Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Goodbye Gram

Well, I got the phone call last night. Actually, it was about 12:45 this morning. I should say, mom called, but I didn't hear the phone until the last ring and thought it was my imagination.
My beloved grandmother, Ruth Elizabeth Chaddick, passed away at about 12:30 am today. According to Mom it was quick and painless. Her breathing had been labored all day. Mom did get to tell her she loved her one last time earlier in the morning. Around midnight they were sure it would be soon. Very shortly thereafter Gram made a few vocalizations and then slipped away.
She is at peace.
Mom is mostly at peace.
So am I.
It's been tough, but I honestly think that both Mom and I have been doing bits and pieces of grieving over the last few weeks. We knew the end was coming, so we could prepare for it. It was tough for me in St. Croix because I was at the beach and knew it would be the last time I called her from the sand. But that's OK. Seeing her last Monday was tough because I was pretty sure it would be the last time. But that's OK. She's out of pain, she was ready to go, and now she's in peace.
The memorial service will be held next Wednesday at where she lived. Mom and the pastor had set it all up yesterday, figuring that the end would have come by then. Gram had pretty much written it herself over the last few years, giving Mom material from other services she'd liked. It all just came together on its own.
The picture above is from Gak's and my wedding two years ago now. It's the most recent picture I have and how I want to remember her. She was a feisty, strong, smart, kind and wonderful woman. She taught me so many things and gave me so many tools; not just the wonderful gift of her crochet hooks or buying me a new sewing machine last year when we moved. She taught me through her actions to be strong, stick up for myself and that I can do just about anything if I really want to. In many senses of the word, she is my hero.
I will miss you horribly, but you will always be a part of me and have made me a much stronger person.
Peace to all and may you have special people in your lives.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Quick Update

Just a quick little update as things are a bit hectic around here.
Gram is dying. (No news there...) As in, we weren't sure she was going to make it through the night. We're not heading to Md yet, as she's still with us and I feel like I got my chance to say goodbye to her last Monday. Mom told Jon it was up to him when he decides to come out. He's been told he can take the time he needs. I emailed him to let him know I'll be able to pick him up from the airport whenever he gets in.
Another family friend has passed. Dillard A. Stradley, better known as Strad, passed away this morning. Mom and I are both surprised that he's lasted this much longer than Pat. I'm pretty sure I posted about her passing last October. Strad's been in bad shape for a very long time. This is definitely a release. He, well both him and Pat, were very important to my Gram and to my Mom. Mom grew up with their kids almost as siblings in many ways. It was always the Stradleys plus Ruth and Susie. I will miss him.
Can I tell you I'm sick of saying goodbye? I thought about it a bit this morning. If 2007 has been the year of death and loss, that can only mean that 2008 is the year of birth and new beginnings right? Right? Please, someone tell me I'm right...
Lastly, and probably the most positive, my friend Steve who got home from Iraq a few weeks back is receiving his own command. The ceremony is today up in New York. Kat, Scott and some others are going. This means I get to watch Zoe tonight. (Oh, darn, I have to spend time with my niece!)
Well, I've got a mountain of paperwork to climb so that if Mom calls, I can just turn off the computer and bolt. Yes, I will keep you posted. It may be a little delayed, but I will keep you posted.
Peace to all and may you not be living on eggshells.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Belated Birthdays and Other Odities

First off, a few belated birthday wishes. Dad's birthday was last week, while I was in St. Croix. Mine was yesterday. I don't think either one of us did much of anything. I know had the luxury of being able to spend the day in my PJs. I had plans for more productive and fun things, but I didn't get to any of them. Happy early birthday to my friend Ed, who's birthday is the 27th and Abi on the 30th. (She's exactly 51 weeks older than me. I have no idea what their plans are.
I'm not sure why, but I just haven't felt like blogging the last few weeks. I guess I'm just tired of everything. I haven't really had much positive to say and there's only so much down I feel like typing. I'm just really looking forward to the holidays and the new year.
I know I had something interesting to say when I sat down to write. Somehow, it seems to have left my brain. Maybe because it's past my bed time. I'm actually looking forward to being in the office the next two weeks. I've got a metric ton of work to get done before the quarterly training in Florida. I haven't had a whole lot of help from anyone on this this year, and it shows. I've also got a lot of work that needs to be done by the end of the year, I just hope I can get there from here. No matter what anyone else says, I just don't feel like I've been at the top of my game this year at work. Amazingly enough though, no one else seems to think so. I guess, as usual, I expect too much of myself. Nothing new or unusual there, just ask my Dad.
Ok. I'm really just rambling. I'm going to log off now and get some sleep.
Peace to all and may your days be good.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgivin

I know... Thanksgiving is just about over. I just didn't get around to posting before.
Today Mom took the day off. She didn't want to see anyone, go anywhere or do anything. I don't blame her. She's been running herself ragged. That and I'm sure everything that's going on with Gram is really beginning to weigh heavily on her, no matter how much in recent week's she's said it hasn't.
So, Gak and I went over to Kat's today. I made a loaf of honey whole wheat bread (in the bread machine) and an apple crisp. She made just about everything else. Zoe was with her daddy this evening, but we had Kat's mom, Scott and his parents, Steve and even Stewart showed up. It was a good meal and good friends. We all had some laughs and enjoyed ourselves. We all ate too much.
It was a little odd not being with my parents today. I've only ever done that once before, the year I spent in Oklahoma. Then, like today, I spent it at a friend's house that time with a lot of other 'refugees' who didn't have a 'home' to go to or weren't able to get there. It meant a lot at the time, although I didn't stay close friends with any of the people there for long. I've lost contact with all of the people who were there that day. Gak was home with his parents, so he wasn't at that gathering.
Anyhow, that was an odd trip down memory lane, or at least past it. I hope everyone had a good day, with good food, good friends and good times. Peace to all and may we all remember to be thankful for all the wonderful things in our lives.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Picture Time! (or not...)

Ok. I promised you all pictures on Sunday. I finally had a chance to download the pictures from the camera, clean them up and pick the best. You can see everything I thought worth sharing over on my Flickr. Unfortunately, Blogger is having issues when I try and insert pictures. I guess you'll just have to go over to Flicker. *Sigh* I really wanted to share them here!

Yesterday Gak and I went down to Maryland to help get Gram's apartment in order. It's a long task and will probably take Mom several more weekends. She's not pushing herself to get it done. Sure, it'll cost us (Gram) more money the longer we take, but that's not the big concern right now. Parts of the day were hard. Shortly after getting there the three of us went down to Gram's new room to visit. They all sang Happy Birthday to me (it's Friday) and she gave me a little gift and a card. I didn't read the card out loud. I'm not sure I could have. The gift was a little angel (not angle) from her collection. She and Mom have gone through her huge collection and have decided who will get which one for Christmas this year. I know that when she does go, I'll have my own angel looking down on me.
Gak and I also decided we'd inherit the dining room furniture as well as the good dishes and a few other things. We found some real treasures, at least to me. We found some of Gram's old Girl Scout membership cards from when she was young. Scouts was something very important in my life and she always encouraged me in it, so these were really special to me. Mom's going to gather them and some other Scout stuff she's found and frame it all together. It'll look great. I also came home with a foot stool that Bill Baumgardner made at Log Cabin Hill ages ago, a few mugs and something else even more special.
Gram is the one who taught me to crochet when I was about 7 or 8. She taught me how to do needlepoint with plastic canvas when I was about 5 or 6. She always has encouraged me in my crafty explorations. She's always claimed that she's a very good technician, but not much of an artist. Artist or not, when I was little, what she did was magic! Mom found in her sewing things the little red vinyl zipper pouch I remember from childhood. In it was about 30 or 40 crochet hooks of various sizes and styles. There were also a few yarn needles for weaving in ends. I will treasure them for ever. I know it makes her happy that I've picked up the hooks again. I think of her often as I'm hooking along. Just one of the many ways she'll always be with me.

Well, I've got to go pick up Gak from work, and then I'm probably going to crash. I've got some odds and ends to do tomorrow to get ready for Thanksgiving. This year Mom it completely taking the day off. Gak and I are going to Kat's for dinner and Mom and Dad are having sandwiches. I don't blame her, she hasn't had a day off in almost a year practically with everything that's been going on.
Peace to all and may you have pictures that post and a loving connection to the past.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Week in Review...

For starters, I'm sorry I didn't write this week. I wanted to, I have lots to say, I just didn't have a working connection on my trip.
To St. Croix.
No, I didn't really try all that hard to get a working connection.

