Facebook Postings after Rick’s Passing

Losing my wonderful husband Rick in the wee hours of Christmas morning was an unexpected shock. As a writer would, I began posting memories of our lives together at Facebook. In time, I realized that each post was eliciting echoing thoughts from readers who knew Rick, and from some who never did but could appreciate the kind of man Rick was. I decided that I would save those three months of postings here at this page, where they can be read in sequence. I’ll begin at the beginning of what was to be the very sudden ending… The first post was a shock to all who read it, and I felt badly about that, but did not know how else to tell the many friends that Rick and I shared… I’ll include the other touching posts that friends and family wrote about him.

December 25, 2016

There never was a better man. My heart died with him this morning. Please send prayers for his peaceful rest, and know he will fly with the angels, watching over his loved ones … always. Rick said so often, from the time he first began making ornaments for our family long ago … It is always Christmas at the Palardy’s. It will always be so. He was the human exemplar of the Christmas Spirit all year through, and I will keep that spirit alive with him always deep in my soul. I love you and always will, Rick.

Cheryl Skinner with Dan Skinner and Danny Skinner.December 25, 2016 ·
My heart is breaking for the sudden loss of our family’s dear friend, Rick Palardy.

Rick and his beautiful wife Terry, are not only our friends but also fellow MS WARRIORS. We have been blessed to meet, know and love them. Rick has lovingly cared for his dear wife, Terry. They were each other’s best friend and I so admire their love for each other. As a team, Rick and Terry have raised thousands of dollars for the National MS Society- Greater New England Chapter each and every year. My heart is broken for Terry’s loss of her amazing husband, Rick.
I ask for your prayers for Terry as she says so long to her Love, until they meet again 🍀❤️❤️🍀
Sending gentle hugs to Terry Crawford Palardy and all who love Rick Palardy.

Russ Moyer to Rick Palardy

December 25, 2016 · Georgetown ·

 It’s been a long day of contemplation. Your life here on earth has been nothing short of amazing. You taught so many of us life lessons that we shall not forget. Your love for your family was always first and foremost. God knows what he is doing when he takes someone home to be with Him. We may not always understand, but we must always trust He is doing it for His good reason. Rest easy my friend. You will be missed…..One day we will see each other again….God bless you Rick, we know you will be watching over Terry and your family from above…..See you on the other side!
Rusty Ricker

December 25, 2016 ·

 The world lost a wonderful man today. Rick was one of the kindest, gentlest, truest people you could have ever wanted to meet. A friend to all, a father to Patricia and Rob, a Grandfather to Trish’s kids, a father in law to Heather and most of all, a husband to Terry. I have struggled all day for what to say, because words just aren’t there for the sense of loss that is felt. Men like Rick, devoted to family and community are hard to find. Go n-eírí an bóthar leat. Until we meet again my friend…

Erie Fire Association #4, Inc.

The Erie Fire Association #4, regrets to announce the passing of longtime Erie 4 member, and former Georgetown Fire Department Captain Rick Palardy. You could always see Rick helping out at any one of Erie’s fundraisers over the years, and he was always willing to lend a hand to someone in need. Rick exemplified Erie’s motto of “Warm Hearts, Willing Hands”.

Rick is survived by his wife Terry, and children Trisha and Rob. Please keep the Palardy family in your prayers. Arrangements will be posted as they become available.

Andrew Herendeen

December 25, 2016 ·

 I am truly saddened to hear of Rick’s passing this morning. Of all the people I’ve met in my life, I don’t know if I’ve ever met a more kinder or gentler human being. My heart breaks for Rob and his family as they begin to mourn. Godspeed Rick~
Pat Kippenhan added 3 new photos.

December 26, 2016 · Easton ·

 Rest Easy Uncle Rick. A very creative and loving person to all, You will be Missed.
Stacey Reed

December 26, 2016 ·

 While we were enjoying the magic of celebrating our precious grand daughter’s first Christmas, my Auntie Terry Crawford Palardy very suddenly and unexpectedly lost her soulmate and love of her life, our Uncle Rick Palardy. He was a true “gentle”man, the kindest soul you could ever have had the pleasure of knowing. Please say a pray for her to help her through these coming days…..
Chris Pat Wentworth

December 28, 2016 ·

 Hard to say goodbye to this person: a wonderful and kind brother in law. Too sudden, too soon. Looking over pictures to prepare the memory boards brought back so many memories….he was a good man who loved and took care of my sister Terry Crawford Palardy, his wife of 46.5 years. My heart breaks for her but I know he will watch over her, and his family, from above. RIP Rick Palardy.

Laurent Richard’s Story

 Laurent Richard Palardy, known as Rick to friends and family, was born on July 11, 1950, in Peabody, Massachusetts. He was predeceased by his parents, Laurent and Marie Palardy, who moved from Salem to Georgetown each summer, where the family became full time town residents in 1960.

Mr. Palardy attended Salem and Georgetown Public Schools and Haverhill Trade School. He was a sheet metal fabricator for many years, and upon retirement from Compugraphic in Wilmington, he began his woodworking shop called Wooden Toy and Gift. Rick became well known for cutting commemorative plaques for public service and military personnel, in addition to his original wooden ornaments. Rick also used his woodworking talents to create a permanent home for Georgetown’s Boston Post Cane, now on display in Georgetown’s Town Hall.

Rick was known for his 40 years of membership in the Erie Fire Association #4. He was a volunteer first responder and call firefighter for more than 20 years, during which time he served as a member of Erie’s Standing Committee and as Company Steward. He achieved the ranks of lieutenant and captain, conducted training and drills for the volunteer fire company. He was the Vice President of Erie 4 Association, and was one of the founding members of the Friends of Erie 4. He was often a greeter at each fundraising supper held at the fire house.

In a cooperative partnership with members of the Georgetown Fire Department at the Public Safety Building, Rick for several years was an adviser to Explorer Post 81. He was also active in the Georgetown Athletic Association for two decades as an assistant soccer coach. He was a life member of the Georgetown Historical Society. Rick was an active, go to guy for the Friends of the Georgetown Peabody Library.

Mr. Palardy died suddenly on December 25, 2016, and will be remembered for his patience, kindness, generosity and community spirit. He leaves his wife, Terry Crawford Palardy; a son, Robert Laurent Palardy and his wife, Heather Fuller Palardy; and a daughter, Patricia Lee Theriault of Maine. He also leaves two grandchildren, Zoe Quick and Tristan Quick, also of Maine; and a large extended family.
Family and friends are kindly invited to attend Rick’s Funeral Mass on Saturday, December 31, at 10 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church, Georgetown. Interment will be private. Calling hours will be held on Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Conte-Giamberardino Funeral Home, 14 Pleasant Street, Georgetown. For those who wish, Rick may be remembered through donations to the Erie Fire Association #4, Inc., 474 North Street, P.O. Box 133, Georgetown, MA. 01833. For funeral home directions, florists or accommodations, please visit www.cgfuneralhomegeorgetown.com.

Anthony Fartunato

December 29, 2016 ·

 With all these Celebrity deaths lately its easy to overlook the most special person who passed away this week. My Uncle Rick Palardy one of the nicest human beings I will ever meet. A master of Carpentry, Rick could make anything out of wood and he always ran a wood shop out of his garage.

I mean it when I say this guy was an amazing person. He never had a single negative thing to say about anyone. This is the man who had the courage to tell me my brother passed away when no one else had it in them. Uncle Rick simply put his hands on my shoulders looked me in the eyes told me he loved me and than told me the tragic news about my brothers death. He would have givin you his last dollar, his only coat and would pick you up three states away if you were stranded. Someone my entire family could always count on.
He passed away on Christmas day its a huge loss for our family. I’ll miss seeing you Rick. Terry Crawford Palardy I love you, your husband was one in a million. Please be strong

Danielle McCann with Patricia Palardy and 2 others.

December 31, 2016 · Waltham ·

 Chloe’s very special angel from Uncle Rick and some of the beautiful flowers – we will treasure it forever xoxo

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Beverly Tyrie KnappShe sat in front of me in church and kept holding the angel up, should have taken a picture!
Danielle McCannYes she did, she’s very proud of it 😊
Nancy Ferland with Rick Palardy
Uncle Rick made Alex very happy with wooden toy he made by hand for him ! Rest in peace Rick, we will miss you !

