Saturday, November 24, 2007

Almost time...

In three days I will get to see Bruce one last time. I still dont know if I will actually get to "see" him, and I still dont know if I really want to. But I do know I am ready to say good bye. Ready to let go. Ready to be less selfish, and ready to smile again and mean it.

In all reality, I still dont want him to be gone, but I am so happy to know where he is. He is back in the arms of the one he lived the end of his life for. My mom.

I have been thinking so much of all of them lately... mom, dad, Bruce...

Mom was so beautiful, and so loving, and so wonderful... and I wasted so much of my young life hating her for just that.

I dont know why as a child she and I never bonded. I will never know that answer. But I do know I am so grateful that the last 10 years were the best I could have asked for with her. I would never trade one moment of them. Daily phone calls... "surprise" pop ins... Sunday groceries and family dinners... Maybe she was too focused on what was not perfect in her life. I dont begrudge her that... not now.

Married to my father maybe before she was ready, I know they loved each other. But I also know that at times they hated each other... and they disliked each other... and they loved each other again. It all came back to the place they knew best. Each other. But it never lasted. They finally accepted that 17 years ago and separated for the last time.

But it never really ended that love. It was different. It was almost as though once all the bad went away, and they moved on, Dad with Char (still together after almost 17 years!), and mom with Bruce, they found a place that allowed them to remember the friendship that was there before the love.

Dad was by moms side, right next to Bruce, as she lay dying. How honorable is that? The two men she loved most in her life helping her cross over. It bonded dad and Bruce in a way that you normally wouldn't see in a typical "ex" factor.

Seven months after mom passed, both of my dad's walked me down the aisle. And as we turned that corner together to face my soon to be betrothed, the three of us held back sobs of rememberance. Remembering that just a few months before we were walking down that same aisle to see another... my moms funeral.

So now on Tuesday, my dad will be there again. This time to say good bye to Bruce. And I commend that. I know he would say he was doing it for my brother and I, but I know in his heart, he is doing it for himself too.

My dad said something to me one day last week... (not an exact quote) "Bruce knew how to live life to its fullest, and for that you cannot be sad that he is gone - he is exactly where he wants to be".

So once again, that is that... that is what I was pondering today as I was thinking about it being "almost time..."

Before I go... I just saw a commercial for the new Crayola Cutter, and the last child placing a "bridge" over a waterfall created on said cutter reminded me so much of Doodle, Days eldest son!

Friday, November 23, 2007


In all honesty, this is not my idea... I am hijacking it from my dear friend Dayna! She had her small children list (in the number of years of their ages) what they are thankful for. She in turn did one for herself. Here is mine... although not as caffeine induced as hers:

1. For my children who drive me crazy, and drive me to live all at the same time!
2. For my husband who loves me for who I am even tho that person is not easy to live with!
... now that I got them out of the way!... hehehehe
3. For the forgiveness of my mother long before her passing
4. And for the wonderful years of friendship that followed
5. For my step father Bruce who loved her more than his own life, and made the end of her life precious
6. For my belief in the afterlife so that I was able to receive Bruces death with the hope that they were together again.
7. For the love of my father, the one person whose every opinion means more to me than most even when the truth hurts
8. For the family I am lucky to have - we may not all agree all the time, but in good times or bad, I would never trade them for anything.
9. For the family I married into - they bring a new life and character to my life.
10. For my community - never before have I felt so much love and friendship in one great place.
11. For my "11 friends" who brighten my days - everyday and can make me laugh even on my bad ones!
12. For my friend Brenda who has been through alot this year, but is still there for me when I need her most.
13. For my friend Stacy who finds the most appropriate things to say when I need to hear them
14. For the fireplace that warms my heart and allows me to feel cozy when it is cold outside
15. For awesome writers who entertain me in the masses - either in books, or on screen
16. For the Club - and the founders who invited me to be a part of something so wonderful
17. For the people who came when we built it!
18. For my freedom
19. For my life
20. For great food - and for my culinary taste in all kinds of it (just dont tell my hips)
21. For my creative spirit that allows me to make beautiful things
22. For the lessons I have learned that have made me a better person
23. For my "little sister" Chrissy who has made me feel worthy to so much - including my mothers memory
24. For my aunt Mary who has held so much of my mother dear to her still
25. For a job I love - a job that gives me freedom to do what I love.
26. For my Doctor who takes great care of me
27. For my Urologist who took great care of me!
28. For Hils who I can tell anything to, and can guarantee she will laugh AT me when I need it!
29. For honesty
30. For love
31. For honor
32. For chocolate
33. For you!
34. For the past
35. For the present
36. For the future!

... and thats that ...

"Thank you!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pieces of me...

