Category Archives: Parents

Understanding mom…


Mom with my brother Ralph and his wife Gayle on a recent Sunday. That he sees mom almost daily has had a calming effect on her.

Things have improved a fair amount for my mother.  Not so many spells of agitation, which in part may be due to a juggling act with her medications, or she’s becoming accustomed to her new surroundings.  She seems more lucid and aware, although she asks me now and then how things are going in Des Moines.  Things are okay, mom, things are just okay.

But it may also be that the move to Grand Island to be near my brother has helped.  Now she has someone checking in on her almost daily, and it appears to have a calming influence on her.

Her situation will never really improve.  It’s simply the progression of what ails her.  We can all live with her moments of anxiety and disorientation.  Her fits of agitation?  No big deal.  It’s all about understanding mom.

I continue to write to her new address.  The staff who read the letters to her say she enjoys them but there’s no real way to know for sure.  I don’t ask because she won’t remember.  Then again, her ears perk up when she hears about Ellen and Reid, and she never fails to ask how they are.  Perhaps I don’t give her enough credit.  So I’ll keep on reminding her week in and week out.

Here is today’s installment of the weekly letter to mom.

————–

October 1, 2010

Mom: It was really good to hear your voice on the phone yesterday.  I’m sorry to hear you’ve got bumps and bruises from some falls.  Make sure your walker is always pretty close.  But if you’re not using it, send it to me and I can take it with me around the block a few times.  The staff there sent some photos of you, Gayle and Ralph out on the front steps and it was good to see you smiling, too.

Spent part of last night at a shelter for homeless women that my church has set up in one of our spare buildings that had seen little use in recent years.  My minister was hosting a Bible study and I thought I’d pop in for a few photos for the church newsletter.  It’s hard to watch people sleeping on cots, but those that are seem very thankful.  You look at them and think ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ and there’s a lot of truth to that.  There’s more than 50 women sleeping on floors.  It’s tough.

I thought about wearing a jacket the other day but it just wasn’t cold enough.  It’s a sign, though, that our temperatures are moderating a little bit.  I had to laugh today at the news that reported North Carolina was getting dumped on by a tropical storm that was touching the eastern coast.  This far inland we had sunny skies and nice warmth this afternoon.  We did have some rain the other night but nothing to write home about.

Been working like a slave these past few days at work.  I’ve got a new assignment and it feels good to be really getting after it.  I’ve been going in about 7:00 and leaving at nearly 6:00 so it makes for a long day.  Beats the alternative, I guess.  Hey, whatever pays the bills.

I’m sorry to say that it doesn’t appear I’ll be driving to Grand Island like I thought would.  Just too much going on at the office.  But all things considered, I’d rather be in the Midwest eating ice cream with you guys.

Jeez, my diet went to hell in a handbasket last night.  I wanted some fried chicken and I got some fried chicken.  It was at a place called Bojangles, which is a Southern chain of chicken joints.  It’s okay.  It doesn’t taste like yours and I’m sure it was bad for me but I would not be denied.  Had a side of mac & cheese and a biscuit.  I won’t have to eat again for a week.  I’ve had my fix of fried chicken for a while.

Rode the Harley to Augusta, GA last Saturday and broiled like a steak nearly the entire way.  Not a very pretty ride since it was all on the Interstate, but it was good to get the stink blown off as you used to say.  Hey, at 75 miles per hour, I can hold my own with any of that traffic.  I blow by a lot of cars, but they’ll get used to it.  Vrroommm!

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One dollar words…


If I don't grab the chance to write Mary and henry now, the chance will slip by.

When I was a U.S. housing columnist for the Associated Press, one of the guiding tenets was to keep the story as simple as possible for the reader.  You don’t need to be a journalist to grasp that concept.  No one dollar words  when a 25 cent word will do.

The same with letters.  Here are two one pagers written early today.  Both share some of the same material but the telling took a slightly different path in each one.

The first is the usual weekly note to my mother.  In her unfortunate state, it’s fine to update the same topics from week to week.   The sentences tend to be short and uncomplicated.  So are the paragraphs.  Sure, I want to be informational but also to let her know she’s still important to me.  If the page occupies a few moments of her time then we’ve both won.

