Monday, February 12, 2018

A New Loss, An Old Pain

A couple of weeks ago, I lost my dad.  His death didn/t really come as a surprise.  He was 86 and had been having health problems.  What was a surprise was the double hit that came when he passed.  I knew I would feel his passing.  I knew it would hit me hard, because I felt we were pretty close.  However, when he passed, it brought back nearly everything that I felt when I lost my wife.  It took me right back to LeAnne's illness and her passing.  It was very difficult to be involved in the funeral arrangements and things dealing with Dad's passing.  I suppose that we are never really as prepared for a loss like his.  I was even less prepared to relive hers.  It might not have affected me as much, but my father went through many of the same things that LeAnne did in the death process.  

I know that time will help to soften the pain.  I will miss him and I will push hard to keep myself busy.  I know from experience that I will weather it okay.  I will just keep doing what I've been doing, working hard to live up to my potential.  That is the least I can do to show my parents how grateful I am for their influence and their teachings all through my life.

Until next time,


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Unfinished Projects - Dominion

I recently finished a project that I started about16 years ago.  I was actually working on two different stories at the same time while my wife was being treated for breast cancer.  I wasn’t certain that I would ever be able to finish those stories or not.  One I was writing by hand at doctors’ offices, waiting rooms, testing centers and other places where I passed the time waiting for LeAnne’s treatments and testing.

The other story I wrote at home on my computer.  The story I just finished was the one I wrote at home.  I call it Dominion.  It is a science fiction series.  I just published the first novel in the series.  This story was what I used to defray some of the stress of work, home, and other pressures during our experiences with cancer.  It was an easy story to write, but it was very difficult to go back to finish.  Every time I tried, I found myself reliving the hard times at home.  

My intent is to finish the other series also, however, I haven’t found the courage to tackle that one yet.  That one was a little closer to the very painful moments of LeAnne’s battle. 
When I finally do go back to do that one, I’ll let you know.  

In the meantime, I feel exhilarated to have pushed past the discomfort to finally conquer that milestone.  It was nothing like clearing out the closet, or boxing her letters, still, the difficulty was similar.  To have it done, brightens my day.

Until next time, (which I hope will not take quite as long) find the light in everything, especially when finishing unfinished projects.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


It was June 2, 2007 when I lost LeAnne.  It seems like yesterday, and yet it seems forever ago.  Some years, I remember things with less intensity than I do on other years.  I’m not certain why this year has been so much more intense.  I suppose that there are a number of factors for my feelings.  This year three very good friends of mine have died or lost a spouse very recently.  Also, a local radio personality has been quite open about his sick wife on the air of his radio show.  She has a failing liver and has had many setbacks.  Each time he begins to describe the trouble she is having or the feelings he is going through, I find myself back at the struggles we had throughout LeAnne’s illness and her eventual death.

That being said, I look at my life and I see how happy I have been, I marvel that such a thing is possible.  Though as widows or widowers, we attempt to tell people what it is like to lose a spouse, there is never a way to express even a fraction of what it is like.  I once tried to express it to a friend, who told me to keep looking forward and not look back.  Forget about the past and that I would find happiness that way.

I know he meant well, but that isn’t possible to do.  I try to live in the moment.  I have made plans for the future and I work each day to improve my self and my life each day.  I search for the good things and how I can improve them, and I work to let go of anything negative.  Still, one cannot cut away their past.  It is part of them.  It is what has shaped us and what makes us who they are.  When we do not break, when we overcome those trials, they enrich and strengthen who we are.  They make us more than we were. 

Mostly I remember the good things anyway.  I think we have a tendency to forget the bad things over time.  I think that is a natural phenomenon.  Not only that, but remembering the good and the bad is a good thing.  We come to recognize and appreciate the good, the warm, the tender and pleasant, the happy, the beautiful, the love, and the priceless moments of our lives when we remember the trials that went with those good moments.  Also, we can keep ourselves from making the same mistakes.

I appreciate so much more in life because of those trials.  I find joy in very simple things.  I know from experience that I can find happiness, even in the worst situations.  I know this, because I have experienced it.  It is odd to say that during the most terrible times I have experienced, that I also found the most happiness. 

