Category Archives: family

He would have been 83

Happy birthday Poppy. I love you so much and I still miss you terribly.

Today would have been my grandpa’s 83rd birthday. I miss him terribly. I miss him so much that when I start to cry that I physically hurt.

I cringe when I recall the January night when I got the call. It was absolutely horrible. I had gone to the bathroom in the middle of the night and my phone was on vibrate on the kitchen counter and I heard it going and going and going. I checked it and there were a ton of missed calls and texts with ‘call me.’ Knowing this was not good, and immediately in sheer panic mode, I had the boyfriend call my parents and once my mom confirmed that her, my dad and my sister were okay, I knew. I just knew.

I remember my blood curdling scream (which I found out later woke our upstairs neighbor) and dry heaving in the toilet. I remember sobbing on the bathroom floor and the shock I experienced while curled up on the couch for the better part of the day. I don’t remember packing but I do remember being very angry at the airport the next morning.

In just over two weeks it will be five and a half years since he left us.

It seems absolutely unbelievable to me that it’s been that long already. I guess it’s because I talk to him a lot. And not a day goes by that I don’t think of him yet I am so afraid of forgetting him.

I know he was really sick at the end and really uncomfortable but I wish he were still alive for so many reasons. I know it’s very selfish but I can’t help it. I miss him so much.

I fully credit my love of big band to my grandpa. My sister heard a tribute to Benny Goodman on her way to work this morning. How very appropriate it was today.

I love that he tried sushi even though he shuddered at the thought of eating raw fish. He would tell me he couldn’t believe the little girl that would only eat grilled cheese and chocolate milk would eat such a thing now.

I found out after he left us, that he saved all of the ‘somebody who loves me went to (place) and all I got was this tee-shirt’ tee-shirts that I bought on my travels even though he didn’t even wear tee-shirts.

I miss our hour-long phone calls a few times a week. He hated answering my questions about him, especially the one when I asked how was he feeling and if everything was okay.

Our conversations would cover the weather, the latest news stories and what I was having for dinner. They’d also go much deeper with questions about my day, how was work going and what plans I had for the week. It sounds mundane but we covered enough ground to have long conversations a few times a week. In fact, I talked on the phone more with my grandpa in one week than with other people on the phone in a whole month!

He’d also ask me where I would travel next and if it was outside the US, he would give me reasons why I shouldn’t go. Even though I knew that when I came back and visited he would be so eager to look at all of my pictures and ask loads of questions, which I loved. It wasn’t like five minutes of mindlessly flipping through photos. It was like shutting off the television and turning off all other distractions to properly look at all of my photos so he could focus and ask questions about my trip.

He’d always come up with a silly tune about life and sing a line or two. Sometimes it had no words. That one I know by heart. De diddilly de diddilly dee dee dee dee. If you were lucky enough to hear that tune in person he would usually pull on your ear while he sang to you.

He loved watching Anthony Bourdain on television, and he would be so excited to tell me if Anthony was somewhere I had been.

Apparently, he eliminated one of the choices that my parents were planning on using for my first name. It didn’t work with the nickname he had already planned for me, his first grandchild.

He loved a good piece of pie with a scoop of ice cream and a coffee for dessert. A diabetic who loved pie…

He had a sense of humor too. When we were kids and we would leave after a visit, he would always give my sister something ridiculous, like an empty toilet paper roll, and tell her to hang onto it for him until they would see each other again.

Every year on his birthday, and the day he left this world, I get a six-pack and toast him with a Sam Adams, his favorite beer.

Sometimes I wonder if our relationship would have been the same now, nearly five and a half years later. Would he still be up for hour-long phone calls a few times a week? I think so.

Happy birthday Poppy, wherever you are. I love you.


Mates Losing Weight

As you start your New Year’s resolutions slightly hungover, I want to share an inspiring story of motivation.

My sister and brother-in law are on a weight loss journey that will ultimately result in a baby. Okay, let me start over.

My sister has been overweight for most of her adult life. Not like ‘OMG, I need to lose ten pounds’ but much, much more.

She and her husband have made a committment to their health and have joined Weight Watchers. Again, not Weight Watchers because your butt doesn’t fit in those jeans anymore but Weight Watchers for serious ‘weight watchers.’

