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Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Want to Live Again; Please God, Let Me Live Again!

  Well, It has been two years since Mom passed and three years since Dad passed too. I am doing well and moving on.

I am at the stage where I want to move on and I feel like Jimmy Stewart on that bridge  in the  classic movie "It's A Wonderful Life."  After  George Bailey sees his life without him,  he runs back to the bridge yelling this..."I want to live, Please God, I want to live again." Remember that scene?  Here it is..

George Bailey pleads with God to let him live his life again.
It has been an interesting grief journey with the death of two parents. I have learned my heart is big and was broken into bits and I am strong enough to pick up the pieces and go on. I have to survive. I tried caregiving again this summer for a career with elderly people.  I got attached to one client who was dying of  brain cancer, and then died.  That was hard again.  The last gig was for someone with Alzheimer's who happened to live 120 yards from my folk's grave, which was in plain site.

   That did it.... too close for comfort for me! I decided I could not go on with caregiving for a job. I am spent, my bucket is full, I cannot take anymore death and heartbreak. I am still weary from it.

Now is the time to get my life in order, and keep moving on in a positive new direction with a new career with the living., not the dying.  I have had enough of death. It is what my parents want for me and I have to for my own health.

   Funny how one journeys through grief and the valley of death with their loved ones. It is a process, and it just takes time to feel good again like crossing over the bridge to returning to life again and living it..... just like George Bailey.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sentimental Journey Home

How often do you get to return to the house you grew up in after you have moved away and see it inside for the first time in 43 years?



I was given that chance last Weds in my hometown in Austin, Minnesota.  I moved away in 1970, but never forgot where I came from. I am the fourth generation to be born in Austin in my family. It's a lovely town!

Things had changed in the house and neighborhood since 1970, but the basement was the same as we left it, except for a wall color change. There was graffiti on the laundry room walls from my sister, Dad and brother in 1967 and 1968 still there!  Our dog Flicka's scratch marks from jumping on the laundry room door were still etched in there from 1968!

Dad's old yukky shower in the basement was still there!  Mom refused to clean it back in the 1960's.  I'd die if I had to shower in there today!

And, then there was my old bedroom, smaller than I remember and updated a little, but the wood flooring was restored like when I lived there after years of carpet was covering it from former owners. The new owner is updating much of the house and making changes.

Dad changing my little brother in 1968

Same spot today in 2013!


1968 Dad and I in the corner in the living room

Same corner in 2013

There were many dinners and goodbyes for my family in my hometown from folks who were really going to miss us. I remember moving day in January 1970 for Denver, Colorado. The house was empty, like someone had stolen everything. We bade goodbye to my grandparents, and I remember driving away and hearing them sobbing. It was heartbreaking.

The memories poured out in my mind seeing my house for the first time since January 1970. The birthdays, Christmases, the pets, the siblings, the parents, the grandparents.

The owner has remodeled the living room and taken out a wall between the formal dining room and kitchen to make it open concept. It was strange seeing the wall gone, the only thing that bothered me.

But, lots of memories in that kitchen!

1969 Mom, little bro, sis Julie and I making Christmas cookies

Same kitchen, changed slightly from blonde woodwork and painted ugly green by former owner 2013. New owner is trying to strip the paint off to make them blonde again!

Our house in 1970

Dodger and I at my old house in 2013!

They say you cannot go back, but this trip was healing for me, as I have dreamed about my old house since we left in 1970.  It was good to see the house again, and see how we lived in the 1960's here, and how small everything had gotten. When you are a kid, things look huge in your world and that is how you remember them.


I did come away with this: I have grown as a person and have been shaped by the places and people I have met since I left here at age 6. My late Mother would always ask "I wonder what life would have been like if we had stayed in Austin." Our lives would have been different that is for sure, but we wouldn't have been enriched with living around the country and experiencing hardship, joys, people, and places to shape who we are today.  Who knows?

Some people are lucky to live in one place all their lives, I always felt after moving around the country 6 times in 15 years.

But, it was a sentimental journey, a sentimental journey home!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Adult Orphans Club

Well, we survived January, and my birthday where I turned 23. I was 24 last year and had a good birthday. I got taken out for an Irish dinner and had a good time by my friends who wished me well and helped me blow out candles on my cake with 23 candles!

Been doing Zumba lately and it is hard, and my left leg is tight and won't move, but getting better at it. I do it every other week, but tonight I did water aerobics.

