Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2 Years Ago

It's so hard to believe that 2 years ago today Jack died. Technically he died on the 21st, but he was declared dead at 12:22 am on 3/22. It's still hard to believe that 2 years have gone by since then.

Much has happened in the last year. By the time the 1 year anniversary of his passing rolled around, I'd completed my RN refresher course. So, in early June I found a job. Yep. I went back to work. In addition to being a single mother, I'm now I working single mother. I went back to hospice nursing which I love. Seems odd to be a relatively recent widow and still work with the dying. All I can say is that it's my calling, and this hospice is very supportive of its employees.
I frequently think about Jack when I'm working. Especially if I'm doing something that involves body fluids. Jack used to frequently say that my best day at work was worse than his worse day imaginable. The man did not see how anybody could be a nurse. All he asked was that I not discuss work over dinner. OK, I can understand that. I didn't always abide by it, but I can understand it.

The other big thing is that I bought a house. I plan to stay in this house for a long, long time. It's only a couple of miles from where we used to live. It's ours and just right for us. It has yard space and we each have a room, plus there's office space. While I haven't unpacked Jack's magickal items yet, I did do one thing today. I buried some of his ashes in the back yard in a special place. That way a part of him will always be here at our new home.

I was talking to the school nurse today. She commented on how well I've handled Jack's death with the kids. I let them talk about it whenever they want to, and it's not very often. But we do remember him frequently. He's still a part of our life, just not in physical form. They get that death is a part of life. You can miss someone, but life still goes on. Sarah is so much like Jack, too. She looks so much like him, and she has some of his mannerisms, and she can be so sensitive.

I frequently think of new blog entries to do, but by the time I'm sitting in front of the computer, I've forgotten all about it. I still want to do one on the kind of father Jack was. (Loving.) And how he loved watches. I'm sure there are others lurking in my mind somewhere.

What I've learned in the past 2 years is this: whether we want it to or not, the world keeps turning and life goes on. But he's still missed. It's not as intense as it once was, but it's still there. And I'm OK.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Acid Bath

Back in the year 2001 or so, Jack and I flew up to WA so he could meet my dad's side of the family. My dear Uncle Jerry had said that they were going to put Jack through "the acid bath." Of course, I worried so much that I called Jerry to find out what this was about. What I learned was that back when my dad was alive, they would put my dad's girlfriends through this. My dad had so many girlfriends and was married enough times that they figured that if he brought the same person to a family gathering more than once, then he was going to marry her. (Not too far from the truth, either.) This was basically harmless family fun, but they wanted to meet the guy I was so crazy about. When my dad died in 1990, Jerry decided that since I didn't have a father anymore that he'd do what he could to fill that role, and this was part of it.

When we went to Jerry's it was like a family reunion. All the local family was there, and it was great to see everyone. While we're all hanging out in Jerry's lovely back yard, Jerry starts asking all kinds of questions of Jack like about his bank account and so forth. Jack, of course, hesitated on some of the answers. Finally, Jerry came right out and asked Jack, "So exactly what are your intentions toward my neice?" To which Jack replied, "Jerry, I'm going to marry her and knock her up. In that order." End of ribbing. He was accepted into the family. And it wasn't as bad as I was afraid it was going to be.
L to R: my mom, Jack holding Gabby, me, Sarah, Uncle Jerry, my brother Ken (deceased) and his s.o. Sarah. This is a photo from Gabby's "first year" photo album

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Urn

Jack now officially has a more permanent urn. At last. After he died, our friend, Dan, said that he was probably in there bitching about being in plastic. He was right. I know it took a long time, but better late than never. He WAS in a heavy plastic bag in a brown plastic box with his name on a label. C'mon. He deserved something more classy than that. (This is said to myself.)

the original plastic box

I found this urn on the internet at a good price (for an urn). The darned things are expensive! I found one in his favorite color - cobalt blue. It's a stone and resin mix. I had it engraved with his name and his birth name in honor of his entire life, not just the later years. I hadn't originally chosen the pentagram on the order, but I let them know that a pentagram would be nice. When I saw the first proof, there it was. Could have floored me! I also retrofitted it in true Jack fashion. I used the pentagram that hung as a charm in his vehicle the entire time I knew him. What better way to wish him a safe journey in his life on the Other Side? I think he'd be proud.

I transferred his ashes into the new urn today. It feels good to have done that.

The top of the new urn. (The ashes go in through an opening in the bottom) Color is not totally accurate.

The new urn from the front, complete with retrofit. Color is better here

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jack. A day late

Yesterday would have been Jack's 54th birthday. I had a plan. But then I fell asleep in front of the TV the night before, and when my alarm clock went off the next morning in the other bedroom, I managed to fall off the bed when reaching for said alarm clock, hitting my head and my leg in the process. So, after seeing the doctor, I spent the day at a friend's house resting. Of course, the girls were there too. I managed to give myself a bit of a concussion, but I am feeling better today. (Glad this happened on a Sat. morning so I didn't miss any work.) So I'm certain that Jack would understand being a day late.

Our remembrance of him was pretty simple. We got the idea from a TV show on PBS about grieving children. We went to the store and got 3 balloons in Jack's favorite color. Or at least as close as we could get. (For those who don't know, his favorite color was cobalt blue.) We then each wrote a short note to him telling him how much we love and miss him. (OK, I wrote Gabby's for her.) Then I attached a note to each balloon, and we went into the back yard and let them go to him up in Summerland.

He is still missed and still loved and always will be.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Comments about Jack

Before the memorial service for Jack, I collected a bunch of comments that people made in emails and other places about the kind of person Jack was. I've decided to post them here for everybody to see. He was a multifaceted man with varied interests, and he knew folks from various walks of life. But what comes through is his vibrant energy, his love of life, and his love for me and our girls.

The Person Jack

He may have died of a heart attack but it was purely physical as his was a special heart, big and generous.

I cannot help but feel a little bit of joy, not for the fact that you’re gone, but for how you lived your life, and for how you’ve taught us all to live our lives, to be totally and unapologetically true to ourselves, and most of all, to love, love, love.

He had a way of being exactly who he was, never apologizing for it, never hurting anyone by it, and always leaving people around him somewhat inspired. I've never met a Jack before. And the rare thing about Jack, is that all these things about Jack that are good, people said about him when he was living as well.

His energy and vibrant energy were so amazing.

There is an unfathomable void left in our lives where his larger-than-life presence once resided.

Jack Darkhand was a great, great man. He was also my friend.

He was a blaze of talent, a brilliant head, a lot of fun.

Jack pretty much saved my life

His humor and passion for life were infectious and his willingness to share wisdom inspiring. He was a true individual

He's a man that recreated himself dozens of times in dozens of ways.... and some know him through one, many or all of those incarnations. I think of him in wonderment.

Such a great man... so talented, kind, thoughtful

He was just Big; such an unmistakeable presence. Expansive, active, outgoing... I know no one else who is his match -- such a force!

He wrung every possible moment of happiness out of his life. What was best is that he decided this was how it was going to be.

Jack on the job

If you put Jack on a project to bottle farts, he would STILL be over the top and authentically enthusiastic and make you think that it was his life long dream to do that exact project. He would then get everyone around him excited to work on it. He had a way.

Every moment of his day that was not actively engaged in work I know was spent thinking of you. When it was time to go, he was in a hurry to get home to his family.

Jack as astrologer, brewer, Tarot reader, Pagan

People were awed by him. He was so accurate, it was scary. . . And the absolute best thing about it? He achieved this uncanny accuracy not through any psychic ability, but through pure and simple science.

He was an incredible man, intelligent, kind and thoughtful with a huge heart. . . I was so inspired by our conversation and by the magic of plants in general that I went on to study herbal medicine and have been working as a professional herbalist and healer since 2002.

Jack as loving husband and father

I was so inspired by the relationship you had with your wife.

He loved with great passion, and his romance with Linda was legendary.

There are few people who touched my heart they way Jack did. Everything he did, he did with great passion and he loved life to the fullest -- and the best part of his life was his love of Linda. I am honoured to have known him -- and I will deeply miss him.

