Tag Archives: loss

a formerly competant woman looks at 50


So it’s December 31st, again, and according to the rules in Blogohstan we’re all supposed to sum up our year in nifty little snippets, yadda yadda sis boom bah and all that jazz.

Truth is, I haven’t been feeling much like being a proper citizen of Blogohstan because I woke up one morning in 2010, don’t remember which one, looked at myself in the mirror, and said to the face staring back at me, “GRANDMA! How did you get in my mirror?” followed by “However you managed it, GET OUT! NOW, WOMAN!!”

But, she’s not leaving. She lives in there now. I think I went into a coma or something around 1985 and came out of it in 2010 wondering “what the hell happened to that person that used to be me?” Yep, that’s got to be it.

Counting today, I have 19 more days before TEOTWAIKI and frankly I am scared to death.

So it’s time to put on my Scarlet O’Hara and say “I can’t think about that right now. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

Today I remember:

  • Finding out, the hard way, that Hubby can no longer consume shellfish, and that if you want emergency room service FAST, have an serious allergic reaction to something.
  • The absolute coldest weekend in Valle Crucis, ever.
  • Not going to  Cielo.
  • Wubby flunking out of community college while his little sister overcame her fear of all things academic and became a learning sponge.
  • Reading Atlas Shrugged at the beach and thinking, Now it all makes sense.
  • Wubby moving out to try life on his own.
  • Riding in my first horse show.
  • Falling off several horses and living to get on and ride again. Except for Chick-horse; we broke up.
  • Bikram
  • Knitting enough socks to keep a centipede’s little feet warm all winter long.
  • Hillbilly time and feeling absolutely loved, no words required from anyone to prove it.
  • Taking Wubby to Metropolis in hopes that his eyes would be opened. Not so much.
  • Wubby moving back home.
  • Losing two feline friends, and gaining two new feline friends.
  • The Christmas that wasn’t quite, and the day after that flat out wasn’t. (There’s something insipid about December 26th, isn’t there?)

So now what?

I think Grandma knows, but she’s not telling. She just looks at me and gives me her best wicked little grin, that one that always said “I’ve got a secret!”


when October goes

So, I’m sitting here looking out the window at another cloudy Friday with rain forecast for Saturday. The breeze picks up and another shower of leaves falls. The poplar tree in my neighbor’s back yard is a little more golden today than it was yesterday.

Another October.

And when October goes
The snow begins to fly
Above the smokey roofs
I watch the planes go by

The children running home
Beneath a twilight sky
Oh, for the fun of them
When I was one of them

And when October goes
The same old dream appears
And you are in my arms
To share the happy years

I turn my head away
To hide the helpless tears
Oh how I hate to see October go

I should be over it now I know
It doesn’t matter much
How old I grow
I hate to see October go

For the unenlightened, that’s a Barry Manilow song. Barry’s corny, true, but that song…not so much. I rediscovered it after Daddy died. November, 2004.

The past three weeks have been a reminder of just how fragile life is. I finally got around to watching Defiance. What a great movie. After watching it I did a little research into Jewish tradition, which I really should know more about. I was interested in the blessings: “Blessed art Thou oh God, King of the Universe, who…” When we were watching the movie, hubby asked me why they break the wine glass at the end of the wedding ceremony, and I didn’t know. So when I was reading about the blessings, there was the answer.

To remind the couple that life is fragile.

Two weeks ago there was a shooting just down the road from our house. Two police officers were shot as they tried to apprehend a suspect who was threatening to kill his estranged wife, who was at work at the time. She was the manager of a local fast food restaurant. The suspect was killed. One of the officers also died a week later from his injuries. The community was devastated by the incident.

Life is fragile.

Last week we learned of the sudden death of a friend back home in Virginia. We’d known him for thirty years. He died of a massive heart attack. He was 58 years old.

Life is fragile.

Next week it will be November. It will have been five years since my dad died. Five years since my grandmother, my great-grandmother, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and my father all died, one right after another.

Life is fragile.

In Cielo, little Brenda had heart surgery last week. She is doing well. I don’t know how things are with Rosa, but hope to hear soon. I’m not going to be able to see her in January. I don’t like it, but it’s how things are.

Another breeze. Another shower of leaves.