Patricia Palardy with Rick Palardy and 4 others.  January 4 ·
 A belated but heartfelt “THANK YOU” to everyone who supported and showed love to our family last week. Pat, Darcy, Donna, Renee, Chris, Herb, Rusty, Gtown Fire Dept, Lexington, the “food-ladies” whose names I can’t remember…. Everyone made a difficult week a little easier to bear.
At this point in time, I began adding some of the music that Rick and I had enjoyed together, and as I listened to the songs at You Tube, more memories came flooding in, and I shared each one…
Terry Crawford Palardy to Rick Palardy January 11 ·
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilny-CIVdnQ

So much of this song is true of Rick, and of us:

“I cried a tear, you wiped it dry
I was confused, you cleared my mind
I sold my soul, you bought it back for me
And held me up, and gave me dignity
Somehow you needed me
You gave me strength to stand alone again
And face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me …
And I can’t believe it’s true I can’t believe it’s you
I needed you and you were there
You held my hand when it was cold
When I was lost you took me home
You gave me hope when I was at the end
And turned my life back into truth again
You even called me friend…”

David Bogdan January 15 · Georgetown ·
 Putting our Christmas decorations away today. Thanks for the gift and forever memories Rick Palardy. Displayed proudly past and future Christmas’s.

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Terry Crawford Palardy January 17 ·
God, I miss Rick. Remembering how this song touched both of us…

Ten years ago, I began the journey of diagnosis, with many tests and scary prognoses … but Rick was always at my side. We both walked every day, holding hands, getting stronger. One said that ten years was usually the length of time it took someone with MS to decline into a wheelchair. In time, I continued to grow stronger rather than weaker, because we walked together. But his hips were getting weaker, and his cartilege cushioning was shrinking, and we began to walk less. If I took a shorter walk without him, I carried my dad’s cane, just in case I needed it. And at times I did need it, and will continue to use it as I now walk without his strength beside me. But we will walk together in spirit, always, and I will walk on, and never feel alone.

Terry Crawford Palardy with Rick PalardyJanuary 22

Rick and I had only discovered Michael Buble’s voice recently, but we both enjoyed it … and my head was often on his shoulder when we listened to music, on the road, in the days before seat belts, when I always sat in the middle of the front seat, next to him.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18tl2FdtLs4

 

Terry Crawford Palardy added 2 new photosJanuary 23 ·
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkI-B2JWSZI

Our marriage was a dream come true for both of us … and for the years we both worked full time, sometimes on opposite shifts, coming home for a weekend together was always a special treasure. As the years went by children and our elderly parents shared much of our at home time with us … soccer games, holiday meals … but whenever we were separated by schedules, we knew that we would have our happily ever after together. And we did have that special time …and shared some of those moments with our children and friends, but kept many of those moments just for us, together. It ended suddenly, though, and much sooner than expected. We’re apart now, but I believe there is yet more happily ever after ahead for us. Love you always, Rick.

Terry Crawford Palardy  January 24 ·  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHvf6sqKGRA

 Today the sadness seemed to hide the memories … and the loss of Rick weighs heavily. It is so hard to think of all Rick still had planned for our years of happily ever after, and now his time here with me is over. I have to believe that we will continue together someday, somewhere. I wish I knew that he has found his way safely, on his own.But the young quilters will be back in my life soon, and a new cat looking for a place to call her own … and life will go on. And as a favorite poet wisely wrote, “…I have promises to keep, and miles to go before i sleep…”

 Yesterday I had a telephone call from the office of one of the eight doctors who had pending appointments for my husband, Rick, who passed away of an unexpected heart attack. i had sent each of the eight a letter, with a copy of his obituary, just after his funeral to let them know of the death, asking that all such appointments be cancelled.

The secretary asked for my husband. I said that I was his wife, and asked could I help her. She said she had to speak to him, as his name had somehow disappeared from her referral database, and she didn’t know why.
I told her of my earlier letter, and asked her to confirm that it had been received … she looked in a different category, expressing her condolences while doing so, and then said yes, a letter was received ten days earlier; he was removed from her database after the letter was received.
I began to cry, and said that no one had responded to my letter and I wondered if it had been received. I then asked her to ask the doctor whether it had reached her … she said she would make sure she saw it. I said goodbye.
This is the first call from any of the eight people who were involved with my husband’s diabetes, osteoarthritis, nutrition, shoulder surgery, cardio stress test (passed with flying colors) and sleep study. Not one acknowledged his death. Not one called or wrote to express condolences until his name was ‘missing’ from a specialist’s database.
How can the medical community be so cold? How can they claim they are providing “care?”
Rick was such a good man … his life mattered… how could they not recognize that?

Here’s another lovely song that reminds me of the love that Rick and I shared…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM8bAcFKWJ0

Terry Crawford Palardy January 26 ·  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM8bAcFKWJ0
 My sister Pat came by tonight and we had a nice supper and visit together. On her drive home, she was thinking about Rick and me, and then this song came on the radio … and it seemed to be a direct echo of the love that Rick and I shared, and the love that she and her husband Chris share, too.
Terry Crawford Palardy January 27 ·  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-SG7auWi9M

Rick and I enjoyed this CD of John McDermott’s songs from years past … Rick’s parents and aunts and uncles always sang such songs at the campfire in the summer time … he knew all the words to so many songs from the forties … I picture him now reunited with his family, enjoying the music they share…

Terry Crawford Palardy to Rick Palardy  January 29 ·
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ3ESivyGQE

Thinking of Rick early this morning before I awoke, believing that we will meet again ‘some sunny day.’ In the dream, he was singing this song…

Terry Crawford Palardy with Patricia Palardy and Rick Palardy.January 30 ·
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQGIru65uaE

This is another Carpenter song, one that Rick and I would sing together, certain that it was written for our beautiful baby girl Trish… here she is with Rick, the year she “grew up” and joined the Erie 4 Fire company with her dad, Captain Rick Palardy, right out of high school. A beautiful girl, and a beautiful song…  And, of course, I always wanted to be close to Rick and to Trish, and later, Rob.

Terry Crawford Palardy  January 31 ·
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDpfoy_-DzM

One of the early Beatles’ recordings … Rick knew all of them, and introduced this one to me, singing it softly along with their voices… I was more into folk music than British rock at the time, but with his records and tapes, I learned to appreciate some of their original songs in time.

My sister Betty shared this song with me; after her son Stephen was KIA in Afghanistan, she found comfort listening to it. She feels it speaks to my missing Rick as well.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8CWGq8e3Bo

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Terry Crawford Palardy with Rick Palardy.  February 3 · https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkI-B2JWSZI
 My second glimpse of a beautiful moon this week … Rick and I always watched the moon and Venus move across the sky slowly when we were driving home at night from Maine … and suddenly he seems very close.
Terry Crawford Palardy with Rick PalardyFebruary 4 ·  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh298ITCHm8
 In the darkest week of winter, Rick was called away from me, from all of us. I miss him every day … I listen for his footsteps on the stairs every night … but I know he wants me to believe that the sun will come out again in my life … it is so hard to imagine what the bright seasons will be without him at my side. February will bring more daylight …
Terry Crawford Palardy with Rick Palardy.February 5 ·    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWTiEgg9R-4
 I do believe that Rick was not ready to see his life end that early Christmas morning … he had planned for more skill saw plaques honoring American heroes … and more custom wooden bases for vintage sewing machines we would retrofit with hand cranks … he had ordered more patterns, and saw blades, and was planning to invest in more Baltic Birch plywood. I know he had planned one more rocking motorcycle ‘on spec’ for the future … and this song so makes me think of “poems, and prayers and promises and things that we believed in … how sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care …how long it’s been since yesterday and what about tomorrow … what about our dreams and all the memories we shared.”Image may contain: people sitting, table and indoor
Terry Crawford Palardy   February 6 ·   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPpRyjTP0a0
 Rick would sometimes come into my special education classrooms with me, and share woodworking skills with my elementary students … or talk about fire prevention and escape route plans for families … he’d bring his turnout gear into my elementary rooms and later into my middle school classrooms, and let students tall and short try them on … he’d tell the little ones about what a firefighter would look like and sound like if they were looking for a child during a search and rescue … and he’d explain the SCBA tank and safety beeper to the older ones … and then I would tell them that, if they had an escape plan at home with their family, Rick and the other firefighters wouldn’t have to go in search of them, and could stay focused on putting out the fire … and maybe that’s why John Denver’s Rhymes and Reasons was a special song for both of us … children were always most important to us. Rick wanted to keep them safe, and I wanted to keep them positive and confident… Here’s a photo of Rick and Rob at a Georgetown drill, at a house that was donated to the fire department for training purposes… Rick was the adviser and Rob still a member of the Explorers’ group then..Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, fire and outdoor

I know that Rick is nearby, and always watchful. Yesterday a friend and I were coming home from Boston … she kindly offered to do the driving as she’d been housebound for a while due to a knee replacement just before Christmas… When we heard that it would snow, I thought we might reschedule, but the forecast was that it would stop by noon, and so we bravely went on together. We left early in the day, she drove expertly into the city, and we had our adventure … lunch … a doctor’s appointment … but it kept snowing. We headed home in the early afternoon. We were within seven or eight miles of home, just south of route 97 exits off rte.95. Someone going faster than we, out in the passing lane, hit slush, and spun out, crossing two more lanes and smashed into her driver’s door with enough force to push us into the breakdown lane, where we came to a stop, only to be hit again, this time in the front tire, breaking the axle. We were shook up by the unseen and unexpected hit. But we both are otherwise fine, and I’m sure, as the airbags didn’t deploy to frighten us even more, that Rick’s arms were around us both. Her car will need major repairs; the insurance companies will work out who pays, but we are both fine. We are blesssed. Thank you, angels … Thank you, Rick.