My water aerobics instructor I have known since I was in college in the 1980's, and she became a member of the adult orphans club in one day; she lost BOTH parents on the same day on my birthday weekend. Gee, I thought I had it rough losing mine in one year, but Kathy's pain is harder than mine.

I didn't go to her parent's double funeral, but texted her and held back when she was ready to talk. Today she called me and we talked for about an hour and I listened. My friends did that for me when I needed it after losing my parents. Shared some of the things I learned and told it was okay to just stay in bed with the covers over your head for a day if you need to. I did that one day. Told her it was okay to be mad at God as he can take it.

Kathy and I both agreed that the funeral industry is for the birds. She spent nearly $14,000 for her parent's funerals in one week. And, she is now in debt.

We agreed the funeral industry has screwed people royally with what they do and how they charge to drain, display, drive and ditch the body. My parent's funerals came to nearly $20K, including the plots with the screw job by the funeral industry. In the old days before the screw job artists, you could just dig a hole and that was it. Now it is coffin, vault, vault liner, cost for digging a hole, getting a death certificate, etc. etc. cost, added cost, fees, and more horsemanure piled high to screw people. Costs more to die than be born. What is wrong with this picture? Plenty!

We used two different funeral places for both my parents, one was reasonable, and had personal service. The other took us to the cleaners with wanting $3k up front and they did a horrible job on my Mom's face and hair, to the point, she was unrecognizable for the price tag of $10K!! I should have not let my older brother buy their farm on the package as he was taken for a ride and he picked a tacky casket that had praying hands in the lid!  I about killed him when I found the cost of everything. My Swedish mother would have killed him too for that casket when she wanted just a plain, pine box. I did let the funeral director know how I felt afterwards and how he took us, and his attitude was "tough crap kid." Bastard!

Both funerals were held in the church instead of the junk of being displayed in the funeral home etc. That was the best way to go. But most funeral directors are shrewd bastards, if you ask me.

Mom teaching me how to swim in our Minnesota lake in 1968.
This is where I feel most at peace, in the water in this lake.

When I go, I just want to be cremated, and a little spread on my parent's yard, their grave and the rest of me dumped in my favorite lake in Minnesota so I can be free with the loons. That will be what I want. I don't want to be in a cemetery.

While I continue to make strides in recovering from losing my parents, getting on with my life, at least I can be there for a friend in need who is just going through the grief and initiation as the newest member of the Adult Orphans Club.  It's a club I wouldn't wish on anybody, but we all become members of it sometime in our lives.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year!

Well, we survived 2012, and now it's 2013.

I went to the local casino and took in all the smoke and excitement of people playing the slots. Didn't play any slots, just people watched. Many of the people looked like they had those Elvis black velvet pictures hanging in their houses with the black lights. It was interesting to people watch, one lady in a walker nearly ran me down in an aisle. And, nobody was winning anything, those native-Americans who run the casino laughing all the way to the bank!

Casino people are smoking people and have Elvis pictures at home!
We got party hats and little horns and then the free champagne came out. Little did I know it was Brut "Fre."  Non-alcoholic!  Yuk!  Brut with no poop! My buddy and I were there and took it all in, many drinks of the non-alcoholic bubbly and didn't get hangovers.

My resolution for New Years is to lose weight. I have gained some since my folks died, and it's from the grief.  Now that it is subsiding, I need to drop some pounds.

So I decided, since I work at a hospital gym, I am going to take ZUMBA!!!

Come on Jimmy, lift those legs and arms!
What did I get into the other night?  AH MY GAD! 

It was fast, I mean, REALLY fast! Jimmy about died!  Heart rate up, sweat everywhere, dancing, going crazy! Women around me were fast, and I was like a bloated duck.

I got a cramp in my leg, then another in my side, and then kept going while drinking water.

I found you have to stretch before you do this class, who knew? 

Next week I am going to try again, but stretch.  I have stuck to my resolution, what is yours?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

God Jul!

God Jul!  It means Merry Christmas in Swedish, which I am.. 

This year, I managed to get a big tree, a white pine and put it up. I integrated what ornaments I inherited with the ones I had from Denver for 15 years. Dodger helped put it up with his paws.

I continued the tradition of putting boughs on the family piano, and blue silver bell lights my Mom had bought at a Scandinavian Christmas store in Georgetown, Colorado in 1970 when we first moved there to Denver. I baked Swedish cardamon bread, spritz cookies, 95 proof fruitcake, Swedish tea rings, my Swedish grandmother's Swedish meatballs, and my German grandmother's date pinwheel cookies.

