Loretta's Countdown to 60

Aging on my terms - Daily musings in 500 words or so

Tag: death

Amazing Grace by John P. Gavin

When John went back home to get me clean clothes after my accident, he gathered my things and sat outside for a few moments. He told me he was so proud of me and how gracefully I handled the situation and that he sang, “Amazing Grace” for me.

That is how he came to the title of this post.

Amazing Grace

When I was 10, my Aunt came to live with us.

That may not seem like a big deal; but since my family is from Ireland, it meant she had to travel about five thousand miles to do so.

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Beats the alternative… (repost)

I’m sorry, but getting older sucks.

Yes, I know, you hear so many of us touting that it’s wonderful and amazing and enlightening and empowering but in all honesty, I’d take my 20 something year old body, over my 58-year-old body any day.

The other day, I plucked a black hair off my chin that was at least an inch long! First, how did that happen? And secondly, how did I not see it until it was an inch long? I think the biggest reason our near-sightedness gets worse as we age, is so we don’t see that sort of thing on our partner’s face.

That and all the wrinkles.

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A Love Story

Right after John asked me to be his girlfriend, he wrote this column for the newspaper. It is still one of my favorites. (You might want to grab a tissue for this one).

A Love Story

My Mom and Dad were married for a very long time.

And it can happen – when a man has been married for a long time – that he becomes a bit low-key in the ways he shows his wife how special she is to him. After enough years of marriage we guys can misplace our flare for the dramatic, and we can underwhelm when just the opposite is called for.

Upon the approach of my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary I think that might have been where Dad was headed. Not that that would have been an unforgivable thing, just the opposite really. Mom would have been happy with whatever he did – but then she’s like that. She was happy to be married to the man she loved – if he remembered an important date, well, that was icing on the cake.  Continue reading

Filling in the blanks

Do you ever wonder what it was like for your parents when they were kids? I don’t think about my dad’s youth as much as I do my mom’s. That’s probably because she was the rule-maker of our home.

And the enforcer too.

When I was a kid, I didn’t think about or care what made her the way she was, I was more concerned with ducking her flip-flop as she tried to swat me with it for not doing what I was told.

But as an adult, I have to wonder what it was like for her growing up in that little farmhouse in Michigan with four brothers and three sisters.

She was born in the spring of 1924, unless you go by what her headstone reads. Not sure how that happened, but it’s off by a year. She was the second child of eight, in a home that would soon be crowded.  Continue reading

If the Truth Hurts Then Shouldn’t it Come With a Warning Label?

After John and I had our one and only romantic evening, he was still texting me and sending me his columns, but all of a sudden he didn’t have time to meet for coffee or play tennis or get together at all.

So I got busy with my own life and plans and let John figure out his own issues.

Column 22 – If the Truth Hurts Then Shouldn’t it Come With a Warning Label?

(One of the things Loretta and I had in common was our love of family – we sort of lived for our kids. Continue reading

Dear little girl…

Tomorrow is a big day for me.

I don’t mean in the sense that something exciting is happening, or I’ve got a bunch of big plans. More in the way of it’s a calendar date that I never forget and always reflect on.

It was August 3, 1970 when the world changed for me. And for the last 48 years, it’s August 3rd that I still feel the pain of that day and our loss.

I know there are a whole lot of you reading this now, that know exactly how I feel. Losing a parent, especially when you are a child, is something you never fully “get over”.   Continue reading

Pieces of the puzzle, part two

…continued from Pieces of the Puzzle

After yesterdays post it took three siblings and me to piece together the sequence of events from that time. I was off by a year. The years following our mother’s death was a blur of disappointment.

But it was 3am Christmas morning, 1971 that our father called my sister Janet downstairs to take him to the hospital. She was just 16 and the only one at home with a driver’s license.  Continue reading

Pieces of the puzzle

I’m learning that my life is analogous to a big jigsaw puzzle. All of the pieces are there, but not together. And to make it even more difficult, I don’t have a picture to go off.

Photo by Hans Peter Gauster

Photo courtesy of Hans Peter Gauster

You are helping me find the picture. Continue reading

Thin Ice

I know I’m supposed to be over this, and it’s probably silly that I’m not, but I don’t know how to let it go. I’ll try to explain what it’s like, maybe you will be able to understand or relate.

I feel like I’m always on ice. That I’m standing on a frozen lake going about my day. Most of the time, the ice is thick and supports me and I am fine. There are times when I’m skating and happy and laughing. Some of the time, it’s a bit slippery and I fall or lose my balance.

And then every once in a while, the ice cracks and I fall through in an instant. I can’t breath, it’s ice cold and I’m scared to death. A few seconds later I realize the water is only three feet deep and all I have to do is stand up.

That’s when I get embarrassed and feel ashamed that I’ve acted like a child. There’s no need to cry or be afraid, it’s just a little cold water, stand up, you’re fine Loretta.

Do you ever feel like you are on thin ice?

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Would you trade time for money?

Two things start to stand out most, as I get closer to 60.

Time and Money

I’m going to run out of time, there’s no getting out of that one. And, will I have enough money to live comfortably during that time? Better yet, what could I do with enough money to help other people?

So, I  have a couple of questions for you to ponder: 

 

            If you were given a million dollars today with the stipulation that you would have to give up the last ten years of your life, would you do it?

