Hocus focus

One of my coping mechanisms is to pile on too much to do, and then just power through them to keep me from having time to dwell on anything (I think I’ve mentioned that before). Well, today seems to have been a breaking point. I have a bit of a cold, I think, and the congestion is playing havoc with my vestibular system, making me feel a bit woozy. The combination did not serve me well today – I just could not get anything done; couldn’t seem to focus on any individual task.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. The weekend is here, and I think I’ll just pick ONE task and pursue it to its completion. Hopefully, that success will break this lack of focus…


I seem to be getting into the “swing” of being single. The thought of not having someone to hold was, until a couple of days ago, “front of mind” most of the time. It seems to have receded. I’m still interested in, and will likely have dates in the future, but I don’t have the same feelings about doing so as I did up to now. And I cannot put my finger on precisely why it’s place of importance to my mind may have changed. Perhaps some of the fog from having lost Kim has lifted, clarifying my thoughts on the subject. Don’t know. But, looking forward, I kinda like it.

I still have a lot of “son,” “dad,” and “grandpa” responsibilities that limit any sort of social life, so maybe it’s a pragmatic reaction. Can’t say – but whatever the source of this new sentiment, it’s as if a weight has been lifted. Don’t get me wrong: I still miss waking up with someone. I still miss the closeness and familiarity one attains with one they have spent the lion’s share of their life with. But, that “someone” I miss is Kim. And, I no longer feel any urgency around changing my current state.

Wow! A gap!

Funny. It didn’t seem like this week was any busier than those since I started this blog, but there you have it: a three day gap! I did do a lot of yard work the past few days, plus, I wrapped up all the kids’ tax returns and started focusing on mine in earnest. Plus, I started another educational program, heaping it upon the several bible studies I’m currently waaaaay behind on…

I guess it was ripe to occur: one of my “coping” mechanisms seems to be stacking up so much to do that I cannot possibly get through it. (The other appears to have become late night snacking, which I need to work on eliminating before I reverse all of the hard-won weight loss I’ve achieved until now…)

The weather is playing its pure Michigan games – we were up to 80 a few days there, and then they were predicting a snowstorm for 20 April. Upon hearing this forecast, I predicted the snowstorm would fall off of their prediction (which it did yesterday), but it is still not as warm as I’d like for mid-April. Still: it was warm enough to follow up on some tree trimming I had begun last fall, and to clear a copse of “voluntrees” and some deadfall from the park along the fence bordering my yard. I still have to bundle and discard the trimmings (they’re neatly stacked along the fence line in the park), or, maybe, I’ll have a bonfire this week.

Kim’s tulips (or crocuses – I don’t know the difference) are in full bloom in the front yard, and a few in the side yard – yellows and pinks and one purple one. I don’t recall there having been any purple ones in the past, and it is only the one. Maybe she’s talking to me – after all, purple is her favorite color, and those purple ones I talked about a few weeks back were the first to pop on the scene. It is odd that there’s only one purple one out of the tens of yellow and red ones. Anyway…

I’ve started getting ready for summer – I’ve laid in 80 lbs. of charcoal for the smoker, designed a plate to incorporate a propane burner on the thing to sustain some of the longer cooks more readily, and have the lawn mower pulled out and the snow blower stowed away for the summer.

The TV in my bedroom was Kim’s and my “theater”. There are two easy chairs at the foot of the bed that we would sit in and watch movies when we got the time. Kim also liked to watch some of her old favorites – particularly “Murder, She Wrote” from the bed when she didn’t feel well. (Our middle daughter, Jessica, got her name from Kim’s enjoyment of that show!) Saturday night, for the first time since I left the bedroom in order to stay with Kim when she couldn’t make it up the stairs anymore, I turned on the TV in our room and watched a movie. I honestly don’t understand why I watched the whole movie, because it was pretty bad – probably the worst superhero movie since “Superman vs. Batman” a few years back, and that’s saying a lot: “Wonder Woman 84.” Until then, I just couldn’t turn it on. Besides: nothing really interested me. Now, it’s like having touched a hot burner: I probably won’t be turning it on again any time soon – thanks to either DC Comics, Patty Jenkins, the group of writers, or the producers – someone made some pretty rank decisions, particularly on bringing the inane storyline to “film”…