And I know this won't sound nice to any of you, but yesterday I was in sunshine and 85 degrees and today I'm watching it snow. Talk about surreal... (and not quite fair, I wasn't done with the beach yet!)

Anyhow, Let me get the tough part of the entry written. I'm talking about Gram. It's looking like we've got a matter of weeks with her, not months. It is sinking in and it hurts like crazy. I know it's finally really hit mom hard from the conversation I had with her today. I just hope she realizes all she needs to do is pick up the phone and I will do everything in my power to be there, yesterday if possible. Jon would do the same, except for this whole living on the other side of the country. Gak's here for her as much as I am.
Last weekend Gram made the decision that she didn't want to keep the apartment any more. She thought she was going to go into a Hospice house. It would be free/very inexpensive, but she'd only have about 30 days. Monday Mom went down to Maryland to talk everything over with Gram and figure everything out. Out of the blue, they remembered some CDs that she'd started for just this purpose, that they'd both forgotten about. This means that she can afford to stay where she is, for 8 or 9 months before the money runs out. I know this made me happier, I'm pretty sure it made mom feel better too. I mean, staying where she's at until the end is one thing, but, even though we know it's coming pretty quick, there's just something so depressing about the word Hospice.
Tuesday while I was flying down to St. Croix, Mom was moving Gram into the assisted living wing. I did get a brief chance to talk to Gram Tuesday night. She says she's at peace and not afraid to die. I believe her. I've known this for quite some time. I remember waking up one morning back in late August or early September (before we knew the extent of the bone cancer) after a strange and powerful dream. I don't remember where we were, but I was talking with Gram. She told me that she was at peace and was ready to accept whatever was going to happen. I'm not sure how much was wishful sub-conscious thinking, or if our souls actually touched. I like to think we talked soul to soul. Gram is happy knowing that Mom, Jon and I are all happy and healthy. She is at peace with her life and is ready for when the end comes. I just hope I can find the peace to let her go when the time comes.
Mom went down again today. Gak and I are heading down tomorrow. We're to help mom go through the stuff in the apartment and figure out what to do with it all. Mom talked to the doctor Wednesday. It looks like things are going down fast, although in the last few days Gram's perked up quite a bit and has been eating. I think all the stress of actually having the apartment and having to 'take care of' it is gone. Now she can just be and do what she wants too, nothing more.
I do hope she holds on until Jon and Becca get out here next month. Just because it's been 2 years now since Jon has seen Gram. I know it will always be a sore and awkward point with me and Gak that we didn't go down to OK earlier in the week his father passed. But that situation was much, much more sudden.

Well, that's all the update I have on Gram. I want to talk about fun stuff now.

My trip to St. Croix was almost perfect. The only problems were I had to work, and more importantly Gak (and possibly my other friends) weren't there. The weather was great. The people were friendly. The scenery was beautiful. Work wasn't all that bad either.
Tuesday was a bit fun... I had to wake up earlier than usual, so that Dad could take me to the airport, since I was flying out of Philly. We had to leave the house by about 5:30, so I would have plenty of time. I don't enjoy that. The flight to San Juan was uneventful, if a little long. I didn't have the ipod with me. (It's been acting strange lately and I'm trying to figure out what's going on). I had the game boy, but it doesn't always satisfy for a 4-hour ride. I left my book sitting on the headboard of my bed at my parents'. Oops. Landing in St. Thomas was interesting. I think they had to make the island bigger to accommodate the 757 we were on. I seriously thought we were going to touch down in the water for a moment. Kinda scary but cool all the same. I was on a tinny little Cesna for the hop to St. Croix. It was pretty cool actually. All I have to say is the Caribbean is blue or... well, maybe turquoise really is a better description.
The real adventure of the day came with the fact that my flight to St. Croix was about 15 minutes late because it was raining in St. Thomas, but not St. Croix. One of my contacts at the plant met me at the airport. The problem is, my luggage didn't make it. After waiting for the next flight and still no luggage, we find out that it got left on the ramp in St. Thomas by American Airlines and hadn't made it to Cape Air. It eventually made it on the last flight of the night, but by then Ria and I had driven halfway around the island to the plant, my hotel, dinner and back again.
Driving on the left hand side is scary! Or at least a little nerve-wracking when you have to make a turn. I only made one potentially serious mistake and that was on my way to the airport because I stopped paying attention. I was so glad last night to finally be driving on the right (not to mention correct) side of the road again.
The training went well. Tuesday my contact asked me if I could extend my trip by another day. They would pay for it, so I had no issues with that. (Remember, it's snowing today here at home...) I did wish that I was home, but more from a 'gone too long' point of view that an 'I hate this place' feeling.
If you've been to Key West, you have a pretty good idea of what, at least parts of, Christianstead is like. Christianstead is the bigger of the two towns on the island. I don't enjoy driving into the town, at least not from the direction I was coming from. I finally made it into town and found a parking spot yesterday morning. It was beautiful. Yes, I have lots of pictures. Give me a chance to download them, sort them and posted. I'll share, I promise.
I did get to see lots of the island in the week I was there. I was staying more or less in the middle of nowhere. (Pretty much if you weren't in one of the two towns or right near the plant, you weren't near much.) I know I had lots more to say, but it's just not coming. I promise to write more tomorrow or Tuesday once I get a chance to go through the pictures.
I must say, if you get the chance, go to the Virgin Islands, or anywhere in the Caribbean. The people are friendly. The skies are blue and the water more so. Even when it rains it is pretty. It's also nice to just slow down and go with the flow of the life down there. You can feel the stress just leaving. (Unless you're crying on the beach because you won't be able to share that experience with your Grandmother in the near future, but that's a different story, and I was done talking about that for now...)

