in his backyard haven

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thinking of You, Dear

Hello, My Love!
It's been over 2 months since we've had a hug and a chat.  We were on vacation in March, just before you got sick again.  I've missed you more than words can tell; the grief is deeper than Lake Kimsee; but the memories delight me constantly.

So, tonight is the finale' of the Rep Nat Convention.  I think you would be happy; hope is filling the screen, the conversations and the voters.  You would be real happy with the VP choice; Paul Ryan.  Imagine: he is Joe's age!  

Well - have you heard me?  The "garage" - Dear - oh that "garage"!  I will be anchored here for a year or more just sorting through the "garage".  But the RR gang - in particular, John Sanford and Glen Icanberry have been so helpful.  We hosted the August social and 20 guys came here.  It was wonderful - everyone watched the movie "END OF THE LINE" and heard all the tales about you under the layout; encounters with Wilfred Brimley, Mary Steenbergen and Kevin Bacon.  We all enjoyed memory lane with the beautiful and brilliant slide show that Katie created with the help of Ryan and Jay G.   The guys "presented me" with a Santa Fe Tee Shirt to wear to bed / it's going to become a pillow!   

Now - about those 20 guys - in case you hear the neighbors - - - 

Well, I sold the Accord.  Actually, my brother, Mark, set up a win-win situation and arranged for Joe and Aimee DiGiovanni to buy it when they came out here to deposit sons at USC.  I think they are happy with it.  I loved that car; and I was proud to hand it on and keep it in the family.  I put the $$$$ away to save for a hot new red Granny Roadster. . . after I enjoy the truck for a little while longer.

Den, our kids have been AMAZING!  We are so proud of them!  Each of them not only stepped up to nurture you and care for me; but they are all phoning; emailing; visiting and keeping watch over me.  We have all been very busy:

Liz managed the Irvine Swim League through their Championship and I got to witness her spot-on leadership skills as part of the 2000+ contestants; their families and all the ancillary support made for a long and fulfilling and fun day!  Madi and Nate are naturals and did very well.  Madi completed her second year with Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards!  Nate continues to develop his karate skills and performed a private recital for me; he will test for blue belt in a few weeks.  

Joe has been in regular phone and email contact with me even while he was preparing and tested for his GRE.  He did very well.  Graduate school is waiting for him.   I'm excited that he is coming home tomorrow for a long weekend with me.  We're going to visit San Diego's Maritime Museum.

Of course Molly and the whole Gellerman family returned in July for a 2 week vacation.  Imagine - they all climbed back on that plane for another 21 hour flight each way!  The girls were totally delightful.  Jay was a huge help in the "garage".  Molly assisted me with financial planning as we together met with the financial advisor.  What a heap of paperwork to wade through - unbelievable!  They included me in their Disneyland package for 3 days!  Oh, My Love, it was a glorious way to enjoy the park - being able to walk to the hotel and soak in the pool and rest and dine to refresh for the next day.  Splash Mountain is still our favorite ride!  I was front and center and took in all the water - soaked to my waist!  Remember all the wonderful times we went to Disneyland?  You should have experienced it with the grandkids - all four of them.  It was a hoot.  Mostly it was terrific enjoying Meagan's first experience of all the characters and rides and parades and attractions.  We packed a lot of fun into their 2 weeks and culminated with a grand luncheon at American Girl in Los Angeles.  They were real troopers as they all headed back to India for the final leg of their assignment.  

Sadly, while we were having breakfast with Goofy we got a phone call that Albert decided to join you in Heaven!  It was a terrible shock for all of us but devastation for my poor sister, Dorothy.  But then, you know that already.  I hope you have welcomed him to share the eternal joys with you.   Well - I flew back to New Mexico for Albert's memorial service. I only stayed two days because it was so very painful.  Dorothy and I are still in disbelief that both of you guys took off and left us here.  But my brothers are helping her and her kids are doing well also.  She and I are going to take a little road trip in October.

Yes - I'm certain you are in Heaven - why, you had over 50 Masses intended; over 170 gathered for your funeral Mass and the mortuary was nearly full of people praying you along your way.  Mostly - Hon - everyone shared how much you are loved!  You are full of life and sucked every breath possible; you helped EVERYONE and they all expressed appreciation and mostly you walked the talk - a Man of Faith and Patriotism.  God, I miss you sooo much!

Well Amy was going through a really rough patch when you took sick.  Her life was jammed with changes in relationships; a new graduate and licensed acupuncturist and starting a new business.  She struggled a lot as she put all that aside to be home with you.  (ALL of the kids sacrificed to be home with you and they all were glad to do so!)  But I've always said Amy is like a cat - she lands on all fours.  She just completed a 50 hour CEU and is well on her way to her new business.   Amy and Liz had dinner with me last week in Marina Del Rey - it was great to be with our girls!

Katie - our "Little Dennis" - she just makes me laugh.  She IS YOUR daughter - little Miss Handywoman spent weeks here attacking your "honey-do-list"; hanging shelves and towel bars, replacing toilet seats and completing unfinished projects.   She was a huge help with chores around here.  She is planning to come back in December - early before their Christmas visit - so we can continue the saga of sorting in the "garage".  She organized all those boxes of photos and neatly packed them all into the closet in the guest room - wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling is all photos!  Kate has been busy all summer with her ceramics.