Artistic Designs... "pomad" for short

There are so many steps to creating a small business - especially when it is located in your family room! So making the pieces is the easy part. Photographing them took me a long time - only for lack of taking the time. Now I have the pictures, but I am locked out of my webpage... ok, locked out isnt quite the right term for it... I sort of forgot the address to it, as well as what provider I used, so guess what? Until my brain comes back for a brief visit, I now have all these pieces made, and finally photographed, with no where to post them.

So just for fun, I will share them with you. Some day I will get my website up and running!

Coin Pearls with Sterling "daisy" spacers made for Chrissy's wedding in Maui.

So watch for more, someday!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Some happiness!

For just over 13 months, I have been extremely lucky to have become associated with a group of people who had a vision. A vision for something more, something better, something anyone would be proud to be a part of.

The Crescent...

It started off as a dream larger than life. There were two old buildings in our downtown that were in need of some TLC. And there was a man who had lived the dream. One day that man - Jeff - walked into a cozy little shop, a shop he knew fairly well, and shared his story. Jeff is from a community not much different from ours, a community that was in need of a change, a need of something "new" amongst the "old". Jeff's dream was to entertain the masses in a way that locally they could not be entertained... and he opened his dream, and it was a grand success!

Jeff asked Jeanne, the owner of the shop, "This town has some great old buildings, are there any for sale?". And that is where the Crescent story begins...

Jeanne walked him a few doors down from her shop and showed him the gem in the rough. The Sears Building and the Crescent Cafe. Both were old community fixtures that over time had become less of a place to go, and more of a place to remember. The buildings had many unsuccessful turns in the past decade and now they were empty. So Jeff asked how we could buy them and turn them into something grand for the community. Luckily for us, Jeanne is not only passionate about things she believes in, but she is also relentless about them. And she was not going to let this dream pass us by!

She told a friend, who told a friend, and that person told a few others, and the next thing we knew we were having "kitchen table" meetings almost nightly trying to figure out how to make this work....
... how much money did we have to raise to buy the buildings?
...who would buy them?
...could we? ...could Jeff? would the community receive the club if an "outsider" owned it?
...and then what?

So we put our heads together and created a committe called "The Crescent Project". For the last months of 2006 we talked to everyone we knew, everyone who may be interested in helping us fund this idea. Everyone who may have an interest in the project. When we realized that "if we build it, they will come", we tried hard to raise enough money in "memberships" to buy the buildings ourselves. We came close... We raised over $30K - only $15K to go before we could make the offer! But that last little bit was hard to come by. We had enough interest, but not enough commitment. So we started to give up on our dream...

Then our knight came to town on his white steed and bought the buildings! See, while we were raising money, a man named Marv was making offers for his own business. BUT, he only wanted the Sears Building - and we could have the Crescent (for rent that is!). How cool is that? We had to scale down our plans, but you know what, that was ok! We could always move to a larger space when the success overwhelmed the size of the space.
So we built it ...

And they came....

And we can't believe its finally here!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The waiting game...

As we wait to bring Bruce home, I wonder why... Why when a family is riddled with grief does it have to be such a struggle to bring a loved one home? Why does the bureaucracy of paperwork - a simple document - a death certificate - have to be the one thing that holds us from returning Bruce home to his family? Has there not been enough pain?

I have so many thoughts flooding my head...
Why do I have to bury another parent... I lost my mother at the young age of 54. It was not her time in our minds, but we don’t get to make those decisions. Now I bury parent #2 - and he was only 59. As my father drove me to the doctor this week; as we talked about Bruce's life, I begged, pleaded and threatened him if he were to even consider making me do this again...

Shari... I haven't had the will or the strength to call you. I know you need to hear and feel the support, but I think I am afraid it will make it real. You know it is here, waiting until I see you again. You sat by your brothers side so strong and valliant listening to words spewed from mouths of countless doctors that you would rather never had the opportunity to meet.

Shari, Bruces only sibling, is now burying the last of where she came from. She lost her mother years ago, many more then I have known her and Bruce. And Leonard, their adorable, quirky, grumpy and loveable father, passed almost 5 months to the day before mom. And now Bruce. The brother who would never tell her what we all knew. I hope she knew it, and I hope she still does. Shari, you were the earth, and the moon, and the stars in the skies to your brother. He did not express it well, but it was in his heart, and it was in his soul. He loved you beyond the horizon

Jim, Eric and Ellie... I know that your love will keep each other strong. I love you all with all my heart, and have felt you all as part of MY family since the day mom and Bruce met. It will never change. When we meet again, that bond will become stronger as we all together send Bruce home to mom.

The funeral… will I be able to see him one last time? Do I want to? Will I remember some of the people that will remember me? All of the military friends that cared so much for our family in good times and bad. Will I be able to remember them all?

