Monday, September 5, 2011




Wild Flowers along the Marsh

The Marsh

This is the first time I've done this.  I've come to the cottage alone.  I've been here for 10 days and I'm okay!
Wasn't sure what this would be like.  The cottage is a place that was special to Tom and I.  We built a great deal of our relationship in this house.  He loved it more than me.  He could have made this home.  For me it was just a little too isolated.  Not sure I could have lived here all summer long.  But I will say this, it is surely a place to restore oneself. 

The cottage is on Lake Erie's south shore.  When I come here I'm actually going south.  It is under 40 miles from home.  If I come at the right time of the day, I can be here in an hour.  The border crossing is always the unknown.  Some days it is a smooth sail all the way, others it can take more than an hour and a half.  But now being retired I can choose to come at the times that are not usually busy. 

I have always loved being here in late August or September.  I love the way the sun sits in the sky.  It shines on the water until it looks like there are thousands of diamonds scattered on the surface. The air is warm with the sun but not so it's too hot to sit directly in it's light.  The clouds are huge and puffy and the colors vary as the sun moves across the horizon.  And on weekend nights my neighbor Mary Beth who lives two cottages over, plays the bagpipes at sunset.  She always ends with Amazing Grace.  The Chief of a Scottish Clan used to call for piper to play after supper.  Today many civilian pipers play due to nostalgia for that custom. 

I had great plans for what I would do while I was here.  Once here, I discarded the plan and let each day lead were it may. I have done some things in the house that I didn't plan on.  I did not use my usual list.  There was no crossing things off as I went.  I can say that I tilled my soil, and my soul.  I have slept like a baby (once the monster spider was killed). I've risen when I felt like it.  I've written in my journal about  feelings and facts.  I've prayed and meditated every morning. I think I have eaten less.  I have eaten healthier.  I've had little phone contact.  A good deal of Facebook contact.  Dinner out with an old friend.  Dinner with neighbors twice.  The rest of the time I've been with me.  I am learning as time goes by that I don't mind being alone.  There are times when I go to tell Tom something and he's not here, at least not physically.  Believe me though his spirit is in this place in every room.  

I am so grateful that he has left me this place to be.  I'm grateful that the sunsets continue to come.

Until next time.......Always, Kathleen

Sunday, August 21, 2011


It's time now. My busy summer is winding down. No where else to be, no one else to visit. Nothing filling my calender. I have come to a pause. I am at rest. I am alone with my thoughts....

And who should appear? My Tom. He has come in so many ways this past week. Sometimes it is a scent, sometimes it is a song, sometimes it is paper, and of course there are always the sunsets. He comes to me whole. There is no Parkinson's Disease. There are no shoulders refusing to work, to lift, to reach. He is just Tom, as I choose to remember him. I've been able to call him up at a moments notice. I have been able to feel his hand on mine. I have been able to cry. That is the biggest thing. I feared I never would. But this week the tears have come, though sparingly, but enough to bring me relief.

The cottage awaits my next visit. This second picture is of our Marsh. It's filled with aquatic wildlife. Frogs, turtles, Canadian geese, and a family of swans who think they own the whole place. Our cottage was the place we went to "be". It was the place we visited when our relationship was so new and fragile. We nourished it there and tended it in recent years. I feel so lucky to still be able to go there for refuge and respite. There is something about it that allows me to fully relax. I feel no pressure to do housework, or tend to much at all. And Tom is there in so many places.

I have so many wonderful memories of you my love. You brought out the best in me. You taught me how to trust again. You taught me how to be organized. You taught me how to let go. You taught me how to love. But most importantly, you taught me how to feel loved. You loved me so well!
Thank you for that. Come to me every day if you can. Let me feel that all over again.

Until next time.....Always, Kathleen
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Dear Tom

My Dearest Tom,

Happy Birthday! This is the first one we've spent apart in twenty-six years. I can't imagine not having you here to celebrate. Birthdays, your favorite thing. It was always so important to you to celebrate on THE day. Not just your birthday, but every one's in the family.

Remember all the Mystery Trips we used to take for our Birthdays? Each of us trying to outdo the other. Taking such pleasure in surprising each other. Planning for months in advance. You driving blindly as I directed you on which highway to take and where to turn. I packed picnic lunches surprising you each time with my creativity. You loved how I fussed over you and made your day so special.

Remember this birthday? You shared it with Evelyn. It was her 1st and your 77th! You didn't mind sharing with her at all, and by the looks of it, she didn't mind sharing with you either, although the hat fit her much better. This was a birthday that brought our families together to celebrate. We had everyone there. As I recall you had a couple of different kinds of cupcakes that day.