Our St. Francis group met while I was in San Francisco with Amy and Joe.  They had a lovely prayer service for you - Pat gave me a copy.  The Karpmans came.  We met again in August up at Hartts - the summer heat wave had begun and it was incredibly hot even in Running Springs.   Some of us gals had lunch together.  

So Dear Den; I have had a very busy summer; but oh so lonely.  Everywhere you should be there is emptiness.  The silence is deafening!  Sometimes I hear you calling my name.  The real insult is finding cobwebs!  this house is too big for one person!  But you always wanted me to be self reliant.  I'm trying, Hon.  I don't sleep well so I'm happy and eager to get up at 5 or 6 or 7 am.  Some days I go to morning Mass and have enjoyed greetings and hugs from so many friends and acquaintances from church.  Each day I try to accomplish a task; such as cleaning closets; watering the yard; sorting for yard sales; tool sales and train sales.  And that ##**! garage!    I'm trying to manage things the way you would have.  I didn't know when you last serviced the HVac system, so I called for service.  I was tickled and delighted to discover your "notes" written in felt pen right on the unit! Thank you Den!  I've had the cars serviced; both of them before I transferred to Joe, and also to keep the truck in mint condition.   Neighbors and friends have been wonderful help.

Of course, when you moved on you took some vitality of this place with you: the sprinkler system malfunctioned; the plum tree died and several bushes (whoops - Katie told me I'm supposed to "water" them); and why do light bulbs all go out at once.   I replaced the stove - it was only 23 years old.  You'd think it should have lasted as long as the frig - 29 years now!   And finally, they tell me the Hvac system needs to be replaced.  thankfully Mitch is helping to oversee that and we are  replacing a few parts to keep it around a while longer!

Papers!  Oh the papers that need to be sorted.  You won't imagine all the stuff I have uncovered.  I cherish the many love notes you left behind!  I've found letters from friends - like from Gary Runa reminiscing about Halloween in 1962 - sorry Dear - it was incriminating evidence that need to be destroyed!   You'll be thrilled that I've gathered together all of your Air Force history!  Your many medals of honor; your achievement certificates and your very prized polished steel replicas of the missiles.  Our kids and grandkids are going to be thrilled with all of these!

Speaking of Air Force, did you know that John Davis flew in from China to spend time with you?  He was 2 days late but he came and he stayed and we shared wonderful memories of you two guys; the flying in his plane(s), the ski adventures and all the jobs you guys worked together.   He'll be heading to Tucson soon for the Wing reunion - he'll meet David Keller and some of the others.

And as for reunions: Ken Wendell and several guys from SPHS came to the funeral.  They invited me to the class reunion - maybe another time... 

Well I've read several books; watch some movies and have been in contact with many friends, Dear.  Our many local friends are terrific and the Arkansas gals and Cape Cod friends all in touch.  We have lost more friends, Dear.  You need to be looking for Laddie Svarc, Alice Tovar, Dottie Lapinski among others.   Some friends are very sick so please pray for them.  Finally My Dear Den, we are counting on you to advocate for us!  You know our many needs - 

There will be more letters, Love.  Until then, all my love and kisses and hugs - forever! 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Burial

I was just going through some photos when I realized I never finished posting about Dad's burial.

It was beautiful and moving and humbling.

Dad was buried at Riverside National Cemetery. He was given a full military burial. What this means is that Officers of the Military move his casket with draped flag, fold the flag, present it to my mother, play Taps and do a full gun salute to their fallen soldier. The ceremony takes about 30 minutes and then dad was moved to his place of final rest.

This was moving for me because I honestly believe that while my dad was not off in a battle when he died, that he did die for our country.

It's been known for quite some time that dad's cancer was not hereditary. It was environmentally caused. Dad's 27 year career in nuclear missiles exposed him to things that most of us take for granted of being protected from each day by our armed forces.

Dad's cancer came from his job. He knew this. He dutifully accepted it. He believed that this was his cross to bear out of his service commitment. Dad died battling his cancer. He died to protect us all.

I can not begin to articulate the emotion that came with the moments of this burial. I only wish I could get the video of the whole event on here for you.

Missing Dad

It's been just over two months since Dad died. This week was tough for me. I found myself thinking of him often, wondering if I've done him justice in my grieving. I've re-lived every moment of those last days of his life over and over and over again in my head. I don't want them to go away. Ever.

Did I show enough love, care, appreciation? Was I tender enough? Was I patient enough? Could I have sat next to his side more? Should I have done anything differently?

I find myself trying to remember his smell or his voice. A joke he used to tell.  I wish I could sit by his side again in front of the TV. I wish I could find more photos of me and him.

Sometimes I wake in the dead of night and he is the one on my mind. That's good, I believe. I don't wish away the lack of sleep. Instead I breathe deeply the closeness that I feel to him during those dark, quiet hours and wish there were more.

A hard part about grieving? I'm not where he was in the day by day activities. I'm on the other side of the world. I can't walk through the front door and be reminded that he's gone. It feels like I'm just traveling, and he is back home with mom where he should be.

I like missing Dad. It's a good thing. I am so lucky and blessed to have had this man to call my dad.