Another October goes.

nobody noticed

Monday afternoon I had to drive into town for a 3:00 appointment. “Driving into town” makes it sound like I live in the middle of nowhere. That was true 20 years ago when we moved to this part of the county, but not so anymore.  Where there used to be no major commercial entities within about 5 miles of here, now there are: McDonald’s, Sheetz, Walmart, BK, Hardee’s, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Lowe’s Foods, etc. And several large housing developments, one of which is next to the Lowe’s Foods shopping center.

As I passed the intersection at Lowe’s,  I noticed several police cars on the opposite side of the highway, adjacent to one of the newer housing developments. There was yellow crime scene tape going up. No accident, evidently. Something else.

I finished my 3:00, and another appointment at 4:30 and was on my way home when hubby called. He was stuck in traffic on the highway just before the Lowe’s Foods. Said it looked like a bad accident. Told him it sounded like the same place I had seen the crime scene tape going up a couple of hours earlier, and I didn’t think it was an accident. As he got closer to the scene he noticed an ambulance, and a “major crime scene investigation” unit.

He said, “I think they may have found a body.”

They did. Or, a jogger did.

The story is: the jogger found the body Monday afternoon. It was “badly decomposed”; it’s been really hot here for the past several days. No other details were available.

Yesterday I heard this: the deceased person was 34, a landscaper. He had been working on a job last Friday, I guess, and was walking home. Decided to take a short cut through the housing development there next to Lowe’s Foods, and had been stung by a bee. There was no epi-pen to be found. Evidently he died from anaphalactic shock from the bee sting.

So, from Friday until Monday, no one reported him missing, wondered where he was or if he was OK? Maybe they did and the media just didn’t report that.

I hope so.

I hope somebody noticed, before the jogger did.

More than a number



See those 2 web addresses up there? If you look at them closely, you’ll notice that they are from two different newspapers: The Washington Post and the Roanoke (VA) Times.

Look closer and you’ll see this:

Lifestory&PersonID=124289351 / Lifestory&PersonID= 124286857

I remember enough from my programming days to recognize that PersonID is a key to a record in some database somewhere. In this case, it’s a database of death notices, and those both reference death notices for Eric. Two different PersonID numbers….suggests redundancy, duplicate data stored in multiple data sets, maybe?

But look even closer. See anything else??

Me neither.

Where are the friends and family who are hurting now because he’s no longer with them? Where is the list of accomplishments he gathered in his short time here? What were the things he loved to do, where did he go when he needed to get away somewhere and just, BE? What were his favorite foods? Was he a cat person, a dog person, or maybe a horse person? Who was this person? Who IS this person?

Everyone we come into contact with, every day, is so much more than a Lifestory&PersonID.

I’m going to try harder to remember that. To find out these things about the people I love, the people I’ve known for my whole life, and the people I’m just now getting to now. And I hope they would do the same for me.

Because we are all more than a number, more than a PersonID.

And when I leave this earth, I would like to know that my life made a difference. That people will remember me for who I was, what I did, and not just that I was a PersonID.

If you had to sum up your entire life into one sentence, what would it be?


A friend of ours from high school died last Saturday. He was an architect in Washington DC, a member of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. He and hubby had been friends since middle school, and I had a terrible crush on him in the 8th grade because he looked a lot like a boyfriend I left behind (well, actually he dumped me) when we moved to Salem.

We knew Eric had health problems. He’d had a stroke a few years back. Hubby and I both know how devastating a stroke can be; both of our fathers died from stroke complications. But, a stroke in one’s 40’s? Not fair, not fair, NOT FAIR.

Here’s to a life well-lived, although too short.

Capitol Hill Restoration Society: At-Large Member: Eric Snellings

As a native Washingtonian, Eric Snellings has a deep sense of belonging and commitment to the city and Capitol Hill. He has been a resident homeowner in the Historic District since 1988, and he and his wife have raised their teenaged children here with the support and resources of the Hill community. An architect by profession, Eric has focused on commercial work and has worked on several projects involving historic buildings and districts. He joined CHRS in 1989 and has been an active member of the Historic Preservation Committee for over three years. He is a past member of the North Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association and current member of the Stanton Park Neighborhood Association. Eric has served as the Secretary for the past year and intends to increase his focus on the quality of life issues for families raising children in the city and particularly on the Hill.