Today will be a little different. I will come to be with you. I will remember your day. It will be THE day. I'll bring you a surprise because that's what we do. I will miss you some more. I will thank
God for sending you to me. I will thank God for taking you so gently. I will ask God to show you a Mystery on this your day. I love you Tom and I wish you were here.

Until next time.....Always, Kathleen

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Time is passing so quickly still. Today it is two months since my Tom left. There is so much I miss about him. There is so much I still can't feel. There is still so much I don't understand about this thing called grieving.

Grieving requires the present moment, quiet, smells, sounds, phrases, memories, stillness and bravery. I can feel grief begin to take residence in my soul. It sits down and starts to spread itself about. It begins in a corner and then kind of works itself along my walls. So far I haven't been brave enough to let it get too comfortable. When it starts to feel too heavy I quickly busy myself with some task or involve myself with some person. There is still to much to do to let this thing take hold. I admit I am afraid of it. I know I can not run from it forever. I just need a little more time to complete the list of things I have to do. Thank you notes, meetings with lawyers, tracking down necessary documents, figuring out what I should be looking for for Tom's Business Tax Return. There isn't time for this just yet.

I am afraid of being immobilized. Me, the energizer Bunny. What will I do? What if grief won't move out? What if it stays as my companion? Every time I have to remove his name from an account, or call to cancel a charge or notify yet one more business of Tom's death, I feel like I am erasing him bit by bit. I do not want my memories to be erased too. I want to always be able to see his smile. I want to remember the feel of his hand on mine. I want to be able to smell his scent. Time has a way of erasing these memories as well.

The photos at left capture what we had. These were taken in Gwinn, MI on the day Evelyn
was baptized. We posed for the first shot but the second was captured as we laughed in our familiar way. The last one is just a peck, a reminder of the bond that held us.

These are the things I miss the most. The years of togetherness and the sharing of our lives. How lucky we were.

Until next time.....Always, Kathleen
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Three Little Words

Did I tell you the last words Tom said to me where, "I love you". How many people get the chance to say their goodbyes the way we did. I'm not certain we really understood that it was our final goodbye, but nonetheless it was.

These are some photos of sunsets he's been sending me. It can be the bleakest of days and then at about 8:30 p.m. I go to the balcony and there he is. Shining all this beauty at me, calling hello to me, whispering "I love you."

The morning I flew back from Florida to Michigan, the kids and I stopped for brunch. On the wall above our table was the photo you see below. An artist snapped a photo using scrabble letters. I looked up, saw it, and could hear Tom. I said, "I want to buy that," but it was already sold. My daughter-in-law Becka contacted the artist and she and David bought it and gave it to me for my 65th birthday . It was a month later and I'd forgotten all about it. What a great surprise! It had therapeutic powers as well. It induced some much needed crying that I have difficulty generating myself. So now, everyday I get to see those words I heard.

I'm still having trouble sleeping. I awake two to three times a night. This morning I tossed for an hour and then fell back to sleep. I had the best dream about Tom. At the end, we were sitting in one of his older cars, he was dressed in a suit and his Burberry raincoat, I was dressed up. He put his arm around me, pulled me to him and kissed me just the way he used to. He was healthy, no Parkinson's, he was "my Tom". I woke up and felt so happy that he had been so near, that it had felt so real. It gave me that old feeling I used to have with him before Parkinson's.....that feeling of safety, of being cared for. It felt
like he was telling me that yes indeed, all is well.

Until next time........Always, Kathleen
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Friday, June 3, 2011

Tip of the Iceberg

There are no pictures to describe where I am right now. I don't think I even have words to describe this place. The tip of the iceberg says it the best I think.

I am in Chicago with my best friend Kathy McDonald. Her Mother Nell died peacefully yesterday just short of her 104th birthday. I am so glad I could be with her for this time. We came on Tuesday knowing Nell was declining. We decided on Wednesday night to extend our stay. We knew if we didn't we would just be turning around and coming back soon.

We have all been wondering for a long time what Nell's purpose for still being here could possibly be. But one by one different people who have been in her life shared their thoughts. Then yesterday morning standing at her bedside I felt her gift to me. Tears for Tom. Almost the first one's I've been able to shed since that first week he died. Now they weren't profuse(as mine never are), but nonetheless they were there and they were real.

