Kallio Memorial Service - Snippet

Our Wedding Day - July 13, 1985

Monday, December 6, 2010

Life Dawns Just Before the Sun Rises

I'm usually awake just before the sun rises. It's a habit formed from so many years of having to leave for work by six in the morning. In those years it was difficult to drag myself from my nice warm bed, but all things change and so do our habits. Now morning is my favorite time of the day. The sound and smell of the coffee brewing is as welcome as an old friend. Just before the sun comes up I can hear the birds singing in excitement as a new day is dawning. There is a sense of calm as the sun rises, showing off the brilliant colors in the sky. Every day God paints another of his masterpieces, ever changing and always more beautiful than the one before. Outside my kitchen window a limb from my crab-apple tree serves as a resting spot for a baby squirrel. He makes me laugh as he stretches his tiny body out across the limb; not sure if he really is ready to wake. I share his feelings as I wash the sleep from my eyes. For me what makes this time of day so special is the promise it holds.

Over the last year I've done a lot of soul searching along with sorting out my life. Or at the very least trying to figure out what my life is about. I don't believe there is an emotion I haven't felt – some more difficult than others – and some I'm still working my way through. I've had a lot of self doubt and wondered what my purpose in living really is about. In other words – why bother? I've come to some conclusions recently and feel a sense of healing. I believe that life can be much like the early morning sunrise if we choose it. We can pick up the paint brush and begin our masterpiece by painting our canvas with brilliant color; or we can let our circumstances beat us down to where the only color on our pallet is black. Like the birds singing in excitement we too can begin the day with a zest for life and all it holds.

For those of you who have read my posts all along you know these conclusions have been hard coming. You also know how I have leaned heavily on God's everlasting love to help me cope with my sorrow. Every morning, over the last year, as I watched the sun come up through the trees Gods message was right in front of me, but I wasn't ready to see it. I only felt alone and dreaded the hours that were to come. I don't know that time really heals all wounds as I'm told, I haven't found it to be that simple and dry cut. At this point I don't know that the loss of my husband will ever fully heal. What I do know is that the gift of life is something to embrace and to waste the gift is not how God intended us to use it.

Today when the wafting aroma of the coffee brewing made its way up the stairs to my room, I woke and washed the sleep from my eyes so I could observe God painting the sky. To my surprise I learned that life dawns just before the sun rises.......

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Day My World Changed

The morning of November 29, 2009 began as most of my mornings do; sharing a hot cup of coffee, with my husband, and arguing as to whose turn it was to go out in the cold and get the Sunday paper. We chatted about how great our Thanksgiving had been and how good the turkey came out this year. We laughed about how silly everyone looked playing the Wii games that day, and how much fun they all had. Then the rest of the day we just did our own thing. I worked on some things on the computer and Darrell, of course, watched every football game that was on.

When I woke that morning I had a clear picture of who I was as a woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a step-mom and a grandma. By that evening, my clarity would change dramatically and my world would change forever. For you see my role as wife changed to widow. Who is this “widow” person? I didn't know her and I definitely didn't want to be “her”. I couldn't breath. – I can't accept this! – It can't be happening! – Why now?– Why! Why! Why? I just wanted to run away.

The unrelenting sorrow and pain that followed the death of my husband, my best friend, seemed more than I could ever bear at times. The perpetual gray skies of that winter dragged on and I felt a sense of hopelessness that I have never felt before. Tears flowed in an endless stream of grief and despair. Every night I begged God to please wake me from this dreadful dream. With each step I took in the mornings there would be hope that he would be there; playing solitaire as he always did and asking me for a cup of coffee. But, he wasn't there.  Despair
would settle over my body like blowing snow – cold and blinding. I was lost and alone, shrouded in a heavy black veil where there was only darkness.

In the darkness I prayed for help. The prayer barely passing my lips when I could feel the strong comforting arms of God wrapped around me. He rocked me in His arms and let me cry myself to sleep. Night after night I called to Him for strength and always He would come. I could hear Him: Shh, shh, shh, I'm here, it's going to be alright.

In a few days a year will have passed since that night. The gray dark days of that winter gave way to spring and the blossoming of summer. Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and soon Christmas will be here. I'm still working through my sorrow, but, I have lifted the veil so that I can see the beauty of the life before me. I'm finding my way through the thorns and rediscovering my dreams and hopes for the future.  Every day I reach up for God's hand and He guides me. – Some days He has to do a lot of pushing and pulling, but He is always there. At night God still wraps his arms around me and rocks me to sleep and I hear him:  Shh, shh, shh, I'm here, it's going to be alright.......

