Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ode to 2016

Another year passes by
Pretty paintings by my hand and another's
Too much sadness, it made us cry
Marked by death, a sister's and a mother's

Not all was sadness some good times were had
Yummy Greek food and Swamp Cabbage
A Hippo at Homasassa, Johnny Appleseed, Anthony Mad
And watching Spud walk across the college stage

I wished to write more day by day
About things within this year
But things got in the way
Surgeries and hospital stays, from my writing they would steer

2017 will be a year of catch up
And new things to write about
I am a gal of "half-full" cup
I choose to believe more happy than sad will be next year's route

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Darling-Sister-In-Law (June 3, 1960 - November 23, 2016)

When The Colonel and I were first dating I learned he had only one sibling, an older sister. He told me she was very short (4'10") and very smart (basically a straight A student from birth) . I was looking forward to meeting her for the first time, yet I was a bit nervous too.

I liked her the first time I met her. She had a great sense of humor and adventure. She packed a lot of living in her 56 years on Earth. In the 32 years I was blessed to have her in my life, DSIL became not only the best sister-in-law anyone could ask for but also a very good friend. I miss her terribly.

We have been getting many calls, cards, letters, emails, texts and floral arrangements from our family, friends and friends of DSIL. It is very evident that she made a positive impact on those who knew her.

Our friendship grew when The Colonel and I visited her a couple of times while she lived in Key West and Little Torch Key. I remember when she took us shark fishing. Those sharks put up a heck of a fight at the end of our lines. She also took us boating and snorkeling.

When Yam and Spud came along DSIL was the quintessential aunt. Yam and Spud loved their aunt very much. DSIL and Yam shared a love for Disney World. She took Yam there for her 18th birthday. What a great memory for Yam to have about her aunt.

DSIL was a good sister too. She and The Colonel were very close and shared a deep friendship that can be rare in siblings. They shared an interest in genealogy and for many years they would make trips back to the Midwest to pour over documents about their ancestors. Their friendship and mine with her, deepened further when she moved to our town after she retired in 2014.

Even before DSIL retired, she would come from the other coast of Florida to volunteer her help with programs that The Colonel and I were involved with such as the historical cemetery tours.

When she finally retired she became more involved with historical programs and tours. We all enjoyed dressing up in our costumes to teach adults and children about local history.

DSIL not only volunteered for the history programs, she was also a weekly volunteer at the local library (a book will soon be dedicated there in honor of DSIL). She helped out with the museum where The Colonel and I have been volunteers for 10 years now. DSIL became active in the local fossil club and was one of its board members. She also was an instructor, classroom coordinator and trips committee member on the board for the Life Long Learning Institute (the local adult continuing education program). 

The Colonel, DSIL and I have always loved Halloween. When The Colonel and I lived in Key West DSIL would come to visit during Fantasy Fest (a week-long, sometimes hedonistic Halloween celebration). We would dress up (leaving the kids with a sitter) and cruise Duvall Street. One Fantasy Fest DSIL and I went downtown together, leaving The Colonel at home with the kids. There is a tradition during Fantasy Fest to flash someone your breasts and then you receive a colorful, beaded necklace. Well, DSIL were not about to show anyone our "girls" but we did want some beads. So, we fabricated some fake boobs. We took knee-high pantyhose and cut the toes out of them and then glued a Playtex baby bottle nipple where the toe used to be. We took pink fingernail polish and painted the nipples. We stuffed the pantyhose with cotton balls and then pinned the fake boobs to our bras. When someone asked to see out breasts we flashed them with our fake ones (which were hanging just above our shirt tails). As I recall, we did get a fair amount of beads (and laughs) that Fantasy Fest.

As we were going through DSIL's things, I ran across her Fantasy Fest fake boobs. I had to laugh. I don't know if I still have mine.   

Pictured above is DSIL as "Rat Girl". Rat Girl made her first appearance at Fantasy Fest one year. DSIL resurrected Rat Girl this year for Halloween. Here are some of DSIL's other Halloween costumes.

The Colonel is very organized and a big planner and so was DSIL. This is making it much easier on The Colonel as he is handling all the things that one must go through upon a death. So much paperwork is involved. Thank God DSIL had a spreadsheet containing all the information that The Colonel needs (this has prompted me to tighten up my spreadsheet)

DSIL had pre-planned for her death (we all should, nobody gets out of here alive). She purchased a space in the Key West cemetery, pre-paid for her cremation, left directions for the disposition of her ashes, designed her grave marker and wrote her own obituary (by her own admission she had a wonderful life). Her pre-planning has prompted me to get more serious about my own.

DSIL's death was unexpected. She was not feeling well after breakfast on November 13th and went to the local hospital's ER (had a CT scan) and from there was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital. The CT scan showed that she had blood clots in three branches of her descending aorta. The blood supplying her abdominal cavity was cut off and this caused her to have what the doctors called a "catastrophic abdominal event".  She had four surgeries in the ten days she was at Tampa General. The surgeons were removing necrotic tissue with each surgery in hopes of being able to save what they could. There was just too much damage to the organs and intestines.

The Colonel and I made the two-hour drive to Tampa General every day (well, I missed one day because of a bad cold) to see DSIL. She was sedated most of the time but when she was awake she was unable to speak and be understood because of the intubation. After the emotionally draining visit we headed back home with another two-hour drive ahead of us. We did this for ten days.

The day after DSIL went into the hospital, my Favorite-Father-In-Law went into our local hospital. He was having problems keeping anything down. He was in the hospital for eight days (the first time...he was hospitalized two more times within a month before they found the blockage and performed surgery). The Colonel and I had to go from one hospital to the next for a while. It is no wonder we both came down with nasty colds. We were worn out.

It is just over a month and it still does not seem real that DSIL is gone from us. Even after picking up her ashes from the post office, bringing them home and seeing them, it does not seem real. Maybe when we head down to Key West next summer and put her ashes in her final resting place it will finally become real to us.

Writing this post has been difficult. I have been putting it off for a while. It's not that I am too sad to write it, it is that I feel I cannot adequately say all I want to say about DSIL and how much of a part of my life she was especially once she retired. I don't feel like I can get all of the nuances that were DSIL across to those who did not know her. I feel as if I cannot do her justice. I am truly blessed to have had her as friend and family.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016