to a kid –

I almost believed him.

“Oooooo – k.” I took my time stretching it out.

“If you’re sure…” I added, in an identifiably skeptic tone. The one Jeff had come to recognize as my ‘that might not be the best way to handle this‘ voice.

“Actually,” he hedged. “Mmm. Maybe, you should pick me up.”

                                                                         ∼

The thing was, until I was picked up for the ride home, I’d forgotten that my other end-of-the-line back-up driver wasn’t with me.

I decided to stop at the store on the way home, to see for myself. When I got there, he was sleeping. He woke up immediately, but was mildly disoriented for a few moments.

I couldn’t take him in the commuter van – that was an unauthorized no-no, which could have disbanded the van pool.

I considered parking the van at the store and driving the Buick home. But, we had a visiting trip planned for Saturday, and wouldn’t be able to pick-it up until Sunday.

The thought of leaving it in the parking lot made me nervous. If anything happened to the van while it was parked there, I’d be responsible.

I asked Jeff to call around, and see if someone could meet me at home in Adrian, and then drive me back to Tecumseh., so I could turn around drive him home. That wasn’t easy, either. After a lot of attempts, Jeff finally found someone.

There ended up being some sort of confusion; some sort of delay. Jeff announced he’d just drive himself home. He didn’t want to put anybody out.

I put the ka-bosh on that, attempting to entice him with the promise of stopping anywhere he wanted to for dinner on the way home. He said he’d wait, but he wasn’t really hungry.

My whole trip from the store to home, and back to the store, took about an hour. By the time I got back there, Jeff was feeling better, and feeling badly, that he’d cause so much concern.

Our rescuer was a sweet, new-ish driver, whom Jeff had been giving cooking lessons to, and who happily referred to him as ‘Uncle Jeff.’

I gotta tell you; this. It never ceased to amaze me how kids gravitated to him, and how strong those bonds became. Little people didn’t look up and see a huge, hairy scary giant. They instinctively recognized him as a big, loveable kid. There wasn’t a single one who was afraid of him.

In fact, there was one little boy, we were about to meet who had developmental problems. We’d been told he was terrified of new people, and had been known to throw himself on the floor in tantrum when faced with an unfamiliar situation. We’d been warned, it probably wouldn’t go well.

We were prepared for that. Actually, I was prepared for that. Jeff wasn’t prone to pre-conceived notions. He’d just step into any situation, and wait and see how it’d go.

What I wasn’t prepared for was for the little guy to walk right up to Jeff, shake his hand, and say, “Hello.” It was truly special.

And, a profound moment for me. I didn’t suddenly learn something new about my husband. There was no Godly beam of light or angels chorusing, but my heart swelled, as if there were.

I know some of those kids still remember him, because they still talk about him. About all the silly, outrageous, playful things he did. About his patience and the knowledge he loved to share.

As I’ve told you before, he was kinda unforgettable. Even more so, to a kid.

Quote for the Week: 2019 06 18 Its normal to reconcile the world in relationship jakorte

 

Churdled (milk)

Then, it occurred to me.

Wait – my chocolate milk? I haven’t bought any chocolate milk, lately.”

“Yeah, you did.” Jeff came back. “It was just a little one, with the rabbit on it. I think maybe it wasn’t any good anymore. It smelled kinda funny. It was kinda old, too.”

My mind went from – I don’t remember buying chocolate milk to – “Wait – what? How old? It smelled bad, and you used it anyway?” I squawked and gaped.

“Well, it wasn’t that old. I checked the date. Just a couple of weeks. And, I don’t drink the stuff, so I don’t know what’s good!”

The rule-follower in me was flabbergasted. My brain shorted into partial words. I stumbled over ‘chocolate’ and ‘milk’ and ended up with an accidental coinage. “You gave me churdled milk? This is why perishables are date stamped!”

“Nah,” Jeff insisted, remarkably patiently, considering we were having this conversation  for perhaps the hundredth if not close to the hundredth time. “Those are just sug-gest-ed dates. Things don’t suddenly go bad on that date.”