(This post also appears on The Ties That Bind )

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lake of Sorrow

In the dark there is a peaceful silence
where quiet tears caress my soul.
Each tear holds a memory
Each tear a moment that won't be shared

I see what others cannot
For you are in my dreams.
It's there I hear you call my name,
And once again feel the gentleness of your touch.
As morning breaks you are beyond my grasp.
But your sweet love lingers with me
throughout the day.

In my sorrow I call out to God.
He weeps with me.
He shrouds me in his love.
He comforts me.
He whispers you have a life to live
and beauty yet to be seen.
There are dreams yet to be fulfilled
and memories to be made

In the dark there is a peaceful silence
where quiet tears caress my soul.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

And The Months Fly - Turning the Page to November

In Colorado each season seems to burst onto the stage in diva style. This year though, summer has tried to hold on with all her might and we have had an opportunity to see what fall can be like. This last week of October the winter chill has begun setting in though, temperatures at night have been dropping causing a bit of frost on the old pumpkins. I don't think it will be long now and we will be seeing a little bit of Mother Natures white wedding dress. I'm not a big fan of snow, but, I can say that there is something beautiful about it in the early morning when the sun first pops its head up making the ground look like stars twinkling in the night.

I haven't done much in the way of writing this summer. It seems my concentration level has been lacking and my mind jumps around from one topic to the next. I have 5 articles that are in various stages of completion for my genealogy blog, but when I pull them up to work on them my mind goes blank. Oh, I may write a few more sentences but soon I close the file again and move onto something else. I'm in a perpetual cleaning mode in my office. I get one area organized then I get bored with that and move onto a project and fill it right back up again. I bounce in and out of Facebook like an idiot just to see what the rest of the world is doing.

I'm dreading turning the page of my calendar over to November and am actually having a great deal of anxiety about it. It's hard to comprehend that last year at this time my moments with Darrell were counting down to the end. It's a difficult feeling to explain. Losing Darrell has been as if someone stripped all the color from my life. It's a struggle to find out who I am without him. I can see my reflection in the window and know that the color of life is still there but, it's so darn hard to leave behind what once was and never will be again...

These days I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue to move forward. It's not an easy process for me and there are days that I wake up crying and continue to all day. I find that little things still bring joy. Like having my 13 year old grandson, who by the way is almost as tall as I am now, come and sit on my lap like he did when he was little. He tells me maybe he is too big to sit on my lap. I tell him I will let him know when he is too big – and then I will sit on his lap instead.

Life can change in an instant – you can never say I love you to often.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

...And We Danced - The only Silver I ever wanted...

Have you ever had a day or a moment that is embedded in your mind so deep that you are able to relive it whenever you want? For me it was the events of July 13, 1985. I woke up that morning excited. My mind was racing a mile a minute sorting out all the things I needed to do before 3 O'clock. I needed to make sure I had my clothes, makeup and sundries together and in the car. There was a crucial hair appointment, flowers to pick up and a zillion little last minute things to do. The time was racing so fast and I was starting to get very nervous. Everything needed to be just right and the way I had planned it to be. For you see July 13th, 1985 was to be my wedding day, the day I would begin my life with Darrell.
Everything seemed to be going on schedule; so why with every tick of the clock was I getting more and more nerved up. Of course it didn't help that my Maid of Honor's two teenage daughters kept asking me if I was getting nervous every five minutes. I kept thinking if I could just spend 5 minutes with Darrell I would calm down, but, of course that would be bad luck.

Our wedding ceremony was held in my Aunt's back yard and it was a beautiful July afternoon. But, as my Dad walked me to where we were going to say our vows I started to shake. I don't mean just a little either – I mean visibly shaking. It wasn't like I had any doubts – I don't know what the deal was. What I do know was that Darrell could see how badly I was shaking, he reached down and grabbed my arms and just kept giving me these gentle little squeezes and suddenly I just stopped shaking. He was able to do that our entire life together. There was just something about the way he would hold me that made things alright. I think that's one of the things that's so hard about dealing with him being gone – I just know if he could just hold me for a few minutes even, things would be better.
Last year when we celebrated our 24th Anniversary I told him I wanted to have a party for our 25th. After all it would be our Silver Anniversary and to me that was a big deal! I've given so many birthday parties, surprise parties, anniversary parties for everyone else I really felt it was our turn. It's the only Silver I ever wanted but, it wasn't to be.

Today I may shed tears for the Anniversaries that will never be but also smile for the ones we did share.