Anyhow, I've got some things to do before I pick up Gak from work later. (Not to mention catch up on a little game time and some web pages...) Peace to all and may you see the beauty in the world and have someone to share it with.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Well, I thought I was going over to Kat's last night so she and Scott could go grab coffee or something. I don't mind watching Zoe for a bit so Kat can have some 'human' time instead of 'mommy' time. Besides, it gives me an excuse to play with my niece.
Kat and Scott disappear around 7 to go for a drive. Zoe and I watch some Discovery channel, play with some of her dolls and her Legos. We kept it a pretty low key evening. Around 8 she got into her PJs and settled in on the couch to watch some Mythbusters (a favorite with both of us). Around 8:45 Drew comes over to say good night and get some daddy-daughter time. I can't argue with that. She was still mostly awake and it wasn't 'lights out' time quite yet.
Then around 9 or 9:15 I get a huge surprise.
Kat gets home.
With Gak!
Yep, you heard me. Gak changed his flight, didn't tell me and had Kat and Scott pick him up from the airport all to surprise me. I knew he'd looked into coming home early last week. I figured he hadn't because it wasn't worth $50 to come home a few days early. Apparently, he figured it was. He was right.
When I'd talked to him in the morning he told me he was going out with Ronnie and then over to a friend's house where cell reception was iffy at best. I believed him. I called him and left a message when I got home. I was kinda worried at about not having heard from him by about 8pm or so... actually, I was trying to figure out why he hadn't called me by about 4 or 5. Well, now I know.
I'm soooo glad he came home last night. Now I'll get a few days with him before I have to head out again.

In other news, both Jon and Becca will be here for a few days over the Christmas holiday time. Mom just got the confirmation of their tickets in an email earlier. I'm really glad. I can't wait to see both of them. I miss my brother. I wish at times we didn't live so freakingly far apart. (I know, this is not normal for most of my friends... they'd love it if their siblings lived further away...)

Well, that's all I have to say for now. It's been a somewhat hectic day at work, trying to catch up on everything.
Peace to all and may you have some pleasant surprises in your life!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Well, it looks like November just might be a sparse posting month.
In a way, I guess this isn't such a bad thing, that hopefully means things are fairly even right now. Or at least as even as they can be. Life's been very hectic recently. It will probably get more so as we reach the holidays, starting next week with Dad's birthday.
This week I was in the St. Louis area. No, I didn't get a picture of the Arch. I did drive past it on the highway in the evening Monday. It was pretty, but rush hour.
I had originally thought about trying to get together with Chelsea and Michael yesterday evening, but that fell through when we all had emergency trips and totally let the ball drop on that. Sorry guys, I should have thought about it earlier and bugged you about it last week too... Oh well.
Other than that, it's not been a bad week. I'm tired. I really dislike 6am flights no matter what time zone I'm in. I did get home by about 1 though, so that was good. It meant I could grab lunch and take a nap. I like naps. I did get a chance to catch up a bit with Abi last night. Unfortunately, I had to cut the call short because of the afore mentioned 6am flight. I still need to call Gram this week. I definitely have to call her next week.
Next week I'm going to St. Croix for a few days.
For work.
Don't say it, I've already been told.
By multiple people.
Apparently, life's not fair.

