Tag Archive | grief

My Father’s Daughter

I am my father’s daughter.

I have his analytical mind, his skin that resists sunburns, his love of peas and his awkward smile in photographs.  I also have his asthma, his allergies and his appendicitis at the age of 27.  Our eyes both crinkle when we laugh. Just like him, I can save money like nobody’s business. We are both Virgos. Plain yellow mustard is where it is at.  I have his nose and his love of snow, although he loves driving in it and I don’t.

Dad and me in Michigan


I was one of those children who grew up with both of my parents, married for my entire life.

We went camping when I was a kid in the maxi-van that was converted into a camper, seeing Yellowstone and taking the ferry up to Alaska before driving back down to the states.  We went to Hawaii when I was 8, and Mexico when I was 9.  Like me, he remembers dates. We spent Christmas in a snowstorm in Michigan the year I was 13.

I was an insomniac at an early age, and my dad would lead me through an exercise of tensing up all my muscles in turn, and then shaking it off, so I could relax enough to fall asleep. He would get up in the middle of the night when I had nightmares, and soothe me back to sleep.  He let me sit on his lap in that big black Naugahyde chair while he watched the evening news and read the paper.

He taught me to play chess, checkers, Chinese checkers and Score Four.

He shared my love of photography.  On a trip to Yellowstone when I was 6 or 7, he let me use the camera to take any picture I wanted.  I couldn’t decide until I found the perfect subject.  An elk carcass.  He never told me no.  I still have that picture.  In high school, he gave me his old SLR camera and showed me how to use the timed exposure to photograph nighttime landscapes.

He cheered at my swim meets and hauled my horses to horse shows, even after he developed allergies to horses.  He caved when I wanted yet another cat, even though we are both allergic to cats. He petted them when we weren’t looking.

We went for bike rides on the weekends.  He and my mom grew a garden and dug potatoes and planted beets because I wanted them, even though neither of them like beets. He loved the corn.

Dad on a bike ride in Michigan

He got up at 5:20 am every day of his working life and made fried eggs for breakfast. In middle school my bus came early so we ate breakfast together in the mornings. I wasn’t allowed to come to the dinner table in my pajamas.

The day my horse was so badly injured when I was 16, he cried with me, and never made me feel badly when I vomited all over the floor of his classic 1968 Cougar.  He bought that Cougar new in 1968.  When I was young we pretended that the map light switch was a turbo thruster.  When I flipped it he would gun the engine up the hill towards home.

He needed routine and spontaneity made him uncomfortable.  I am my father’s daughter, although I am a bit more flexible.  If you needed him to do something, a few days’ notice was ideal.  The teenage years drove him nuts, when I wanted him to drive me somewhere on a moment’s notice.  He liked to do his Sudoku, read the paper, and watch his shows.  Clockwork.

He tried to tutor me on my math homework, even though he could never understand why I just didn’t get how multiplying two imaginary numbers made a real number.  He delighted in solving my extra credit algebra problems in college (you could use any and all methods at your disposal), and even cracked the one with ten variables and ten equations.  I was the only one who came in with the correct answer.  That said, proofreading my English papers was not his thing…

When my mom battled colon cancer 21 years ago, I saw a man who would have been devastated to lose her.  It was the second time I ever saw him cry.

He was proud of me when I got my Bachelor’s degree, even though he didn’t really understand what I would do with a degree in Spanish.  He was proud of me when I got my Master’s degree in business, and relieved that I had decided on something more practical.

In preschool, I sprouted a chestnut seed, and we planted the seedling in the back yard.  When my parents moved away from that house I grew up in when I was 25, and they had to cut down that now big tree, my father had a wood turner make two bowls from its trunk.  He gave me those bowls for Christmas.

He and my mom came to all my parties, met all my friends, and were always kind to them all.  I had the kind of house growing up that my friends wanted to hang out at.

My parents and me at my Aunt Elaine’s

He always made me laugh in those days before caller ID when I called and said, “Hi Dad,” and he responded with “Who’s this?”  I am his only daughter.

My parents and me at my wedding

When I got divorced, he quietly supported me, listening as I ranted and cried and broke.  It was the third time I saw my father cry.

When I told him that I wanted to build a bed in my car and camp in it for several months last summer, he designed a platform bed with legs that swung out of the way to access the storage underneath, and slide out shelves to hold my camp stove.  We took the seats out of my car and we built it together.

Dad and the Car Build

I am now a fatherless daughter.  My dad died unexpectedly on Tuesday morning, February 5.  There is no word to define a daughter who has lost a father, but I now join the ranks of all those other daughters who miss their dads.

Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but I am blessed to have had him.  It wasn’t enough time.  It was too soon.

I feel selfish; I got more from my dad than many daughters will ever receive.  But I still wanted more.  I am devastated to know that I may very well live more years without my dad than with him.

My heart is broken.  I will miss you forever, Dad.



