Seriousness

The letter led to some good things. Calls from folks Jeff might not have spoken to in a few months, cheered him up greatly. Most of the calls that came when I was home were lengthy, full of laughter, and ended with some sort of promise.

“Yes, I’ll call you.” “Yes, I’m doing ok.” “Yes, I’m going to try harder.”

More people stopped at the store to see him, which he loved. He’d end up with a few new stories to tell me. Keeping current meant he was making new memories.

Jeff spent his time at the store talking to people, too. Other business owners, hot sauce heads, and entourages of brides and grooms – each and every one had a story to tell. Somehow, he always managed to extract them. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this one or twice, but truly, you only ever met Jeff once. After that, he was your friend.

I’m not going to say Jeff and his dad didn’t get along, but they weren’t always close. About the time Jeff and I started dating, Jeff and Roger, began to have more of a relationship. Our dating wasn’t the reason for that. It was just timing, the stars aligning, the universe sending peace, whatever you’d like to call it.

The three Korte men in my immediate life, Jeff, Eric and Roger, were always joking, laughing, guffawing, boisterous and generally loud. The loudness startled me at first, but it didn’t take long to figure out the Korte laugh was a genetic trait.

I enjoyed an abundance of that joyful and wonderful noise that to this day remains with me. I hear it in my head when I see something funny. I feel it in my heart and chest,  reverberating. If I’d have thought to record it, I’d probably have been able to sell it as a starter warm-up for laughter yoga. Or maybe I’d have just made a CD to play when I needed a reason to laugh, or just wanted to not laugh alone.

Also, genetic, I suspect, is the Korte tendency to smile and report all is right with the world, even when it wasn’t. There was only seriousness when there had to be seriousness.

Quote for the Week:

2018 05 01 I_d rather not have to say

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Serious: What it Means

Serious: Try Not to Be So

Serious: Fun

 

marking the time

Today and tomorrow have historically been a source of confusion for me. Last year at this time, I was telling you the strangely sweet story of how I could never remember Jeff’s birth date. (‘Sweet Pea’ April 25, 2017.)

So, here we are at April 24th, Jeff’s non-birth date . A silly make-me-smile when I’m feeling sad reminder, it’s no longer a source of confusion. I’ve managed to humorously posthumously remember it correctly for a few years now.

Because, when faced with Jeff’s death certificate, it suddenly became clear in a way that’s stayed with me. His birth year ended in 4. If you can follow along the lines of my ‘that’s one way to remember it’  sequential logic, if the birth year ends in a 4, the birth date ends in a 5. Easy enough, now.

I planned to go to the cementary last Sunday. I go to wipe away the grit of winter, to place or replace markers, to tidy up for birthday visitors. I didn’t get to, though, waylaid by an obnoxious April ice storm. It’s the first I haven’t been there in time.

April 24th is now significant for another reason – my older brother’s yahrzeit – a date of dedicated remembrance for the departed. Greg’s April has been coming around for three years now. Much like Jeff’s October, Greg’s April seems like hundreds of years ago and yesterday.

Earlier this month, marked Sarah’s 2nd butterfly date; one that falls familiarly within the same warp as the other two; long ago and yesterday.

Including Easter, that’s a lot of  heavenly related coming and going to consider.

April’s become a marking month of close together tears shifiting the season’s weight, a carriage made heavier by the wait for this years elusive Michigan spring.

I’ve come to the conclusion that you can never really put a firm date on departure. All of our markers are merely permissives for remarks on shared time.

Every spirit that is with you, within you, part of you, remains; without end.

So, here’s to April showers! May they bring us all May flowers and butterflies and bright burning memories that never fade.

Quote for the Week (bears repeating):

some days are harder

The Daily List

I guess you could say, somewhere in the middle, I somewhat started on a weird winding road of acetic acceptance.  On the daily drive home, I used to think to myself, “I wonder if today’s the day I’ll get home and find him dead.” I decided I’d have enough of that scenario in my head. I felt it was time to let it out.  Time to ask for help.