I have found greater happiness since, but it was because of what I learned during those bleak times.  I’ve learned that happiness is possible in any condition and in any circumstance.  Happiness comes from inside us and not from other sources.  It is true that we might find it easier to be happy when we are in pleasant conditions, when everything seems to be going right in our world.  However, we have all seen people who seem to have it all, and yet they are the most miserable people around. 

I love my life, and though looking back is hard, I thank the Lord each day for the experience and the things I have learned.

So until next time, Jene

Friday, May 27, 2016

Summer Life

Apricots, not Grapes! The whole tree!

It seems impossible that yet another year has passed.  Summers and Christmas seem to be the markers of years passing that I pay attention to.  It seems to me that with both, even though I know they are coming, they spring on me as if they had dropped out of an unseen airplane and suddenly landed next to me.

I always look forward to summer.  The fruit is on and it seems most of the pleasant memory makers are too.  I’m glad to see another summer, even though it also reminds me that I am probably coming to the end of the summer in my life.  Summers remind me that life goes on.  It also reminds me, that most of life is warm and inviting.  No matter how long winter seems to last, summer eventually comes and life seems wonderful.

I hope your summer is great.  Well, it’s time to get back to my fruit.  My apricots are one I that truly enjoy, and you would not believe how many I have already eaten.  Between the dog and I, we must have already eaten more than all the other apricots we have gotten from that tree in all the years past combined.  I think the dog has slowed down a bit, but I’m still eating all I can.

I love it. 

Until next time, Jene.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tender Reminders

My wife and I were at a movie the other day.  It was a movie that we enjoyed very much.  It was based on a true story.  There were many touching scenes.  However, near the end of the movie, a very troubling scene came, where we watched in horror as the husband was killed in an accident.  We had not been prepared for that.  I could tell that my wife also took a gasping breath.  We were holding hands at the time.  Our grip tightened.  We sat white knuckled after that, as the movie played out, in a very mild way, what the new widow and her family were experiencing in the aftermath.

I was very troubled by how the film made me feel.  It brought everything back as though it was yesterday.  Even though the story being portrayed was not how I lost my wife, it took me back to that moment once more.  It also brought back all the fears and stress that I felt back then.  It took several moments before I could breathe relaxed again.  After we left the theater, my wife and I talked about it.  I knew that she had been as affected as I had been.  Her husband had also died of cancer.  Our shared experience has given both of us insights into how we each have felt over the years we’ve been together.  I was glad that she understood my feelings so well. 

The memory of the feelings I had from watching the film stayed with me through the following day, but it made me grateful for this woman I found to share my life with.  Today I find myself grateful for life, for family, and for love.  I am especially grateful for the experiences that have given me the greater appreciation for what is truly important.  God, family and friends out weigh anything else about this life.

Thanks Deb, for love and a more meaningful life.  Thank you family and friends for your love and support.

Until next time, Jene

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Instant Memories

Two weeks ago, a young boy just 4 years old died of pneumonia.  He was an extended family member to a couple of families who are friends of ours.  As they described the young boy’s suffering, unexpectedly it took me back to that evening nearly seven years ago when I lost my wife.

I was rather shocked at how clearly and detailed I could remember that evening of loss.  I thought because it had been seven years ago, that things like this young boy’s passing, though very sad, wouldn’t instantly put me right back at the bedside of my suffering wife and the children who so desperately wanted her to remain with us.  It was as if I was reliving the whole experience once more.  I tried to remain silent as my friend described the scene of their loss.

Fortunately, enough time had passed and I had learned to deal with the loss well enough that the melancholy that had overshadowed me did not last.  Still, I was affected.  It occurs to me that we are never really over a loss like that, but we do learn to deal with it. 

The evening they shared their experience, I went home and listened to Christmas music and wrote a few letters.  The next day I spoke briefly about it with my wife, who has also lost a husband to cancer.  She understood my feelings about what had happened. 

I wasn’t about to tell my friends that I knew what they were going through, because I don’t.  Just like they have no idea about the experiences I had when I suffered my loss.  All I could do was to silently listen and offer my support afterward.  I remember the many who had lost significant people in their lives doing the same for me.  Until we go through such an experience, it is easy to assume that we can imagine what it would feel like to suffer that kind of loss.  From experience, there is no way.  Not only is every situation different, but each person is different.  We all handle things differently also.

For those of us who have lost, who are brought back to those memories through the experiences of others, all I can say is, take a breath and do what we can to remember the good things.  Then, like we do each day, press on the best we can while trying to find the good around us.  Each day is ours to make our lives better.