Please make sure you neighborhood’s hydrant is clear … Rick tried always to do the one closest to our home. He and many others who always did so are now gone, and younger folks need to be aware that our firefighters are not full time employees; our highway department is very busy keeping the roads open; if there is a fire in your neighborhood and your hydrant requires precious minutes of clearing, you will be the most affected, personally or sympathetically. Please be pro-active.Your driveway can wait ’til the snow stops … a fire hydrant is often needed before that.

Terry Crawford Palardy with Rick Palardy.  February 9 ·  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64EYr2O2tIQ
 Rick and I met in January of 1965, when I was new to town. We were friends for the next few years … and then in September of 1967 we began dating each other … I was a freshman in college without a car, and sometimes had a car pool ride, and a few odd times I walked the seven miles to home. But many times Rick, also a student then in Haverhill at the Trade school, would give me a ride home. September was always a new start to each year … and he was a wonderful new partner. This song invites memories of those rides home, as we were both finding our way into a true, real relationship.
Terry Crawford Palardy with Rick Palardy and 2 others.

February 10 ·

Rick began making “Plaques For American Heroes” in 2014, and one of the first designs was this plaque held by our nephew Anthony. It is in memory and honor of our sister Betty’s son, Stephen, who was killed in action in 2008 in Afghanistan. This is one of two identical plaques made for Stephen’s brothers, Anthony and Joe. Rick also made a special box to hold Stephen’s medals, for Betty. This photo shows Betty holding her young grand-cousin Alex, who was born on Rick’s birthday. Image may contain: 3 people, people standing, tree and outdoor

The song that always brought Stephen to Rick’s and my mind is “Willie MacBride,” the tale of a young soldier lost in the battles of “The Great War” that was supposed to end all wars … over a hundred years ago.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvcjKK3MG_U

Terry Crawford Palardy added 2 new photos — with Patricia Palardy and 3 others.  February 10 ·
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjNgn4r6SOA

In the early days of our marriage, with little to spend, Rick and I learned how to enjoy the little things … an enjoyment that we would continue through many years … we were friends to each other, and helped each other grow into the adults that life would expect us to be. In later years, challenges became larger and more needed our help and support, but we always dealt with those challenges together. This song reflects the power of mutual love … he was my hero, and I was his. When one of us was feeling defeated, the other would be positive, and together we could rise out of the depths of worry or despair. We knew that one of us would be left behind, and one of us would have to go on alone … but each of us would always have the memory of that shared strength, and could believe that the other would always continue to support the one left behind. I do believe that. Listen here to Simon and Garfunkel singing to us, for us, and about us

When Rick and I first met, it was in the back of the church, between Masses. He was there, selling Sunday newspapers with a friend, and I was downstairs, babysitting during one mass, and attending the other. He was so easy to talk to, and we shared our weekend plans, often involving others as our ‘dates.’ And when we began dating each other, holding hands was special for us. We were scolded by parents for holding hands in church … funny now that everyone is holding hands in church. Eventually, we realized that we both were looking for the same things, and not finding them with others … we wanted humor, and peaceful conversations, and music – always music. We wanted to love and be loved, unconditionally. And we were … and we always will be ‘here’ for each other… People ask me, how did you know? We met at ‘that right time’ in our lives… and I don’t think there ever would have been a not-right time.
I love you always, Rick

Terry Crawford Palardy  February 12 ·  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_TV2sw7W38

Rick was always supportive … he worked many hours at many jobs, supporting his family while I worked my way into the teaching career that dominated many years of my life. Each night when I came home he met me in the driveway and carried my bags into the house with one hand, and held my hand with the other. When I brought work home he would have supper ready, and later would help me enter grades into small grids on the computer. He learned all of my students names and when he would come into the classroom to offer a guest workshop on fire safety, he knew the faces that went with the names. When the time came that I could no longer learn names, or remember profiles, or keep a schedule, I knew it was time to leave my career. I wondered how I would do that … leaving my colleagues, my friends, the families of sisters and brothers who passed through my classes …

But Rick already knew what I would do. When I joined the Friends of the Library, he came with me. When he went back to the Erie 4 meetings, I went with him. We were always together, and the friendship that we knew as fifteen year olds surfaced, as life now provided the time for us to be together. This song by John Denver captures that magic, and we did follow each other through the past six years … we both thought it would be longer, but we did manage to make the most of the years we had, together always. Make the most of yours, too.

Terry Crawford Palardy  February 13 ·
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxVjbtt22yk

A year ago, Rick used his brand new snow blower just once, as that was the only storm that needed it. His old one was worn out after the 2015 snow-pocalypse of nine feet in just a few days of storms… I miss him, but am glad he is not trying to sit back and let others and me do for him in this snowstorm. Rest in Peace, Rick. This song is a beautiful memory… and brings tears, of course … Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong:
“And this is how I see you, in the snow on Christmas morning,
Love and happiness surround you, you throw your arms up to the sky … I keep this moment by and by …I miss you now, my love…”

Image may contain: tree, plant, car, snow, house, sky and outdoor

His was made of red oak, and mine of white pine. We took them to the Sunday concerts at the park … a peaceful respite in such busy weeks of the summer of our lives.

Image may contain: people sitting and outdoor
Terry Crawford Palardy with Patricia Palardy and February 14 ·
 I remember the first Valentine’s Day that Rick and I were an engaged couple. It was in 1968 … the year we both turned 18, (Of course, in the sixties, 18 was still an age of teenagers .. not old enough to vote … not old enough to drink alcohol … but old enough for young men to be drafted and sent into the jungle by a congress they had no say in electing … but that is another story for another day.)

Valentine’s Day was a day of romance for young couples. I had been visited by a pot and pan salesman that day, for word was out that we were engaged. I signed a contract (and my mother co-signed it, as I was only 18) saying that I would pay over a hundred dollars for a set of stainless steel pots. I was a college freshman that year, and did not have a hundred or so dollars for pots and pans that would sit in a box for a few years until we married, but there was an installment plan. Ten dollars a month would do it.

I dressed in a skirt and sweater and waited for Rick to come by; I was anxious to show him the catalog of shiny glossy paper with color photos of the pots and pans. I was ready by 6 pm.

When he hadn’t arrived by 7 pm, I was worried. Had there been an accident? There were no cell phones, remember … no way to instantly know, as there are ways today. I waited still. At 8 pm and nearly in a panic, I finally called his house. His mother answered, and I stammered out my question … was Rick alright? He had had mononucleosis earlier that winter … His mother assured me that he was fine and at work at the gas station out on route 95 in Rowley.

I was then in tears and said “But it’s Valentine’s Day.” She said she was sure he would be coming to see me after work, but that would be at 10 pm. We said goodbye. I went up to my room to get my textbooks and do some reading for class the next day. I did not know that she then got on the telephone to the gas station to tell Rick that I was waiting, and that he must bring a Valentine gift to me.

The gas station was having a promotion then, giving away a single setting of tableware with a fill up. (Remember those days?) He arrived at my house a little after 10 pm, tired and with the scent of gasoline and oil, and i gave him the biggest hug I could. I showed him the photos of the pots, and he gave me the tableware setting, and we sat in my parents’ kitchen, I on his lap, and talked again of what would one day be … in a place of our own, one day. This song says it all… Happy Valentine’s Day I miss you, Rick, and have wonderful memories of fifty Valentine’s Days’ hugs to keep me warm.

Terry Crawford Palardy with Rick Palardy.
“Here I am, I’m closing my eyes again
Trying so hard not to see
All the things that I see…”

I do keep going back to the songs of our youth and our early years together, looking for a rationale for our sudden “death do us part.” I found a song by John Denver that I don’t remember hearing in the sixties, or even the seventies … it must have been a later composition, during the decades that we were so occupied with care for others that we had little time to listen to music together. The song is titled ‘Autograph’, and in it he sang:

“To be always with you, and you always with me…”

So, this grief thing is a challenge for me … because I tend to deny things I don’t want to believe have happened … I don’t want to believe that Rick can really be gone from my life, and my life is now expected to go on without him… the phases of grief to happen willy-nilly in whatever sequence they choose… the intensity of it varying as much as the seasons changes this tine of year.

“Say a prayer and open your heart again,
To all the love and the life that we all need to see
Always willing to shine and then …”

I don’t know that I can do that … my heart is so full of Rick’s love … I can share that love by living up to the model he set … one of generosity, kindness, compassion, empathy, physical and emotional strength shared to benefit others … it is a tall order, but when he was here with me, he was a large part of who I became,… he was the better half of me … of who I could be.

