Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A realization

My cyberfriend, Carol S, somehow didn't get included in those first e-mails I sent to everyone about Jim's stroke. When I realized it I sent her a note with the link to the blog. As I was writing to her I had this new, fresh thought. I told her I'm crying a lot but I'm not falling apart. Then I realized I'm not going to. It was the most comforting and empowering thing. I feel pretty light right now. I know I'll still have those crashes and it's going to be hard and it'll SUCK!!!!!!!!!! I learned a lot about the grieving process when my mom died. I know I'm miles away from healing but I also know I'm going to be ok.

I dunno, it didn't hit me that way until just now. The realization that I'm not falling apart and I'm not going to just kind of cemented itself to me. Like putting on a jacket. Suddenly I felt more comfortable.

So, I'm going to just sit here and revel in that for a while.


More e-mails and phone calls. The first e-mail of the morning was from Dan telling me there was a snafu with the funds transfer. A bit of a scramble there. All done now.

I got the packet from the life insurance company. I filled it out and sent it back with a copy of the death certificate. Today when I went to pick up the death certificates I asked them if they had Jim's ashes yet. They had just gotten them in. Ok, THAT was weird. In death, as in life, Jim is heavy. They're in a box in a green, crushed velvet, drawstring bag. It felt really strange carrying that box out to my car.

I think I'm done for the day. My knee is still popping a little. I hope this doesn't last too long because I want to get back up to speed on the Rubidoux walks.

I made a doctor's appointment today. Gonna get the full overhaul.

So, let's talk about getting the window fixed on the van. I found a guy who could do it for $125 and get it done in an hour. Coolness! When I got there he said, "Well, it's going to be more like an hour and a half." No problem. I took a little walk down to Walmart just to kill time. When I got back the car still hadn't been moved into the garage. I waited. And waited. Pretty soon their supplier came in with the window. When they inspected it they found a small crack in the corner. They rejected that window and ordered another one. More waiting. Now it's been about 2 hours.

I had only had a cup of coffee that morning so by then I was feeling pretty yucky. I walked down to MacDonald's to get something, ANYTHING. When I walked in the whole place was filled with people who were severely mentally challenged. There were like, 20 of them! I had to walk the retard gauntlet to get to the front counter. They were all milling about, carrying their food and talking to each other. I could barely get through. When the girl took my order she asked if I wanted it for here or to go. Um, yeah, TO GO!

I walked outside and found a low wall and set my stuff down. I looked up and saw a street sign that had a sticker on it. It said MORTAL. Yeah, like I needed to be reminded of THAT!

I walked back to the auto glass place. Again I saw their truck leave. The guy came back with another window and took it into the garage. Now we're at 3 1/2 hours. After a while the truck left again and came back with yet another window. After another hour and a half they had it done. The guy told me there had been so much broken glass in the frame that every time they though it was in place they'd find bits of broken glass and they'd have to take the window out. They had ruined the second window trying to get it in. They gave me a whole whopping fifteen bucks off the price for making me wait so long. Oh, gee thanks.

When I got home I saw Drew's truck in the driveway and the hood on Lindsay's car open. I thought aw, how nice, Drew came over to fix Lindsay's car. When I walked up Drew told me what the problem was. She didn't have the car in park! That's why it wouldn't start! I let out a long "NOOOooooooooo!" Oh well. I've done that myself with that car. Drew said he's done the same thing with his boat. So, ok. Everything's fine, no repair costs.

Except now the truck battery is dead again. But hey, now we know how to jump!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A better day.

I started in on my phone calls first thing. Everyone I talked to was very helpful. Business is being handled. The money thing got straightened out. It felt good to get things completed. I felt very in control. Roar.

I had a very nice talk with Carol P. I cried through most of it but it was good. I thanked her for getting her husband here. They're also helping me out with the bills. Such a huge load off my mind.

I went to the bank to move funds and to close the Rancho Curioso accounts. Man, that was a MUCH better banking experience than yesterday's.

Then I went to the hospital to pay the bill. It went smoothly. It feels so good to get that handled. When I get the life insurance I can pay everybody back. I'm looking forward to that day. I don't want anything hanging over my head while I start this new life.

Afterward I went to some thrift stores just to kill a little time before meeting Jeff for a Rube walk. Found some cool lamps, very 70's. I also found a little Samurai dude sculpture for Rory. His birthday isn't till September so I gave it to him today. He dug it.

It was a good walk except for the last third. My knee started popping and it was hard to walk. I had to slow way down. My plan was to walk every day this week but I'm going to skip tomorrow. Tonight, extra glucosamine and a hot bath.

Tomorrow, more phone calls! Wheee!!!!

Monday, January 29, 2007

A rough day

Jeez, I want to blog about the party and getting Lindsay's car fixed but stuff keeps happening. Today sucked.

I got up and started making phone calls. First to Paypal to try to get that feature shut down on the Rancho Curioso website. The password thing that Dan showed me doesn't seem to work anymore. Now it wants a password for the passwords. I couldn't get into the guts of the website. I think Dan and Kyle are amazed at how much I don't know about computers. I talked to one of the supervisors at Paypal and he told they were going to send me an e-mail with instructions on how to disable it. But to do that you still have to gain access. Anyway, I can set that aside for another day.

Then I called the insurance lady at the hospital. I've got most of the funds to pay Jim's bill. She's going to give me one more day to come up with the rest.

I went to Stacey's to pick up flowers and party stuff. Afterward I went to the bank to deposit some checks and move money around. They got a little nervous about the biggest one. They needed to verify the existance of the writer. Sheesh. They told me to come back after they looked into it. I left to go pick up Paige from school.

I got there about 15 minutes early. Cars were crowded in like they usually are that time of day. I got in line. A few minutes later this woman drove in behind me. After a little while she got out of her car and said, "You need to move, I want to leave." Imagine Miss Swan on Mad TV. I tried to go between the cars that were ahead of my but the angle was wrong and I couldn't get through. I got out and went to her car and told her I couldn't get through. She said, "No, you can. You drive through." I again told her it was too tight. I told her to back out into the empty space behind her and turn around and go out the other way. She refused. "No! You go through. You shouldn't block the driveway." I said, "Ok, you back up into the empty space and I'll back out and go the other way." "No! You go!"

