Set in Stone

Mark, the earthly destination of your Last Ride was set in stone this weekend. A year after we sent you off in the style you loved. I didn’t realize how hard this anniversary would be. I thought I was ‘over’ that. I was wrong.

Yours and Nathan’s headstones were delivered in time for the Memorial Day celebration. Nathan’s set next to Dad’s. Yours on the river side of Nathan’s. The three men who loved me most. The ones who knew how to make me laugh. The ones who knew how to push my buttons. Sometimes knew me better than I did myself. All three of you are so much a part of who I am.

I’m angry with all three of you for leaving me too early. And I am grateful that God gave me the time with each of you that he did. Now would you please quit making me cry!

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Storm Days

Major weather events have put me on an emotional roller coaster in the past 14 months. They take me back to all of the prior storms I spent with Mark.

To February of 1998. We were newlyweds. Stormed in at home for 3 days with no power. But we were warm with our wood burning stove. It was peaceful. Too early for greenhouse and foals. Really nothing to worry about.

There were other storms. The one during which Mark decided to rip the bathroom apart to remodel. I remember the toilet getting thrown out the door landing in a snow bank. As well as a bunch of sheet rock. We laughed about how tacky it looked.

And the winter of 2016 when the snow just kept coming and coming. We had to drive the kitchen staff back and forth to work. The last time we did we got stuck halfway down our road. It was the first time I really understood how being wet and cold could be life-threatening. But we made it. Back to our woodstove. And each other.

I remember watching Mark push snow with the old M. What a miserable job. He never complained. Not only was the job cold and awful, but the amount of time it took to get the old beast started was disheartening at best. He was like a kid in a candy store when he got the snowblower for the Bobcat. I think he only used it once.

Winter Storm Silas, April 2022, was different. In so many ways. We had lots of warning. My tribe made sure we were as ready as possible. A rope was strung from the house to the greenhouse. Wood was brought into the house. All the sides on the greenhouses were fastened down, water stockpiled, fuel tanks filled, generators prepped, extension cords laid out. Snow shovels strategically positioned.

God was good to me in so many ways. The power stayed on. The plants stayed warm. And I was able to look back on the good memories of being stormed in at home with Mark. I am able to count my blessings: wonderful memories, the good lessons Mark and my dad taught me about how to prepare, my wonderful tribe, the phone calls and texts to be sure I was fine.

And I am. The roller coaster wasn’t so bad. I have my memories. My tribe. My critters. My wood-burning stove. I’m only missing one thing.

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365 days

365 days. Fifty two weeks. Twelve months. One year. It’s been a year since you left me so suddenly. You were teasing me one minute. Then I turned around and you were gone. It feels like yesterday. And it feels like it has been a lifetime.

Twenty seven years ago I had come to terms with being an ‘old maid’. Thank God you pestered me into changing my mind.

I miss your dimple and your signature giggle. I miss “I love you most”. I miss you talking to the critters. I miss calling you when I am on a trip to tell you everything I am doing. I miss my anchor, my equalizer. Hell, I even miss Gunsmoke at full volume.

I am so grateful I can see a spectacular sunrise or moon and think of you calling on your way to work to be sure i see it. I am so grateful I can get on my little horse and think of you beaming with pride when she locked onto a cow, or when she took such good care of Ashton.

I’m so grateful for all the times you knew I needed to wind down and you bullied me into spending time on the river. I always came back a different person. And you were always waiting on the shore for me.

And I am grateful for 23 1/2 years of being your wife.

The last 365 days have taught me a lot. I’m not nearly as tough and independent and resilient as I thought I was. But I’m learning to ask for help when I need it. Or sometimes when I just want it. I’m learning to look at that sunrise and smile instead of cry. I’m learning to be grateful for those blessings of our life together in addition to feeling sorrow for all of the things we will miss doing together.

I love you most.

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Happy New Year

A new year. Out with the old and in with the new. It sounds so simple, so cut and dried. We can just flip a switch in our minds and have a fresh, new mindset: I’ll live healthier, laugh more, stress less.

But, in reality, it’s just another block on the calendar. I am still human. I will laugh at dumb stuff. I’ll cry at dumb stuff. I’ll hurt more than I did in 2020, but hopefully not more than I did in 2021. I’ll have days I drink more water, less wine. And I’ll have days I won’t. There will be days I push snow and do chores and pull weeds and take the phone calls. And there will be days I hunker down and let someone else do it for me.

I am learning. And re-learning. I’m learning to let someone else do the things. I’m learning to let some stuff not get done. I’m learning how to move snow and thaw waterers. And which grade fuel to put in the Bobcat. I’m learning to take time to rest and rejuvenate. Oh, how Mark worked to teach my that lesson! He is probably rolling his eyes right now.

The learning curve is more steep on some things than others. I know the new year will not automatically give me the chance to start fresh. I will never have my soulmate back. But I can count the blessings I still have and learn to move forward slowly, praying for grace and acceptance on the journey.

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Now I get it

This isn’t a sympathy post. It’s more of a confession. Or an apology.

You see, until February 6, 2021, I had absolutely no idea what grief was all about.

I lost my Dad too early. He was 59. And we were close. I felt bad when he died. I miss our phone calls. I miss being able to take my troubles to him and get his perspective on things. I miss calling him and telling him about something new and wonderful in my life.

I lost Nathan too early. He was 49. I miss being his protector, miss his silly sense of humor, his teasing, his kind heart. I miss my only sibling.