I really hate to think that this may be the last time I call Gram from a beach. I know I'll always think of her when I'm at a beach. It's a long, complicated connection that means more to the heart than I can put in words.
Ok. I told myself I wouldn't be like this. I'm going to be positive and glad for the time I have, and the wonderful times I have had already, not mopey and sad about what I'm going to loose eventually.

Well, I'm going to fiddle around with a few things here at the house. Then I'm going over to Kat's for a bit this evening. We haven't hung out in a while. It'll be nice to catch up with her and Zoe. Besides, she's feeding me.
Peace to all and may you have good times.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I'm sorry I haven't posted anything since Wednesday. It has been a long, emotional and tiring couple of weeks around here. I think it all finally caught up with me.
My trip out to Western PA went smoothly. Well, mostly. I thought I'd left in plenty of time to be at the plant by 7, but it was dark, rainy and I misread the directions. This meant I got there about 20 minutes late. It was an interesting group and an interesting day. I could have driven home that afternoon, but a 5 or so hour drive on top of a 6 hour training day didn't sound like fun a few weeks ago when I was planning the trip, so I stayed an extra night.
The drive home was pretty and uneventful. I made good time getting home. I drove past Hickory Run, as that was the Turnpike exit I needed. I thought about stopping, but I was tired, feeling a little out of sorts despite the sunny day and just wanted to get home again. I did admire the colors and the scenery, but just wanted to be done with the trip.
Yesterday was a complete and total wash. About the most exciting thing I did was group with Syn and Charitee for a bit in the evening. That and I spent a lot of time reading. The laundry didn't get done. The house didn't get cleaned up any. Oh well. I've got some work I've got to do today so I can head out again tomorrow. I plan on getting to the laundry after I post this... although church will be out by then most likely so it'll be crowded. Such fun.

My friend Chelsea has an interesting post up. Go read it. Her husband Michael's grandmother passed this week. They got the call last weekend that she was fading fast. They were able to go and say goodbye, even though it meant a 10-hour trek to Wisconsin. I wish we'd been able to tell Gak's dad goodbye. I wish we'd been able to go out earlier in the week instead of after the fact. I'm not sure if I've really told you how tough my Gram has it right now. We know this will be her last fight. How long the fight will last, we don't know. We all hope she makes it to 85, but we don't want that if she's going to be in tons and tons of pain. I just hope I get to say bye when the time is closer. I hope my stupid travel schedule doesn't have me halfway across the country or world when the time comes. This must be even harder on my brother. He lives all the way out in California. I'm not sure I'd say that Gram and I are closer than Jon and Gram, but our relationships are different. (Also, he's a boy and is very good at hiding his emotions, even from me.) Jon is coming home at Christmas time. I still don't know for sure if Becca is coming, but I hope she does. I just can't imagine how hard it will be for him to say bye over the holidays and know the next time he comes back, she'll be gone. I mean, I hope like crazy she's got another 6 to 10 months in her, but she doesn't think so. I'll take her word on this, since she's living in her body, not me. Heck, I know how hard it is for me to even write these things and think about the fact that I may only get to see her a few times myself over the next few months.
Well, that was a really long and rambling paragraph. But it just is part of the emotional roller coaster I'm on right now. One minute I'm OK with the thought and glad to have an answer to what's been causing so much trouble for her. The next minute I'm a sobbing mess, unable to get past the personal hurt and fear to realize how much pain she's really in. I'm just soooo glad I have Gak to lean on. It's harder right now because he's not home. He will be in less than a week. Unfortunately, a few days later it's my turn to vanish, yet again, for about 4 days.
Well, I've got laundry to do, a house to try and clean and work that needs attention. I'd best focus on what needs doing and let my emotions settle themselves out on their own. (They tend to do this better when I'm not looking anyhow...)
Peace to all and may you have good family moments in the months to come.