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.

The Year The World Changed – Part 2

January 2020 was quiet in the office and at home. I had settled into a routine of work and sleep. The highlight of my week was bowling with a group of ladies. I was terrible bowling but I really enjoyed the social aspect of the time out. My son, Adam worked most nights so I spent the rest of the time alone.

I went to Florida on February 15, 2020. There were rumblings of some sort of virus spreading but no one was really that concerned. Donald Trump was the news, not the virus. He was telling the world that there was nothing to worry about. I was there 5 days, staying with my friends Don and Tena and reliving old times with them.

When I returned home there were less than two dozen cases in Ontario but the world was becoming a scary place. People across the world were getting sick. Within two weeks the cases in Ontario doubled. The first person in Ontario died on March 17. Dozens of people were getting ill daily in Ontario. Hospitals were filling. Residents of Long Term Care Homes were dying by the dozens. Ontario was locked down under a state of emergency.

Streets were empty, it was hard to find toilet paper and some groceries. Stores had long line ups. Everyone was masked, gloved and tense. Most businesses were closed but law offices were deemed essential. You were supposed to stay home if possible. Businesses were closed. I tried to work from home for a month but found it difficult so I went back to the office before most of the others. Only a few stayed there during the official lock down.

Streets were empty when I drove to work. March, April … the beginning of May. People were dying across the world, our ICUs were full and we all were scared. Donald Trump endangered the world by spreading rumors and lies.

Politics came into play here at home. We had rolling lock downs, promises of vaccines, colour coded lockdowns and ever changing targets. Businesses opened, closed, opened, partially closed, people were masked, unmasked, gloved … it went on and on. Vaccines were approved in early February and people started getting their shots. Numbers started to go up again and we had a second state of emergency declared with a stay at home area but this time it was totally different than the first time. People were out, lined up to get groceries and went to work. Basically restaurants were closed and small businesses were closed but box stores were allowed to stay open.

I worried constantly about my family and friends. Are they safe? I couldn’t sleep, stress was so high.

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