“I know that,” I insisted, back. “But, they eventually do!”

That earned me an eye-roll. “Well,” he jokingly reasoned, “If you just drank the white milk, ya would’a had better coffee, then.”

“Yeah?” I countered, “and what is the date on that?”

Jeff yanked the fridge open and grabbed the milk jug. “Hmm,” he noted, grinning. “Says yesterday.” He pulled off the cap and, to my horror, full-on stuck his sniffer in the hole.

Not much scared Jeff. Inserting his nose into, or, even taking a swig from, a gallon of possibly spoilt milk, wasn’t on his list of scary stuff. For the record, though, being chased with a dead fish, was.

“Nope.” Jeff split-second analyzed the experience. “It’s definitely not ch-urdled, yet.” He glanced over at me, and grinned at my expression. “Probably wouldn’t use that either, wouldya?”

Me, grimacing back: “No. Especially, not since you just stuck your nose in there.”

“Aw, my nose didn’t touch the milk!” Jeff scoffed.

“So what, if it didn’t touch the milk? Your nose got wiped on the spout! You’re gonna have to pour the milk over that!’

“Geez, ok.” Jeff went for a paper towel. “I’ll wipe it out!”

“Don’t even think about giving me that milk, tomorrow.” I warned him. “And, don’t cook with it, either!”

Jeff guffawed. “You’re not gonna die from the milk!”

“Damn, right.” I replied. “Cuz, none of it is going past my lips!”

He took a swig, swished it around in his mouth, and ridiculously wiggled his tongue in my direction. “Wanna kiss?” he teased.

(To be fair, I guess Jeff helped coin the word. I dropped it, but he picked it up and ran for the punchline.)

Quote for the week:2019 05 28 Sometimes there is only one way to figure it out jakorte

 

 

Coffee, in a Clutch

Friday, September 29, 2006.

Jeff was up early with me, Friday morning, and very much back to being his usual perky self. While I was in the shower, he made coffee and packed my work breakfast and lunch for me. I knew I would be short a van pool passenger this morning, which gave me a few extra minutes.

So, I sat and sipped my creative, coffee surprise of the day. Raspberry flavored coffee with vanilla creamer. Jeff and I had joined the Gevalia coffee club, convinced by the free coffee maker. The flavor assortment was a bonus, too. Back then, whole beans were considered radical. But, we had a spice grinder; specifically dedicated to coffee. Fancy.

Jeff was the brew-master, in-charge of keeping our cabinet stocked. Each new shipment was a challenge to him. I can only recall one time when I had to explain that I hadn’t been able to drink the disaster in my cup.

I’m not a fan of scalding hot coffee. I prefer cold, however cool, room temperature, and lukewarm are acceptable alternates. Yes, I’m that person – the one who uses a spoon to chase ice around a water glass to cool my coffee. Because of this, I rarely drank my freshly- brewed, morning beverage at home. Hardly ever on my commute, either.

Insulated car cups hadn’t come close to popularity, or reaching and reacting the efficient way they do now. As the van pool driver, my commute was close to an hour. So, by the time I got to work, the coffee in my up-cycled, individual soda bottle, was a pleasant room temp. In summer, it was almost properly chilled from parking in front of the air conditioned vents.

The conversation about the concoction I threw away, ended in laughter, as usual.

I started it. “Whatever you put in my coffee, this morning, please, don’t ever do that again.”

“You didn’t like it?”

“No. It was terrible!”

“Oh.” Jeff pondered. “It seemed like it would work, to me.”

“What was it?”

“Hazelnut, but there wasn’t enough. So, I added the cherry kind we got in Traverse City. Then, we were out of cream, so I added the rest of your chocolate milk.”

He was right. A chocolate-covered, cherry cordial hugging a hazelnut sounded like it should have been good, but…

Quote for the Week:2019 05 21 complex flavors dont always make the cut jakorte

 

 

 

 

It’s Ok to Step Away

It’s ok to step away.

One foot off the path isn’t usually trouble.

Remember, you know the way back.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, if you’re not ready to return.

