UPDATE – Part 1 – Three Years Later

I haven’t published anything in 3 years but I have drafted a few blogs which I may finish and post. But first …. this update.

Three years ago I got a telephone call from a lawyer I know. They needed a bookkeeper right away as their bookkeeper had breast cancer. Would I step in and help? I had to.

My husband, John, enjoyed working with Joanne. He used to tease me she was the best bookkeeper he knew but would laugh and say he married me anyway. He talked to Joanne regularly because she had her hands full dealing with this lawyer. This lawyer is headstrong and likes to be in charge. This lawyer has quite the temper and snaps at his staff. When he wants something he wants it immediately. But he was a close friend of John’s and spent a great deal of time with him while John was dying. He stopped here regularly on his way home to talk to John and to read to him once John was unconscious.

The six months were expanded as the treatment progressed and at the two year mark Joanne decided not to return. Her treatment was successful but she decided it was time to leave. The job had evolved from bookkeeping to managing the office. Major renovations were done in the building and I oversaw them. Changes were occurring with the lawyers. The older lawyer moved to a separate floor to enable his son to spread his wings to take over. So much changed since she left.

Those first two years were very stressful for me but I was very busy and buried myself in the job instead of my grief.

Just over a year ago I started to train a girl from our office to take over. She is a natural and was unhappy in her role in the real estate department. But as soon as we started the world fell apart.

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

I have been sick for the last 3 weeks.  I’m finally back on my feet after having a respiratory illness (another term for a chest cold).  Being sick gave me lots of time to think. I decided I need to work this tax season and probably a few more years because I need more work done on the house.  I need new front doors, windows in my bedroom and my ensuite done.  And there are things I want to do so I need to work.  But I discovered that I’m vacillating between two emotions lately — anger and anticipation.

I’m so angry at John right now.  I’m angry he left me.  I’m angry that all our plans never will happen.  I’m angry that I’m alone.  I’m angry at the universe for allowing this to happen.  John was supposed to take care of me and he is gone.  I’m scared and I have no one to hold me and tell me it is going to be ok.  While I was ill I had no one to take care of me because my son also was sick.  As a mother I took care of him but there is no one that will ever take care of me again.

I think the main reason I’m angry at John is I no longer think of him as ill and dying.  In my mind he is healthy and happy but just absent.  I realized I stopped feeling guilty about John’s illness and death because I no longer think of him that way.  It was a gradual shift but I found I was talking to my son about the fun things John and I did together.  We were laughing together about healthy John.  It feels good but I’m missing John so very much.

But on the other hand I’m looking forward to some things.  I want to paint more, sew more and just can’t wait until the craft room is done. I have to move forward.

Auld Lang Syne

Goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018.  I’m actually surprised that I made it through 2017 and am looking forward to the new year.  I found out that life actually does go on and I’m still here moving forward.

Unfortunately I’m fighting a cold so I’ll blog later.  I just wanted to remember this moment and wish you all the best in 2018.



Wonder Why We Ever Go Home

I have been so busy travelling since John passed away.  Much of the past two years is a blur to me and I only remember things when I see the photographs.  Now things are so much clearer to me.

I went south almost a month ago.  Drove to Florida with my goddaughter Zoe and we talked for three days on the road.  We talked about the family, about life, about death and about unexpected changes.  The first week I was there it was go go go with Zoe.  Travelling with a 19 year old can be exhausting even though I’m sure she thought I was boring. We had a wonderful time together and I find it amazing that she holds her own with my older friends.

After she left, my friend Sandi flew down for the next two weeks.  We had a more leisurely pace and painted rocks, toured about a bit and shopped. While I painted these rocks I thought about where I would leave them and what the people meant to me.  I painted a rock for my daughter and left it very close to where she was married to her love of her life.  It is hidden in a small seagrapes bush looking out towards the Gulf of Mexico.


