Blanked

And that’s where the details end. I’m not sure if my prior detail comes from having re-lived the sequence daily or twice for 13 years straight, unable to let it go.

Or maybe the lack of it from here forward is the indicator, where my mind blanked – the result of short-circuited overload.

The bits and pieces I recall are likely to be jumbled. So many things happened at once.

I don’t recall answering the door, but I was standing in the right place to maybe have. There was an officer inside, still on the threshold, asking me if there was anyone I could call to come be in the house with me.

“No one near here,” I said. I was thinking of Jeff’s family, my family. No one could be there immediately.

“A neighbor?” he offered. I thought about the couple across the street.

I don’t remember seeing any extra people arrive. I don’t recall them in the house. They must have been there, though, because, by that time, two police cars, a sheriff’s car, an ambulance were lined up.

When the officer returned, he told me that he’d woken my neighbors up and the man of the couple had burst into tears when he heard. He continued saying that my neighbor would be over in a little bit, once he got himself together. I don’t remember him arriving, but I know he was there.

I don’t know when I started making calls. I don’t recall being prompted. I’d been standing in the living room, close to the front door. Someone suggested I might want to sit down.

I can’t tell you which order they were in, but I made two phone calls from my seat on the couch.

I called my brother-in-law, who lived closest. My sister-in-law had answered the phone. He was at church with my niece and nephew. She’d been there to pick-up because she’d stayed home not feeling well.

I explained that Jeff was gone and the police were here and I needed him to know and to come. Immediately.

I suppose it could have waited until church was over. Nothing would have changed by then, but the urgency was real to me.

I phoned my mother to tell her Jeff was gone. I asked her to call my brothers. She offered a stunning excuse for not immediately coming. The call ended with an implied you’re-on-your-own request to just let her know when the funeral was and she would be there.

Quote for the Week: 2019 11 12 reaching the point of blank jakorte

A Jeff Day

We had an awesome visit, laughing and listening to Jeff stories; g-rated versions, revised for the one, single-digit aged member of his audience. Covering youth into adulthood, he regaled us, and our impressionable-aged nephew, with hilarious MIS and other misadventures.

Falling asleep in the bathroom for hours, being so unruly his brother and buddies stuffed him into a race tire. How his Mustang got totaled without his help, sitting on the front lawn with a for sale sign, in park.

Jeff recounted having fun jamming his buddies (all the same size and stature) into a tiny Fiesta. Driving to Ohio, for bowling and drinking and a breakfast they called, “a heart attack on a plate.”

He’d said that he’d consume a pound of bacon, a loaf of toast, and a half-dozen eggs. I’m not sure that part wasn’t a bit of an exaggeration. Although, I don’t have any doubt it was a necessarily-big, semi-sobering meal before the return drive home.

“Don’t do that.” Jeff said when he told this particular story. “Don’t drink and drive. We’re lucky we’re all still alive.”

All of these stories, I knew well. I enjoyed them, because he was enjoying himself. It was so much fun to watch others hear them for the first time.

Jeff would end each hilarious story, endearingly, with a serious advisement. “I tell you this,” he’d said to our nephew, numerous times. “I tell you this, so you know what not to do!”

Reminiscence is therapeutic. Sometimes. Sometimes, not. I found myself sadly wishing that everyone could have had a last “leave them laughing” day with Jeff like this one.

Paused, sweet revelation allows me to gift you this tear-drying truth:

This Jeff day was like any other – truly, like every other. Filled with stories and laughter; wisdom and care.

No matter who you are, no matter when that last day was, every single person who ever knew Jeff  had a last Jeff day – exactly like this one.

Quote for the Week: 2019 08 06 It’s a rare person who doesn’t leave behind jakorte

Not Napping Music, Not

The same evening, between other commercials, I addressed the schedule for our up-coming weekend plans.

We were closely booked, which would require a bit of running. Over the past few weeks, we’d canceled a few social outings.

Among those, one was an overdue family visit. One was a much anticipated ‘meet the baby’ date. We’d previously discussed rescheduling the baby outing for Saturday evening or Sunday after church. When I asked Jeff if he’d been able to arrange it, he said he’d been thinking about that.

“Maybe, Saturday at lunch time, would be better,” he hemmed.

“We can’t, tomorrow.” I answered, quickly, shortly.

Jeff’s brow furrowed.

“We’re going to Lansing, tomorrow.” I reminded him.

“Well, huh.” Jeff scrunched his lips to the side, and puffed out one cheek. “Maybe, we can reschedule that for when I’m feelin’ better?”