And, it was a “usual,” if a bit “long”, Sunday: 8:00 Mass with Jillian, popped over to Holiday Market for flowers, then to Kim’s Dad’s to take him to the cemetery. Nick wanted to go, so there were four of us. Upon arriving at the graves, I found the flowers from last week still intact and actually in pretty good shape! I added the new flowers to each, and then dropped Nick and Dad home. Jillian and I spent the rest of the day at Grandma Sue’s – a delicious “egg casserole” for brunch, then Jillian finished the puzzle they were working on last weekend. We then watched some crime shows on Oxygen with Grandma Sue – seemed like she really didn’t want us to leave, but we finally did at 6:30! Yikes!

All pretty “normal” stuff. But (there’s always a “but”), likely due to the vacillating thermometer, the vegetation is in a survival panic and cranking out pollen like nobody’s business. This brings on allergies, LOTS of congestion and – you guessed it! – my new friend, Vestibular Imbalance (no introductions necessary: you’ve met…). I can see it is going to be a challenging summer.

Another step forward

There was a *LOT* to be done today! First, a meeting at work, then I had to run up to Akron Tire to see about Jillian’s car. I took the opportunity, since I was so close, to stop by Mom’s to see her and Sharon, my sister, who had flown in from New Hampshire for a visit, then back home for more meetings, and, finally an Association meeting. Phew. It’s now 9:00 pm and I’m just now getting an opportunity to sit down to make my blog entry.

The owner at Akron had good records of the work he had done on the Escape when it was Kim’s. When I went down the laundry list, he basically spelled out how he would approach each one – it was refreshing to hear his approach is a lot like mine – rather than rip out the exhaust and replace it all, he will cut the tubes at each side of the failed flange, and then marry them with another piece of pipe. The brakes, he will assess – they were grinding when I drove it over, so I’m pretty sure it will be at least rotors and pads. Hopefully, the calipers aren’t involved. He offered his condolences over Kim, and asked me twice whether it was OK to replace her info with mine – he said some people are strange about that. In any case: nice guy. He said he should have something in three days because he is swamped (a sign of a good mechanic!). Hopefully, it will be a “quick fix” after that, so Jillian won’t be without her car too long. As it is, I expect it will interfere with her senior retreat Friday.

And it was great seeing Sharon. We had a nice talk in which she said that she recalled it being about a year before Mom had any sense of Dad “being around” after he passed – she, too, had no dreams of him or any “incidents” immediately after he passed, so maybe this desert will pass.

Over the weekend, I had met a new caregiver assigned to my mom. Mom really liked her, and she and I really hit it off – I think my mom was bored because she and I were talking on so many different subjects. In any case, when she was relieved by the next caregiver, she left her phone number under my windshield wiper before leaving. I saw it as an incredible ego boost, but an impossibility – I am easily twice her age. My mother, on the other hand, thinks we “made a connection”, and Sharon simply said that you never know, because “the heart wants what it wants.” I don’t think the kids would be very tolerant of me getting involved with someone younger than my oldest daughter, either. Still: finding that piece of paper under my windshield wiper was one hell of an ego boost 🙂

The remainder of the workday was uneventful. I had been contemplating exiting the Association Board for some time. It’s not overly burdensome, and I am pretty good at what I do for them, I guess – but, like other such roles in life: you learn things about people that you really didn’t need to know. It can be depressing, and I’m getting enough of that particular “Big D” just navigating through the loss of Kim. But, as seems to happen invariably when I get in this mood, we have a meeting, and I feel better about it – like a battery that gets recharged, and slowly trickles the energy away until the next time. Ah, well. I’ll finish the next meeting, and, assuming things go as expected, finish implementing the changes I’m working on. There is a break, the September board meeting, and then the next General Meeting in October. If I still feel this way, I will simply not submit for re-election at that meeting.

Well, it’s an early day tomorrow since I must drive Vanessa to school. Best wrap this up for the day.