Loss is only measurable by the strength of the relationship;

By  breadth of share, by depth of care, and trueness of the heart.

 

Experience hasn’t taught me what to say, but, that’s ok.

I’ve learned other things; to whole-heartedly listen, to laugh along.

To remain steadfast and patient; waiting for the heralding moment.

To acknowledge clear tears of realization; there will be no more memories made.

To stand by and let you know: it’s ok to step away.

 

Quote for the Week: 2019 05 14 It’s ok to step away jakorte

Common. Quirks.

“Oh, geez,” he protested. “I was just waitin’ for the end of the song.”

He smiled, and waited for me to smile back. I smiled back.

It was one of the crazy quirks we discovered we had in common, on our first date.

We’d pulled into our second restaurant location for dessert and what was supposed to be a good-night, night-cap.

Jeff pulled the handle to get out of the car, then glanced over at me, questioningly.

I hadn’t moved. My hand hovered over the dial. Poised, because, the song on the radio wasn’t at an appropriate end-spot. For my tastes, anyway.

Sheepishly, I explained my compulsion to listen all the way until the end of a tune. Or, at least, wait for a well-timed verse break or chorus completion or the top (or bottom) of an instrumental break, or when the singer took a big breath or something.

Jeff’s concerned expression had quickly morphed into a high-eyebrowed, silly grin. “Me, too!” he endearingly exclaimed.

My expression morphed into a silly grin. I flipped the switch as a comfortable place to end the music arrived, and we exited in sync.

We spent a good 20 minutes or so talking about the best place to stop listening, if you absolutely had to stop listening. If you didn’t have to, we agreed it was best to wait until the song ended. We also both expressed a dislike of DJ’s who liked to talk over carefully crafted ending instrumentals, and confessed to not being able to put a book down until the next chapter; or until the last line of a page had a completed sentence that ended in a period.

Jeff sat down at the kitchen table, while I dispersed groceries. I set a pot of water to boil. Spaghetti was always our back-up when Jeff didn’t feel like cooking. Or, when he took an unplanned afternoon nap that lasted a few hours.

“So,” I asked, after loading the milk Jeff said he’d drink into the fridge. “What was the song?”

“I don’t remember. It was kinda a surprise when I woke up.” Jeff told me.

“Hmm,” I wondered aloud. I asked him what his most recent blood-sugar was. “Oh, that’s ok!” he reported. “It’s only 220!” 220 was a low. Norm was 250-280, fasting.

“Why is it 220?” I asked. “What did you eat today?”

He told me he’d made fried eggs and fried bologna for breakfast, and hadn’t been hungry since.

I continued my inquiry. “Any of your meds change? Have you missed any? Run out of anything?”

He thought about that, while tapping two fingers on the table. “Nope. Got ‘em all picked up last week. Nothin’s changed in a while,” he concluded. “I’m just tired.” He chuckled. “Yep. Guess if I keep fallin’ asleep, I must be tired.”

“Well, maybe you should mention that to the doctor, at your next appointment. Do you have another appointment?”

“Yeah. In a couple weeks.”

“Maybe, you should call before then.” I suggested.

“Yeah.” Jeff agreed. “Maybe, I should call.”

Quote for the Week: 2019 05 07 most relationships begin with quirks jakorte

Couched

To say that I’d become accustomed to coming home to some sort of weird situation, is putting it mildly.

This time, Jeff was sitting-up on our living room couch. His head was bent as if he were scrutinizing his foot-ware. It took me a moment to realize he was fast asleep.

The sitting-up-sleeping thing wasn’t the unusual part. It was the fact that he’d couched. We rarely used our formal living room, even though it was right inside our front door.

All the good stuff, like the TV, stereo, surround-sound, book cases and treadmill lived in the den. It was where we spent the majority of our evenings, at home.

He woke up as I finished rustling in. “Oh, hey!” he said, cheerfully, like he hadn’t been completely conked-out. “You’re home early!”

I checked my watch. It was, indeed, a few minutes earlier than normal. “You’re right,” I agreed. “It’s only 5:45.”