For Darrell,

Happy Anniversary my love! I see you in the shadows and hear your voice whispering on the wind. How many chapters must I write to hold all the memories of our walk through this world? Is it really possible to sum up the hours in our lives with mere words? Or must our hearts listen to the sweet music of our souls. Even though I cannot reach out and touch you, somehow I still feel your embrace as we danced to life's tune. I still feel the warmth of your soft kiss upon my forehead, as you so often did. You came into my life so unexpected and unexpectedly you were gone.

“Until death do we Part”, wedding vows taken so long ago, seem unreal to me now. For death does not separate us from love that fills our hearts, it is only a temporary detour in the journey. We all experience bumps and bruises in life as well as moments of pure joy. You and I shared a belief that God had a plan for us and it was through life's trials that we would be prepared for our life together. Our walk was not without it's obstacles, it would be ridiculous for me to say it was, for we both know there were many. But, those obstacles are only small challenges when love stands watch.

So sweet one for now we must say adieu. God has chosen a new path for me and you. But, I will look for you today in the shadows of my heart and listen for you calling me upon the gentle wind. Till we meet again, when God calls me home, I will hold you in my heart and always remember when we walked in this world hand in hand and danced to the music of our love.

Happy Anniversary my sweet one – I will always love you – Forever and a Day.

Please enjoy with me the 4 minute slide show of our wedding day. Please click the double bars on the playlist on the right side before starting the slide show so that the music doesn't interfere with the music in slide show.

Monday, July 12, 2010

...And We Danced - Mr. Popular and The Plain Brown Wrapper

Our First Picture Together
(Wish I was still that skinny - geeze)

Everyone loved to dance with Darrell and I never minded when he would dance with someone else's wife. I have just always been too self conscious to shake my booty the way he did, oh how he loved to get down and do the dirty boogie. I let him have his fun, however, slow songs belonged to me and me alone!

During Darrell's high school days he was quite the “sports jock” and very popular with the girls. Last summer when we went to Minnesota for his 50th class reunion we went to town to do some laundry and a woman came over to him and said: “You're Darrell Kallio aren't you?” When he said he was but didn't recognize her, she responded: “I thought so, my Dad used to talk about you all the time!” So he asked who her dad was and of course he did know him. That was all it took for him to start telling one of his stories about the “olden-golden days of Cook, Minnesota”. I loved listening to his stories, but after the 100th time of hearing them, I would say, “You've told me that story before.” Of course he would ignore that and continue with it once more. I wish he was here right now I'd gladly listen a dozen more times.

When we first started dating I really wondered why he asked me out and not my friend who bowled with me. After all she was drop dead gorgeous and I am more of a plain brown wrapper. As I said before he was Mr. Popular with the girls in his day and even as a middle aged man he had a lot going for him. (Just as a side note – he had a really cute little butt – tee hee.) I asked him once why in the world he would have asked me out in the first place, he clearly could have had his pick. He told me that he saw something else in me that was more important to him. Ahhhhhh – sweet yes? Of course then in his teasing way he added: “Besides that Pat was in front of you so you were the closest one.” To which I told him he was a jerk, ok I probably used a different term than jerk, but I'm not going to write that here. Of course he laughed because once again he got my goat. And then reminded me that he loved me and that was all that really mattered any way.

Life with Darrell was not all romance and candle light. There were some big, big issues that nearly tore our lives apart in more ways than one that I'll share as time goes on. But, one thing that always remained, regardless of the problems, was our deep commitment to each other.

I think it was the sweetness of the music I could hear playing in Darrell's heart that made me want to dance to life's melody with him. His soft and gentle touch on my back kept me safe. In him I found my dwelling place; a place that was warm even in the darkest storm. He was the one who could comfort me in times of trial. Even though our song has ended I can still recall the dance..........

….And We Danced – Will be continued

Sunday, July 11, 2010

...And We Danced - Do you remember your first kiss?

Do you remember the first time you kissed your true love?  Me too!  We were on our second date at a popular Western bar here called “The Sundowner".  It was a fun place; they had a huge dance floor and always a live band. I’m not one to drink alcohol and would be happier with a cup of coffee, but I do remember that that night I had an amaretto and 7-up. The band had been playing a lot of “Alabama’s” songs, one of my favorite bands. During the break we were sitting across from each other. I had both hands on the table when Darrell reached across and took both of them in his. I recall his hands were so warm and we both seemed to be lost in each others eyes. It felt like a scene from a movie, it was one of those sweet moments that you never forget. When the band came back they opened with a Willie Nelson song. Willie was Darrell’s favorite. The song was “You Were Always on My Mind”, nice and slow,  my kind of song.  Darrell slowly twirled me around and then did that triple twirl thing, where they guy goes under the girls arm (I have no idea what you call that.) and then twirls the girl again. It was a slow twirl though and when he brought me back around he looked at me and leaned down and gave me a kiss. And not one of those little peck’y kisses either; this was a soft sweet loving kiss. Oh be still my heart! It seems like yesterday and yet so long ago.