While making Swedish coffee bread, I couldn't remember how to braid it, and thought of calling my Mom for help. I realized I couldn't anymore and had forgotten. I did find her braiding it in an old home movie on video, which helped me. Good to see her again.

That made me miss the folks more. I was bummed a few weeks after putting out the outdoor lights, and thinking of how lonely Christmas would be this year again without them.

For the past two Christmases, I could not listen to the CD recordings of the folk's singing and past Christmases recorded I compiled on a CD with favorite carols included on it. But, I played it many times this week, and laughed at the sound of my folks at Christmases past, and the love that came out of hearing them talk and sing again, just as if they were alive still. My mother is heard on a scratchy 78 recording singing a solo "O Come Unto Me" with the very same piano I inherited.  She had a beautiful singing voice. Then there is a tape recording of the whole family at the piano singing "Silent Night" to our grandparents on the phone who couldn't come for Christmas in 1978 because of aging health.

I soon realized, I was fine. Grief is less and less. And, I am not sad this Christmas. I can go on! 

But the nicest thing this year was inheriting the family manger scene.

Mom and Dad bought it in downtown Minneapolis at Dayton’s department store in 1965. It has graced the bottom of all our Christmas trees and moved wherever we lived across the country. It has a music box in it that plays “Silent Night.” My favorite figurines in the manger were always the sheep, donkey, cow and the angel proclaiming “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!”

We’d play for hours with it, trying not to break anything, and re-creating the birth of Jesus, and all the people who came to see him under the star in Bethlehem, which would be a large, hot, C7 bulb on a branch above. Our manger became lost for several years when we moved to Green Bay, tucked in a box somewhere in the the midst of the others the movers had packed. My little brother, Jordan, decided to build a new one based on his memory.

He ended up building three larger sets so my siblings could all each have one like the original in their own homes. I helped him glue the straw to the roofs. One Christmas, while rummaging in the basement, Dad found the original manger scene at last. It then returned to its traditional spot under the tree. This year will be hard moving on without my folks at Christmas again but I am doing better than the last two.

But... I have the wonderful memory of their undying love and all the Christmases past with the manger scene under my own tree this year. —

Merry Christmas to you, and all! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Swedish Spritz Christmas Cookies!

Woke up feeling Swedish today. I am half Swedish, from my full blooded Swedish-American mother, but think and relate Swedish instead of German or Bohemian, which are the other half of me from Dad. Christmas is very important to us Swedes. We celebrate it for 30 days! Dec 13th-Jan 13th, which is my birthday.

I had a Swedish Lodge meeting tonight I had to go to, always fun to meet with the local folks. So, I thought I'd make something Swedish for that and Christmas. With the weight gain of 45 lbs from  caregiving and grief, I am not going to be eating these babies!

The easiest thing to make today was Swedish Spritz cookies. They are a Swedish tradition from the old country.

I bought a pound of butter from Qwik Trip gas station, where it is always $1.99. Picked up eggs too for $. 99.

Got out Mom's Mixmaster, a model I had gotten her a few years ago, it's heavy duty for mixing. Softened the butter for a while in the bowl.

Of course, I was using the best cookbook ever made, the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture edition. This is a reprint I purchased several years ago.

Here is the recipe, still the best, it uses almond extract. I always put in extra.

Next came the assembling the materials, the cooky dough press, the cooky sheets.

Then came the final mixing up. I wanted it pliable to press onto the sheets.

Pressing them out of the cooky press was easy, but sometimes I had a few that ended up in the bowl to get reused again. If the dough gets too warm, you can chill it in the fridge for a while.

After I pressed them out on the sheets, I decorated them with colored sugar, just simple green and a pinch of red.

Then, into the oven they went at 400 degrees on an ungreased cooky sheet until golden brown.

Out they came and on to the cooling racks.

And, they looked so good when cooled before being packed up.
I made a double batch.

Butter cookies are easy to make and you have to be careful not to overmix the dough, or it will be hard when it bakes. You want them light as a feather.

NO CALORIES at all in these!

Did you know that gold angel chime thingy is Swedish too?  True!

At the Swedish Lodge, these were eaten with strong coffee, and that is why I am writing this post, I AM WIRED ON SWEDISH COFFEE and some of these cookies.

