Saturday, November 14, 2009

Crystals of "Wrong"-ness

Jack used to say that guys had a hard time admitting that they were wrong. The riff went something like this: "I've been practicing saying it in front of a mirror. 'I was wrr. I was wrrru. I was wruuuh.'" Just couldn't get it out. So, if one of us was admitting that we were a little bit wrong, we'd say that we were "wruh." It was just one of those "Jack and Linda" things.

At some point while we were living in Redmond, we'd had some sort of disagreement. I don't even remember what it was about. Just that we didn't agree. Then, one evening, he came home from work with a small gift for me. It was a cut crystal on a string with beads. He had come up with a new tradition. When one of us was seriously wrong, the person who was wrong would buy the other a crystal to hang in the kitchen window. This was a way of reminding ourselves that we were actually WRONG sometimes.

As the years passed, we continued this tradition. I was the last one to have to buy a crystal. It happened not too long before Jack died. When the incident occurred, I said to Jack, "OK, I was wrong, but not 'crystal wrong'." To which he said, "Oh yes, you were. You owe me a crystal." Of course, I made good on our tradition. The window got fairly full, and it's sad that we won't be adding to them. But it was a really good tradition to acknowledge our wrongness.

[This photo doesn't do them justice. If you've ever been to my house in WA, you've seen them in the kitchen window. The moon faerie was purchased at an art festival in San Ramon while we were still living in CA. (It's a fairie and mermaid sitting on the moon.)]

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Bathroom

As almost everybody knows, Jack died while taking a shower. He was using the shower, as he always did, that was just off the master bedroom. It was "his" bathroom. I almost never used it except if I had to get up in the middle of the night to pee.

Ever since he died, it's been weird using that bathroom. I could still see what had happened there back in March. I went in there even less than I had before. I didn't clean it because it basically wasn't being used hardly at all. And I just didn't want to face it.

I was talking to a friend about this recently, and she suggested that it might be good for me on more than one level to clean it myself. I was thinking of asking someone else or hiring someone to do it. But what she said made sense. So, last week, when I was doing other cleaning around the house, I did it. I cleaned the bathroom. The shower. The toilet. The sink. The mirror. Threw out his used razors. Swept the floor.

You know, I feel better for having done that chore myself. The anticipation was worse than the actual doing of the task. And it feels better in there in more ways than one. I'm comfortable using it finally. My thanks to my friend for the advice. I'm glad I did it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Heart Walk 2009

This blog entry is way overdue. Better late than never.

On 10/3, the Heart Association had its annual Heart Walk in Seattle. I decided to do it this year as a way to remember Jack and also for research into congenital heart defects. So, I had shirts made up with Jack's picture on them for me and the girls.
They closed down the Alaskan Way Viaduct for this. For those not familar with Seattle, it's a raised highway that runs past a lot of the Seattle waterfront. During the walk, the viaduct was wall-to-wall people. It was pretty cool to be a part of something so large.

We were able to meet up with our friends, Wyndi, Steven & Izzie, and walk with them. They made it so much easier. They helped look after Sarah, and even let her ride in Izzie's stroller for awhile, plus on their shoulders for a bit. Gabby did the whole thing in her stroller. I had some help pushing her along the way, but I did most of the walk pushing 26 plus pounds of kid on top of the walk.
Sarah & Izzie & Izzie's dad, Steven

The walk was a total of 5K. That's around 3.6 miles, I think. We did it in just over an hour. We had fun doing it, and I certainly got my exercise for the day! I raised just ofer $700 for the AHA, and a total of $1.1 million was raised in the Seattle area. My thanks to everyone who contributed and supported us in our efforts!
The 3 of us after the walk wearing our matching shirts

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I have come to realize that I will always have a deep connection to Jack. This goes beyond him being the father of my children. It's on a deeper level than that. No matter what my life may look like in the future, or who I may be with, there will always be a part of my heart that belongs to him.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Today would have been Jack and my 7th wedding anniversary.

We were married at Muir Beach Overlook just north of San Francisco. If you looked to the south, you could see The City, and if you looked to the east, you could see the back of Mount Tamalpais, which I grew up seeing from the other side through my grandparent's picture window in Kentfield. If you looked to the west, you saw the ocean. It was a perfect setting for us ~ outdoors, in view of places significant to me, and a place that was sacred to Poseidon, one of Jack's favorite Greek deities. We were married by one of my good friends, Mike Blair.

No, we didn't get married on the point! But it had a great view!

The fog had the good graces to burn off before time for the ceremony. It also seemed that different animals came out to witness this event as well as the people. While doing a test run in the shuttle van, a stag lept across the road in front of it. The gophers were coming up out of their holes in the ground. The fish were gathered, as we could see by the cluster of fishing boats in the ocean below. I was even told that a couple of butterflies flittered over our heads while we were saying our vows. Our union felt, and was, blessed by many. It still is even though Jack is in Summerland.