“Peace on this earth is the way
That it always can be…”

I don’t know and will never understand why Rick was taken so soon, so suddenly from us … from me… together we were one being … and I know what the world has lost with his removal. Will I be strong enough to continue to share the light that he brought into my life … into my soul … will my smaller half of me be enough?

“… To be always with you
and you always with me…”

All I can do is try. When I was a teacher, teaching the eighteenth century Reformer unit, I would tell my students to be the change the world needed, not just the change they themselves wanted to see … and to give it their best … the worst that could happen is that what you can do may not be enough … but you don’t have to do it alone. You can always encourage others to do more with you … be an example of what can be done by one, and what more can be done by many.

So I now have to take my own advice … I cannot accomplish all that Rick and I planned to do together, now without him. The synergy of his strengths and mine together seemed to amount to more than just the sum of two… I am lessened by his absence … I used to have a motto, taken from Carl Rogers, a psychologist of the twentieth century, who once said “I am not perfect, but I am enough.”

How will I be enough, anymore? And what will I be, if not enough?

Terry Crawford Palardy with Rick Palardy.  March 21, 2017
I read a book about ten years ago, the year before I switched out from sixth grade English to 8th grade Social Studies (aka: US History, nineteenth century.) It quoted someone; I forget who … but the quote was “When memories outnumber dreams, the end is near.” I used that quote in a letter to our school principal in my request to move from 6 to 8 … I said that, though I had many wonderful memories of my twenty-plus years in many grade level classrooms, I still had dreams of teaching something that would let me feel I was impacting the future generation in a civic way… He allowed the transfer, and i began the best four years of my career.

I told the truth, then. I did still have dreams …and I did have wonderful memories of all that I had been allowed to do in that school system. But memories fade in time … and one song sings of that truth: “I can’t be contented with yesterday’s glory, I can’t live on promises winter to spring….” John Denver and many others shared that song with us in the sixties and seventies… here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBGjZAYcJqc

Those four years turned out to be my last in public education … and when I had to retire due to myriad cognitive issues related to MS, I felt that my dream had ended … I lost my circle of colleagues and the energy shared at the daily meeting table … when that was my present, it was full of joy, inspiration, satisfaction … a sense of completion each June and a new beginning each September.

Those changes … those re-beginnings … those new grade levels, new contents, new challenges … they did in time take their toll; a doctor who read my MRIs told me that my brain looked about thirty years older than it should in its fifties … and I responded that he shouldn’t be surprised … I had worked it hard for many years.

The only reason I felt success and invigoration in all those changes was that I had Rick beside me … not only did he help me pack and unpack boxes of books and papers and other classroom “baggage” … he helped me make the mental shift that each change required. He and I would sit and talk about each new scenario, each new developmental level of my students … he shared in the preparation of ancillary classroom materials. Each time I began studying a new content to prepare lessons, he picked up more than his fair share of domestic duties. He believed in my dreams. He allowed my dreams room to bloom to fruition.

And when that career ended, he helped me find my way into a new one, in the quilt shop. We, together, had the shared dream of our happily ever after years … we would have our shops … we would greet customers and share our art and products … we would do that at least into our eighties, and then when we could no longer, we would rest together and remember all that we had done.

The dream died when Rick died … a large part of me died when Rick died … my dreams now are nothing more than remakes of memories. I dream of being in the school where I last taught, but am lost within the building … rooms have changed, a third floor has been added … mailboxes have been relocated, and I cannot find mine. I have no class roster; what I thought was my classroom is now a furniture showroom, the bell is ringing and i have to take attendance but know that I cannot, and my students are not accounted for … and I am to blame. This dream repeats night after night … only recently, Rick has begun appearing in the lobby of the school, and he silently, gently, takes my hand and leads me to the furniture showroom, shows me that the students are relaxing in the chairs and recliners there, and tells me that attendance no longer needs to be taken. there is nothing I need to do there. And then he leaves. No one else knows who i am.

Someday, perhaps, he will take me with him.

 

I hear the words that friends share … that time will heal the longings that I have for my lost love. I don’t think love disappears when the one loved dies … I don’t think he chose to leave me … one of us had to be first. There is so much in my life that Rick was a large part of … and to continue and go on without him is something I cannot look forward to. One full season has passed … the entire winter, three months plus … and it still feels like just yesterday that he said “call the guys …” It still feels like yesterday that I said to them “He’s not breathing.” It seems like it was just a moment ago that he was in my arms, head leaning back on my shoulder, and I kissed his cheek and told him it would be alright, ‘the guys’ were here … and then when I told them that he wasn’t breathing, they pulled him out of my arms and down to the floor … and I never saw him again until the doctor said it was over. I said goodbye but he was already gone. I said “I love you, Rick, always.” But I’ll never know whether he heard me or not.Time has stood still since that moment. How can time heal anything when time is standing still?

Just cruising you tube for songs that speak to me as I continue to wonder why Rick had to leave so suddenly … and I stumbled across this song, translated by Rod McKuen from the French “Ne me Quitte Pas” … There are other recordings of this song that share the lyrics as well, but none are as resonant of the emotions I am feeling as this one.

I listen for Rick every morning, as he always rose before me. I listen for him every noon, as he always came to find me and ask what I’d like for lunch. I listen for him every night as he slept restlessly with pain in his neck and shoulder, but his side of the bed is still.

I continue to pray to have the return of our life together. I pray that this is a bad dream from which I have not yet awakened. I pray that this next morning I will awaken, and find him there with me, and all will be as it was, and our happily ever after will continue uninterrupted.

But I do awaken each morning, only to find that he has gone away. I close my eyes, and try to awaken again, and again, and again.

She has a soulful voice. She sings my thoughts. But there is no longer an “If” for me…

 

Rick, you are my special angel … I feel your presence in the morning when Pretty Kitty wakes me up with a touch of her gentle paw … I know you are with me when I’m paying the bills and I double and triple check everything before sealing the envelopes … And when I go to bed, I tell you about the day in case you missed something, and then say a decade of the rosary for you and for me, Then Pretty Kitty comes up to the foot of the bed, and we sleep in peace, knowing you are out there somewhere, and trusting that I can find you when it’s time.

March 24    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr97MQiqW38I had a nice visit today from friends … helped Mary reacquaint herself with her sewing machine, and helped Pam find just the right color for her new quilt, and a back for the group’s newest quilt made to honor a local veteran’s service … and enjoyed the frozen yogurt Paul brought to me from Jeff and Maria‘s.

Of course, Rick would have enjoyed such a visit as well, as we often had in the past few years while running and sharing our happily ever after shops. I want to believe that he is still nearby, and that he knows he is always in my thoughts, and always in my heart.

As this song says, “If I had to live my life without you, the days would all be empty, the nights would seem so long.”

This is true … I had never lived on my own before now … I went right from my parents’ house into our marriage; it is not a scary feeling, but just a wary feeling … Rick was always here … always a strength in my life. I like to think I was that for him, as well. Living on, without him, takes a lot of concentration and effort, because we really were a team, and now he’s missing in the daily activities we’d always shared. But I am not really alone. Not really.

Friends and family visits make this time a bit more tolerable, and I do appreciate those shared moments with people who knew Rick and loved him for who he was as much as for what he did.

We knew one of us would have to go first, and one of us who have to be left behind … I just pray that when it is my turn, he will be right there beside me, and I won’t lose my way. In the meantime, this song sings the truth: “Nothing’s gonna change my love for you”, Rick. Nothing. Ever.

 

In the past few years, both Rick and I began commenting on the beauty surrounding us here in New England … we would often comment on the sky, the cloud formations, and the stars at night when we traveled to Maine and back. We had a favorite spot on the back roads coming home from Market Basket in Rowley where we would sometimes see a family of deer in a meadow, usually at dusk. Watching the foliage change in late summer to autumn was easy to do right here at home. We enjoyed seeing nature in all her glory each October. I just saw the crocus coming up by our front door late last week, but didn’t have the camera with me. They, of course, are now buried in slush snow, but I’ll try to snap a photo tomorrow if the sun has melted it all. I wanted to show them to Rick when I saw them, but he isn’t here to share that little harbinger of Spring. He would have smiled, and reached down to tug the fall debris from around the small buds.

This song captures what Rick and I felt about our beautiful setting. But it’s a little less wonderful, this world, without Rick in it.

Found this song last night … it struck me that Rick took his last breath in my arms … it is nice to think that his “last breath here was his first one over there.”

When I visited the psychiatrist (who has treated me for these past six years since retirement for the clinical depression that followed the diagnosis of MS ten years ago) I asked him if he thought my current med dosage might be too high now. I explained to him that I hadn’t cried much through the funeral and the days that followed.

He reminded me that the depression is the result of chemical imbalances and the preponderance of lesions in my brain, and that the dosage of the med was treating that imbalance, and would have no physical effect on the grief that Rick’s death brought to me.