I am glad that I have such a good support system in place.  I lean heavily upon my wife.  We have learned to comfort and support each other during these times of remembrances.  I hope you have loved ones close for you also.  Friends and family can ease those moments of pain.  I also work to use this season of celebration to remember the special times and I also work to cheer others.  That also seems to help me.

Until next time.

I don’t normally do this with this blog, but I thought I would share a bit of humor with you this time.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Hi, my name’s RD, and I’ve got all the advice you’re ever going to need about The Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner!

Holy cow!  What a day it’s been around here today.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a Thanksgiving like this one.  A few years ago I tried to make turkey dinner for the family, but it turned out that the food was spoiled, and couldn’t be eaten.  Well, there is a famous saying that goes, if you fall off a horse, you should tranquilize it and it won’t buck you off again.  So I thought I would give it another chance.  I wasn’t going to, because of the curing I had to get last time, but when the Mrs. took sick, and I found out the mother-in-law was having to come to care for her, I couldn’t ask the older woman to see to our dinner. 

As soon as Dorothy and Henry got there, I could see that he had been half starved to death.  He was also asking to see my workshop.  How could I refuse?  I gave him the grand tour of the place.  I could see that he was truly impressed.  He kept raising his eyebrows.  He even coughed when I showed him my fishing supplies.  He kept looking at the four cases of dynamite, and I was suddenly embarrassed that I had so little left.  After our tour, I heard the Mrs. say that she couldn’t possibly eat.  She said that nothing sounded good to her. 

Well I knew my duty, and I knew what would put that kind of talk silent.  I knew we would all be especially hungry.  After all, it was Thanksgiving.  I knew the Mrs. would be starved anyway.  She hadn’t eaten for two days.  So Henry and I went out shopping.  We got half dozen turkeys, some cases of dressing, and cases of gravy and a pickup load of potatoes, and we put the son and the grand kids to work peeling potatoes.  Henry and I began mixing stuff.  I let him do most of that, it made him happy.  In the meantime, I got the old bathtub propped up over a good blazing fire over the grease pit, and began to pour the water and potatoes into it. 

Before long, the whole neighborhood was smothered in the smell of food cooking.  The neighbor thought we had a swimming pool, and brought his hose with the water running.  I had to disappoint him on that matter.  It was Thanksgiving, so we invited him and his family, along with the neighbors on the other side of us, who were yelling, hoping not to be left out.  Before long, I was starting to wonder if we had gotten enough food.  Several other neighbors had come over, along with the fire department, and a few police officers.  (They must not get a lot of dinner offers, and I hated to see them go hungry, on Thanksgiving of all days.)

Well, we were doing just fine, until the bottom of the bathtub melted out, and doused the fire with water from the potatoes.  I never knew that fire could float before, but it does.  I know because I saw it.  It floated over to the neighbor’s house, and to the fire engine, and to the four police cars too.  It floated down the street, to the apple orchard, and down to the pumpkin patch.  Everyone started to scatter quickly.  I think they were all worried about missing out on the baked apples down the street.  By the time the food was done, everyone was back.  We dug out a few boards and bricks, and made five or six picnic tables, and everyone settled down and ate, as they watched the floating fire continue to burn.  Even the Mrs. came out to eat and watch.  She didn’t act like she was hungry, but she was eating anyway.

The whole thing was nearly perfect, dinner, a show, and lots of friends, and guests to share it with, but I had no idea just how much better it could be.  Someone from over the back fence got bored.  They climbed over the fence, and began to scream at the fire, and squirted it with the neighbor’s hose, and the fire began to float back into the back of the shop.  Well, when it hit the fishing tackle, boy oh boy, things began to pop then. 