I hid in the bushes, waiting for my time to come out. I walked across a field of dry grass in my wedding gown. I've heard of how Jack sighed and had tears of joy in his eyes when he first saw me in my wedding gown. I was just plain happy to be marrying the man I loved so dearly.

We wrote our own vows. We were also handfasted in addition to being legally married. And we jumped over a broom into our new lives at the end of the ceremony. That broom hangs on the wall in our hallway to this day.

We then all drove to the reception which was held in Fairfax. It was a great party with plenty of wine, food, and song. Then the next day we went off on our honeymoon in Greece, the trip of a lifetime.

Today is bittersweet. It's the anniversary of one of the happiest days in my life. And I'm sad because Jack isn't here to share it. I will be certain to drink a toast to our union tonight.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's a small world department

As I've talked about here before, the girls and I have been attending one of the local UU churches. It's turned out to be a good spiritual community for us, and a good support network for me. But that's not the point of this post.

Today, they held the annual SummerFest party at a member's home. It was a house on the shore of Lake Washington. Very relaxing. While there, I met someone new to the group who I hadn't seen before. After chatting for a bit, I noticed a goddess medalion AND a pentagram on a chain around her neck. Of course, I introduced myself, and doing a bit of Jack channelling, mentioned that I recognized the pentagram saying, "nod-nod, wink-wink, secret handshake" the way Jack would have. It turns out that she used to live in Napa. And she's been to many Ancient Ways Festivals, which is where Jack and I met in 1992. I mentioned to her the Sweet Liquid Trouble tasting parties that he used to have on Sat. nights, and she remembered them! Of course, I told her that he was my husband and the father of the 2 beautiful girls in the room and that he'd passed away.

She was looking for the right congregation in the area for herself. I hope I was able to make her comfortable with this group and that she'll continue to come back.

It's still sometimes hard to believe how folks we knew down there through the AW festival and the Pagan community are slowly migrating up here. It's a nice thing, though.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

This Ain't for Sissies

It seems like I've just been busy lately. Busy spinning my wheels, that is.

I managed to hold a yard sale last week-end. That took a week to get ready for. I made what I wanted to, so I was happy. I didn't get rid of as much stuff as I wanted to, so much of it will be donated to Children's Hospital Thrift Shop. I still have what didn't sell taking up half of the garage. I can't get to the freezer with my car in there. Ugh!

With the heat, it's been hard to get outside to do any kind of yard maintenance. I desperately need to go out and do some deadheading of some flowers. At least I got some watering done this evening! I think I need to have some friends over and have a back yard clean-up party and feed everybody BBQ.

I feel a little overwhelmed at times. It seems like my list of stuff to get done is longer than my arm, and it gets longer every week. Even though the girls are in daycare, I feel like there's still not enough time in the day. I'm still trying to take care of myself, and sometimes I nap when they're not here. But I feel behind on a lot of stuff. Yet I'm the kind of person who hates someone coming in and cleaning my toilet. I'm probably being too hard on myself, anyway. To be fair, I DID get some studying done this week on top of having out-of-town company AND two appointments this week.

Jack was such a neat & tidy guy in most things. There was never any question about which desk was his and which was mine. It was easy when he was around and there were both of us to look after the kids and to keep up on things, including housework. It's totally different when it's just one person. So, like the title says, single parenthood & widowhood ain't for sissies. Just sayin'.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Jack

Today would have been Jack's 53rd birthday. So, happy birthday to a man who was a wonderful husband and father. He was generous and a good friend. He lived his beliefs. I'm very glad he was born. And he left us way too soon.

Please drink a toast to Jack today sometime. (For those who don't know, he loved a good tequila.) Me, I plan on toasting him with some of what's left of the delicious cherry cordial he made last year and wearing an outfit he would have really liked and a necklace he gave me this Valentine's day. And remembering him all day.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Birds & the Bees

As I was waking up this morning, I remembered a story that Jack told me from when he was a kid about how parents can overexplain stuff:

When he was a little boy, he asked his mom, "Mommy, where did I come from?

His mother then went into an explanation of the reproductive process. I'm assuming it was age appropriate.

To which Jack replied, "No, Mommy! Scotty came from Cleveland. Where did I come from?"

That story still makes me chuckle.

As if that's not enough, this morning the girls and I were listening to an album by the Zac Brown Band, a country band & a current family favorite. In response to the words in a song, Sarah asked, "Mommy, what do lovers do?" Ummmmm . . . I think I stumbled through it ok.

Monday, July 13, 2009

So long, Solund

Solund, Lone Stallion of the Appocolypse (AKA the Jeep) is going to his new home. I sold the Jeep today, and he is being shipped to Alaska. Hopefully, he'll have many fun 4-wheel drive adventures up there with his new family. OK, they probably won't think of him as a part of the family, but Jack did. Jack so loved that car. But, I'm glad to have that piece of business taken care of.