I wrote a letter to some of Jeff’s friends and family. I’m surprised I don’t have a copy of that letter, but I don’t. I asked everyone to come see him, to tell him he was important, to see if they could convince him to take better care of himself, to stop chewing tobacco. I don’t know which came first, in a chicken or the egg sort of way – either I told him, or he found out about it.

It’s one of the few times I made Jeff really mad. He said I made him look stupid. I shrugged and raised my voice. “You are stupid! You’re not doing enough to help yourself.”

 It was also one of two times, I made Jeff cry. Tough love is tough on the person giving it, too. If he cried, I cried. If I cried, he’d try to cheer me up or make me laugh. Not exactly an even exchange, but, somehow, we’d both end up laughing.

He said the problem was that he was bored being stuck at home with nothing to do and no one to talk to. The meds made him foggy and mostly he just watched TV, or read, or spent hours at the computer. 

So, I started a daily Jeff list. Only 3 or 4 things that I’d like him to accomplish that day.

It wasn’t all chores. It was some mundane tasks, a few challenges, and some silly stuff.  I found a few of my lists in between orders in the store files. Don’t know if Jeff put them there on purpose or if they accidentally got filed away with paperwork. Some of the highlights were:

Launder bed sheets (I’ll put them on when I get home.)

Check the Power Ball #’s. (No one matched all 5 #’s, but I’ll take anything!)

Water plants (I love our garden!)

Don’t forget to check the NASCAR channel. Al Unser Jr. is expected to retire today.

Go through papers on the dining room table, please.

Call Kapnick’s and find out how much the sweet cherries will be. The sign says “place orders now.”

Research Michigan vendors who might sell us their hot sauce at wholesale.

Figure out what meds you need to re-order.

Wear socks! It will help the rubbing of your feet.

Call the doctor re: Anodyne machine

Defrost the chicken, so it will be ready to cook for dinner.

Set your alarm for med times.

Take naps often – feet up, please!

Quote for the Week:

2018 04 17 Routine jakorte

Tah Dah! (and other love notes)

We weren’t lighting the world, the state or even the city up, but the Michigan Hot Sauce Club was our baby. If we sold one or two of something, we’d order one or two more, plus a new product or two until we’d reach free shipping status. Jeff had long and real conversations with our suppliers. I came across many of them while going through his email after he passed away.

I also have a good number of interesting and humorous exchanges between us. At first, I held onto them accidentally. Clearing out email wasn’t even something I’d ever considered doing, for which I am thankful. I’ve held onto them for a long time, now, considering most of them are 12-15 years old. I haven’t shared them before, but now seems like a good time.  So, keeping in mind we were married in 2001, went through deaths of multiple family members and Jeff’s health was failing, here comes a small sampling of some of the best support we offered each other.

05/06/2004 Re; hello?

Me: I love you!

Jeff: wooo hooo!!!! can ya see me do the snoopy dance? ? ? you love me!!! and I love you!!!

05/10/2004 Re: ok… so…

Me: I love you more than the never-ending blue sky that is always around when you are. kisses. me.

Jeff: I think you just made my day … my week… my month… my life… I love youuuuuuuu

09/16/2004 Re: Christmas cards

Me: We have blank card stock, so we need envelopes, but here is my idea [for MHSC]…. Happy Jala-Days!

Jeff: sometimes I think I would like to crawl inside your head, just to see how you think up all your great ideas.

01/05/2005

Jeff: I can’t remember if I told you that I loved you this morning… so just to make sure…. I LOVE YOU! Jeff

01/19/2005 Re: American Idol

Jeff: Well shoot. We missed American Idol last night. But I really enjoyed snuggling up together and reading last night. I love you. Bubba

02/09/2005 Re: nothing but trouble

Jeff: You are the GREATEST wife in the world. I don’t know what I would be doing without you. Probably be locked in the basement at Gary & Mom’s is my guess. I’m so glad you came into my life. I hate it when I get short and grumpy at you. I feel like such a heel when I let myself do that. I think for Lent I will give up arguing with you. Oh, did I tell you lately that I love you? Well, just in case I haven’t…. I LOVE YOUUUUU!! If I could get up on the roof of OUR house, I would shout it from the rooftops for all to know and hear! Will you be my Valentine??

