When our pets die

Rainbow Bridge – Author Unknown

Gilda came into our lives as a stray whom we rescued some 14 years ago when she was about 2 years old. It was actually a very long, stressful and convoluted story but we were fortunate to legally adopt her from her owners with the help of our local shelter. She was also fortunate that it was my car she stepped out into the road in front of that day. I first wrote about her HERE and also celebrated her 12th birthday HERE .

Gilda was a Belgian Laekenois and Belgian Malinois cross. She had been purchased by a young family in our neighborhood to be a guard dog. Belgians are a special breed that can be difficult for inexperienced dog owners to handle. It was not a good mix and she found herself in a horrible situation. I won’t go any further into details except that by the time she stepped into traffic in front of my moving car she was malnourished and maladjusted. At the moment my eyes landed on her I didn’t yet realize the blessing the universe had just placed into my path, I just knew I had to get this strange and frightened dog to safety.

After many healthy years here with us, Gilda started her decline about a year ago. It was slow and she had many wonderful days, but she had some struggles too. It’s when the struggles outweigh the good days that we owners have to make that final hard choice. Last Saturday it appeared it was about time to call the vet for the home visit, by Sunday evening it was obvious. Monday morning at 8 am the phone weighed about 20 pounds as I dialed the number, fortunately they had a 12 noon opening for the same day.

Monday was a beautiful day and The Better Half had the day off. We were able to open all the doors and windows and spend the morning right here on the house giving her her favorite treats, help her out into her yard for a few last trips and lounge on the floor with her in her comfy bed. We were all blessed as the breeze blew through the house and she could part this life peacefully with us and all her sibling dogs at her side.

While we will never see her beautiful sparkling eyes again in this life, we know we will on the other side. She was the most loyal, loving and gentle soul that anyone could ever be blessed with in life.

Goodbye for now Gilda. Please say hello to Mitzi, Virgil, Diva, & Nina for us. We love you and look forward to the day we can hold you close again.

Gilda with Fearsome

Gilda with Hazel


Gilda and Nina

Her eyes


I’ll fly away

Growing up in Appalachia , this tune is one I know from childhood.

I consider life a gift from a power, essence or spirit that I don’t understand. Part of that gift is that I don’t have to understand where the gift comes from. I get to experience the love and beauty without ever feeling in debt to do or return anything.

As I wasn’t here before my life, I will not be here after it. I will physically be gone from here and now, but not necessarily gone from what we understand to be a universe.  I don’t need to know anything more than that.

When I die I wish to be cremated. I wish for my ashes to be discretely dropped on a specific hillside above the sea on a nearby Southern California Island known as Catalina. No one is to know, but the couple of close loved ones who accidentally drop my ashes there, exactly where this spot is. As my ashes are dropped, they will start to fly out over the land and the sea. Those that find the land their home will continue to both blow into the wind as well as meld into the earth eventually eroding their way into air and the nearby sea as well.

Therefore my body and my spirit shall fly away, wash away and float away. I’ll still be here and there. I’ll be wherever I’m supposed to be.

Rising Appalachia – I’ll Fly Away – traditional live – 2012

Simple and beautiful, enjoy.

Note: If those whom I love and love me wish to gather for any type of memorial after I am gone, they are free to do so in any fashion just as long as it’s fun, celebratory, simple and this traditional Appalachian folk tune is played.


I know that this isn’t all there is. Even if Sandra Bernhard sings her rendition of Is That All There Is? so incredibly one could almost believe her…

Yes Dear Fearsome fans I have posted that one before, to good reviews I must add.

I believe that there is another dimension beyond that which I experience at this moment. I understand that I am limited to the five senses that to which my current body experiences this life that I am blessed to live. I know that there are other experiences that I am not able to comprehend while living within the confines of my earthy body.

There are many writings of those who have passed and returned to their bodies only to continue living the life that they were. A name for this phenomenon is near death experience.

I worked for many years in intensive care units and emergency rooms. I’ve witnessed death many times and I’ve witnessed near death as well. I’ve worked in delivery rooms and witnessed not only 100s of live vaginal births but c-sections, stillborn and multiple births. I’ve even resuscitated conjoined twins, or Siamese twins if you choose to call them that. I’ve watched the breath of life reach the depths of lungs for the first moment out of the womb, watched that life leave the infant and then resuscitate life back into that infant just as I’ve resuscitated life back into an adult heart attack victim under my earthly body’s hands.