Monday, July 6, 2009


As just about everybody knows, Jack died at home. 911 was called, and they came and did their thing. He died in the shower, and they moved him from the master bath to the bedroom to work on him on the floor. This is the kind of memory I'd rather not have, but it will probably always be with me. It seems now like I find reminders of that night without warning. Today I was cleaning the floors ~ sweeping & mopping the hardwood. I found one last cap from the code meds under his altar. (It's not the first. I'm sure they cleaned up when they were done, but they forgot some little stuff.) And I've swept in there before today, too! Being an RN, I know what it is when I see it. I'm hoping that's the last one. But it was a reminder that I wasn't expecting. Then, I picked up an old piece of paper that was stuck under my desk. At the top was Jack's writing. It was just the beginning of a shopping list, but still. I just miss him so much. I'd so much rather have him here.

Meanwhile, Sarah's in the other room where all of his magickal stuff is having a "service" with her imaginary friends for Papa (their name for Jack). There's dancing time and time to talk about your memories of him. Wow. What a kid.

On the bright side, at least my floors are clean. At last.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What is Strength?

Ever since Jack died, more than one person has told me that I'm "strong." So today's question is: What is "strength?"

As a couple, Jack and I were strong. I was stronger with him than I was alone. We got through a lot of stuff including an out-of-state move, layoffs, me being a stay-at-home mom and setting my career aside for a few years & a baby that needed serious surgery before she was 3 months old. (She's fine now.) We also adapted to Jack's heart disease, and we got more regular exercise and changed our diet. Low sodium, low fat, Subway, and the YMCA became a way of life for us. And now it's as if half of me is gone. Yet people still think I'm "strong."

Strength is continuing with life even though you don't want to without the person you love most there with you. Strength is putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow. Strength is coming up with a new weekly routine for the kids so they have a sense of stability. Strength is maintaining nighttime rituals and adapting them as needed since one person who did them with you is gone. Strength is finding new support people after someone you thought was a close friend ends the frienship, without telling you why, just a couple of weeks after your husband has died. Strength is taking care of business, paying bills, and dealing with insurance companies and hearing Jack say, "Thank you for taking care of that." in your head. Strength is putting his beloved Jeep up for sale even though your 5 year-old has begged you not to because by the Jeep being gone she'll "know Papa is really gone and isn't coming back." Strength is maintaining your "no" to your child in the store no matter the begging or tantrum because you know consistency is better than your kid thinking that the louder they yell, the more likely you are to change your mind. Strength is maintaining discipline with your kids no matter how much you want to "just let it go." Strength is going back to the YMCA and getting back on that damned treadmill despite wondering "why bother?" after what you went through with your husband.

The list could go on and on. What I've learned is that just because a person is "strong" doesn't mean that it's an easy thing to be strong. It's what has to be done for your own well being and that of your children even if it is hard as hell sometimes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Flowers & Sunsets

Jack wasn't a gardener. In fact, he always told me that he would kill anything that he attempted to grow. But he certainly appreciated flowers.

Jack knew that one of my favorite flowers is the carnation. On our first Valentine's Day, he bought me this huge pink vase with about 3 dozen carnations in 3 different colors. I was stunned at the time. Just one of the many ways that he was so thoughtful. I still have the vase. (A joke that Jack told me several times when we were first dating: Do you know that if we all drove white cars, we'd be a white car nation? [Insert loud groan here]) For years, he would also bring me a bouqet of flowers from the store "just because." I never knew when to expect it, but I so loved and appreciated it.

When we were living at our first house in WA, our desks both looked out the back windows onto the back deck. When spring arrived, I went to Fred Meyer and bought a fuschia plant and hung it outside my window. Jack loved it so much (I had no clue that he loved the flowers) that I bought him one, too, at his request. We've had a fuschia plant every year since. It's a sign that spring has finally arrived and that the frost is most likely done until fall. Jack always loved it when I hung the new fuschia plant. Buying one this year was bittersweet because he wasn't here to enjoy it.

Then there are the roses. The houses we've lived in here have both had rose bushes. This house has 10 rose bushes in front, and I take good enough care of them that neighbors and folks who walk down our street comment to me about them. We get lots of roses every year. Periodically, I'll go out front and cut a bunch of them. When Jack was alive, he'd strip off the leaves and thorns (he had one of those cool florist tools that does it), and he'd arrange them and put them around the house. It was such a nice thing that we did together. The roses are back, and now I'm doing both the cutting and arranging. And remembering him every time I do it.

He also really appreciated the flowers I grew in the yard. Not all of them could be cut. But, during the summer months, we'd sit in our back yard, and he'd comment on how nice it was to be there with all of the flowers in the planters and the planting beds and thank me for creating such a beautiful environment for us. And sometimes he'd arrange flowers and grasses that I cut from the back. I haven't done as much this year because I haven't had as much time to work in the yard, and when he died, it was the time that I should have been doing all of the planting, and my heart just wasn't in it this year.