           If so, why?

Would you trade time for money?

The Day The World Changed – published version

I am very honored that this story was published in Better After 50.

I had to edit the original post to meet the word count of under 750, so I hope you enjoy this version.

I am very proud of this one…

The Day My World Change

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I’m beginning to see a pattern

If I could only use one word to describe 1980 it would be: change.

So much happened for me in that year. I turned 21, I lost my brother, Mount St Helen’s erupted, I got married, and I got a new best friend.

I shared with you the story of turning 21 and losing my brother in an early post. Johnny died May 15, 1980, and Mount St. Helen’s erupted May 18th. It was a big deal for most of the country, and especially for those of us close enough to experience some of the ash fallout.

That day was also the 30th birthday of my new best friend, Laurie. She and her husband were close friends of Joseph’s and it was natural for her and I to become friends. What I wasn’t expecting was how close we would become.

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Fucking newspaper clipping

Yesterday I shared my memory of my brother’s death.

I never thought about writing about what actually happened to Johnny that day. But for the people who don’t know the story, I figured it wouldn’t be fair to leave you hanging.

I have this bin in the garage that is filled with old photos and scrapbooks that I keep digging through to help me remember the stories I post. I month or so ago I found the newspaper clipping from Johnny’s death.

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Life Changes – Part Two

May 15, 1980 was a bright sunny Thursday in Bend. We had just returned from Lake Tahoe earlier that week and were still smiling and talking about the fun time we’d had as we both got ready for work.

Joseph and I decided to meet back at home to have lunch together, and as lunchtime rolled around I raced home. I made sandwiches and as I was coming around the corner from the kitchen with my plate and soda in hand, the phone rang.

I put my 7up down and answered the call with my free hand. The voice on the other end was barely recognizable. I stood there listening to the words that were coming through the telephone line and holding the plate with my sandwich on it, not being able to comprehend what I was hearing.

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Jump in, the water’s fine

The other day I shared a blog post called A Look Inside. I wrote about feeling off that day, and shared that I spent the day trying to understand why. I got a lot of very nice feedback on it, and several people shared some of their off moments with me too.

I like that so many people have commented and shown support. And I’m using several different platforms to share my blog, in hopes to reach people who can either relate, or just find my stories interesting.

I am also learning as I go, which is sort of the point of the blog. You know, reach 60 and be wise, healthy, happy and content. One thing I’m learning is that there is a bias towards sharing one emotion: Happiness.

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The shape of things to come

My husband loves to tell me stories of friends from school, even as far back as kindergarten. I am always amazed he can remember so much from so long ago.

I don’t recall much of my grade school years. Except in second grade, my older brother David had a hearing issue and was held back the prior year, so he was now in second grade with me. He hated that, especially when people would ask if we were twins.

The first day of sixth grade stands out clearly. It was a month after our mom died, and I think I was nervous about getting ready for school without Mom’s help. I’m not sure if my sister fixed my hair, of if I did. I don’t recall what I was wearing.

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How to transform yourself

Yesterday I shared the story of the day my mother died. And, if you’ve been reading any of my posts, you know I grew up on a farm. It was after my mother’s death that I realized there was a whole different world out there.

The first time I remember my Aunt Ruth, was at mom’s funeral. She was my mother’s sister and had a very different life than mom. She lived in a big house in the city and came down with her husband to be there for the service.

The moment I saw her, I was immediately in awe. She had blonde hair and wore makeup, and looked nothing like my mother. She was stylish too, in her well-fitted red dress. After the service everyone came back to our house for food and condolences. My sister and I were showing Ruth around the farm, and when she got near one of the cows she got pretty skittish. She thought the “bull” was going to charge her because she was wearing red. We giggled at that one. She was definitely not a farm woman.

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The Day the World Changed

I would like to dedicate today to August 3, 1970. This is a repost from a while back.

The Day the World Changed

My brothers, Johnny and David and I used to play Cowboys & Indians on the farm in Michigan where we grew up. It never seemed to fail that they were the cowboys and I was the Indian. I had a make shift bow and some sticks for arrows. They had toy guns and sometimes even the kind that had rolled up red paper with actual gunpowder on it that would pop when fired. My arrows didn’t really fly and I usually felt a bit overwhelmed by the cowboys and their cap guns.

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Hard choices

I’m going to write about something I know nothing about.

I get a bit melancholy this time of year. It’s the time of year that leads up to the anniversary of my mother’s death. Naturally, she is on my mind a lot. I wonder what it was like for her when she was a young mother and had some hard choices to make.

My mom met a young soldier and as things can go, got pregnant as a teenage girl. I don’t know what the circumstances were, but she never married him. Instead, she had her baby boy and her parents helped raise him.

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When Mom isn’t Mommy

My family worked together picking cherries each summer for a local farmer in Michigan where I grew up. We would all get up before dawn, sleepily getting dressed and then get right into the car. Our mom would hand us pint mason jars of hot cocoa with cheerios in them. A few minutes later we were working in the orchards.

One sunny July day in 1970 Mom was sick and needed to stay home, and I was tasked to watch over her. I was upset that I was the one tasked with watching over her. I remember standing near the clothesline playing with a stick or something; muttering to myself that she wasn’t that sick, and how come we couldn’t be with the rest of the family.

She died the next week.

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