Category Archives: family

Changing Seasons

September is the start of a change from summer to autumn in the Northern Hemisphere or from winter to spring in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Twin Cities metro area, September has already shown a wide variety of weather: we started with a medium drought with stagnant air, hot and humid weather, followed by cool nights, crisp days, wind, and finally rain. Lucy enjoyed the summer into fall transition. She never liked high humidity, so she enjoyed less humid days. We can still get very warm days at times, but the lower humidity means the temperature is not oppressive. After approaching 100°F twice at the start of the month, areas of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin awoke to frost this morning, and snow flurries showed up on radar near Lake Superior.

The Minnesota Farm Woman has a blog post discussing this year’s seasonal changes in her garden. The birds and animals are showing signs of preparing for shorter days and cooler weather. Hummingbirds are feeding more frequently on the black and blue salvia while anticipating joining the other snowbirds flying a half-continent south. Chipmunks and squirrels are destroying the apples on the large apple tree, herbivores are munching on the normally untouched colored daisies I leave at Lucy’s grave, Lucy’s honeycrisp apples are very close to harvest,  the ash tree is dropping leaves, the chrysanthemums are in full bloom, and some of the heat-stressed maples are showing red and yellow hues. As for the shorter days, full darkness at 9:45 pm is now full darkness at 7:45 pm. The roller coaster temperatures are trending towards shorter warm spells along with some unsettling short cold spells; autumn is close at hand.

Life is full of changes. Some are predictable, others are random, some are welcomed, others not so much. Change means sometimes building, sometimes rebuilding, and at all times is inevitable. How well we manage changes determines our happiness. I have been lucky to have some very special people helping me with my rebuilding process these past seventeen months. It is nice to be needed, but it is nicer to be wanted. Knowing people are willing to take time from their busy lives to spend time with me is humbling and gratifying. Lucy wanted me to be happy after her passing, so I think she would be pleased at me occasionally getting out of the house and being somewhat social. She would have enjoyed the outings to the Twins games this year along with making a new friend. Going on a boat ride, watching the hummingbirds and baby snapping turtles, listening to the owls, and seeing the eagles soar overhead in Danbury would have left her awestruck, though I think the ATV rides would have been somewhat unsettling to her at first. I know she would be relieved that the Gateway Trail has some new overpasses that make the trail safer. She would be elated having a dozen edible apples on her honeycrisp apple tree this year after having none the previous year. Finally, she would be thrilled with how nice the deck looks after resurfacing. It was a busy and enjoyable summer, and the upcoming autumn appears to be equally busy and enjoyable. Thank you to the people who helped make this wonderful summer possible!

Cuddling season is approaching again for those of you lucky to have someone. Give your special someone an extra-long hug today to compensate for the chill in the air.

tree frog

Tree frog hanging on the french doors during a rain shower.


Baby snapping turtles


Baby snapping turtles near the hen-and-chicks

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by | September 16, 2013 · 9:58 am

“Silent No More” 2013 recap

Mere words cannot begin to express how appreciative I am to everyone who participated in this year’s “Silent No More” walk/run benefiting the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA). Next Friday will mark seventeen months since Lucy’s passing and yet participating in the event is still very emotional. Last year I was a team of one and I needed several weeks to recover from the emotional drain. This year I had nine people joining me, all of whom were there to honor Lucy’s memory. I know she would have been pleased despite being the center of attention.

Ovarian cancer does not only strike middle-aged women. Before the start of the 5K run, a 25-year-old ovarian cancer survivor sang the national anthem. Part of the reason there seems to be an increase in younger women becoming survivors is because of heightened awareness of the symptoms. Unfortunately, part of the reason may also be environmental factors.

As in years past, survivors wear teal colored shirts and the rest of us wear white shirts. I hope this year’s survivors are able to participate next year, and that eventually all of them receive a No Evidence of Disease (NED) call from their doctors.

The courses for the 5K run and 2K walk reversed from years past. This year’s weather was unusually warm and humid. The two runners on my team made it through with no ill effects and respectable times. The walk route changed because of unfinished road construction. This necessitated routing about 3,000 walkers on to a narrow path on Lake Cornelia and it slowed the pace considerably. I believe there were around 250 runners in the 5K.

It was also nice to see the three couples in my group. One couple has been married for eleven years, and the other two couples began dating in the past six months. I remember how Lucy and I started out and how we evolved during our time together, and I can see that evolution unfolding again for these couples. My hope is for all these couple to enjoy many wonderful years together.

Thank you again for keeping Lucy’s memory alive, and for your love and support during this time of rebuilding. Give your special someone an extra hug and be thankful for the time you have with that person.

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Remembering Bob at one year

My father-in-law, Bob, passed away one year ago today. Please keep Steve, Suzy, and Julie in your thoughts and prayers today.

Bob was quick to help out and Lucy and I always seemed to have projects underway. He was eager to help and I always enjoyed the help. Lucy trusted my judgment but she still relied on Bob’s opinions, knowledge, and experiences. I never minded the second opinion and I would not hesitate to ask for his counsel.

I enjoyed his company when Bob and Betty would stay with Lucy and me. It also meant we would see the rest of Lucy’s family at some point during the weekend. The love he and Betty gave to their children carried through to their adult lives. Our house was filled with laughter and love during those times. It may only be a year, but it seems to be a lifetime ago.

Bob had an incredible memory. He would tell such detailed stories about events from over seventy years as if he were recounting something from earlier in the morning. I had studied 20th century American history in college and read many articles about the Great Depression. Slogging through dusty tomes in a library or listening to a too-young associate professor droning on is not the same as hearing first hand accounts from someone who lived through it. Lucy’s family history came to life during those stories. I know we learned so much about her family and we enjoyed learning those lessons.

