Monday, May 29, 2017

That Would Be Joe

In my profile, I said I wanted to continue my blog for awhile, documenting the many firsts that happens when the love of your life dies and you journey on as a widow. Monday I wanted to go up to Willamette National Cemetery where Joe is buried so I could take some pictures of how beautiful it is for Memorial Day. Every grave has a flag on it. 

This was my first Memorial Day without Joe. The cemetery is not a place I care to go except for
maybe a special occasion.I wanted to take some pictures of all the flags. The tall fir tree in the background is my marker to find his grave.  Joe was a very patriotic man, proud of his time he served in the Army.Proud that he was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. That he played the trombone in the Army Band and jumped out of perfectly good airplanes (my description). I'm sorry the picture isn't clear but you get the idea. 

I had the privilege of picking up my great granddaughter from school Friday and keeping her in my care til her mom got off work. So I took her to the Estacada Library. What a beautiful place. That is it in the background. This seven year old knew exactly what she wanted.  Before we went inside she reminded me very politely that I need to be very quiet in the library. She then spoke to the resource person telling her she would please like a nonfiction book on horses and she wanted a "chapter book" (keep in mind this is a first grader) I happened to know she loves to read American Girl books. So she chose one of those that involved a girl and her horse, and the wonderful book National Velvet. When she finishes this book, I asked her if she would please write a book report about it for GG. (me) I didn't think she knew what a book report was. But I found out shortly when she told her mom She had to write GG a letter about the book and what she liked about it...... guess she really did know.

After we checked out the books, we went for a short walk around the pond that is behind the library. 

Sometimes, for me, special activities, or dates will come at me when I least expect it. And when when it comes three and four times in the same week it "kinda knocks the wind out of me" This week it was going to the Cemetery Saturday morning at 7:15 A.M. so I could avoid the mass of people that would be there a few hours later. I was only there long enough to take pictures of the vastness and beauty of graves with flags on it. The tears flowed like a river as I left.
Saturday night, actually Sunday morning at 2:00 AM I woke up with a cramp that started in my toe and went to my calf (charlie horse)...but it didn't stop there. It proceeded to the large muscle in my upper leg. The pain was so intense it made me physically sick. I've dealt with charlie horses for years but never as severe as this. I share this as another first. I'm alone, I'm sick, I didn't know what to do So I called my son, he called 911 and he got here shortly after the ambulance did. The staff at the hospital did all the routine things,  IV, blood work, monitoring vitals, as the pain subsided the blood pressure came back to normal and so did the heart rate and in a couple of hours sent me home. What did I learn out of this?  I already knew it but needed to be reminded once again. I'm not alone. The Lord was right there with me, along with family and friends. 
Sitting in my "Secret Garden" this evening I was thinking about a couple of other things that are happening in the next few days. If you are a tennis fan you know  The  Roland Garros Tennis Tournament is happening. Joe didn't play much tennis after he discovered Pickle Ball but he would never miss one of the Big Five Tournaments. And that particular tournament would remind me our 13th wedding anniversary would be a few days away.... June 4th. A funny memory to me will always be while we were on our honeymoon, one particular morning he got breakfast in bed.... because the tennis match was on and he didn't want to miss that particular game because his two favorite players were against each other. So I went down to the restaurant, and brought our breakfast back upstairs. (there was no room service.) This next weekend will be special also because Joe's son and daughter in law are coming to visit. We will go to the cemetery so Rob can see where exactly his dad is buried and then we are going to get to eat at Cracker to the Portland, Oregon area.
Happy occasions such as weddings, receptions, news of 
another new  great grandchild on the way, mixed with a holiday that I didn't handle as well as I thought  I would. But it is what it is. I'm doing it day by day. I am blessed  I have a sister, sister in law and best friend who are widows, that love and pray for me and encourage me helping me to adjust to the new normal. I have a church family that has surrounded and enveloped me with their love.  I love to write but doing this blog, being transparent, for me is not easy. In fact is down right hard! But my prayer is that my sharing will help someone who is on this journey too.
   Bye for now