They started this journey back in May 2011 and seven months later my sister is already down 59.8 pounds. They weigh in on Mondays and not every Monday was a loss. But every Monday provided motivation for the following Monday.

Their committment to their health will ensure their blood work results get better every time they go to the doctor. Their committment thus far has resulted in several dropped sizes, clothes they can wear that still had the tags on it and new realizations about themselves.

And my favorite:

My sister asked me ‘what’s this?’ as she pointed to her cheek.

I replied ‘your cheekbone!’

This committment, over time, will also allow them to start trying for a baby…in time.

For anyone who knows my sister, she was born to be a mom. From taking over my baby-sitting jobs when I realized I was not made for baby-sitting to being so motherly, she is cut out to be an awesome mom. And my brother-in-law, I know he will be a wonderful father.

So as you make your resolutions and you feel overwhelmed when you think, ‘it’s going to be a long journey’ take it in stride. While my sister and brother-in-law have a ways to go, they also celebrate the milestones they hit along the way.

Whatever your resolution, and however hard and long the journey ahead may seem, just remember, if you put your mind to it, you can do it. My sister and brother-in-law finally have decided to take that step and are well on their way.

Good luck to you as you tackle those resolutions. And if you are one of those people who make a resolution not to make a resolution, I salute you. I just can’t pass up any chance to make a list 😉

One day #indie30

The prompt for the BootsnAll indie writing project is ‘one day.’

I can’t limit myself to just one because I had two perfect travel days this past year.

1. Seeing my grandma’s face light up when I surprised her in Florida this past July for her 81st birthday.

2. Seeing my sister freak out when I showed up in Arizona earlier this month to celebrate her 30th birthday weekend.

Both times I had trouble sleeping all week in utter excitement. As each of the flights neared their destination, I had butterflies in my stomach and couldn’t wait to get on the ground!

The excitement from the plane was similar to how I felt when I was getting ready to land in Ushuaia, but that was excitement for the unknown. These surprises were known. To me. I knew that by making a surprise appearance, I would make two very special women extremely happy.

That’s the magic of air travel.

Review of the Concert

Not only was it awesome – but Tim McGraw opened with my favorite song and ended with one of my other favorite songs.

It was very cool to be at an outdoor amphitheatre in November – though the temperature did drop a bit and there was a little bit of a chill in the air. But all the singing and dancing warmed me right up. And the beer, that probably helped.

The biggest observation I had with the concert was that NO ONE WAS SINGING.

I felt like my sister and I were the only ones. I shushed her a few times since NO ONE WAS SINGING.

It was nuts. On one trip to the bathroom (ideally timed since it was a song I didn’t love) I heard a few girls saying they got asked to stop singing by someone else. Thankfully that didn’t happen to us, but at least there were other people singing.

For lawn seats, it was the quietest concert I have ever attended!

The Cowboy in Me

After shocking the crap out of my sister on Friday night, I held in her next surprise until Saturday morning.

I handed her another birthday card that held four tickets to see Tim McGraw! He just happens to be playing at a casino opening in Tucson, Arizona this particular birthday weekend (great planning on my part) and J and I are both huge Tim fans.

The cowboy boots made the trip with us and will be worn to the concert tonight. It’s Tim’s first time ever playing in Tucson, which is kind of shocking since it’s cowboy country. And it will be the boyfriend AND the brother-in-law’s first Tim concert. I know they are so excited too (note sarcasm).

If you are wondering, the subject of this post is the title of a Tim song. I may be a city gal, but I’m truly a country gal at heart.

I love a good surprise!

HA! Have I mentioned that I love surprises

I was thinking that my sister might be reading the blog so I figured yesterday’s post would be a great way to totally throw her off. You see, I have been known to pull off some fantastic surprises!

Yep, that’s right, the boyfriend and I flew across the country and showed up at her house on Friday night to pull off a super surprise! 

Some quotes from J over the past few months as she was disappointed that I wouldn’t be coming out (or so she thought!). I heard:

  • ‘You love to travel, why wouldn’t you just come out for my birthday?’
  • ‘It’s not like my 30th birthday just snuck up on you – you’ve known for thirty years’
  • ‘I really wish you would come out and celebrate with me’
  • ‘When am i going to see you next? It’s been almost six months’
  • ‘I miss you.’