The second letter is to my dear aunt Mary and uncle Henry (aka Hank).  They live in Portland, OR and face their own health and life challenges.  He’s a former minister (and my mother’s brother) and Mary is a proverbial live wire.  I’ve missed them over the years and this past summer was a chance to reconnect with them and their two sons, Tom and Tim.  Henry asks about his sister at every opportunity.  This letter is another such opportunity.  I can be open and candid with these two.   They are part of the family equation these past few months.  If I don’t tell as much of the  story as I can in what is essentially a one-off letter, it will never get done.

——————–

September 10, 2010

Mom: Never in another million years did I ever think to see you sitting on the back of a Harley, but now I’ve seen it all.  Country House was nice enough to send along photos of the bunch of you perched on the Hog as it tooled around the neighborhood on a pretty day.  That really looked fun.  Hopefully his pipes were loud enough to shake things up a bit.  It’s fun that they have lots of activities for you guys.  If and when I ever get my bike out there we’ll take a ride for real.

I hear through your other son that they’ve dialed back some of your medications.  That’s good.  I’m taking one aspirin a day plus a vitamin, and that’s about all I want to take these days.

Just heard from Ellen this morning and she’s giving a thumbs up to her first week of teaching second graders in St. Paul.  The full debriefing should come sometime this weekend.  She’s got mostly immigrant children so their language skills are all over the map, literally.  She is supposed to send photos of her new classroom and when she does that I’ll include one in the weekly letter.

As for Reid, he’s doing okay, too.  He’s liking his new studio apartment but the one down side is he has to haul out his laundry to the local laundry place.  There are worse things however.  He’s really working hard at his job and liking it quite a bit.  He rides his bike around Chicago quite often and it would be a cheap way to see the city, plus he gets some exercise.  I’d like to see him join a gym but am not sure what his monthly budget allows.

Last weekend was not a real big weekend for me.  Rode my Harley a few hundred miles up toward Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  A nice ride through the countryside.  Stopped at the local Harley shop for a few minutes, then on back home.  Spent Sunday re-staining and waterproofing my little front porch but it looks a lot better now.  You wouldn’t believe how many townhomes are for sale in my little development.  By my count the total is 12.  Times are tough for lots of people and the payments are just a little more than lots of folks can muster month in and month out.  My guess is that Grand Island’s economy isn’t nearly as bad as it is in these parts.  Lots of people looking for meaningful work.

Spent part of Labor Day morning at my church helping to paint the rooms on the second floor of our big secondary building.  It’s being converted to a temporary shelter for homeless women.  It had been vacant for quite some time and needed a good sprucing up.  It’s a good use for the space and the congregation is fully behind the project.  It will house around 50 women in a dorm-type of situation.  Well you be good, and don’t ride into the sunset on that guys Harley.  Not a bad idea, though.

——————-

September 10, 2010

Mary and Henry: This note is long, long overdue, and after this summer, it’s high time I brought you up to speed on most things.

Hank, your sister seems to be doing better these days.  She had a rough patch last month, and Ralph took her to another unit in Hastings where she had a thorough evaluation which was probably long overdue, too.  The end result is that the doctors throttled back the hodge-podge of medications she’d been taking.  The disparity of drugs seemed to throw her for a loop.  She’d been shifted from enough places that with every move came another tweak to her medications.  Now it appears that it’s been ironed out (knock on wood).  She’s back in Grand Island now and appears to do pretty well.  I don’t get to talk to her all that often but when I do she sounds chipper and alert.  She’s somewhat restless though, yet she doesn’t talk about Omaha and the other events.  On the whole I’m glad she’s there because Ralph has seen her just about every day.

I may get out there in October.  We’ve got some estate things to do along with a fair amount of packing at the house.  There have been a lot of people troop through it but there’s not been a single offer.  It’s a reflection of the local economy.  People just aren’t in the market for a home, and if they are, they know they are in the catbird seat in a buyer’s market.

I’ve been in touch with Tom now and again.  He’s a good guy and he keeps me posted on you guys.  He follows my blog relatively religiously (not many people do) and it keeps him up to speed on the latest news.  I can’t tell you how much it meant to have he and Tim shepherd the two of you to Omaha during those trying days.

Tom may have told you I’m back in the job market.  My stake is firmly in the ground in Charlotte so this is where I’ll cast my lot.  Since I’ve come back to the Presbyterian church (I edit the church newsletter and will send the next installment to you.  You can see past issues online at Caldwellpresby.org), my pastor has been beyond supportive.  I’ll admit that my feeble power of prayer has not been extended to the job hunt since it’s my belief that God has more important things on his plate (i.e. showing the divine light to the bizarre Koran-burning, publicity-seeking whack job in Florida) than something as mundane as employment.  Honestly, I’ll be content to ride things out with any sort of work that can be shut off at 5:00 without taking any of it home with me.  I’m fine with that.