What the hell was her fucking problem? Well, I basically unloaded at her. I told her, "Look! My husband died last week! I don't need this shit!" She said, "I don't care about your husband! I ask you nicely to move!" I again told her I couldn't and if she wanted to leave she could back out into the empty space behind her. Just then a big truck pulled in behind her. She got out of her car and we stood there shouting at each other. After a little bit I turned and got back in my car. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw her on the phone. Was she calling the cops on me? "Ok, I tell you evwee ting."

Pretty soon school security showed up. First they went to her car. I could see her gesturing wildly. Then one of the guys came to my car. I told him what had happened. He was sympathetic and tried to help me move forward. But immediately it was obvious I would not be able to get through the other cars. The guy walked up 4 cars on both sides of the driveway and asked everyone to pull forward. Finally I was able to get through.

I watched in my rearview mirror as she drove forward and pulled over to park! She never wanted to leave! She just wanted to sit someplace else while she waited for her kid! BITCH!!!!!!!

I had to drive out to the street and make a u-turn and go back and sit through the light and pull back into the parking lot and circle around until I could get to Paige. When I drove out Miss Swan was still sitting there. Man, what a shitty, little person.

When Paige and I got home Rory told me the bank had called. I went back there to deposit the check. When I was there the first time I had them take everything out of the savings account and put it into the checking account. After I deposited the last check the teller asked me if anyone had talked to me about my account. She said my savings account had gone below a thousand dollars so they'd probably charge me five dollars next month. She got all concerned about a measly five bucks. I told her I had transferred everything over earlier because these were emergency funds. She said, "Well, when things calm down you and James can come in and talk about your accounts so they don't keep charging you that five dollars." I said, "I'm dealing with coming up with $30,000! I'm not going to worry about 5 bucks right now. James IS the emergency. He died last week." Tears were welling up. Jesus, just let me out of there!

Later I thought about what that must have looked like to the other customers. Middle-aged woman runs crying from the bank. You must pay the rent! I can't pay the rent!

Ugh! I came home. I knew things would get better soon because I was going to go walk the Rube. I thought man, I need to understand that days like this are going to be a way of life for a while. I need to find a way to navigate through without having it drive me to inaction. It has to be ok to bump into those walls. This part will be over eventually.

Walking was good. Talking to Jeff is good. Hot bath, good. Red wine, good. Daily Show, good.

Someday I'll talk about that party.

This is that day

This is the day they told me about. The day where everyone has gone home and we start to get on with our lives. And yeah, it's a little weird. Dean left early this morning. Man. There's just no way to say how much help she was to me. To just be here handling mundane crap was a huge gift. But she also made me laugh my ass off and kept me sane. She's never been a touchy-feely gal but I know she loves me more than anything. And I do love my Dean.

Yesterday was nice. We went to breakfast with the Lorenz's, Michele, Dan and Brian. I said goodbye to Brian and the Lorenz's at the hotel. Dan stayed at the hotel to take a nap. Dean, Michele and I came home. Later Dan came over and we spent the afternoon hanging out, walking around the farm and having a great time. Later Dean took Michele to the airport and I had some quality time with Dan.

We got Jim's piano out and got some stuff hooked up. Dan played for me. Hoo boy. He played some Enya pieces. I was amazed they didn't send me into a big ol' crying jag. I just enjoyed listening and remembering what it was like to be in the same room with Dan and Jim. Dan played his guitar. That was pretty cool. Dan on a guitar.

He also helped me with some computer stuff. I can get more of Jim's passwords now. I need to get into the guts of Rancho Curioso and make a few changes. There's a lot to dig into. Jim has EVERYTHING on this computer.

Kyle showed him Moobeard and Paige played vibes for him. Good performance, Paige. I'm glad he got to see his how his gift to her is being used.

I'll write about the party later. I hope I remember all the details. It was an amazing and perfect day. But I'll have to blog about it in installments. Today I need to make a bunch of phone calls and go to the bank. Tomorrow I'm meeting with the insurance lady at the hospital and pay Jim's bill. I think the next few weeks will be spent slogging through crap. Dean thinks it's going to take three months to get everything handled. She's probably right.

Today I'm going to take things easy. I'll walk with Jeff later.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Another short one

I still can't take much time to write so I'll have to catch up later.

The party was as perfect as it could be. We had about 100 people. So many people in one place who were all there to honor Jim and surround the girls and me with pure love. I will always remember how wonderful and beautiful it was.

And, oh! An amazing bonus. Dan showed up! He didn't think he was going to be able to make it but Carol shoved him out the door and made him get on a plane. Most of you know that Dan was Jim's best friend. He and Carol have been so good to us over the years. I'm going to use that "words cannot describe" cliche but with Dan it's really true. Seeing him walk up out of the dark made me feel loved and safe and helped me to really know that everything is going to be ok. It also made me feel so sad that he has lost Jim. A mixed bag of feelings there.

Anyway, I'll write more later.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Keeping this one short

Another trying day. There's a whole story about getting the rear window fixed and getting Lindsay's car running. Maybe I'll blog about that on Monday. But for now...

The Northern California friends are here! Dave, Nancy and Amelia, Lorraine and Danny, Mary and Jon, Jeanne and Eric, Brian and our dear Michele. Jon and Mary are staying here. We're waiting for Lindsay's friends, Chelsey and David. They should be here soon. Kyle will finally get to meet Chelsey (no, she is NOT imaginary). Kyle's parents are in Riverside but we won't see them until tomorrow morning.

Our good friends. Thank you for coming.

Tomorrow is Jim's party. Better get some rest.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A day of normalness...sort of

First thing this morning Stacey called and said the Haz-mat guy was here. She said Dede was showing the guy around while Dad followed. There are several barrles of oil and many, many buckets of oil and various nasty crap that would be very bad for the environment if they spilled. Stacey was concerned that Dad might make things hard for Dede and asked me to check on how it was all going. I went out to where they were. I said I was out for a walk and saw them and decided to check it out. I could see that Dad was not happy to see me. Dede quietly told me that Mike, the Haz-mat guy, knew what was going on with Dad. They got him to cooperate by telling him the Haz-mat company was going to buy all of Dad's oil and chemicals. The truth, of course, is something very different.

