Come Monday It Will Be Alright

john-toronto

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.

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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

Home Again

Laura arrived right in time.  I had such a stressful time regarding selling the condo and missing John that I was thinking that I didn’t want to go on anymore.  I was tired of the emptiness and feeling so alone.  The only time I’d feel alive again was when my children and friend Anne FaceTimed me.  Getting a text is not the same as hearing a person, seeing a family member … not quite the same as being able to touch them but it was the next best thing.  The oldest daughter, Julie loves to FaceTime me and we do it no matter where I am. She was always there with a smile, always ready to chat whenever I needed her.  Adam also   FaceTimed me regularly.   On days he didn’t FaceTime we chatted by text.  We did discuss business matters but we also just had nice chats.

On Saturday Laura arrived.  I was late getting to the airport but her luggage was last off the plane so it all worked out.  We went straight from the airport to the ship.  We decided to start our vacation by having a couple of drinks on the Lido deck of the ship.  It was a great start to our holiday and the entire week was filled with laughter, some tears and good times.  I felt “normal” again.  We went to Georgetown, Grand Cayman and to a private beach off the coast of Cozemel.  We did have wonderful chats about John.  We laughed over some memories and cried over others but it felt good.

The cruise was only 5 nights so we had a few days back at the condo before we flew back north.

While we were onboard the ship there was an offer on the condo made by my neighbours that walked away from the deal earlier.  I had to sign all the paperwork on the deal but Laura and I were in a hurry because we were going out that day to get groceries and to have some fun.  When the agent left I told Laura we needed to freshen up and we’d leave.  I was in my bedroom, got cleaned up and ran out into the family room and was stopped in my tracks.  I swear John was sitting in his chair in the living room.  He was sitting there smiling at me.  For a split second I felt whole again.  I called to Laura and he disappeared.  I cried but I felt he was letting me know it was ok for me to sell the condo.  He wouldn’t have done it if the situation was reversed but he understood why I was selling it.

I got home on Sunday.  I feel like I’ve been running since I got home but it feels good.  I’ve been cleaning up after the renovations that were done while I was away.  I had work to do for my business because I was away too long.  I have cried every day since I’ve been home but now that I’m back with people that love me I feel more complete.

 

Happy Anniversary

It would have been my 35th anniversary today.  John and I planned to spend the entire month of October celebrating in Hawaii.  We made such wonderful plans, a week on Oahu, a week on the Big Island, a week on Kauai and a week cruising all of the islands.  Instead I am in Florida wishing with my whole heart that I could have one more hug, one more kiss, one more moment with the man I loved.

I’m sure everyone feels their wedding day was special or unusual but I felt mine really was.  The night before we were married John put his back out scraping a plate after dinner (I think that was the last time he helped clear the table).  He could barely move on our wedding day (which is why he looks so stiff in our wedding photos).

We were to be married at City Hall at 3 pm.  Around noon his brother (our best man) called and said he could no longer be our best man.  He said he couldn’t do it in good conscience because he felt our marriage was wrong.  John had been married before and had two children from his first marriage.  John was shattered.  It was bad enough that one brother just refused to attend the wedding and now his other brother would no longer be our best man.  Fortunately my brother agreed to step in.  It was, as they say, the beginning of a beautiful friendship between my brother and John.

Even with all this family turmoil John and I were incredibly happy on our wedding day.  My family loved John and accepted him into the fold. John and I had many happy years together and our family grew.  As I said before we had a daughter and a son and the two daughters from his first marriage spent a great deal of time with us. (The oldest actually moved in with us when she was 14 and stayed with us until she finished college and the next one lived with us for almost ten years while she was an adult.)

But suddenly things were not so perfect.  John changed drastically and our relationship suffered.  I don’t want to concentrate on it here as it is in the past and I feel it has to do with his undiagnosed diabetes.  Whenever John’s sugar levels were high he would be quite difficult to be with and once he was diagnosed we knew how to handle it.  But there was a period of 4 to 5 years where our relationship suffered because of it.  Once he got his diabetes under control we decided to reconcile.  For our 25th anniversary we decided to show the world we were united and we renewed our vows on a pirate ship out on the gulf of Mexico.  For the next ten years (until his illness) we were incredibly happy together.

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John and I weren’t just married; we were in business together.  This meant we spent more time together than most couples.  We were an extension of each other and that was wonderful.  I would drive John crazy when I’d finish sentences for him but it just showed me how in sync we were together.  There were times I was in Florida and he was back home but we would talk several times a day on the telephone and we shared everything with each other.  We were a team.

Today I celebrate the time we did have together.  Every moment, every smile, every kiss, every tear, every laugh … every second we spent together.  I was very lucky to find my soul mate.  Many people go through their entire lives looking and never find them.  He was and still is my happiness.

FOREVER AND ALL WAYS

 

 

Thankful

Today is my first Thanksgiving without my husband.  I’m having a very hard time finding anything to be thankful for even though I know in my heart I should be grateful for the life I have.

I still don’t sleep well.  I tend to wander the house at night.  I sleep a few hours in my bed, sleep a few hours in the living room and then a few hours in the family room. I’m most comfortable in the family room because I feel John is in there.  It is the room where he died.  I curl up on the sofa and pretend he is still there in his hospital bed.  I think I will do better when I return to Florida.  It is less stressful there for me.

My son Adam made his first Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.  Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, squash, steamed veggies and a yummy creme brulee for dessert.  My daughter Amanda came with her husband and we all enjoyed the meal.  Everyone seemed to avoid the topic of John but he was never far from us.  Tomorrow I’m going to another daughter’s house to celebrate again.  But this celebration is really difficult for me.  I know I have to be strong for them but it is really difficult.

A good friend of mine called today to tell me he was thinking of me.  He said that he knows it is hard experiencing “firsts” without John.  He’s right.  But I think I’m going to miss John every day of the rest of my life.

I have been thinking though that John would be upset with me if he knew I was still feeling this way.  John always wanted my happiness before his.  I’m going to work hard at being more social and getting my feet back on the ground. I spend too many days feeling lost and empty.  I don’t want my life to be wasted.  I still have time left to do some good in this world and make my mark.  I’m going to try and be more positive and find my way.

I have been working on clients year ends lately and I want to get them all finished so I can clear my mind when I go down south.  I don’t want to take work down there with me.  So for the next week I’m going to keep my nose to the grindstone and get it all done!

 

Running on Empty

My husband has been gone for two months now.  The days drag on but I can never remember what day of the week it is.  I don’t sob very often anymore but I cry every day.  Every day.  When people ask me how I feel the only way I can describe it is that I feel empty.  I am not complete.  My heart is missing.

I went back to Florida for a very short time.  I went with my goddaughter Zoe for some girl bonding time. She is heading off to university this fall and I have barely seen her in years.  Not because I didn’t want to see her but she lives a very busy life.  She models professionally and when she is not modeling she is studying.  It was nice being with her as she actually spent the time with me and not with her phone.  A week from now I’ll see her again when I go to Halifax to see her off to university.  Seems like it was yesterday when she was born.

I’m feeling very stressed these days.  I’ve finally started the house renovations.  I called a contractor and am waiting for the quote on my dining room ceiling and getting the hardwood installed in my family room.  It is time for the house to be fixed and I can’t do it alone.  My family has been helping me.  We have a dumpster and have filled it.  There was a major leak in the basement and the flooring was ruined and moldy.  My son and his girlfriend are now going to have two rooms … One for sleeping and one for hanging out in. I want to get my room finished this week.  John’s closet and dresser empty. I want to renovate my ensuite and I can’t do it until my room is clean.  Everything is such a mess.

But the biggest cause for stress that I have is there is this woman that owes me money.    A friend of mine told me she said was happy that John died, that in fact he deserved it. She said many horrible things that I won’t repeat here and now she refuses to pay me the money she owes.  She doesn’t owe me a fortune but she does owe me money.  What bothers me the most is what she is saying about my husband.  I am taking her to court.  I will spend whatever I have to in order to make her pay.  Only because she is so heartless.

I also have gone back to work.  I am self-employed and I took enough time off.  We were supposed to be retired this year but now that John is gone I don’t think I want to sit around doing nothing all day so I have decided to go back to work.  I’ll see how this goes … Being self employed is hard work but it is better than just sitting here waiting to die.

I have written out my draft will and given it to the lawyer.  I want to get my affairs in order so I can stop thinking about that aspect of my life too.  Once my will and POA is completed I will begin training my son and daughter on how to run the family business.  Maybe when that is all finished that I will start to heal.

The Circle of Life

LETTER FROM A MOTHER TO A DAUGHTER:

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.”

– Unknown

I read this on Facebook today and cried.  I see myself in this scenario .. in my relationship with my own mother and I pray this won’t happen to me as I age.  Now my mother is past help .. she suffers from Alzheimer’s and rarely recognizes me.  I do know I am guilty of every point listed above and, for that, I am sorry.  I do try, I try so hard to be patient with her over the last 20 years but it was difficult at times.  Now I go and sit with her and she is grateful for the company but really doesn’t realize I’m her daughter.

I do get confused thinking about this because I have always had this unusual relationship with my mother.  In many ways, I was the mother … even though she had a totally different relationship with my sister and my brother.  My mother would lay out all her problems to me to solve rather than be there to support me.  I can’t remember a time when I felt that she took care of me.  My father cared for me when I was small.  To my mother I was always the anchor in her relationship with my dad.  She married him in order to have her other two children supported and she looked at my dad as her meal ticket.  Eventually I became the negotiator in her relationship with my father, I took care of her instead of the other way around.  So yes, there were times I was impatient, arrogant, bitchy and short with her.

My mother has contributed to the person I am.  I am strong and able to function on my own.  I don’t “need” people to solve my problems.  I don’t share my worries or feelings easily.  I will downplay any health concerns because I want to handle it on my own.  I don’t like to appear weak to my family.  I am the mother of my family.  I need to be strong for my children and they need to know they can count on me to be there for them.  My husband and children are my world.  I would do anything for them and would be devastated if they felt I was a burden to them.

Recently my husband’s ex-wife’s husband died.  (Whew … what a sentence.)  He died after suffering from cancer for a year.  He had always had health issues and personal issues.  He was a recovering alcoholic.  Even before his cancer they would pressure my two stepdaughters to take care of things for them.  Now that he has passed away their mother has gone into this “take care of me” mode.  Suddenly she can’t manage her money, take care of her home or her health.  She has now talked her youngest daughter into  selling her condo and buying a house together.  On the surface this looks like a good idea but neither one has equity in their current homes and are taking on a $300,000 mortgage.  The mother is over 60 … how many more years does she expect to work?  She doesn’t have any RRSP’s or savings to draw on once she retires, all she has is a small insurance settlement that won’t last long.  She wants someone to take care of her and she is looking at her daughters as her way out of the responsibility of life.

I don’t want pity from anyone.  I just want to be loved.  There may be a time that my husband and I move in with one of our children but we will want a separate area and I will remain independent.  We would sell our house and put towards the new home (whomever I live with will get part of the inheritance early).   It would be a win win situation.  The six months a year I live there I would help my children any way I could.  I would be an asset and not a liability to my children.  If neither of my children aren’t interested in that arrangement then we will move to a senior’s apartment but I would hate wasting all that money on rent.  I would rather the money end up helping my children in their lives.

I am terrified that I will end up like my mother.  I don’t want to live in a nursing home, alone and confused.  I totally agree with my father, the day I can’t drive anymore is the day I want to die.    I want to be strong, eccentric and loving until the day I die.  I want to be me.

Opening Windows

I shocked myself the other day when I realized I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in the new version of Windows.

I remember in November 1985 (I was pregnant with my son at the time) being excited when the first version of Windows was released. I read everything I could on it and was so excited when we bought a desktop PC with it on it. Over the next few years computers became my passion … learning DOS (and teaching my 4-year-old daughter how to program games in DOS) and exploring the new Windows programs. I taught myself how to upgrade computer hardware, serviced my clients networks and thought seriously about becoming a certified technician. When Windows 95 was released I was ecstatic. Microsoft had revolutionized desktop computers.

For better or worse, Windows 95 changed my life. Windows 95 introduced me to social networking … I chatted with people from all over the world. I became a hostess in a MSN chat room, spent hours exploring the internet (not much was online back then but I read everything I could find).

Knowing DOS gave me a backdoor into the new Windows OS. My daughter and I (she is 13 at this point) could have become a mother/daughter hacking team. We taught each other HTML, simple hacking programs and kept pushing the envelope. Over the next few years I had to watch my daughter because she is brilliant and could easily have become an internet mastermind. I wrote simple password cracking programs, a program that allowed me to record keystrokes entered on the computer and, my favourite, a program that would take screen shots every 15 seconds and hide them on the computer.

I had to watch my daughter. She wrote programs that generated charge card numbers, enabled her computer to make long distance phone calls (an early version of Skype) without being charged. Luckily she moved on to master some other challenge.

XP came out in 2001 and it became difficult to use the DOS tricks we had learned over the years. Changes were fast and I was losing interest in mastering computers. I was so busy with work that it fell into the background. My granddaughter and stepdaughter had moved in with us and suddenly my life was taken up with a toddler. Computers were fading into the background. I still was interested but on a casual level.

Now Microsoft has come out with Windows 8. LAST WEEK. I haven’t even looked at it .. I have no interested in upgrading … no interest in knowing what it offers. I don’t feel like I need to run out and buy it.

The window is closed … now it is time to open a new door.