Remembering And Moving On

Today I got caught.

I got caught in the place in between…..the place between remembering and moving on.

It’s not a bad place to be.  But when you remember, and you find yourself in a sad place, that’s when you get caught.

It’s a dichotomy.  Actually it’s a di-caught-omy.  And the thing that did it to me was the single Asian pear that became the biggest harvest ever.


This was the Asian pear from my back yard.

It was the only pear produced by my Asian pair tree…..the Only pear this year.  But that is a wonderful thing!  A good thing.  A great thing!

Two years ago, before we moved into this house, Andrew asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  “I would like an Asian pear tree,” I said.  So Andrew gave me not only an Asian pear tree but also four lilac bushes, and we set out to plant them in the back yard.  We started with the pear tree.  “Dig a three-foot deep hole.”  That was one of the instructions for planting.  As it turned out, mixing the fertilizer stuff with the mulchy stuff was much easier than digging the hole for all of it!

It was a hot day.  We had moved in some furniture and were sweaty and tired.  Poor Andrew!  He was sweating and digging, digging and sweating…..well, trying to dig, I should say.  He looked at me and said, “Maybe we should ask Jerry?”

Our lovely neighbor, Jerry!  God bless Jerry!  Jerry was willing to join us for everything from handyman jobs to laugh-out-loud conversations in the middle of the road.  (I’m recalling that there may have been more of the latter!)  Andrew went to get Jerry and when he saw what we were doing he looked at Andrew……and he laughed!  He laughed and laughed and laughed!  “You’re never going to dig a three-foot hole in the Lemont dirt!”  Of course his response was all in fun, and telling this story is something I know Jerry has done on numerous occasions! Anyway, Jerry helped us dig a hole, we planted the pear tree and the lilacs, and we crossed our fingers.

Jerry             IMG_7139

(The first pic here is of neighbor Jerry laughing – notice the gardening tool in his hands! The second pic is of Andrew and neighbor Mike, who brought us a snack!)

Since then I’ve kept a fairly good eye on that tree.  And I’ve been hopeful since day one that it would take hold and eventually grow some fruit.  Last year it looked good in the spring, it was growing well, and after I learned about Reiki I would go out and visit it, sending it healing vibes.  This spring I went out into the yard not expecting to see anything on it at all, and what did I see?  One pear!  One Asian pear that had come from One blossom on my One tree!  Excitement!!!!!!

Today the pear was ready to pick!  The girls and I shared it while we were all here together.  I think Andrew was here with us too, and I think he was laughing at the whole scene (one pear, four girls).  Actually, he was probably feeling a little proud.  I’m a little sad that since it was an opportunity that we needed to take quickly I didn’t get to invite Jerry and his wife, Susan, to share in the pair cutting.  (They know about it now!)

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That Asian pear was the sweetest, most wonderful thing I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.

Earlier this week I caught a glimpse of the Asian pear tree in our old back yard.  Wow, is it loaded!  I sure loved that tree.  If anyone ever cuts it down I will cry.  Bob, the head of maintenance at Grier, will attest to the fact that I would.  Years ago there was a new guy helping with lawn care, and he didn’t quite know the ropes.  He was trimming bushes and really did a number on the pear tree.  I’m surprised it yielded anything after that!  I called Bob and I cried.  I literally cried over the phone.  “Please, Bob, don’t ever let anyone do that again!”  Bob was sympathetic (and maybe a little disturbed).  Thank you, Bob, for your understanding.

[For the record I just need to say how much I miss Bob, Little Bob, John, Bill, and all the guys who work tirelessly to make the school’s campus a beautiful, functioning place. Thank you.  Sorry, I got caught again….now, back to the blog.]

I would pick bags of pears and take them over to the school.  I’d give my friend, Yong Sook, full bags just for her, and she’d eat a whole bag in one day!  I’d make muffins, pies, and pear pancakes, etc., etc., etc…….  I’d have a basket sitting under the tree so the Grier girls could grab one that was ripe on the way to riding or wherever.

Sigh.  I remember it well.  I remember it well, and the remembering is good, but I can’t hold tightly to it.  The bit of sadness of this moment pays tribute to the gratefulness of the past moment.  I am also very grateful for this very moment.  This very moment is the Only one we have right now, just like that Only pear on the tree.

I imagine I will always be getting caught.  A snag here, a tug there.  I’ll get “caught” between the old and the new, and it will be okay.  And at that same moment I will be ready for what’s ahead.  I think what’s ahead can be pretty good if I let it.


I have a new tree to love.  It provides a really cool tie between what was and what is to come.  One pear will lead to many pears, and many memories pave the way for many more to come.