At one point Dad stumbled a little. I told him (in a kind, concerned way) to be careful. He snarled, "You just take care of yourself." Ok, whatever. We continued on, Dede showing Mike where the buckets were and Mike writing it all down. Every time Dad said something Dede would just say ok. At one point Dad tried to pry a bucket out of some weeds. Some liquid spilled out. I said, "Dad, you don't need to move the buckets, Mike can see them." He said, "You get out of here. Go back to your house!" I said, (still being calm) "You shouldn't move the buckets. Look, something spilled out..." He said, "That's just water. You shut up! Just shut your mouth!" I said, "You shut up. You can't tell me what to do". We weren't yelling but it was intense. He was carrying a 3 foot length of irrigation hose. He said, "You'll pay for that." I said, "Is that a threat?" He said yes. I think I've just been disinherited.

I think he realized he was doing this in front of Mike and decided not to push it. Maybe he thought I was going to mess up his sweet deal. Dede and Mike had moved on and Dad hurried off to catch up with them. I followed. I stayed several paces behind Dad. Mike finished up and left.

I went back to the house and called Stacey and invited her to walk the Rube with Dede and me. She came right over. After dropping Lindsay's battery off at Sears we went walking. And talking! It was a great walk. We talked about Dad, about the girls and me, about our plans for Saturday's party. It was a good way to blow off the negative Dad energy.

When I got home I started cleaning. Dean had been out driving around Riverside checking out her old houses. She came home and helped me clean. Then we started trying to figure out some computery stuff. Hit some dead ends. I made a playlist of a bunch of Jim's music, stuff he recorded, stuff he loved. Bill Wolfs called. He's working on getting in touch with Jim's classmates. I'm looking forward to seeing him on Saturday. He's a great guy.

People are going to start showing up tomorrow. The house is going to be crazy but I'm looking forward to seeing everyone. Ken came by for some equipment. Lorraine called. So good to hear her voice. Bob called, too. Thanks, Bob.

Rory went to Ojai for a funeral. He'll be back for the party. Lindsay and Kyle went to an Oh Yeah Cartoons wrap party. His cartoon, Moobeard, has been fisished for some months now. He's had to wait until the others were finished before Nickelodeon will air the whole show. I don't know what else they'll have to do now but it should be airing soon. Dean, Paige and I went to the Spunky Steer for dinner. I know, we were just there, but Dean wanted a steak and the Spunky Steer delivers the goods. It's a meatfest.

And now I'm home. I opened up some mail. Lots of cards. A special thank you to the Carrozzas. You guys are too much. Dan wrote and said he won't be making it down for the party. I'll miss seeing him but circumstances just won't let him get away. It'll be better to visit with him and Carol when things aren't so hectic. I'll want to have a good long talk with Dan. Jim loved him so much. Dan said he's sending some music for the party.

I got weepy a few times today. It's been a week since we lost Jim. Hard to believe. Yesterday I started singing The Log Driver's Waltz in the shower. I did fine until I heard Jim's keyboard playing along in my head. It might be quite a while before I can sing that song completely through. When I was putting the playlist together I listened to a lot of Jim and Dan's Polar Bear stuff. I listened to Michele's recording of Put It There. She wrote a special verse for Jim and me. Again I thought about the things we used to do that are now gone. So much history I had with that man. I noticed today that a lot of my movements have gotten a little mechanical. I think some heartache is settling in. Good thing those crazy Northern California friends are coming tomorrow. They'll bring good cheer. Too bad we won't have time for a Stitch and Bitch luncheon.

Dean, I'll never be able to thank you enough for what you've given me this week. You've held me and you have helped me stay on my feet. I'm stronger because of you.

And now I am going to attempt to scan some photos.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Another weird day

Somebody up there has an odd sense of humor.

This morning I got up early and started on the photo project. All I really wanted to do was print out the stuff I was going to put in Jim's send-off packet. Dede helped me learn to use the scanner. We got it all done. The contents of his envelop are: photos of our family, our wedding, a letter from Paige, a picture of Dan and Ginger #1 (she was their a yellow lab), a picture of Sally (good doggie), a picture of the waterfalls at Milsap Bar, Keith Emerson photo, a Christmas card I silkscreened, some Mutts comic strips, some confetti from a They Might Be Giants concert, Troika sheet music, locks of hair (Gracie, Bozzy, me) and a Naked Trucker and T-Bones paint stick. I talked to Mary tonight and she said I should have included a photo of Terri Garr. Dang! That would have been great! I told her we should build a fire and send him some more stuff.

After we finished with the scanning and printing it was time to get ready to go to the mortuary. Dean went with me but she didn't feel comfortable going into the room to make the ID. No problem. The clueless receptionist showed me to Jim's slumber room. He was on a gurney, covered from the shoulders down, with a sheet and a blue blanket. When I had last seen him he looked like Jim. Today he looked like a dead body. I know this is an understatement, but it's painful to see someone you love so much looking like a stiff. I knew making the ID would be hard but I was thinking it was going to be a heartbreak kind of hard. This was more of a chilled to the spine kind of hard. I filled out the form and signed it then went back into his room and put the envelope under the blanket. On the way out I told Dean I wanted to get home and drink a big bottle of wine.

When we got home we sat on the porch for a while. Lindsay came out and asked us to help her with her car. Battery is dead, needs jump. I haven't jumped a car in years. We discussed it a little in the living room and then trooped out to the driveway. We immediately set to work doing everything wrong. Now we had two dead batteries. I called Drew.

He gave me the correct instructions. We pushed the truck out of the way and moved Dean's rental car into position. We did it right this time but the car still wouldn't start. So, ok, we'll deal with that later. Dean moved her car next to the truck. Hooked it all up again and the truck started right up. While we were letting it run I looked at the effed up fleet of cars sitting in my driveway. We have Kyle's running but unreliable car, the dead-for-a-year Grand Am, the truck that was being charged, Lindsay's dead car and the van with the busted out window. I could just wallow in despair. I'm certainly entitled. But I just looked at it all and shook my head. It's was like a scene from the halfway point of the feel-good movie of the year.

We got the cars straightened out. Lindsay wanted to get the battery out right away so she could run down to Sears and get it tested. But it was pretty late in the day. We decided to take it out and take it to Sears in the morning. I was thinking ok, this is it. It has begun. Things are falling apart and we have to fix them. I can't call Drew every time the water heater goes out.