He actually appreciated my love of growing flowers the whole time we were together. I had moved to Oakland to be closer to him, and I had a tiny apartment in an old Victorian house that had a small planting bed in front. I put in sweet peas and whatever other flowers I could during the year I lived there. When we were talking about moving in together, we were talking about whether to move to a different place or if I should just move in with him. I told him that my only concern was that I didn't have any place to grow flowers since all he had was an enclosed cement patio. He promised that if I moved in with him, he'd buy me planters to put in the patio. He made good on his promise, and I grew some beautiful flowers out there. When we moved up here, the movers moved the planters, and I still have them 8 years after Jack first bought them for me.

He really loved the really long summer sunsets here. Now, every time I look at one, I think of how much he loved watching them, or even looking out the window and appreciating it. He filled so many parts of my life. I still miss him and think of him every day.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Short Hair

Jack loved me with long hair. If I ever got it cut above my shoulders, he didn't like it much. He was of the opinion that women should have long hair. (Yeah, but it's a lot of work!) I've been wanting to get my hair cut shorter for awhile now. I finally did last week. What a change. It hasn't been this short in years.



Thursday, May 28, 2009

Canyon Man

One day after Jack and I were together, he was telling me that he needed a Hum-V. Not a Hummer, but a military Hum-V complete with machine gun nest. Being the practical girl that I am, my next question was: "Why?!" Just made no sense to me. His answer went something like this: Just imagine, it's the end of the world as we know it, there's destruction all around us. I pull up in the Hum-V in a cloud of dust, leap out and say, (said in a deep voice) "Take hold of my bumper and I will pull you to freedom, for I am Canyon Man" Whereupon you hear this cartoony multi-note "ahh-ah-ahh" My response to this was that he couldn't be Canyon Man without me. I needed my own persona. Whereupon I became Canyon Girl. What I said was, "Take my hand and I will tend to your wounds and serve you coffee, for I am Canyon Girl!" Enter the cartoony "la-la-la" When we had kids, they were the Canyon Kids. He even made up the words to a song called Canyon Baby which we used to sing to Sarah when he would fly her through the air when she was small. We were the Canyon Family.

Between the time that he came up with Canyon Man and when we had kids, he got his Jeep Wrangler. He loved that car, and it was the kind of car that I imagined he would drive when I first knew him. Well, of course he named the Jeep. It became Solund, Lone Stallion of the Appocolypse. (Solund is Cherokee for wind because of the wind you hear when riding down the freeway in it.) Solund became part of the Canyon Family. The sad part of that is that I'm planning on selling the Jeep, part of the Canyon Family legacy. It's the practical side of me, but it's also sad.

Jack as Canyon Man

Solund, Lone Stallion of the Appocolypse

Beltaine Photo

Here's a photo of the girls at the Beltaine service mentioned earlier. They were just inseparable during the service.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hand of Midnight

Here's the poem that was read at both of Jack's memorial services. It was written in memory of Jack.

The Hand of Midnight

Welcome, Reveler, my Door is open,
Shed your cloak, shake off the dust of the desert roads,
For you have walked many miles to my banquet hall.

Raised in Greeting is the Hand of Midnight
Bearing vision to make all that is beautiful,
And the will to break that which would be re-made.
Open to you is the Hand of Midnight
For the giving and taking of Blessed Eternity.

A feast I set before you-
All things on my Table are beautiful and perfect:
This bread I have made, by hand, milled from the good grain;
This wine, pressed with love from the Vineyard of fifty years’ tending.
The Hero’s Portion, given of the gods of the Hunt and the charm–fletched arrow;
These Roses, cut in the name of She who pours out Beauty and Pleasure.

But it is You, honored Reveler,
Who is the greatest splendor of my Table,
Know yourself as you truly are:
A lamp of purest star-fire
Ablaze at the heart of a sensual body,
Bearing unique wisdom and the will to self-rule.
Feast and honor me with your presence,
And clasp the Hand of Midnight as True Companions.

O you great gods who gave me life, and take it as they shall,
I go forth each day to act as you:
In wisdom, power, cunning, and the brazen audacity
That penetrates all time with legend.
Take these feast-offerings from the Hand you have made,
Which ever seeks to restore your glory.

True Friend, I shall sing your praises long and loud
And give all I own to your advancement;
Daily beseeched are the Eternal Powers for your joy.
For unless a god bring pleasure
He is unworthy of mortal worship.

Enemy, I slay you with eloquence and humor
And that secret riddle which,
If you can discover its meaning,
Will turn the compass of your heart to me,
And restore your life.

Daughters, be brave in your step-
The world is yours to conquer,
And I smile at your every triumph.
Where mankind rises up in challenge,
Laughter will sustain you, Intuition guide you
And Genius deliver unto you all things.

Beloved: my Body, my Soul, and all these things
I lay before you in perfect sacrifice
As the highest offering of myself,
For as the divine emanation of feminine power
And Mirror my Desire
You are worthy of the Highest Art of Romance.

Feast then, you Bright Ones who would rise up,
And take this final offering-cup:
A vintage mixed of three powers,
Which, combined, shall raise your spirit to the highest height:
Love, Truth, and Beauty-
Three perfect gems in the same Sovereign Crown,
A Morality higher than Law,
The Wine of Life, impeccably brewed,
From the Vineyard of Midnight’s Hand.

-Dan Alvin

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Lawn

When Jack and I moved to Washington, we wound up living in houses with a lawn. Pretty typical suburban life, ya' know. For those who have been to our current house, you've seen the grass here. The front yard is on a bit of a slope, and the back yard is huge by current subdivision standards. Most of our yards are lawn which needs to be mowed . . . While the landlady has someone come in monthly to do the front lawn, maintaining the back is totally up to us. Well, the lawn mowing has always been Jack's job. Since he's died, it kind of leaves the lawn mowing up to one person: me! Oh, joy. (Note the tone of sarcasm.) So, this week I bit the bullet. I had the landlady come over and show me the ins and outs of the mower. I did the front lawn on Monday. No small feat considering the odd shapes and the slope and considering that I'd never used this mower before. Today I attacked the back yard. It took me 45 minutes of steady work due to the frequent emptying of the lawn mower bag, but I got it done. Talk about a cardio workout! Then, within an hour of coming inside, it started to rain. Guess I got the timing right.

I wasn't sure if I should be sad because Jack wasn't here and this is such a change for me, or if I should be happy and proud because I was able to do it. Or maybe a little bit of both.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Missing Jack

After Jack died, I decided to start attending the local Unitarian Universalist Church with the girls. Jack and I had talked about doing so awhile back but hadn't gone yet, so I figured that now would be a good time to start after his passing. We went on Easter, and we went again today. Today's celebration was a Beltaine (May Day) celebration, complete with a may pole. Cool! The Beltaine service felt comfortable and familiar, and it was very Pagan. (I'm glad to have found a place that includes Earth-based religion in its services, although it is not limited to that.) It was also a kid-friendly service, which was a new experience for me. When they called the kids up for part of the service, Sarah wound up playing the part of the May Queen. She went along and went where she was told, and she got to wear the pretty crown of green plastic flowers. Gabby just followed right along Sarah, almost as her assistant. This was totally unrehearsed and totally charming. And I remember thinking that Jack would have been so proud of his little girl playing the part of the May Queen, and hoping that he was looking down on us from Summerland. It was bittersweet. (Hopefully, the person who was taking pictures will email me a few. When he does, I'll post one here.)

There are also times when we just plain miss him. The girls talk every day about missing Papa. It's not the big stuff, it's the little, everyday stuff. It's the empty chair across from me at the dinner table. It's him not being here to help with the kids. It's the conversations we'd have about all kinds of things. It's the laughter and the fun. He was a silly guy at times, and I miss that. It's watching late night TV with him next to me sometimes. It's wanting to pick up the phone and call him and talk to him, but there's no phone number for Summerland. Just his presence. He was a guiding force in our family. He kept on telling Sarah that I was the center of their world. Well, he was the center of mine. And he and I together were the center of the girls' world. Not having that is tough at times. But somehow we're muddling through. One day at a time. Sometimes it's one minute at a time. But we're muddling through.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Jack as husband

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. Between going to CA by car with the girls for the Santa Cruz memorial followed by a 3-day trip to Spokane, it's been kind of busy. I finally have a chance to catch my breath.

While the girls and I were driving home from dinner at a friend's house this evening, I found myself thinking about the kind of husband Jack was, and the kind of marriage we had. My friends and I had been talking about it, so it got me to thinking. I'm not talking about many of the sparkly gifts he gave me, and there were quite a few of those. I'm talking about how considerate and generous he was. And how bonded we were.

We had the kind of relationship where we finished each other's sentences. We would find ourselves, out of the blue, echoing the other's thought at the time. When this happened, it was usually followed by the person thinking the thought, "Stop that!" It happened a lot. Our wedding rings are a Celtic braid pattern using 2 strands. It felt like we were that intertwined. One friend described it early on as "the bluebirds of happiness flying over your heads" and it was still there last summer when he last saw us together. Others have referred to our romance as "legendary." We were "The Jack & Linda Show!" We were a unit. We loved each other deeply.

Some nights, while Jack worked on his astrology for the next day (he still did it but wasn't publishing it anymore), I'd sometimes watch TV in the other room. He knows I love medical shows. He couldn't bear to watch them, no matter how fake. If ER was on, he was outta there! He'd come to the bedroom door where I was watching the TV, refer to the "guts and gristle" when the show came on followed by "Gotta go!" in that almost radio announcer voice he had. Earlier this year, he asked me what I wanted for my birthday. One of the things I asked for was either the ER series or House, MD on DVD, thinking it would be nice to have. Wouldn't you know, on my birthday, he gave me all 4 seasons of House on DVD. I was astonished. He was so generous that he gave me something that he knew that I would spend hours watching even once but that he would have no interest in whatsoever. Now THAT'S love. And classic Jack.

Last Dec., we had our first romantic getaway since Sarah was born. He took me to a lovely B&B in Gig Harbor where we had a lovely, romantic time. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, we were "us" again. We weren't parents of 2 beautiful little girls. We were a happily in love couple getting away for a fun time. It was one of the best and most beautiful week-ends I'd had in a long time. Leave it to Jack to create an experience that was beautiful and romantic.

Jack was also incredibly supportive of my doing the RN refresher course. The evening before he died, he'd asked me if it was going to be a "study night." While it was a Saturday, I hadn't looked at the material all week, so I said it would be. That was fine with him. While I sat on the couch and read my textbook, he worked on his computer right behind me. Our last exchange went something like this:
Jack: "It's shower time for Jack"
Me: "OK. Saturday Night Live starts in 25 minutes."
Jack: "Cool. See you then."
Me: "Oh, honey, one more thing."
Jack: "What's that?"
Me: "Thank you for being so supportive around my studying."
Jack: "It's OK. It's important."

With that last exchange, he went to take his shower. The next time I saw him, he was gone. I'm grateful that our last exchange was so supportive. I just wish that we'd had more of them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Camp Krem

As many of you know, when Jack was a teenager, he volunteered as a camp counsellor at a camp for mentally retarded kids and teens. It was called Camp Krem. He spoke fondly of those times and had some fun and interesting stories to tell about those summers. The other day, a person he worked with at the camp mailed me this photo of Jack that was taken one summer. It includes the infamous red bandana that I keep hearing about. And it shows his caring and helpful nature. AND it shows Jack with hair!!

This image was also used in some pamphlets for the camp as well. Thanks for the photo, Frances!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Posts Coming

First, thank you to everybody who came to Jack's memorial service. It was really fitting for him, and the diversity of attendees was wonderful.

I've gotten some emails from folks of things to post on the blog. I've also been given a link for a site that his co-worker at AT&T put up. I still haven't had a chance to go out and look at it. I promise, I will post these soon. But not today. The fact that he is gone is really beginning to set in for me. I really miss him.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Memorial Today

Today is Jack's memorial service. While it's good to have friends and family around, it's so hard to believe that today is the day to say good-bye to him. I expect there to be tears and laughter. And food.

As a reminder, if you're planning to attend, services are at the Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church, 19020 NE Woodinville-Duvall Rd, Woodinville, WA. (It's near Cottage Lake.) Services are planned for 12:30 to 3:00 this afternoon.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Back when Jack was a teenager, he wound up becoming a camp counsellor for 2 summers at a camp for developmentally delayed youth. He was known as Jimbo back then. It was an experience that he remembered for the rest of his life, and he would periodically talk to me of his experiences there. Today, I received an email from somebody who he worked at the camp. Here is the email he sent to me:

I just received an e-mail about ‘Jimbo’ aka Jack and just wanted to say I had a lot of fond memories of him while he was at Camping Unlimited…years ago I was a counselor there when he appeared, smiling, hairy, inquisitive and ready to help…he took to camp like a duck to water…camp was different & so was he…he loved the campers, made quick friends with the counselors and was always ready with a song and a laugh. Jimbo was there because it was fun, it was necessary and it was important…I know that somewhere he is in that special place, meeting old friends and greeting campers that have been waiting for him…
…I will look forward to re-kindling our friendship someday…
Gabriel Michael

Monday, March 30, 2009

Relentlessly Positive

Today I went to the bank to deal with financial stuff. The guy there who took care of me remembered Jack as soon as he saw the death certificate. And he was, of course, saddened and shocked at Jack's passing. At the end of our business there, he told me that the word Jack frequently used to describe how he was doing that day was "groovy." Or sometimes "groovitational." (That was one of his favorites I think.)

And that kind of sums up Jack's attitude on life. He was always "groovy." He always concentrated on the positive, not the negative. I don't know how he did it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Online Guestbook

The online guestbook is now up at
Also, his official obit is published in today's Seattle Times. It can be accessed by searching on any website.

Thank you to those who have made donations already. They will really help us.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Contribution Info

For those who have been wanting to make a memorial contribution, I finally have that info posted in the sidebar. I wasn't able to install a PayPal button, so it's a little cumbersome.

Here are the choices: to contribute directly to the support of Linda & the girls, you can go to any WaMu bank and make a deposit to account number 313-624370-0, or you can use PayPal and make a payment to account name Those funds will go directly to support Linda and the girls for the next little while.


The charity that Jack and I have always favored is Seattle Children's Hospital.

Seattle Children's Hospital
PO Box 50020
Seattle WA 98145
in memory of Jack Darkhand

Thursday, March 26, 2009

At Last ~ Memorial Service Details

Finally, here are the details for Jack's memorial services and memorial contributions:

Seattle area:

4/4/09 Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church
19020 Woodinville Duvall Road
Woodinville WA 98072
Time: 12:30 to 3:00

There will be an opportunity for folks to gather at local restaurants to continue remembering Jack after the service if they choose.
If you are interested in helping with set up or clean up or refreshments we need a few volunteers, please call Jack's little sister Celia Alario at 310.721.6517

Santa Cruz services:

Hosted by Herne’s Oak and Friends

Saturday, April 18th, 2009
Gather at 1PM, Ritual at 2PM

Forty Thieves Picnic Area, George Washington Grove, in Lower DeLaveaga
Park (850 N. Branciforte Dr.)

Join us for a memorial service for our wonderful friend Jack Darkhand who passed on to Summerland March 22nd, 2009. All are welcome, especially those who were unable to make it up to the funeral in Seattle. There will be a simple ritual, followed by a picnic potluck social.

What to bring: A white flower (natural, not synthetic), food & drink to share, pictures of Jack, your stories and memories, drums and
instruments to play. Donations towards the cost of the site rental fee will be much appreciated.

The Forty Thieves site is accessible to those who are physically challenged, with plenty picnic tables and grills, potable water,
brand-new accessible bathrooms and paved, accessible parking. Please leave your all your animal friends (Dogs, Cats, Ferrets, Toads, Owls, etc.) at home. Santa Cruz weather can be unpredictable at this time of year so you may wish to dress in layers, bring sunscreen and a hat. Poison Oak is widespread in the park, please use caution if exploring away from the cleared areas.

Memorial Contributions in lieu of flowers:
fund to help support Linda & the girls in the interim:
WaMu account 313-624370-0
There will be a PayPal link on the here soon for this donation


Seattle Children's Hospital
PO Box 50020
Seattle WA 98145
in memory of Jack Darkhand

There will be an online guestbook at soon.

Lodging Info

For those of you who will be travelling from out of town for Jack's memorial service and are planning on staying in a motel, here is a list of accomodations that are in the area:

These are the closest hotel/motels to the center of Kenmore. I have included only those that advertised rates of $100 per night or less. I ASSUME that if you tell them the event that you are attending, they will give you a deal, but this is not confirmed. Most of them do advertise special rates for AAA or AARP, Military or other special groups.
If you need more information for any specific place, Google the name with the city, and there will be full websites.

Country Inn and Suites Bothell-
19333 North Creek Parkway Bothell, WA 98011 US (425) 485-5557
** These folks have offered a special $89.00 rate if you mention the Darkhand Memorial, and will have directions to the memorial venue.

Residence Inn by Marriott Seattle Northeast-Bothell-
11920 Northeast 195th Street Bothell, WA 98011 US
(425) 485-3030
**Jack & I had a good experience with this chain in Portland. They have small kitchenettes, fridge and dishes in the rooms.

Kenmore Inn Motel-
8042 NE Bothell Way, Kenmore, WA 98028
(425) 485-9575
**The rooms are clean and neat

Sierra Suites Hotel
22122 17th Avenue
Southeast, Bothell, WA 98021
(425) 482-2900

Extended Stay America Seattle-Bothell-
923 228th Street SE Bothell, WA 98021 (425) 402-4252

Holiday Inn Express Bothell-Canyon Park- I-405, W
22922 15th Avenue SE, Bothell, WA 98021 US
(425) 483-8100

Comfort Inn and Suites-
1414 228th St., SE, Bothell, WA 98021 (425) 402-0900

Springhill Suites by Marriott-
3850 Monte Villa Pkwy Bothell, WA 98021
(425) 398-9700

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From a co-worker at AT&T

"Linda and family, We do not know eachother but I feel compelled to share my memories of Jack. Jack and I became friends when he began his employment with AT&T. He was placed in a cube at the top of my row. Jack's desk was a tribute to his family, filled with pictures of his wife and children. He also had a few glass blocks stacked neatly on his desk. Curiously, he never told of their significance but he proudly displayed them like they were made of gold. I had no idea of their symbolism for the future. It was evident from the day he moved to his cube that he was a character! He spent hours noisily arranging the shelving to his specifications and arranging his boxes of tea in specific order. Within a few days, we were talking like we were old friends. Jack was so open about his childhood, his family and his life. We shared a love of sweets and talked about our favorite bakeries, cakes and cookies. Jack always had a story to share about his Irish heritage or his mother and the sentences always began in an Irish accent and started with "My Irish mother used to say..."A while ago, Jack's department moved him to another location in the building and I didn't get to see him as often. When we would cross paths in the lunch room or the hallway, he always made me feel like he was as excited to see me as I was to see him. Occasionally, he would come by my desk to say hi or share a story. Recently, I had nicknamed him "Hijack". One day while passing in the hall, I called out a greeting "Hi Jack!" and without skipping a beat he turned to me and smiled and said "Don't call me that at the airport!". I almost fell over with laughter. He had an uncanny ability to make people smile. This is what I will miss the most about him. My heart breaks with the knowledge that his children will grow up without him but I hope it gives them strength to know that their father could touch a strangers heart so deeply. He was funny and silly and magical and wonderful. If there is one thing I have learned from Jack it is this: To some, a friendship may look , on the outside, like it is built of glass blocks. But to someone on the inside, those blocks are pure gold. Thank you "Hijack" for our golden friendship, no matter how brief. Stephanie Saltzgiver"

Classic Jack stuff. (BTW, he was Scottish, not Irish. No matter.) Yes, he was quiet the character, even at home.

PIctures Wanted!

If you have pictures of Jack, I'd love to have a copy. We can paste them up and put them up at the memorial. Feel free to email me copies at That email works better for me when it comes to moving pictures around.


Thank you

I just wanted to say a quick thanks to folks. Some have brought freezer meals so we don't have to cook. There are a few flowers. And, today, we received 2 edible arrangements, one anonymously. I just wanted to say thank you to everybody for these things and the kind thoughts and words.

Memorial contribution info will be placed here on the blog soon. We're still working out a few details.

Also, I understand that there are a few other blogs out there with stories of Jack. Would folks please forward those links onto me, either here or through email? Thanks, I'd really appreciate it.

More details as they become more solid.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jack Darkhand Day

Jack's last job was as a contracting business analyst at AT&T. He loved that job. He loved the people he was working with. He felt accepted and appreciated there. He would talk about wanting to continually earn their respect. He was amazed when the "smartest guy in the room" came to him for advice. It seems that they felt the same way about him.

So . . . last month, he told me that somebody had announced that Fri. March 13th had been declared Jack Darkhand Day at work. Everybody was going to wear black just like him. He was touched and moved almost to tears when he told me about this. He also loved that it was on Friday the 13th. How appropriate. I jokingly told him, "You know, you should wear something like your hawaiian shirt just to be different." (Yes, folks, Jack did own clothes that were not black.) He liked the idea, so that's what he did. Today, Aaron, his boss, sent me an email with this picture:

Just wanted to share more of his (and our) silly side.

From the man who married us

I received this in this morning's email. Made me cry:

Jack Darkhand is one of the most vivid people it has ever been my great privilege to know. He was just Big; such an unmistakeable presence. Expansive, active, outgoing... I know no one else who is his match -- such a force!

I have a number of memories, but the one that is strongest, and has held the most meaning for me was standing beside him as Linda appeared at their wedding. The moment she came into view, Jack was so full of sighs and sounds -- 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.

I'm, as Jack said, "That damned Wiccan Priest who won't take money" for marrying him and Linda. It was my pleasure, my great pleasure and privilege to do so. Seeing them, seeing Jack as bridegroom, performing the marriage, remains one of the very finest moments of my life.

When I think of love, of marriage and what it can truly be, I think of Jack. I always will. In this, Jack gave me the greatest of gifts, and I am forever grateful for his example of love and devotion.

As heartbroken as I am to learn of his passing, for all the tears that has brought me, I will stop, think, and be grateful for the honor and privilege of having met and known this wonderful man.

Until we all meet again, know and love one another again.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Now we know

I heard from the coroner. It's official. It was a massive heart attack. I was told that even if there had been a defibrillator nearby, it probably wouldn't have helped. He was very young to have had that kind of heart disease. I'm horribly saddened that the diet, exercise, and natural medicaion route that Jack took (and was able to tolerate) was not enough to fix this problem.

The date for Jack's memorial service has been set for 4/4. It will be around noon or 1:00. Exact time and location to be determined.

I have been amazed by the outpouring of support and love that I've been receiving. I am so aware that Jack was such a multi-faceted person, and he was well known and liked in all of his endeavors. I will be working on an obituary for the Green Egg. I will also do one for the paper here and the one in Santa Cruz.

How This Works

Just a quick note to let folks know how this works, just in case you're new to the whole blog thing. I post the titled entry. Whoever wants to comment, add a story or condolence, can add a comment by clicking on the comment button at the bottom of the posting. It's not a bulletin board, per se, but it is a way to get information out there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What a day

Jack and I were married for 6 1/2 happy years. Last night, he died suddenly while taking a late-night shower before bed. It appears that it was a sudden massive heart attack. The firemen and paramedics came, but there was nothing to be done. We are bereft. I have spent much of the day on the phone letting people know what happened and generally taking care of the business that needs to be taken care of when this kind of unexpected death happens. I'm thankful for our friend, Dionne, who came when I called her in the middle of the night last night while the paramedics were here, and who stayed until my mom arrived this afternoon. Jack's sister, Celia, is enroute to here now. She'll be here tomorrow late morning.

At this time, no services have been set here in the Seattle area. I hope to have something arranged in the next couple of days. Also, some friends of ours are working on putting together a memorial ritual for Jack in the Santa Cruz area. I will post information here when I have it.

Feel free to post stories about Jack here. He was deeply loved by me and his children. There is an unfathomable void left in our lives where his larger-than-life presence once resided.