Jun 30

Dear Pawpaw:

Happy Birthday. You would be 76 today.

I think of you all the time and of all the things I wish I could say. Funny, the thoughts come so eloquently when I’m just thinking them, but put a blank word document on the computer screen in front me? And I’m stricken dumb.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss you. How everyday I wish I could pick up the phone to call you. How when I see an Eagle flying or a Moose in my backyard or on the river, I almost always have to swallow the lump in my throat because you’re not here to share it with me.

The pain of losing you is still palpable after almost 7 years. I did make a decision to begin grief counseling this year. I know you would be so relieved. Truth be told, the pain has been almost paralyzing at times. Some days I found myself physically trying just to act like everything is “normal”, working so hard just to get through a day, without wanting to fling myself to the floor in a fit of sobs. At times, I can objectify the pain. It’s like I can hold it in my hand and look at it, but wonder why I can’t just scatter my grief to the wind and watch it disappear. Then like a piece of two-sided tape, I could shake my hand, and try to detach it, to no avail.

When we were back in NC in January, I was looking at old photo albums and I mentally made a timeline from when you were healthy up to just a few weeks before your death. I realize, now that I’m dealing with my grief, that the mind has a way of making us see what we want to see. Up until recently when I thought about your death I always thought: he looked great up until the day he died. And though you did die in your bed, in your work clothes, only now when I look back at photographs, do I realize how sick you really looked and really were. The hollowed-out cheeks, the jaundice from failing organs, the gloves you kept on your nightstand because you got so cold at night even though it was summer. I am grateful that in spite of your drastically changed looks and declining health, your beautiful smile never changed. I look at the last picture I took of you (cutting into the coconut cake I made for you), and my heart melts from that smile that made the Cancer seem small and insignificant.

At times I find myself bragging about you. Probably boring the tears right out of everyone except everyone who knew you. I want to tell everyone what an accomplished photographer you were. How you could make anything grow. How you were extremely intelligent and if circumstances had been different with your parents, you would have gone to college to double major in Horticulture and Meteorology. Howard still misses how he could sit with you and talk about everything under the sun and admire that you knew what the hell you were talking about. I want to tell the world how you loved history, electronics, and Amateur radio. You were the first person in town to have the latest camcorder, cell phone, or dvd player. And it wasn’t to show off. You simply looked at things organically. It was the same with your garden. I love to tell people how you once grew a tomato one ounce short of the world record and on another occasion grew an 8lb Turnip. You were always making the local papers with your gardening skills. But always stayed humble. I am so proud of you.

During the times that Kim and I start becoming bitter about not having a father, we try to stop and remember that we did have a father. Not only were you a doting grandfather to both of us; but you gave us the love and guidance we needed to be decent and confident human beings. It took a long time for both of us to figure that out. No one could ever comprehend the things you and memaw both sacrificed for us. We both know how lucky we were and still are.

I have so many wonderful memories of you and so few bad ones. And if they were bad? They were probably because I was the one causing all the heartache. I regret wasting the years I did with my addictions and rebellion. But thank you for being my light in the dark. For loving me enough to offer to give up everything for my happiness and health. Even now on the bad days, when depression begins to take over, I only need to think of our time together. My favorite being when I was a little girl who loved to walk behind you as you tilled the garden. You made me hold on to your belt loop and walk in your footsteps. I remember doing it so young that I used to have to jump from footprint to footprint. I would ask you a million questions and you’d answer every one with such patience. My God, I thought you walked on water. I guess I still do.

Three and half years ago, I made a big decision to move to Alaska. You played a big part in that decision even though you were already gone. In the months prior, Howard and I both really wrestled with such a big move. We wanted to do it, but a part of us thought the idea of moving so far away and giving up so much, seemed absurd. It was “safer” and “more practical” to stay in North Carolina. But for months, it was almost as if you were with us, pushing us to go. “Take a chance kids, be adventurous while you can, you only get one life, live it how YOU want to live it.” You used to say that to me all the time. It reverberated until I knew in my heart, that I should go out on a limb, do something crazy. And so we moved. Sold almost everything we owned and started a new life. In spite of people thinking Howard and I both are nuts and judging us, we know we made the right decision. I know you would be proud.

I want you to know that memaw told me that one of the things you confessed before your death was a huge fear of not having a good influence on your family. I’m here to tell you and I know everyone else would agree: You had an overwhelmingly positive influence. You’ve inspired all of us. I can speak for myself and say that you have made me less afraid to face my life, to take chances, most importantly be who I am. You taught me to savor each moment, not to get stuck on the “ordinary”, the “safe” aspects of life. I love you for that. You were/are amazing.

