Stairing

It’s true.

I am often compelled to take an awkward photo – one that I’m not even sure why I’m taking. One I obsess a little over – to delete or not. So, it ends up safely staying on my phone, saved to my cloud, downloaded to my computer; lingering with no real use or draw.

Until one day, when I find myself without words. Unable to form sentences of condolences, I scroll through unreasonably hoarded memories searching for inspiration, a photo prompt, anything that will spark the conversations I have to begin.

I found it filed under spring’s May adventure. I went for another reason; saw what I wanted to see. It wasn’t as impressive as I’d imagined. Truthfully, disappointed, I moved on to try and find a more engaging reason to make the trip worthwhile. Leisurely exploring gifted me three themes: architecture, modern art and whimsy.

I took the same route down as I had going up; on foot, on stairs – noting to myself perhaps there’d be a picture in it, later. Hours later, travelled down, I turned to evaluate that thought.

I found that ‘later’ came with more impressive light and a focal exclamation point. I likely took a dozen and a few views. Hard to tell, because I whittled them down to the three I was having trouble letting go. This time, I looked a little closer. Somehow, a connection sparked between the three photos and the three recent events that needed those words I was looking for.

I still don’t have the words. I do, however, have the hope of heaven and a picture that  paints a thousand words.

2018 07 17 holding onto photos jakorte

with love for BD 06-23-18, JS 06-28-18 & JK  07-11-18 their families and their friends.

 

 

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

 

Called

I answered the call because Jeff was busy cooking, and said, “Hey, could you get it? Please?”

He also added that he didn’t want dinner to burn, which added a little extra unspoken urgency as to why I should. I don’t like answering the phone. Never have. Teenage girls on phones for hours? Not me. Music for hours was my choice.

I don’t like talking on the phone. My timing is always off. I adore text even though it sometimes takes me a good ten minutes to write out what could have been said in three. Phone calls also require you and the person you are planning to talk to be available at the exact same moment.

Anyway, the point is – I didn’t often answer our phone. The guy with the gift of gab usually handled that.

But, that night, I acquiesced. Because, dinner.

Everything that followed “Hello” was a bit awkward and odd. I was told upfront that I was talking to a complete stranger who was offering kindness and support. I wasn’t clear why and I had no idea what to do with this situation, but Jeff was unavailable and so I listened.

She introduced herself as some sort of committee member of Tecumseh United Methodist Church. She was just checking on us after our most recent loss; said she was just seeing if we needed anything, offering her support, extending an invitation to visit the church.

We talked for a few minutes, or rather she talked. I said, “Oh,” “Ok’” and “Thank you” a lot. Then she asked if she could call us back in a few weeks, just to see how we were doing. I thought it’d seem kind of rude to say no, so I said, “Sure.”

When I hung up, Jeff asked me who it was. “I don’t know her name, but…” I started. (although I 100% believe she must have told me when she introduced herself, I’d found the whole thing befuddling)  “… she’s from… the church,” I finished, referring to the church where Sally’s funeral had been.

“Well, what’d she want?”

“Um,” I said. “Something about a committee that checks on people after someone dies and wanted to know if we were doing ok.”

Jeff listened intently to my sketchy, scattered bits of recall, nodding his head like everything I was saying made perfect sense to him.

“Hmm,” he said, with an accepting nod. “Supper’s done.”

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 23 There seem to have been more leaps of faith jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Phone: Pro

Phone: Con

Phone: 1990 Argument that caller ID invades privacy

 

Tree First

After that news arrived, I began calling friends to see if someone could take me to the hospital. Jeff told me not to go to the hospital but go straight to Nannee’s because she was going to need me there. So, that’s what I did.

Shortly after I arrived at the house on Union Street, the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find a clergyman on the doorstep, and invited him in, offering him a seat on the couch. I was about to step away to give them privacy, when he turned to me and said, “You look familiar…” “Oh, no.” Nannee shook her head. “You wouldn’t know Jodi… she’s Jewish.”

It was then quite obvious where he knew me from, as he was the pastor who declined to marry Jeff and I.

Many hours had gone by when the decision to remove Sally from life support was made. The hospital was kind and let us wait for one of Jeff’s step-brothers to return to Michigan, so all her kids could all be together in one place. To say goodbye.

I don’t remember Christmas that year. We must have gathered at Nannee’s.