Lindsay immediately put some gloves on and started gathering tools. She put on safety glasses. Kyle was trying to help but she breezed right past him. I was freakin' impressed with that little girl. She set right to work. The bolts were pretty rusty so it was hard to get the terminals loose. But together we managed to do it. I got a phone call and Lindsay and Kyle got the battery out. Victorious and triumphant.

Afterward I got down to the serious and important job of getting off my feet. Bob called (he's called me every day). Mindy, Dede, Tori, Tyler and Dad stopped by on their way out to dinner. After they left I joined Dean on the front porch. After hanging out for a while we went inside to watch the Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show. I got two phone calls right in a row. One was from Jeff. I had to call him back later. One from Kim Root. I had a very nice conversation with her. She's going to help Bill Wolfs contact Jim's classmates.

I called Jeff back. Man, I think that call lasted an hour. Great phone call. I haven't talked to him that long on the phone since we were teenagers. He had such nice things to say about Jim.

After I came back in the house I watched the second showing of Trucker. Dean had gone to bed. Kyle came out and sat with me on the couch. We had a good, long talk. As we spoke I felt our relationship solidify. Sounds dopey but that's the best way I can describe it. I didn't blog about this but the other day I had a very different but equally as bonding conversation with Rory. I lost one fine man and gained two.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Aw, leave me alone, wouldja?

The universe oughta pick on someone else for a while.

After a full day of visiting the mortuary and going to Costco, Dean, the kids and I went out for the ultimate comfort food, Joe's Sushi. Like a dope I parked the car on the street. When we came out we found that the back window had been smashed in. Black glass was all over the street. The damn thing shattered into a million bits. Nothing was stolen, there was nothing to steal. Some little bastard was just being destructive.

I called the police and they gave me a number to call tomorrow to report it. I don't think it'll be an expensive fix. I'll call Allstate tomorrow but it might be better just to pay for it and leave it at that. I talked to Dede about it and she said somebody's trying to tell me it's time to stand on my own. Yeah, but couldn't they have waited a couple weeks? Man, this would have pissed Jim off, big time.

This morning Dean and I went to the mortuary to make the arrangements to have Jim cremated. The guy I talked to at Acheson and Graham told me, "Jim is in our care." Ok, good. While you're at it could you wake him up? Actually, it was a pretty good experience. The guy made things easy for me. He kept prefacing his sentences with, "In accordance with the laws of the state of California..." That got kind of funny after a while.

I'm going back tomorrow at 3. I need to make a positive ID. Getting that news was just a little bit of a jolt. I really didn't expect to ever see Jim's face again. The guy said, "In accordance with the laws of the state of California I have to ask you if you want us to close his eyes and his mouth. They consider it to be part of the embalming process." Well, Jim's not going to be embalmed but yes, I do want his eyes and mouth to be closed. No extra charge for that. Gee, thanks.

Dean and I had a nice lunch and then went to Costco. When we got home Dede was here vaccuuming. She was a bit frazzled. Dad had gotten into a nasty rage and was saying all kinds of outrageously mean things about Jim and me. She tried to talk to him and he got mad. She tried to remove herself and went to her room, Dad followed her and pounded on the door. She said he was totally out of control. I think he must have been doing that wild-eyed, venom-spitting, arrogant and nasty thing he was when we had the "Stacey's glasses" incident last Christmas. She said he had just eaten, actually it started while they were having lunch. I asked her what he was saying. She said, "You don't want to know." Ok, when you put it like that I HAVE to know. She told me a few things. Yep, they were pretty bad. Why does he resent us so much?

Poor Dede. She was pretty shaken and mad. Dede's the total brick of the family. For her to get that angry it had to be pretty bad. Dad came over as she was telling me about it and he was all cheerful. He said he came over to help. Dede started up the vaccuum cleaner again. She wanted nothing to do with him. Maybe he forgot what had just happened, maybe he saw how she was completely ignoring him and got that he shouldn't hang around. He left after a few minutes.

Before Jim's stroke I was going to get in touch with Dr. Griffin and start the process of having him declared imcompetent. He's digging in heels about the land sale. It's already in process. The land is being sold. We can't have him screwing that up. The way he's been acting lately shows us he's really losing it.

I took a nap this afternoon. When I got up I started poking around in the bedroom cupboards and found a big box of photos and our wedding album. Yay! I still need to see what we have in the storage trailer but at least I have these to start. It was fun looking at the photos. Lots of pix of my little girls. Sherri brought some pictures of Jim when he was a little kid. We have a good start for the photo collage. Kyle's going to help me with scanning tomorrow.

Oh yeah! Kyle's parents, Carl and Anne, are coming out from New York! I'll be so glad to see them. These are wonderful people. It's sweet of them to make the trip for Jim's send-off.

Hoo boy, I'm stuffed. I haven't been eating much lately. I've actually lost some weight this week. But tonight we found out that sushi overcomes grief. Just don't offer me a mint right now. "Oh, ees weffer theen..."

A few tears today. It's kind of a way of life right now. I got a call from Maria, the insurance woman at the hospital. They've figured up the bill. I'll settle with them on Tuesday.

What a weird day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The first crash

Well, that was quick. Tonight I was dinking around with the uke playing The Log Driver's Waltz. I started to tell Dean about the first time Jim and I heard that song. It was in a video that was part of a Spike and Mike Animation Festival. I Googled it and found it on YouTube.


At first I was just enjoying it. Then I got a little weepy, thinking about how much Jim loved that animation and how we used to perform that song together and how....I' I'll never perform that song with Jim again. I'll never do anything with Jim again. All of it, all of it, gone forever.

Dean was here with me. At first she thought it was like my other crying jags. But it didn't pass. She jumped up and hugged me tight until I came through it. Oh man.

I'm sure this particular lump of sadness will visit me again and again. It was almost terrifying realizing that one of the things that made my life so much fun is just plain gone. The music we made together. Finding music, learning music, collaborating, complimenting, performing together and enjoying each other. It was ripped from me. That's how I felt in that moment. Like I was being torn apart.

Eventually it lifted and we could talk about it. I know I'll keep playing and singing. With my girls and Kyle, with Ken, with Jeff. I'll play with Dave, Nancy and Amelia. I'll play with Michele, with Michael. The music will change and become something new. And I'll always wish Jim were here.