03/07/2005

Jeff: We can get schmaltz from the mustard guy

07/01/2005

Me: Almost quitting time. Looking forward to our long weekend! Do you know when the fireworks start?

Jeff: I’m hoping tonight when you get home. 😉

02/14/2006

Jeff: Gappy Valentine’s Day! oxoxox. I LOVE YOU!! TAH DAH! (He was missing a front tooth.)

06/27/2006

Jeff: it’s raining cats & dogs. I just stepped in a poodle!

08/31/2006

Jeff: I LOVE YOU!! TAH DAH!

09/22/2006

Jeff: Seasonings Affective Disorder = the need 2 kick things up a notch when they taste fine the way they are.

Quote for the Week:

2018 04 10 the secret to any good relationship sticky notes jakorte 04 10 2018

I Wish You Could Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Link:

Unfortunately, I’ve spent about an hour and a half searching for the source of our “Tah Dah!” It came from a TV program Jeff and I watched one night featuring a humorous inspirational blonde woman speaker; I believe from Australia. Her two key phrases and matching gestures were “Get Over It!” and “Tah Dah!”

Tah Dah.

A Good Spot

When Jeff first told me that he believed, I thought, “Ok, that’s good.” I believed in God, too, sort of, not always, but sometimes, on and off, wavering as circumstances changed.

Jeff did not bring his belief into his life. It simply was his life, expressed as peace and contentedness. I had a hard time grasping all that, but his overall great, upbeat attitude was contagiously inspiring. I’d never met anyone like Jeff. Always willing to see the best, always believing everything was for the best.

As I’ve mentioned, before we were married, neither one of us believed a house of worship was necessary. The more we went to church, the more interesting I found it. Many prayers are the same as those in Judaism, and, obviously, the old testament is identical.

As far as I was concerned and I as far as I could tell, we believed in the same overall God. Recognizing similarities, (real or imagined) made me more comfortable. The more we went to church, the more church Jeff wanted. We went to coffee hour; we participated in a few functions. The more people we met, the happier Jeff became.

I’d gotten used to the trio of older ladies who regularly sat in the pew behind the pew Jeff and I regularly sat in. Our spot was on the left on an aisle in a row just about center of the back half of the chapel. Not too close to draw attention to ourselves, close enough to hear and see, with not too many people behind us, close enough to the rear bathroom that Jeff felt he wouldn’t have “walk the gauntlet” to get there. It was a good spot.

Truly, it wasn’t all that strategically chosen. It was, however, a good spot, because sometimes, when Jeff bowed his head in prayer, it stayed bowed a lot longer than other people’s. Especially, if it was later in the service. Or if he hadn’t eaten breakfast. Or if it was too warm. Mostly, nobody noticed. Jeff’s bowed head could easily be mistaken for lengthy prayer.

Unless he snored. Then, I’d have to elbow him. Occasionally, one of the trio would ask if he was ok. Jeff would smile and declare that he’d just been “praying hard.” Followed by a teasing wink.

Quote for the Week.

2018 04 03 Choosing a good seat jakorte

Many Times Over

On the verge of a migraine, day 2.

I’ve been more than tempted to just say, “Not this week…”  Staring off into space thinking about where we’ll go next, my blurred vision focused on a book shelf. Clearing on a black binding, I suddenly realized the season.

I drew it from its spot, wedged firmly between other versions of the same book in different formats and different languages. Flipping open the cover, I remembered why I had this treasure. The volume that caught my attention, didn’t originally belong to me. It does now, by default.

I’ll stress this up front. My love gave me gifts. The gift of acceptance, the gift of care; gifts of hope and light that meant a lot to me then, but even more to me now. The greatest of all these – love – has always been there, remains and endures.

I reiterate these truths from a season past:

I don’t want to own false grief.

I’m not happy about losing Jeff. I’m not angry, either.

I’m not questioning, “Why?” I know why, and I’m thankful.

I don’t want to own false hope.

I want to have faith that where I am headed will someday make sense to me, and maybe to some others.

