Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Really? 20 Years?!

Donald Raymond Burch
March 13, 1929 - December 26, 1992

December 26, 1992.

That was the saddest day of my life, so far. It was the day I had to say my final good bye to my dad.

It's hard to believe it's been 20 years.

People always say when you lose a loved one, there will be good days and there will be bad days. And that you never really get over it. And that the grief will come out of no where. That was true in the beginning, for sure. Over the years, those bad days have been less, but I had no idea that 20 years later, grief would still sneak up on me.

This year, it has definitely snuck up on me. I don't know if it's because it's the 20 year mark or if it's because - now don't laugh - K and I watched the movie The Last Song around Thanksgiving. It was my second attempt trying to get through that movie because Miley Cyrus ruins it for me. (I don't think there is a worse actress out there that gets on my nerves quite like she does.)

If you haven't seen the movie, in a nutshell, she's a teenage girl that despises her parents and she finds out her dad has cancer. She gets the chance to spend time with him, get to know him and care for him as he's fighting his losing battle against cancer.

February 12, 1971
This made me sad as I reflected back on me losing my dad. When my dad was dying, it was just me and my mom at home. My siblings were adults and on their own or going to college so my mom and I were the ones there 24/7. I was just 14 years old. I say my mom and I were his primary care givers, but it was mostly my mom. (The strength she had during that time amazes me. She was strong for him, strong for us, and strong for herself. She deserves a medal of honor!)

Like I said, I was 14. I don't think I fully understood that my dad was dying and what that really meant. It meant that this was my last chance with him - and I wasted it. I mostly hid and ran from what was happening once he started going downhill. I remember trying to always be somewhere else - friends houses, neighbors houses, anywhere but home - and when I was home, I remember being locked in my room as much as possible.

Watching The Last Song, I realized how I cheated myself out of the last moments I would ever have with my dad. This broke me. All that time I spent in my room, I should have been at his side. Even if it was to just watch TV... to sit in silence. At least I was with him. Those times I escaped to friends and neighbors, I should have been hanging out with him.

Less than thrilled with my teenage shenanigans.
Possibly April of 1992
Should have, could have, would have... but didn't. I don't beat myself up for not handling it differently. I was just 14. I didn't know better. Sure, I knew about death - I had lost grandparents, but nothing can prepare you for the loss of a parent. Especially not at 14. So I am forgiving with myself that I didn't handle it then the way I would now, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still make me sad that it wasn't different.

Sometimes when people lose loved ones they have a hard time letting go of their grief because they believe that by letting go of their grief, they will somehow forget the one they're grieving. For me, that wasn't really an issue. I always thought - how could I ever forget my dad?! And then there was the day I realized that I had forgotten what my dad's voice sounded like. I just sobbed. It felt terrible. I had forgotten. My dad was a traveling salesman and every other week when he was out of town, we'd talk on the phone... and now I wouldn't even know his voice if he called me. It was a gut wrenching realization. I was sad for me. I was devastated for him - did he know I had forgotten and was he hurt that I could forget?! I felt almost like I had abandoned him somehow.

I wasn't just cheated out of his death, I was cheated out of his life, too. There were moments growing up that I wished he could have been there for - learning to drive, buying my first car, wrecking my first car, graduating high school, my wedding. You know, those big moments in life that parents are supposed to be a part of. (Thankfully, my mom was still a part of all those moments - I couldn't even fathom not having her to always depend on!)

He got the opportunity to watch one out of three of his daughters graduate high school, graduate college, and walk her down the aisle. She got everything I didn't and I think how lucky she is to have had all that with him. However, she thinks I am the lucky one because she says I got more of him than any of the rest of the kids because he had a home office that he worked from when he was home so he was around more when I was growing up. Believe me, I cherish the memories I do have of that time... I just feel like I didn't value those moments back then like I would have later in my life. At the same time, I watched my other sister go through some very tough times with my dad in her teenage years - times I would not have wanted to go through with him.