Warm weather

It was warm yesterday. It was shirt-sleeves and short pants warm. It was warm, and I didn’t have Kim to walk with me, to hold my hand, to crack the whip at the corner to give me a kiss. I didn’t have Kim out in the yard working on her flowers or vegetables for the coming summer. The firsts are the worst, I guess.

The windows of the house were all opened to allow the breezes to push all of the stale winter air out of the house. And it was breezy – the wind chimes in the yard, given to Kim when her mom passed in August 2019 were singing robustly. The wind chimes on the porch, given to me when Kim passed away in December 2020 are quieter, more “tinkly”, but I could hear them from where I was a the back of the house as well, and it was almost as if they were harmonizing. My beautiful Kim, who never really could carry a tune in life now has a beautiful voice whenever the wind stirs her chimes.

Happy Easter

He is risen, alleluia! I hope everyone had a glorious and happy Easter Sunday today.

After mass, as usual, we went to Kim’s Dad’s house, and then took him to the cemetery to see Kim’s and his wife’s graves. I spent some extra time today placing Easter lilies at Kim’s and her Mom’s graves, and edging the markers at her Mom’s, my Dad’s, my grandparents’, and my godparents’ graves. Then a little clean up at Kim’s Dad’s house to get rid of some cables from an antenna that DIRECTV abandoned on his roof which I had removed a few weeks ago for him. Then home to gather up everything we would be taking to Grandma Sue’s for the Easter brunch, which was delicious as usual. Then on to Mom’s for an Easter visit.

Through the whole thing, I felt empty. Absolutely devoid of emotion. Not happy. Not sad. Just there. And that’s not good. Time to start looking up to see the circle of light, and see what’s hanging down with which to pull my self up out of the pit….


Well, the meatless jambalaya is in the history books. It turned out pretty good – much better than I actually expected. The dinner, though, was pretty much a bust: Jeanette, Jillian, and Vanessa were off to a pageant in Kentucky, Chris had a late meeting, and Kenny is like a badger – he comes out for food and drags it back into his lair. Tiffany, Chris’ girlfriend, was the only one to show up. She liked it- had seconds and we had a nice visit.

Times like this will occur, but it was a a little depressing to not have our gathering. Next week being Good Friday, there will be no Family Friday. That will probably be depressing, too.


Who would have thought that the sight of flowers poking their heads out of the ground would be so depressing? Kim loved planting. She loved her flowers, and she loved planting vegetables. The porch was always full of hanging baskets and potted plants, usually flowers. Each side of the house usually carried her vegetable garden – last year, in pots as well. She was always so proud of the colors, and of the produce she would get out of her vegetable patch, and doubly proud of what she would make with the vegetables. I still have several jars of her last batch of canned tomatoes – she was particularly proud of those.

The first flowers to poke their heads out of the dirt this year were three snapdragon-looking flowers – don’t ask me what they are: I’m clueless. I just know that they are some of Kim’s favorite – particularly the purple ones.

Kim’s Flowers, Reborn

When I first saw these about a week ago, they made me happy. Now, as things are warming up, and I see all the dead plants in the hanging baskets and her pots, I’m finding them depressing. The weather is nice today, but all I could focus on were the pots full of dead plants, the empty starter pots, the rotting wood from one of Kim’s favorite planters which we were planning to replicate…

I honestly don’t know what is at the root of this mood swing. I was feeling so “up” for so long! And one would think that, with the advent of warmer weather, I’d be hyped to get outside.

Part of it, I think, is that the warmer weather brings memories of the walks Kim and I would take last summer – she was still very playful despite her condition, and at one turn in the park, would do a “crack the whip” turn and zoom in to get a kiss. I miss that goofiness. Odd that as the warmth of summer started to fade toward winter, Kim faded right along with it, passing on the same morning as the first snow.

And some of it is probably pressure I feel toward my Mom’s and Kim’s Dad’s care.

My Mom has my sister Cindy locally to see to her needs – which, too, makes me feel like I should be doing more – but since Mom had her two health breakdowns, I can’t pop in there before work, because she no longer gets up that early – that, and I now work from home. And Cindy is feeling the stress of Mom’s failing memory, and mom’s focus on her caregivers instead of on visiting family members.

