Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reluctant Christmas

I realize this will all be backwards as I posted these in chronological order, so this is forces you to read the other posts if you want to know why I'm reluctant, at best, to "do" Christmas this year. I don't really care for Christmas as I did as a child when we had lots of family gather and other children to share the joy. Other than once Christmas in 16 years, we have spent all of ours at home with, mostly, just Paul, Matt, Art, and I. It's been years since Lucas and Justin have been home for the holidays and my family is all the way on the other coast and it's not a good time to travel. My fantasy for years has been no gifts and a destination trip. Be careful what you ask for. So, because of all the trauma we've recently experience, we are going somewhere for Christmas-after Christmas actually. But not a to-do as usual (pale is usual). Justin finally piped up and said he wanted to have the first "normal" Christmas in many years so I scrambled and did very different decorating than usual (pale anyway). No tree; a birdcage stand with a small tree, lights, baubles. Did the whole mantle when I usually do just a little. Anyway, I like how it turned out. There is a bit of a theme; can anyone see it?
Have a wonderful holiday. Enjoy and embrace the family and friends who mean so much to you. Remember your blessings.

Dad, Pop-Pop, PD, Art

It's still a nightmare; one we know we won't wake from, but it still seems as though this has all be completely impossible. On November 15th, literally when we arrived home from hospice and Glynnis' passing, Paul found his dad having a stroke. We never did determine how long he had been slumped, dressed in the bathroom in a very uncomfortable position. No speech, right side completely paralyzed, but somewhat alert. As we stood in the front yard watching the paramedics load Dad into the ambulance, we were sure that it was IMPOSSIBLE for these two major life changing experiences could occur in the same day.
Art had been raking leaves that day and the day before. He was still cooking, driving, grocery shopping, everything except hearing. He would have been 93 on January 24th. Two points of view. One, the fact that he was able to be so active and healthy for so long was a blessing, but, because of that, it gave us a false sense that he would keep beating the odds for many more years. So, even though it may sound strange, it's a shock and surprise that he's gone. Other than six weeks in Hopkins six years ago for heart issues and ten days of hell (hopefully more for us than him) in the hospital then two days in hospice, he was amazing. We do take things for granted, it's human nature to do that, otherwise we would be focusing on the future rather than the present.
He was the only life-long constant in Paul's life. He had lost his mother when he was 18 and she 56. But his dad was always there for him. And, that he lived with us for the last 15 years, makes his absence constantly obvious. It doesn't matter how long one knows that a person is going to pass or if it is sudden, it is still like being hit like a truck.
We all love and miss you so and always will.


On November 15th the world changed and not for the better in my and many others' minds. This beautiful, graceful, glamorous, intelligent, hilarious woman, wife, mother, friend, and overall human being left this life. She was the poster child for great health; the quintessential anti-cancer candidate. She was thin, ate well, exercised, did any "bad" things in extreme moderation. She found out almost seven years ago that she had breast cancer. She "got away" with a lumpectomy and chemo. She lost all of her hair but handled it with such grace and actually made it very creative. Her hair grew back as this fabulous white that had been her signature since. It just further highlighted her gorgeous blue eyes.
And this is the love of her life, Ron. And she was the love of his life-hands down. Frick and Frack; they were a wonderful couple and a great act together. Always making get-togethers worth every minute. Last March she was once again diagnosed with cancer; this time in her shoulder, lung, and somewhat spread to her bones. She immediately started chemo again. Once again she was like iron woman, going through chemo, loosing her hair, but able to continue to function and live her life, and things looked really good. In late September she found out that, instead of killing the cancer, the cancer was aggressively taking over her liver and the areas surrounding it. She began an equally new aggressive treatment which made her quite sick and miserable but without improvement in her progress. The writing was beginning to become clearer on the wall. It was not good.
Glynnis loved Halloween as a grand understatement. Cancer be damned; she and Ron borrowed my truck to pick up an extra big ladder to put up some of the higher Halloween decorations. It's impossible to describe how much Halloween decor they had. Outrageous. Wonderful. So, to our surprise after I'd been with her two days before when she was violently ill, the Halloween party was on. Paul and I discussed our surprise on the way to the party having thought there would be a call at any time during that day canceling the party. My theory was that even if Glynnis had to just sit on the couch and watch the party, the party would go on. But, as you can see above, she was having a good day (at least by appearances). There were a few times she had to sit and rest but she was dancing and having a great time.
Absolutely partners in every way including crime (puns are always intended), in the form of fun and delight and dedication to each other.
While I watched this photo of their family being taken, I was painfully aware that this would probably be their last family photo. I made myself push it out of my mind and just tried to soak in the moment as much as possible. They knew, everyone knew. But they BLEW IT OUT that night and I sucked it up and did my best to do the same-a joke-we all had a fabulous time. We danced and sang loudly (in my case badly) and played. It was perfect. TWO WEEKS BEFORE SHE PASSED AWAY.
Things went down hill shockingly fast. Paul and I were so blessed to be among the family and friends who were with her as she left her earthly body and experienced the most personal of experiences with her as a final gift. And she was a gift; one I can't begin to describe.
This is 1996 on Asilomar Beach on The Monterey Peninsula at our going away party when Paul, Justin, Art, and I moved Maryland. Classic. Signature (at the time) short, red hair and (always) chucks.
This is the arrangement I made for Glynnis' memorial service. She had a little clay angel above the window in the t.v. room of their home so this woman kind of reminded me of that and of Glynnis and all her grace and beauty (and a bit of wacky)-inside and out. Now, please pray for her family, friends, but especially her children, Bryn/21 and Peter/19, and most especially Ron. He has lost his other half, his heart is broken, he is devastated and lost but he is putting one foot in front of the other. He needs all the strength and support and prayers he can get. I miss you and love you so Glynnis.