The cemetery... Bruce will be buried with Military Honor at Fort Snelling in the same spot that mom was buried 6 years ago. You see, to bury Bruce with mom, they need to open her grave. And that scares me so. So much that as I write it, once again I am in tears. I know that it won’t unearth her. I know that it will place their bodies together for eternity. And in my Catholic belief, I know it is just a formality anyway, because I know they have been together since his last breath. But will one sadness overwhelm the other?

Owed to the joy...

The “cool dad”…
Bruce was not my father by birth, he is not even a father figure I grew up with. Bruce came into my mother’s life late in my life. I already had a father who I adored and thought was the moon and much more. I didn't need another father. But I got one, and I am honored to be able to call him "dad" (especially when it embarrassed the crap out of him – at the Legion when were around his friends – or around his colleagues). Bruce was the kind of "dad" that had he come into my life at a young age would have been the envy of all my friends (and the rue of their parents!). I guess its best said that he was a "cool dad" – no matter what age I was – (maybe because he didn’t have to deal with the teenage years) because he was more of a friend then a dad.

Most of my fondest/funniest memories of Bruce included “road tripping”, alcohol of some sort, and mom and I riding in the back of one of Bruce’s prized possessions with the top down. Bruce was a car enthusiast. His cars were his babies...his cars were well cared for.

The Caddy…
When he first met mom, he had a ginormis 1950 something Cadillac that had a convertible hard top. That was the year that mom drug me along on most of their dates because it was still new, and I guess mom and I had finally reached that “friendship” stage so it was natural for me to be there. The Caddy was never “cool” to me because well, I was 21, and it felt more like driving miss Daisy with Mom and Pop then “hey look at me in this cool car”!

The Lincoln…
Bruce quickly replaced the “Big Boat” for a sportier – maybe younger, sexier version of hot rod – a car that actually became famous after his possession of it. The 1970’s Black Lincoln “low rider”, “ghetto cruiser” whatever his pet name was for it – was a summers worth of showmanship and fun for Bruce and mom, but it wasn’t quite the “it” car for them. It was like a mid life crisis that was made in haste, but was fun none the less. It was even more fun once it was sold! An enthusiast from CA or NY, I can’t remember the coast, purchased said cruiser after seeing it at the Fathers Day Car Show at the Stone Arch Bridge. What no one knew at the time was that this enthusiast was also a Rock and Roll Producer – for the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS! That car was in at least one video that we know of (at one time we had an uncut full production copy of the video). When mom and I found out about the video, I found the name of the company, and for his 50th Surprise Party, I made sure we had that video in hand. Bruce, with cigar in his mouth and scotch in his hand and pride gleaming from ear to ear watched the video with his friends – in his GARAGE of course!

The Bug…
The “volks-vagen” as mom called it, was close to tops on her list and his. A 1960’ish candy apple red Volkswagen convertible, the “Bug” quickly became a family favorite – and I mean FAMILY. Remember those 7 siblings of mom’s and their children? I am not sure that there were many that hadn’t snuck behind the wheel at some point in its existence. If they were too young to ride up front, then they sat on (not in) the back – like it was a parade every day. Many an Okabena 4th of July Parade was graced by its and our presence!

Side note… I spoke to my aunt Mitz tonight, and something she said to me sums up Bruce to a tee. Bruce was very generous. Even with his prized possessions. These cars were babied more then most of us as small children. But when someone mentioned how “cool” that car is Bruce would slide the keys across the bar or table or toss them in the air with a “wanna take it for a ride”?

The Thunderbird…
The true apple of mom’s eye was the dream that he made come true for her on their 5th wedding anniversary. See, mom had a dream for as long as I can remember… She always wanted a 1956 Thunderbird in its original namesake color. For most of my childhood my dad would take my brother and I to buy the perfect “model” of the car. She always loved them, and they always adorned book shelves and reminded her of her dream that she was sure would some day come true. Just before their 5th Anniversary mom was diagnosed for the first time with Breast Cancer, stage 4B. Even though we knew she would get better, I think Bruce saw that as his chance to make her dream come true. She had that car by late spring. On the day of their 5th Anniversary, July 15th 2000, my brother Ted drove his new bride Theresa from the church to their reception in that blue beauty. It was a day that Bruce could have shown off mom’s new prize, but in true generosity, he let her son do it in her honor (besides, it would have messed up her hair!).

The Thunderbird was not the last of Bruce’s “hot rides”, but it was the last of my memories of them, and probably the most vivid. Because one year after he bought that car for mom, he was taking his bride on her last rides in it. Mom’s cancer came back in 2001, and this time it was terminal. My most vivid memories of mom in her dream was with no hair and no care. She was happy. She had her dream man, and her dream car, and he made sure that she was able to go for a ride whenever she felt up to it. She had scarves and hats and clothes to match. He paraded his prized “women” not with attitude and ego, but with love and pure affection.

… that was Bruce…

Cars were not all that Bruce was about, and there are a ton of memories that don’t involve cars, but tonight my ramblings and my memories keep trailing back to them.
I hope she won’t mind, but I am stealing a quote from Mitz, because I think this is how most of us envisioned the reuniting of mom and Bruce this past Sunday evening…

“I believe in a lot of things. When I headed east to Mom's this morning at 7:00 a.m., I noticed how beautiful the sky was - I believe it was because of the reuniting of Bruce and Elaine and they wanted to share their happiness with us.

I also believe that when we go to Heaven, we leave all of our infirmities here. I hope there are backroads, rock & roll music, classic cars and good cigars in Heaven so Elaine and Bruce can motor down their own Route 66.”

As we remember his life, one more thing reminds us all of how generous Bruce was… Bruce was an organ donor. So much as I believe Bruce was mom’s vessel to the living, I believe that all of those who receive a piece of him will be his vessel to life. I hope that one day they will find that overwhelming urge to travel Route 66 with the top down, and in that happiness, they will bring piece of him back to the places he loved.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Today is about remembering...

As I try and wrap myself around the news I have received of my step fathers passing, I must remember the joy...

Bruce was his name, and life was his game. Bruce was a hard working, even harder playing man who found his way into our hearts more than 15 years ago... boy has time flown!

The set up...

In May of 1992 after a little planning, and a little scheming, Bruce's friend Donny, and I planned the perfect "set up". But Donny neglected to tell me what Bruce looked like! As we walked into the Legion on May 12, 1992, there sat two men. Good friends they were, but very different.

One wore tatoo's from hither to yawn, drank beer, and swore like a sailor. The other wore a flight suit and a glass of scotch, but was so shy that all he did was giggle! I remember as if it were yesterday, like two school girls, mom and I rushing into the bathroom, both a little giddy (and slightly intoxicated) laughing so hard that we feared peeing our pants, because we had NO IDEA who the guy was I was supposedly setting her up with... Was it the Harley dude or the Army Brat? Note to self, next time ask the co-conspirator the guys NAME!

What we didnt know at the time was that the co-conspirator had already told the smitten gent all about the set up, and the guys were playing us for all we were worth. See, the man cannot be caught off guard, he must always be in control. And they played the game well.

And the best man won...

Bruce, what can I say about him? I loved him, I hated him, I adored him, I respected him, I was amazed by him. I will never forget him.

I loved him... for loving my mom unconditionally. He was there in her spirit, in her smile, in her laughter, and sometimes in her tears.

I hated him... for sometimes taking life not serious enough. Is that his fault? Not at all. Did it harm anyone? Only him. "In the moment" was Bruces style, and sometimes "in the moment" meant missing something that was coming at him like a runaway freight train. He lived his life like he wanted, and sometimes that meant not seeing the big picture. But it was his life to live, and he lived to its best!

I adored him... Bruce loved and lived with all his heart. When Bruce married mom, he married so much more. He instantly became "dad" to two adult children who would not allow him to forget his place in their hearts. He also became "brother" to 7 of moms siblings, their spouses and children, and we cannot forget, "son" to Margaret, and "son" to Olga, whose life he was only able to touch for a very short time. Bruce soon became "grandpa" to three adorable children who loved him dearly, and he them.

I respected him... How could you not respect a man who put his life in his own hands and lived, and lived and lived... He knew what he wanted, and he made sure he got it. He knew who he was, and he never let anyone tell him different. How can you not respect a man who knew how to live life to its fullest?

I was amazed by him... How can you not be?

I will miss him... Anytime you lose someone you love, you miss them, that is obvious, that is part of loving. What I will miss the most about Bruce is this... His laugh. It was devious and obnoxious, and at sometimes came at moments when you knew he would rather cry. His smile. It usually was followed by the above noted laugh! His eyes. You saw his soul in his eyes. He may have presented with a tough guy image, but you saw the soul that screamed love and devotion when you looked into those beautiful frosty blues!

What I will miss the most... what I saw present everytime I looked into his eyes was the love of his life. She was there always. He never left her behind. He carried her with him. He was her vessel to the living. He carried his father in those eyes too. Leonard, I have decided over the years, was the devious side of Bruce, and Mom was the devotion in him. I will miss all of him. His quirks, his love and his laughter. Bruce was the best step father I could have ever asked for.

So as I share in the sadness, the "life" of his life, I also share the "joy". The joy that Bruce brought to my life, and to my family's life, and to all those who knew him.

Bruce we all love you and will miss you, but we are all so happy that you are back in the arms of the one you lived for.

Thank you for gracing my life - love, your bratty kid.