I made a few for John.  I thought about all the places we loved there and dropped these little stones off at places like our favourite restaurants and at the Florida Botanical Gardens.  He would sit and read while I walked there and I will never forget his smile every time he would see me walk up to him.  We loved the gardens during the Christmas season, with all the beautiful lights, so I made a small snowman and placed it in the tiny nook behind “his” chair.


I made two other rocks in his memory and left one at the foot of the stairs by our condo.  I painted every stroke with love.  I’m not very talented but I was quite happy I could do something like this in his memory.


But while I painted I could feel a change come over me.  I was in a condo that was right on the beach and I watched the waves roll in.  I could see the dolphins playing just off shore.  I watched the children run up and down the beach, gathering shells, digging in the sand and squealing with delight when a wave would hit them.  And for the first time in almost two years I felt my heart get lighter.  I went several times to the old condo building to visit friends but I didn’t have a pull to the building.  The heart of it is gone.  When I went to see other condos all I saw were old people around them.  I’m not OLD!  At least not yet.  I do turn 61 on Saturday but I felt all the people I saw at these places were very old.  I have so much I want to do before I pack it in.

One thing I do know is that I’m happy to be back home.  I KNOW why I go home again and it is because my heart is here.  Florida is nice for vacations and to go to see old friends (Mickey, Tena, Jan and the two Dons) but I’m back home and I’m happy.



Sweet Dreams are Made of This

I spent the last week at a resort in Cancun.  It was a beautiful place, perfect for soul searching.  I went as the “plus one” with my friend Sandi.  It was sort of a family reunion for her extended family, her stepdaughter was there along with her family and there were others but I’m really not sure how the entire group of 38 were related.  I was a bit of a fish out of water there since the only person I knew beforehand was Sandi but she was almost the same way.  She knew a few people but obviously was on the outside of most of the rest of the family relationship and was looking in.

The resort was called Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf and Spa Resort in Cancun.  The resort itself was beautiful, the staff was out of this world and the view was remarkable.  Cool ocean breezes, sunny weather and unlimited rum drinks made this a perfect holiday however I don’t relax well.  I’m not one that just sits around and bakes in the sun.  I burn quickly and found myself on edge the first couple of days. Finally (perhaps it was the rum drinks) I found that I was able to sit back and watch life pass me by.

Every morning Sandi and I would go to the beach and have a cabana made up for us.  This was a queen sized bed that was covered by a huge canopy and two reclining chairs and a small table.  I felt like royalty.  I spent the majority of the time in the shade on the bed and could draw the curtains should the sun shift so I remained without a sunburn.  The breezes off the gulf were quite brisk and there were times I had to wrap a towel around my shoulders to get warm.  But all in all it was a piece of heaven.





I read, watched some Netflix and finally relaxed.  Sandi spent most of her time in the sun listening to music.  I decided to use that time to focus on how I was going to move forward.  I tried to meditate but I found it difficult as my program faded in and out as the wifi wasn’t the greatest.  But I did manage to make some decisions.

I realized I need to give up the tax return business.  I have already given up my bookkeeping and corporate returns but I’m not qualified to continue to work on the tax clients.  My problem is that it is good money over a two month span and I need it right now.  This year I had to help Amanda out and I’m having to support Adam as he gets started on his career.  I can’t do it without an extra income.  I had thought either Amanda or Adam would help me with “the family business” so that they could supplement their income in the future but that doesn’t seem to be happening.  I figure I have ten years of life left and want to enjoy it.  I don’t want to sell my house but I could if I needed the money.  But for now, I have to work and supplement my investment income.

So … where does that leave me.  One thing that bothers me regarding the tax business is it is being run out of my home.  This means I need to keep the house clean at all times, which is not easy if I’m working by myself.  I have to be the receptionist, interviewer, tax preparer and bookkeeper all at once.  There is no time for myself.  Last  year I was totally stressed out as the person I hired didn’t show up most of the time and I got very little help at home.  So today I met with the guy that has been helping me and told him I’m getting out.  We brainstormed where he could open an office and he is going to try and get it set up immediately.  Hopefully this will work out.