Late this afternoon I began feeling a heaviness in my heart. That feeling of anxiety that frequents me when I am hurting or afraid. Today's feeling are from hurting. Tears still won't come but I'm beginning to feel the sadness I've expected all along. It sat down right on my lap and I knew I just needed to be by myself. Kathy sensed my need, and she may have it herself, so she is off for a drive and I'm in our room. I am trying to feel a little more so I can cry a little more. I feel raw. I am missing that comfortable space Tom and I shared. I miss my Tom.

This is the tip of the iceberg. I want to keep my eyes open, my senses sharpened so I don't miss what's underneath that tip. I want to go around it and absorb it, but please God, don't let me crash into it. Tom, you help me navigate this course, just like you did on the road. I love you.

Until next always, Kathleen

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Here it is my 65th Birthday and no Tom to celebrate it with me:( Tom always made my Birthday so special. He insisted on celebrating birthdays on the actual date. That was never an important thing to me. Just so people I loved remembered me and acknowledged me I didn't care when it happened. But not my hubby. Always it was on the 29th. It wasn't just my birthday he was so fussy about, it was everyone.

When we first met I started a tradition. I planned a "Mystery Trip" for him. His birthday was July 22nd and we would take three to four day excursions. He never knew where we were going. We'd get in the car and I'd give him directions. He loved doing those trips. He loved being fussed over and pampered and I did a lot of that for him over the years. Soon he was doing the same for my birthday. The trips he planned for me often involved a plane flight and driving. We tried to out do each other each year.

I had to throw in these photos. These were common at our house. He'd always deny that he was sleeping while watching yet another rerun of CSI or Law and Order. Frankly who wouldn't be put to sleep by all those repeats! That's my brother Jack snoozing next to him. The men in our family tend to assume "the position" almost as soon as they sit on the couch. My son David is really the champion at this and Tom and Jack just took up the challenge to see if they could fall asleep faster than him. So far David is still the champion!

So I turn 65 and I'll have to settle for being with my Tom at a sunset. Or perhaps in the sighting of a butterfly. But whatever, or wherever I am, I know he'll be with me, if only in Spirit.

Good night my love, sweet dreams my love.......

Until next time.......Always, Kath/Kathleen

The smile that lit up a room!
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Monday, May 23, 2011


It's been almost a month since Tom died. I move through my days and wait for the sadness and pain to begin. Each day ends and nothing has been felt. I'm told this is normal. But what is normal now?

Each day I talk to his picture at my bedside while I make the bed. Each night I tell him about my day and ask his opinion on issues I'm dealing with as I turn down the covers.
He doesn't answer out loud, but usually the next morning, as I begin my day, a solution will come to me as clearly as if someone is whispering into my ear.

I see him in the fabulous sunsets that are a panoramic view from my balcony. I smell him on some of his clothes which I've chosen to keep. I miss him at breakfast. But still there is no grief yet. I did my share of crying when all this first happened. Down in Naples, where he loved to be. After a few days though, I think I went numb. I make list and tick of the accomplished tasks. I meet with friends who care so much. I exercise. I am going on with my life but I can't understand why I am not yet grieving. I guess it will come soon enough and then my question will be, "when will this be over?"

I receive cards daily. Emails with stories about him. Every one of them warm my heart. The best part is knowing there were so many people who knew and liked/loved him too.

I really do feel like he is just around the corner. Maybe the grief will come when I don't feel that anymore.

Until next time........Always, Kathleen

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Ordinary Day Tom's fall happened on a Monday. Just an ordinary day. We had our 3 hour breakfast. We read the morning paper. We sat in the comfort of each other's silence. We made plans for our day. We went to the gym. He worked out with his trainer. We came home and had lunch. He sat on the porch and read. I packed more suitcases for our pending departure. Then, he went into the kitchen for a snack. His favorite Cashew Nuts from Costco. Then he lost his balance and an ordinary day became anything but that. Tom died on a Tuesday. keep remembering our last moments. I knew he was dying. I spoke it aloud to him. I thanked him for the life we shared and told him I loved him. His last words to me were "I'm not dying" and " I love you too." I held him in my arms until EMS arrived. I think his last conscious moments were in my arms.

And when I look back on this Ordinary Day, I find it so hard to believe that it has now become our last day. The last breakfast. The last workout. The last lunch. The last "I love you". I see that often in the "Ordinary" there is often the "Extraordinary". A life well lived. Moments to treasure. Smiles that said he was happy. But most of all, last moments that I will hold in my heart forever. My wonderful Tom had a beautiful death.

I don't think it is real to me quite yet. I keep wanting to tell him something as soon as I hear it. I almost taped our favorite TV show last night so he could watch it when he got home. I have to stop myself from preparing two bowls of fresh fruit. I keep waiting for his number to appear on my caller ID. I wait to hear him say, "Can you help me with this?"