Today was a good day. I made a thousand phone calls and everyone was helpful and kind. Bob called (thank you!). Tomorrow morning I'm meeting with the mortuary guy. We're going to find some trinkets we can put in with Jim for his journey to the happy hunting ground. We'll find a photo of Keith Emerson, a lock of Gracie's hair, a Naked Trucker paint stick. If anyone has any suggestions I'd like to hear them.

Tonight Dean and I went to El Torito for dinner. Good golly, I wanted to sing It's Raining Men. Dean and I were cracking up. Our waiter was a cute guy, the second waiter was a cute guy, the chip guy was cute. The manager was a total freakin' doll who hung out at our table and chatted with us. Like, for a long time. TWICE! They were all so attentive. And the food was good! Michele, you would have totally dug this scene.

Tomorrow I'm going look for photos for the collage.

Oh yeah, Aunt June called. It was great talking to her. If anybody understands with pure perfection what I'm going through, it's June. She's coming on Saturday. I know I won't get to spend much time with her, I'll be spread too thin. After things settle down a bit I want to visit her.

Ok. I'll be seeing a lot of you very soon.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I know this won't last

I'm doing really well right now. I'll get a little weepy from time to time but it usually only lasts about a minute. I kinda took the weekend off. There are issues to address and loads of crap to do but I've saved them for tomorrow. I'm enjoying my time with Dean. Bob Craig visited today which was just wonderful.

But I think there's a crash coming. After the Celebration party is over and the out of town friends have gone home we'll get into the nitty gritty of building this new life. The enormity of this loss has not yet sunk in. It's kind of like we (the girls and me) are in the honeymoon phase of the grieving process. How's that for a concept?

I need to call the mortuary tomorrow. I'd like to have Jim cremated as soon as possible. It makes me uncomfortable to think about his body being stored somewhere.


Today was a good day. Dean and I got up early and had breakfast. We took care of a few things and then I came out and did some computering. When Bob got here I was still in my jammies. We chatted for a little bit and then Dad showed up, followed by Dede. We had a quick visit with them. Drew came to pick them up and take Dad, um, somewhere. I forgot. After they left Dean and Bob and I got caught up. She hadn't seen him in about 30 years. Amazing. We've reached that age.

I got dressed and we went to BJ's for lunch. It's great just being with them. I got lots of hugs and kisses from Bob. We held hands a lot. (Don't go getting excited, people. It's just my sweet buddy from my highschool days and one of Jim's best friends.) After lunch we came back here and looked at pictures -n- stuff. Then Bob went home. It was a wonderful and comforting visit. All three of us had a real good time.

And that's about it. Tomorrow will be busy. I have to call the mortuary, the medical insurance lady, Allstate and the life insurance company. Gotta start pulling those particles together.I need to look up some stuff about Jim so Dean and I can write his obituary. Nancy's going to put it in the Press Democrat for me. Time to start looking for photos. Gotta send out a mass e-mail about Jim's Celebration party on Saturday.


Hoo boy, I just got real tired. These weird hours might be catching up to me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dean's here.

Yesterday Dede came by with Hector. I had told her I wanted to hire him to clean up the yards. They were still full of debris from the last wind storms we had. Hector happened to stop by to see Dad and Dede brought him over. He showed up this morning around 9. The place looks great now.

Dean drove up just as I was leaving to go walk the Rube with Jeff. We hugged and chatted for a little bit. I left for my walk and she went to breakfast with the kids. I had a great walk with Jeff although I know I slowed him down. It was good to talk with him.

When I got home it was time to start the Dean and Donita cackle fest. Oh, man! Losing Jim was like losing a piece of myself. Being with Dean helped me feel more whole again. After a little while it was time to open a bottle of wine. Kick it up a notch! BAM! Yeah, we got loud. We talked in the kitchen, talked in my bedroom, the apartment, the studio and the living room. Whew, what a huge release that was!

I had said in an earlier post that I don't know how to be me without Jim. Being with Dean puts me in back touch with me. The me in 9th grade. The me before Jim. (WARNING! Approaching deep thought.) It seems the way to the future lies in the past. (Heh, heh!) Actually, there may be something to that. It sure felt great to spend the afternoon with her.

David came by today. He talked to Maria and at this point it looks like the best they can do is offer a 45% discount. But we haven't heard from Lynn yet. Even if she can't help 45% is still doable. I'm just not going to sweat over this. Not right now, anyway. David also dropped off a check from him and Dede. Just a bit more help until I can get some of the retirement cash. A wider comfort zone and peace of mind for my family.

This was a beautiful day. On my way to Mt. Rubidoux I was thinking of these words, "This is a day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it." I'm no longer a believer but I sure like the sound of that. It made me feel happy.

Bob Craig is coming tomorrow. That's gonna be a gas. The three of us together in the same room? Kick it up a notch! BAM!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hitting the ground running.

Lots of people told me to take the day off and relax but I've got too much excess energy to lay around and mope. I started by cleaning out Jim's side of the dresser and closet. It's an easy thing to do and besides, Dean will need some space for her clothes when she gets here. We'll keep some special things like a few t-shirts but I'm passing the rest along to Anthony. Whatever he doesn't want will go to the hospice thrift store. I gave Rory Jim's new SAS shoes.

I'm hiring Hector to clean up the yards. The last few windstorms left a lot of debris and the lawn and plants are looking generally shabby. We're going to gather up the clutter in the house and then Hector's wife is going to come do the cleaning. That way the house will be ready for company and we'll be free to do stuff like make arrangements for the party and run errands.

I got things moving with getting Jim's retirement money switched to my name. I still need to call Allstate and contact the life insurance company. So many particles to handle but I think it's good for me to do this stuff. I taped some paper to the front of the fridge so we can make lists and keep track of things. The kids have been so helpful today.

More phone calls, more e-mails, more comments on this blog. It takes up a lot of time but that's my life line. I love hearing from all of you, even if I'm sobbing for half the conversation. Please know that you're not making things harder for me by talking about Jim and your feelings about him. You're actually making it easier for me to bear the pain. Hey, you all know me. I'm a big weeper.

I'm doing ok, you guys. I know there are some hard times ahead but I'm way less scared than I was a few days ago. The worst thing that has ever happened to me was yesterday. Now I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Life can only get better.

Right foot, left foot, repeat.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Letting go

We said goodbye to Jim today. The doctors told us there was very little brain activity left. Even though they couldn't declare him brain dead he was close enough. Ken and I decided we would call everyone and let them come say their goodbyes and then let Jim go.

