perspective from many viewpoints. For me I thought this was an interesting perspective to share.

There was no wake. No time for folks to come and pay final respects. There was only a small window of time the day of burial for a selected handful of people to pay respects. This alone makes mourning the loss hard. So many didn’t get to see him off as we might have envisioned.

Some couldn’t come because of fear of germs. Some chose not to attend because of riots. Some were not able to attend because of their sheer age and restrictions in the area. This made my mom very sad.

No hugs for loved ones. No special memories shared. And how could I forget those who could come had to wear masks and keep their distance when all everyone really wants to do is give a hug to show your love and support for the loss suffered.

One vivid memory I have of the day was when my cousin stood about 15 feet away, fully masked saying “I’m going stay over here just in case you have corona.” Who wants to feel like they have a disease when burying their spouse. So bizarre but this is how today is.

Despite all of the above, the send off was as beautiful as it could be with current environmental conditions. As we forge ahead in our grieving process we will hold on to the memories made over time. There were many. Choosing to focus on what we had vs. what we lost is how we choose to move ahead.

I will immerse myself in a project to honor my dad. I will find a way to carry his spirit in all I do. I will find a way to let my children know of the values he gave to me.

I hope this funeral perspective let’s you think of how others may have been impacted by loss during corona above and beyond the loss of privilege of toilet paper.

dare to be different

I Bit the Bullet

I took a plunge. I dove in head first. I sealed the deal. What does this all mean?

I made an investment of sorts. One that could potentially build wealth or it could do the opposite and drain the bank. One of those things you never know when you take an investment plunge. I guess that’s part of the allure for some.

Opportunity knocked and due diligence was done. Pandemic or not, opportunity is still abundant even if not all can see it. Not all ended the way I envisioned but the deal was done with mild hesitation.

Will my hang ups on the front end of deal be a hindrance in the long run or was it just part of the process? Only time will tell.

Speaking of time we are in the midst of so much uncertainty in the environment that the timing of such non-traditional investments can cause eye rolls. Should we conduct business? Should we freeze spending? Should we buy low in hopes of a big return on investment? Should we save for a rainy day? So many questions.

Many people will have many different answers on the above. For me I go with my gut. If it feels good, I go for it. If not, I’ll wait for the next chance. In this instance I dug deep and went for it. I took note of short-term conflicts and pressed forward focusing on the horizon or what lies ahead.

Nobody my age has lived through a pandemic thus it’s impossible to know right from wrong when it comes to tough decisions these days. One thing I am sure of: if you don’t take a risk you can never garner the rewards. You will always miss 100% of the shots you never act upon.

For today I will live as if tomorrow is not promised. If tomorrow is here I will hopefully be standing on higher ground. Wish me luck as I step into a new investment arena. I will be singing “it’s Corona time!” in a few years or drowning my sorrows in Corona saying I guess I learned a pandemic lesson.

See you on the flip side.

mental health

Peaceful

In my recent travels I ended up in middle America as I call it from my eyes. Away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Away from the rioting and looting in the big cities. Away from the stress of work.

I walked for miles and miles on a flat roadway taking in the tranquil scenery. No cars honking no smog in the air. It was peaceful silence and fresh air. The simple quality of breathing fresh air can leave you breathless. What an irony.

This road isn’t a fancy road to anywhere just a beautiful part of our country. Flat lands allowing you to see for miles and miles. No smoke or smog on the horizon. What a sight to take in when our country is in so much turmoil.

All the fields were recently planted or prepped by the local farmers. Some fields have corn while others had wheat. Some were just covered in wild flowers. Either way it seemed the birth of new life was in abundance.

I choose my happy each day. I tend to stay away from the negative news blasts and social media rants. I try to focus on what’s front and center. What can I impact? How can I make a difference?

In a world of so many uncertainties find your balance. Find your peace and beauty around you. Find your wildflowers or embody the spirit of wild flower within you.

May this post find you some peace and comfort today. If you can, visit the ocean and dip your toes in the sand. Take a hike in the mountains. Get away from it all to embrace peaceful when the world around us is constantly showing us all struggle.

I hope some of my photo reel once again let your mind drift if you aren’t able to travel for whatever reason. I share my stories with the world to make a difference. Enjoy.

perspective

New Normal

I thought I had adjusted to a new normal post-pandemic. I carry hand sanitizer and mask for when the need arises. I keep my distance. I limit the number of people I gather with and so on. I even utilize the x marks when needed.

Then I took a road trip for a funeral. It wasn’t a pleasure trip. I was forced to travel. I didn’t want to fly and deal with that drama so I opted for a road trip that I made many times in years past without issues.

Oh, but what has changed. Let’s start with the big one, everything has changed.

The simple task of going to the bathroom on a road trip. Stop in well lit areas, aim for clean and well-known spots echo in my mind from my parents’ early teachings. Those simple rules are history because we now have pandemic rules. Fast food and restaurants are take out only, no bathrooms. Gas stations are employee use only for safety. Hotels are for patrons only so no option for lobby use. So where does the car traveler go to use the bathroom when in rural areas? That’s the question at hand. For me it was a hole in the wall grocery store. Good thing it was the day time due to their operating hours. Am I the only one who has had this challenge arise?

Nutrition: you want to eat a good meal while traveling. You want to have energy to endure your travels. Where do you eat? In your car. How exciting, you get to eat in your car. The car you are traveling in. No break. This is just another way the pandemic has changed things we took for granted.

Mask or don’t mask is a question for me. I’m traveling through 6-7 states to mourn the loss of loved ones. Each state has their own rules and regulations. It’s hard to keep up. When I think about this new normal I just bury my head in the mask.

I thought dogs had it bad when they wore their cone of shame after surgery. I now feel their pain as we all adjust to the new normals of life and I don the mask of shame. At least I’m sporting sushi in this mask.

Of course I can’t forget about the riots that broke out amidst my travels. Circumstances bad enough to shut down cities and make me wonder where to stop for gas when I get alarms on my phone with major warnings like below. This world today is crazy and ever changing to say the least.

For now I will end this post with you thinking about if I need to go buy depends or not to make it to my destination. Enjoy that visual.