He reminded me, too, that we all grieve differently, in ways that we are able to handle. He said I have experienced so many challenges in life … not only my own diagnosis and resulting early retirement, but my parents’ illnesses and dependence, and the challenges that others in our family have faced … he reassured me that my coping skills were a direct result of the strength that I had developed in the course of living through these challenges.

I reminded him that one of my greatest sources of strength has always been the love that Rick and I shared, and that without him, I didn’t know where that strength would come from as I try to move ahead. And he pointed out that I was talking to him about vulnerability and loss, and my eyes were tearing up. And that he believed that I would come to realize that the strength would stay with me.

In thinking about that conversation, now more than a month ago, I continue to be amazed that I am holding it together when sitting with family and friends, and that the return of vulnerability happens only when I am alone, and with that come the tears.

Rick built such strength in me … he was my bridge over troubled waters, time and time again. It is a gift he gave me, and one I will protect and treasure along with the love he left to me. I have to trust that it will stay with me, as I move forward in this century of troubled water…

Some days, some nights … some are harder than others. Today began with weak knees, unexpected but familiar to me, and I told myself that they would strengthen in just a short while if I just took slow steps. Within a few minutes my knees were steady again. It’s the first time something like that has happened since Rick was taken away from me.

The rest of the morning was fine, and at noon I opened the shop. I hung the open banner out front, and turned the picket by the door from its closed side to say open … and then brought the mail inside. I threw away all of the flyers and put the two bills on the table to be paid. I would write the checks later, after the shop was closed. If Rick were still here, I might have written them out earlier, as I knew he would cover the shop while I wrote. If I write them and get interrupted, I might not remember to come back to them. Much of what I do always involved Rick at my side, always willing to remind me if I needed a reminder. Always so kind, and gentle.

I was hungry and remembered to eat lunch. The shop remained quiet all afternoon, without visitors. At four I turned the television on to catch the early news. I poured a mug of coffee, and as I put it on the side table by the couch, I bent a bit and something turned wrong in my back. As I tried to straighten up, I realized I couldn’t … and remembered the funny thing with my knees this morning. I tried to take a step but realized my right leg was still bent, almost as though in a genuflection. And I knew again that Rick could not come to help me straighten up.

I picked up the phone, and called Rob’s number to see if he was working or at home. He was on his way home, he said, and I asked him to stop by to pull the open signs in as I didn’t think I could get out to the shop. He said he would be there in about ten minutes.

A customer pulled into the driveway just then, and so I began to walk, still bent over, to the back door. By the time I got there, my back was a little straighter. I talked with her, told her I couldn’t be much help, and she said no worries, I’ll come back on another day.

Rob pulled in, and I told him it was a little bit better already. He brought the signs in, and I thanked him and told him I would be fine and he didn’t need to stay.

I thought again of Rick, of him always worrying if I had a weakness in my legs … all those stories we were told when I was first diagnosed with MS … the common comment that in ten years I would be needing a wheelchair … all the fears that never came to pass … it was so easy for me to casually toss those cares to the wind because I knew Rick would always be beside me, and help me walk just that little bit to get my muscles working again.

I still deny this diagnosis … it has been ten years since all those tests yielded the label … I understand now that MS does not mean the same thing to everyone who wears the label … I’ve compromised with myself to accept an altered label; this is one of many dysautonomias … and I might never need that wheelchair. But I could believe that easier when Rick was always with me. It is easy to be brave when a Rick has your back.

So this little song, which my sister Pat found and sent to me, does hold some truth for me. I am jealously missing Rick’s presence here beside me, and pray that those with him in Heaven know how lucky they are. And that they know that Rob’s place now is in his home, beside his wife. I want that freedom for him. And I pray that all those in heaven who have Rick with them will send some strength my way so that I can continue to be fine on my own.

Rick and I had an opportunity in 2004, after the last of our parents passed to their peace, to take a trip that we had often thought about. He and I both had grandmothers who had come here from Scotland. We also both shared Canada as a place that we had grandparents emigrate from to come to the USA. Of course, Rick also had a great grandfather from Spain, and I had a great grandmother from Ireland.

We both enjoyed the music of John McDermott, and of the Irish Tenors, and Celtic Women. One that we both listened to silently was “The Old Man,” and we both thought quietly through that song of our dads … both of them passed away after spending many months in our company, When each of our fathers passed into that long sleep before death, we had time to collect our thoughts, make the necessary plans, and send them off with prayers for their eternity and with the relief that their illnesses and challenges were over.

But when Rick died in the early hours of Christmas morning, there was no quiet time leading up to it … there was no hint that Christmas Eve was our last day together. We had been invited to share the evening with friends … we had been invited to share the evening with family … but for the first time in many years, we had the evening at home, just the two of us. It was not by plan … we hadn’t designed that last evening, nor did we do anything special during it. The last thing I did before heading upstairs to sleep was to post something on his Facebook wall … something about the worth of a man being measured not by what he bought but by what he built.

The last thing Rick did before turning off his computer and settling back in his recliner to sleep was to ‘like’ that final post on his wall.As I went up the stairs I said I love you, and he answered with his own I love you, too. Had I known he would die a few hours later, I would have stayed downstairs with him. But we didn’t know that the end of our time together was so very close.

Both our fathers lived full lives. Rick and I had completed our years as employees and did enjoy those few years of our happily ever after … but we both thought there would be at least another decade ahead. We visited Scotland, we visited both family cities in Canada, but we didn’t have time to go to France or Spain or Ireland … instead we made the best of our setting here at home. And home is where our memories are now. And though this song is one we listened to and thought about our dads, he is a part of memories now, also.

105 days ago Rick left us suddenly, and we said our sad goodbyes to this wonderful man. He was certainly my hero … and I’m sure his daughter and son and grandchildren see him as a hero, too.

That he left us in the beginning hours of Christmas morning was such an irony … if any person lived Christmas all through the year, it was Rick. He so often thought of others before himself. He generously gave of his time and talent and resources to make life happier, safer, and better for so many.

Rick had many plans for what he would make for members of our family, and for customers in our shops. He would hear of a need and find a way to help meet it … at our town library, on our town soccer fields, at the Erie 4 fire station … and in our own shops. He didn’t just plan things … he followed through and delivered on each planned idea.

He met every need that existed here at home … anticipated every need in our shops … he took care of the structures, the landscape, the snow in our driveway … he painted our house, rebuilt the tractor shed, helped construct the new workspace in the barn, built all the shelves for the fabric, painted the new floor in the workshop upstairs … Rick always left everything better than he found it. And if he couldn’t do something alone, he would hire someone capable and equipped to do it for us, and pay them fairly for their time and skill.

Maybe God felt he had done everything possible here on earth, and it was time for him to go along to his just reward of eternal peace. We are left here to follow through and meet every need responsibly, with care and expertise that we either develop ourselves or hire someone to do it and pay them fairly, as Rick would do.

One quarter of the first year without Rick has just ended with the month of March. Some days, it feels like it was just yesterday, and other days it feels like he has been gone forever already.

But, I guess Heaven was needing a hero … and as Christmas day began, many more people would be living in the spirit to which Rick dedicated every day of his life, every day of every year … maybe Christmas was the right time to take him off duty and bring him home to Heaven, and to rest. There are many of us here to carry on that spirit that he so beautifully modeled for us.

I’ve been busy this past week, Rick, getting all my ducks in a row to set your scholarship fund in motion… I called a few banks, decided to stay right here in town with the bank that has customer-friendly hours and a staff that always has a smile.

TD Bank is going to hold a ‘money market’ account in the name of “The Rick Palardy Scholarship Account.” And the young bank manager even authorized the first donation ~ from the bank!

Then I set about, asking one friend to make flyers promoting the fund, and asking another to review and edit my press release and send it out to our local papers. See, I’m learning that I can’t do it all by myself anymore, and delegating or at least asking for help isn’t so bad after all.

Today, I set up a Facebook page for the scholarship account, (called “The Rick Palardy Scholarship” ) because i know I can fund it for a while by myself but I won’t live forever and there will still be more kids graduating from high school and needing a jump-start in the workplace. I remember that in every gift-giving instance during the first years of our marriage, all you ever wanted was another toolbox. We’d go out to buy one, and it would go to work with you. The tools, you bought from the Snap On Tools truck that traveled from one industrial plant to the next, selling tools to the workers who knew how to use them. You often worked overtime to have enough money beyond our house budget to pick up the extra set of wrenches, or the metric set in addition to the standard, or new calipers … all those things cost money and you were expected to “come-with” when you worked in manufacturing. And so you did.

