Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Since the day this picture was taken in 1985, this has been my life. Tom and Kathy. 
Now, 27 years later I have come to fully realize that it no longer is. Now some of you may be thinking "we'll of course not." Tom has been gone from this world for 19 months. Believe me, if anyone has been counting it's been me.

The Grief Process is an interesting thing. Proc-ess 1/pra-ses;noun: 1.a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end: a natural or involuntary series of changes.  That sums it up pretty well. I've been going through this process. While my mind has fully known of Tom's absence my heart and spirit has been lagging behind. 

At first there is the shock of it all, especially when it's an accident. Then there is all the "business" matters that have to be tended to. Then there's that first year EVERYONE warns you about. "Don't make any big decisions." "Don't make any drastic changes." Maybe you heed the advice, maybe you don't. I'm a heeder. It has something to do with my upbringing.
I'm not saying that is a bad thing, I'm just saying it's what I did, by choice. 

Then there's this heart thing. Wanting to feel his presence. Lying in bed spooned against a King size pillow pretending to have my arm around him. Or pressing my back up against that same pillow and believing I can feel his warmth. Remembering that this was how we fell asleep together every night. Sitting on my balcony or on a beach or even driving on the highway and gazing at a sunset. Talking aloud to him about it and now believing that he is in it. That he comes every evening just to say goodnight to me. All of these things bring me comfort and make me feel that I'm really not alone.

For 19+ months this has been my routine. It has varied little. I've carried on. 

But, since my arrival in Naples I have been sensing unrest. Something is different. Something suddenly doesn't feel "right".  It's taken me a month to figure it out. This is what I think it might be, I REALIZE I've been living "our" life. I've been submerged in this thing called the "Grief Process".  I think I'm ready to start living "my life" now. I think I've healed enough to now just be feeling a little bit sore. I think I need to make some new choices about what my life will be.

I've pretty much decided that this will likely be my last winter in Florida.  I will stay North in the cold and grey and work at making sunrises in my life. I will invest in friends and family and make commitments to activities that up until today I was unable to do. I'm sure I'll find places to visit that are warm and have beaches if only to make the winter more tolerable. But I can't begin "my life"  when I'm gone for so long.  

"Our life" is over. It was a wonderful life and I'm grateful for every moment we had. 

I am ready to embrace "my life". But I'll tell you a secret, I will never be able to look at a sunset without KNOWING that it really is my Tom coming to say goodnight!☀☀☀☀

Until next time....Always, Kathleen

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


                                                           Grandma Grace Barber 1920s
                                                        Kathleen and Grandma Grace 1956

Kathleen 1946

Grandmothers are remarkabke human beings.  They embody Spirits that are able to demonstrate 
unconditional love.   God made Grandmothers because in his Infinite Wisdom He knew that children needed someonoe on this Earth to love them in this way.  I had the most wonderful Grandmother.  I adored her and chose to spend as much time with her as I could.  She was often preferred over my Mother and Father.  Now you might think that had something to do with her spoiling me, but that was not the case.  She never had to ask me to do anythng more than once.  The love I felt in her presence was enough for me.  With her I felt whole, unflawed, perfect.  She nurtured me physically and mentally.  Her every wish was my command because in turn my every wish was her command.  We operated on a mutual admiration level, I could not imagine my life without her in it.  She was instrumental in building the foundation I have used to form the life I have today.  When she died in 
1956 just months after this picture was taken, the lights went out in my heart for a long, long time.  Even as a ten year old I wondered if I would ever be the same again.  But time passed and my heart healed bit by bit.  She was my first experience of loss.  She died in my bedroom on my Dad's Birthday.  I was never afraid in my room.  If anything I took solace in the fact that she had chosen that place to leave me.  I prayed for her, but mostly I prayed to her.  To this day I carry her Holy Card in my Meditation Book and thank her every morning for having been such a powerful influence in my life.  Her dying taught me not to be afraid of death.  I learned early on that death is part of life.
Most improtantly I learned that those we have loved never really leave us.  Instead they are indelibly stamped on the fabric of our being.  What they brought to us is a part of us.  

And now here it is sixty years later, and now I get to be one of those remarkable human beings....a
Grandmother.  I now understand the magic that my Grandma felt.  I felt it the moment I laid eyes on Evelyn four years ago.  Everytime I held her as a baby I whispered to her about all of her perfection and what she would someday accomplish.  I've prayed with her and played with her.  I've danced with her and imagined with her, all the while hoping that she is loving me much as I loved my Grandma.
I am working at making memories with her so that someday she will think of me and know that we shared an incredible time together.  When she is an adult I hope she will thank me for helping her to build a foundation that is solid and strong that she will continue to add to as the years pass. But I really hope she remembers the fun, the silliness and the laughter!