He keeps sending me these magnificent sunsets. Right to my balcony. I can not look at a sunset without feeling him next to me. Yesterday he sent me a rainbow in the early morning. Wherever I see or feel sun, I will feel my Tom. Right now I feel it in my heart.

Until next time.....always,


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kind and Gentle Man

It is hard to believe that Tom is gone. Here one minute, reading , snacking, enjoying Florida, and yes of course wondering "what's for dinner".

His parting was quick, surprising, unprepared for and so sad. Done in by a fall. A dangerous step back and a turn of the foot. A loud cracking sound, a warning of what was coming. He was alert. Shaken a bit, but able to get himself up. An immediate trip to the ER for a check up and a CT scan. Exiting the ER feeling safe. Lucky once more. Beat another one! He commented that he felt like a cat with nine lives. We didn't realize this was number 9. We would only know that 45 minutes later.

The demise of a person can be as quick as a blink. That's what we did, blink and eat pizza. The last meal we would share. The terror of what was happening enveloped me. Me, the nurse, who can seldom keep a cool head when it involves those she loves. Somehow I was able to stop long enough to ask God to once again gather me in His palm. This was beyond me and I knew it. I prayed for peace and a calm mind so I could make the best decisions possible. God once again pulled through and I was able to see the reality of what faced us rather than the magical thinking of what might be if there could only be a miracle.

The Miracle came in that it was a quick and I think painless death. A Chaplin came and prayed and we gathered together to hold Tom in the love we had for him. Within a half hour he was gone. No more suffering. So quick. So unbelievably sudden. So unbelievable.

We have had a wonderful winter together. We had strengthened our friendships with neighbors and Michigan friends who winter here as well. We had a wonderful visit with Evelyn, Tom's precious girl. How he loved her! We sat poolside reading nearly every day. We had our incredibly long breakfast every morning. Enjoying the comfort of each others company mostly in silence. Reading the daily paper. Stretching out coffee, fruit, eggs and toast into a 2 to 3 hours of routine. We both loved our breakfast together.

A.T. Winterfield was a class act. He was a kind, quiet, ethical man. He brought so much joy to my life.
He taught me so much and helped me to grow in so many ways. The past few years have been difficult.
He has faced so many health challenges. Each new problem was examined, read about, and then embraced by him as part of life. The cards that were dealt. But always he found the things he could do to make it a little better. He was willing to try anything that could improve his quality, make him stronger. A quitter he was not.

So my beautiful man, whose smile lit up a room, I send you off. I release you to a better place. I'm sure you are near me unencumbered by a body that tried to hold you in place. I hope you are getting reacquainted with others who have loved you and left before you. But be aware that there are many of us here who are hurting, missing and grieving you. Stay a little close by, just for awhile. Let me feel your hand rest on mine while I drive. Keep me company when I feel alone.
You were never a big talker so maybe I can just look at your familiar chair and make believe you are in the kitchen looking for a "snack", leaving crumbs on the counter.

I love you very much and miss you so much already and you've only been gone a day.

Your wife, Kath

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Joyful Days

It's been such a strange season. I have been so absent from emails and my blog site. Did some reflecting about it a couple of days ago. I'm not sure I have an answer. It's been a good year, but a very different one. It seems my "work" this year has been on my physical self. Don't misunderstand, I haven't really done a magnificent transformation. But for over four months I have been disciplined enough to exercise on a regular basis. Now for those of you who know me well, you know this is huge. I am a woman of inertia, at least I used to be. In support of my husband Tom, I began going to the gym with him. The Neurologist we see in Florida made it very clear that it is mandatory that Tom keep moving. So, together we began this incredible journey. I have not seemed to loose any weight, but boy I feel good. I have managed to build muscles and tone up. I lift weights, do balance exercises, and ride a bike and use the treadmill. Average time at the gym is about an hour and a half 5-6 days a week. I'm off of all my anti-inflammatory medication. Even my back is greatly improved. We had a wonderful visit with our very own "Little Miss Sunshine". Lara, Brian and Evelyn were here for 8 days. As you can see, she is no longer a baby, but a pretty little girl. She will be three in July. She can converse with anyone and does! She is quite the little tease and jokester. I think it has rubbed off on her. You know how our family is, and her Dad is another story! We head back to Michigan in two weeks. I'm ready. Gonna start getting ready to leave a little every day. Not saving up until the end! Looking forward to seeing all of you. Miss you all. Until next time......Always, Kathleen
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