Well, it’s back to the job hunt.  I suppose you two will hear from me with a little more frequency now that mom has landed in what looks to be a longer term solution for her.  Don’t think for a minute that you guys haven’t landed in the right spot.  It was the right decision when you made it and it will continue to be so.

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“…filled the position with another applicant”…


Today's letter to mom. Uncomplicated and pretty much a way to help her pass the time - and remind her she's not forgotten.

Landing work is, I think, all about connections.  Try as I might to weave around the HR screens, a few resumes have been sent absent any interaction between me and the recipient.  I’ve expected to hear “no”.  So it is no shocker that the first better luck next time letter has arrived in the mail.  There’s something about reading a sentence that ends “…filled the position with another applicant. ”  It rattles your cage.  For a nanosecond it bothered me.  A tough letter to read but a tough one to write, too.  As they say, you pick yourself up and dust yourself off.

Bottom line, it means  you haven’t cut it, that there was some worrisome shortcoming, a gap in your resume or another factor that overrode supposed strong suits to leave a decision maker unmoved.

Deflating to be sure.  My issue is how to frame it next Monday to Ellen and Reid in such a way that shows forward movement.  We’ve shared a lot of humps and bumps over the years and now is no time to start ducking bad news.   Perhaps this is a moment to drive home that whatever comes our way we can cope with it with acceptance, dignity and grace, positive resignation or other similar traits.  They hope the adage ‘when one door closes, another opens’ is all too true.

Hey, with any luck it will be a set of double doors.

—————-

Of course, mom will never hear of such woes.  Instead, she’ll read about the cheery side of life.  Here is today’s letter to her.

August 20, 2010

Mom: Went up last week into what passes for the ‘mountains’ down here and tried my hand at a little fly fishing, and the sum total of the fish caught wouldn’t have made a single mouthful.  I either don’t know how to fish (which could be true) or there weren’t any keeper size fish.  I mean, what I caught wasn’t even tiny.  Tiny is bigger than what I landed.  How they ever got their teeny mouths around the fly is beyond me.  We ran into one old boy, Charlie, who claimed to have caught more than 30 fish that day.  Maybe I just can’t fish.

But we still had fun.  I am reminded that we are in the populous East Coast when you see all the people on the trails.  Hardly what we were used to in the hinterlands of Wyoming and Colorado.  But people seemed to be enjoying themselves which is the point I guess.  We got caught in the rain on the way back down but it was warm so it was still quite comfortable (if you like dripping wet clothes).

We will head back to the hills tomorrow and this time will go further west into North Carolina and almost to the Tennessee border.  The report is that there are real fish in the stream but until some are actually caught that report remains just hearsay.  We will be along a body of water called the Valley River.

The update on the tomatoes is that there are no tomatoes.  Lots of green leaves but no fruit on the vine.  The only thing that’s doing well is the basil plant, and I don’t eat that much basil.

Ellen is hard at work at her new teaching job.  They’ve hit it pretty hard this week in teacher orientations, and it seems to me her second grade classes start right about the first week in September.  She is pretty upbeat about the whole thing, which is good.  She’s trying awfully hard at it.  She has a big dog now.  His name is Henry and he is nothing short of a horse.  In a pinch he could pull a wagon filled with hay.

Of course, there is no word from Reid.  But does that surprise you?  Not me.

Haven’t been playing any golf.  Just sort of golfed out.  The clubs are on a hook in the garage and there they will stay for at least the near term future.

It’s been too hot to cook these days so the oven and stovetop haven’t seen a lot of use.  The BLTs are good this time of year, and I’ve sliced some cucumbers and soaked them in apple cider vinegar just like you used to do.  Now that’s eating.  Wish there were some tomatoes to go with it but there aren’t.  That won’t stop me from trying to grow some next year.  It can’t be worse than this time around, can it?

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Friday the 13th? Really?…


See any tomatoes on this well-tended vine? Neither do I. Perhaps my whining about a paltry tomato crop is deserved.

Today is mom’s 80-something birthday.  Women don’t like their real age divulged so I’m only too happy to honor that tradition.  Mom, your secret is safe with me.

Instead of letting flowers and flowery cards do the talking, I’m following a decade-old practice of telling her in 300-400 words what she’s meant to me and to my life.  Please, please, please USPS, get that letter to her by today.  (The Postal Service owes me; after all these years of accepting first class stamp postage increases without complaint I should have earned Elite Customer status by now.)