Until nest time....As alwaays, Kathleen 

Sunday, August 12, 2012


The summer is flying by. Actually I find this to be true of my life in general. There was something about loosing Tom that seemed to bring the events of simple everyday things into a much clearer and sharper focus. Instead of wishing time to pass I find myself immersed in the simple moments with a whole new appreciation. I no longer just say " I'm exactly where I am supposed to be", instead I KNOW that I am. I am aware of the gift of friendship. I value those currently in my life and I cherish the memories of those from my past. Do you realize the impact you have on each and every person you meet? Even the briefest encounter has a purpose. Your energy touching someone else's. Protons and neutrons bumping together and mixing, merging, and then as you separate some of you is left behind and some of them attaches to you and follows you into your day...your life. Have you ever thought about it like that? I do now.

August 12th
I've just spent twelve days at the cottage. It's been a great week. For the majority of the time I've been alone, but really when I'm here there is so much of my Tom here. This is the place we built so much of our relationship in. I'm not lonely when I'm here. The cottage is a gift he left me. I'm so grateful to
have this respite to come to. I feel restored after being here. Somehow these rooms, this space allows me to simply be.  Being is something I used to have a hard time doing ,  because DOING is what I always did best.

After twelve days I'm ready to go home. I know I can drive over here whenever I need to or whenever I want to.  But for now I'm restored, and just in time, Evelyn arrives on Thursday. I think she'll be bringing some of those protons and neutrons I was taking about and man, her's are full of energy and it's all positive!

Until next time....Always, Kathleen

Late Notes on Florida

                                                            Grandma and Evelyn Racing


                                                           Goodnight Grandpa


Now I know this is a late entry, but I wanted you to see some of the fun I had
When the Rices came to Naples.  As you can plainly see "my Evelyn" is no longer
a baby. She has mysteriously turned into a little girl. It's an example of that blink
of an eye that everyone talks about.

As soon as I retired, Tom immediately decided we'd start spending our winters
in Naples. I wasn't sure about it at all. Months away from my family and friends?
Off we went, starting yet another chapter in our lives. What did I find?  Well, a
beautiful city that I fell in love with, and surprise.....new friends.

More than anything Naples provided us with a place where Tom could stay active
in the winter months. It was safe. It was a haven as well, giving us distance from
a problem family member. But the best was having a place to share with friends and
family. Evelyn has had the oppurtunity to experience swimming, beaches and spend
quality time with both Tom and I. Tom loved having her with us. It wasn't long
enough, but it was, and thats what matters .

This is not my typical Blog. It's actually a test of sorts. It's my first iPad Blog.
If it really works, I hope to be back to blogging on a more regular basis.

Until next time.....Always, Kathleen

Saturday, May 26, 2012


 It seems like forever since I've written.  Interestingly enough I'm at the cottage.  The place that last prompted an entry.  Eight months have passed and truly I had nothing to say. 

One thing I know is true.  Each person's journey through grief is different.  Don't late anyone fool you that there is a definite pattern.  Places you will visit in your darkest moments.  There is no map.  There is no right way and no wrong way.  This I know. 

Tom's death was sudden, unexpected, in the wrong place(or so it seemed).  I felt little, I couldn't figure it out.  How could the end of a relationship that lasted for 26 years, feel like nothing?  How could the love of my life, leaving so quickly,  not feel like I had lost an arm or some other part of ME?  But there I was going on.  And on and on.  Seldom any tears.  Then just a welling up that never went anywhere. 
 And then on Thursday evening I returned to the cottage.  The first time this year.  While watching TV at night I looked up and saw a collage I made last year.  It is full of Tom, Tom and I, Tom and Grandkids but most of all full of so many wonderful memories.  And suddenly I remembered that we had had so many wonderful years.  Twenty-three with good health.  The last three had a lot of deterioration and many physical limitations.  Today on the thirteenth month anniversary of his death I had a revlation.  I realized that for the past year I was healing myself.  I had turned off so much of my feelings the previous three years that I was on idle.  I had to be there for Tom mentally and physically.  He could not see me crumble, while he dealt with the awful losses that Parkinson's was leaving him with.  So I turned of my "feel button" and I fine tuned my "care/give button."  Some days that button needed more fine tuning that I could master, but on most days it was working.  And then he fell and it was over in a matter of hours.  For the life of me I could not find my "feel" button.  So I spent the past year with my "care/give" button still on but redirected towards me.  I began eating better.  I exercise 4-5 days a week.  I sleep 8-9 hours a night.  I lost 15 pounds. I've done everything I've wanted to when I've wanted to. I've said no when I needed to.  Now that phase has been completed.  Today I found my "feel" button.  I turned it to ON.

Today I spoke with three women who are close to me.  They are women who know and understand me and knew Tom and I together.  I was able to share this new insight.  And in the simple telling the tears came.  The first time a little haltingly.  The second a little more quickly.  The third a full fledged "cry".  A gift.  Tears to heal the empty part that has now become appearant.  A part I could not feel, or see, or even imagine this past year.  All I needed to do was find that damn button. 

Until next time.....Always, Kathleen
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