Mar 182015
 

Sunday afternoon I drove up to Seattle to spend a few days with my mom and to go to my great Aunt Mary’s funeral. She passed away last month at the age of 95! She lived a really long, full life and had three kids and one grandkid. I love hearing the old stories my grandma would tell. The two of them lived together (unheard of at the time) in their twenties instead of getting married. They went traveled together and went on road trips and best of all went DANCING! Every night! My grandma was quite the dancer. :)

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It’s so cool to hear those old stories because that wasn’t the norm in the 1930’s and 1940’s…women left their parent’s house and immediate moved into their husband’s house. While I was visiting I got to see some old photos of my grandparents on their wedding day:

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My grandmother recently moved into an apartment, after living in the house she had with my grandpa for something like 62 years! Change is hard. I think the rest of the family is having a harder time with her moving than she is! She seems to be loving her new posh pad (which my aunt decorated gorgeously!).

So Sunday I got into town and my mom and I went to see my grandma at her new place and then met my aunt (the talented decorator) for dinner at the Bengal Tiger Indian restaurant. I rarely eat Indian food because Michael’s not a fan (same story with my mom–my dad doesn’t like it so she never eats it) so it was a nice treat to go out!

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I have no idea what we ordered now. But it was delicious! I had a little bit of everything. Monday morning I got up and went to the gym. Then my mom and I spent the day puttering around. I went to see my other grandmother who is in a nursing home and we did some stuff around Seattle, and then got to go through some of the old family heirlooms. Like this gem:

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My great-grandfather went to the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 and had his fortune read. :) My great grandfather was actually quite the writer. He used to keep journals and there were many many (too many to count) volumes of his journals that he actually COPIED for all of his 7 children so they’d have a copy. And by copy I mean hand-written. Before xerox. He re-wrote every single journal (and I think there were like 25 or 30 of them in each set). As a teenager I actually went through my grandmother’s copies and tried to read them. My plan was to transcribe them and type them up but I don’t know that I ever finished and I don’t know what happened to what I worked on. Some of it was difficult to read, too.

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But he also kept journals of newspaper clippings. Like this one:

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He got married on Ground Hog’s Day 1916 during “the big snow.” :) I find this stuff SO fascinating! I would LOVE to go through all the old journals and books of newspaper clippings.

Then we grabbed dinner at this magical place:

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Tuesday was the funeral. They were saying the rosary at 10:30 and the funeral mass started at 11. It didn’t finish until nearly 1pm and then there was a lunch at the church. It was a REALLY nice service and the Eulogy was written and read by Mary’s son Pat. He did a great job. Mary’s daughter, Margaret, was actually the person who took me to my first ever concert! She was the cool older cousin (I guess my second cousin?) who my mom and dad gave permission to take me and my group of friends. Man, times have changed haven’t they? But I think I was 14 and Margaret took us and we all had a great time (White Zombie, L7, The Melvins, and Babes In Toyland was the concert!!).

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Anyways, Mary is in the left, my grandma is on the right. I remember going to Aunt Mary’s house as a kid in the summertime because she had a swimming pool! In Seattle!! Which was unheard of it. But as kids we’d go over there and splash around and she’d make us lemonade and lunch and she was always so sweet and gentle. That’s how I remember her, very sweet.

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I took those photos a few years ago at our family reunion. When both Mary and my grandma busted out the harmonicas and started playing. The funeral was really nice and mostly positive. She’d lived such a long, full life, it is hard to be sad but I’m still a little sad. And sad for my grandma that she lost her sister.

I didn’t end up staying for the St. Patrick’s Day party after the funeral (Aunt Mary always threw a big party) which was disappointing but I had a long drive back to Portland and wanted to miss Seattle rush-hour AND Portland traffic if I could. I said my goodbyes and hit the road. It was a good trip and I’m glad I got to spend some quality time with family.

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Dec 032014
 

Death has been on my mind a lot lately. A few people I know peripherally have lost someone close to them in the week, both were children. One was due to a long battle with an illness, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Recently Michael and I met with an attorney to to have a Will drawn up. It seemed like the responsible thing to do as adults and newlyweds who have assets. It didn’t bother me going into it because I’m practical and pragmatic in most things. I’m a planner. If I can plan for something, I will over-plan for it. That’s just who I am. So we met with a local attorney and had the papers drawn up. It still didn’t bother me until it got down to the nitty-gritty stuff. Like who gets the animals if we both go at the same time? I sure as hell don’t want them sitting in a cage at the humane society, where my cats will most likely be euthanized because they are older. I know that when we have kids someday and update this shit it’s going to be even more complicated and emotionally trying–who will take care of them when we both go?