You and I often talked, Rick, about the changes in high school education. Your dad was a hard-working laborer, and wanted something ‘better’ for you. He was not in favor of your leaving Georgetown High to go to Haverhill Trade School. You did finally transfer, but a year later than you might have. You stuck with it, though. You got a great education at that school … practical math that made sense when applied to the sheet metal fabrication you worked at outside of academic hours … geometry made sense, more than Algebra. You were good at working to ‘close tolerance’ and took post grad courses on the job to master the NC controlled machines that eliminated the daily need for those algebraic equations. And then you applied for and received the Georgetown Town Scholarship the first year they opened it up to adults … and you went to my old alma mater, Northern Essex Community College and took Cad Courses …You had such a good eye for sizes and shapes … and how many times did I, with my college degrees, ask you which was larger, a football field or an acre? You patiently answered me each time. If you were here, I would ask you again, because i cannot remember, or mentally image, the answer.

So I looked for a song tonight, rather than hearing a song and remembering a part of our lives together. I only found one that talks about a job that doesn’t necessarily require a college education, but one that serves the public in a very necessary way.

Here’s to you, Rick, and all of Blue Collar America!

 

Oh, Mother Nature is so mixed up … 85 degrees today, and snow just a week ago. I guess, Rick, I can turn the cellar light off now, as the water pipes aren’t likely to freeze. They only do that in single digit temps … I remember you telling me that. You were so clever in realizing that a single light bulb just above where the pipes pass along the fieldstone wall would keep the water unfrozen on such nights.

Nothing froze this winter, Rick, and all the precautions you took this fall, knowing that you would not be able to lift or fix things with your arm in the sling … all those precautions were invaluable to me, as I went through my first winter without you at my side. What a scary thought that was, the week after your funeral. When the calendar page turned from 2016 to 2017, with months of winter yet ahead … I almost panicked. But when I looked around, and saw the nice flat driveway … the new roof on the barn … the stacked firewood … I knew that I would make it.

I was not alone much during that first month without you … friends and family kept me company, and kept me busy. Lunches out with friends … Trish here every other weekend … Rob stopping in with Pepper and Heather to see if I needed anything done. I called him at the end of last week and asked if he could come by and close the shop, take in the signs … my back went kerflooey as it sometimes does. He was on his way home from Lexington, and was here in the driveway in ten minutes, and took care of closing it up. I told him then to go on home, as I was beginning to feel relief, having taken a few Advil. I didn’t want him to feel he had to stay with me, as I knew he’d worked a 24 hour shift and would want to be home with Heather. I remember wanting to have you home with me on those nights that you were called out to your parents, or to a fire. There is nothing better than being at home with the one you love after a long day at work, whatever the job is.

Remember that first September when we were dating? I was new in college, and you were at the Trade School, and working nights to pay for your beautiful new Torino… it is soothing to remember just sitting in the car, listening to music and talking

Rick’s 1969 Torino GT, with double racing stripes 

with each other when you would pick me up to bring me home from my part time job in the evenings… we both had homework, and sometimes helped each other … September was always a happy month for me, and I think you, and many who are still in school, for the pressure had not yet built up, and the weather was, indeed, mellow, as the song says.

The temps today belied the fact that it is just Spring. Summer is most often my nemesis, as the heat does me in … but you always knew how to help me cool off, as we’d ride along the shore and feel the sea breeze, and once the sun had gone down, we’d get out of the car and sit on the sea wall and talk, and talk, and talk.

April 12 2017

I’m reading another memoir, this one written by a favorite author, C.S. Lewis, who wrote the Narnia books among many others. This one is called A GRIEF OBSERVED, and is a narrative written in his journal in the days and weeks that followed his wife’s death.

Hers was a death that was anticipated, as she had cancer. So many of my teacher friends had and died of cancer in the eighties and nineties … death was a given once the diagnosis was made in those decades. The phrase “I want her back” is the one he wrote that resonates with me.

That same phrase appeared in the other book I’d read, a memoir of an unexpected death of a husband, and very similar to what I experienced Christmas Morning.

Last night, Rick did come back in my dreams … and I was so surprised to see him, and immediately hugged him close and began to apologize for what had happened … and he just listened and hugged me and said it wasn’t my fault … it wasn’t the guys’ fault … it just happened the way it happened.

And then I began telling him that I’d saved one pair of shoes and one pair of sneakers, his favorite pajamas, just a few shirts, and showed him where they were in his bottom drawer. I told him of the many shirts that now made up quilts for Rob and Heather and Trish and me, and for Zoe and Tristan, too… and he hugged me again and said it was okay, he didn’t need all those shirts anymore.

It was so strange, talking with Rick in a dream and knowing that it must be a dream … and that he would be gone when I woke up. I didn’t want to wake up … I wanted that dream to go on forever. But to not wake up would add sadness to the sadness that envelopes all those left here missing him. And so I did wake, and he was no longer back with me … he was still gone, and missed.

And so, I think of John Denver’s verse in this song…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrovGPLw9SQ

“Though the body in passing must leave us
There is one who remains to receive us
There are those in this life
Who are friends from our heavenly home

So I listen to the voices inside me
For I know they are there just to guide me
And my faith will proclaim it is so
We are never alone

Yesterday I had a dream about dying
About laying to rest and then flying
How the moment at hand is the only thing
We really own

And I lay in my bed and I wonder
After all has been said and is done for
Why is it thus we are here
And so soon we are gone”

 

April 13, 2017

I love this recording of John Denvers “Follow Me.” He was singing about having to leave his wife at home when he traveled to sing his songs to audiences. I don’t know how she was supposed to follow him, as he admits in the introduction that he couldn’t afford to bring her along. Yet their separation would be over once he returned to his wife and his home.

I wonder if Rick wanted, in those last moments, to be followed … “places where I’m going to, and places where i’ve been …
“to have you there beside me and never be alone …
“all the time that you’re with me we will be at home.”

But how could I follow him … I didn’t know that he was leaving at that moment. I knew that I could follow him to the hospital, where I could see him, and talk with him and his doctors, and help him feel better, and be better… Bit it didn’t happen that way … he left so quickly, and then he and I were in separate places, alone, without each other…
“… make it part of you to be a part of me …” and we were a part of each other. There is a hole within me that is empty … is there a hole within him?

We had been together for forty six and a half years, with very few nights apart. And now we are alone, but not alone. There are others with us, but we are not together. I am in our home, but he is not…
“to be there where i can talk to you when there’s no one else around… follow me up and down, all the way and all around…”

But, as I said the day Rick died, ‘there never was a better man…” There was nothing Rick could do to anticipate that final moment, or to avoid its happening. And in the instant that it happened, I knew there was nothing I or anyone else could have done differently to prevent its finality. I have to believe that he will come back for me…
“take my hand and I will follow you.”

April 15 at 10:44pm ·

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHEd4SMMZpI

There was a year in the seventies when Rick and I had the very best of intentions … we remembered to leave the door unlocked so the Easter Bunny would be able to come in to leave a basket for our daughter. And just to make it more exciting, she had lost a tooth that day and so the Tooth Fairy was expected to stop by as well!

Two very tired parents kissed her goodnight and sat down on the couch to relax after a day of coloring eggs, picking up the house and making sure the Easter outfits were ready for the morning. Both sets of Grandparents were expecting our little family for Easter visits, and there would be lunch at one house and dinner at the other.

I had brought Easter surprises home in the back of our truck that night. We had only one vehicle then, and on that Saturday I had driven myself to work, at a department store in Haverhill. Rick was home with Trish, coloring eggs. But we had a plan. Rick would make sure the Easter Bunny’s basket made it into the house, and I would make sure the coin from the Tooth Fairy would be in place before she woke up in the morning.

But the best laid plans of mice and men, bunnies and fairies as well, ‘gang aft agley’… or go awry … and we fell asleep sitting on the couch. We woke to a tearful daughter standing in front of us, sadly telling us that the bunny hadn’t come, and there was no coin under her pillow from the tooth fairy.

Rick jumped up, went to the front door, said that he would go outside and look around. i brought Trish into the kitchen to start breakfast. In just a minute’s time, Rick was back with the basket of goodies that the Easter Bunny had left out on the deck! And in his hand he had a shiny quarter that he found on the deck next to the basket … and we all said “Ohh…. the bunny met the tooth fairy on the deck, and they got talking, and forgot to bring the things into the house!” It was, after all, our first Easter in our own house … we agreed to leave a note for the bunny on the deck next year letting him know that he could come in and leave the basket at Trish’s door.

Phew! These things are very important to a six year old!

 

April 17 at 10:08pm ·

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx_ktGU3-tQ

As I think again of that early morning, Christmas Day, I can feel Rick leaning back on me to rest as the paramedic checked his blood oxygen … Softly… almost weightless his head rested on my shoulder, his face next to mine. That is the moment I believe he left me. His eyes were closed … there was no final word, no sound at all. He might have just fallen asleep, but there was no breath. I turned to tell him once again that it would be alright … the guys would help … but as I began to whisper those words to him, I saw that he was gone.