I feel like I missed out on so much. He missed out on so much. We all missed out on so much! My dad died seven months before his first grandson was born. Oh, how I think he would have loved his grandkids and how they would have loved him!

It's hard to believe it's been 20 years. In my own mind, I guess I thought that after 20 years, his death wouldn't still haunt me. I was wrong. For whatever reason, the loss of my dad is weighing heavy in my heart this year. The grief doesn't cripple me like it did in the beginning, but it still lingers.

Yesterday, on my way to work I was thinking about that last Christmas as I fought back the tears. That Christmas was a tough one, to say the least. He was too incoherent to partake in and Christmas activities - not that there were many that year - but it was the last time his whole family was all together under the same roof. (At least I think we were - for some reason, I think my one sister might not have been there on Christmas, but I cant imagine her not being there with how sick my dad was.) Although he wasn't coherent, I do believe that he somehow knew that it was Christmas and that his family was all there because he held on and made it through the day.

I know that my dad is still watching over us... I feel him the most when I am playing cards and people get pissed because I am relentless and kicking their butts (unless I am playing my mom - he's on her side then.) LOL But, what I wouldn't do for more time with him. A year, a month, a day, an hour, a moment... whatever it is, I would do just about anything for a direct connection to him again.

What advice would he give me? What life lessons would he want to teach me? What might he say to me? What would I say to him? Would he be proud? Is he proud?

So today, I will remember my dad. I will take the time to light a candle in his honor and think about the man he was - not perfect by any means, but at minimum, a good man, a good Dad. Some people don't ever get a chance to even meet their dad's. Some know them, but wish they didn't. While I feel the loss, I recognize the treasure I had in getting to have my dad for the time I did and knowing he was the best Dad he knew how to be!

November 1992

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas - 2012

Merry Christmas everyone!!

This is the first year in many - no - this is the first year ever that I have not gotten to spend Christmas with family. Sure, K and I are together (sort of) and we have our boys, but by family, I mean our extended family. I say sort of to K and I being together because she went to work last night at 8pm and I was gone to work before she got home and now she has to go to work again tonight... so although we are in the same area, we aren't really going to be together but for a couple of hours. 

That's why we actually had our Christmas on Friday! Well, that and because we suck at giving gifts. LOL We are both really bad at it because we get really excited about what we got for each other and then don't want to wait to exchange. This usually happens on birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Either way, we shared a great Christmas together... here are a few of the things we got for each other! 

I asked for A Walk to Remember and I got three bonus movies - that was a good find right there! I will have a tear jerker marathon!
Bridesmaids is just a classic and should be in the reserves.
Little Miss Sunshine I actually bought for myself when I was getting one of K's presents, but I wrapped it and put it under the tree - "To: Me / From: K" :o) (It was only $5 ... I couldn't resist.)

Because I love a book, sisters, and all things weird! 

Because every house should have a cribbage board and a deck of cards for those rainy days when you just want to spend quality time with your family. I don't think K is all that excited about this one because she swears I have a way with cards and she is doomed for ass whoopings! Hahah

I like to have an occasional glass of wine. (Who am I fooling? A glass always becomes a bottle!) Anyway, we don't have any wine glasses so I usually drink it out of a glass. Like an every day glass tumbler. You know, the kinds that average people drink soda and juice and milk from. I don't want to be average. I mean, I'm drinking wine because that's what above average people do, right? (At least they seem to think so. LOL) I never felt classy and elegant drinking it from the normal glass so now I can feel elegant and classy when I want a glass (bottle) of wine! This just might lead to me drinking more wine so I'm not really sure how much of a good thing it is, but I will be testing it out tonight!! :o) 

The coffee cup is because with these lame hours I have been working (5:45am - 4pm) I need caffeine. As much of it as I can get. So I am trying to learn to love coffee. It's a daily battle. I don't like the metallic cups. I am certain it makes the coffee taste different... it makes my mouth feel metallicy. LOL So, I asked for a plastic cup to try out. I must say, I DO like it better. 

I love regular Reece's Peanut Butter cups, but I especially love the holiday ones!!

Of course there had to be a pair of funky socks in the mix. It's just who I am! K said they were the very last ones in the entire store... otherwise there would have been more. 

A new transient sweater!! Now I can retire my old one (that I have had for a mere 7 years) that was really starting to look like I might have stolen it from a transient! (For those of you that know - you know, the grey one, with the wood buttons? It was really getting bad!) The best part of this sweater? Well, two things - the hood... and it's Converse brand! I love me anything Converse! 

And last, but certainly not least.. I got my People magazine subscription. Here's my theory on People magazine: First... If it's not in People, it's not true. In other words, if it's in Us or any other trashy tabloid magazine, but it's not in People... then it's not true! It doesn't become true until People publishes it. Secondly, I believe People magazine will keep me young. I refuse to be one of those 30-somethings that has to ask a kid - who's that celebrity? I will be in the celebrity know and therefore, will always be young! Right? Right!
 (This present was supposedly from Edward and Willy... see the paw prints on the card? :o)

K did good. Really good. I am sure she will agree that it helped that I gave her a very detailed list with lots of options. It really does make a difference when shopping for others. I remember one year my sister gave me a really detailed list and I ended up buying her the most gifts because she made it so easy. Take this as a lesson - PROVIDE DETAILED WISH LISTS!! 

Here's what K made out with:

A waffle iron - she's wanted one since we started dating 3.5 years ago! 
A pair of jeans - not that much fun, but practical.
Bruno Mars CD - it seemed like an odd request, but I went with it. :o) 
SF Giants World Series Champions shirt. Helloooo - she HAD to have this. (Not to mention she might have divorced me if she didn't get something Giants related!) This was also the most challenging gift. Finding Giants stuff down in So Cal's Dodger/Angel country is TOUGH! 
HiChew candies - They're just yummy. If you haven't had them, try them. My favorite is the Melon flavor, but that's everyone else's favorite too so it's hard to find! 
Wearable slippers - and by wearable, I mean they look enough like real shoes that she can wear them out of the house and to work without people knowing she's wearing slippers. It's how we roll. 
Also not pictured here - A word search book for her to do at work and a Toblerone candy bar that seemed to have mysteriously disappeared! 

Like I said, it was a good Christmas for us together. I look forward to many many more, but preferably with our very much missed extended family!

I would love to hear about the highlights of your Christmas. What did you get? Did you start any new traditions? What are some of your favorite old traditions? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reindeer Noses

Every year for the past few years, my mom has asked me to craft something for her Church's Holiday fundraising sale. The last three years she has asked me to do Scrubbies, which were not my favorite. You can learn how to make them and read about my disdain for them here

Well, my mom let me off the hook this year and asked me to make these cute tags instead of Scrubbies. (If I am honest with myself, she probably got tired of me bitching about doing them.) She found this idea on Pinterest, of course!

It started out rough:
I did not like how they were turning out. The lettering looked sloppy, they holly wasn't stamping right and the colored pencils weren't popping like I wanted them to. I think it was at this point I texted my mom this picture and told her that she really should have had my sister Melissa do them because she was much better at stuff like this. I even texted Melissa and asked her to take over the project. - They both assured me that it was cute, even at that point.  
 And then I was determined. I will make the letter stamps I have fit. I will find pens that I can color Rudolph with. I will make it happen. And it did. It finally came together and I was satisfied with it's cuteness. 

Overall, it was a fairly inexpensive project. I had to purchase the Reindeer stamp (hard to believe I didn't have one in my thousands of dollars worth of scrapbooking stuff!) I think I paid $1.50 for the stamp. I bought 2 packs of the tags - they came in packages of 10 for $1.99. Oh, and I had to buy the sparkle glue for Rudolph's nose. It was the most expensive at $3.99, but it came in a three pack of three different colors. I also used a 40% off coupon on each thing (yes, I made four separate trips to Michaels) so it really wasn't even that expensive. I had all the rest of the supplies in my reserve - holly and letter stamps, ink, pens. 

It turned out pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself! 

 Here's to wishing you all a very ....