I didn’t actually give that life back, or give that life in the first place. A power much greater than me did that. My hands were but tools present at the moment. Tools hired by the hospital to do what hospitals do which is aid people in their own journey into life, through life and out of life. My experience was but a blessing to sculpt me into the man I am today.

I don’t know what the other side is. I haven’t been there. I believe there is another side there. I know because I’ve had several experiences where the other side reached to this side to give me a message I needed at that moment. These experiences were both inside and outside my hospital environment. Maybe the energy that reached out to me did so because of my experience and my open mind from those experiences.

I will not write about those in detail at this moment in time. Maybe one day I will, and again maybe I never will. Those experiences were as real as I am and as real as the words in this post. They are burned into my memory. One even happened in the very room in which I sit writing this post.

I do choose to commit to calling the energies that contacted me and energies that brought life into and out of being in front of my eyes, angels. I believe that angels do exist. My definition of them is that thy are a positive energy from the other dimension that I cannot yet experience, but one day will. Unlike Sandra’s lyrics, I do not think that experience will be yet another disappointment.

In many of the writings I’ve read about out of body or near death experiences is that each and every one of them has noted that their pets were there to greet them. Not just special human loved ones, but the very pets they loved and cared for during their life. It’s a consistent story line. I believe them.

Earlier today when I looked in the corner only to find it empty I cried. Then I smiled. I know Nina was looking down on me. She is but one of many angels waiting for and watching over me. I know one day she will be there to greet me as well as Cephas, Nikky, Tess, Matty and Diva. God willing that I have many more years here there will be many more than the few names I just mentioned.

I believe that my previously lost human loved ones are also with me.


I Believe.

What of life?

Nina is still with us and peaceful in her bed.

Nina sleeping 12/28/17

It is a quintessential winter Southern California day. Crystal clear blue skies, bright winter sun and 72 degrees F. Nina has spent some time on her patio today, eaten well and napped in her beloved corner bed. Our housekeeper, whom Nina adores, is here cleaning. The other dogs are napping and occasionally barking at the construction workers doing the remodel next door. All in all a nothing unusual beautiful day. It is peaceful with just a little stimulation.

Planning it out couldn’t have turned it better. Our dog sitter who was with me as we rescued Nina together is out of town. Nina adores her as well and she will be back in San Diego tomorrow. She is coming over to be here with us when the veterinarian arrives about 5 pm. Tomorrow is forecast to be as beautiful as today. The Better Half already had scheduled the whole week off, so between the two of us someone will always be home tomorrow.

Earlier Abner and Patsy tried out the comfort of four beds piled together when or housekeeper was busy cleaning…

Patsy (with toy) and Abner reinact the Princess and the Pea. 

The joys of life are abundant around here. It’s not gloom and doom. It’s sweet, with the bitterness of reality. The big questions loom. Why? Why are we here? What? What is this about?

Should we loose ourselves in contemplation of the unknown? Or should we just enjoy the moment even though we know the inevitable?

My answer? Enjoy the moment.

I believe there is one sole purpose for life. The purpose I believe in is love.

I am here to love. I am here to share. I am here to give. I am here to serve.

What are giving, serving and sharing? Love.

I am here to love. Period.

Responsibilities of pet ownership

Last October marked the 3 year anniversary of our adoption of Nina. Nina’s owner had passed away and she had been left outside for a year behind an empty house. Her story starts HERE.

That was the day I discovered her. She was an older dog but full of energy, happy and playful. I wrote more about our decision to formally adopt her in this follow up POST.

We never really knew how old Nina was, but she has become a very old dog. In the past 6 months there has been a rapid deterioration. If you look back at her previous post there was a spark, a happiness and energy. Unfortunately due to age this is Nina today:

Nina on December 27, 2017. Official age unknown, estimated age 14-15 years.

Nina has a warm comfortable home that she has loved for the past three years. She has had regular medical care, dental care and grooming. She grew all her hair back after adoption and never had a flea again. She gained weight, ate well, played, walked and rarely ever barked. She had a short but happy life here.