There’s another dichotomy, too.  There can be something new and beautiful that rises up out of a terrible tragedy.  Trimmed branches grow again  Life can spring up from almost nothing.  And healing comes after death.

Here’s to remembering….and moving on.


(Follow up note:  Jerry and Susan have relocated and I don’t get to see them like I used to.  When I got in touch with Jerry to ask for permission to use his part of the story he told me that he had fallen while trimming tree branches.  He broke some ribs, his back, and his leg!  He will be in a wheelchair for 10 weeks.  Please send prayers, good vibes, and healing intentions for this fabulous fellow and his patient spouse!  I have no doubt the he will rise to trim again!)


Darcy’s website:

Darcy’s Etsy store:

A Different Day……

A Different Day

I see things differently every day…..

I think I can now say that it has finally sunk in.  Not that it hadn’t sunken it at all before, and not that I won’t feel the weight of it tomorrow.  But I have definitely settled in a bit. Time is definitely a factor in this healing equation.  This new, different life is going to happen whether I’m ready or not.

It has been over 6 months since Andrew passed away, and I find I’m shaking my head less often.  My shock and disbelief have settled into a seat that’s a little further back on my mental train, and I’m left to ride on, looking forward through a glass that is slightly less foggy.  People have gone back to their own seats and now look toward their own destinations.

So here we are, starting a new year.  Black Friday started on Thursday, Cyber Monday started on Sunday, Christmas came and went, and we did it.  We made it.  We got our tree, gave our gifts, saw a couple friends and some family, and began this “new normal.”  It was different, but it was OK.  It was all right.  Next year we’ll do it all over again.


I imagine that 2016 will be just as much of a surprise as 2015 was.  I think after you live through horrible things you learn to change your expectations.  I’m less surprised at everything that happens; I guess I’m somewhat desensitized.  I get less ruffled when things glitch.  It’s all relative.  Don’t get me wrong, there are days when one little thing happens, and it makes me feel like I’ve hit rock bottom.

In the past four years, in addition to “regular” life surprises, my dad passed away, my mom gave in to Alzheimer’s, Andrew and I retired from jobs, Hope started college and we moved.  Then Andrew passed away……and Grace had to start back to school without him.  How much can one family withstand?  The answer is “a lot.”  And a lot of people withstand a lot of stuff.  We all become different people as we experience these “different days” and survive everything that happens to us.  I have to say that I look at people, and life in general, a lot differently than I used to.

A friend said to me, “Life is just one tragedy after another.”  I agree.  It’s true.  But I have to add that life is also one joy after another.  I can’t help but laugh at some of the bright, quirky things my girls say or do, and I can’t help getting a kick out of hearing a friend burst out laughing on her end of the phone…..

You never know what will hit you next.


So I’m glad it will be 2016.  It’s not that I expect it to be a better year; I’m just more aware that anything can happen at any time.  That’s not such a bad lesson to learn.  Also, I’m glad that 2015 is over.  (Plus, 2016 is an even number. I like even numbers, I don’t know why.  I always feel a little better on the first day of an even numbered year.  Crazy.)

The future is a mystery.  Many things are mysteries, and there will be more surprises, I know.  Who would ever have thought that I’d be frosting cookies in a local bakery…that I’d have the voice students I have now….that I’d have an Etsy store…?


There is one thing that I haven’t mentioned yet…..hope.  Some may call it faith, maybe some call it optimism.  What ever it is, there must be a little of it left in me or I wouldn’t be able to wake up tomorrow…..

Have I said yet that I am grateful?  I think I am more grateful now than I have been my entire life.

Tomorrow will be a different day.  I’ll probably see things differently than I did today.  And who knows what I will come to think and feel next year?

My life moves ahead.  Yours does, too.  None of us know what’s out there in the distance.  I hope we can all relax, take our time, travel along with the surprises and be grateful for what we have.
Addendum to A Different Day

I actually wrote this piece several weeks ago, but when the day came that I had scheduled to post it I couldn’t post it.  It seemed too positive.  It seemed much too optimistic and “got it together” to post.  Things weren’t going really well, and I didn’t feel I was handling the glitches very well.

I tried waiting until I felt like I was living up to what I wrote. I waited some more. And today I realized that if I wait until I feel I’m worthy I’ll never post anything!  I realize that it’s OK if, in my own mind, I don’t always live up to what I write.

Tomorrow will be a different day again, and I’ll probably feel differently about many things. At least I hope I do….and I’ll have another chance.


Why the pink tool bag?

                                   Why the pink tool bag?                                       IMG_7902

This is a photo of a pink tool bag.

Why?  Why the pink tool bag???

