Cards, Stacked

There were obviously more cards from Jeff, but those were the ones I kept.

There were obviously cards going the other way, too – from me to Jeff.  Two at a time. Always, one funny and one serious.

When it came time to move out of our home, I pared down. I waded through our shared stacks. I discarded most of the me-to-him. My thought process was that he would never be reading them again, so there was no point in keeping them. However, I found two of them in the card box, amongst the him-to-me.

For our first anniversary, I handmade the serious one. It was just one simple sheet of plain red cardstock, plainly folded in half. The only embellishment added was a left-over gold foil, double-heart seal we’d used on our wedding invitations.

I wanted the message to stand on its own. The outside read, “I meant it when I said….” On the inside, I’d re-printed the vocal vows I made to Jeff on our wedding day.

I do not know which anniversary the second card was for. We only celebrated four of those, so it was either the second or the third or the fourth. Store-bought, it reminds me of the snowman card; same subject. Another way to answer to Jeff’s rote retort, “I don’t know why.”

The last two cards I saved from Jeff were life lessons for me. The subjects aren’t all that happy.

The first one came from an incident where I was once again harping about his health and bad habits and chewing tobacco. Jeff stood on one side of the bed; I was on the other side. “You must not love me very much,” I’d snarked.  “I’m trying,” he mumbled back. I shouted, “Stop TRYING and just do it!”

” I’M … TRYING…” he snapped back at ramped up volume. Stomping his feet and throwing his arms wide for exclamation, his eyes filled with frustration and failure.

That look broke my heart. He wasn’t a failure. He was just unfairly up against some highly stacked odds.  I knew no matter how much I nagged, Jeff quiting the killing tobacco wasn’t going to make him ‘get better.’

I just couldn’t understand why he’d choose to exacerbate and accelerate with vile chew. Hindsight, I know now it wouldn’t have mattered. We’d have argued a lot less if I’d realized that, then.

“Come sit with me,” I said. We sat on our bed, and held onto each other. “I don’t want you to die,” I whispered. “You wouldn’t be so lucky,” he teased, with quiet laugh. “I’m gonna live ’til I’m 80. You’ll see – I’m gonna be a grumpy ol’ man, just like my Dad.”

As unusual as it was for Jeff to have the last word in an argument, that was the end of that. He’d emphatically expressed he was trying, so I backed-off and let it drop.

Three days later, he handed me a card.

Quote for the Week:

2019 01 29 if someone says it better than you jakorte

That time when someone said it better; perfectly.

2019 01 29 if someone says it better than you slide 2 jakorte 01 28 2019

 

 

Carded

Remember how I’ve mentioned, more than a few times, the key to a good relationship is notes?

I mean, love notes, silly notes, random unexpected notes.

We both loved notes: handwritten, typed, sticky, email, text, added to a homemade or store-bought card. On a scrap of paper, a bank deposit slip – in any way or shape or form. A few words, a smiley face; maybe just a heart. Little reminders that we were part of a wonderful “We.”

I have a lot of “first” cards. First card ever. First Valentine’s Day.

My first birthday. A card Jeff gave to me the first time I shared his birthday with him.

First Valentine’s Day and birthday as “Wife.”

All these little sweet and silly stories hold a wealth of history and such huge feelings.

Quote for the Week: (contributed by my editor. ;-))

“Even though post-it notes are removable and can be moved from place to place, somehow, the post-it notes written by loved ones stick forever.”

2019 01 22 carded 3 jakorte2019 01 22 carded 2 jakorte

2019 01 22 carded jakorte

 

Pill Fill & Other Stuff

I’ve mentioned this before, but the Rx tackle box really was an amazing work of art.

Sunday afternoon was pill fill day. It’d take Jeff about an hour to prepare for the week. It was also the designated time to evaluate what was needed: reorder meds, restock OTC’s. When he was done, he’d make some sort of punny fish announcement.  “All set to go fishin!” “Now, I just gotta find a pond!” “I’m ready to fish for meds!”

Jeff took somewhere between 18-20 pills a day, and used a few ointments, as well. Without fail, every week, he’d need a refill/restock on something. Occasionally, Jeff would discover he only had a few days supply left, or that he’d miscalculated and was completely out.

There was always at least one trip a week to the pharmacy. If it worked out, timing wise, Saturday morning was preferred. It didn’t hurt that we had to be in Tecumseh to open the store, anyway. It absolutely didn’t hurt that the locally owned family pharmacy was a few short steps down from a locally owned family bakery.

If not, it didn’t bother him at all to have to pick up prescriptions more than once a week. Pretty much like all else, Jeff’s necessary errand always turned into social visits.

Later on, it bothered me, because a weekday collection would mean I’d want him to find a ride, He’d ignore that request and end up driving himself, which wasn’t ideal. Plus, a round trip to Tecumseh from Adrian in our old Buick ate up a lot gas.

By the end of summer 2016, after our last race trip, our outings were limited to stores with electric carts or very small spaces. Meijer had carts. Aldi was small. Both were very close to home at 2 miles away. Also close by: a butcher shop, three gas stations, a do-it-yourself home supply store and quite a few restaurants.

It was nice that all of that was relatively close, but it wasn’t foremost in our minds when we chose our home. Back then, we were both commuting to Ann Arbor, sharing the driving and necessarily passing through Jeff’s hometown five days a week.

Way before I ever met Jeff, he always preferred offering his local hometown support. When that was no longer a convenient option, Jeff felt badly. With exception of, perhaps, the pharmacy, I don’t think we were any Tecumseh business’ mainstay.