“Huh. 5:45?” Jeff frowned. “I was just resting a minute after… oops!”

Wind-milling his legs for propulsion, he pushed off the couch, unsteadily heading toward our Dale Earnhardt shrine-home office.

Paused in the doorway, Jeff threw his arms up in frustration. “Aw, dang it! I never got the groceries put up!”

“When did you go shopping?” I asked, following. Gathering up bags, Jeff answered, “On my way back from dropping off the boxes.”

“When was that?” I prodded. He thought for a few seconds.

“I dunno.” He replied, pulling on his beard. “Sometime around 2:30-ish, I guess. I think I was home by 3:30.”

I was still processing that Jeff had been shoe-inspecting, sleep-sitting for over two hours, when the house phone rang.

Grabbing a few bags on my way to the kitchen to answer the call, I commented over my shoulder. “The milk’s probably no good, but everything else should be ok.”

“The milk’s probably ok, too,” Jeff hopefully argued, as he followed me.

I wrinkled my nose. He just laughed, and headed back to the other end of the house for the rest of the goods.

“Well, you’re the one that’s going to have to drink it…” I amusedly called after him.

I set the groceries on the counter near the phone, and picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Hon!” the cheerful voice on the other end greeted me. We were lucky enough to have the sweetest, most sunshiny neighbor.

“Oh, I’m just checkin'” she chuckled. “Did Jeff tell you about the car, today?”

“About the car?” I squeaked.

Quote for the Week:2019 04 23 Resiliency adaptation jakorte

 

Thursday, By Appointment

In the beginning, we’d established Michigan Hot Sauce Club hours based on stock deliveries and peak times the mall was busiest. Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

Thursday was the day devoted to store-keeping. Parked in the fire-engine red and glittered, padded vinyl office chair behind the display counter, Jeff would scan new items into the register. Then, price label the goods, and find appropriate alphabetical space for each.

Not long in, we determined Thursday wasn’t going to be a big sale day. We downgraded to Thursday afternoon. Pretty quickly, realizing weekday sales were still rare, we decided to advertise, “Friday, Saturday, and Thursday by Appointment.”

I’d put the fear in him that check-ins were required, twice a day, or I’d freak out. That came about in response to a few incidents. One, notably, the time a physical therapist showed up for a home visit, and it appeared Jeff wasn’t home. After ringing the doorbell, knocking on the front and side doors, and phoning him, she called me.

She’d already looked in the front window and the office window. I asked her to please go around the side and peer into the den window by his chair. Thankfully, she did, reporting that she had knocked on the window and he hadn’t moved.

I begged her to, please, knock harder – as hard as she could. I told her I didn’t care if the siding was damaged or if the windowpane cracked. She whomped a few heavy-handed hits. That did the trick. Jeff’d been deep-sleep reclining in just his underwear.

Later, told me how embarrassed he was. I was more concerned that he’d missed the doorbell, the knocking and the phone ringing. I told him that he’d given me a panic attack. From here out, I demanded he always have his phone on the loudest setting possible, and that he keep it with him, at all times.

“Even in the bathroom?” Jeff joked, good-naturedly, rolling his eyes when I answered with an emphatic, “Yes!” I, also suggested, he should always be wearing pants or shorts. At all times. Especially, when he had appointments.

Thursday, September 29, 2006.

I worriedly called Jeff on my break at work. It was almost 10:00 am, and I hadn’t heard from him, yet.

It took me two, long-ringing tries to get him on the phone. When he answered, I immediately asked him, “Where were you?” “Morning constitution!” he quipped.  He told me he wasn’t “feelin’ too great,” and asked if I thought it would be ok if he took the new stuff down to the store on Friday.

I didn’t see a problem with that. We hadn’t had a Thursday sale in quite some time, and Friday mornings weren’t setting our profits on fire, either.

Jeff did end up bringing the boxes down that day, after lunch. He said he’d just had to force himself to “get on the giddy-up.”

Quote for the Week:2019 04 16 Adjustment is the key to almost everything jakorte