I write because the time has come. We must make that decision that every loving pet owner never wishes to make.

She is confused. She’s not able to walk well. She can’t see nor hear. When she is able to walk, it is in circles as she has developed vestibular disease. She is often incontinent. She eats, but needs assistance. She appears uncomfortable.

We may not have to do it today, but we may. I just got the number for an in-home euthanisia Vet. I’m about to make the call to ask the questions and possibly schedule.

With tears I write. With written words I gain strength.

UPDATE: The in home appointment has been made for Friday 12/29 at 5 pm.

On Death, Dying and Responsibility

I will die. Fearsome will die with me.

We do not know when but we will. It’s the cycle of life.

You know what? You will die too.

Morbid? No, not actually. Death is part of our life. Yes it’s as much part of yours as it is mine.

We cannot plan when we die or how we die. However we can plan for death.

We, the Better Half and I, wrote our original trust back in 2004. In 2004 gay men couldn’t get married in California, nor did the federal government recognize our relationship. We had an attorney draw up a trust mainly to protect us should one of us die. As it turns out a trust goes far beyond protecting two unmarried individuals that have built a life and many assets together.

We are way past due to update our trust and are in the middle of that update this week. Wow, have things changed in the past 13 years. Not only are we married in California but our marriage is recognized federally. In review it turns out our assets have more than doubled since creating the original trust. Not only has its value changed but our values and priorities have changed.

A trust gives direction to our survivors, maintains our assets, minimizes taxes, protects our pets, covers healthcare concerns, includes our charities, prevents post death disputes, contains our will and plans our funeral. Our trust will provide not only security but peace of mind.

With the updating of the trust comes contemplation of death. Contemplating death is movement toward acceptance. Planning for death helps bring peace of mind. Death is not something to fear, but something to embrace as part of life.

I am grateful for having the life I have. I choose to respect my life by planning for death.

Have you planned for yours?

“Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination.” … BJ Miller


Yesterday I found a new (to me) blog called Raising my Rainbow. I found it while wading through the train wreck of negative political crap that I can’t seem to stop looking at these days over on The Huffington Post. There was a post that caught Fearsome’s attention…could that be a post about a positive, touching and inspirational story? Fearsome reminded me, as he sometimes has to, that we need to be focusing on the good not the bad. He convinced me to click on the story.

The post led me to the actual blog from whence it came. A beautiful blog written by a loving mother about raising her son, life with her family and moving through a world that sometimes places upon us stereotypes and expectations. A blog so touching to me that I immediately added it to the Fearsome Buds blogroll for easy access.

Anywhoo, you can catch up with that story by either reading the re-blogging of the story that led us there yesterday or by clicking on the link labeled “blog” above or simply click the new Raising my Rainbow link over in Fearsome Buds.

Who is Andy? Well he’s not the boy from the blog. Andy is someone that was once very dear to me whom I lost tragically many many years ago. The new blog I found flooded me with emotion, emotions surrounding memories of Andy.

While in high school Andy showed up in one of my classes one day back about 1981. There was no missing Andy. From his outrageous clothes, flamboyant voice, dramatically gestured movements to his coal black dyed hair and eyeliner there was no way to miss him. We instantly became close friends. While he turned heads as we walked by no one even questioned as to why I walked with him. It was very early in the 1980s, I was only in high school but I was out and proud. Gay as a goose and everyone knew it.

You see after a very tumultuous junior high experience where I had been ridiculed for being different, in high school I had embraced my differences and found that once I owned my gayness it took the power out of the name calling and suddenly I was ok. In fact in some circles I was the cool token. Andy had already embraced this before he landed at our high school. Even though he raised more eyebrows than I did and was way more flamboyant than I, he was ok. Unfortunate was what landed Andy at our high school.

Andy’s grandparents and uncle shared a duplex about two blocks from my home. Andy’s uncle on one side and his grandparents on the other. Andy’s uncle had taken him in at the request of Andy’s parents. You see they were strict Greek Othodox and Andy wasn’t accepted by his parents. His uncle, who was not gay, was his only hope as his parents no longer wanted him in their home nor around his one year younger brother. Andy was a black sheep and in their eyes not good for the perfect jock model son younger brother.