I'll love you for ever and for always
Your Betty Girl

Monday, May 22, 2017

Short But Sweet

Yesterday I started my post with the question, "Do you ever get so tired from doing fun things that your body and your mind doesn't want to do what you want them to do?" Well there was one more fun thing that I experienced yesterday but chose NOT to share it on my blog last night. We enjoyed a time of visiting with David and Jennifer and Cassie at Happy Valley Park yesterday afternoon.
David handed me his cell phone and told me to look at this picture. But left me guessing as to who this precious one's parents were. Then he told me he was going to be grandpa. Oh my word. Flash back!! He's my "baby".
Well...... not really he'll be 49 in February.  Baby Clear's mommy and daddy are Mike and Leesha Clear. David's daughter.  It is their first child and this will be great grand baby #10 for me. I knew yesterday Leesha and Mike would 
be posting this wonderful news soon and I agreed with them, they should be the ones to announce it publicly.
I'm going to take the rest of this week and just rest and recuperate from all the busyness of last week.
Bye for now
I'll love you for ever and for always
Your Betty Girl

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Seven Months and Counting......

Do you ever get so tired from doing fun things that your body and your mind doesn't want to do what you want them to do?  That's what happened to me this past  week. It was so full of fun activities. 
Last Saturday was a Mother/Daughter/sister/grandma who ever female family member brunch at our church. I was blessed to have 9 of my "gals" there. My daughter, daughter in law, granddaughters and great granddaughters. I was so blessed and, overwhelmed. When that was over, I had 30 minutes to get home and get my TV set up for a live stream via chromecast  of my grandsons wedding.......taking place in Colorado!!!
It was so clear, so close up it felt like I was sitting in the front row!! And yes there were tears (after all it was my oldest son's first child (twins at that)

After the vows were exchanged the two fathers gave prayers of blessings on their children.
It was so close, I felt the two of them were walking right by my chair.
The week just kept getting busier. As soon as the wedding was over I headed to  Sandy to watch my grandson play T Ball.  Now if you want some 
good laughs, grab your camp chair, a few snacks and head for your closest athletic field and find a group of 4-6 year olds learning to play baseball.  They are precious!!!

Each child gets three times up to bat and the game is over..... no score keeping, no outs. Just a lot of fun.
Tuesday I picked my sister up at the train station in Oregon City and she spent the rest of the week with me.  It was fun sharing my walks with her.

One of the things we have in common is exploring historical cemeteries and there is one right here in Damascus. Some of the birth and death dates go back to the 1800's

One day this week made a trip to the St. Louis Fish Ponds in Gervais, Oregon. Not too far from Woodburn. My friends Jim and Neila are the Fish and Wild Life Camp Hosts. I picked up my daughter in Estacada so she could spend some time with her Aunt Jan and we made a day of it. 

Joe and I met Jim and Neila when we parked next to them at an RV Park near Blythe, CA. and became dear friends over the years . That's one of the joy's of RVing. You meet so many nice people and some of them become like family. Some of you may remember I blogged about Jim and Neila last year when they were camp host at Cascade Locks Fish Hatchery.

The ponds are so beautiful and peaceful. A place where you can just sit and pray or just contemplate and enjoy the quietness.The ponds are regularly stocked with pan size trout. 

On one of our walks,  we spotted a humming bird perched on a tree limb.

So the reason Jan came to visit was.....
Brandon and Jess came to Oregon City from Colorado for their honeymoon and to have another reception by Brandon's parents, Mike and Patty. A beautiful reception. As you can see, she wore her wedding gown for the occasion and  to Grandma Betty's delight they performed Their First Dance. Notice Brandon accidentally steps on her dress a couple of times, but it was just beautiful.

Today we went for a walk on a beautiful board walk nature trail. Can you see the turtle on the log?

There were many ducklings enjoying the beautiful weather with mom and dad.