David went to the hospital with me this morning. We got there early enough for him to talk to the doctors and get a much more detailed explanation of things. The position of the bleed was very deep in the brain so going in to drain off the blood would be risky and probably wouldn't affect the outcome. Jim never really had a chance.

It was a long day of people coming and going. Dave Hockett came by again, Kevin Price, cousin Steve. Jim's dad came but he didn't stay long. He tries not to show it but you know his heart is breaking. I hugged him and thanked him for giving me such a wonderful man to spend my life with.

I called home but the girls and Kyle and Rory were already on their way. Jim's cheery Hello! came on the answering machine. That was a bit of a shock. I had to hang up. Couldn't deal with that right now.

Earlier Ken, David and I went to the (yuck) cafeteria for some breakfast. Afterward David and I stopped by the financial office to talk to Maria about the insurance situation. David deals with this stuff all the time so he knows how it all works and what can be done to get the costs down. After a bit of circular conversation and computer flailing he finally got them to try to take things in a different direction. I didn't get the feeling that they could help that much but we can probably do better than the 50% discount.

Back upstairs more and more family started to show up. Ken and I deceded that we'd see who could get there by early afternoon and then probably have them take Jim off the respirator at around 2:00, maybe 3. Sherri and her girls came, Jan, (again, if I leave someone out, forgive me.) Drew, Dede, Dad, Sherri's parents. Stacey and Scotty showed up with Audra and Brendan. They have a rule in the ICU that no children under 13 are allowed in. I asked Christine if they could come in and say goodbye to their Uncle Jim. She said ok. Audra was very quiet but I could see she was very sad and a little bit in shock. Brendan handled it very well, very grown up. I'm very glad they came.

After everyone said goodbye we told the nurse we were ready. I thought it was best that Ken, Lindsay and Paige, Kyle and Rory and I be the only ones in the room when Jim died. Ken agreed. A respiratory therapist and an assistant came in and started the procedure. Two nurses also came in and started shutting off the machines. They kept him hooked up to the heart monitor so they could determine the time of death. Once Jim was off the respirator he breathed on his own, but it wa shallow and labored. Little by little his breathing slowed down and he began to change color. Then it stopped. It took less than ten minutes for him to go.

When they first started working on unhooking Jim I got a fist-sized, burning feeling in my chest. I was thinking wow, this is it. This is really it. Jim is going to die. After they were done and we were able to surround his bed I watched him and talked to him, stroked his arm and his chest. I could hear Ken crying next to me. I had to keep looking at Jim. The tight, burning feeling began to dissipate and I suddenly felt so peaceful. I felt empty but it was a good empty, just pure being. I knew I'd be ok. Thank you, Jim.

When he was finally gone we stood silent and just looked at him. I looked at the heart monitor and there was just a little blip on the line. The nurse said that was just a little electrical activity, that his heart had stopped. Everyone filed out but I stayed a few seconds longer. I knew that once I left that room I'd never see my husband again.

I left and we all walked together down the hall to where the rest of the family was waiting. Lots of hugging and tears but also some laughter and lightness. Brendan became a huggy boy and let his Aunt Donita smooch him good and hard. We decided to all go to Ken's and just be together for a while. Just as we were leaving Lindsay noticed the label on a fire extinguisher on the wall. She said, "Is that a cowboy beating a fire with a whip?" Yep, it sure was. Another funny moment.

We went to Ken's and had pizza and salad. I think we stayed for about 3 hours. Ken ran a slide show on his computer. There were some hilarious pictures of Ken and Sherri and us goofing around in Mexico. The pictures of Jim were the best. Damn, he could be funny. It was good to talk and laugh with the family. Crying, too. Lots of that.

Jeff called and said he wanted to come over but it got too late for him to come to Ken's. I called him and told him to meet me at home. He and I came into the studio and had a nice talk. It was so good to see him. It's been a long time since we last walked the Rube together.

After he left I made phone calls to Northern California and Washington. One by one I heard the voices of mine and Jim's dearest friends. I gave them the heartbreaking news. They pretty much knew it was coming but it still was a shock to hear. So many of them had stories of how Jim has made a difference in their lives. I told them we're planning to have a celebration of life party next weekend and it sounds like most of them are coming down for it.

Dean will be here on Saturday. I might just latch on to her and never let go.

What a day. Jim and I were together for 34 years. I don't even know how to be me without him. I don't have to worry about that too much because he'll always be with me. I've got his girls. And now our new life begins.

Thank you all for reading this blog. I feel you are all with me. I know you all loved Jim and were touched by him. I love hearing your stories about him. It keeps him here with me.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

News not good

Sorry to have to tell you this after being so hopeful yesterday. As of this morning it looks like Jim isn't going to make it.

Part of Jim's brain is being pushed over the midline. The first CAT scan showed it was pushed over 11 millimeters. The neurologist told me if it's pushed to 12 or 13 millimeters the outcome isn't good. The second CAT scan showed it's been pushed 15 millimeters. He said Jim isn't technically brain dead but he's moving in that direction. He doesn't respond to the pain test. He doesn't respond to anything. His eyes are more dilated and he's not doing any breathing on his own. I listened and began to feel dead inside.

I called the family. Everyone got here as fast as they could. I had dropped Paige off at school and planned to pick her up at 2:45 and give her the news. One of the doctors told me I shouldn't wait, that she should get to the hospital soon. I had Lindsay pick her up. As the day went on everyone who could be there showed up to see Jim. It was really beautiful. He has so many people who love him. I told the nurse that there would probably be a lot of people coming and could she please just let them all in. She said she had already told security and there would be no hassles about how many people we could have in Jim's room.

A very sad day but it was a day filled with love. We cried and held each other.

(Ok, now I've just had two very emotional phone calls and my thinking is out of whack. I can't remember details accurately.)

I wish I could name everyone who showed up today. I'll try but I might miss someone.

Ken and Sherri, Amber, Robin and Jessica, Jim and Carol Hoover, Tim, John, Stacey, Scotty, Drew, Mindy, Dad, Pop, Virginia, the girls, Kyle and Rory. Tonight Tim and Jan, Kurt and Lynn, Tony and Ken. I think that's it. If I missed someone please let me know.

I met with Maria, the insurance person, this afternoon. She told me that Jim's insurance wouldn't even begin to cover the costs of his ER and hospital bills. She said If we pay it all with cash we can get a 50% discount but we'd need to commit within a few days after Jim is "discharged". Discharged? Anyway, with the discount I don't think I'll have a problem paying the bill, I just don't know how long it will take to get my hands on the money. I'll call the Agilent financial office tomorrow and get things started. But in the meantime our dear, sweet friends, Dan and Carol, are going to make us a loan. That's a huge load off my mind. I just got off the phone with cousin Tony and cousin Kurt's wife, Lynn. She said she knows the vice president of the hospital. She said she's going to talk to her about Jim and see if she can get us some help. Man, I just fell apart. I'm just so blown away by all the love and support these wonderful people have given to Jim and me. There's no way I can thank them enough. I'm shaking right now, hard to type. Thank you so much, you guys.

Dede and David just got here. We had a good talk here in the studio. David is going to the hospital with me tomorrow morning. Hopefully we'll be able to snag some doctors. I know David will be able to have a much more informative conversation with them than Ken and I could.

Ok, it's late. I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Teeny, tiny changes

Just a little bit better today. We've been told that that's the way these things progress. With strokes there's a whole lot of waiting.

He had a third CAT scan this morning. We (Ken, Sherri and me) waited all day for the results but the neurosurgeon never showed up, at least not while we were there. The nurse (Christine, freakin awesome) called for the results. No change. This is good news.

They moved him to a bigger bed, an air bed. It has cells that inflate and deflate to help keep him from getting bed sores. He also has inflatable leggings that help to keep the circulation going in his legs. This afternoon they installed (?) a "central line". That's a kind of IV that they stick into a large vein in the neck or the groin. Jim got the neck job. It has three ports that can receive all his meds. They can also draw blood from it so they don't have to stick him so much. This morning they described him as a "hard stick". (insert joke here) It means his veins are rubbery and tend to slip out from under the needle. It makes it hard to get an IV in. He still has an IV in his arm and on one foot but he's much less "tubey". Seriously, the dude is majorly hooked up. He's got the machine that goes "PING".

Drew brought Dad this morning. At first he was doing well. The nurse came in to do a procedure on Jim and had to kick us out for a while. We decided to go to the cafeteria and get some lunch. Well, the food was just awful. Not too surprising coming from a hospital cafeteria. Dad wanted to go back to the kitchen and give them an earfull. Drew and I tried to get him to drop it but he was determined. I finally told him that this was another source of stress for me and I really didn't need it right now. He was still pissed about it but he didn't go chew anyone out. We went back to Jim's room.

Drew left to go to the bathroom. I got out my uke and started playing for Jim. Dad kept interrupting with asinine comments about stuff he was seeing on tv. He seemed to get more and more snide and cocky. Dave Hockett came walking in. Ah! It was so good to see his smiling face! I got just a little concerned about having too many people in the room (they can be sticky about that) and mentioned something about Drew maybe having trouble getting back in. Just a little comment, almost nothing. Dad jumped up and went to the ICU door. He was going to make damn sure Drew would be able to get in. He started looking around for something to prop the door open. I told him he couldn't do that and he started to get nasty with me. I said, "We've already been bending the rules, Dad. They've been nice about it but we shouldn't push it." He said, "Are you going to let them tell you what you can do?" He was doing that maddening, arrogant thing where he tilts his head back and sneers while he talks. I told him he'd better not dare to fight me on this. (Seriously, don't fuck with me right now. I mean it.) Drew came in and I introduced them to Dave. Just then I got a phone call from one of the doctors. As I walked out I gave Drew a little nudge to get his attention. After I was finished with my call I motioned to Drew, you know that little across the neck, off-with-his-head motion. Drew stepped out to where Dad couldn't see him and I said, "Time for him to leave. Get him out of here." I briefly explained to him what Dad had been doing. I love how it doesn't take very many words for us sibs to communicate. After a few more minutes of visiting he took Dad home. Then I had a very nice visit with Dave.

Jim was playing a gig with Dave's band the night before he had his stroke. He LOVES playing with these guys. I'm so glad he got to do that before he got sick. If he never gets to play another note at least he had that last great gig.

Back to Dad. I think I've told everyone now that I want Dad's visits to be brief. I don't want him going to the hospital with me. One of the sibs can pick him up, let him visit for half an hour and then take him home. Dad had arranged for his friend Helen to give him a ride to the hospital tomorrow. He had forgotten that he has a VA appointment but we got that straightened out. We need to tell Helen that Dad can only come to the hospital with family. We'll also explain it to Dad but he'll probably forget.

Steve and Debbie Anderson visited this morning. Tim Frasier was there for a while before I got there. Ken said he talked to Jim a lot. Tim Frasier is cool. This afternoon Sherri's parents came, Amber showed up a little later. Amber gave me a couple of Xanax. Dude! Scoring drugs in the hospital! Sherri had told her I was having a little trouble with the shakes. I've been twitchy and jumpy and I feel like I'm going to throw up half the time. I'm actually better now but it was so sweet of Amber to help me out. I'll hold onto the Xanax until I need them. I had the same problem after 9-11. My doc gave me some low dose valium. Really took the edge off. I'll be talking to my doc at Kaiser about it and see if she'll give me a little something. In the meantime if I need it I have the Xanax. David and Dede are coming down this weekend. He might be able to set me up. We'll see.

Jeez, it sounds like I'm jonesing for some smack.

Lindsay and Kyle were with me a lot today. They brought Jim's iPod Shuffle filled with his latest faves and some big, cushy headphones. After we placed them on his head and got the music going Kyle said it looked like either the best or the worst iPod commercial. I about hit the floor. I didn't want to laugh too loud but damn, that was funny. This was a day of laughter, so much better than yesterday. The little bit of good news about Jim really helped to lighten things up. It was ok to laugh. Still lots of crying, fear and worry but also so much love and lightness.

I left the hospital and came home, grabbed the kids and we all went to the Spunky Steer for red meat consumption. More laughter. I love them all. Lindsay, Paige, Kyle and Rory. The only thing missing was Jim.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Most of you know what has happened to Jim. In case you haven't heard, yesterday evening he had a stroke. A big stroke.

I was in the house. Lindsay and Kyle came in and said I should go out and check on Jim. They said he looked like he was falling asleep at the computer and they couldn't get him to respond. I went out there and shook him and said, "Hey, what's going on?" He completely ignored me. He was trying to type with his right hand while his left arm hung at his side. I shook him again and yelled at him. He wouldn't acknowledge me. I turned him around in his chair and smacked him on the leg and yelled in his face. He looked at me and smiled, the left side of his face drooped. Paige had come out to see what was going on. She suggested giving him aspirin. We couldn't get him to take it. I had it in my hand with a bottle of water (standing on his left) but he reached for a can of soda that was sitting on the desk. I later found out that the reason he was ignoring me was the stroke was on the right side of his brain, which controls the left side of the body. I learned that not only are the motor functions affected, but it's as if everything on the left just doesn't exist. That's why he reached for the soda can with his right hand. That's also why he was ignoring Paige and me. We were standing on his left. Anyway...

He could talk a little, just enough to communicate. He told me he thought he'd had a stroke. We called 911. The paramedics got here real fast. As they were working on him they said he had all the classic stroke symptoms. I ran in and changed my clothes and followed them to the hospital.

(Right now my thinking is pretty messed up. I'll probably get some of this wrong.) By the time I got to the hospital they had wheeled Jim into one of the emergency rooms. Lindsay, Paige and the boys arrived and Ken and Sherri showed up soon after. We had to hang out in the waiting room for a while and then they let us into the ER. At first it seemed like a lot of people were telling me what they were going to do for him but nothing was actually being done. We had to wait for a certain doctor or wait for a certain procedure. We had to wait to get him admitted. It bothered me because I knew that the sooner treatment is started the better the outcome. But it was a busy night in the ER.

Jim was still pretty much as he was at home. Then he started to get nauseous. Then he had trouble breathing. He started grabbing at the sticker things they use to attach sensors to the skin. He tried to pull out his IV. He wasn't communicating as well as he had been. His brain was starting to swell.

They restrained his right arm but after a while that wasn't enough. They had to sedate him. Now, I'm not sure which came first. Somewhere in there they took him down for a CAT scan. I don't remember if they did that before or after they sedated him. The CAT scan showed a large area, about 1.5 by 3 inches, that was full of blood. It was pushing part of his brain off to one side.

All of this took several hours and after a while I sent the kids home. After Jim was stabilized they took him to the ICU. Ken, Sherri and I had to wait for 40 minutes until they got Jim settled in and hooked up. The neurosurgeon had come by to see him but he had gone by the time we got in there. No one could tell us anything. Ken and Sherri left. I stayed, hoping someone would be able to give me any kind of information about my husband. It was 1:00 in the morning and they had all gone. I came home.

This morning I got up early and started making phone calls. First to Dean because she's in Texas (different time zone). Then to the family and our friends. Every call was made in tears. It was a hard thing to do. Then I went to Dad's to do morning meds and let him know what happened. He just fell apart. He hugged me so tight it was almost frightening. Then I came home, showered, got dressed and left for the hospital. Yesterday I had made some quiche. I grabbed a piece of it for breakfast. I barely kept it down.

Ken and Sherri were already there. Pretty soon everyone else started showing up. Mindy first. Stacey and Scotty brought Dad. I called the kids and told them to bring my uke. Ken told me that the doctor had told them that Jim could hear us and that it was ok to talk to him, just keep the conversation positive and encouraging. I figured some music might be nice.

According to their rules there could only be two people in the room at a time and only immediate family. Well, we had a bit of a parade. We tried to be respectful of the rules but it just wasn't practical. Fortunately, the nurses were cool about it. People were coming and going, mostly staying not more than 30 minutes at a time. Man, I love my family. They were amazing today. They sure do love Jim.

I got the uke out and Kyle sang some of his songs while I played. Lindsay sang a little back-up. Kyle did a beautiful job singing. There's no way I could have done that. I can play ukulele while crying. No way could I sing. Thanks, Kyle!

Yes, we cried a lot. I don't know if Jim can make it back from this. Thoughts of our future came creeping in. There's so much I just can't do without him. I know whatever happens we'll survive. But our lives will be different now. Shit, this wasn't supposed to happen.

After everyone else except Ken and Sherri had gone home Kenny and Bernie showed up. Drew, too. I knew Jim wouldn't have wanted Bernie there but I wasn't going to kick her out unless she made trouble. Ken really didn't want me to make a scene so I let it pass. Anyway, she stayed only a few minutes. A nurse came in to clean Jim's air tube so I took them out to explain to Kenny what had happened. While we were talking the neurosurgeon showed up and talked to Ken and Sherri. That's what I had been waiting for. A report from a real doctor. The news was encouraging. He told them that the second CAT scan showed the area of bleed had enlarged. That's not necessarily a bad thing because the first scan was taken right after the stroke and didn't show how big it would eventually get. Jim is stable. He's doing well clinically, which means the rest of his body is functioning well. They have to manage his blood pressure.

So now we wait. There's nothing more they can do other than put in a shunt to drain away excess fluid from the brain. But they'll only do that if they have to. The doctor said the first 24 hours are the most critical. After that you just have to wait and see. For the next 4 or 5 days not much will happen. If Jim makes it through this it's going to be a very long, slow recovery. And he might not make it. We have to be prepared for that.

I had a good talk with Drew. Both he and Stacey were very comforting and Mindy was a huge help with Dad. I'm very grateful for my siblings, for Ken and Sherri and for our wonderful friends. And for my awesome, beautiful daughters.

Where's Jim? He's supposed to be here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Paige is home!

Safe and sound.

She says Paris was a mixed bag. She said the food was awful! Say whaaa????? She said she threw up a couple times because the food was so bad and because everybody smokes. Rory and a couple other kids got really sick. Big fat bummer to be barfin' in Paris. She said the people were really rude. No surprise there. The French are famous for their rudeness and we Americans don't get the respect we used to.

But she had a good time. She said over and over that Paris is beautiful. She said the Eiffel Tower is really pretty.

The first thing she wanted to do when she got home was go to Jack-in-the-box.

She brought us some fun gifts. I got an Eiffel Tower/cow keychain. Seriously, it's half Eiffel Tower, half cow. She also got me some Kama Sutra dice. Each side shows a different position. Kind of an odd thing to get your mom but hey, they're pretty cool. And they're French!

I'm glad to have her home.