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We also filled out Advance Health Directives–you know, the unplug me if I’m not waking up kind of forms. I’ve always known that I didn’t want my life prolonged if I was never going to wake up or get better. I watched two aunts die very slow, very painful deaths due to a genetic disease that had them in a nursing home with a feeding tube unable to communicate for the last decade of their lives. As a little kid visiting them, I knew then and there I didn’t want that. So it was fairly easy for me to fill out my wishes for the Directive.

It wasn’t comfortable, by any means. Especially when Michael and I started discussing different things and scenarios. We both tried to make jokes, to lighten the mood, but it was still uncomfortable.

I don’t know that anyone deals with loss very well. I know that I didn’t deal well with the big loss of my life, my grandfather. That was the start of my weight gain and depression issues. I had a flare-up of similar feelings this summer as I was preparing to marry the love of my life. It should have been a happy time. Mostly it was, but the stressors that popped up in the planning process triggered feelings in me I didn’t know how to deal with. Well, I did, I ate food I shouldn’t have. Hence the pounds creeping on. The closer the wedding got, the more anxious I felt. I withdrew from a lot of people, I was irritable and cranky, I felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something horrible might happen to interfere with the wedding. My internal monologue was, I don’t deserve to be happy, something is going to ruin this. I won’t get my “DAY”.  I talked about this with my therapist. She tried to help me address the irrational anxiety attacks I was suffering from and honestly, once the wedding day was here, everything WAS alright and I WAS happy and nothing was ruined.

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Sure, these are all irrational fears and thoughts, everyone has them. But they were really overwhelming for me. I struggled. I didn’t share these feelings with very many people. I tried to share them with Michael but he doesn’t understand anxiety. He thinks it’s just something you can shut off. “Just stop thinking about it.” Mmmm. Right. I’ll do that.

Anyways. Last night after I got home from the gym, after Michael and I had eaten a delicious dinner he prepared for me and we settled in to watch some TV and relax, I saw something on Instagram from another blogger that made my heart stop and the breathe in my chest pause. She lost her husband.

You may have seen her blog, My Bizzy Kitchen, or you may have seen her comments on my blog. I’ve been a huge fan of her blog for years, since I first discovered blogs. She’s diabetic and counts her calories and her outlook on life has always been upbeat and positive when it comes to weight loss and keeping it off. Her recipes always look delicious and I’ve just enjoyed her posts over the years…

I knew her husband was really sick. He’d been in the hospital off and on this year and most recently he was there for an extended period of time. While I knew it it was serious from the bits and pieces she shared on her blog I had no idea it was this grave. When she posted last night that he had passed away at home surrounded by family, my heart broke for her and everyone there with her. Words just can’t describe how sad it made me feel.

It reminded me just how fragile life is. Things can change in a moment, completely unexpected, completely unplanned for. The rug is pulled out from your feet and you are on the floor on your back with a dazed feeling. That shock of grieve is something that, once you experience, you never forget. The disbelief. The sadness. The anger. All of it. I’ve felt it several times in my lifetime–my grandfather, my coworker a few years ago and one of my coworker’s daughters that died suddenly.

I hugged Michael and tried not to cry, feeling really sad about this blogger’s sudden sorrow. I started to think about the things that make me unhappy in my life and once again I asked myself, “If I died tomorrow, would I be satisfied with how I spent my time?” Would I be glad I spent time at a job that, while I enjoy the WORK, the environment is a toxic cesspool of unhappy, negative people? Would I be satisfied with how I spent my free time? Spending hours on Netflix disengaging because I just needed to escape? Or should I have spent that time doing something more fulfilling?  What about the countless hours every week I spend in the gym working out when I could be spending it with my husband and friends? People I love? Is the calorie burn more important than that? Is getting up early on the weekend to make a fitness class more important that sleeping in or snuggling with my husband for hours and being lazy? What about that Lean Cuisine I ate for dinner when what I really wanted was something REAL and delicious and nurturing? Was staying under my calories for the day more important that a happy, healthy, satisfied body?

These are things I think about often. I don’t know the answer to any of them. I’m sure we all have feelings of regret like this. It’s important not to be overwhelmed by these feelings. Not every moment of every waking person’s life needs to be focused on the bigger picture…sometimes the stuff we HAVE to do, or SHOULD do really are the priority. But what about that trip to Italy I’ve wanted to take my whole life? I keep putting it off because the money saved should be spent on something PRACTICAL and I don’t want credit card debt…but what if I never get to see Italy?

I think we all get hit with these thoughts and feelings once in awhile. If you are a fan of MyBizzyKitchen, go over to her blog and send her some good vibes. I’m sure this is a really hard time for her and her family. My heart goes out to them. Hug your loved ones.

 

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