Rest in Peace Oscar…

I have posted here previously that my last several weeks were some of my hardest lately.  Work was horrible, and required long hours, nights and weekends.  It was really stressful.  On top of that…

A few weeks ago, I came home from an afternoon walk with a girlfriend to be greeted by Oscar in the kitchen, with a strange cry that let me know something was wrong.  When he let me pick him up, I knew it was bad.  Sweet Oscar is semi-feral; he wasn’t socialized as a young kitten and has always been extremely skittish about being picked up.  Not a lap cat…


That is not the food you are looking for…

Sunday night, September 17, I took Oscar to the emergency vet, where the vet found a perianal abscess.  She sedated him, lanced the abscess, gave him painkiller and antibiotic injections, and we headed home, thinking things would be looking up.

The next day he wasn’t getting better, so Tuesday morning we headed off to the vet again.  The bad news was almost immediate – he was in acute kidney failure.  There was no way to know if the abscess was caused by his immune system being compromised by kidney failure, or if the kidney failure was caused by the infection.  Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway.


Oscar (left) and Coraline (right) taking in some rays

Oscar got hooked up to IV fluids and for the next several days, received his fluids 24 hours a day.  After the first day, he started to perk up, and eat and drink.  He was looking a little healthier.  Unfortunately his blood work kept showing that his kidney levels weren’t improving.  If I pulled him off the IV, he would once again crash.  That’s no kind of life…

On Saturday, September 23, I made the decision to let Oscar cross over the rainbow bridge.  He was only 11 years old.


Oscar says, “Don’t Mess with Me…”

During his life, he usually ran away when strangers came over, or at best would watch them from a safe perch under the dining room table or on the stairs.  He liked to play with his toys, but would get nervous when the other cats crowded his space.  He needed a wide bubble, and things were always on his terms.  Over time, he mellowed a lot, and would approach me for pets in the kitchen, or when I was folding the laundry.  He loved to have his chin scratched, but always got nervous if you tried to use two hands.  But in his quirky way, Oscar was an absolute lover, gently nipping your ankle if you stopped petting before he was done.  He was sweet, and I miss him…


Oscar Sees Coraline for the First Time

It sucks that he didn’t get to grow old.  It sucks that the only time he ever sat on my lap was in the last moments of his life.  I do hope that he found Martini right away and is enjoying being healthy again.  And I hope that he gets all the pets and chin scratches he wants, even if it is only in the kitchen…


California Road Trip: The Anderson Valley Pinot Tour

We woke up the next morning ready for our foray into Anderson Valley Wine Country.  At that point, it had been a whole 18 hours since I had last thrown up!  Not the ideal timing for a wine tour, but today was the day, as the rest of the trip was mapped out in other places.  I am a big (no – HUGE!) fan of Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, and I have been interested in trying some of Pinots from other areas.  In researching our trip, I learned that the Anderson Valley has a double draw – they are known for their Pinot Noir wines and there are also several sparkling wine producers!  Win, win!  The Anderson Valley is characterized by a coastal fog that settles in the valley, creating the cool nights that Pinot Noir is known to thrive on.

Jon and I got on the road, and while I was feeling a lot better (my breakfast remaining in my stomach being a vast improvement over the day before), I would be lying if I said I was feeling 100%.  So we headed out, across Highway 253, a scenic country road that heads up and over some hills before descending into the valley at Boonville.  The view was nice, and we enjoyed the drive.

A Historic Wine Delivery Truck in Boonville, California

A Historic Wine Delivery Truck in Boonville, California

Our plan was to drive northwest from Boonville to Navarro on Highway 128, and then turn around and work our way back, stopping at our destination wineries along the way.  There are many wineries located right on 128, so there really isn’t much chance of getting lost on country roads along the way.  We checked out where we wanted to go on the way back (really, I decided where I wanted to go, because Jon hadn’t provided any input) and then we drove up to our first stop of the day.

Handley Cellars is a family owned winery that began operations in 1982.  When you step into the tasting room, you are met with all sorts of interesting items from around the world.  The server explained that the elephant chairs in the sitting area are over 100 years old, and is among the folk art items that have been collected by winemaker Milla Handley in her travels around the world.

Handley Cellars Tasting Room

Handley Cellars Tasting Room

While we were there, we tasted the 2011 Mendocino County Chardonnay, the 2011 Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer, and the 2007 Late Harvest Riesling.  For the reds, we tasted the 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, the 2010 Mendocino County Pinot Noir, and the 2009 Anderson Valley Reserve Pinot Noir.  We also tried the 2009 Redwood Valley Syrah and the 2010 Redwood Valley Zinfandel.  It was our first winery of the day, and as I was still a bit tired from being sick, and I completely forgot to take any notes.  Sadly, I didn’t love the style of Pinot Noir.  It was a much more earthy and spicy than the light, acidic, cherry Pinots from the Willamette Valley.  The highlights of our tasting were the Late Harvest Riesling and the Zinfandel, which we took home with us.

View of the Vineyards at Handley Cellars

View of the Vineyards at Handley Cellars

Husch Vineyards was our next stop, right down the road – their tasting room is very scenic – located in a historic pony barn built in the late 1800s.  Husch planted their first vineyards in 1968 and the winery was founded in 1971, making it the oldest winery in the Anderson Valley.  The current owners purchased the winery from the Husch family in 1979.  All of their grapes are estate grown, but some of the vineyards are in the Mendocino area.