As our purchasing center shifted, Jeff made an effort to support the local Adrian butchers, farmer’s stands and non-chain restaurants. He’d very seriously discuss with anyone, anywhere, the economic benefits and the importance of “doing what’s right” to keep America’s small towns and farms “booming.” Small business Saturday was akin to a serious holiday for him.

There was an unofficial access road that ran between our community and the Museum of Walmart,. Which, meant I could send Jeff out for an errand in the middle of the day, and not have to worry about him driving on a real roads. He could get to Aldi that way, as well.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, also, that going to Walmart was never a fast trip. It was our Sunday, after church, after breakfast outing with a purpose. Jeff would happily go up and down every aisle, in every section, in a motorized scooter, just to see what was new. I always went where he went.

I know all of this information seems a bit random. It’s stuff you need to know, though, to understand the chain of coming events.

Quote for the Week:2019 0 15 theres always more to the story jakorte

Cramming Love

It’s been a short decade since New Year’s Day became my dedicated day for sorting miscellaneous paperwork and receipts and preparing to file taxes.

It’s an unfortunate luxury; having time to dedicate.

There wasn’t that kind of time in my life with Jeff. We were too busy cramming love and fun in between hospital visits and medical appointments.

Fun was anything and everything.

Eating dinner. Folding laundry. Grocery runs. Anything hot sauce or store related. Puppy playtime. Kitty cuddle time. Diner breakfasts. Church. Anything NASCAR. Talking about our day. Watching TV. Just being in the same room together. Anything we did, together.

Fun was everything, every day.

Except for the scary moments, hours, sometimes days of broadening health failures. Those were downs. The downs started coming more quickly in 2006.

Medication adjustments didn’t always solve the problem. Jeff was unhealthy enough to be excluded from certain paths. Being told Jeff didn’t qualify for next level treatments, wrecked me. Many times, it seemed I’d be more upset than he was.

“Let’s just leave it,” he’d sigh. “Docs know what they’re doin’. They went to school for that.”

He’d say, “Don’t be upset. It wasn’t meant to be.”

Or, he’d say, “It’s ok. Something better will come up.”

It wasn’t ok with me. I searched out medical articles, suggested seeing different doctors, trying non-medical over-the-counter remedies. I checked on available studies and made him apply.

He did get into one. Before the wrist band fitness tracker craze, Jeff was given a combination glucometer/pedometer that had the ability to down-load data and a variety of noise choices.

They day he got it, I was in the kitchen emptying my lunch bag after work, when Jeff strolled in.

Hey, check this out!” he laughed. “The faster you go, the faster the music….”

He then proceeded to take circular baby-steps while wildly swinging the pedometer. The music sped up to a maniacal pace.

“That isn’t really getting you anywhere,” I scowled. “Yeah, I know,” he shrugged. “But, I’d never be able to make it go that fast walkin’ and it sure is fun!”

I was disappointed when he did not get into a test-trial for a new drug formulation. “Well,” he commented after reading the rejection letter. “It was just another pill, anyway, and my tackle box is full-up.”

Quote for the Week: 2019 01 08 the view depends on the focus jakorte

Feet Firmly

It was supposed to be a New Year’s Day trek.

A plan for reviving and renewing and recommitting.

But, Sunday was a sunny day; way more interesting and way more convenient.

As usual, half the battle was getting ready to go out in the cold.

How cold is cold? How warm will I get? Light gloves? Heavy gloves?

Scarf? Hat? Leggings under jeans? Sweatshirt, sweater, long-sleeved tee?

Over-thinking is my specialty. I was still tying my footwear of choice when my fellow adventurer  arrived.

It’s always easier with two. Especially, when easily distracted by catch-up tales of Christmases. Hunting for fairy houses beneath the tropical foliage, discussing and longing for ways to economically and realistically grow tropicals here in Michigan.

It’s funny how quickly you can identify and obliterate your own ignorance. I’ve never wandered through a desert. The closest I’ve come might have been the short succulent aisle at a local garden shop. Or, maybe it was that time I asked someone to pull over so I could get a little closer to a real-live, dead armadillo in Plano, Texas. The green giants there were distant enough, but at least they were alive. I think.

Anyway, the point is, the cacti were stunning. In case you didn’t know, they’re not all green. They’re not all upstanding or towering, either. They’re gorgeous little symmetrical growths and odd-shaped tubular spikes. Subtly variegated, boldly striped or pin-painted with impeccably placed galaxies of dots.

Outside, crisp coldness was a welcome antidote to layered heat-retention. This had been my draw all along. A self-challenge to stop daydreaming about snow photography, and just do it. Stationary and kinetic sculptures, lightly dusted with snow, stood out and peeked out along dirt rows and paved paths. Photo-happy me, scuffled along discovering treasures. Which, is how it came about that we logged 3.5 miles. Slightly over our virtual 5K goal, but a sadly short 22 active minutes.

Lamenting that, I stalled. Standing there in my steel-toes, still caked with the mud of Katrina, this thought crossed my mind: Those were note-worthy years. Some years just aren’t. Obligations, expenses, losses get in the way. In times like these, self-focused isn’t necessarily a negative way to go.

Since its the end of the year, I’ll accept the insignificance and aspire elevation. The good news is the new one begins today. The better news is, new days are plentiful; each with new opportunities for future note-worthiness.

Quote for the Week:

2019 01 01 may our feet be firmly guided jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

In Any Season: Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

Nothing but Good News: Good News Network . Org

Hope for the New Year: From the Bible From the Bible