I guess I am glad that I went on that first date after all. I would have missed so much had I said no.
...And We Danced will be continued.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

...And We Danced

I was thinking this morning that if I hadn't gone on that first date with Darrell I wouldn't be feeling so sad today. I wouldn't be missing him and I wouldn't cry every time I say his name or see his picture. I wasn't even sure I wanted to go out with him, but I did think he was pretty cute. I met him at a bowling alley of all places. He bowled on a man's league and I on the women's league. Darrell was a roamer, in other words he was always roaming around visiting with everyone. All evening long you could hear them paging him to return to his lane because it was his turn to bowl.
I was on my way out the door of the bowling alley when he tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I'd like to go to dinner sometime. So I gave him my number but, I didn't really give it much thought. Why I don't know. I guess I didn't really expect him to call for some reason. A few days later when he called I had actually forgotten all about it. We were on the phone for several hours just talking about anything and everything and our first date was the same way. I think that had to be one of the longest dates I've ever been on. He picked me up about seven and we went to dinner. It got a little interesting when we happened to run into his married daughter. Nothing big deal just wasn't expecting it. Darrell was 11 years older then me so it just seemed strange to be on a date with a man with married kids. Especially since, at that time, most women my age were still having babies. After dinner we went dancing. I am no dancer, although I do enjoy it, I'm just a little too self conscious about not looking like an idiot. With Darrell you really didn't need to know how to dance yourself, he was so smooth and with his hand in the small of my back leading me, I felt like I knew what I was doing. We closed the place and then went to breakfast, it's a good thing I-Hop is 24 hours because we sat there for 3 hours talking. We had so many things in common and yet so different. He was so outgoing and I'm more quiet and reserved. At least I'm quiet until you get to know me, then I never shut-up. In fact all the years we were married we would argue over whose turn it was to talk. Darrell was just such a welcoming person that I found him easy to be with and comfortable, so that first date was really special.
From that first date we became inseparable. Literally in just a few weeks we knew we wanted to be together forever. Our first date was towards the end of November and on January 1st he asked me to marry him.
Darrell and I shared a belief that God prepares us for our future through our life experiences. It was to be our time.......
“He felt now that he was not simply close to her,
but that he did not know where he ended and she began."
Author -Leo Tolstoy

To be continued........

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Memorial Service - Snippet

It's hard to believe that soon it will be 7 months
since Darrell's death. I wonder at times if the
feeling that he will be returning soon will ever
leave me. As I sort though and organize our old
photographs he seems so alive that it's hard to fully
believe that he's gone.

I finally worked my way through all the beautiful
photographs that my neighbor, Jan took the day of
Darrell's memorial services. I've put them all in a
book and just completed a 25 minute slide show with
them as well as some old photographs taken through the years

I broke the video down and made a 5 minute snippet
slide show so that I could share it here via Vimeo.

You will want to click on the double bars on the "Playlist"
to turn off my programed music first so that you can

enjoy the music in the slide show.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Darrell's Park"

The first sign that summer is coming in “Darrell's Park” is the blooming of the crab apple tree. I think it is my favorite with its delicate deep pink blossoms. It's a feast for the eyes to say the least.

Shortly after the crab apple blooms the white blossoms of the cherry tree spread to the top of the house and reminds me of a brides wedding dress. A couple weeks after the blossoms from the cherry tree start to fade the apple tree's begin to show their beauty and soon little apples will begin to appear.
It's good to once again see the green of summer and listen to the sweet music of the birds in the early hours of the morning.

Yard work never has been something that I enjoy doing and I seriously doubt it ever will be. I love planting my flowers and setting up the patio, but when it comes to mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, weeding and all the other things, well forget it is not my thing. Darrell loved it and took great pride in the Kallio park. I can see him walking around with his spray canister of “weed be gone” looking for dandelions (or as my neighbor calls them - “Mothers Flowers”) or thistles to squirt. He went after them like a policeman goes after the bad guy - “take that you dirty sucker – take that!” We had a Labrador retriever for many years, she was his buddy. If he even looked like he was headed for the patio door she was right there with him. I always got a kick out of watching the two of them. She adored chasing after a Frisbee and would drive you crazy until you played with her. When Darrell would mow the lawn she would set her Frisbee right in his path so that he had to stop and pick it up. He would throw it out into the greenbelt so that it would take her a little bit to retrieve it. He would no sooner get going again and there she would be. I hired a neighbors son to mow the lawn for me this summer. Funny how just the sound of the lawn mower brought back so many memories.

