Monday, July 11, 2011


I woke up this morning in tears with the Gershwin song "They Can't Take That Away from Me" in my head.  I had been dreaming about my Grandpaw, and in the dream was telling people some of my favorite memories about him.

If you knew my Grandpaw, when you thought of him you thought of music.  He was a high school band director for many years and loved teaching music.  Grandpaw was also an amazing jazz pianist and had several jazz bands that he was involved with--some were hilariously titled: Short Stuff (as he was the tallest in the group at around not much over 5 feet tall) and Grumpy Old Men.  As a wedding gift to me, he had his trio "Jazzin" do music at my reception and my dad & I danced while he played a song that he wrote for me when I was born.  He also introduced me to a lot of wonderful music--I learned about Gershwin from him as well as Jose & Astrud Gilberto, Blossom Dearie, and Karyn Allison (most people may not know bout the last ones but they are wonderful!).  He really instilled a love for music in my mother and us.

Here is a video my brother took at Grandpaw's apartment when he & my sister visited w/my mom.  He was really amazing!

Grandpaw also greatly influenced our love of reading.  As my mom & her sister are going through his apartment they have really seen what was important to him.  He lived in a small little place--most of which was taken up by his baby grand piano in the living room--and he didn't have a lot of stuff, but he had hundreds of books & jazz CDs.  I remember as a child he was always a member of book clubs and loved to buy us new books for our birthdays & holidays. 

He also had a wonderful sense of humor.  As children we loved looking through his Far Side books and as an adult I was really able to appreciated his stories & laughter.  He loved to go on cruises & he always told animated stories about the people  he was there with.  He had the best laugh too--I hope I never forget it.

He loved fishing as well and before he got his trach he really enjoyed deep sea fishing.  He had several of his best catches mounted and I remember as a child reaching up to touch the fish on the walls--their teeth & gills were so sharp!  He also had a sailfish that he had caught mounted and every Christmas he would decorate it with colored lights instead of having a Christmas tree.

pictures from a Grumpy Old Men performance last summer:

 Grandpaw with my mom & her sister--his two daughters

with my sister, brother, and myself--his grandkids
 the whole family:

Grandpaw's death was somewhat expected--in fact, it's a bit of a miracle that he made it as long as he did! In the last 10 or so years he has had multiple heart surgeries, survived throat cancer and multiple surgeries for that (resulting in a tracheotomy to help him communicate), and a few years ago (right around the time of my Granny's passing--Granny was dad's mom, Grandpaw was mom's dad) he was diagnosed with an aortic aneurism and congestive heart failure. We were told that basically he could drop dead at any moment.

The weekend before he passed was Father's day & he had been in the hospital for his heart but was doing much better.  My mom & Dad & I drove to Paducah to spend the afternoon with him, and I'm so glad we did!  He was in great spirits and was feeling well--we had lunch together & he joked around and we all laughed as if everything was normal. In fact, he was doing so well that he was released the next day to go home.  Then on the morning of June 23 my mom called at about 2:45am b/c Grandpaw was back in the hospital and they said he probably wouldn't make it.  My dad was in Colorado, sister in Japan, and brother in New York.  Mom is still unable to drive long distances due to her ankle break so I rushed to her house to drive her to say goodbye to her father.  Sadly, as she was locking the door to her house to get in my car she got the call from her sister that he had passed.  It was a tough drive, but I am so thankful that I was able to be there for my mom during that time.  We made it to Paducah shortly after 5 am and sat with his body in his hospital room with my Aunt Kelly and eventually Grandpaw's sister & her husband. He wanted to be cremated so we have been able to take time with the arrangements & it will allow for my brother to be back f/m New York and for many of Grandpaw's friends to come in for the Memorial service.

I don't know if this is weird to say, but I'm somewhat excited about the service. The service will reflect his love of music, life, & friends.  His bandmates and friends from back to college will be there and many will play music there.  It should be a wonderful celebration of his life.

 I am so thankful to have been blessed to have him in my life.  There are so many wonderful memories as we reflect on our time with him and I will miss him a lot.  It is a sad feeling to have no more grandparents.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My bodygaurd

We are dog-sitting for my parent's golden retriever Autumn while they spend a few days in Paducah going through Grandpa's things and handling the details that come with the passing of a loved one. 