Here’s a recent text exchange:

Lil sis (her): I’m going to be 30 in 9 days =-0

Awesome big sis (me): I know but I’m beyond upset that airfare is so ridiculously overpriced that I’m going to miss your entire bday month. Still hoping and looking. I will keep you posted. xo

Lil sis: Yup

Big sis: If I can’t find a flight tomorrow for this weekend or next I’m going to book for December. Let me know what Dec weekends are best.

Lil sis: For someone so on top of her traveling I’m quite surprised this wasn’t already done

Big sis: Can you take any Fri or Mondays off?

Lil sis: No more time left

How bummed was she?! Or so she thought!

J – I wouldn’t have missed your birthday weekend for the world – and coming from me, that’s really saying a lot.

Editors note: If you are following along in real-time, you will notice that blog posts for 11/11 and 11/12 did not post in real-time due to the major surprise element. This also is assuming that J reads my blog every day. There were no surprises harmed in the scheduling of these two posts.

Someone very special to me turns 30 years old today!

Today is the 30th birthday of one of my readers. She is not just a reader but also my sister and one of my best friends.

I’m so bummed I won’t be able to celebrate with her in person this year.

I just wanted to give her a (sort of ) public shout out for the happiest of birthdays!

Love you J! Here’s to your next thirty (plus!) years!

Tribute to Shadow

As a kid, I only had fish, my sister had a turtle. We never had a furry friend – nor did I ever desire one.

I’m not an animal lover. Call me afraid, call me weird, but it’s true. Even petting zoos freak me out. Remember when you put a quarter in the machine to buy the food in order to feed the animals? I would put my hand out and as soon as the animal would lean in to eat the food, I would pull my hand back in fear, scattering the food everywhere; thus teasing the poor animal.

When the boyfriend and I started dating, I learned that everyone in his family had at least one dog. I eventually (this took years) warmed up to Shadow and we took a liking to one another. I was still nervous but he only ever wanted to be petted. When people say their dog is good and friendly, this one was.  Shadow was truly, a good dog.

When we would come to visit, no matter the time we got in, Shadow waited at the top of the stairs waiting to greet us. I think he was more excited to see the boyfriend, but then again the boyfriend was more excited than me to see Shadow. Shadow would stand at the top of the stairs waiting for us and wagged his tail so hard it would beat against the ground. He was waiting for the big hug and some good behind-the-ear scratching from the boyfriend. I would run my hand from somewhere behind his neck to the middle of his back before pulling it away. Sure, laugh. But Shadow is the only dog I have ever pet, willingly. And even this small gesture took me a few years to master.

One of the first times, if not the first time, I met Shadow, we were visiting the boyfriend’s parents for a long weekend. I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I walked out of the bedroom and Shadow was there, standing guard. I was terrified – and at a standstill. I couldn’t walk the ten feet to the bathroom without passing Shadow. I didn’t know what to do because I really had to go to the bathroom. Shadow started to bark and the boyfriend’s sister was awakened by the commotion and upon realizing I was scared to leave the room, she held his collar so I could leave the room. Little did I know then, Shadow was probably just making sure I was okay. He wasn’t going to pounce, attack or bite.

When we ate, he always laid under the table near me patiently waiting for hand outs. I think this is because I am a slow eater and he knew that I would be the last to finish. Again, I was afraid to feed him, just like at the petting zoo, so once I finished my meal, I let the boyfriend feed him any leftovers.

Shadow loved walks, hated taking medicine and loved being at the lake.

Shadow was the kind of dog who didn’t care who pulled on his tail or who would snuggle up on the floor with him. With so many kids in the family, it was bound to happen.

When the kids would swim in a pool, or in the lake, he always kept watch. He would pace around the area keeping an eye out.

When I heard the news that Shadow had been put down this past weekend, I shocked even myself. My throat got tight and I started to cry. I cried because I was sad. I cried for Shadow but then I cried for my boyfriend who loved Shadow so much and then I cried for everyone who loved him. I cried thinking about how the kids would learn that Shadow was in heaven and I cried for the boyfriend’s parents who loved him so much.

I never really understood when people said a dog is part of your family. I get it now.