Even though it’s been a year, I miss Bob’s laugh, his sense of humor, his stories, and his advice. Most of all, I miss him. I am fortunate that he is still part of me and will be for the rest of my life. He lives on in Suzy and Julie, and I am grateful they chose to have me still be part of their lives.

Whether or not one believes in an afterlife, everyone achieves a degree of immortality by being part of someone else’s life and building memories. It is up to us to help determine whether we are remembered fondly or disparagingly. The life experiences of those we remember help shape the type of person we become. Bob is fondly remembered and deeply missed.

Thank you for the birthday wishes yesterday. I am touched by you remembering me and grateful for your caring. It has helped me through this tough part of my new life.

Give your special someone an extra hug tonight. Enjoy that embrace and never miss an opportunity to let that person know how much you care for her or him. Take a moment to remember a loved one who is no longer among us and give thanks for how that person improved your life. Try to make some wonderful memories of your own.

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Father’s Day 2013

Dad could not take part in the deck rebuild project, but Mom, John, and I (OK, mostly John) got it done. Dad is having an easier time reading now, so he enjoyed a book I recently finished. He also got a change to kick back and enjoy the day.

I inherited my love for reading and my boundless curiosity from my dad. I also tried being as outstanding a husband to Lucy as he is for my mother. I did not inherit his mechanical talent and have the blisters to prove it today.

This is my first Father’s Day without my father-in-law, and I miss him very much. He was a second father to me. Bob was gentle and kind, and he accepted me into the family without hesitation. Lucy inherited his quiet strength, his love for family, and quite a bit of his mechanical ability. When we would get ready-to-assemble furniture, Lucy needed to help me with figuring out the diagrams. I have some spatial orientation issues and Lucy could easily see what I could not. Bob also inspired me being the best possible husband to Lucy I could.

My father and father-in-law are still blessings in my life. I learned so much from them both and I am grateful to them.

Steve, Suzy, and Julie, you are in my thoughts and prayers today. I hope you find solace in the love your father gave you and the love you gave him in return. Stay strong, remember your father’s goodness, and give your children a hug from me.

If you are lucky enough to spend time with your father or father-in-law today, give him a meaningful hug and tell him how much you love him. If you are separated from your father or father-in-law either by distance or by his passing, take a few moments to remember him.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you men blessed with children!

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“Blame It On The Rain”

As of late, we have plenty of rain to blame. Our summer seems fake, with spring doing the real moving and shaking while summer provides a front. The Milli Vanilli song referenced in the title is similar to our summer; an uncredited singer laid down the vocal tracks while the two credited members lip-synched on video and during performances.

I could not escape the rain when I visited my parents this weekend. It rained hard enough Saturday night and Sunday morning I had to move my car because of street flooding. Monday started cool and gray but ended sunny and warm. Light jackets and long pants gave way to short sleeves and short pants. On Tuesday, I attended a Twins game at Target Field. Lucy had wanted to go see a game there, but cancer stole that opportunity. We averaged about three Twins games per year, but our last game was August 2010. Target Field is beautiful, the weather was perfect, and the Twins picked up a badly needed win. Lucy would have enjoyed the evening.

Our “too much of a good thing” rain is causing problems. Southern Minnesota has large plots of farmland that is unplowed. The crops, if they could be planted today, would be almost two months behind. Resorts are experiencing cancellations. Mosquito, fly, and tick populations are booming, and the silver maple trees have a bountiful crop of “helicopters” dropping on driveways and gutters. Cottonwood seed cotton is thick enough to look like snow. My lovely sinus problem is high gear and people I know with allergies are in a heightened state of misery.

People generally like sunny weather. Constant dreary weather and unseasonable coolness cause crankiness, sluggishness, and a marked decrease in intelligence and patience (at least from what I can tell on the highways). When the sun makes a cameo appearance and the temperature becomes more summer-like, it is like a rebirth: colors are brighter, sounds are cheerful, and all seems right with the world. Then the weather changes and we are jarred back to a dreary reality with only hope for a better day keeping us going.

There are some advantages to the rain. The cloud cover and gentle pattering of the rain is soothing. Sleeping late is easy, especially if one is on vacation and has earned a break from job stress, and that can lead to inspiration to a blog post, courtesy of a Facebook status update I saw. I would have indulged, were it not for several close lightning strikes at 6:30 am. That was another disadvantage of the unsettled weather.

Lucy and I experienced an unexpected rain shower on the Gateway Trail north of Oakdale, MN almost ten years ago. It remains one of my fondest memories. We were nearing the end of a twenty mile bicycle ride on a slightly humid August day. Lucy noticed some clouds forming and asked me if we would make it back to the car before it would rain. I did not think the clouds were of any consequence, and assured her it would not even rain. About fifteen minutes later, we were riding in a gentle warm rain shower. We were sweaty and a bit tired, but the rain helped cool and refresh us. Lucy had a huge smile on her face after the rain quit after ten minutes, and she smiled all the way back to the car.

It would have been easy for Lucy and I to “blame it on the rain” when she received her cancer diagnosis. We chose to face forward no matter what the cancer battle threw at us. Like the unexpected rain shower years ago, we tried to make the best of it and it helped us cope. It is admittedly much harder to do so without her supporting me, but I do my best. The sun will shine once again.

Give your loved ones a meaningful hug and feel the joy they add to your life. For those of you who are starting a new chapter in your life, remember a journey of ten thousand miles begins with single step and I wish you good luck and Godspeed. Thank you for your support.

Twins game, June 11, 2013

The view from my seat at Target Field, June 11, 2013.

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