Butch is always super excited about visits from Autumn--they are bffs and both get excited by the mere mention of the other's name.  

enjoying the finer things in life...aka licking the baking bowls

partner's in crime

Kitty & Autumn hate each other.  Since we have had Kitty, visits from Autumn have meant that he hides in a room or leaves the house and refuses to come home b/c she is so big and scary to him.
 this is the typical reaction
 kitty is NOT a fan.

Until today that is.

Lately Kitty has been especially lovey and attached to me, which can be annoying when he wants to follow me into the bathroom, but is mostly just sweet.  So today when Autumn showed up and was jumping around with joy and greeting me I expected Kitty to bolt.  Instead, he went into full-on attack, hissing and brandishing those scary claws.  I scooped him up and took him into the bedroom w/me for a nap since I had woken up at 3:30.  He had cuddled up next to me but we could hear Autumn whining to get into the room which I had blocked off with a laundry basket.  Next thing I know, I hear all these animal feet scrambling around on the floor and Autumn screaming in pain.  I separated the pets and thought nothing of it.  

I put Kitty on top of the kitchen table, then sat down on an ottoman to pet Butch & Autumn & check for scratches.  Autumn started to get excited and try to put her paws on my shoulders, and the next thing I know, Kitty has bolted across the room and attacked Autumn again!  Then Butch jumps up next to me and he goes after her too!

I spent about 30 minutes trying to sit calmly petting Autumn and Butch and telling Kitty that they are "good dogs" and "friends" and showing him that I was fine.  I have to speak very calmly and quietly or he thinks they are a threat to me and goes into attack mode.  I feel really bad for Autumn, she is slinking behind me or hiding out of Kitty's view, and he has taken to sitting on any nearby table so that he has the upper hand, giving Autumn the stink eye if she starts to get too hyper.  It's quite the change of attitude between the pets, but I gotta say that I'm feeling pretty loved by my little Kitty friend.  Just gotta make sure to protect the pups.
I've been silent over here for a bit, but things in life have been very active.  Quick update:
  • I saw my doctor about the sleep problems.  It was a fiasco that ended up w/me on a ridiculous psychosomatic drug which really messed w/my head, then I found out that most of my problems could have been caused by side-effects of other medication my doctor had me on.  I quit taking all the crazy drugs and have been taking melatonin & vitamins only and am now sleeping pretty darn well!  Have another appt. w/the doctor to discuss the fiasco aspect b/c I am not happy.
  • My dear sweet grandpa died.  For several years we've known that it could be coming at any moment (he had an aortic aneurism & congestive heart failure).  Thankfully it came quickly and without suffering, and a few days after we had gone to visit him for Father's day.  Very thankful for that last time with him when he was feeling well & in good spirits.  I plan to write more on this later.
  • My dear sweet friend Lacey is back from Africa!  I never expected to get so much time with her when she came back and it has warmed my heart and revived my soul :)  Kindred spirits are the best :)
  • I am co-leading a summer Bible study for students who are in town and it has been almost always primarily college boys.  And they are so precious!  There is nothing to make you feel appreciated as a cook like feeding a group of college boys :)
  • Butch & Kitty seem to be getting  fatter...
  • I am hoping to get skinnier.  I have worked hard all summer to NO PROGRESS (except for newly-developed calf muscles) but after learning about the crazy meds I've seen that they all cause weight gain, and since stopping my appetite has severely decreased. (Yay!) Hoping this kicks things into the right spot.
  • Hubs challenged our 14 year old niece to a "foot race" on the 4th of July to see who was faster.  He was faster...until he fell.  Racing a group of kiddos.  And skinned his hand and knee.  *facepalm*  Surprisingly, this is one of those few things that he is not too embarrassed about to have me put on the internets.  He says "all that matters is that I am fastest...I may not be able to run as long, but I'm fastest".  I never know if I am married to an 80 year old man or a 9 year old boy.  Definitely doesn't ever act his real age (27).