I Do … I Did

It would have been 36 years of marriage today.  Thirty six years of ups and downs, happy and sad times and 36 years of memories together. This doesn’t even take in the years we lived together or were friends first

I remember our wedding day as if it was yesterday.  The night before John was helping to clear the table after dinner and he was scraping a plate into the garbage and he turned and put his back out.  He was in terrible pain and went to bed early to try and relieve it.

I slept in to conserve my energy because I was 3 months pregnant.  John got a phone call and came in to talk to me.  His brother, our best man, phoned to say he would not be our best man at the wedding.  I cried.  Already the oldest brother and his family had said they would not attend the wedding and now this.  His family objected to our marriage because John had divorced his first wife.  They all sided with his first wife.  John and I didn’t have some sordid affair.  I had already had an affair with a married man and hated the way I felt when I was seeing this man. I realized early on this man was using me but I was enamoured of him and the life he exposed me to.   I told John we couldn’t have a fling.  We had worked together for a few years prior to getting together and were friends first.  However when he left his first wife it wasn’t long before we were together permanently.  My daughter was the same way when she started dating her “sun and stars”.  Basically after their first date they were never apart.  It was the same for John and I.  I don:t really care what other people think of how we got together but we were meant to be together

Going back to our wedding day I told John I didn’t want to marry him anymore.  I told him to go back to his ex-wife and two daughters.  He told me we didn’t HAVE to get married and we could continue living together.  He said that no matter what, we were going to be together.  Married or not.  He said he would rather have me in his life and his family could go straight to hell.  He said we were not going to give them the satisfaction of tearing us apart.

So he made a call to my brother who was happy to step in as best man.

At three we went to city hall to be married.  Julie and Laura looked adorable in their matching pink dresses.  My sister was my matron of honour.

John’s parents and my parents were there also.  My dad really liked John’s parents (they were all Dutch).  John’s parents were not overjoyed at the ceremony but they put on a brave face.

A justice of the peace married us.  She didn’t make me feel like a number.  I was so filled with love for John that I thought I would burst.  He was standing ramrod straight because his back was so sore.  The ceremony was beautiful.  Afterwards we went behind City Hall near the creek and had our photos taken.

We had our reception at an Italian restaurant that just opened in Oshawa. Many people came and it was a wonderful evening.  My new sister-in-law got drunk and knocked a planted tree over.  It was only recently that I found out she and her husband spent our wedding day drinking with John’s ex-wife.

After the reception we went home. I was so happy to be home with the man I loved.  To this dany I am happy we didn’t bow to the pressure of his family and we created a life without them.

My family made up for John’s family.  My brother became one of John’s closest friends.  We travelled together and spent weeks together in Florida.  My father loved John like a son. And my nephew Stephen looked up to John like a father.  John never regretted his decision to marry me, not even in our bad time.

Dear John

Hi honey,

I miss you so much so I decided to write to you.  We used to email each other when we were apart so this is pretty much the same except I won’t get a reply.

First .. I miss you.  It is time for you to come home.  Or for me to go home with you.  Life is a challenge without my rock beside me to support and guide me.  But ….

Anyway (I remember how you hated when I said that because you knew I would be changing the subject) .. anyway here is some news.

Julie has moved to Switzerland.  Yeah, Switzerland.  She is very happy (even though it has only been a few days).  I couldn’t believe that her dogs were going but they are doing quite well there and are probably adjusting faster than Julie is.  Dogs can sleep any time.  She has been walking a great deal and that is so good for her.  She has lost a ton of weight and looks great.  She has so much more energy and life in her now.  She has such a happy glow about her.

Quinn is in college now and has really blossomed.  He’s found his happy place.  I need to go pick him up next weekend for Thanksgiving and he asked if I could come Saturday instead of Friday because he wants to hang out with his friends there.  I am so happy for him.