When I started my blog today I asked, "
Do you ever get so tired from doing fun things that your body and your mind doesn't want to do what you want them to do?"  By the end of the week I found myself with tears when I least expected them, restless sleep, and today I could hardly walk a straight line!! Son David asked me where my cane was... it was in the back seat of the car.      
 So many memories kept triggering the tears
Tomorrow will be seven months since Joe died. First spring without him, first summer without him will soon be here.  He loved the sun and warm weather. Today after church, Jan and I went to the cemetery. It was much nicer than the last time. The grounds were dry, the sun was shinning and I could see three mountains.

 Pastor Bill, if you read this, over the years, I've remembered you always reminding me The "Sun will shine again" and having me sing with you the chorus,
"I cast all my cares upon You
I lay all of my burdens Down at Your feet
And any time I don't know what to do
 I will cast all my cares upon You"

I've sang that song many times over the last seven months. And sure enough, the sun is beginning to shine again.

Bye For Now
I'll love you for ever and for always
Your Betty Girl

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Memories of Mom

This picture was taken the last Mother's Day mom was alive. She died April 10th, 2012.Her pastor asked my sister and I to write some of our thoughts down and he would read them at her funeral service. The first one written here was by my sister Jan ten days before mom died.

I look at my mom's hands. These nearly 91 year old hands, now so lifeless, have done so much. They have tenderly held her dolly and pushed her in the doll stroller that I still have. As a young girl, they helped take care of her little brother that was only a year younger than her. We've heard stories but I'm sure there were more. Her hands were busy as a teenager working in the orchards near Walla Walla. Soon after marrying at 19, these beautiful hands helped her husband build a home. Not long after the home was completed, her hands received the first of three children. Her hands tenderly picked up the infants and touched each face with a love that only a caring mother can possess. The same hands bathed each girl and her boy, washed their clothes and picked them up when they needed her.  When mom and dad bought an 80 acre dairy farm. These busy hands now became a working set of farming hands. They worked in the soil, cut heads off chickens and milked cows.  The years passed and these hands were trustworthy in many ways from counting and taking the church offerings to the bank and then working at the bank. Many hours her hands sewed beautiful doll clothes, dresses for her own daughters as well as mending for her son. They have mowed lawns, ironed for her family and hired out to do others. Moms hands have punished when it was needed. Amazing how the same hands can show love with a caress yet can also sting with a powerful force. But aren't both touches of the hand administered to teach that a child God's way of love through obedience? Growing up and watching mom's hands, I can't leave out the hours I've seen them holding her bible. Because of this, Betty, Dick and I are all followers of Christ and one day soon these hands will again hold her precious son's hands.  We only get one set of hands in our life time.  What are you holding in your hands?

~ Janice Lidstrom

Sometimes I take my phone that has Pandora music on it and a little iHome portable speaker and head out back to my "Secret Garden" where I hear birds singing their little hearts out. I was actually able to capture this one on my phone camera. He was singing right along with what ever the Southern Gospel song that happened to be on at the moment.
Below is memories I wrote for mom's pastor to read at her funeral service
This is a true story that mom told me. I don't have a lot of memories of my younger life so I hang on to what stories I've been told.  I was about 3 when we lived in White Center, Washington. I wandered away from home, crossed a busy street, and was heading for the home of one of my mom's friends. When mom and dad missed me, and found me walking the sidewalk on the other side of the street, dad brought me home and promptly paddled me I think more out of fear than anything else because that was the only time I can ever remember that he spanked me.  Not to many years after that, we moved to Eatonville and attended "The Little Chapel" a church which was in an old theater on the main street of town. Apparently I was misbehaving and mom took me outside and again I received a paddling. About the same time a car passed by, the driver hollered out the window to my mom .."So is that what you learn in church?" Years later, as an adult, thinking about that story, I would have replied back to the driver...."you bet"!!! Because being disciplined by mom, and being brought up in church was in part what made me who I am today. Any time the church doors were opened we were there. Not sent there but brought there by mom. Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday eve, once a month fellowship meetings, youth rallies and Bible camp. She not only taught us how to live she showed us how to live.  What a great example as a mom she was.  In church as young people, we sat on the third row from the front and our mom was right behind us. If any of us were caught whispering or not paying attention, she would snap her finger (or any of the moms for that matter) all heads went up and eyes straight ahead! Mom told me I asked Jesus into my heart at her knees when I was 3 years old. And during my lifetime as I grew in understanding of God's Word, that commitment was reaffirmed. Mom taught me I could rely on God to be my strength and comfort and joy through all walks of life.


Yesterday was another beautiful day. My friend Ruth invited me to go with her to Tony's nursery which is about 5 minutes up the road from where I live.

 She was looking for hanging baskets.  
There were so many to choose from and they were all huge and beautiful.

I watch the weather reports closely and I knew this day would be the last nice one for about a week.

The day started out like this

And as the day wore on,

And evening approached, it looked like this.

I want to thank my friend Laura for the last three pictures here. She had her camera with her  and gave me permission to use them here.
 As I end my blog this evening it's raining hard. But that won't stop my walk. I'll be up and out in the morning....this time with my umbrella.
Bye for now


I'll love you for ever and for always
Your Betty Girl

Thursday, May 4, 2017

It Was A Very Good Day

I spent the morning at our local Honda Dealer while they removed the towing hardware from the car.   The waiting area is very comfortable with coffee, tea, fruit and snacks, lots of plug ins and Internet.  I took my morning walk before I left. It was a beautiful morning. When I decided to continue this blog after Joe died, it was because I wanted to document the many firsts that happens when the love of your life dies and you journey on as a widow, hoping it might help others that are also on this journey. I still miss Joe more than I could even begin to put in to words. I'm not lonely, but it's the alone thing that gets me sometimes.....when I least expect it. When I got home, and was taking things in and out of the car, it hit me. Nothing about the car looks like it had ever been a "toad". That chapter of my life is over. I'm the driver now. Not Joe. I'm the one who has to do the "walk around" making sure  tail lights and brake lights work, tires have proper amount of air, Joe's not here to do it and those of you who knew Joe, for sure I'd better make sure that car is clean inside and out. Well I don't clean it like he did but I do run it through the car wash once a week. So thinking about all these things brought the tears. I've learned over these last six months when I start feeling sad, I need to not sit and think, but get up and move. And there has been a lot of rain these last six months. So I walked in the stores close by.
It was such a beautiful day when I got home I decided walking some more would be a good thing. So with camera in hand  off I went. Click on the above picture to enlarge and and check out what I did. This is a black walnut tree and it is very, very large and tall. These branches are at the very top. I had my Nikon camera zoomed out as far as it would go to get that black bird to the left of the picture.  It was my neighbor gal that noticed I had captured a beautiful little gold finch with out even knowing it. I didn't see it. 

I used my zoom again to get Mt. Hood and I'll be if I didn't do it again!!!  Look what's sitting at the very top of that fir tree to the right. I don't know if it's just a starling or crow. I didn't even see it when I was taking the picture.

Just a single blossom on a dogwood tree.

After I finished my walk I was sitting out back listening to the birds. Bird choirs are always in tune, perfect pitch, never off key......well, unless a crow tries to join in. Then it gets very quiet.

Maybe the choir director?

And one of the choir members?
I've mentioned this a few times  but will say it again. When Joe was first diagnosed with cancer, we asked the Lord to give us Strength and Courage and Peace and Comfort. He is still answering those prayers. There have been mornings when I didn't want to get out of bed but with His strength I did. And there have been financial issues that at times were almost overwhelming but He reminds me He's in control of the situation. So that strengthens my faith, and I'm learning tears are OK I don't have to choke them down, and when the tears are gone, I have that peace and comfort like a warm, soft, blanket wrapped around me. ( and there are less and less tears now)  I have been blessed with a beautiful, safe place to live, family that checks on me often, and friends that cry and laugh with me. It is truly a journey and I look forward to each day to see what the Lord has in store for me for that day.
Photo taken from the Internet

Bye for now
I'll love you for ever and for always
Your Betty Girl