These days are much more rugged and trying for her.  Her soul mate is gone and she’s in a strange new place.  Her long-time friends are 100+ miles away.  Her birthday may fall on an unlucky day, but she’s had a seemingly endless string of such days.  Friday the 13th?  Really?

Just to be clear, the birthday letter and the typical Friday note about lousy tomatoes, oppressive heat and hum-drum days are not to be confused.  She’ll just get two envelopes a few days apart.  Here are those letters.

——————-

August 11, 2010

Mom: If the Postal Service ever needed to get a move on to deliver something quickly, this is it.  I hope this birthday note arrives on or relatively close to your birthday.  This was meant to go out the door yesterday but the day just got away from me.

So happy birthday.  We stopped counting the years a long time ago so we’ll let that one slide.  Suffice to say there has been a lot of great years along the way.  I don’t know the quality of the ice cream and cake out in Grand Island, but here’s hoping that it is first rate.  I sure wish I could be there to dish up a couple of big scoops for you.  Since I’m partial to chocolate chip, that’s what you’d be served.  You could do worse than a big cone.

Try as I might, there’s no way some store-bought card will ever suffice for you.  As we are all beginning to find out, the syrupy messages those cards contain just don’t let us tell the real story, and that story for you is I’m really glad you’re my mom and Ralphie is too.  You’ve been a great mom, and there’s no way either of us would be where we are without you (and without dad, too).

No doubt there are more years ahead of you in terms of birthdays.  Ellen and Reid both have your birthday on their radar screen so don’t be surprised if their notes haven’t already arrived for you.  Ellen is a writer, and Reid, well, he’d be the one to send a card.

But Happy Birthday, mom.  I miss you and love you and wish you all the best.  Hey, if they serve dessert every day, and have ice cream to boot, it’s kind of like your birthday every day.  Maybe someday soon I’ll be up there to serve the ice cream in person.

——————–

August 13, 2010

Mom: You could probably fry an egg on the hoods of the cars in my all-asphalt parking lot today.  You could have fried eggs yesterday and the day before that.  What an energy saver – just crack two eggs on your car and get ready to eat.  It is unbearably hot.  One bank sign said 101F.  By any standard that’s a scorcher.  Good for the tomatoes and corn, they say.  I don’t know who ‘they’ are but I’d like to give them a piece of my mind.

My tomato plant is easily twice as tall as last year’s anemic plant.  But the fruit the vine displays wouldn’t be enough for a BLT on top of a Ritz cracker.  The two – count ‘em – two tomatoes that have formed will top out at about the size of a ping pong ball.  Cherry tomatoes are bigger than that.  None of my plants are really doing very well.  The heat has also chewed up some of the greens at golf courses where I liked to play and the courses have been shut down.  The grass just can’t tolerate the heat.

Okay, enough complaining.  Ellen finally landed a second grade teaching job in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  She is so happy and relieved.  The school district called this past Monday afternoon at 5:00 and the job starts next Monday.  After all this time she’s landed a job.  The hard part was telling the place where she worked that she was quitting.  They really liked her and she liked them but this was part of her dream.  I told her to run, not walk, to the phone to tell them ‘yes.’  Good for her.

Your guess is as good as mine as to how Reid is doing.  He’s up in northern Minnesota right now with some of his buddies.  I don’t know what they do up there other than drink beer and paddle around in small boats.  Ellen and Tim were going to join them this weekend.

I might go fly fishing this weekend up at a place called South Mountain which, oddly, is north and west of town a little bit.  It will give us a chance to go hiking and dip our toes in the water.  Not sure how hungry the fish will be but that won’t bother me at all.  I think they are mostly brown and rainbow trout.  My guess is mostly browns because the water will be a tad on the warm side.

The Harley is still running pretty good.  Have been taking it out a little more and more these past few months, in part to just blow the stink off.  I just like the riding and getting on the road.  I am reminded of cousin Richard now and then and wish I could talk to him about his Hell’s Angels days.  That would’ve been a sight to see.  Wish he still had his bikes.  He was a biker when there weren’t many bikers.

Well, I’m gonna sign off for today.  Eat some good food for me because I’m not fixing much that’s edible these days.  It’s just too hot to cook.