Kim’s Dad has no-one within 400 miles aside from me and our kids. Rhonda comes to Michigan when she can, but I struggle with the “what do I do” if something goes sideways – especially with him complaining lately of his knee locking up or giving out, and dizziness when he stands up.

The clouds I can see out of the corner of the window near my desk are beautiful. I think I’ll go outside and look at them.

Diet Pepsi

Kim was a Diet Pepsi addict. From the day I met her, she was always drinking the stuff. We would literally go through cases of it in a couple of weeks – I would buy three 36-packs every time I went to Sam’s Club. The last time I bought any for her was 5 October of 2020 – I bought three 36-packs. Two remain.

When we first moved to this house, I remember having to run up to the Canton Meijer to buy the stuff for her when I would take the cars to gas them up – I would go get gas in mine, come home, grab hers, and put gas in it, too. I think that ended when I went out for my first launch with Ford. After that, Kim had to gas her own car.

Sometimes, she’d run out of pop, and either she or I would make a run up to the nearest store to get some. She preferred the cans or the single-serve bottles, but she would tell me to just pick her up a couple of two-liter bottles “to save money”. “DP” she called it. A couple of two-liters would last her a week or so back then. It wasn’t really until somewhere around 2000 that she would have a “Bubba Keg” mug full of ice and Pepsi all of the time. I would constantly spill the thing out because she would just add more Pepsi to it and top up the ice. It had to be a watered-down horror.

I hated the stuff, and I worried that it would kill her. Maybe it did. Who knows. I’m pretty sure the beer had a hand in it, though.

Prior to and just after we were married, we would grab a case of “La Beer,” as she called it, when going to parties or family gatherings. It worked nicely for such because, back then, I liked it (I hadn’t yet become the “beer snob” I am today) and the beer drinkers in our combined family liked it, too. And, back then: it wasn’t a problem. She’d get “full” after a couple and wouldn’t want anymore. Frankly, prior to about 2002, I can’t say I really ever saw her drunk more than once, and that time was after a big vendor Christmas party in ’94, and EVERYONE had too much to drink. But, at some point, something snapped, and “La Beer” became a force unto itself for her.

I remember calling home when on a launch and hearing it in her voice. And I remember not wanting to talk anymore once I recognized it. Honestly, launching is a hard, hard life for a married couple; especially a married couple with young children, and it’s the young engineers that tend to get sent out. I still think that it was my job that caused her to slip into alcoholism, and I truly wish I had noticed it in time to change careers – “golden handcuffs” or not.

But the Diet Pepsi is still here, right next to the mini-fridge I bought to house our sauces, where she would use the built-in can caddy to keep a few cans cold for herself and whoever else would come over and want one. I remember the neuropathy from the Folfirinox causing the cold to be painful, and having to get the Pepsi for her and pour it for her into, at that time, the big plastic cup she got from Harry Potter Land at Universal Studios. And then the day came that she couldn’t suck through a straw anymore, and “DP” became a thing of the past…

Jillian and I went to Sam’s club this afternoon to stock up on a few things that we only purchase there. It really felt strange not to be putting a few boxes of DP into the cart.

First date

Today is the anniversary of our first date; its first occurrence after losing Kim. I expected it to be a hard day, and, so far: it’s delivering. Everything so far has been tinged with sadness, and I’m afraid for the first time since she left that I might be slipping into depression.

Part of this, I think, is that I’m no longer having the regularly scheduled interfaces with real, live human beings that were occurring with my vestibular therapy. I may need to seek out a “grief group” or some other means of regular social contact. But, on the other hand, if it is not an “enforced” thing like the PT was, will I feel motivated to leave the house? Catch-22: two opposing manifestations of my grief response – a need for social contact, and a reluctance to leave the house…

A change at work isn’t helping, either, with recent shifts of management. Based on those changes, I fear the “people first” attitude that has prevailed since I joined this department last January is going to be a thing of the past. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

Doran, Kim’s oldest brother, is in town and will be stopping in this afternoon. Maybe that will perk me up.

In any case, and as always, I rely on these words to pull me through today and to help me to find a bright spot: Jesus, I trust in You.