I wish you could be here so I could rest my head on your chest like I used to. So I could feel your arms around me when I want to give you a hug. But you’re not. And it’ll never be okay, but I’ve learned instead of fighting my grief, to accept it. Grief and I, we’ve come to a livable compromise. It promises not to consume my life and I promise not to let it. In letting it overwhelm me, I know that those are the moments when you wouldn’t be proud. You would worry and I’d feel guilty. But there will never be a day that I won’t miss you.

You are in my heart every day. Thank you for being so phenomenal. Thank you for being everything I needed.

I love you,

Jun 29

Congratulations to Heather, Amy, and Kristen! Jen still gets kudos for such a creative answer.

In other news, this week has been weird. I’m apparantly Karma’s bitch. So far:

Earlier this week while refilling the slushie machine, I went to wash the measuring cup we use, and decided it would be fun to use the high powered nozzle in the produce sink. Needless to say, water and blue raspberry slushie flavoring splattered all over me. And the blue color? Stayed put, all over my face, and neck until I scrubbed both until they were raw. Oh yes, it was just as funny as it sounds.

While chauferring my mother in law around town, showing her the sites, every time we went to get back into the car, I went to the passenger side, like she was going to drive. (which she can’t, because she’s not on the company insurance) Each time she would say: “Honey? What are you doing?”

When calling the fuel company. Upon the receptionist answering the phone naming the fuel company I asked her if it was said fuel company.

And last but not least: while calling our competitor to ask if she had any calling cards left, upon her telling me the denominations she had in stock, I asked her how much each one was. ie: “How much are the $5 and $10 calling cards?” Yeah. Like I didn’t just make fun of some other lady doing that to me recently.

It’s time to go back on the Prozac. Perhaps I should go eat some moose poop.

Jun 25

Whoever guesses right wins!

(You don’t win anything except for maybe some big kudos for guessing it right, but go ahead and guess anyway).

Jun 22

Can I just say? We’re having a blast with the boat.

Yesterday was our 13th wedding anniversary and you know what I wanted to do? Howard offered some gourmet cooking but I opted for sandwiches and chips aboard the boat.

Needless to say he jumped at the chance.

We did bring along a bottle of Riesling packed on ice. The cups flew overboard so we improvised by sharing the bottle. We went upriver so we could turn the the motor off and float for a while. It was amazing. We couldn’t think of a better way to spend an anniversary. I mean, we’ve done the big trip thing, the fancy dinner out thing, the movie thing, etc. But never a boat ride. On our very own boat.

Two nights ago, we took Jean (the visiting mother in law) and saw two moose cows with calves! Newborn calves! We were so excited.

Speaking of Jean, she’s been no less than a hit here. Last Friday night, we took her to steak night, and by the time we were ready to leave, people were begging her to stay, offering to drive her home later. Saturday night, we cooked Mexican food on Howard’s outside deep fryer and it turned into a full on Mexican “throw down”. EVERYONE showed up. There were tequila shots, margaritas blended up, Malibu Pine’s being mixed every minute and lots and lots of beer. There were so many people on our deck that the boards that hold the steps shifted and now we have to fix it. But it was worth it. Mama Jean, of course, was the life of the party. And she’s not really an outgoing person. She’s just got that sweet personality. I’d be jealous if I weren’t so overjoyed.

Tonight? We’re making beer-battered Shee-fish, caught out of the Kuskokwim by one of our friends. The weather’s been awesome. I’ve already got the beginning of a tan, and life is good.

P.S. That does not mean I like my job any more than I did. I still hate it. But the boat, the sunshine, and the alcohol make it seem like a foggy dream.

Jun 17

Yet another friend has joined the blogosphere and I am ever so happy about it.

My dear Jenni has a lot of funny and smart stuff to say.

She and I have been through so much together. My GOD, you have no idea.

We also both love the Carolina Tarheels with a mad, insane passion.

Neither of us live in NC anymore but we’ll always hold it dear to our hearts.

And she’s one of my best friends in the world, and always will be.

Now be a good reader and go over and check her out.

Jun 15

But we bought a boat today. I may never see my husband again.

My mother in law says she’s really enjoying herself.

The weather’s been awesome.

The mosquitos are bastards.

And that’s all I have time to write at the moment.

But I do love you all more than anything in the world!

Jun 12

I have no less than five friends who think I have died or that I am mad at them because I haven’t answered their emails.

One of those friends is on his way to Iraq. And he’s one of my oldest and dearest friends in the world.

The last email was pretty damn nasty. I have no excuses. He’s going off to war. There isn’t much worse than that right now.

I’m a pretty lousy friend at the moment.

One of my best friends is going through one of the hardest periods in her life. What do I do? Send her a bouquet of flowers in lieu of live contact. I’m a shit.

Another best friend just relocated to a new place and she needs all the friends and family support she can get right now. What do I do? Send her a short three line email promising to call soon.

I’m being selfish. I know it. They know it. And yet I do nothing.