’til death did they part

Way back in the 80’s when I first moved here, before Borders or Barnes and Noble ever sprang from the fertile ground surrounding the mall, there was a bookstore, Hinkle’s. It was a family business with a store downtown and another one at a strip mall just west of downtown. They sold books, of course, and office supplies, and gifts, cards, stationary etc. They did custom printing. When I was getting used to living and working here in the ‘city’, I used to walk to the bookstore during my lunch hour and browse. Over the years as the ‘burbs took over and businesses started leaving downtown, the downtown Hinkle’s closed. Not too many years later the strip mall store closed as well.

A Borders opened in the strip mall. The building downtown has been torn down and replaced with a shiny new office building, now in search of tenants. I sort of forgot about Hinkle’s until I was looking for a graduation gift for someone, I don’t even remember who, and I went to the strip mall with the intention of going to Hinkle’s, only to find that the store was gone. A couple of years ago a grandson in the family died tragically. He was friends with some of our students at church, and they took his death hard.

More time passed, until a couple of weeks ago when……

My neighbor went on a trip and I picked up her mail and newspapers while she was away. I was scanning the paper one morning and noticed an obituary for an elderly lady named Hinkle. She was in her 80’s and had lived a very full life. She was described as “not having a mean bone in her body, but she did have a disdain for crumbs.” All in all, a very sweet tribute to a life well-lived.

Then I noticed another obituary, for an elderly gentleman named Hinkle, printed immediately after hers. So I read it and found this:

On Aug. 8, 1941, he married Mildred, and never spent another day without her, maintaining his unwavering devotion to Mildred for 67 years; Mildred also passed on Sept. 16, giving new meaning to “‘ till death do us part.”

So I went back and read the first obituary more closely. Yes, it was Mildred. The obit said that she had been “persistently courted by a young office supplies salesman”. Then, this:

On August 8, 1941, Mildred married Pete, and the two spent every day for the next 67 years together as devoted husband and wife. Pete also passed on Sept. 16, giving new meaning to “‘ till death do us part.”

She had passed away early in the morning at a retirement community. He died later that day, at Hospice.

And I cried for these people I didn’t even know. Not tears of sadness, but what? Their story touched my heart in a deeply introspective way that I was not prepared for. I was crying out of respect for a love story I didn’t really know. There was sadness in that my parents had to be separated by death way too early, and honor in knowing that my parents had also lived a love story, ending in “til death did they part.”

This is what marriage is supposed to be. I pray that hubby and I will be so fortunate.

Little Girl, Lost

The little girl I used to be is lost in my basement.

I went down there yesterday looking for a book. I found these pieces of that little girl, scattered in cardboard boxes, plastic storage boxes, and a trunk:

a naked, dirty baby doll.

a plastic circus elephant coin bank; you put the penny in his trunk, pull his tail, and he throws the penny into his back.

her first pair of prescription eyeglasses.

a broken souvenir of the Empire State Building, given to her by her first “boyfriend”; he was 5, she was 4. His mother was her babysitter. He went to New York on a vacation and brought her back the souvenir.

clothes that she made for herself when she was 10 or 11: a skirt, a blouse, shorts, a dress.

one of her favorite sweatshirts: there are two sets of footprints facing each other. One set has 6 toes on each foot. The other set says, “I like you. You’re different!”

her only ballet costume and black ballet shoes.

a pocketbook.

a list of students from her fourth grade class: Chris F, Robby R, Regina H, Tammy M. Contrary Goddess is on that list too.

“Teaching Little Fingers to Play”, “My Recital Book”, “My First Hymn Book”: all circa 1965.

school books: Virginia History and Geography, Spelling Correctly, Journey Through the New World.

a stuffed black bear, souvenir from her trip to the Smokey Mountains when she was 9.

Evening in Paris, purchased at the Ben Franklin on Front Street.

Avon bottles in cartoon character shapes, that used to contain shampoo.

vinyl records: 45s, LPs of Donny Osmond, The Jackson 5.

a matching scarf, hat and mitten set, green and gold striped.


a single blue mitten that she knit herself.

her girl scout handbook.

a heart-shaped pink box that began its life as a Valentine candy container. Now it holds broken costume jewelry, an old wallet, string, various other junky broken things. I think her daddy gave her the candy, but I’m not sure.

Who is this girl, and why is she in pieces in my basement?  

I cried for her. Hard. For hours.

And I can’t seem to stop.