The calendar pages have turned now four times since that early morning. i am still in disbelief that Rick will not be coming back into the house … will not be here to say he’s going to NH to buy wood, and ask if I want to go with him … will not be here to remind me that the forsythia are blooming out front …

As I wrote to a friend of mine today in an email …
Rick was my greatest ally, strength, supporter and believer. I feel changes in my ‘passive patience’ ahead, and will need to be more direct in denying that which is not a part of who I am… who I was … and who I will become. Rick was often my filter … we would talk things through, and at times his silence spoke volumes to me. I knew without words when he agreed or disagreed with where I was heading in a conversation. His beautiful eyes were so expressive … they showed me his agreement, his enjoyment, his disagreement, his encouragement and his discouragement. They showed me his love and admiration and trust in me. I pray mine showed him the same.

God, I miss him and always will.

But I cannot willfully join him, not yet … there is still more to do here. If life decides I have done enough and hastens me along, so be it. But that is not my judgement to make … not my course of action to take … there is so much that Rick did and gave for me … I have a lot yet to pay forward.

April 18 at 10:32pm ·

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDWNpSLT3pU

“You ask me if there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you
Never my love…
You wonder if this heart of mine
will lose its desire for you
Never my love…”

Wherever you are, Rick, i love you.
Whatever you are thinking, I love you.
You were sure before I was sure
You were strong before I was strong
But you taught me to trust
You taught me so many things about life.
I will never grow tired of you,
Nor lose my longing for you.

I understand that you are not coming back
to our forever home … but I will stay here, just in case.
This home is one where the second half of our marriage happened, and while not every memory of those years is a happy one, every one of them has you and I together and that made all of them possible to survive, and to succeed.

Whatever you are now, Rick, I love you
Whatever your eyes look upon now, I love you
You supported us before I was ready to do so
You supported our homelife when I was no longer able to do so
You taught me patience, and faith in ourselves
You taught me to voice my wishes and plans and follow them
I could never have done so without you at my side.
I know going on without you here will be difficult, and different

But I believe you are where I will be one day
i believe that death is not an end, but a change in path
A change in place, a change in self,
And wherever we will be
Whatever we will be
i trust that we will be so together,
because I love you, always.
And our love will never end.

 

April 19 at 11:06pm ·

Rick, you would have enjoyed the day with us today. Pat and I went down to Halifax to visit with Alicia and Nora, and we brought Jen and Charlie to meet them. There are some great photos on Pat‘s page, and I shared a few here.

Alicia little daughter Nora is a sweet little charmer … … Nora is walking now, on her tiny little feet, not yet a year old. And she was quite taken with her new cousin Charlie.

I wish you could have been there to see how much Nora looks like Alicia … I know you would have looked at her tiny hands and remembered Alicia’s, too. I remembered how you and Alicia used to match the sizes of your hands each time you met, year by year. I told Chloe, who was also visiting with us, that you loved her and told me to tell her that. She smiled…

I see in the pictures how much this winter has aged me. But it was fun to spend the day with Stacey as a grandmother, Rick Reed as a grandfather, Pat as a grandmother … and Alicia and Jen as new mothers, sharing tips and resources with each other.

Tonight I’ll put the trash out front, and tomorrow I’ll open the shop at noon time. I’ve been putting extra bags out, two by two each week for the truck to take, keeping up with the clutter-clearing Trish has been doing for and with me.

Pretty Kitty was happy to see me come home tonight, a little later than we had planned … she is beginning to circle my ankles when i get her food and water in the morning and again at night.

I’ll see Trish in Maine this weekend, for her birthday. Our friend Laura dropped off a special cake for Trish, and I know she will like it … it’s one your mother used to make for her. I’ll be listening to the fifties and sixties music all the way up to Maine, thinking of you and listening for your voice as i sing along with them.

I love you, always, and miss you.

 

 April 21 2017

Well Rick, it’s another rainy day. The shop has been open for almost four hours, with an hour to go today, but there have been no customers visiting. Normally, I’d be out there puttering around, straightening fabric on bolts, sweeping the floor, dusting the shelves … but it is only 41 degrees out, and I’m sure the same in the shop.

Remember the day I lost my rings? I was sure they were in the shop somewhere, and I searched and searched the floor, the lower shelves … anywhere that they may have slipped and fallen to. When it’s cold in the shop (you know I mean really cold, as on winter days) my fingers seem to shrink and the rings slide off.

When I couldn’t find them, I asked you to come downstairs and help me look. We looked together in the shop, in the house, and on the patio between, but had no luck. A friend of yours from the fire department even came over with a metal detector to see if he could get a reading on them, but no luck again. I hadn’t handled any rubbish that day, but we went through the bins anyway. Still, no rings to be found.

I tried not to worry … you told me not to worry … they would turn up somewhere we hadn’t checked. Rings don’t just disappear into thin air, you reminded me, and they would be found eventually. I still worried, though. The rings were special to me … they were from you, after all. They were a symbol of our love.

A few weeks went by … many prayers to St. Anthony, and many re-searches … but still no rings were found. When our friend Laura came into the shop one day, I told her of the missing rings, and she helped me look for a while, too. But still, no luck.

Laura came back a week or so later to pick up some fabric for a quilt she was working on. She had seen it while we were looking for the rings. It was on the top shelf, though, and she asked if I could reach it and bring it down. I stood on my tip toes and reached for the top of the bolt to angle it out and down … and when I did, I heard a clink clink sound, very quiet but right at my feet – and there were my rings! They had been resting all this time on the top of the bolt of fabric where they must have slipped off as i set that bolt back into the row on the top shelf… another winter day when my fingers were cold and shrunken in size.

I gave Laura a big hug and had tears in my eyes when I thanked her for asking for that one particular bolt of fabric. And I thanked St. Anthony, and when I went into the house I told you the rings had been there all along, just as you had said they must be.

Today is Trish’s birthday, and it is still awfully close to freezing rain outside. No wonder the quilters are not shopping today. I’m quite content sitting here on the couch, typing to you and remembering times we spent together.

I miss you, Rick, every day and every night. But I have been busy with friends and family, dinners and suppers out, quilting and chatting.

Thinking of you now and always, with love and longing.

This will be a busy week, Rick, and it’s not even the first week of the month (which was always busy for us, with meetings at the fire station, the library, the mind mapping group and the needlecrafters guild.)

I drove into Brighton today to see the dermatologist … he expressed his surprise and sorrow at your death. He didn’t find anything to biopsy … just a few spots on my back to cryo-freeze with his nasty spray. I made the drive in and out without too much traffic, and OnStar guiding me. I didn’t go 128 when it was suggested, but didn’t stay on the expressway to the Mass Pike, either. Instead i got off at route 16 in Charlestown, and followed neighborhood streets through Summerville, Medford, Cambridge, and finally Brighton. The first parking space was open and I slid into that, a full hour early for my appointment. I didn’t try to cross the street to the little cafe where we usually would have lunch; I just went upstairs to sit and wait, not wanting to push my luck. The ride home was the same … about an hour, reasonable traffic, route 93 after lots of city streets.

The good news is that, for the first time, I don’t have to go back in three months … I can wait six months and see him in the fall.

Erie 4 has their Spring Roast Beef Dinner this Saturday, and the library has their Books ‘n Bloom and Quilt display the same night. That happened before a few years ago, and you attended Erie and I attended the library … I’m not sure I can do both, and have the shop open for a few hours as well. Life is harder without you beside me, Rick. I miss you so much!

You are always on my mind, Rick. Every time I do something that you and I always did together, your absence aches. I said in an email to a friend today, I’m not recognizing expected ‘stages of grief …’ I’m just stuck in one that I would have to call confusion … I don’t understand why this happened to you, and to us. But, as the Seekers sing, I know I’ll never find another you! In truth, I’ll never look for another you. No one would ever replace you in my life … big shoes to fill for anyone else … and memories of you will have to be enough.

Once, a long time ago, someone told me that the lasting love in my life would be my husband’s … for after our parents were gone, and after our children were grown, we two would be left alone, and would share the rest of our lives with each other. I can’t remember now who told me that. It must have been a time when i was worried about splitting our time between our parents’ needs and our children’s needs … and this person asked me about my own time, and my husband’s own time, and our time together.

I didn’t find it a helpful comment at the time, but i look back at it now and wonder whether that comment so long ago did rest in my mind and come to fruition only when our parents were gone and our children were grown. There were still many others in our lives, but we both knew that our together time was our priority. And while we didn’t know that those years would be cut short and end decades before we thought they would … we enjoyed every one of those days as though we did know it might be our last.

And now, with Rick gone, and our parents gone and our children grown and our grandchildren grown, I am left wondering who and how to prioritize now… I don’t want to be the presence in my children’s lives that our parents were in ours… I want them to continue to have space to grow in life and love as we could these past years … I love them and I celebrate them but i don’t want to ‘own’ them. I love the hours we can spend together, but I don’t feel a need to count them or mark them on a calendar.