I was in a store, I can’t remember which one, and Hope and I were in the tool/home improvement section.  She was looking for something that would help her in her bike-building process, and I was meandering about as there was nothing I needed.

I came upon this pink tool bag.  Now…….I am assuming that this tool bag was meant for a woman.  And I am also assuming that the bag is pink because pink is associated with the female sex.


I don’t need a pink tool bag.  I don’t want a pink tool bag.  Someone, somewhere thought I might want one, I guess.  Perhaps they thought I would like the bag, and buy it because it is pink.  Would the pink bag help me to take care of my maintenance issues in a more feminine way?  Or would I have more fun, feel more confident as a female, fix with flair if I had that pink tool bag at my side?

I have had to get used to fixing some things myself, which is not to say that I didn’t fix things when Andrew was here.  In fact, I think it might be safe to say that I have been more of a handy woman than Andrew was a handy Man!  Bob, head of maintenance at The Grier School, can attest to that!  Andrew didn’t call him for everything, but he called him a lot!

I am not claiming to be handy woman extraordinaire, but I can handle a few things on my own.  When there’s something I can’t handle I ask for help, and I’m so grateful to those who are willing to pop over and spend some time with hammer in hand.  And I’m proud to say that I now know the “year” of all our cars and when their inspections are due.

Men and women know these things, men and women take care of all that needs to be done, and we don’t need pink or blue bags in order to do them.  (That being said, if you like your camo carry-all or your fuschia furniture, who cares?!)

Maintenance issues aren’t the only things that I’ve had to get used to taking care of.  Everything has now redefined itself…..every part of my life.  I am redefining myself, from the pink bag dilemma to the checkbook register to the way I need to function in the world…….

I’m fortunate to be able to take my time a little bit and look for the direction that I need to take.  I have heard people say, “Find out what you love and find a way to make money at it.”  Andrew sure knew what he loved.  All his “student friends” from all his years at Grier and in Tyrone can attest to the fact that he loved students and was just overjoyed beyond belief to help them find the education they needed or take the best pic to send to parents.  And in every photo he took you can feel a bit of the artistic, loving genius that focused the lens.


For me it’s a little different.  I love a lot of things, most of them creative…, music, art, writing…… I’ve often felt like that jack of all trades…. How content we all would be if we could make a living doing what we love, right?!

Andrew with monster face

In the days shortly after Andrew’s memorial service, after my brother-in-law flew home and the crowds thinned out, I started treasure hunting for sapphires in Andrew’s gravel (Please see my Gravel Story post if you are confused!).  Even though the rough gems I found were far from their faceted end destination I was inspired by the process.  I got out some colorful beads and a watch face that I had bought months before, and while the girls were watching TV (I’m not always totally interested in America’s Next Top Model!) I made myself creatively busy…..

One thing led to another, and now I have an Etsy store!  I will unabashedly put a plug in right here for myself because people like it so far, and you just might be curious anyway.  It’s  I don’t know how successful this venture will be, but at least for now I’m doing something I love.  And I’m learning a lot….it’s really interesting to try to figure out how to make an online store work.  For instance, my listings won’t come to the top of searches right now because I’m an “untrusted” quantity.  People will have to “favorite” my shop and give “reviews” before Etsy will trust me to make a big enough cut for them!  The art is only part of it all…..SEO stuff, choosing the right words, the right items…..

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Anyway, I don’t know if this experience will be the defining one for me but it is at least something to get excited about.  I like that it’s different from what I’ve done before.  Everything I’m doing right now if different than what I’ve done before.  And I am forced to become different now, too…..

Andrew was such a big personality.  When we went places together I really didn’t have to say much.  He was the extrovert and I the introvert… was a pretty good match now that I come to think of it.  25 years of not having to come up with small talk!


That’s not true, really.  I had to do my share because everywhere I went with Andrew he was looking up someone that he knew from some other time in his life.  I distinctly remember him sitting on a hotel bed with the phonebook in his hand when he couldn’t remember if he knew someone who lived in the town we were visiting…..

Andrew was the perfect example of how to converse in social situations.  He was totally comfortable because he truly believed that Everyone wanted to talk to him!  What confidence!  He looked at a group of strangers and said, “What fun!”  I would look at the same group and say, “God, help me!”  He’d pick up the phone and just know that the person on the other end would be pleased as punch to give him their time.  I pick up the phone with a sweaty palm and pray the person isn’t home!

Please don’t think that I am socially inept….the part of my world away from Andrew’s side consisted of many wonderful people that did not make me sweat… theater friends, my book club girls, my students and colleagues…. but when I was at a party or just anywhere with Andrew I really didn’t have to say much!  In fact, looking back, I think sometimes I didn’t have a chance to say much…… Every once in a while I did have something to say and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise!