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A place for ‘thank you’s’…


Every so often, I send a ‘thank you’ to someone for a special kindness or some other effort worth recognition.  Not so much a note, but as you would expect, a letter.  In most cases a note just doesn’t give me enough space to say all that needs to be said.  (Every time I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, I think of my buddy Betsy who is the Queen of high-volume and well done thank you’s.  She has single handedly revived this sadly fading art.)

I’m trying to play catch up with correspondence to well-deserving folks who made the last few months bearable (i.e. last week’s letters to Pete and Bob) for me, my family and, of course, my dad.  Yesterday was one of those instances.  The target was at the very top of my must-write list: the nurses and staff at Odyssey Health Care in Omaha who played the key role in helping my father make a painless, comfortable and dignified passing.  The letter is addressed to the lead hospice nurse who first counseled my dad on the realities of the situation and what he could expect.  She was a gem.  They all were.

My one regret with hospice was that, in my addled state of mind, I neglected to record the name of each of the nurses who, in turn, sat with us, tended caringly for dad, and supplied huge amounts of physical and mental relief.  The letter sent July 15 is shown below.

And just below that ‘thank you’ is today’s letter to my mother.  She’s having a tough go of things, and the intent of this letter is much the same as all the others she and dad received over the years: assure her that things will be okay, keep her spirits up, and remind her she is in my thoughts and prayers.

———————

July 15, 2010

Su: My father, Ralph Bradley, passed away on June 28 at Lakeside while under the care of your Odyssey hospice nurses, and I couldn’t let the chance go by to thank all of you for what a wonderful, caring job your staff did for him.

From the first time we met with you, it was just a good experience.  No punches were pulled, and there was no gray area on your explanation that your goal was a comfortable, painless – and to me, dignified – end.  You accomplished that on all scores.  We should all be so fortunate to pass on in such a painless manner.

I wish I knew all the names of the nurses involved.  Kristin (sp?) is the one name I recall, but there were others, too.  It was incredible how you all handled a grieving family with a dying father and you made that portion of the journey much easier for us.  For that, I am very grateful.

Yours is the job you could not pay me enough money to do, but your special breed of staff appears to have the empathy and compassion that enables you to treat each patient in the manner they deserve.  Thanks again for all you did for my dad.

Best regards-

Dave Bradley

Charlotte, North Carolina

————————-

July 16, 2010

Mom: I hope this finds you well and able to tough out the summer heat.  Omaha doesn’t have anything on Charlotte on that score.  You walk outside here and you sweat.  That’s just the way it is.  We have to deal with it in these parts.

Some ground squirrels are doing a number on my tomatoes.  If I had my wits about me – and dad’s pellet gun – we could do something about it.  But I’m full of bluster and will probably let them chomp away.  I’ve raised some of the low hanging vines off the ground and perhaps that will deter them from making a mess of my tomato crop.  At least they’re eating the small ones.  Heck, they’re all small tomatoes.

I sent a note the other morning to the staff at hospice to thank them for the job they did with dad.  They really knew what they were doing, and they made him as comfortable as they possibly could, and I think that deserved at least a short letter with our gratitude.  They really did things in the best possible way, and for that we ought to be very thankful.

Neither of the kids has said a peep this past week.  I guess Ellen has texted me once or twice.  Her 27th birthday is coming up here in a week.  She feels pretty old but I told her to get a grip and tell someone who cares because that wouldn’t be me.  Some of us are way ahead of her on the age thing.  She’s doing pretty well.

It’s good that you and Henry have had a chance to talk.  They now have the direct line to the Glen so I suspect he’s going to be a regular visit by phone with you.  He seems to be holding his own, although he and Mary are very concerned about your well being, as we all are.  Keep your chin up.

Watched a little bit of the British Open this morning as I ate my standard breakfast of cereal and South Carolina peaches, and the golfers were having their way with the course.  I don’t understand how they can hit it so far and so straight every single time.  And then when they have a short shot, they stick it right next to the pin.  Even Tiger is doing okay on the course.  I’ll try to play this weekend but something tells me my results won’t be nearly as good.

Had dinner with Betsy and Bob last Friday night, and both inquired about how you are doing.  I told them pretty well under the circumstances.  They are both pretty good souls and good buddies of mine.  I hear you’ve had some visitors there, too.  I’m glad your friends are stopping by to tell you hello.

Well, I’d better go and get some work done.  One thing you can count on around here is yet another conference call.  But that’s okay.  Better to have a call rather than none.