But I did go to Anchorage and work those credit cards pretty damn good. For that, the two latter best friends would be proud.

The first one? He’s every right to be all: “Yeah, I’m still going off to war bitch, no amount of shopping can change that.”

So I will make a pathetic attempt at apologizing publically in this blog. Josh, Heather, Julie, I love each and every one of you and I’m sorry for being such a shitty friend. Forgive me?

P.S. I’m totally kidding. I’d never do anything that tacky. Well maybe I would…but that’s not the point.

Jun 8

Ya’ll be good this weekend. We’re flying into Anchorage tomorrow for various doctor appointments.

My mother in law is flying into Anchorage on Saturday and we’re flying back here together on Sunday.

Look out credit cards. You have no idea how much damage I can do in just two days.

Jun 7

I had another dream about my father last night. I think something big is going to happen soon. I don’t know what or if it’ll even involve me but I have this feeling that something is coming around the corner.

I don’t open up much about my father for many reasons, one of which is: I’d really rather not think about him.

But I am human. I am his daughter. He is my father.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t hate him. When I didn’t hold such a deep grudge in my heart against him. In hindsight, I realize it was probably a time of denial, an ingrained duty of guilt that I spent time with him, was a “good” daughter.

He is a selfish man. Spoiled from the moment he was born. There’s something to being born to parents who lost their previous child just after her first birthday in a house fire. Something like the parents being so amazingly grateful for having been given another child that the child is put on a pedestal, made to feel like a prince, for his entire life, or until they are dead.

That was/is my father.

Everything is on his own terms. When he became a father, he didn’t develop those feelings of suddenly wanting to put yourself second because you have sired a child. My mother tells stories of how he used to get so jealous of my sister just after she was born. “You pay more attention to that baby, than to me.” Well HELLO! Kimberly was a small, helpless, newborn. Instead of reveling in the joy of creating life with someone she loved, my mother’s joy was one-sided. My father was proud of being a dad and I’m sure he loved us in some small way but his love didn’t reach much further than his ego.

I’ve had good times with him. I’ve cried on his shoulder during the rare times he was willing to put his own agenda aside to actually be a parent. I miss those times. I wanted to hold on to them forever.

But damage was done. Hearts were broken. Scars were left. He hurt my sister. He hurt me. It took me years to finally see him for what he is. And I decided to separate myself from him forever. It was what I needed to do for myself. Ironically, it was the only way I could have some peace in my heart.

I don’t know that if he came to me tomorrow and took responsibility for everything he has done, that I could forgive him, but I could at least respect him. I pray for his sake that one day he will.

My sister and I have carried his responsibility long enough.

Jun 6

I’d have to say the date has pretty much lived up to it’s reputation today. At least for me.

I have a lot of things I want to write right now but a lot of it just wouldn’t make sense to anyone except me. (and let’s face it, sometimes my writing doesn’t even make sense to myself)

So, I’m throwing some meme at you taken from Robyn. You’ll see a pattern, trust me. Thanks Robyn!

I AM: On edge today.

I SAID: “I am so ready to quit my job.”

I WANT: A job I really love.

I WISH: I could find a job I love and still live exactly where I am.

I HATE: The heat and (my job!)

I MISS: Wilson’s Creek in North Carolina

I FEAR: Not living my life to its full potential.

I HEAR: Pepper’s dog collar jingling.

I WONDER: What I’ll be doing ten years from now.

I REGRET: Not finishing college when mom and dad paid for it!

I AM NOT: having a good week.

I DANCE: Pretty well actually. Wish I did it more often.

I SING: Marginally well. I’m more in the league of church choir, maybe duet at the occasional wedding, but certainly not well enough to be professional.

I AM NOT ALWAYS: this insane. (wait, yes hell I am.)

I MADE: an A in my class!

I WRITE: way too much about trivial things.

I CONFUSE: acceptance with complacency

I NEED: to be happy already.

I SHOULD: get happy already!

I START: At 8:00am, give or take a snooze button swat.

I FINISH: whenever the work is done, and I can get around my insomnia.

I BELIEVE: one day I will eventually want to settle in one place.

I KNOW: that I probably never will.

I CAN: roll my tongue, cross my eyes, act really well.

I CAN’T: forgive that easily.

I SEE: the top of a tree over the computer desk and out the window.

I BLOG: Because I can? (or I think I can?)

I READ: Not near as much as I used to, but probably a book a week.

I AM AROUSED BY: A sense of humor, someone who’s willing to smile and gets my jokes, and loves an adventure.

IT PISSES ME OFF: When someone judges another person on their lifestyle because they think their way of life is the only way to live.

I FIND: hair in my sink every morning. My own hair from my head. I shed way too much. And still have a thick head of hair. Weird.

I LIKE: My life.

I LOVE: My husband, my dogs and cat, my friends, my family.

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