I do remember the next Christmas. We’d lucked-out at Meijer, finding an artificial tree in the markdown/discontinued section and having a $20 off coupon we could use, too. We bought indoor and outdoor lights, garland and a few bulbs to supplement our Bronner’s collection.

Jeff was sitting on the floor of our new home in Adrian, piecing together the tree first. As he secured one artificial limb, another would fall off. In frustration, the man almost incapable of  temper, viciously wadded up the instructions and threw them aside.

“Let me help,” I offered. “You can’t help me,” he sniffed, as a tear ran down his cheek.

“This isn’t fair” he stated bleakly. “She should be here. My mom should be here to see this.” Jeff was struggling to not only keep the tree together, but himself, as well.

I sat down on the floor with him, leaned in and held him close. We shared our tears for a while, then stepped away for a lunch break.

With his sandwich in between the plate and his mouth, Jeff suddenly stopped and looked up at me. “I’m sorry,” he said. “You don’t have to be sorry,” I immediately answered.

“I’m sorry for what I said… that I thought you’d be over it… after your Dad died.”

“You just didn’t know,” I replied. “And I’m sorry you do, now.”

Jeff’s mouth lifted in a small smile. “You’re the best wife. I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

“You didn’t get lucky,” I reminded him with a grin. “I had to use a rolling pin…”

It took all four hands, some wrangling and a bit of good-natured bickering, but we did get the tree up and decorated, and it was beautiful.

We hosted two Christmases that year, both of which meant a great deal to Jeff and I.  We welcomed families and friends, shared wonderful meals, laughed a lot and soaked up christening love; all gathered around our first tree.

Quote for the Week:

2016-12-13-ive-come-to-love-these-grainy-memories-first-tree-2003-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Christmas:  why trees and tinsel?

Holidays: and grief

Grinch Song: just because

Between the Two

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas isn’t easy.

Thanksgiving was my father’s favorite holiday. My Dad passed in July 2002. He didn’t made it to our first anniversary.

Christmas was my mother-in-law’s favorite holiday. Sally passed in December 2002. She didn’t make it to our first married Christmas.

I got to speak to my dad two days before he passed. He expressed regret that he’d never seen the Grand Canyon. Jeff told him we were heading up to Traverse City for the Cherry Festival. Dad said he guessed he’d never get to see that, either.  I got to speak at my dad, the day before he died. I described the festival as best I could through impending tears. He couldn’t talk to me or answer, but my mother told me he smiled widely when he heard our voices.

When Thanksgiving came around, I was sad, mopey and weepy. Jeff didn’t understand. He’d lost grandparents and he’d say, “They were old. They had a good life.” To me, he said, “I thought you’d be over this by now.” I burst into tears and cried, “You don’t understand!” He didn’t, but he did hold me until I’d cried myself out.

I didn’t get to speak to Sally. I know not everyone is as lucky as I was to have a friend in their mother-in-law. She truly was a gentle guide, although I didn’t realize that, at the time.

In August of 2002, Jeff and I were trying to find ways to make extra income. We’d heard about an indoor holiday market at the Adrian Mall, and decided to take a booth. Jeff began making painted ornaments using a technique he had seen in magazine. I had been given a booklet of Mason jar cookie recipes ideal for gift giving, so I decided to sell those, as well.

A few evenings before the show, Sally called with her usual enthusiasm and invited us to her house. I told Jeff, “We can’t go. I’m not done with the jars and we’re not ready for this show.” Jeff relayed my message and then relayed her message back to me. “She said to bring the jars and she’ll help.” Then told me aside, that she was so excited because her stepsons were visiting and she felt she could have all of her children in one place.

“How about we go tomorrow night, after the show?” I asked. “They might not be there, then.” He replied. But, I shook my head and said, “I really don’t think we should.”

We sold a few things on the quiet first half-day. Two ornaments, two cookie jars, 1 sunflower garden stake. The second day, we were setting up to open, when Jeff received a call saying he had to get home to Tecumseh. His mom had been taken to Herrick Hospital.

The serious condition turned out to be a diabetic coma she never woke up from.

Quote for the Week:

2016-12-06-sometimes-i-laugh-when-i-tell-stories-jakorte

(Yes, these are some of the ornaments Jeff made. 🙂

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Ornamental:  DIY – Marbled Paint Ornaments

Cookie Jars: DIY – Cookies in a Jar

Healing Power: Story Telling

Pebble

 

Our travels took us to Sault Ste. Marie, where we found ourselves on another misty water experience: sailing through the Soo Locks.  In case you haven’t noticed, Michigan has a way of changing the spelling of a place. Mackinac; Mackinaw. Sault; Soo.

Anyway, we rode the locks, and it was fascinating. Mostly, because Jeff was fascinating. his pride in Michigan was deep. True, he’d lived here all his life, but I’ve been here 18 years and I don’t know the detailed history of towns, cities, parks, farms. He did, and he was happy to share that.

Jeff would fill in little parts that weren’t mentioned over tour radios. Folks who overheard would end up gravitating towards him, asking questions and being questioned in return. By the time we were done with whatever it was we were doing, we’d know a lot about a person. Where they were from, where they were going, what they did for a living, who their favorite NASCAR driver was.

At Tahquamenon Falls, Jeff explained the water’s amber hue, the impact of logging and impressively mentioned Longfellow. On the sunniest day of our journey, we stood overlooking the falls having unintentionally timed this stop a breath past peak fall color. As wonderfully as the cheap camera pictures came out, they don’t do it justice. I was posing at the rail of a scenic pier when a stranger offered to take our picture together. As strange as it seems, this might be the only picture of Jeff and I together on our honeymoon. I haven’t come across any others, yet.

Our second to last stop was Sleeping Bear Dunes. We thought about renting a Jeep to drive ourselves around the dunes, but decided a half-hour of driving time wasn’t that exciting. Instead, we opted for the guided tandem open-car tour. We learned about the environmental and erosion problems facing the area. Coming down from a huge mound of hilly sand, the tour glided to rest beside the lapping shore of Lake Michigan.

I was surprised by the number of tourists in our group who quickly shed their shoes in order to wade in. I didn’t. I did, however, dip my fingers into the chilly water, bringing up a small stone memento. Later, Jeff chided me for that, siting erosion. “It’s just one little pebble,” I argued. ‘Yes,” he said matter-of-factly, “but, if everyone who ever went there took a rock from the beach, that’d be millions of missing rocks!”

Then he launched another Jeff-ism:

“Nothing is ever a just pebble.”

 

Quote for the Week:

2016-11-29-nothing-is-ever-just-a-pebble-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Lock Engineering: animation

Animated Falls:  Tahquamenon

Bonus Photos:

2016-11-29-nothing-is-ever-just-a-pebble-tahquamenon-falls-jakorte

 

Almost All

Almost all the weather was damp and almost all of our pictures were misty.

We drove through the Houghton Lake cabins of Jeff’s happy childhood vacations, stopped in a local souvenir shop where we bought a greeting card with a beautiful dream catcher which would months later become Jeff’s first and only tattoo. A 5 inch round over his heart with a turquoise shell, 3 feathers, intricate weave patterns and shadowing, it was impressive.

We visited Hartwick Pines near Grayling, and led ourselves on a self-guided tour. I tried to take a picture of the beautiful leave-covered ground beneath one massive tree, but it turned out murky. Jeff took one of me next to the huge red wheels of a logging wagon. If you look closely, you can see I am holding an almost all point-perfect yellow maple leaf.

We stopped to see Paul Bunyan and his blue ox at Castle Rock, but the attraction was closed and it was raining anyway. Jeff was disappointed because he had wanted to go into the souvenir shop that was forbidden as a kid. I’m thinking now of all the places we went in my childhood and how kitsch shops were totally off limits. I rolled down my window, clicked a photo to document that we had been there, and then we moved on.

My first Mackinac Bridge crossing occurred in the rain. As a passenger, I should say, because Jeff was concerned about the weather.  On the approach, I leaned out the window to grab a few shots while being pelted with windy drops. I can see myself in the side mirror wearing one of my favorite sweaters ever. It’s one we picked up at Birch Run.

I’m not sure what that yellow ticket looking thing is under the wiper on the passenger side. Maybe a parking pass? Could be this picture was taken on the way back over the bridge?  Did I mention this trip was almost all rainy? In any case, we made it over.

The ferry trip journey was very uncrowded, and if we’d thought about it, predictably chilly. We huddled together to stay warm, held hands and laughed our way through the inclement weather.

That’s just how it was with us.

Almost all, we held hands and just enjoyed the ride.

Quote for the Week:

2016-11-15-almost-all-perfect-trip-jakorte

Bonus Pictures:

2016-11-15-almost-all-bonus-pictures-2-jakorte

 

 

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