While Andy could handle high school and the occasional insult or cruel remark, he was deeply wounded by the rejection of his parents. I had my challenges as I was gay. Andy wasn’t only gay but also gender non-conforming. Back in the early 1980s in small town Virginia we had never heard of gender non-conforming. Andy was considered a freak. I loved him for who he was and so did several others that we hung with. He was hilarious and always having a good time. He did pretty well getting along at school. His parents tormented him.

Andy and I grew close. I got to see the other side of Andy that the casual high school friends didn’t. I got to know the wounded, battered, damaged vulnerable Andy. Andy just wanted to be loved by the people that he called mom and dad. Mom and dad ridiculed him just for simply being who he was. They called him a sinner and a disgrace. Thank god for Andy’s uncle Marty. If it wasn’t for Marty I’m afraid Andy would have been another teen suicide.

Occaisionally Andy would act out. I mean who wouldn’t? We were young and alcohol and drugs were just starting to enter our lives. Andy loved the escape. Overall though he didn’t take it too far. We had fun.

It was about six months into the school year and or newfound friendship, Andy didn’t show up to school. Not unusual as his attendance was mediocre at best. I mean he lived with his uncle and he could get depressed. Then I got the news. Andy was dead.

Andy’s brother had come to spend the night with the grandparents. Andy and his brother were close when mom and dad weren’t in the way. They were only a year apart for god sakes. They had taken one of the cars, a convertible Pontiac Gran Ville, out for the evening. Two brothers on the town. Andy’s brother was driving and apparently lost control of the car on a windy rural road… a road that actually was one of my favorites. The car had flipped and both boys were killed instantly.

1976 Pontiac Grand Ville

1976 Pontiac Gran Ville

I had only known Andy for about six months but we had become the best of friends. My friend Cathy drove me to the funeral home. There was a huge crowd of people. As we approached the door I could see through the open double doors that there were two caskets, one on each end of a long room. One end was full of people, flowers and distraught family. On the other end of the room sat Andy’s casket. Andy had just a few flowers by his casket. It was open I could see he was dressed in a conservative suit. He would have never ever worn anything remotely like that suit. There wasn’t anyone by Andy’s casket. Cathy immediately commented to me about this horrible sight. Then the arm grabbed me.

“You are not welcome here” a stern voice said to us as we were stopped in our tracks. I was shocked, Cathy wasn’t having it. She immediately asked “Why?” “You, your kind, you are not welcome here” was the reply as the family member stared right at me. We turned and left, both in tears. Andy was a friend of Cathy’s too.

I’ll never forget the loneliness that Andy described to me in those hours of his despair. I’ll never forget the loneliness I witnessed seeing his lifeless ignored body alone in a casket at the opposite end of a room where his perfect jock model child brother lay in a casket surrounded by flowers, family and tears at the other. I’ll never forget being refused entry into the funeral of a friend.

I know that the family cited religion as to why Andy was rejected. I believe it was ignorance and fear as to why Andy was rejected.

Andy was a blessing in my life. His circumstances are obviously a scar in the fabric that makes up my life. Andy taught me to have an open mind. Andy re-enforced my self expression. Andy showed me the healing power of laughter. Andy demonstrated making the best one can out of a situation, even when it hurts. Andy helped me to gain courage. Andy shared vulnerability. Andy made me appreciate my family, my life and my circumstances.

Blessed be the parents that accept their children with open hearts, open minds and unconditional love. Blessed be the parents that embrace their child’s differences and encourage their children to be just who they are. Blessed be the parents that share their experiences thus opening minds and enriching the lives of others. Blessed be the parents who change minds and grow understanding.

Andy never got to see Ru Paul’s drag race. Hell, Andy never got to see a drag show. If Andy had …he would have been up on that stage and starring in the next show. This Halloween whether C.J. knows it or not, Andy is right beside him cheering him on.


Changes of heart

This morning while sippin’ coffee and cruisin’ the internets I found a well written piece on a voter and his change of heart. I found it interesting, informative and enjoyable.

I share it here for others who might enjoy a thought provoking election read that isn’t just talking points and hype, but one voter and his wrestle with the candidates and his ultimate internal resolution. If you wish to take a gander of it yourself just simply click right HERE and you will be wisked away to the post itself over on HuffPo.

So moving on to me and the loss of The Big Brother … I’m doing ok. Today marks five days since his passing and through the title I chose for this post I realize the change of heart I have had, and am having, regarding my brother, my emotions and my relationship with him.

Siblings we were. Siblings often have unresolved issues. We had issues. When children we don’t have the knowledge, experience or tools to deal with situations and feelings that arise from our daily interactions. These interactions can often leave scars that carry into adulthood. Old patters of misunderstanding and poor communication follow us as we mature yet go our separate ways leading to a continuation of previously established patters.

Stepping back I can begin to heal, begin to have a change of heart. I can realize the humanity of both of us and the ultimate imperfections that make us each who we were and who we are. Being human I can empathize that we each have blind spots. I can use this opportunity to either dig deeper into resentment or to grow into a better man. A man who understands just a bit better.  A man who accepts just a little more.  A man who loves a tad deeper. A man who learns forgiveness for faults I perceive in others that are also faults of my own.


To my Big Brother David (4/6/1954-9/23/2016),

May peace be yours. We may not have been close buddies but we were always brothers. I knew if I needed you, you would be there. I love you and you I will miss. I learned from you and many times emulated you. I was always proud to be your little brother.


Pain, Death, Depression, Anxiety …and Hope

Let me just lay it all out on the table.

Most of the time I spend my Bearded life on the sunny side. Optimist, Pollyanna, Light Hearted, Happy, Positive, Uplifting …these are just a few adjectives that come to mind when I think of how I prefer to live my life.

I truly believe that most of the time I can stay in the positive mindset.

However at this moment I am being realistic. By realistic I mean that I have to admit I am not perfect therefore I will occasionally stumble. My stumble is a slip into negativity. Realistically I can stay positive for the majority of my experience with a rare and short lived negative experience.

My post surgical arm hurts bad this morning. The bicep burns. It woke me up at midnight, I found myself in a pool of sweat and laying there for an hour before giving up and taking a pain pill. I hate pain pills. I am recovering from a head cold. My Big Brother is still a breathing corpse with my poor mother, his wife, my nephew and the Middle Brother all there on death watch. All I can do now is call them and offer long distance support.

This morning I found myself in pain, feeling defeated, feeling helpless, crying, sweating and overwhelmed with anxiety.

Right now I sit on the couch after a good conversation with my friend Catherine. She helped to calm me as does Abner, my little one eyed poodle, who rests in my lap.

This is life. I must walk through it. Most times are good. Once in a great while things will be less than preferred. I must accept that life, like myself, is not perfect.

I now choose to move on as this too shall pass. I choose to inhale. I choose calm. I choose to go with the flow and accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and to work toward the wisdom to know the difference.

Through my current illusion of fear, may I find the truth of hope.

Circle of life

Sunrise. Sunset.

One thing I have learned throughout my life journey is the power of letting go. The power of going with the flow allows me acceptance. Acceptance brings peace and serenity.

Yes I still have stress. I allow myself to feel the stress, walk through it and then let go of what is out of my control. Life is a series of ups and downs tumbling into one circle after another.

Sunrise. Sunset.

Fearsome mother and The Big Brother.

Fearsome mother and The Big Brother.

The Big Brother is still with us. His clock is ticking. When this circle of his life ends we do not yet know, yet we know it’s near.

Fearsome and his newest niece Sadie as she discover's his softness.

Fearsome and his newest niece Sadie as she discover’s his softness.

I leave in just 4 short hours setting out to return home. I’ve been away for two weeks. It’ll be good to get home. I’ll say my final farewell to The Big Brother and fly off into the sunset back to my circle of life.

Sadie and Fearsome just realized you are here.

Sadie and Fearsome realizing you are here …say hello!

Sadie is just starting her circle, her journey. What’s important is to reflect with joy on what was, cherish what is and look forward with enthusiasm to what has yet to come.

The Car

Goals are good to have.

Goals give life purpose. A purpose even when the odds are against us.

Sometimes a life goal can be a significant gift to humanity.  Sometimes they are simply for personal satisfaction.

The Big Brother's 1969 Corvette

The Big Brother’s 1969 Corvette

His life goal was to both see and drive this car fully restored. He bought it in the mid 1970s when married to his first wife. He kept it after the divorce and it sat in pieces for many years in his garage, most of it in boxes, waiting for its restoration. Three years ago no longer in good enough health to restore it himself, he sent it away. Sent it for its restoration. This past week it was finished. He can’t even go down to the parking lot to see it.

Brand new ground up restoration.

Brand new ground up restoration.

I printed a dozen different photos of it and posted them around his room. When he is awake and able he points to the photos, smiles and he mouths the words “I am going to drive that car”.

No matter where we are in life we need a goal. I sincerely doubt he will actually ever even see it up close, but I am not the one who decides when he lives or dies. In the mean time he has a goal in front of him and it’s making him smile.

The drivers seat awaits it's driver, a driver who dreams.

The drivers seat awaits it’s driver, a driver who dreams.

Life is a journey. Life is a gift. Life is but a dream.

Dreams bring goals and goals give purpose. Big or small, go ahead and dream your dream…

Chevrolet's 1969 finest.

Chevrolet’s 1969 finest.

1969 Corvette Stingray, a beauty.

1969 Corvette Stingray, a beauty.

…dream that dream, find your purpose.

Unstable Stability

The Unknown. What is going through that mind? What is going on inside that body? He responds unresonsibly. The body is failing yet the breath keeps inhaling and exhaling. Empty eyes open and close yet do they focus? Is that a smile?

This is going to last awhile, or at least it seems to me.

My middle brother returns here from his Italy holiday Saturday evening. I just booked a flight out Monday afternoon. While he will not last much longer on this earth, I believe he will still be with us Monday and if so I’ll say my last goodbye just before I board a United flight out of here. I have missed two weeks of therapy and have to get to a postponed appointment for surgery follow up.

Am I cold for not sitting the death watch until it concluded?

He isn’t having a service. He’s being cremated to sit on a shelf with the ashes of his cats that have left the planet before him. This is very much him. He has been a recluse for years that has all of his neighbors scared of him. I already have a trip scheduled to visit here October 19. Mom says she is ok with this.

He is unstable yet stable on this level of instability.

We are here, he knows that. We must also find our stability and live our lives to.

A year ago today THIS happened. I don’t mean to be morbid or some Debbie Downer. I’m just sorting feelings. In all of this there is love, strength, growth and peace. It’s a journey. A journey of family and of love.

Mom support

This morning I woke up in my old bedroom. The one from my teenage years. It no longer looks like my room but it still is. I awoke bleary eyed and slightly confused. My shoulder and upper left arm hurt. I had slept hard.

My old friend Doug, or as I call him Trixie, picked me up at the airport about 2 pm yesterday. It was good to hug him and feel his support before facing reality.

Mom was waiting at the house. We visited with Doug for a minute then we were off to the hospital to see the Big Brother.

He looked like shit.

White as a ghost yet with a yellow cast. Deep dark set eyes hardly opened when we said hello. Skin barely clinging to the thin bones with all the veins exposed like a little web of roadmaps. Huge protruding belly making a stark contrast against the frail fragile body. That belly is the capsule holding the failing liver within.

This isn’t the virile strong athlete I wished to emulate when we were kids, but he is still my brother.

His wife hugged me and told mom he hadn’t eaten all day. He went back to sleep with a weak snore.

We have no idea when he will go. It could be in the next couple of days or he could rally into an extension of suffering.

Here I sit waking up with my coffee. I am deciding at this moment to be thankful that I have the health and means to be here for mom. Gratitude will give me the grace to walk through this.

We are family. Family is love. Family is understanding without judgment. Family is care.

Living before death

FearsomeBeard, the blog, came into existence as a means for growth. Fearsome, the beard, was growing and why shouldn’t I? Part of my growth comes through sharing, reflecting, recording. “When you learn, teach” is an inspiration that Maya Angelou conveyed throughout her many inspiring messages. Teaching is simply sharing. Sharing is simply growth. Growth of knowledge from one to another and growth of the soul, the self, through giving.

We are born with opportunity. The opportunity to have, do, be and become anything we desire. All we have to do is imagine it and then move, work, toward it. Death is as much a part of life as birth. You simply cannot have one without the other. Why not let death inspire us and teach us about living well?

Life is that dash in between birth and death. The message in this Ted talk may help a shift in perspective about living and living well. Taking a look at the end, may very well help us today… while we are in the dash.


(an update to this post: I wrote this post shortly before the disturbing mass shooting in San Bernadino today. I have re-titled the post from Designing for Death to its current Living before Death.  My prayers are with the families at this time.)

Turning a page

The end of last week life got better. I’m glad that it all came to a screeching halt for a few days. A stop in my life so unexpected and so fast that everything I had been carrying in the backseat came flying forward and smacked the back of my head. An impact which left me disoriented and my emotions so scattered and unorganized that it took several days of sorting and feeling to even begin getting perspective.

I feel good today. A week has made a big difference. The important thing is that I allowed myself to actually go there. To go to a place that the shallow me (the ego) felt was weak. A place the deeper me knew would only heal and strengthen me in the end. I thank everyone that supported me through it. Emotions will cycle. While I will have more cycles, I now know it’s ok.

Tomorrow I travel back. I’m going to spend a week with Mom. We will get some things organized, some loose ends tightened and most of all be together. It will be good for both of us. We will accomplish a few tasks, talk, mourn, laugh, remember, plan and maybe take a drive somewhere we will enjoy.

Life is to live. Death is part of life. It’s ok to stop for a moment, but to live is to pick ourselves up afterwards.


Blue Monday

I don’t spend much time on the down side of life. I am and have most always been a glass half full person. Often even being a glass overflowing personality. I like being upbeat, smiling, giving, expressing joy and positivity.

Once in a while I am on the downside. I guess it’s part of the cycle of life. I don’t often share that I’m down because I don’t believe in wallowing in it. I decided to write it down here so I can look at it, feel it, examine it and move beyond it.

Yes my father died. Part of life is that we will loose our parents. The 1980s conditioned me for death. I survived many a friend, acquaintance and sexual partner in that era of AIDS. I remember my mother talking with me about how I was too young for this to be happening. She hadn’t lost so many friends as I had. She said that loosing that many wasn’t supposed to happen until one was in their 70s or even beyond.

The 1980s passed into my history. I haven’t lost a friend to AIDS or any other cause in years. I worked in healthcare for years and saw many a death of people that I didn’t really know, but yet cared for. I left healthcare in 2004. So while I am a person who has probably experienced more death than the average, I am out of practice.

Then there’s the difference, the void left by someone who was always there as long as I can remember. I look a little bit like him. I have some of his mannerisms. I say things he used to say. I try my best to rein in that temper that I inherited from him.

I feel like I’ve written and written about his death on this blog thingy to the point that my dear readers are like “Oh shit, not another my dad died post”. I hope it’s not one of ‘those’ post but actually a healing post, for me as well as maybe one of you.

It’s a dark cloudy day here, one where the gray envelopes you like a steamy sticky comforter on too warm of a night. The weather makes it even easier too feel like my emotions are a cramped shell closing in on my ears. That blinders are  limiting the field of vision around my eyes. The world seems small.

At 4:26 am I was jolted awake. My father’s voice called me. It wasn’t a stern nor angry voice and not a joyful, cheerful one either. It was just a normal voice as if he stood over me and said my name just to waken me from my deep slumber. The room was dark as the glowing green numerals from the clock stared me in the face and the little dogs slept alongside of me like warm baked potatos scattered at my sides. After a brief thought of I might as well get up now, I peacefully drifted back out into a sea of sleep lulled by the soft breeze from the ceiling fan above.

The voice I heard is haunting me today. That voice was vividly accurate in tone and intonation. I don’t remember any dream attached to it at all. It left me feeling a void this morning. A void that I should feel. Voids are not necessarily bad. It’s just a space, a space I can fill with good. With time and smart choices, I will find the good to fill the void.

Realizing grief

Ok, I guess it was bound to happen. I finally cracked. After more than week of holding it together in order to get my mom through the shock of finding dad dead on the couch. Then add all the travel. Coming home and jumping right into work. I guess allowing myself, to distract myself to avoid the inevitable… I am going to grieve my father’s death.

Today I was on the phone with United Airlines re-arranging my next trip out so I can help my mom tie up loose ends and I lost it. I had been very busy with clients all day. I had a half hour to myself and thought I’d call the airlines. My “with clients” face was off, my guard down. Before I knew it I was yelling and crying on the phone with a stranger at United. I apologized after the incident. I told the agent that I appreciate her putting up with me and that I realized I needed to take a couple of days to grieve. She was kind and gave me permission to do so saying “Yes you should give yourself that, you need to grieve.”

My realization is that grief will come. I should allow myself to feel it. I need to process it. I will get better by going through it. I will become stronger because of it. It is ok to express it. I can say “No, I cannot do that for you right now.” It is ok to set boundaries in order for me to feel, heal and grow. I do not need to act as if everything is normal and peachy just 14 days after my father unexpectedly dies six months before the doctor said he would, just four weeks ago.

I can find blessings in this experience, but in order to find and appreciate those blessings, I must first grieve.

All is well

My niece Kathy sent me this. She is my niece from The Better Half’s side of my marriage. She lives in San Diego near us. We are very close. Her father died unexpectedly about 18 months ago from a heart attack. He was only 54. She finds solace in this passage. I thank her for it as I think it is beautiful.


Unlike Kathy, I knew my father was going to pass soon. It was only two weeks ago that he was given about 6 months. I felt deep down that it would be shorter than that, but had no idea it was only going to be two weeks. Although caught off guard and somewhat shocked by his quick passage, I am ok…all is well.

Dad was going to get sick, real sick. I was concerned for him as I didn’t want him to suffer. I was concerned for my mother having to watch him deteriorate knowing there was nothing she could do. I was concerned for my brother here in Roanoke and the extra pressure on him to help, yet maintain his work and family. I was concerned for me calling from 3000 miles away and only being able to get here occasionally to help.

Dad asked to not be resuscitated. He asked that no one try to prolong his life with heroic measures. He didn’t want to suffer. He had just signed a do not resuscitate order on September 10, he died on September 16.

He was home alone when he died. Mom was at her part time job serving lunch to seniors at the senior center where she works. Most of her seniors are actually younger than she is. Her boss told me that she often tells her that when she (my mom) gets old, that she isn’t as bitter or miserable as this or that one who just complained about some trivial thing.

He hadn’t been alone for long as the house keeper was here with him until noon. She had brought him some biscuit sandwiches for lunch. She said she sat with him before she left as he shared a story about one of his college memories. He was in good spirits. My brother had called him at 12:30 to see if he wanted to go to lunch. Dad declined as he was full from the lunch Linda had made for him. He told my brother he was having a good day.

Mom arrived home at 2, he was dead. It wasn’t a pretty scene. He had bled into his lungs, the lung cancer tumor had ruptured. His lungs had rapidly filled with blood which by now was all over him, the couch and carpet. While it was a gruesome looking scene, it’s a very quick and painless way to die. He would have suddenly become short of breath, coughed some blood and passed out almost immediately. Maybe a minute, two maximum, would he even be aware something was wrong. No pain, no suffering.

I am glad my mom was not here when it happened as there was absolutely nothing at all she could have done. If she had to watch him for that minute or maybe two, it would have seemed like eternity. Watching helplessly as a person struggles for breath, no matter how short the time, is traumatic. I’m not saying walking into the house to find him wasn’t a trauma, just less than witnessing what would appear to be horrible and seem like eternity, when it was actually quick and painless, but just a little messy.

He died at home. He wanted to die at home. He’s gone, but he isn’t dead. He has two more great grand children coming in the spring. He taught us to laugh, to cry, to love, to give and to share. We teach the great grandkids what he taught us. You see he was given gifts, he gave us those gifts and we give those gifts. Life is a circle, a circle that we are blessed to experience.

Thanks Dad, I love you.

Life happens, then plans change

I sit alone in an empty airport lobby. I wasn’t supposed to be here. I’m in shock. I’m on my way to my parents house three days before I was supposed to go. In the middle of my feel good motivational conference my phone just wouldn’t stop vibrating. I finally pulled it out of my pocket which I didn’t want to do as I sat on the front row of 1,500 people…right in front of the presenter.

It was my mother calling multiple times, then a text to call ASAP as it was an emergency.

I left the ballroom to call her. Mom came home from work, she’s 83 and yes came home from work, and found my father dead.

The airport lobby is strangely empty. It seems appropriate. All except for Lady Marmalade playing over the speakers. But then again he loved music.