Category Archives: love

45 years ago today…

45 years ago today, my mom and dad were married in Long Beach, California. My mom was young, just 17 when they married, and my dad was 34. My dad had an Italian restaurant at the time and this was how my mom learned to be the most amazing cook ever. It would be 5 years before I was born, the first of 4 kids. The life they had, and the family they made, is the epitome of marriage. My mom took care of my dad, and my mom was my dad’s whole world. She took care of him and he never failed to support his wife and children, all while sitting in a wheelchair. They loved each other deeply. It may not have always been easy, and there were certainly struggles along the way, but they stuck together through it all.

They were married 43 years when my dad passed away. They lived a lifetime together in those 43 years – 4 kids, 3 grandchildren, many moves, many businesses, and a whole lot of love. I know that Daddy is celebrating up in heaven today and looking down on my mom. And my mom is thinking very much about Daddy today and all the fun times they had over the years. Thank you Mommy and Daddy, for loving each other and taking care of each other. We have very big shoes to fill…

 

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My first half-marathon!

Today was a very a special day. I will remember it for a very long time. Back on December 29, 2011, I registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in St. Petersburg. I was determined to do it. I walked and ran in preparation. I expected to walk most of it and run what I could.

This past week was full of anticipation. It was all I could think about. After I picked up my bib, shirt, and swag bag on Friday – I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer. This was the weekend I would finally become a half-marathoner. All day yesterday, I wanted the day to pass quickly so I could go to sleep and wake up this morning. Like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting oh-so impatiently for Christmas Day.

The alarm went off at 4am this morning and I was ready to go. I showered, dressed, ate a good breakfast, got my stuff together, and we were out the door at 5:20am to beat the traffic to Tropicana Field in St. Pete. The only thing I was worried about was the weather. IT. WAS. FREEZING. With the wind chill it felt like it was in the 30’s and it was windy. I was shivering all the way to my bones. I started out in 2 shirts, a jacket, and gloves.

Finally it was time. The first corral started at 7:30. I was in Corral 12 based on what I thought my finishing time would be. We had to finish in 4 hours and I projected 3:25. We started at 7:46:23 am. Within the first mile, I could not contain myself and I started running. I ran off an on through the whole race. I wasn’t running to beat others or to finish by a certain time. I was just running because I could and because I was on an adrenaline high. This was the farthest mileage I’d ever put in where I was running a good portion of it. I’m not a fast runner, but I run.

Hubby received texts on his phone as I crossed certain points: 5k, 10k, 10 mile, and finish. I saw him three times during my run – right at the start,  the 5k mark, and at the finish line. He took some great photos for me.

There were bands and music throughout and lots of wonderful people cheering us on, handing out water and Gatorade. It all kept me going.

By the 5k mark, I was ready to take my jacket off, as I had finally warmed up. The gloves would stay on the rest of the way.

At about the halfway point, I realized that I was really going to do this. I was going to finish this and finish it good. For me. It was very emotional experience. I cried many times during for many reasons…. This was a HUGE thing for me, it was HARD, and I was so proud of myself for taking it on, and riding out the determination of doing it as the weeks passed leading up to it. I didn’t let my insecurities get in the way or focus on all the what-ifs, and my downfalls. I cried from the sheer beauty of the route, especially as we ran along the water. I cried because I knew there would be so many people who would be proud of me for accomplishing this. And I cried because I wished more than anything Daddy was here to hear all about it, to tell me how proud he was of me.

When I hit the 10-mile mark, it felt SO close. Never had 3.11 miles felt so far or so close all at once. When the route was closest to the finish line and I could here the music and people cheering, it made me want to push myself farther and harder. When I rounded the last corner in mile 12 and saw the 13 mile mark and the finish line just past that, I was in tears again. I was so close to finishing, so close to completing this goal I had set for myself.

I saw hubby just before the finish line and that made me cry more. He was there for me as he always is. He supports me and I love him dearly for it.

Crossing over the finish line was a blur. My official finish time was 3:11:33, coming in 6503 out of 7006. I was handed a medal, given a blanket, a bottle of water, and a banana. My picture was taken with my medal on. It was then that I realized I had not stopped my watch. I texted hubby to tell him I was waiting in the family area and waited. When I finally saw him, I was so excited. And then, I saw my mom and Jenna! What a surprise that was. I had just texted my mom to tell her I had finished. I had no clue they were there, even though I found out afterwards that they were standing right by hubby at the finish line. Me and my tunnel vision…

Again I was crying, overwhelmed at finishing, seeing hubby, and seeing my mom and Jenna. they had balloons, and were so proud of me. It was a moment I will not forget.

The day could not have gone more perfect. I started the race with my good friend Terrie, knowing that she was doing it in honor of two very special people as part of Team In Training. I ended the race, feeling extremely proud and strong and loved. And I was so excited to hug Terrie and enjoy the moment with her, knowing we both finished. We did it.

The afternoon was topped off perfectly with a great lunch, with Nick and Autumn joining us. I am exhausted and sore beyond belief, but it is still a wonderful thing. And tomorrow, the 13.1 decal will go on my car. Finally.

Terrie and I in the freezing cold this morning. Brrrr!

Starting line!

At the 5K mark.

A beautiful day for a half-marathon.

What a view!

Approaching the finish line - determined!

So excited to see everyone!

Love!!

Feeling very accomplished! Terrie and I did it!!

A well-deserved beer at the end!

