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

Suicide is Painless

The theme song from MASH often goes through my head these days.  I am so tired of reading people’s posts on social media saying there is always someone out there ready to listen to you if you want to commit suicide.  This always seems to happen whenever a famous person kills themselves.  There have been a few suicides lately and everyone is so surprised that it happened and everyone jumps on the mental illness bandwagon. Apparently all these people are “THERE” for you so you don’t have to kill yourself.   BULLSHIT.  OK .. I said it … it is total BULLSHIT.  If someone wants to kill themselves they will do it and you posting on Facebook that you are always available to talk if someone needs it is crap too.

I will admit that over the past year I’ve thought about suicide many, many times.  After John was diagnosed and when he passed the heart ache was so intense that I would have preferred to die rather than endure it.  The thought still crosses my mind at times but it is becoming less and less and more fleeting now rather than serious contemplation about ending my life.

So why don’t I believe people will be “there” for me if I’m thinking of suicide is because where were they when I was deep in my grief?  After the funeral I found people that were here while John was dying suddenly deserted me.  They were giving me space to grieve, or so they thought.  What they really were doing was leaving me alone to try and deal with everything alone.  Everyone else went on with their lives and really didn’t give me a second thought,

Two woman that I counted among my closest friends turned their backs on me.  The first one was someone that I became friends with about 9 years ago and I spent a great deal of time with.  We were very close and I thought she was my best friend.  Since she lives in Florida and I live in Canada we often texted or messaged each other but that has ended.  Once John’s illness began she basically disappeared from my life.  I didn’t even get a card when John died.  She is super friendly when we run into each other but there is no contact anymore unless I see her in person.    I lost my closest friend at the same time as when I lost my husband.

The other friend I lost was someone I knew since my children were young.  I don’t want to go into it here but she told me she could not be there for me as she had enough going on in her life.  I was gobsmacked because I never shared any of my grief with her as I didn’t see her until about 9 months after John died.  When we met I worked very hard to keep the conversation happy and positive so I was just devastated when this woman told me that she was cutting me out because of my pain.  She stopped following me on Facebook because I was “liking” posts dealing with grief and it depressed her.

So two people that I thought would be there for me made it clear that I was on my own.  Both of those women posted on Facebook that they would be there for someone if they were contemplating suicide.  Hypocrites!!!

Over the past year I rarely have anyone ASK me how I feel.  They TELL me instead.  I’m so tired of being told I’m such a strong woman and it is wonderful to see how I’ve moved on with my life.  You know, John would want it that way.  It is just so uplifting for them to see I’m doing so well.  What they don’t see are the days I’m sobbing and my son has to sit beside me to comfort me.  They don’t see the days that I don’t move from the love seat, looking outside at life going about its business and I just can’t move.  I’m exhausted from crying.  I don’t sleep.  People don’t see the days that I am so numb that I can’t even read or even go outside.  All they see is me smiling, talking and looking like I’m having fun.  Those times probably add up to less than 10% of the hours I have been without John.  Over 90% of the time I’m depressed, lost and struggling to move on.  But I do move on.  I am getting stronger but I am not there yet.  Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

I’m not saying I don’t have a support system.  I have my children, my brother, nephew and a few close friends.  But there is not this massive outpouring of humanity from other people that I considered my friends or family.

I shouldn’t have to post that I’m struggling, I shouldn’t have to put on a brave face all the time, I shouldn’t have to act strong (other than for my children … and boy does my son get the raw end there but that is because he lives with me.  I wouldn’t have survived this year without his help.)  Instead of posting words saying you are always there, how about you actually BE there for someone.  How about you reach out to someone that has suffered a loss, a death, divorce, loss of job, loss of a relationship and you be there for them?  How about you look over your telephone screen and see the hurt in front of you and do something about it?  Posting things about mental illness on social media does nothing for the person, please, actually care enough to reach out and touch someone in person.  If you don’t you’ll be clogging up your feed with another post saying how surprised you were when so and so killed themselves without reaching out.  And those posts depress the shit out of me.

Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see…
That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.
I try to find a way to make
All our little joys relate
Without that ever-present hate
But now I know that it’s too late, and…
The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
So this is all I have to say.
The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
And to another give my seat
For that’s the only painless feat.
The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works it’s way on in
The pain grows stronger… watch it grin, but…
A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
And I replied ‘oh why ask me?’
‘Cause suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.
… and you can do the same thing if you please.
Suicide Is Painless lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Until Death Do Us Part

It is funny, I never really thought about the afterlife much until John got ill.  We were both raised Catholics but left the church when we got together since the church didn’t accept people that were divorced.  I think in the back of our minds we both believed in some sort of Heaven but we didn’t talk about it.

John was a very logical, smart man.  He was a Chartered Accountant (before his death they changed the name in Canada to Chartered Professional Accountant “CPA” and he hated that name).  He worked a great deal with lawyers and other professionals that valued his intelligence and his dedication to his career.  It was not a job to John but a way of life.  He was one of those people that never worked a day in his life because he loved what he did.

While John was dying he would comfort while he held me.  He kept telling me just to listen harder and he’d still be talking to me.  He spoke with such calmness, so sure that we would be together again that I would stop crying.

One day he was in the hospital being treated for a massive infection that the hospital gave him and he started looking at the door.  My daughter Amanda and I were with him at the time and I asked him what he was looking at.  He replied, “your dad is here … he’s waiting for me”.  Then a few minutes later he said that my dad had left and would be back later.  He didn’t remember saying this to me later.

Just before John passed away I had changed his clothes, made him comfortable with the PSW that came to help me.  He had been sedated for 10 days.  I went to sit in the other room for a few minutes to talk to my daughter Laura and there was a loud knock.  I went in to check on him, took his hand and he opened his eyes and died looking at me.

It has been over a year since he passed away and I know in my heart he is still with me and he’s waiting for me.  He has shown me this by me finding the Valentine’s day card, or the email that he sent me years ago.  Every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of him in the corner of my eye or I can smell him.  He is doing everything he can to let me know that he is waiting for me.  He also wants me to stop being sad and to live my life with joy and happiness in it.   I know this with every fiber of my being. When my life is over we will be together again.  Forever and all ways.


As Donald Trump Says “Sad”

My grief has changed.  I don’t cry as much but I am incredibly sad.  I smile, I laugh with people but inside I’m so sad.  I’ve been trying different meditations for happiness, playing with my kittens and spending time with my family but I’m just sad and tired.  I have no energy to do anything and really can’t think of anything I want to do.  It doesn’t help that it is just dark and gloomy outside all the time and it rains every single day.  I have a few work jobs to complete and I can’t get motivated to do those and I need to spend time on my other business but it is a struggle to even work on it.  I need something to kick me in the ass so I can get on with my life.

Will I Ever Be Happy Again?

I did a “game” on FaceBook today and it told me I will live until I am 109.  No thanks … Right now I’d be quite happy to die as soon as I have everything organized in my life.  I have a list of things that need to be done, I need to document everything financial that I deal with, I need to organize my work so that my clients will be taken care of when I finally die and I need to make sure my children (who are adults now) are able to take care of themselves.  My stepdaughters are fine, both are married with children and are financially secure.  My daughter is married (no children) and is quite independent from me.  My son is just starting out in his career, working in a restaurant on the line.  He makes next to nothing right now but I’m sure with hard work and perseverance he will achieve his dream of being a restaurant manager.

Most likely I should downsize and move out of my house.  Right now my son and his girlfriend are living with me but he can’t afford to live here on his own.  This will probably take me a year to achieve because I need to renovate the house and empty it.  At the rate that I’m moving it will take me years just to finish that project.

I want to be happy again.   I don’t want to wake up crying every day.  I want John to know that he was right and that I can handle everything that needs to be done.  It is difficult because while he was dying he decided I needed to continue the tax practice but I should have told him no.  That put incredible strain and stress on me and I don’t believe he could foresee that.  He always told me I was the smartest person he knew and he believed I could handle it.  Well I did handle it but the stress almost killed me.  I need to make changes going forward.

I have a friend that is also a widow and we have been doing things together.  We have been going out at least once a week but I am an introvert and she needs to contact me instead of me contacting her.  We are making travel plans (going to Bermuda in September, Mexico in October and Florida in November).  Her husband passed away over two years ago from complications from MS.  She is quite happy to spend time with me in Florida too.  Florida seems to be my happy place.  I think about being there all the time.  As I mentioned before my daughter is quite unhappy with me that I sold the condo there.  She looks at it as a place of memories but to me, it was my future with John.  We worked hard to get the condo ready for our retirement which was supposed to start in 2016.  But he died before we were able to see our dream come true.  No one loved that place more than I did but every moment I spent there was like a knife in my heart.  I didn’t think I could survive if I stayed there.  But I love the area and I will go back.  I’ll most likely buy another condo and make it mine.  I can go to “our” favourite places and remember John and smile but try and move forward and get through my life.  If I can’t move forward then I might as well liquidate everything and die.  What is the use of living?

I really do want to be happy.  I want to smile where it actually touches my insides instead of my outside.  I want to wake up feeling happy to be alive instead of getting up every day thinking of what I have lost.  I have been trying different meditations and they are helping and so are my kittens.  They obviously love their mama cat because they are with me so much of my day.  They curl up and sleep beside me while I work.  My boy cat (Obi-Wan) loves to watch me type and he stares at the screen of the computer.

I am trying … we will see how this journey goes.




The Four Musketeers

It was decided that we would combine our offices and move in together in October 1976.  I went into this merger apprehensive.  I had a good relationship with my boss Tim, but didn’t feel comfortable with George and John.  We moved into an older building and had the upper two floors above a law office (my uncle was a lawyer at the firm).  There were three offices, two large (one with a private bathroom) and one smaller office.  The reception area was set apart from offices and was quite private also.  George got the small office, Tim got the bigger office with the view and John got the office with the private closet and bathroom.

Right from the beginning I knew that John would be the leader in the group.  Every Monday morning John would meet with me to go over the weekly plan.  He rarely smiled at me and was very abrupt when dealing with me.  It was hard for me to get a read on him.  When nervous I talk so I must have talked his ear off.  His partners were content to let John run things while they did their work.  Tim was the social partner.  He knew every lawyer, every banker and worked the crowds.  Most of his time was spent doing promotional work, he would land the client and George or John would service them.  George was a workhorse when it came to the client files.  He worked fast and could produce several files a week but tended to make sloppy errors.  His goal was to be home with his beautiful wife and he didn’t want to be at work a moment longer than necessary.

Four over 4 years we worked together, often more than the standard 40 hours a week.  During tax season we would work 70 or so hours a week just to get the work out.  None of us really minded though since we felt that we were a team. As we got busier we hired additional staff.  Over the years together I became the office manager with John as the managing partner.  We expanded and opened an office in Toronto.  While staff came and went the four of us were as close as the four musketeers!