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A transition from grief…


Today’s letter to mom is on its way to Omaha.  It made me sigh to leave my father’s name off the envelope and salutation line.  But it’s okay.  He’d want me to keep her – he called her ‘Babe’ to the very end – up to speed on life and family.  No real change there.  I mastered the mundane a long time ago.

I suppose now is as good a time as any to begin to softly ease her transition from grief to the rest of life.  Nurses will read to her the short updates about her grandkids, how the embarrassingly small tomatoes are finally ready to be picked at long last, and sultry Southern temperatures and soggy humidity that make me whine like an alley cat.  Maybe this will distract her from the thoughts I know she is having.  If it lifts her spirits and suppresses whatever loneliness she feels for even a moment, so much the better.  Watch out mom, letters are comin’.

On a secondary note, there is a silver lining to what has transpired.  You know who your friends are when long lost buddies and classmates, relatives and local pals appear out of the woodwork at precisely the right time.  I’m in the process of atoning for years of self-caused relational neglect.  It allows me to mine an entirely new vein of opportunities for notes and letters.  But more on that later.

———————–

July 9, 2010

Mom: As of this writing Ellen is still plugging away at finding a new job.  She’s tired of the property management thing and really wants to get back to teaching.  She was turned down for an ideal job last week but cousin Tim may have a line on something similar.  She tries to keep her chin up and so far has done a good job of that.  Keep your fingers crossed for the kid.  She’s working hard at it.  With her hubby Tim landing a new job at 3M, it’s kind of a safety net for her.  She can take her time.

Reid is getting along pretty well in Chicago.  He seems to be having a good time but in a town like that how could you not?  His job seems fairly stabile (knock on wood) right now and that’s a switch from earlier this year.  He has a girl friend although I don’t know much about her other than her name is Jackie.  I’m apparently on a need to know basis so I don’t need to know.  She’s originally from Des Moines.  That is the sum total of my knowledge.  So what else is new?

Tried to call the other day but they had you in some fun activity.  That’s pretty cool.  I really like the Glen and it seems to like you.  Your room is bright and airy and the food is way better than what I’m gobbling up these days.  At least you eat three squares a day.  That’s better than a lot of us can say.

My tomatoes are, in a word, disappointing.  I keep them moist but none of them are any bigger than a tennis ball.  Maybe I’m not feeding them enough.  But they do taste good.  The variety is Better Boy.  The heat has just been incredibly oppressive here and don’t get me started on the humidity.  Just beastly in any sense of the word.  I honestly can’t shower enough in the day.  Took my noon hour walk today and was damp when I returned to my desk.

I’m going to try golfing again this weekend with my singles group.  I am somewhat apprehensive about how I’ll hit it after a few weeks off, but a beer at the end of the round will be reward enough for me.  It’s going to be very hot.  Down here a person really ought to play in the morning but afternoon times work for the group because we have some slow players.  Maybe they’re waiting on me and my lousy shots.  I’ve got a trip to Pinehurst lined up with some guys from the office toward the end of the summer.  That should be fun.

Well, I’d better get back to work lest they think I’m goofing off (hope they’re not watching too closely).  Really miss seeing you but I’ll get back up there soon enough.  Be good and also be nice to the staff.  Hey, they’re the ones who bring you ice cream.

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Back to normal…


Reid says a final goodbye to his grandfather.

Things are back to normal for the most part.  Relatives have come and gone.  Most of the chores – dad’s clothing to Goodwill, yard work to spruce up the grounds, and sorting through memorabilia – is well in hand.  Spent much needed quality time with mom.  Friday night before we jetted out, Reid and I abetted her escape (with an approving nod from the staff at her memory unit) for a quick bite at Famous Dave’s.   I’m back in Charlotte and have spent a good bit of time digesting the past week and the months before that.

I’m really proud of the way Ellen and Reid handled themselves, their emotions and those of the family.  Our gathering wasn’t absent of minor spats and feuding and my two just did a nice job dealing with things.  “Take the high road” was Reid’s sage advice.  It worked.

Reid with his grandmother during her successful escape.

There is no letter from last Monday to post today.  I just simply didn’t have it in me.  That’s not unusual; a few times before when we were together there was no letter that week.  But today’s letter was drafted on the plane ride home and will be out the door first thing Tuesday morning.  Without letting the cat out of the bag, I’ve told them that they did a wonderful job of comporting themselves during a very trying week.  This won’t be the last time they will need to muster some resolve and strength is this type of circumstance.  What they learned this week will come in handy at some point down the line.  But hopefully not anytime soon.

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