Husch has a wide selection of wines (22 in all – although only 17 were available the day we were there), and you can choose to sample any six on their list.  I sampled their 2011 Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Vine One Anderson Valley Chardonnay, 2012 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley (a Rosé), 2010 Anderson Valley Reserve Pinot Noir, 2010 Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Mendocino Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Chenin Blanc, and 2012 Muscat Canelli.  If you count up those wines, you’ll notice that they let me sample eight, which just goes to show a little friendliness goes a long way.

Husch Vineyards

Husch Vineyards

I was pleased with many of their wines, with their Chardonnay being a nice balance between the crisp style that I like and the oak that Jon prefers.  Their Vin Gris Rosé was a nice, light summer wine, perfect for a hot day.  The Reserve Pinot Noir was very nice, with more of the cherry flavors I have come to love in a Pinot Noir.  Jon and I both enjoyed the Husch Cabernet Sauvignon, although I didn’t taste enough of a difference to justify the big price difference between the regular and the reserve Cab.

And I enjoyed the Chenin Blanc, which had a slight sweetness with acidity and just a hint of butter.  The Muscat Canelli had flavors of peach with honeysuckle on the finish.  We left with a couple of bottles – the Reserve Pinot Noir and the Chenin Blanc.  Then we continued on our tour!

Martini Rests in Peace

This is the post I never wanted to write…  Well, I might have been ok writing it in another 15 or 20 years… Maybe (yes, I realize that’s not realistic, but a girl’s gotta dream)…

Martini went to be with the angels yesterday afternoon.  After her bout with pancreatitis landed her at the vet for an overnight stay for IV fluids, I went to visit her yesterday hoping that she would be feeling perky and mad about being stuck in a cage and ready to go home.  Sadly, she wasn’t improving, and she hadn’t eaten at all.  She purred and purred when she saw me, and Jon and I spent awhile petting her and scratching her chin.  But it was clear that there was no longer a hope for a good quality of life.  I’m just comforted by the fact that she was purring at the end.

But instead of thinking about how heartbroken I am, I want to think about how my joy she brought to my life and how she is now in a better place.  So, I thought I would share a little about the life she lived.

Martini came to me on February 5, 2004, from the Alternative Humane Society.  She had gotten a death row reprieve from them, because she had been at the regular Humane Society and was slated for euthanasia.  She got been there for about 4 months, and had gotten kennel stress and started biting people who came to see her.  They told me she was between three and four years old, but she could have been several years older than that.  The Alternative Humane Society was so excited that someone wanted her (I saw her pic on the website and called about her), that they had her spayed and delivered her still groggy to my house!  Where she hid in my closet for the next three days.

On the third night, she came out of the closet and climbed up on my bed.  Where she slept every night for the rest of her life, except for three nights she spent in the vet’s office.  They had said she was picked up as a stray, but once she settled in, it was clear that she had a family at one point.  She just loved being around people too much.  She loved sitting on my lap, and hated when I gave any attention to my other cats.

Martini Before Her Protein Allergy

Martini Before Her Protein Allergy

Although she was a lover, she had a very strong personality.  She made it known when she wasn’t pleased about something; she had a long list of things that made her mad…  Rubbing her belly for too long, touching her paws, brushing her and pulling on her hair to get the mats out, repositioning her if she was sitting on your lap and you wanted to reach for something, trimming her claws, giving her pills, letting the other cats sit next to you…  Like I said, it was a long list.

Martini Playing in a Shoebox

Martini Playing in a Shoebox

We had a bad scare in 2009 when she became violently ill with uncontrollable vomiting.  A night at the emergency vet for IV fluids perked her up, but three weeks later she was severely ill again.  A referral to the ultrasound specialist saved her life, revealing that she had a protein allergy.  Once we knew that’s what it was, changing her food put her on the path to recovery.  But she wanted everything that was bad for her.  She trolled around the kitchen, looking to cash in on our rookie mistakes.  Once, she grabbed a giant steak that was marinating on the counter and managed to get it under the bed, where she was gnawing on it when Jon found her.  Over the years, she absconded with strips of prosciutto, slices of pizza and chunks of chicken.  She grabbed chunks of canned tuna from the sink, and once, when feeling particularly desperate (she was fasting for a blood test), got into the garbage and made a sad meal out of a tomato.

Martini "Snuggling" With Oliver

Martini “Snuggling” With Oliver

But it wasn’t all hijinks and grumpiness.  Martini loved to snuggle.  She slept with me every night, in her later years preferring a spot under the covers to keep warm.  She snuggled in by my chest, and when I rolled over, she would tiptoe up over my head and take her position back up on the other side.  She loved to scare Jon by being next to him staring at him when he woke up with a cat in his face!  She never tired of nap-time and loved those lazy weekend days when I would take a nap in the afternoon.  She loved to sit with me for TV watching, movies or just visiting with friends.  She was content just being with me.

I will miss my sweet kitty.  I already do.  I will treasure the nine years I got to spend with her.