Advent has started, and I have my advent wreath on my table for devotions too at night before bed. Many Swedes have the electric inverted V shape ones in their windows.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed seeing how Spritz are made.

God Jul!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Golden Inheritance

Dodger in a motel with me in September.

My Mom loved golden retrievers, and raised a few of them. She blogged about them and wished for a new dog, another golden she could have in her old age. After having my first golden in college,  I shared her love for them too. While living in Denver all those years afterwards, I would just melt every time I would see a golden puppy or people walking their goldens on the sidewalk. To have one to pet and talk to for a few moments would make a "golden day." They are great therapy dogs. My sister Julie's kid, my middle nephew Jordan, would crack me up when he was little when he would call our first golden named Shyre, "a golden treever."

Dodger had been abused in a group home by the residents and then brought back to the breeder where we found him.  How could anybody do that to a dog like Dodger?

Dodger came to us via rescue, and moved right in like he had been with us for a long time. He loved Mom and he loved Dad and enriched their lives until they both passed away.

He became my golden inheritance after that.

Dodger working the crowd on a boat in Door County this summer.
 Dodger has kept me going since both parents went to their reward. I don't know what I would do without my golden companion with the grief journey I have been on.  God had it planned that I would have this dog to aid in my recovery from losing my parents. I am certain of it.

Dodger loving up my dinner guests last week.  They just hate him, can you tell. :)
 He has been there when the waves of grief have hit, he is a great comforter, and loves the attention and love I give him. He gives me unconditional love.  He puts on a sad show when I leave for work, and he is there in the front window watching me go, and gives me that look.   I love when I come home from work, and he is there at the back door to greet me all excited.

Come'on Jimmy, hurry up and help me find my friend Mr. Woodchuck!
 We go for walks everyday in the woods, on the trails, or beach. I have to laugh when we run into other critters. We have already had a mother deer walk along side us a few times, thinking Dodger is one of her babies. I mean, THREE FEET away walking along side us!  People pointed and shouted "you have a deer walking with you!"  "What deer?" I'd reply with a grin.  Perhaps it is Dodger's fluffy tail in the air that resembles a deer tail that attracts deer? We have walked with a large black-grey woodchuck (groundhog) in front of us about 2 feet away on a trail that Dodger thought was a puppy. Mr. Woodchuck was very cute, and very tame with Dodger sniffing his face and wagging his tail out of curiosity.  He didn't mind us walking with him until he went back into the marsh.  Again, witnessed by people near us with their mouths gaping open. I consider it a blessing.

He plays ball, but then won't bring it back to you and plays keep away, living up to the name, Dodger. In the morning, I wake up with 85lbs of golden on my bed snuggling up to me to keep me warm when he has slept on the floor all night. When he has to go out, he dances for me in a circle, or nudges my hand with his snout. Vacuuming pet hair is not a problem when you collect old Hoover Convertible uprights.

He is funny,  loves people and attention. And, my friends notice if I leave a room, he watches his pet parent carefully. My five year old niece adores him. And, I cannot count how many tennis balls are around the house or missing. His favorite game is to put one under a bed, or chair or the couch and come get me to get it for him. Cute... huh?

Dodge and I go on car trips together, and I love when he is fast asleep in the backseat on his back with his 4 legs in the air in the car. It is funny when he sees milking cows or horses; he thinks they are BIG DOGS and starts barking like crazy.  He is getting a little grey on his snout now for only a fellow of 6 years old and has not been fixed yet. No need to worry, he never gets humpy on anyone.  

I worry about him sometimes, his ears get constantly irritated and I have to clean them with Q-tips and then put Tressaderm drops in from the Vet. He lays back and trusts me to do it gently. Same goes when he is brushed or given a bath. He is easy to feed, Purina Dog Chow, water, and an occasional Milk Bone, which he dances for.  In fact, in a vet's office, he lays back and relaxes. Mello Dog.
Dodger working the people on the boat again.
He watches me play the piano or cuss when I cannot get the notes right. And, he goes where ever I go, to church, running errands, visiting people at rest homes or people on the sidewalk during walks, or visiting other friends I have. They adore him, kids on the street love him too and he lays at their feet. His latest thing, is following me into the bathroom to lay down to keep me company on the commode. That is weird. I suppose he got that from the group home residents? He is not very co-dependant, but just does funny things to let me know he loves me.

Yes, God had it planned for us to have Dodger. I firmly believe it and give thanks each day for my golden inheritance. Thanks God, and Mom and Dad.