So.  Here I am.  I’m filling in the spaces…..those empty spaces.  The dead silences that happen within conversations.  Sometimes it’s really awkward.  Sometimes it’s really lonely to be the one saying it all.  But to be fair, sometimes it’s nice not to have to wait for an opening.  I’m stepping into those empty spaces whether I want to or like it…..and I’m doing it.  I really am.

I’m filling in the empty spaces all over the place.  My friends and family are filling in spaces too.  And even though no one can fill up Andrew’s space they fill up the whole entire area all around it.  I don’t want Andrew’s space to be filled up anyway.

So I reach into my purple toolbox….Oh, I didn’t tell you that I have a purple toolbox!  Yes, I admit it.  I love my purple toolbox.  Dawn gave it to me; I’ve had it for years.  Anyway, I reach into my purple toolbox for the little picture hanger thingy that Jerry and Mike got at Walmart and I intend to put one of Andrew’s photos up in my studio….fill in that big, white space over the piano…..

And then maybe I’ll make a bracelet.  I think I’ll make Lori’s.  It’s the pink one.

Lovely, Lovely People

Lovely, Lovely People

The world is full of lovely people.  How do I know this is true?  I know them all, that’s how.

Ok, I don’t know them all, but all of them that I know are lovely!

I’m saying this on the heels of my husband’s death.  People were, and continue to be, so kind to me.  It’s actually overwhelming.  I knew that my friends, family and acquaintances were kind people, but these people seem to have shown themselves as the ultimate super people.

We have had a drastic experience, and my people have jumped in with an equal and opposite reaction.  Imagine those old-fashioned justice scales.  On one side is so much sadness and grief and mystery and confusion…..and on the other side are all these wonderful people that I know, people sitting there smiling, legs crossed, waving and nodding, all crowded on to that little weighing plate.  “We’ve got your back!” they say.  These are people that have scrubbed a rug, baked a dinner, cleaned the house, mowed the grass, stayed over night, written to Harry Styles’ personal assistant, gone to lunch, helped with finances, traveled hundreds of miles, wrote heartfelt words, and…and….and…..I could go on and on and on.  I can’t possibly list all the wonderful, generous things these people have done for us.


So all these folks are evening out that scale.  Everything they have done and felt for us adds to their lovely weight that sends the pointer straight to the middle.  I guess that pointer represents me, and now that they’ve pointed me in the right direction I can function with a lot less tilt!

I am so fortunate, I know.  I wish I could lend my people to those who are hurting, hurting even worse than I, those who don’t have people of their own…..  I feel guilty, even, that I have been surrounded by so many lovely people.  It’s hard for me to imagine that people could care that much, that they would care about me, about us.  I would say that surely I do not deserve such affection. But I can not imagine what life would have been like in these past few months without these friends….

And I think everyone deserves that care, that affection.  In fact, everyone out there in our lives, in our world, the people we know, the people we don’t, everyone deserves our best care.  Not everyone’s scale is tipping way out of proportion, so it shouldn’t really take all that much effort to be helpful……

It’s really amazing how losing someone changes you.  I’ve heard and used the phrase “it’s all relative.”  Relative to what the girls and I (and our friends) have experienced through losing Andrew, everything else hardly makes me bat an eye.  When that scale you’re riding dips way down into life and death those silly, annoying things that happen don’t matter, let alone make sense.  I know you have dealt with loss, and you know what this feels like.  Perhaps we need these heavy times in our lives….

I am so changed by these lovely people in my life.  I see them in a whole new way now.  They are not only helpers but also life teachers.  I am humbled and overwhelmed in the best way possible.  Have you ever been touched in the heart so deeply that you have to cry, maybe you feel like you will burst?  I can’t describe this very well at all.  Music is like this for me.  When I hear perfectly skilled musicians play the most beautiful notes in the most sensitive way it touches me so deeply that I can hardly breathe.  This may be too much information and may not make sense, but this is exactly how I feel as I think of these gorgeous souls, and the fact that I cannot live without them.

So often I have grumbled about people……the sour-faced server, the fast-paced lane changer, the person who has betrayed all trust….

But now it’s all in perspective, now it’s all relative.  I have seen lovely people.  I have witnessed lovely people in action.  Lovely people have loved me and I think I’m ready to love them back.

It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it. 

It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.

These are frequent, infamous words of my mother.


She said them often to me, so that must mean that I frequently said nasty things!  And I was probably saying them to my sister. Thankfully (and hopefully!) she has forgiven me after all these years.