“We’ve already canceled, twice.” I pointed out. “We can’t to cancel, again. Besides, the store is already covered for tomorrow.”

It wasn’t always easy to find someone willing to tend shop by themselves for an entire day. We’d already cancelled our scheduled helper’s shift, once, too.

“Mmm… maybe, you can go without me, this once…?”

“Absolutely not!” I popped back. “I’m not going without you.”

I missed my cousin’s wedding in Georgia, because Jeff simply couldn’t make the trip. The advice I received from a non-family member was that he was a big-boy and he could take care of himself for a weekend. I stood my ground that time, too, and refused.

I was terrified enough; always wondering each weekday, if that day would be the day. I can’t even imagine what would have become of me, if I had left Jeff for a weekend, and Jeff had left me forever that weekend.

I badgered my continued opinion. “You can sleep in the car on the way up, and back. It’s what you’d be doing at home, anyway.”

Jeff sat there, lips pressed, two cheeks puffed out.

I’m not even sure he was trying to come up with an argument, but in case he was, I enticed and cajoled. “You can pick the music.” I stated, with unarguable finality, “even if you’re gonna sleep through it all.”

That got a smile. “AC/DC, it is!” Jeff crowed.

“You realize, that’s not really napping music.” I conveyed; fair point.

“Yeaaahhhh,” he wheezed on purpose, followed by a sinister Mutly laugh.

“Maybe, I’ll bring Kid Rock, too. I can sleep through anythin’ and one of us has gotta stay awake for the drive!”

Quote for the Week: 2019 07 23 your people will understand if you can’t make jakorte

 

Hard Refrigerator Wisdom

It’s hard to pray for what you don’t want.

It’s even harder when your prayer is answered.

Last week, I lost a hard to define person: part of my life, sort of relative, adoptive 3rd mom, friend.

About 6 years ago, on another platform, in another format, I published an article about alternate gift giving. The information was drawn from many sources, links provided, and sent out into cyber-space. The result of that was a slip of paper she gifted me. It has been magnetized to my wisdom board since that Christmas.

Over the years, I have noted little slips of wisdom on the refrigerator in the home she and her husband shared. A home that I was welcomed into. Reluctant to go the first time, my two-years past Jeff mantra was, “I don’t do other people’s families at holidays.” It doesn’t matter where you’re sitting, it’s extremely uncomfortable being the “extra” at any table.

Especially so, with Jeff’s family. Let me emphasize: I was always sincerely invited, always happily welcomed. My perception of me and my place in the family was skewed by insecurities. My interpretation of the situation was that my arrival at any Korte family function was an awkward beacon of sad; a glaring, strobe reminder that Jeff was no longer there.

However, at the insistence of my brother and sister-in-law, I agreed to tag along to their family gathering. It wasn’t any easier than going to Jeff’s families’ holidays.  The only difference was that I felt more like a solitary lighthouse of alone. None of them were strangers to me; I’d known them all before Jeff. They represent the before and the after Jeff, which sometimes makes the missing middle seem that much further away.

Over the last ten years of holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, sport days, funeral and no-reason days, I merged into the unit quite permanently. The slip I noticed Sunday, has likely been there for a while. 

Judging by the placement, it was positioned purposefully while she was still able to do it, herself. I took a clandestine picture, with the plan of posting in my home and have decided to share it with you. It is a perfect, logical, statement of fact, which I choose to interpret with her deep, implied beliefs – adding my own, silent, faith-filled addendum … “for now.”

Quote for the Week:

2018 06 26 there are things we dont want to happen jakorte

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

 

believers & broken snow globes & christmas ferrets

I love Christmas. In a completely different way than ever before. Before Jeff, I mean. And before after Jeff, too. Especially, in the middle.

I wish I could have spent a believer’s Christmas with Sally and Nannee. It’s only being a believer that makes it ok now. Well, more than Ok. My Christmas’s now are Thankful.

Oh, it’s still about the presents, but with a difference. I enjoy being the Christmas ferret. I’m sure I’m not the one out there trying to find something that will mean something more than just a gift. I listen all year in a kleptomaniac sort of way, hiding away personal tidbits. I suppose you could say I hoard memories.

One of which came to mind while I was drafting this week’s entry. The only thing that broke on our move from the townhouse was a Christmas gift we had purchased for Sally. I discovered it while my mother was helping us unpack in our new home. I didn’t grow up with snow globes. I know it sounds silly, but I didn’t know they could easily break.

It was irreparably broken. Another thing I didn’t know about real snow globes – the bottoms don’t twist off and globes aren’t always replaceable. I immediately burst into tears, and Jeff immediately promised we’d get another. It wouldn’t be hers but it would still remind me of her.

We made the trek to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth. It wasn’t winter but it never even crossed either of our minds that we wouldn’t find one there. Or that the particular one we were looking for would be discontinued. Still, we were well into the days of internet, so Jeff consoled me with the backup promise of finding it on line. He scoured, I scoured.

We both came up empty; just like the place in my heart I was sure would never mend from losing this piece of Sally.

In fact, it still bothers me so much that I interrupted my story myself just now, opened a new tab, and searched. My heart did a funny flip-flop as the very first image to pop up was my missing treasure. He was perfect. Just as I remembered. Even came with the original box. I couldn’t wait to buy him, my mind already jumping ahead: I’ll put it in my cart and then I’ll go get my wallet. I clicked on the image and a whole lot of other items came up. I carefully scrolled through and reviewed all 2 pages, twice. My shoulders slumped. Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy.

But then again, it was. Just that easy to remember how much I thought it looked like her spirit. Easy to remember how her eyes lit up. Easy to remember her laugh. Just that easy to remember, it’s the memories that matter, not the matter of the memories.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 12 Its not the matter of your memories jakorte 12 12 2017
Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Hold On: Sentimental Items

Snow Globes: All About

And Just Because: Frosty the Snowman

 

The Cornbread Lesson

There’s an obvious family trait passed down from Nannee to Sally and then to Jeff, and Eric and Nicole – having a purpose was and is important to each of them. I don’t know that it’s ever been acknowledged, but the way I’ve seen it, that purpose was always to be sure everyone was treated as if they were the most important person in the world, and to do everything in their power not to be a burden to anyone else.

Jeff and I talked it over and knew Nannee was independent enough, and that she’d be stubborn enough, to not accept our permanent hospitality. We didn’t kidnap her, we just kindly informed her she would be coming to stay with us for a weekend… or so.

The first time Nannee stayed with us was only for a day or so. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit but had to get home to attend to her laundry.

The next time was 2 full days and we brought her laundry with her. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit, but had to get home for her mail.

The third time, Nannee said she had the flu, and welcomed a little more extended stay. She lasted an entire week, and by the end of her visit, she was up and about, doing our laundry and helping cook dinner.

I arrived home about an hour later than normal one Friday night after another long week of 9 ½ hour days and 2 ½ hour vanpool commuter roundtrips to find that they hadn’t waited for me for supper. I was overly tired, unreasonably disappointed and very hungry. There’s a common name for that now: hangry.

They were watching TV, Nannee on the couch and Jeff in his chair, when he called out to me from the den, “There’s chili on the stove and corn muffins on the counter!”

I walked into the kitchen, took a look at the counter and yelled, “What the hell, Jeff?!?!”

“What?” he asked in that hurt and hesitant voice I wish I hadn’t induced many times and wish I could forget now, as well.  “What the hell did you do this muffin pan?” I raged.  “There’re gouge marks in every cup!”

When I peered through the pass-thru, Nannee was looking concerned. Jeff’s eyes were huge. He was shortly shaking his head and doing an abbreviated version of the hand-jive, which dramatically finished with the universal finger across the neck sign for “Stop!” I immediately assimilated what that meant, burst into tears and ran into our bedroom.

When I didn’t come back out, Jeff came in after me. “She was just trying to help out,” he said. “She really wanted to do something nice for us.” When I just kept crying, Jeff continued, “She’s feeling pretty good. We had a fun time cooking together.” I felt like a heel and told him so. “It’s alright,” he said. “It’s not!” I wailed. “Give me a minute and I will come apologize.”

By the time I got myself together and changed my clothes, Nannee had decided to go to bed. I felt even worse about that. “It’s ok,” Jeff said. “She understands. I told her you were sorry and she said that she’s glad you feel like you’re able to be yourself around her.”

Saturday morning, Nannee decided it was time to go home, again. “It’s the weekend,” she reasoned. “You should be able to relax and spend some time together without me here.”

I apologized profusely. If I had known she’d been the one to ruin the pan or even if Jeff had been responsible, I had no right speaking to either of them that way. They’d made me dinner and I behaved poorly.

Nannee just pshaw’d me. “Life has bumps,” she said. “.. ‘t doesn’t make the love any less.”

In this case, it made the love even more.

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 23 life has bumps jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Say It: Hangriness

Don’t Say It: Biblically Speaking

Eat This: Cornbread