I'm fortunate to have incredible neighbors who spent almost an entire day helping me last week. They trimmed all of Darrell's bushes and mowed the lawn. The grass had grown so much that I thought perhaps we would need to rent a bailing machine. With all the rain we've had every thing had gone wild. I'm glad it's all doing so well but it could grow just a little slower. I've just about got the patio finished and today I bought new cushions for my wicker furniture, something Darrell convinced me last year that we didn't need.
Tonight as I sat and enjoyed how beautiful everything is I couldn't help but feel Darrell there with me. So many summer nights we sat on the patio with just a few candles burning
enjoying the coolness of the evening and talking as married people do. I think what I miss the most are those conversation that would last until midnight or later while we watched the moon rise over the house.
I just hope I'm able to keep Darrell's park as beautiful as he always did.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ticktock, ticktock....

Today would have been Darrell's 69th birthday. Please take a moment to join me on my blog "The Ties That Bind" as I reflect on this day. (Click on the link below.)

Happy Birthday Sweetheart! I hope those streets of gold are sparkling extra bright for you today!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Father, A Son and a Couple of Nickles

Years ago, Darrell had gone to meet a friend for a beer at a local pub. His friend's son had been killed in a car accident the night of graduation and in spite of the months that had passed the pain in his heart was like a wound that would not heal. A stranger who was sitting close enough to hear the conversation suddenly walked over to their table and ask if he could sit with them as he had a story to share. I think both men were surprised by him just sitting down uninvited.

He began to tell a story about his son and how when he was little they loved to fish and camp. Even through his teenage years they had remained very close. He told of how they had been filling out applications for college and soon his son would leave and be on his own. He told of how excited he was for the new adventure he would be taking, but, how difficult it was to let go. Then, on the last day of school how he kept hollering up the stairs for his son to hurry and get ready. When he didn't seem to be making any effort to get up, how he had stormed up the stairs all the while yelling - “Come on son, you can't miss the last day of school!” But, when he flung open the door he realized that something was dreadfully wrong. His son lay there in his bed, sweat running down his brow, unable to move and barely able to make a sound above a whisper. He didn't know what to do, he grabbed for the phone to call 911, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Although it appeared his wife was running up the stairs it seemed like she would never arrive. The paramedics came and whisked him up quickly, and rushed him to the hospital. He started to follow them down the stairs when something told him to go back and get his lucky nickle. Now this was no ordinary nickle. It had saved his life by deflecting a bullet while he served in Vietnam. It was a story his son had asked to be told many times.
The stranger stopped for a moment and took a few deep breaths and a long swig of his beer. Darrell and his friend were listening so intently that they had not realized that their own beers had gotten warm. They ordered another round and the stranger, who seemed quiet exhausted now, began again.
Once he and his wife arrived at the hospital an attendant quickly brought them to their sons room. It felt as though they were doing nothing to help their son, and yet, there were doctors, nurses and technicians running in and out of the room. “Oh my God, please help my son!” He told of how he stood on one side of the bed holding his hand and his wife
on the other with fearful tears streaming down her cheeks. The news from the doctor would not be good. He said he felt as if he were in a dream when the doctor said his son had a brain aneurism and his only chance would be surgery. Even then there would be only a 10% chance
he would survive.
“How can this be?”
“Today is his last day of school, he is going to college this fall – how can this be?”
“ This is my baby, my only son, how can this be?”
Swallowing hard now to hold back his tears; he told of how his son pulled him down closer to him so that he could whisper in his ear:
“Dad, did you bring your lucky nickle?”
He said he couldn't believe his sons question and really, what had made him go back for it just a short while before.
“Yes, son, I have it in my pocket.”
“Dad, you must give them permission to do the surgery, it's my only chance.”
A few more tears ran down the strangers face as he looked at them and said: “How do you choose the fate of your own child when the odds are 10 in a 100 that he'll survive?” He paused for a long time before he was able to continue and then he said;
“I did the only thing I could do – I turned it over to God.”
He then told them of how he and his wife only had a brief time with their son before he was wheeled off for surgery. He said he took his lucky nickle out of his pocket and placed it in his sons hand, but, that his son refused to take it and told him to hold on to it for him for luck. Then he said the oddest thing:
“Dad, if I don't make it I'll send you a sign from heaven that I'm ok.”
“The funeral for my son was sad”, he said.
“The church was filled to capacity with his family and friends.”
“But, I just could not understand why God would take my beautiful
He said that when all the people had left for home that night he went into his sons room. He had not been able to bring himself to go in since the day he was taken to the hospital. He told of how the pain in his heart had brought him to his knees and how he cried out: “God why? Why?” While there on his knees, suddenly a sense of peace seemed to wash his soul and that's when he felt it. Something was beginning to dig into his right knee. As he reached down to find what it was he discovered it was a nickle. At first he said he didn't really think about it, but, as he pushed himself up from the bed - huh, another nickle? Without thinking he picked it up and put it in his pocket, but, as he turned out the light and walked into the hall something shiny caught his eye. Yes, he said, another nickle. He said, as his sons last words came back to him, that he looked up towards heaven and said: “Thank you son for letting me know you're ok.”
Darrell and his friend just sat there in amazement at the strangers story. He said that every so often he will be talking with someone reminiscing about a special memory involving his son and by golly if a couple nickles won't show up that day. He told that once when he and his wife were on vacation in Italy, they were taking a break sitting on a park
bench. He said his wife commented that she had always hoped that the three of them could take this trip together. He told then that for some reason they both looked down at the same time and wouldn't you know it, sitting on the ground were 3 nickles, in Italy no less. Darrell and his friend sat in silence. Then just as suddenly as the man had joined them, he stood up, put his hand on Darrells friends shoulder and said: “You know, my friend, they are never really that far from you when they remain in your heart.” With that he was gone, almost as if he had never been there. They both turned around to see where he had gone but, he was no where to be seen.
The guys finished up their beers and went out to their vehicles. A strange thing happened when Darrell opened the door to the truck, you may have guessed. Laying on the seat were two nickles. Darrell said it gave him the chills.
I will never forget Darrell telling me this story. It was as if he were mesmerized by it and you could have heard a pin drop in our home as I listened. I've thought of that story many times over the last 3 months since
Darrell died.
I hope you will forgive my terrible punctuation as I told this story. And I hope I've told it as well as it was told to me.
So, next time you come across a couple nickles in an unexpected place, I hope you'll remember this story and know that every thing's ok. I know I will.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day!

Darrell and I were never much for making a big “to-do” over Valentines Day. Oh yes we would exchange a card and once in a blue moon a small token of some sort. We were pretty much sweethearts 365 days a year, so an actual day seemed rather insignificant in the scheme of things.
I was always a little envious of some of my friends whose husbands would send big beautiful bouquets of roses; and in the early years of our marriage it would kind of hurt my feelings. Once I made a remark about it to him, and his response was: “Flowers die, I'd rather give you something like a plant.” A plant! Come on, how romantic is a philodendron? I always thought that was pretty lame and just an excuse not to buy flowers. The one thing that Darrell would do, and that I could count on for Valentines Day every year, was a big banner made from butcher's paper, with his rendition of a stick man. I would be greeted in the morning with the banner hanging in the kitchen, the stick man, drawn to represent his self portrait, would have long arms stretched out to either side of his skinny stick body and a note underneath wishing me a Happy Valentines Day. Above the stick mans head would be a word cloud with the words: “I love you more!”

Looking back now those Valentine Days with no flowers, candy or jewelry seems unimportant, because to tell you the truth the only gift I recall was that he took time to make my Valentine banner.

We just never seemed to need “a day” to express our love for one another. He made every day a Valentines Day in the way that he always treated me with love, respect and kindness. In reality it's the things we did for each other every day that really mattered. Like when he would say:
“Honey, you've worked hard all day, instead of cooking dinner, why don't I just run and get Chinese?” Or, filling up my coffee cup and bringing it to me, without me asking him to. Or, covering me with a blanket when I fell asleep on the couch. Or, that unexpected hug – you know the kind, the one where you can feel the love coming through his arms. And, best of all, running into the house from outside because he could hear “our song” playing on the radio, just so we could dance to it.

So to all of you out there in cyberspace, I hope that you have someone in your life who makes every day you share feel like Valentines Day, the way that I did.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Oh, woe is me.....

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
You will revive me:
and Your right hand will save me
Psalm 138:7

It seems that this week has been so full of “grief bursts” that my eyes just ache from all the tears. I keep thinking I should be doing much better than I am after two months, but this week has felt like November 29th over and over again. I know it's going to sound strange or weird, but several times this week, during my cry fests, that I could feel Darrell reaching out to me or his hands heavy on my shoulders. I know that is wishful thinking, but the sensation feels very real and only seems to make my longing worse. I wonder at times if I'm really loosing it. My attempt at organizing is a joke and all I have done is made a mess in just about every room. I can't seem to get up the gumption to finish any of it and just walk around it or close the door so I don't have to look at it. I hate to admit it but my vacuum has been sitting outside my office door for 2 weeks now. I feel like a pathetic mess! Now I understand why widows of years gone by wore a veil all the time.
I received a bag full of old photographs from the 1800's and also some letters written in German from the late 1880's. It was very exciting to study them and see that one was written by my great great grandmother. It's possibly one of the best genealogical treasures that our family has. When I discovered the signature my first thought was to share it with Darrell, but as I headed for the stairs I remembered I'm alone and he's not here. It just doesn't seem to soak in that he's not there and won't be.

I honestly can say I don't know what I would do without my faith. Sometimes I feel a little guilty occupying so much of God's time with my sorrow. I have some good chat's with Him at night, I'm sure He thinks he's got a crazy believer down here, because I keep asking him to tell Darrell this or tell Darrell that. It seems "He" loves me any way.
In my prayers I ask for peace.
And I hear a quiet voice
whisper to my heart that all is well.

In my prayers I ask for forgiveness.
And I hear a quiet voice
whisper to my heart that I am
forgiven because I have accepted
Jesus Christ as my Savior.

In my prayers I ask for strength.
And I hear a quiet voice
whisper to my heart that He will
carry me through my trouble.
and will never leave me.

In my prayers I thank him
for my family and friends.
And ask him to protect them and
Keep them safe from harm.
And I hear a quiet voice
Whisper to my heart that He
will surround them with
unconditional love.

And when I cannot sleep I
pray to him to hold me through
the night and help me to rest.
And I hear a quiet voice
whisper to my heart,
I am here my child,
I am here with you tonight,
and all the days of your life.

The tears of my broken heart are
wiped away from my eyes
and sweet slumber comes in the
glow of His light.

And when morning once again arrives,
I thank Him for staying with me
through the long night.
And a quiet voice whispers
to my heart,
I love you child, I will never abandon you.

And I say: Thank you God for
all you have given me. I love you
too and I will always be your
faithful servant.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

To Organize or Bust

“Set your mind on the things above,
not on the things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:2.

The mountains of paperwork involved when you loose your spouse is overwhelming to say the least. I've set priorities for the things that I know must be done, like notifying social security and pension plans. But, I'm trying to avoid making big financial decisions until I have removed them from an emotional level to a rational one.

After trying to wade through all of this, I've come to the conclusion that I absolutely must get more organized with all my paperwork. Right now it seems to be flung from one end of the house to the other. So now I've made a mess in every room instead of just my office. I decided instead of wasting the closet space in my spare bedroom that I could set it up to store my office supplies and genealogy work. Then when I'm working on a specific project that I would be able to find it and only have that in front of me. However, the spare closet is full of stuff too. Yes I'm a pack-rat! I have a tub full of old sheets that don't fit any of the beds I currently have. Why? The answer to that is maybe I will need it for something. I'm not sure what exactly that something is though. So they are going on the next donation truck. My work on that closet came to a screeching halt when I found a silly pair of suspenders that belonged to my husband. The suspenders have the Finnish word “sisu” running down the lengths of them. “Sisu” means guts or perseverance. The suspenders were a gift and of course brought back memories of Darrell wearing them and laughing about it. And of course the memory brought on the tears again, so I had to walk away from that project for a bit.

Funny, how we attach so much importance on the tangible things that we can still touch and feel when we can no longer touch the person that the item belonged to. At the end of my bed lays the clothing that Darrell had on when he died. It still carries his scent and when I need to feel him close I smother my face in them. They will remain there until I can totally release him. I did manage to discard some ratty old tennis shoes of his that should have been thrown away long ago, he insisted on keeping them, thinking he would use them when he mowed the lawn. But, to be honest, the day after I put them in the dumpster I almost dug them back out. I was proud of myself when I resisted the temptation.
A couple days ago I finally downloaded the photo's from my digital camera. I had been avoiding it because I knew there were pictures that would include Darrell. It's just so darn hard knowing he won't be in any more pictures. As they appeared on my computer screen it was one of those glad/sad moments when one of the pictures was of Darrell and our grandson. It was such a great moment when our grandson, Tony, received his Black Belt in karate. He had worked so hard for a long time to earn it. Grandpa was really proud of him and thrilled to share the moment. I think you can see in the picture how happy they both were to have this moment to share. The picture was taken just 15 days before Darrell died, hard to believe that someone that looks so healthy in this picture could die so suddenly.

In the end I don't think it's really the material things that we hold onto, but rather the memory that they invoke. There is an old Indian proverb that I like and it says: “We will be known by the tracks we leave behind.”
It's not really the possessions that he left on this earth that are important, but the impressions that he made in our hearts.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


"Stop being perpetually
uneasy (anxious and worried)
about your life."
Matthew 6:25

Evening seems to be the worst time of the day for me right now. For patients in the hospital they call it “sun-downers”, because that is the time of day that they become restless, discontent, and sometimes depressed. I'm not sure what actually causes it. Maybe, it's the dark of the night that brings on a feeling of being alone, or maybe it's the moon affecting our ebbs and tides that throws us off balance. Whatever it is, evening is the time of day that my longing for Darrell is at its strongest. Evening was always the time of day that we would cook dinner together and discuss the day. Sometimes our discussion would become so involved that our dinner would be so overcooked that we would just throw it out and have an egg sandwich instead. My heart keeps thinking he should be coming home soon now, but, my brain knows that he is not. The hope that this is a dream still lingers.

A couple months before Darrell died we decided that we would finally put granite counter tops in our kitchen, something we had talked about doing for years. We had a great time shopping for exactly the right granite and new stove top. This was to be our Christmas present to each other and it was scheduled for installation on the 15th of December. It turned into somewhat of a fiasco getting it installed. I won't bore you with the details of that. I was a little peeved at Darrell for leaving me to deal with this problem alone. In my head I could hear him saying: - “Don't worry about it, it's no big deal – trust me.” The crazy part though was I answered him saying: “Well we'll see if it's no big deal!” In the end it was all taken care of and looks beautiful. I only wish he could have seen it done because we were both so excited about it. For a fleeting moment I thought of taking a picture of it so Darrell could see it, as if he was just out of town. I reprimanded myself and thought: “Now Terri, how are you going to send it to him?” When I told my friend she suggested email, the only trouble is Darrell never did figure out how to turn on the computer. I wonder though what the address might be, maybe, darrell@heaven.com? A little laughter helps.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Remember that I commanded you
to be strong and brave. Don't be afraid,
beccause the Lord your God will be with you
everywhere you go."
Joshua 1:9

New Year - 2010

I knew this year the Christmas holidays would be difficult. So many reminders and gifts that had been planned by Darrell that would go undone. That in itself was a cause of grief for me. Darrell had planned to make walnut music boxes for each of his daughters this year. He would say, “I just want to make something special for each of my girls this year.” The walnut wood was at the mill being sawed and planed. His plans for each, drawn and re-drawn in his mind. If only the mill had finished their work sooner, maybe he would have completed his gift. But, it was not meant to be, I guess. With no time or energy to go shopping, I tried to find wooden music boxes that might be a replacement, or at least a token of what he wanted for them. I was able to find 3 music boxes that were nice, but, not near as exquisite as what he had planned. The girls and I spent a quiet Christmas together and I was glad to have them close. The grandchildren had fun opening their presents. Their laughter was music to my heart.

Many years ago I had given Darrell a chain for Christmas. To some, it would be just a simple piece of jewelry. But, for us, each link represented the ways and reasons that I loved him. When I closed the clasp, it was my seal of unending love for him. Through the years I would hear him talking with our grandson, Tony, and heard his promise too, that someday the chain would be his. So, this Christmas, I passed the chain of love for my husband on to our grandson. The chain, removed when Darrell died remained open, until I once again closed it around our grandsons neck. I was shaking as I tried to close the clasp and the tears ran down my cheeks. My grandson put his arms around me and together we shared our sadness.

As anyone knows, that has lost a loved one, the holidays are especially hard to cope with. The memories of Christmas past come flooding in, the good memories become sad as you realize you will never share them with that person again. I know that one day the good memories will provide warmth again, but right now they only bring tears for things that will no longer be. It was good to be with the people who are most important to me for Christmas, but I had one more holiday to face. New Years Eve I would have to face alone and I dreaded it.

Darrell and I did not celebrate New Years Eve going to parties or shooting off firecrackers. It was to special for that, because you see that was the day, 25 years ago, that he asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. We would get 2 lobster tails and a small steak. He would cook while I set the table with my best china. I'd dig out the little butter carafes and light the tea lights under them. As he would open the wine I would get my fancy wine glass that we only used on New Years Eve. We would sit at the dining room table with only the candles for light. We would hold our wine glasses up to toast and he would say: “I love you so much, thank you for sharing my life.” Then I would say: “I love you too and I can't imagine sharing a better life with anyone but you.”

There was no lobster, wine, candlelight or my husband to tell me that he loved me, to bring in 2010. A ham sandwich, glass of milk and the television took its place. I did make a promise to myself though. I would try to cry a little less everyday, I would not drowned myself in misery forgetting how to smile again. I would stay faithful to God and pray for his strength and love every day. I promised to only live one day at a time. And, that I would continue to follow my dream that Darrell encouraged me to do. And so 2010 begins the Next Chapter.