Isnt it interesting how you can change the entire meaning of your words by your tone?   Take for example the phrase, “That’s just great.”

1.  Your child comes home from school and shows you his artwork. “That’s just great!”

2.  You head to the laundry room to start one of this week’s loads, and the start button on the washer does nothing. “That’s.Just.Great.”

See what I mean?!  I know you know.

This is also a great acting exercise.  We theatrical folks would love this… “How many different ways can you say this phrase?!”

Tone is really important.   My niece, Charlotte, and I have had a conversation about how it can be difficult to determine a person’s tone from a text.  We think things like, “She didn’t use any exclamation points…is she mad?!”  Charlotte and I, both, are “expressive texters.”  We like exclamation points and icons. But we also understand that there are different texting personalities out there, and you can’t read too much into a message.

The words we say and how we say them can really hurt someone, though, even if they’re said without thinking, out of anger, out of loss of control……  My late husband, Andrew, and I were both very hurt in the past by someone’s hot-tempered, unkind words said in a very unkind way.

So I guess I have to disagree with my mom for some cases, then.  Although is is a really great quote, and I will continue to use it, I believe that what really matters is what you say AND how you say it.  The words we speak, the tone we use, and how we act really show what’s going on inside us.  When you hear disturbing words it’s a real red flag….

This reminds me of a song by David Wilcox (the American David Wilcox).  He’s my favorite singer song-writer and Andrew and I, along with friends, got to see him perform numerous times.  He has written lots of winners but the one I reference now is called “Run.”  The song is about a girl who goes out on a date, and at first all is well.  Then she witnesses her date being rude to the waiter.  (Can you imagine!?)  Of course the lyrics tell her to “Run!”  In other words, watch out for those moments that make you feel just a bit uneasy.  And if that person’s words make your jaw drop you’d better catch the first flight out!  If he/she made you feel uneasy once it will probably happen again.  And you may look back and realize they had been doing/saying “interesting” things all along, and you just didn’t want to admit it.  No one should stay in a relationship like that…….

I’m not saying you should ditch every friend that says something off-putting!  We are human; we all need to dish, to vent… forgive, and to be tolerant to a certain degree.  But I do think it pays to be a little wary……

Andrew was the kindest person I’ve known; he was definitely not the kind of guy who would be rude to the waiter.  As I’ve said before, and like myself and everyone I know, he was not perfect.  But I wish he were here now so I could tell him how much I appreciated his kindness.  I didn’t say things like that enough.  Probably none of us do.  Oh, once in a while I did. I hope that when no words were spoken at all he knew that I admired him.

I tell my girls, “Be as kind as you can possibly be.”  I think they usually are, maybe not to each other(!), and I’m always impressed when I see them say or do something that is particularly helpful.

I used to play the piano for funerals.  Honestly, I dread these kinds of events when I have to attend them, but when I was providing a service, creating an atmosphere, those events became for me really sweet moments that helped people in their grief.  Anyway, I have heard lots of lovely things said about people who have just passed away.  I think we turn the person into a mini saint of sorts, not only because it’s socially appropriate to say good things about them, but also because we want to focus on all the good things the person did, the kind things they said, the generous or humorous way they behaved.  The good things become the important things, the things that really matter, the things we want to remember.

Were you ever in a situation where you had had a fight or were just totally annoyed at the core with someone you love?!  Mmm hmm!  So you’re in the midst of this steam and irritation, and then something else happens. You find out that someone else has really hurt your person!  How could they do that?!  All those feelings of anger or irritation we were just feeling take a vacation!  Why?  Because deep down we know what really matters in life.  We know that those little annoying things, although they do have some importance, are not the end-all and be-all.  It’s then that we want to retract all the things we said, and “how we said them” and focus on the core of life….which is love, itself…. Love for the person who was hurt, love we need to return to the universe.

When someone says something mean I think it’s helpful to look inside them and be curious, to try to understand what might be going on inside them.  That reminds me of a quote I think I put on instagram one time!  It was something about not judging another person because you don’t know what trials or challenges that they’ve had to put up with that day.  Perhaps understanding that everyone has their own challenges helps to make their situation explainable, even excusable.

On the flip side, when we regret something we’ve said we need to look inside and be curious and understand, and even fix, what’s going on inside.  We hope others know that we have our bad days, and can forgive us……

Today is the day to speak words of admiration and encouragement, especially to the people we love.  I have said these words so often in the past several months: You just never know.  Tomorrow you may not have those people in your life, and you’ll want to be sure that you are proud of what you’ve said, and how you’ve said it.


If you’d like to hear “Run” by David Wilcox you can catch him on youtube: