Adventures in station wagons

We had two station wagons. I mean my brother, Jeff, had two station wagons. One was green and one was black. Old ones. Crappy looking ones. The green one was nicer than the black one. A little. Station wagons were popular at that time. Mom also drove a station wagon, one of those kind of two tone ones with the wood-look panels. Popular.

I was a junior or a senior in high school. I had an appointment at Regis in the mall for a perm. Because why the hell would anyone want to have their normal hair? Why not chemical shit storm it so it would curl like a pig’s tail. 

My appointment was at noon. It was a Sunday. I had to work at 3 pm at Sooper Dooper. The dreaded 3-10 shift. Three hours was plenty of time to get a perm. Or so I thought… 

I needed a vehicle to drive to my appointment. It was winter, like it always is around here for about 6 months of the year. I don’t know why my car wasn’t available. I don’t know if it was getting worked on or what. I just know it wasn’t available. It was a better can than the station wagons though. Just sayin.

I was going to take the green station wagon. It was more reliable than anything else parked at the house. It wouldn’t start. I had to take the black one. Sketchy at best. It started. Awesome. I mean that sarcastically. I hated that boat. It was a boat and it was a piece of crap. The seats were ripped and I don’t even think it had seatbelts and the door was messed up. I had to get in on the passenger side and crawl over to the driver’s side. Like I said, piece of crap. 

I got in and got myself up to the mall. We lived in the Prospect House at this time. I’m surprised my brother let me take it. He wasn’t a good sharer. He probably didn’t know I took it. I’m pretty sure I just stole it. 

The appointment was taking forever. How could a perm take this long? I kept thinking something must be messed up. It had to be going wrong. Right? Glass half empty. It was my hair, my glass could be half empty. 

It was getting past 2:30 and I was starting to get worried. I had never been late for work in my life and I didn’t want a hair appointment to make me late. That would be a lame excuse. 

Finally, it was about 2:45 p.m. I had to work dammit! I was going to be late! I was very worried about being late. I wonder if I had a problem in my past life with time or with being late or missing something. Ha. Who knows. 

The hair was done. The hair was fucking ugly. The hair was like an afro. Seriously. Not even kidding one bit. I think she used the wrong size rods. I think she used the old lady, blue hair rods. What the???? How??? I was devastated. Not only did I not have time to go home and wash my hair 100 times with the strongest chemical shampoo I could find to try and relax this fricking nest on top of my head, I had to go to work this way.  How could I? Oh Em Gee!!!

I had to. I had to suck it up. I had to get my butt to work. I ran out to the parking lot and found the black bomb. How reliable was the wagon going to be? The streets were snow packed and slick in spots, but I had to hurry. It started. Awesome. I mean that sarcastically again. I tried not to speed. I pulled out of the mall parking lot and headed south on Harrison. The fastest way was going to take a right on Church street and then haul ass over to Highland. Once on Highland it was a crap shoot of whether going to Capitol and heading west, or up on Broadway to Euclid and then to Capitol was faster. Who cares? I just had to make a decision and stick to it. 

I was going fast and the turn onto Church Street was going to be hairy at best. I pumped the brakes a little because it was snowy. I didn’t want to slide all over the place. As I was making that treacherous turn, the stupid driver’s side door decided to start working and flew completely open. I about crapped my pants. Remember, no seat belts. I can’t believe I didn’t fall out. Here I was making a sharp Starsky and Hutch turn and thinking I was going to die. I didn’t die. I made it, but I had to pull the damn door shut and hold it the rest of the way. It wasn’t latching. It just kept flying open unless I held it. The next five minutes was exciting, to say the least.

I arrived. Crazy hair and piece of crap car. I made it. It was exactly 3 o’clock when I punched in. It was exactly the worst hair experience I have ever had. It was exactly the scariest car I have ever driven. 


It was “this” big

“That rat was huge,” he said. “It was THIS big without the tail,” he said as he held his outstretched hands in front of his chest. 

It was the Prospect house. It was warm out. I remember not wearing coats.  I remember it being nice outside.

There was a big brown house a few blocks away. It was being moved to about a block away from the Prospect house. It was a beautiful old house, with stained glass windows and amazing woodwork. We used to go to that house to be babysat by Gayle Garber. Someone bought the house and now it was being moved. 

That may be where the rat came from. I’m pretty sure it came up the toilet though. 

Mom picked us up from somewhere and we walked into the house. She was in front of us, walking in with her purse hanging in the crook of her elbow. I recall the purse being a kind of green blue color. I also recall she was wearing a dress. 

Next we heard a loud scream, blood curdling, in fact. When I say we, it was Sherry and me. The inseparable sisters, the one year difference sisters. The no choice, you are playing with your sister, sisters. We heard the scream and wondered what had happened. Hopefully there wasn’t an axe murderer in the house.

When we came in behind her, she was on the table in the kitchen, she then stepped over to the counter and then we heard the basement door slam shut. It was loud. The loudest door slam a person could make. The kind you make when you want to make a statement. Usually a pissed off or mad statement. That was it. That kind of slam. 

After the door was shut, I mean slammed, we asked mom what happened. She could barely speak. She told us it was a HUGE rat! How could a rat get in our house? It was disgusting to even think about it. I couldn’t stand it. I was afraid to go in any room. How? Why? Where did it come from? How long had it been roaming around our house. Had it been in our room? Yuck!!

Immediately after dad arrived home, he was filled in on what had happened and was ordered to go get a trap. Have you ever seen a rat trap? They are giant. They look almost comical. Almost fake. Almost. 

Dad set the trap in the basement. I declared I would not step foot in that basement until that rat was taken care of. I didn’t care that the washer and dryer were in the basement. I didn’t care if I had to wear dirty clothes. I would not be subjected to the horror of a giant rat stalking our basement. 

It took two nights to catch it. On the second night, in the middle of the night, Sherry heard it. She heard the trap snap. It was freaking loud. Finally, the beast had been killed. Finally, peaceful sleep. Finally no more being stalked by a rat. 

The next day, the salt guy came to deliver salt. He came in the back door and then down the basement steps to take the salt to the softener. He would carry one bag on his shoulder and another in his free hand. It didn’t take long. We heard a kind of grunt or a kind of scream. The kind of grunt or scream a guy doesn’t want to sound like a full-blooded, crap your pants, scream. He didn’t want to sound scared. Of course, we thought it was funny.

After he dropped off the salt, he came back upstairs and told us there was a sewer rat in the trap. Like we didn’t know there was a rat in our basement. Seriously?

He said, “That rat was huge!” Yeah, we know. 

City Pool, Chicken Shack and Suckers

It was the summer. It was the Prospect house. Could have been the in between house, the Central house. I can’t remember for sure. It doesn’t really matter. It may have been 4th or 5th grade. 

Summers were hot when we were kids. Extremely hot. We went to the City Pool a lot. The water was blue and the sunburn was free. It was basically the only pool in town, unless of course your parents were members of the Elks Club and then you could go swimming there.

That pool was a really nice pool. We used to go there with the Kleins, Barb and Cindy. Luckily our uncle was a member, so when we said the name Friman, they let us in. Thanks Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy for helping out your nieces with our summer shenanigans. 

The city pool was far away from our house. Not like Narnia far, just far. It was about a mile probably. Sometimes we rode bikes, but most of the time we walked, towel wrapped around our shoulders, wearing our swimsuits and clutching our money in our hands. It was all downhill. The best kind of walk. It sucked going back home after swimming though. Being dead tired from swimming all day and then having to walk home all uphill. We went swimming with the Klein girls, Barb and Cindy, a lot. They were our best friends. They were awesome summer friends. 

It cost 15 cents to get into the pool. It probably still does. I know it was not very expensive at all. The pool opened at 1 and closed at 5. The line would be long waiting to get in. We would try to get there early to be the first in line. 

The pool had a slide and a diving board. In order to use the diving board, which was in the deep end, you had to demonstrate to a lifeguard that you could swim across the pool and back. They obviously didn’t want any kid to drown. I would test it once in a while. I would go jump off the diving board in the deep end. Sometimes they wouldn’t ask me to test it. Sometimes they would. I remember it seemed like it took forever to do it. We never had swimming lessons, so it was just kind of a learn to swim on your own type of thing we did. I could dog paddle and I could American crawl, kind of. Finally, one day I did it and I didn’t die. I then had the blessing, the lifeguard blessing, to go off the diving board and to be in the deep end of the pool. Legally. My summer was made. 

When swimming time was over, every single time we walked out of the pool and down the street on our way home, we stopped at the Chicken Shack. Chicken Shack had amazing food. Chicken of course, but it was broasted chicken. The super crispy on the outside and yummy and juicy on the inside. You know, the full of grease, which made it taste even better. I don’t remember getting to eat out as a kid, but I do remember our parents getting Chicken Shack chicken. The smell was always amazing. The building was painted bright yellow. It was on the corner of Crow and Dakota. Everyone knew the Chicken Shack. Everyone went there to carry out broasted chicken and broasted potato quarters. In case you were wondering, the best way to eat broasted chicken is by peeling back the skin and shaking some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on the meat. So delicious. Chicken Shack was the busiest place in town once the pool closed. Every single kid was in there buying something, anything, to eat, because we were starving after a long afternoon of non-stop swimming. 

We usually got suckers. That’s what we had enough money to buy. Once in a while we had enough for a candy bar, or a Chick-O-Stick. I always remember the suckers though. We would buy those Charms suckers. They were decent sized and cheap. A good treat for the long haul home. There was also another kind of sucker we would take our chances with. If you bought this sucker you could sometimes get another one free. It was a Tootsie Pop. If you found an Indian on the wrapper shooting an arrow at a star, you could get another one free. Score. Jackpot. We always tried it. We didn’t always win. 

Our adventures at the pool were always fun. We got sunburned and then the next day would have to wear a t-shirt in order to protect our skin. Apparently we never had sunscreen. We also got green hair out of the deal. Because our hair was so blonde, the chlorine would turn it green.  Green like slimy kale, not a pretty green the way everyone dyes their hair now. We were always so embarrassed, even though we didn’t need to be. We just hoped the green faded before the school year started…

Those were good kid times. We squeezed every single drop out of those hot summer days. 


I caught a glimpse of the man up on the road. I thought nothing of it. I actually thought he was taking pictures. I could see there was a pickup by the mailbox, black I think. The man was wearing a tan shirt and it looked like he was wearing glasses. I thought it was some type of survey crew. 

I was home at lunch. I had just gotten done working out. I always let the dogs out while I am drinking my recovery smoothie. Jack came back. Buddy did not. That was not unusual. Lately he has been staying out longer than usual. Lately he has been going up to the front of the house, by the mailbox. Lately he hasn’t been able to hear well. 

We live out in the country on the highway. The traffic is pretty heavy and the speed limit is 65 by our house. 

About six months ago, we were told there was some problem with Buddy. Something neurological. His limbs didn’t work the way they should, so he trips sometimes when he tries to go up steps. He was taking Prednisone for his medical condition. He has been getting worse lately. I think he has been getting lost and we know his hearing had gone way down hill. 

We got Buddy from the local humane society. He was the “Pet of the Week” about 8 years ago. He was two at the time. His name was Rusty then. He was a little Jack Russell mix. They said he was a runner. When we got him home, he constantly took off running. Until one day, John yelled at him. I mean really yelled. Buddy came running back and stood right beside him. From that day on, he never ran again. We could leave him in the house all day. He never got into anything and never had any accidents. He was the perfect dog. The perfect companion. Such a good boy. It took him a while to let us get close to him. If we did, he would growl. After a while he completely trusted us. We could lay our faces on his and he would be perfectly content. He trusted us and we trusted him. 

After I changed clothes I came back downstairs and was expecting to see Buddy at the door on the deck. He wasn’t there. I thought it was weird. I went out looking for him. He wasn’t anywhere in the back. I started getting a feeling. I knew something wasn’t right. Something was wrong. I kept yelling and yelling for him. 

As I was coming up to the front of the house, I saw a vehicle pull away. I thought to myself it must have been the guy I saw earlier up on the road. I walked a little further up the driveway and saw Buddly lying on the side of the road, on the shoulder. I walked over. His mouth was bloody, but otherwise he just looked like he was sleeping. He moved his head a couple of times, which made it worse. I’m pretty sure those were his last breaths. I was sick to my stomach. I felt like he wouldn’t have been coming across the road if I hadn’t been yelling for him. I felt terrible. I don’t know if that is true or if he could even hear me. But, it’s my guilt. Mine. Poor Buddy. I wasn’t sure what to do. John was out of town working, so I texted Rick, his boss. Little did I know that Rick was out of town too. So here I am standing up on the highway, tears running down my face and a billion cars flying by, hoping none of them run over me and Buddy. 

As I was standing up on the highway I got a call from Chris, my business partner. She asked if the dogs were okay, because her son had called her. He wondered if we had dogs because he said a dog had gotten hit by our house. He was very upset. I told Chris Buddy had gotten hit. 

I then got a call from the Animal Clinic. They told me the person who hit Buddy had been trying to get a hold of us. We disconnected our landline phone and that is the number on Buddy’s tags. She was very sweet and said she was sorry and said if we needed anything to let them know.  The person who hit Buddy had left a message on John’s phone and he said that Buddy had just come out of the weeds and he was really sorry. We know it wasn’t his fault. We know. I feel so bad for him. 

Next John called, so I told him I couldn’t touch him. He knows I can’t touch dead animals. I just can’t. He was upset that I had to be there by myself. He said he would get one of the guys who was working in town to come and help me. I felt like I waited forever. In reality it was about 30-40 minutes. I stayed up on the highway. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want him to get hit again. I just couldn’t walk away from him until Ryan came. There was already a turkey vulture flying around. I was disgusted. 

It was like everything was in slow motion. That weird queasy kind of feeling. Just slowed down. Suspended. It felt like everything took forever. 

Once Ryan got there I came back to the house and got Buddy’s red plaid blanket that he slept on. We wrapped him up in his blanket and Ryan carried him down the driveway into the garage and gently laid him in the freezer, patted his head and closed the lid. 

Even though I feel like I am tough, today was one of those days that I couldn’t do it by myself. It was one of those days that I couldn’t help but feel vulnerable. It was one of those days that I really needed people. Today, when I needed people the most, they were there. I was so grateful for help today. Thank you Ryan Fischer. 

Rest In Peace Buddy boy…

June 3, 2000

I went there today. I went and looked at the lone tree standing on the property. The maple tree. I looked at the river and watched it flow. I could feel you there. I could sense you. I miss living in the house “on the river.” The river is such a beautiful place. The water is calming. The years have been good to the property. The lot is empty, except for the tree.

The tree looked healthy. The broken spot had healed after all these years. Did you break the tree? We think you did. We were all sitting around talking about you. We were drinking white russians, laughing and telling stories. We had been out in the sun porch for hours. It was dark and slightly windy. All of a sudden we heard an extremely loud crack. It scared us all. It was so loud. We looked out the window and noticed that the tree, the maple tree, was split almost in half. We couldn’t believe it. We think you did it. 

This place was the last place and the last time I saw you alive. The last time we saw you alive. The last time we had dinner with you. The last time you saw John. The last time you played with Tayler. Oh you were so protective of her. You doted on her, even though you only knew her for about 9 or so months. She was very special to you. We often wonder what it would have been like if you had lived. I’m sure you would have taught her all kinds of naughty things. But, you would have also taught her to be independent. You would have taught her to work hard. You would have taught her to be brave and strong. All the things you taught me. 

You said you were tired. You had spent the day in your yard doing yard work. You told mom you just wanted to go home. You were tired. I can still see you standing at the door getting ready to leave. Saying goodbye. 

That was the last time I saw you.

The next morning mom called and told me you were gone. I was in shock. How could that be? We went over to the house right away. I looked at you in your bed. You just looked like you were sleeping. I touched your hand and kissed you on the forehead and told you goodbye. June 3, 2000.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. This time of year I don’t even have to look at the calendar to know it’s here. I just know. I can feel it. It’s there. I can’t help but know. 

I know you visit often. The cardinal lets me know. He’s been here all week. Continue to Rest In Peace Dad. 


Sometimes I just don’t know what I want to write about. I have been thinking about it all week. Some random stuff here and there bubbles up, but then it goes away. I am not sure if that bubble is what I want to write about. Nothing seems right. Nothing seems relevant. Yet nothing seems wrong and everything seems relevant. 

I am pretty sure that with Tayler’s graduation post and then the Memorial Day post, and my son, I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. It is amazing how much it takes out of me when I write a super emotional post. Even when I am writing, I have to get up and walk away. It is that difficult. It is almost haunting. When I walk away, the idea and the post are never far away. I constantly think about it. It’s kind of funny that once I get it down on paper or print if you will, I usually let it go. I usually don’t think about it that much again. Not these two posts. They are all I have thought about. Filling my brain. Filling that bubble.

This time has been different for obvious reasons. I keep thinking about those boys. Their faces. Their lives. The lives they left behind. The families trying to pick up the pieces. Trying to move on. Knowing there are more and more and more and then some more. If this affects me this way, I can’t even begin to imagine the families and the guys who served with them. So, so difficult. Hard times for so many people.

I think another milestone this week was my son, Spencer, turning 30. I can still remember him as a little boy. I can still see him reading in the chair. The smirk on his face with the Kool-Aid mustache. It is so amazing watching our kids grow, yet at the same time it tells us that life marches on and that we are getting older. It’s emotional. 

The youngest granddaughter had a birthday party. She turned two (almost) a few more days. Another milestone and another life doesn’t stop moment. Time keeps going. Life keeps happening. I keep living.

Tayler went on a road trip. She went on a road trip to Denver. More specifically, to Red Rocks, to a concert. She has never done that before. She and Alex and Gracie hopped in the car and took off. By themselves. No parent supervision. First stop Rapid for the night and then today the rest of the way to Denver. I know they will be fine. This is yet another reminder that life marches on. That she is growing up. That she can handle life. That she can handle adventures and road trips. That she can handle. 

So, as I sit here and type this blog post, she checked in and said there were eating. That makes me happy to know they made it. Happy to know they can take care of themselves. Happy to know they will love this road trip and this adventure. All by themselves.

rainy days and mondays…


Cpl. Tyler Cone – February 22, 1988 – February 16, 2014

Cpl. Taylor Hopson – August 28, 1989 – July 19, 2011

Lcpl. Ray A. Spencer –  date of death April 16, 2009 (age 20)

I wanted to do a special Hero WOD for my email list. I asked my son, if he could give me some names of Marines he knew who were killed in action when he was in the Marines. He was in the 3/3 Marines, India Company. He served from 2006-2010. 

He told me none of the ones in his company (that he could remember) were killed in action, but many had committed suicide. He said he didn’t think that was what I was really looking for. But on the contrary, that was exactly what I was looking for. It was exactly what I expected he was going to tell me. My gut told me. I listened. I felt it. 

Veteran suicide is a problem. An epidemic you could say. I knew that was what I wanted to write about on this Memorial Day, 2018. 

A commonality with these guys is that they were super patriotic. Their dream was to become a Marine. It was the same with Spencer. I remember him always wanting to be a Marine. I can remember from the time he was little until he joined, he always talked about it. We tried to talk him out of Infantry. He was determined. He was going to be a Marine and infantry at that. I also remember how patriotic he was. He has always, always been that way. It was stressful when he went to Iraq. He went there twice. I worried all the time. I tried to not think about it. I tried to not think about what they were doing over there. I tried to just put it at the back of mind. It seemed like the time went fast so that was a plus. I’m sure the time did not go fast for any of them. 

When you put faces to those names, it makes it even harder. To think of those families who lost their people, it breaks my heart. I cannot even imagine the pain they go through. I cannot even imagine if that happened to my child. I just can’t. The war at home is a real thing. The suffering. The demons. The trying to fit back in to society when you don’t even know where to start. The wishing you were back over there because that’s the only constant you know. The coming back home and using alcohol or drugs to numb things. The turmoil. The struggle. The hard. 

Last November, I did a Facebook challenge. Every person donated $22 and we donated almost $700 to Mission22. Mission22 is an organization that is united in the war against veteran suicide. The War At Home. They bring awareness to veteran suicide. They also have memorials for veterans and veteran treatment programs. Here is the link to check out their work and donate or buy gear.

If you know a veteran in trouble, help them, talk to them, listen to them, do whatever you can to help them. You will never regret doing that. 

All three were in the 3/3 Marines. Hopson was in Spencer’s platoon and Cone was in his Company. There were more than these three. May they all rest in peace. Semper Fi. 

p.s. I picked the title because the song Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters was playing when I had the idea of writing this blog. It seemed fitting…

everything i wanted and nothing i had

We played with our Pierre cousins a lot. Susan and Brenda. They belonged to my Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy. They lived on Huron Avenue, the ranch style brick house. They were constant. We lived at the Euclid House and the Central House and even the Prospect House when we spent the most time at that house. We weren’t as constant. 

These cousins weren’t matching for us. Susan was quite a bit older and Brenda was a year older than Wendy, if I recall correctly. They were always, always so nice to us. 

They had everything. The basement closet was full of board games. The floor in the basement had a shuffleboard game on it. It was super cool. The basement had a couple bedrooms, a bathroom, a bar, and the giant family room. There was cool furniture down there too. I actually have one of the end tables from their basement. Kind of modern style 50s piece. I like it. I won’t ever get rid of it. There was also a fireplace and I remember a net with starfish on it above the couch. That became a hand-me-down to the Prospect House. I think one of the dogs ate the starfish. So there’s that.

There were lots of pictures on the walls. I recall seeing some of Uncle Bob when he was in the Navy. There was also one of those chair things that you would put your feet on the bottom bar and then hang on to the top bar and then close yourself up like an ab crunch and then completely open and stretch out as far as you could. It was supposed to be good for the back and a nice ab workout. I think I spent a lot of time playing with that chair thing. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

The upstairs also had a big living room, a dining room, the kitchen, a bathroom, maybe even two, and two or three bedrooms. The upstairs was always spotless. Everything in its place and nothing out of place. 

The backyard had perfectly mowed grass and a big swing set. They had croquet and kickballs. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

They had Barbies and snow boots without bread bags. We couldn’t wait to get their hand-me-downs. We didn’t even care that the boots didn’t have any grip anymore. They had side zippers and were stylish and they were brown, not red. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

We played with the Barbies in Brenda’s room. In her closet actually. It was huge. The Barbies had tons of clothes on hangers and lots of shoes. Ken was there too. I loved playing Barbies. They had so many. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

She also had one of those jewelry boxes that had the ballerina inside when you opened it. She danced to the music. The box was full of jewelry. Bracelets and necklaces. They took dance from Mrs. Forney. Everything I wanted and nothing I had. 

At one point, my parents were remodeling the Prospect house and it came a point when we had to stay with Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy. We stayed in the basement. I remember using the lemon shampoo on my hair. I found it under the sink in a basket. I loved that smell. Fresh lemons. There was also the shampoo that mom would never buy us, “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific.” That stuff did smell terrific. For reals. 

Aunt Sandy made us breakfast every single morning before school. It was everything I wanted and nothing I had. She treated us like we were her own kids. It was so nice of her to open up her home to us. I think at that time both Susan and Brenda were gone. It seemed like it anyway. I could be wrong. I think I was in junior high at the time. 

I could tell that Aunt Sandy loved taking care of us. It was nice to be treated like that. It was nice to have everything I wanted. 

I remembered always feeling envious. Why couldn’t I have all those Barbies? Why couldn’t I have those nice boots? Why couldn’t we have a croquet set and a nice swing set? Why couldn’t we have a bazillion board games?

When it came right down to it though, it was kind of dumb to be envious of them. They worked hard for what they had. My parents worked hard for what they had. There was no reason for me to be envious. My parents couldn’t afford that stuff at that point in their lives. If there was one thing that they taught us, it was to work hard. A good work ethic will take you far. We were taught to be happy with what we had. There will always be someone who has more than you and there will always be someone who has less than you. There will be. It’s just the way it is. 

I look back and I realize how everything I wanted and nothing I had was not really true. I had everything I needed and nothing I didn’t.



My thoughts have been jumbled. My emotions have been raw. It’s been hard to concentrate. It’s been hard to think. I have been thinking and thinking and thinking some more. I have been feeling and feeling and feeling some more. 

I started and restarted this post and don’t want to make it sound ridiculous. I have been trying to put the words down, but my mind can’t get them the way I want them. I’m trying to not be mushy and embarrass you. 

I have been thinking about writing this post all week. I have struggled putting into words how much you mean to me and how proud I am of you. Parenting is tough. Being a kid is tough. Lots of times those two roles don’t mesh. We got lucky. We meshed. 

It has been an amazing journey watching you grow up. It has been heartbreaking watching you struggle at times. I wanted to take away your hurt. You always knew it was your path though. You always knew God was right there with you. Guiding you. Directing you. Your attitude and faith amaze me. I love that about you. You totally believe and you know. 

I love that you are independent and smart aleck-y. You are strong. You know your worth and you don’t back down for things you believe in. My traits.

You are compassionate and caring. You are beautiful. You are kind to everyone. You know the difference between right and wrong. You always do the right thing, even if it’s hard. John’s traits. 

You got the best of both of us. We knew you would. 

You are so funny and quick-witted. You have an amazing sense of humor. – Grandpa Gary’s traits. He would have loved you. I wish you could have known him. 

You wrote thank you cards without us having to tell you. Ever since you could write well enough, probably third or fourth grade, you started writing letters to your teachers at the end of every school year. You started writing letters to people who were important to you. You started writing letters to your friends. One of the recipients of a letter from you told me, “You done good.” He said we did a great job raising you. Ultimately, that is what a parent wants to hear. I think we did a good job too.

The time is here. Graduation. You are graduating from high school. I still remember the day you were born. The time went fast. I knew it would. You were a beautiful baby with big blue eyes. You were such a good baby. Our hearts were full.

The years have flown by, just like they say. So fast. It seems like yesterday we were taking your picture for Kindergarten. You were so excited and we were so heavy hearted.

Sunday is the day. I am filled with emotions. Bittersweet. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to do. I know you will be okay on your own, but at the same time I worry about you. 

I hope we did enough to prepare you. You are strong. You trust your instincts. You are  compassionate. You know your worth. You speak the truth. You have amazing character and morals. We got lucky with you. 

I have been trying to come up with advice or words of wisdom to share with you. But then I realized we have been advising you for 18 years. What else can we do. 

I will miss your crazy annoying laugh. Your drive-us-nuts dancing around the living room while we try to watch tv. Your using the dining room table as your depository for all coats, jackets, shoes and school paraphernalia. We will miss that. 

As I hear you downstairs cleaning out your backpack, I realize, it’s time for you to experience life. It’s time to go. It’s time to fly. It’s time to go places. It’s time to shine. We love you!

So Tayler – 


Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or

Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

you’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!”

—The Places You Will go — Dr. Seuss 

Night Visions

A few months ago I had a hard time sleeping. Sleep would just not come to me. I don’t know what was different. Nothing it seemed. It was making me anxious and annoyed and frankly, pretty damn tired in the mornings. I hated it. I didn’t know what to do to try and make it better.

One night when I couldn’t sleep and was tossing and turning and turning and tossing some more, something compelled me to pick up my phone, head into my Notes App and just write. I wrote some pretty interesting things. They are interesting to me anyway. I shared some. In looking back at the notes there was a period from October, 2017, and ending in April, 2018, where I wrote. I have not felt compelled since then to write poems. I don’t know why. In fact there was a big span from the last one on January 24th, until the April one. I don’t know why that is either. Timing is interesting and strange all at the same time. There was also a section in my Notes App where had hand-written notes and drew faces with my finger. Those were around the same time as the poems. I cannot draw. Just putting that out there, but the faces I tried to draw were super interesting to me. The expressions, or non-expressions on the faces, were just strange.

A curious thing happened though. Once I could write no more, the sleeplessness went away. The anxiety went away. The annoyance went away. The tiredness went away. Whatever made me write those notes, also took away the anxiousness and the sleeplessness. I’m not sure what it was, but I am glad I listened. I am glad I wrote. I am glad I cleared the negative energy.

My whole outlook changed. My demeanor changed. I changed. 

While re-reading these poems, they seem really dark. I promise I’m fine. Nothing to worry about. I do find the last one from April 8th pretty interesting. I know I have talked about intuition and “bad feelings” previously, and I think that poem on that day, was a sign. It was a sign about Mike. I was anxious and having that bad feeling that just hangs on for a while and then I usually find out a few days later that something bad happened. And something bad did happen a few days after that. Mike died. 

Anyway, here are the poems that I wrote and the pictures I drew. Don’t judge too harshly.

October 28, 2017

The dead of night

Shadows dance in the light

I feel lonely and sad

Feelings I hate and fight

My face is dark

The stars and sky are bright

Why is it so hard to feel alright


December 26, 2018

I don’t know what to think or do

The guilt is hard

The guilt is true

How I wish things could have been different

For you, and you, and you


January 2, 2018

My mind needs to quiet down

So many thoughts running around

So many words

So many sounds

I hear the pound

The anxiety is loud

It creeps and creeps

So I can’t sleep


January 8, 2018

I feel anxious

I don’t know why

My gut is trying to tell me



Not a lie

I’m trying to listen

I can’t figure it out

Maybe tomorrow

It will simplify


January 9, 2018

I just got a shiver of despair

A feeling of overwhelming sadness

My eyes filled with tears

My jaw got that tightness



What does it mean

Undisclosed fears

Buried in my soul

The tears ran down my face

Releasing the control


January 10, 2018

This morning my mind feels clear

The fogginess is gone

Images are sharp

Images are near

I like how this feels

It is satisfying and good

I hope it stays glassy and light

And won’t get dark and murky

I want it to be right


January 18, 2018

Anxiety leave me alone

I don’t like you

Get of here

Go home

You always come at night

When I’m too tired to fight

I try

I try to throw you out

But you stick around

You give me grief

You’re sneaky and sly

A good thought thief


January 24, 2018


You’re back I see

What to you want this time

Why can’t you leave me be

I thought you left

I thought you were gone

I relaxed

And now you’re strong


April 8, 2018

Sleep eludes me

Stress envelopes me

Why here

Why now

I thought I had you beat

I thought you took retreat


(two days later Mike died)