The depth of his love consumed him. He left no doubt that Linda was the most beautiful, desirable, wonderful woman in his world. I was in awe of his love, and still am.

When I think of love, of marriage and what it can truly be, I think of Jack. I always will.

Everyone who knew Jack, knew Linda and Sarah and Gabby by first names and all the details. He gushed over them.

He died in a house of love, filled with that which was most precious to him, under a roof shared by those that loved him back. I don't think anything but death could have take him from your side.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life Goes On

It's been a long time since I last posted. There are so many ideas that go through my head for blog posts when I'm away from my computer (like when I'm driving my car), then by the time I'm home, I completely forget.

It's hard to believe that yet another season has passed since Jack died. While the pain isn't as intense as it was, it can still be hard to believe sometimes. He is still missed, and he always will be. Be that as it may, the world continues to turn and life goes on, whether we want it to or not.
One of the significant events that occurred is that Sarah completed kindergarten. She loved her kindergarten teachers and going to school all day. She learned so much during the school year, and she seems so much more mature now. I am so proud of her!

Sarah with her kindergarten teachers, Mrs. O'Connor & Mrs. Stewart. Yes, she has a black dot on her nose. They were the Otters, so it's an otter hat and black dot for a nose.

Gabby is still going to her montessori preschool. She likes it, and she does well. I've decided that she won't start kindergarten until she's well past age 5. I think it will be better for her in the long run. She has picked up on a lot of what Sarah has brought home from school, but I think she'll be better off socially if we wait until 2011 for that big step.

The really huge thing that has happened is that I've gone back to work. Yes, folks, I am now officially a working single mom with all of the challenges that that entails. I got a job with Providence Hospice out of Everett as a Case Manager working 32 hours a week. That will give me a day off during the week to do whatever I need to do without kids, and it will also give me benefits such as health insurance. I can't stay on COBRA forever, that's for sure. So far, I really like the job. This is my first week, and all has gone well so far. It feels good to be back in hospice work again.

While it feels good as an adult with a career to go back to the work I love, it does bring with it challenges. Jack and I had talked about what the schedule would look like if I went back to work. This was a few months before he died and before I started my RN refresher course. Well, that plan is right out the window! So getting me and the girls up and out the door on time in the morning can be a challenge. Then getting them fed and in bed by 8:00 when we frequently don't get home until 6:00 can be another challenge. Finding the balance where they get fed and enough rest but still get kid time can be really tough. I can get a little frustrated with them if I'm worried about timing. Plus, I'm getting used to a whole new routine! More than once, I've wished that Jack were here to make this an easier process. But he's not. So we manage without him. But it would be so much easier with him here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apollo 13

Jack was one for having fascinating, true tales to tell from his life. He was one of those guys who seemed to just attract really intersting stuff happening in his life. (Or maybe he was just really good at telling the story!) Here's a true tale from when Jack was 13 years old:

Jack's father, Joe, was an astrophysicist. He was involved in the Apollo space program. It's how he made his living. (Yes, my father-in-law really WAS a rocket scientist!) He convinced (or helped convice) NASA to put crosshairs in the porthole of the spaceship, and Apollo 13 was the first spaceship to have this feature. At least this is what I've been told.

On the evening of the Apollo 13 crisis, Jack and his family were sitting down and having dinner. The phone rang. Joe got up and answered the phone. He didn't say anything on his end. He just hung up and went upstairs and came back down with an already-packed suitcase. All he said was, "There's trouble upstairs." meaning with the astronauts. Shortly thereafter, a car came and picked up Joe. Very little was said to the kids.

The next day, Jack's mother, Blanche, put the kids in the car and took them someplace (I can't remember exactly what it was) where the families of those involved could listen in on the talk going on between mission control in Houston and the astronauts. Jack and his family could hear Joe asking the astronauts what constellation they could see in the crosshairs. They would answer, then Joe would tell them which rocket to fire and for how long. And the process would be repeated until they were able to come safely back to terra firma.

This is one of those "larger than life" things that happened to Jack. It's a true story. While he and his father may have had issues at times, he was always very proud of his father's involvement with the space program, and especially the Apollo 13 crisis.