Yet, even after losing half of my immediate family, I still did not get it. I would see posts about a loved one’s heavenly birthday or other reminders of loss and wonder why the one left behind couldn’t move on. Why they couldn’t be glad for the time they had and accept that with life we have to deal with death.

Oh, I had so much to learn! And I don’t care for the lessons very much. I’ve learned that losing the one that God chose you to make the journey through life with cuts to the core. That the first months I was numb. Sad, yes, but not really fully grieving. I thought I would be okay. I kept saying that over and over the first few days, as if saying it would make it true. And it is true. I will be. Someday.

I learned that just as our relationships are unique, so is our grief. My pain isn’t the same as Shan’s or Trudy’s or Val’s or Kara’s or Tim’s or Dan’s or Dorothy’s or Kim’s or Shay’s or Maryanne’s or Kylie’s or Lori’s or Mickey’s. But it is real, as is theirs.

I’ve learned that there is nothing I love more that hearing stories about Mark and about Kyle that I had never heard. Or being reminded of old ones. I’ve learned that there is nothing more important to me than a hug, and hand-squeeze, and “I love you.” I’ve learned that I may have a good day, then feel guilty about it. And that is normal. And so are the bad days. We used to love a nice winter storm. Now I don’t. I’ve learned I don’t know what to do with the new can of shaving cream. Or the stack of Equistat Stallion Registers.

And I have learned that although I have more angels in heaven than I would wish for, God has blessed me with plenty of angels here on earth. They have picked up my work load, protected me when I am fragile, sat with me when I cry, done my chores. I hope that the time never comes that I need to return the favor, but if it does, pray that I can do half as good a job as they have.

This blog series has been something I really enjoy. The posts have been too far and few between the past few years. I like to keep them light and short. After all, it is intended to be my reminder of all of the simple gifts I have in life.

But this one was necessary. I needed to apologize for my lack of understanding. Cuz now I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it.

I love that dimple. đŸ™‚

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Last Ride

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Mark, I think you must have been pleased today. God graced the day with beautiful weather and amazing friends. Hickota acted like a gentleman leading Goat as a riderless horse in your honor. We delivered you in style. Your friends … Continue reading

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Gone Fishing

I am fortunate to have had a backup set of parents. Don and Ruby embraced our little family with all of our quirks just as my parents absorbed the Walters’ into our fold.

While our mothers had more common interests, Don and Dan had personalities more varied. My dad was impulsive, gregarious, and more involved in the moment. Don planned for the future, was quiet in a crowd, and reserved.

What a blessing to have had Don’s influence in my life! He came to our rescue every time we had an emergency, needed a greenhouse covered, buildings wired for telephones, Sensaphones re-programmed. Don’s quiet support when my parents divorced was not unnoticed.

Don shared his family with ours. When Gail and Amy were not spending time at our farm, I was included in family camping weekends, Sunday trips home to Stanley, an infinite number of evenings and weekends with an extra seat at the table for me.

But I think that I’ve learned more from Don as an adult than I did when I was young. When he retired, Don shared a lot of time helping me extend telephone wiring, prepping greenhouses for covering (I wonder how many times he pulled plastic and nailed lathe in the 50+ years Judy has been in business). He insisted that the job get done right. Tails were cut off cable ties, cords tucked behind conduit. He reminded me that what isn’t seen is as important as what is visible.

But what I think impressed me most about Don’s life was his dedication to his family. Being a provider was a task he took very seriously. He loved his children and grandchildren immensely. But mostly, he loved his wife. He always had Ruby’s back, was patient, generous, and loyal.

Thank you, Don, for being a constant in my life. Thank you for sharing your family with ours. Thank you for the quiet, positive example we each need in a chaotic world. Enjoy the fishing. And give Ruby a pinch. I know she greeted you with open arms!

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1940 was a very good year!

Everyone says their mom is the best mom ever. Everyone else is wrong. Mine is.

She taught me how to cook and sew, how to grow (even though I didn’t think I was learning that). She taught me that the backside of embroidery should be as tidy as the front side (don’t use that one much these days).

She showed me that it was good to know a variety of things, from vaccinating piglets, to germinating seedlings, to baking a cake. She sorta dropped the ball on the housecleaning part, though.

She taught me to daydream on horseback when I was a child and how to get lost in a book. To never race your horse toward home or put him away wet.

To give others opportunities they may not otherwise have, such as taking city kids trail riding in the badlands, towing along my friends to horseshows, providing a summer camp for nephews from out of state.

Thanks for always being a shining example to me and your other ‘kids’. God knows I don’t deserve it, but I’m sure glad he picked you for my mom!

You’ve rocked the first 80. Can’t wait to see what the future holds!

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Long Winter’s Nap

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A long winter’s nap is what Trouble does best. I got one in today, too. It’s been a busy winter, even after the holiday baking season was over. Bookwork that gets ignored screams for attention. Post-Christmas parties consume the weekends. 

 

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And winter weather slows down our momentum. As it should. That’s one of the reasons we live in a four-season climate. We like our long-winter’s nap. It gives us time to recharge. Think about the season just past. And get excited about the season to come.

 

Or maybe just bury our heads in the curtains and nap a bit longer!

 

 

 

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Sunday River Blessing

I almost skipped by paddle today. It was late by the time I got on the river. I had other things I wanted to do. But…….

IMG_0236Two weeks ago I was out on the river and noticed this quiet bird sitting on a dead tree on the shore.

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Last week she was sitting patiently on her nest.

Today I was blessed with getting to watch both parents catch dragonflies and feed them to two hungry chicks! I’m glad the river called.

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Purple Cone Flower

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