Friday, February 27, 2015

The Good and the Needs Improvement

We had a snow day yesterday and I was a bit surprised by it. It was nice to have an unexpected day off.

When I got up, I was motivated to get some extra schoolwork done, but once Ethan was awake, that plan changed. Ethan and I decided to have a relaxing breakfast together at the Starbucks in the REI store near our house. We had a lovely time talking about his future, his options, his trip to Thailand, etc. I am so thankful that I have the chance to have these deep, reflective conversations with my children. I had a gift card that had been given to me for my birthday, so having a free breakfast and beverages for both of us made it extra fun.

After we were done eating, we did a little shopping as I was in need of new shoes to wear to the gym. I have short, wide, hobbit-like feet, so buying shoes is never easy, fun or fashionable. I attempted to shove my foot into several pairs of shoes in the adult footwear section, but had very little luck. I did fit into a pair of shoes that had aggressive tread. I carried them around for a while and then put them back thinking that they were too much for the gym. (Now I wish that I had purchased them as they would be good for trail walking in the summer time. I may go back and look for them again. They were on the clearance rack, so who knows if they will still be available.) I was trying to talk myself into accepting the need to pay $150 for a pair of ugly shoes with a curved sole because they were the only ones I could fit my foot into. Then, just for fun, we walked over to the kids' department where I struck gold, of sorts. I was able to find fun, patterned Bogs rainboots. I also scored a pair of purple athletic shoes and a new pair of purple Tevas. Everything was on sale and so I purchased 3 pairs of shoes for the price of less than one pair at the normal price.

I spent some of the time back at home getting things picked up and in order. I took out the dead flowers from the arrangements and remade some of them anew by combining them. I spent time think about and planning for Ellie's upcoming birthday. I sort of got lost down a rabbit hole on Pinterest. Usually I am much more self limiting with how much time I spend looking at stuff, but yesterday I had fun taking a ton of ideas in.

I also went to the gym and worked out. The trainer put together a 3 day rotation plan for me which includes doing abdominal muscles every day. Yesterday I did all of the free-weight and machine exercises on my list, but I did not have enough left in me to be able to do the cardio. That made me feel bad. I simply could not get it done. So, I sat in the locker room and the shower crying for a while. I feel bad that I cannot do it all. Intellectually I know that it is not reasonable to feel like I am not doing well, that I am afraid that I am approaching failure. The emotional side of me feels the sting. When I was in high school (so very long ago) I was strong; I could lift a lot for a long time and then run for long distances. I was not fast, but I had endurance. Now I lift small amounts and I am very slow at the cardio. I know that I need to work up to it. I know that I went from doing nothing, to going to the gym fairly often. But I also know that I am afraid to fail. I have failed at trying to lose weight so many times. I don't want this to be just another time.

I also feel a bit dumb about not having figured out how to do all of the locker room stuff efficiently. I trudge over to the stall with my towel, my shampoo, my conditioner, my body wash, etc. I feel like I look like I am moving out since I am carrying so much stuff. There has got to be a better way to do this.

At this point some of the fingers on my left hand and tingly, most likely from a pinched nerve or swelling in my "funny bone" in my elbo (I will ice it this evening and see if that helps.) My ab.s are constantly sore and I feel just as fat as ever. I am glad that I am working out alone because that means that I am not slowing anyone else down with my inability to complete the program.

On the other hand, my kids and Kohlton are very supportive. They remind me that they see me as brave for taking this on. They remind me that it is not reasonable to expect that I can go from zero to sixty in one month worth of work outs. It is nice to know that my kids are supportive, instead of embarrassed. I will most likely continue to look like a Hobbit Mom, but at least I will be a more healthy one. I just have to get past my struggle with feeling like failure is lurking around the corner.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Don's Memorial and Visiting Relatives

Don's memorial was on Saturday. It was, hands down, the best memorial I have ever been part of or attended. Don lived a full life and he left behind many stories, many people who were truly bettered for having had him in his/her life. It was clear that one of the driving forces in his life was helping others realize their dream. The memorial was mostly a string of stories about Don's life, mixed in with some singing and a few passages from the bible. It was very well attended, even though a big storm was on its way. Many people sent beautiful arrangements. We served lunch and had a slide show going during the reception.
After the church reception, family and close friends returned to the house. It was full of people, laughter, activity and food. Grandpa Don and Grandma Eleanor would have been very happy. Some people played card games in the basement where they felt close to Don.
There were games and visiting on the main floor, too.
The folks from non-snowy places were happy for the storm. In fact, they had a hard time doing anything other than staring out of the window.
Most of the folks have returned home, or are on their way there. Only Truike and Jan remain. They had hoped to go to Taos, but the storm is preventing that. They are settling for a final tour of what MetroDenver has to offer. It is likely that this is their last trip to Colorado, and maybe even their last trip to the US. Our Dutch family members return to Netherland in a week.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Navy's Honoring Ceremony & Inurnment of Don's Ashes

Today we held the inurnment ceremony where Don's ashes were added to the slot where Eleanor's ashes are kept. Two men from the Navy also paid their last respects to Don by performing a special ceremony.

One officer played Taps. It is at once both beautiful, peaceful and upsetting to hear the song. Then the men performed a flag folding and presented it to Ethan.
This was an intimate family only ceremony. The funeral director shared the following poem with us as the storm clouds began gathering for the storm that will settle in on us tonight:


When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little-but not too long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me-but let me go

For this is a journey that we all must take
And each must go alone.
It's all part of the Master's plan
A step on the road to home

When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds
Miss me but let me go.

We met back at home to visit and share stories. We had some nice food and shared a warm meal. We watched more family slides. Most of these images are from the time when they lived in England, in Maiden Head and in Lime Walk. The nice house featured below is "Robin Song," the house they had built in Maiden Head. It looks like it was a glorious place to live.

Tomorrow is the actual memorial. A storm is coming in and it may impact how many people are able to attend.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Beginning of The Gathering - Doug, Laura, Truike, Jan and Marty

People have begun to arrive for Don's memorial. I find it both comforting and a bit sad that this is how it goes. While it is wonderful to have so many family members gathering, I wish that Don could have been here to be part of it. When Eleanor (my mother-in-law) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a friend gave me one of the most useful pieces of advice I have ever received. She told me to take time away from work and life to spend special time with Eleanor while she still felt good enough to be herself. And so I did. I took time off work to take a day with Eleanor and each of our kids to have one-on-one time. In the case of Grandpa Don, we had tons of time with him and many of the people who are here now, or coming soon, did see him during his last year. But still, it would have been fun to have a family reunion, even when he was sick.

Still, I've already had fun and I've already cried more.

Doug and Laura arrived on Monday.

Truike and Jan arrived from the Netherlands on Tuesday. Truike had been one of the opares that had helped out Don and Eleanor when Rex and Doug were young. When Don and Eleanor went to meet Truike at the airport for the first time, Truike was carrying the copy of THE MISTS OF AVALON that she was in the middle of reading. Eleanor was reading the same book and their life long friendship began in an instant. Truike refers to them as her "Plastic Family" (Don was a plastics engineer). Truike was closer to them than she was to her own birth parents and so this is hard on them, too. Over the years Don, Eleanor, Doug, Laura, Truike and Jan vacationed together. Jan made films of each vacation. They are dubbed "The Montana Six." I would imagine that this will be the last time we see them in America. If they come again, they would most likely go to Seattle where Doug and Laura live.

Ethan picked up Uncle Marty yesterday. Uncle Marty had been a foreign correspondent for the New York Times in his twenties. He lived in England for a very short while with Don and Eleanor after he left Africa. Marty always tells the most entertaining stories.
Today we will begin packing up some of the stuff that each of the brothers has inherited. We will also get ready for the inurnment (putting Don's ashes in the wall, next to Eleanor's) and the military honoring that goes along with that. Later today more family members will arrive. We will likely have a night of family movies. Truike and Laura are making dinner for everyone.