I don’t want to own the responsibility of false vision, knowing all that lies ahead.

I want to affirm that life’s adventure is a gift, gladly opening each day as such.

I don’t want to own a false sense of security.

I want to believe with my whole soul that, as paths change, they will continue to be clearly marked in my rear-view mirror – under the direction of the only GPS necessary: God’s Positioning System.

 Ephesians 2:6: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (NIV)

 I do believe. I do believe I’ve been gifted. I do believe I’ve been gifted, many times over.

Quote for the Week:

2018 03 27 the greatest of gifts became even greater jakorte

 

Take a Right

Before we were married, before we lived together, Jeff and I attended a work Christmas party together.

He’d had a few drinks and was tuckered out from dancing, so I offered to drive his truck home. He gave me some initial directions and then sat back for the ride. When, I’d reached the end of the first leg, I asked for the next set of directions. I had to wake him up, but he answered quite coherently. I followed his advice until I sort of knew where I was. As we neared Roger’s Highway, I wanted to be sure I didn’t miss his mom’s house, so I asked for guidance, again.

He was momentarily confused when I woke him up for that. But, after assessing our surroundings, told me to turn left onto Roger’s. I already knew that. “How far I should go?” I asked. Jeff said he’d let me know.

When it seemed I’d be driving longer than I expected, I looked over to see that he was asleep, again. So, I nudged him awake, again.

“Oh,” he said. “Where are we?” I read him the street sign we were passing. “Ok,” he said. “Take the next right.” So, I did. Another minute went by and nothing looked familiar, so I asked. “Jeff, where do I go next.”

“Oh,” he said. “Take the next right.”  I drove along on a dark country road for another few minutes. When I came to a set of railroad tracks, I had a feeling something had gone wrong. I came to a stop, pulled on his sleeve, and said, “Jeff, I don’t think this is right…”

Suddenly, he sat up straighter in his seat, turned to me and in all seriousness asked, “Where are we?!”

“What do you mean ‘Where are we?! I’ve been following your directions!”

“Oh,” he said. “I was sleeping!” I was startled into silence, while Jeff craned his neck around to try and get his bearings.

“Well, I’m not sure…” he started. Interrupted by clanging bells, flashing lights and the lowering of the railroad gate, he seemed even more stunned. “You must have missed mom’s,” he mused. I reminded him I’d been following his directions. Jeff reminded me that he’d been asleep.

“Are you awake now?” I asked. “Yeah, I’m awake now,” he affirmed, gesturing grandly toward the train rumbling by us.

“That’s great,” I nodded. Shivering and lost, I told Jeff to get out of the truck and change seats with me. “But… we’re almost home!,” he countered. Halfway out of the driver’s door, I half-laughed and full-on snorted “uh, huh.… and you’re going to stay awake and get us there!”

Another time, on the way back from a casino run to Mt. Pleasant, late at night, almost early in the morning, I was once again the designated driver. This time Jeff hadn’t had anything to drink, but he was super sleepy. So, I took the reins and drove the three of us back to my apartment. With Jeff in the passenger seat and my out-of-town friend in the back seat, we’d been on the nearly empty highway for about 30 minutes. She and I were keeping each other awake and talking and laughing, when suddenly Jeff flung his arm across in front of me, pointed and screamed, “Deer!!!!”

I, immediately, (unfamiliar with recommended and unrecommended deer avoidance actions) slammed on the brakes. My friend found her front half and one wildly waving arm over the center console, accidentally jabbing Jeff as she tumbled. In full-on panic, Jeff grabbed for the dash board. His head shot toward me as he bellowed, “Huh? What? Whoa! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”

“What do you mean ‘What am I doing?’” I shouted back. “You said there was a deer!”

“I didn’t see any deer!” he yelled. “I WAS SLEEPING!”

“You pointed at it!” My friend and I almost simultaneously shouted back.

Jeff never truly believed that I had been following his direction to his mom’s house. I’m not sure he believed me about the deer, either. At least this time, I had a witness. A slightly bruised, but very gracious witness. She and I still laugh about that. 

Quote for the Week: 

2018 03 20 some memories anchor jakorte