Reflection

I wrote this on Monday, not sure if I wanted to post it… But I decided that is what my blog is for. So, here goes…. My heart and soul are here for all to see in this one.
I did something on Sunday I had not done in many months. I drove by the hospital. I’m not sure what possessed me to do so as normally I avoid driving past it. When I finished my walk Sunday morning over the causeway, I headed home. This time, I turned onto the street that would take me past the hospital. Not only did I take the street that would take me past the hospital, but I turned ONTO the street the hospital is on. What was I thinking?
I pulled into the parking lot and sat for a few minutes. The parking lot that I pulled in and out of two, three times a day for 30 days when my dad was there. It seemed the same, but different.
As far as the building itself goes, it’s a nice building that faces the gulf, with Clearwater Beach and Sand Key in the distance. It’s a pretty view. But the building itself holds so many feelings and emotions. Walking in there when he first went to the emergency room due to his stomach pain, hoping and praying that whatever it was, was not serious and he would go home soon. Leaving the same day knowing he was being admitted and likely would have to have surgery. The day of the surgery when there was concern that afterwards, he would have to go into ICU due to his age and condition. The elation of his surgery going well and knowing he did not have to go to ICU, but rather a regular room for his recovery. Within 36 hours, the tone began to change and walking into that building took on a stronger, heavier meaning each time, as he was in the critical care unit for days until he finally started to recover. On Friday, Nov. 19, my mom and I took him home. I drove past the parking lot where him and I sat, his first time out in the sun in two weeks. He still was not 100% better but to see him up out of that hospital bed and in his wheelchair and outside was wonderful. He just needed to go home and finish his recovery.
The trip back to the hospital the next night would again change everything. Running into the emergency room, knowing he was being rushed there by ambulance, after possibly having a stroke. How could this be? He went home just the day before, all of his doctors agreed he needed to be home. For the next two weeks, I would come and go every single day, spending 12+ hours in this building. As much time as I could, I was in his room in ICU, the rest of the time I was in the waiting room. Our family took the waiting room over and the hospital never said a word.
This is the hospital that our doctors send us to for routine tests as needed. I’ve had surgery at this hospital myself. My hubby has been to that emergency room twice himself. All the times we had been there, we left well. The day my dad passed away, I walked out of there seeing it as a totally different building, one that I likely would have a hard time ever going into again.
It’s a very strange feeling to leave someone at a hospital. To say goodbye to a loved one, to my Daddy, and walk out of the building knowing he is still in there. Of course I know now that he left there with us and is with us everywhere we go. But I still remember that day very well, it is all very vivid in my mind and likely will be for a very long time. Just being in the parking lot again, I felt a wide range of emotions. Mostly sadness, pain, hopelessness – all thoughts of missing him and knowing I will never see him again. But I also felt a tiny bit of relief. I certainly was not relieved that he had passed away. No… My relief was in looking back on those 4 weeks in the hospital, mostly the last 2 weeks when he was in ICU, and that he did not have to go through that anymore.  All the tests, procedures, dialysis, and so on that he endured, most likely without even knowing it.  Being on the ventilator, having a feeding tube…. All the things that had we ever had a conversation about it, I know he would now have wanted. The big question then was to do a tracheotomy or not. I struggled with that a lot in those days, as we all did, knowing in my heart that he would not want that, but struggling with the thought of having him for one more day. I am glad, now, that we did not do it. It would have been one more thing for him to go through needlessly.
What happened in that room that day we said goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life, but it was also an amazing day. My dad was surrounded by people who loved him and we all had the courage to hold his hand and say goodbye and watch him leave. He always knew he had us with him and I hope and pray that he knew we were right there with him that day, at that moment.
Will I drive by the hospital again? Probably so. At some point it’s likely I’ll have to go inside should the medical need arise. I’ll face that when the time comes. It’s still very surreal and I still have moments where I can’t believe that he’s not here. Tomorrow, the 4th, will be 8 months. 8 MONTHS. I know where I’ll be… Watching the sunset at Crystal Beach in his memory. We love and miss you every day, Daddy….

Chapter 1…

I’m going to write a book. It will be a labor of love. It will be about my dad.

He told me he wanted to write a book about his life, that someone out there might be interested in it. I excitedly offered to help him as I have always wanted to write a book and he was so happy, he wanted me to help.

Two days after he asked me to help him write a book, he ended up in ICU. I kept telling him he needed to get better, we had a book to write. The day we said goodbye to him, I told him I was going to write his book. And I will.

His life story is an amazing one. In a wheelchair for almost 56 years, married for 43 years, father of 4, grandfather to 3. He was an inspiration to anyone who met him and I have almost 39 years of memories made with him. I will write about how hard he worked to support his family, how he never gave up, and would never take no for an answer. I will write about the many places he lived, and the stories he passed on to me. I will also write about how my mom dedicated her life to him and was a huge part of him living so long and getting so far in life. I will write it with a heart full of love and it will be dedicated to my dad.

The first of many…

On Friday, I thought “I need to remind Daddy that Monday is Valentines Day”. Habits are certainly hard to break. I have always been Daddy’s little reminder of birthdays and anniversaries. When I realized that I would never need to be that reminder anymore, it made me sad. There are going to be so many firsts this first year that he is gone. We went through the motions of Christmas without him, his favorite holiday of the year, still so fresh from having lost him just weeks before. Then my birthday. And now Valentines Day. His birthday will be a hard one but we will celebrate him. We will have a whole year of firsts, the biggest one of all being the anniversary of when he went into the hospital, and then the day we said goodbye. People tell me that I will never get over my dad being gone, rather I will just get more used to it and learn to live with the fact that he is not here. Almost three months have passed and it is still so incredibly surreal that he is not here. So maybe, I’ll just remind him anyway when a birthday or anniversary comes along. That will make me feel a little better, right?  Daddy, don’t forget today is Valentines Day so you can send a little extra love our way from up above. We are all missing you…