When the dynamite went up it was spectacular.  Suddenly the back of the shop was on the roof of the neighbor’s house, and the sparks and flame gave us all a really good show.  It made me feel good when the neighbor remarked that it was the most spectacular thing he had ever lived through.  He claimed that living next to me and being able to say that he had lived through it, was saying a lot.  My head was so swollen from all that praise that I could barely contain myself.
The fire chief agreed and added that in his thirty years of fire fighting, he had never seen anything quite like it.  He was amazed that there had only been three homes, and seven cars destroyed in the blaze, and could hardly wait to get the other engine there.  I wasn’t certain how that would make any difference to the food, or the light show, but I wasn’t going to argue with a man who had such glowing opinions of me.
My other next door neighbor said he would never forget that thanksgiving for the rest of his life.  He claimed to have the whole thing on video.  Even I was amazed at how good it was as I watched it play out over the internet.  It brought a tear to my eye, when the son said, “Something like this could only be done by my dad.”
It only took a couple of bulldozers and a few dump trucks about four hours to clean up what was left.  Dorothy seemed to be the only one who didn’t enjoy every moment of it.  She told Henry that he should have done something.  When I tried to explain that he had helped me immensely.  He kept telling everyone that he hadn’t done a thing.  He is always so polite, and humble. 

When it was all done, the police officer told me that I had really outdone myself that time, and gave me a set of bracelets to wear for a while, along with a ride down town.  He let me pay for all the fun I had had and he was going to send me to some camp, where I could pass on all my knowledge.  When I mentioned that I could teach them that much and a great deal more, they thought the boys there probably knew enough already, and didn’t want them to know anymore.  So they sent me back home.  I thought that it was too bad that I wouldn’t be sharing my vast knowledge, but then, I hadn’t had any baked apples yet, and I figured the pumpkins should have been done by then too.  Yes, what a day?

So take my advice, really go all out for Thanksgiving this year.  Invite the neighborhood, invite all your public servants, in fact you might as well invite the whole town.  As soon as they see your neighbors house flaming up in celebration, they’ll be over anyway.  You should just invite them, and they won’t have to wait for an excuse.  What a perfect day. 

© Copyright 2007 by Jene Beal
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Blues

    The holidays are here again.  Thanksgiving marks the beginning of what most of us think of as the warmest time of the year.  The temperature outside can dip, but the internal warming that we experience, seems to radiate stronger during this time of year.  This warming comes from the relationships we have with family and friends.  It is a special time when we can gather as families and renew those loving feelings we have for each other.
However, for some of us, the holidays can be a bitter-sweet experience.  We notice the loss of our loved ones more profoundly during these times, because those we miss would be a large part of our holiday experience.  The worst feelings of loss can be felt during those quiet moments when memories of past holidays unavoidably present themselves as we listen to music, look at the decorations, eat the food and notice our other loved ones who are visiting. 
We don’t have to turn these memories into something bad. I know first hand, that we can be saddened even by what should be pleasant memories.  Some memories are sought after just to keep us sane. 
As for myself, I love to remember all of those important moments of the past, even what some would call the bad times.  It helps remind me about the blessings I have received.  I love to feel the warmth of the season and the feelings that it gives me to remember.  What I hate is the emptiness that comes from missing the ones who are no longer there.
I have found that it helps me when I focus on those special people who are still here.  It doesn’t drive that emptiness completely away, but it helps to fill my heart with love for more of those who are important to me.  That alone seems to get me through the holidays and still helps me feel connected to the holiday.  Without those feelings of love, the holidays would feel flat and lifeless.  Then, it would be easy to forget, that this part of the year is anything more than just colder.
It might be true that the holidays create the most feelings of depression than any other time of the year.  I suppose it is the time of year when we focus upon our feelings more.  I suppose we notice our loneliness more during this time of year.  We might be noticing our failings more as well among the other problems in our lives.  Regardless of our reasons of malaise, some find more pain than joy within this time of year.
To battle the emptiness of any situation, I have found that the more I am involved in something, the more happy and more upbeat I become about it.  If I will force myself into the season and I make myself busy serving people, going to programs, watching related movies, listening to music, decorating, trying to surprise or do something special for my loved ones, or even write a story about the season, I feel much better.  The missing of loved ones never goes away, but the creation of new memories for the future and the living in the “here and now,” soon overpowers the emptiness I feel.
I am so grateful for Debbie and my children and grandchildren for helping me remember how fun and wonderful this time of year can really be.  Though I am never out of touch with the loss of LeAnne, I am not crippled from it, and I do look forward to the holiday season.  It wasn't always so.
So for this Thanksgiving holiday, I’ll eat heartily, hug my loved ones, and let myself remember the good times, all while working hard to create better memories for next year.  If this next year follows the pattern of the years before, next year will be even shorter.  So it will be less time until we have to be involved in the holidays again next year.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Now where’s the turkey?
Until next time,