I had dinner with Emily on Friday night.  She’s doing well too.  Loving school and being the belle of the ball.  You would be so proud of her, honey.  Next year she’ll be going to college or university because of what you did for her.  She doesn’t know what she wants to be yet though so I am going to try and convince her to get a degree in commerce.  She could run a store, own a business and the world would be her oyster.  She is one smart cookie, much like our baby Amanda.

I don’t see Amanda much.  Only at family functions.  It breaks my heart but she is busy and I think she really doesn’t want to be around me that much.  I seem to upset her.  I can’t talk about you, I can’t talk about Florida and I can’t talk about me with her.  I don’t know what I can do to fix our relationship.  Even if we went to Hawaii together I think I’d end up spending my time alone while she and Brandon went off to explore.  After me wishing that I could spend 5 minutes again with you my next wish would be that Amanda would want to spend some time with me again.

Oh my, you would be so proud of Adam.  He’s working at Montana’s now on the line. He’s being trained to close and open so once that is done he’ll know everything there!  He loves his job.  He has been there almost 6 months.  He has a great work ethic (gee I don’t know where he got that from) but I wish he could make more money.  I have the feeling he’s going to be making minimum wage (or close to it) for many years to come before he is a restaurant manager.  One thing though is he has inherited your kidney stones.  He was taken by ambulance to the hospital in severe pain while I was in Bermuda.  He’s fine now but has a few small stones to pass.  Right now they are in a place where they aren’t bugging him.  I’m trying to get him to see Dr Morton as his specialist since Dr Morton was so good to you.

Lee has a job too and she is enjoying it.  She works at Value Village and hasn’t missed a shift!  The atmosphere in the house is so much better.  We rarely eat together though because Adam works nights and Lee works weird shifts all over the place.  I’m going to take them to Florida in February as a reward for their hard work.  Emily is going to stay here with my babies.

Yes, I have two kittens now.  They do make me laugh.  They saved my life.  They give me a reason to wake up in the morning, a reason to laugh and a reason to think about something outside of me.  Callie and Obi Wan.  They remind me of KitKat and Ringo except Callie is not sickly.  She is sleek and beautiful though and loves Adam.  She talks constantly.  When I come home she races to the door yelling “Hellooo”.  She is hysterical.  You would love her except she wakes me early every morning.  We all need to go downstairs together at 6 am.  I am not looking forward to the time change.

I still have a great deal to do on the house.  I want to keep the house but I’m not sure if I can.  There is so much to take care of and I can’t do it alone.  Unfortunately Adam and Lee are not helpful there.  They still spend their spare time playing games and watching videos in their room like teenagers. I’m not sure what to do but the house isn’t ready for sale yet anyway.  I’m going to do our room and ensuite over the winter and get my craft room started.  I would really like to do it before everything freezes in the garage!

Work is the same.  I want to give up the tax returns and the corporate clients.  I’m not qualified to do this and I’m not sure why you backed me into this corner.  I need to let it all go, from the issues with Celeste to the day to day dealings with tax return clients and corporate clients.  I can’t keep up with the laws and I’m so unsure of giving advice since you never allowed me to say anything to clients in case I was wrong!  You didn’t give me the confidence to do this until it was too late and now I just can’t deal with it on my own. I don’t know if it will work out with Simon either because Simon is being Simon.  I will decide by Christmas on what I’ll do but I’m not going to recommend anyone to the clients because I did that once and that isn’t working out.  No one works like we did.  We were a dying breed but a great team.

But speaking of work … I should get to it.  I love you honey and always will.  I know you are just in a different place and maybe you will get this letter.  Respond however you can.  I always know when it is you.

All ways and forever,


Home Sweet Home

Two years ago I would never believe that I would feel that I wanted to be home so much.  I felt that the world was our oyster and that while we would spend significant time in our southern home there were other places to go visit and explore too.  I was thinking of my “other” home was just a base to travel from.  Now I feel totally different.

Last week I went on a cruise with my friend Sandi that left from Boston and went to Bermuda.  Unfortunately it was also the week that several hurricanes either just went through or were still passing in the Atlantic.  Personally, I loved the weather.  I have no problem with high waves, rocking ships and rain.  Suits my mood on most days however it was coupled with boredom.  I felt trapped.  The room was SO small and I felt cramped from the moment I stepped inside.  Thank goodness for the balcony!  The ship hallways were maze like and narrow and I felt like a rat in a maze every time I ventured out of my room.  Would I find my way back on this ship that is decorated so dully? (Apparently they didn’t want to look like the Vegas styled Carnival ships that are their competition … frankly I prefer some colour and lights to my vacation rather than boring beige.)

The food on the ship was wonderful, the entertainment was excellent but there was not a lot to do.  I tried to read but I felt guilty that I wasn’t DOING more.  Apparently I don’t vacation well. By Wednesday I was pacing the decks of the ship while the wind howled and the sea spray would soak me.  I came home with a wicked cold.

Between now and the end of the year I have 2 more vacations booked.  I have one week in Cancun and 3 weeks in Florida and I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it.  I want to stay home and get my house in order so that I can build outwards.  I need to make this a safe, clean, organized haven for me so that I can venture out.  I feel like I’m doing it backwards.  Unfortunately I can’t cancel these trips so I’ll make the best of it and start 2018 out with a  resolution of less holidays until my “to do” list is complete.

That .. and I miss these two crazy kittens.  IMG_7151

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

There has definitely been a change in me since the concert.  I’m thinking more of the future instead of the past and of what I have lost.  I have been deciding what I want to do in the future. I am glad I didn’t buy a condo in Florida  because I’m second guessing myself on that now.  I have decided I don’t want to work on corporate clients anymore and this will be the last year I do them.  I think I will only do personal income tax returns for another year because I’m already committed to the clients but I don’t want to have people coming in and out of my home all the time anymore.

So what do I know I want?  Here is a list (and check back and see if I actually follow through).

  • Spend more quality time with my children and friends.
  • Empty my bedroom of John’s clothes and my old clothes.  I still have clothes that I wore when I was pregnant with Adam!
  • Renovate my ensuite.  I want a new shower, bathtub, vanity and floor.
  • Finish cleaning and renovating the main floor
  • Turn Emily’s old room into a guest room
  • Create a craft room and set up an area for scrap booking, sewing and other crafts
  • Set up a “vacation” schedule and go to new places instead of just Largo, Florida
  • Get healthy
  • Laugh more
  • Be more sociable


Come Monday It Will Be Alright


My husband was a Parrothead and not ashamed to admit it.  Normally he was quite proper, straight laced (he was an accountant after all) but he did love his home in Florida and listening to Jimmy’s music while we were at our favourite restaurants and bars.  He and I attended every concert Jimmy ever performed in Ontario and had made plans to try and go to other venues in our retirement.

Several months ago Jimmy announced a summer tour that included Toronto so I bought tickets for my kids and their spouses.  That was a challenge in itself as it is not easy to get 10 tickets together.  So after much finagling we got 6 tickets in one row and 4 directly behind those ones.

I wanted this night to be very special to the family so that we could begin to heal and move on.  I reserved a limo to drive us so we could party in safety.  But I wanted this night to be super special and I tried to think of an idea that would be the icing on the cake.

One day I emailed Jimmy and told them about John.  Almost immediately I got an email back from his videographer Stan Kellam.  Stan and I decided that a photo of John during a song would be a great idea.  He asked for photos of John which I provided.  Over the course of several emails I told him about what a good man John was.  This man was so considerate, so patient and so nice to me that I had a good feeling that this night would be a success.  This was my biggest secret ever.

The afternoon of the show my daughters Amanda and Laura came over early and we had some frozen concoctions.  I was so pleased that my son Adam and his girlfriend (who never attended a JB concert) really got into the event.  My son had a shark hat and sunglasses and Leesa (Adam’s girlfriend) made herself a mermaid outfit.  For at least a week prior to the concert I played Jimmy’s songs in the car so they’d know them when we got there.

After a few drinks we piled into the limo and traveled to Toronto.  We laughed in the car but I was nervous and high strung.  I really needed this evening to go off without a hitch.

We got to the concert shortly before 7.  I wanted to go thank Stan in person but security wouldn’t allow it and he wasn’t getting my texts.

Once Jimmy came on stage I felt totally relaxed.  I sang, danced, laughed and cried.  I sobbed during Come Monday (more below) but generally I was  having the best time in over a year and a half.  My daughter Amanda and I belted out the chorus of One Particular Harbor as I always felt it was our song since she was a little girl.   As I looked into the faces of my children with their spouses I could see they were having fun too.

Then came the song.  Stan told me it would play during “Back Where I Come From”.  I told the kids to watch the screen.  I never imagined that the moment would be so wonderful when John’s picture appeared on the screen.  I felt like my heart burst out of my chest.  There he was, with us.  Larger than life, larger than death, he was there.

Everyone cried.

At that moment something happened to me.  It was like a crack opened in my heart. Light crept in.

The rest of the concert was wonderful.  I must admit that I drank too much and was rather inebriated on the ride home but I laughed and laughed on the way home.  The kids kept me in stitches.

As usual when I woke up in the morning my first thought was of John but this time I didn’t cry.  I got up, started my day and put music on while I cleaned the house.  There was definitely a shift in me.  Two weeks later I can still feel the change.

I still feel sad and empty but I also feel like there is a light back on inside of me.  I still cry several times a day as my grief comes in waves but I feel like there is a tomorrow.  I notice I have begun to make plans that are for my life and not for when I am dead.

Part of the shift in me was due to my children.  The love they showed for me and for their father was (and always has been) amazing.  But one thing in particular helped wedge that door open.  My daughter posted this the following morning.


I finally felt that I did something right.  For so long I have felt like a total failure.  I feel like I’ve made mistake after mistake and have been second guessing everything I do.  I was paralyzed in relationships because I felt so insecure and helpless since John died.

There is no way that Stan Kellam or Jimmy Buffett will ever know what they did for me.  I got my life back.  It is my responsibility to steer it forward but I will need help from my family and friends.  I’m not as strong as I used to be but I’m stronger than I was.

So … Come Monday It Will Be Alright.

Headin’ up to San Francisco
For the Labor Day weekend show,
I’ve got my hush-puppies on,
I guess I never was meant for
Glitter rock and roll.    (John was never meant for glitter rock and roll.)
And honey I didn’t know
That I’d be missin’ you so.  (I miss him so much)Come Monday It’ll be all right, (John passed away on a Monday)
Come Monday I’ll be holding you tight. (He told me he would hold me every day)
I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze
And I just want you back by my side.

Yes it’s been quite a summer,
Rent-a-cars and west bound trains.
And now you’re off on vacation,  (While he was dying he told me to think I was on vacation and we would be together soon .. I spent time in Florida alone getting our place ready for retirement)
Somethin’ you tried to explain.
And darlin’ I love you so that’s  (I knew at the end I had to let him go because I couldn’t bear to watch him suffer any longer)
The reason I just let you go.

Come Monday It’ll be all right,
Come Monday I’ll be holding you tight.
I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze
And I just want you back by my side. (I would give anything to have him beside me)

I can’t help it honey,
You’re that much a part of me now.  (John is my soulmate and forever a part of me)
Remember the night in Montana when
We said there’d be no room for doubt.

I hope you’re enjoyin’ the scenery,
I know that it’s pretty up there. (He is watching me from heaven)
We can go hikin on Tuesday,
With you I’d walk anywhere.
California has worn me quite thin,
I just can’t wait to see you again.  (We will be together again someday)

Come Monday It’ll be all right,
Come Monday I’ll be holding you tight. (someday)
I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze
And I just want you back by my side.

Songwriters: BUFFETT, JIMMY