Sadly, my classrooms of students are gone, my colleagues are gone, my career as a teacher is gone. I don’t knit any more. I sew a little less often as the months since Rick’s passing go by … he was my co-planner, my third and fourth hand for manipulating the fabrics … my rescuer when I needed his help and advice. I still want to believe i can continue making quilts for others, but have to be honest and refuse some requests now,

My reading and reviewing books for other authors has diminished with the increase in my cognitive issues. And my writing books has stalled for more than a year now. I have all I can do to keep up with food shopping, meal preparation, the laundry, paying the bills, shoveling the winter snow, sweeping the floors in the kitchen and shop, and soon the raking and yard work … things that Rick and I would do together, with and for each other. Each of these things takes longer now, as distractions pull me away from finishing one before I start another. Some of these things I will need to hire others to do for me. I’ve already begun some of that.

I do have this new career, teaching quilting to young and old, sharing fabrics at reasonable prices with other quilters, and sharing the making of quilts with them as well. It all seemed so possible and doable when Rick was beside me. I joined Rick in belonging to Erie 4, and he joined me in belonging to the Friends of the Library. He and I would go to quilt guild meetings and vend fabrics and notions … we would go places to share what we’ve learned about vintage and antique sewing machines and their maintenance. He would build new wooden bases for some, and we would polish up faded decals and remove old wirings and install new hand-cranks … and it was all fun, and productive, and we enjoyed learning and doing these things together. But to do those things now is again more than i can promise alone…

i am still trying to continue to be ‘the new me’ … the me I became when I was no longer the school teacher … the me that was simply Rick’s wife, his partner, his collaborator and co-worker. how much and how long I can continue to do remains to be seen. I am not a quitter … neither was Rick. He was called away from me – he was often called away to fires, or meetings, or drills, or his parents’ … but he always came back. He’s not able to come back now, and I’ve accepted that. i guess now i have to accept that decisions have to be made relative to what he used to do here on earth … and how much I can do of his part while still doing mine. It’s not going to be easy to decide, nor to do.

I miss him … and I miss all of his capabilities as well. I love him so much, and while I’ve accepted his passing, i don’t understand the rhyme or the reason for it…

April 27, 2017

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkI-B2JWSZI
The sun actually came out today, Rick! And the temperature was in the high fifties, and I opened the front door of the shop to let the warmth in. One customer came in and loved the shop .., it was her first visit, but she will be back, I’m sure. I told her all about the ‘Feel Good Shopping’ program, and she left a donation in the envelope for the kids lunch program.

The donations for the lunch program are slow but steady, and I’ll keep bringing them over to the superintendent at the end of each month. From September through March, we’ve collected from quilters and donated from the shop almost $600.

And the donations to your scholarship for graduating seniors heading into trade and/or public service jobs are coming in as well. TD Bank set up a special account and made a donation of their own to it. Remember when, back in 1971, they were called Family Mutual Savings Bank, and they offered a bank account to Trish (and every child born in Haverhill) with an opening deposit of $1.00? I told the bank manager that his branch’s donation to your scholarship account reminded me of that, and that Rob’s infant account still exists today.

I remembered today that the fourth quarter real estate taxes are due May 1st, and wrote the check after calling the tax collector’s office to get the amount quoted, as I’ve long since lost the paperwork they sent out four or five months ago. But I’ll get better at the paper files now that Trish has spent time here weeding and sorting the files. Then I walked downtown to put it and other bills in the mailbox at the square. I took Dad’s cane, but didn’t really need or use it until I was almost home. I miss being able to hold your hand when I walk outside … much warmer and comfortable than the wooden cane can be, though it does try to bring memories back of walking with you.

“And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star…”

I know you’re out there, somewhere, Rick, and I believe that we can be rejoined eventually. When I’m walking, I’m always wondering … where are you … do you know where I am … where will we meet again … when will that be … will so much time go by that we won’t recognize each other … could that ever happen to us … if I live a long life and my memories diminish, will i still have my memories of you … enough to help us recognize each other…

No answers to those nightly questions, though i can imagine you saying “Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.” I’ll trust you with that, hon. I love you, always. I miss you, night and day.

4/28/2017

I remember listening to this song when Rick and I were dating … both still students, both with part time jobs, and both pretty certain that we were a permanent couple, beginning to make plans to join hands in marriage when classes were a part of our past.

We were seventeen that first summer together. I had a curfew of midnight – he didn’t need a curfew as a result. We would go to the stock car races at the Pines in Groveland, but always have to leave before the last race to make my curfew.

We had both dated others before we dated each other, but those dates were sometimes in the afternoon at a ballgame, or a miniature golf course, or at a movie. We would see each other on Sunday mornings and talk about the date we might have had that weekend … and about who won the ball game, or the golf score, or the movie.

When we decided to date each other, we were already friends for a few years. But we hadn’t met each other’s parents yet, and Rick hadn’t met my large family yet. One of those first dates was on Father’s Day, and it was at his aunt and uncle’s house in Salem Mass. They had just planted some new grass earlier that spring, and we had to be careful not to step on it; instead, the lawn chairs were set up on the freshly sealed hot top driveway. I remember that my white shoes picked up some of the tar, and I was embarrassed. His aunt was sympathetic, and his uncle was distracted at the grill, and never noticed it. I wondered whether the lawn chairs would leave marks on the tar … always a worrier, I was.

Another early date was at my parents’ home for a Sunday dinner … all the sisters and brothers who were married and lived within a hundred miles were expected each Sunday, and after dinner the young men played football on the front lawn while their wives were in the house cleaning up the dishes … something I always tried to find a way to escape, and usually managed. I’d go outside and offer water to the players. I would have kept score except that i had no clue how score was kept in football … one point for this, six for that … made no sense to me.

By the end of that first year, everyone had met everyone and our engagement was known to all. School and work continued for both of us, and homework and home chores also took some time. But our commitment to each other grew stronger … which is why I loved this song then, and especially now.

Rick is gone, but I will spend the rest of my life with his spirit nearby,
“You ask me if there’lll come a time that I’ll grow tired of you…
Never, my love. Never my love.”

And I never will, Rick. Never, my love.

April 30 at 6:56pm ·

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=999ph8iRT4o

It seems each day I recognize another skill that Rick was teaching me before our happily ever after years were interrupted by his passing.

Today I went to help one of my young quilters free up her treadle / hand crank machine. She’s working on a new quilt but found the machine not responding as it once did. We set about oiling all of its openings, and I noticed that the bobbin winder was engaged. That explained why the wheel was moving more reluctantly.

With a drop of oil here there and everywhere else applied, and the bobbin removed and replaced going clockwise, her hundred year old treadle was again up and running as a hand crank. I reminded her that if she decided to treadle with her feet instead, the hand crank would be removed and the belt replaced onto the lower wheel. All is well nowl.

I wasn’t as skilled with her newer electric machine … suspecting a loose thread might be stuck in the bobbin assembly, I removed the hook and frame from beneath the needle plate. We oiled those pieces, too, though new machines don’t usually need oiling. But I was stumped as to how to reassemble the hook and bobbin spindle. No matter which way I tried, it would not sit smoothly together to hold the bobbin case in place. I know if Rick had been there, he would have helped me remember what it looked like before I took it apart. He had fabulous visual spatial skills, and mine are much weaker.

But I packed up her electric machine and brought it home to tinker with it. I have a similar one out in the shop, and will be able to use that one as a model of what hers is supposed to look like. And I have the manual to the one in the shop, and no doubt that will help, too, But if not, I know I can go to you tube or Ismacs to find help. It was just so much easier to do this with Rick, because if I forgot something, he’d help me remember it. He was such a patient, hands-on teacher for all things mechanical. I miss him every day, and often for new and different reasons. Love you always, Rick.

There are days when I think I am making progress in learning to live by myself without you, Rick, but then there are days like today.

I have no idea what I did on Sunday to make me so tired today. But whatever it was, I slept this morning until almost noon, with Pretty Kitty not tapping my arm to wake me up. When I did get up, I found the day gray and gloomy and chilly, with the temps in the mid forties and the sun behind a gray fog. That didn’t seem to help at all.

At three in the afternoon, I went back upstairs to take a nap, after checking the calendar to make sure the day was free. I slept until five, and then got up to eat some supper. I fed the cat first, then checked the fridge but found all the veggies i bought a week or so ago had pretty much wasted away, so I had another bowl of cereal. I watched the news, then got dressed and went to Rowley to buy food.

I’m shopping more often than you did, Rick. It keeps the bags lighter that way. I’m still using the special heavy duty bags you bought for groceries. I’ve found that some of the baggers do not like them … I’m not sure why. They seem fine to me.

By the time I was heading home with the food, it was after eight pm. i stopped by Rob and Heather’s to drop off a bunch of fresh carrots with their greens still attached, as a late Easter gift for the bunnies. I didn’t stay, as I needed to get home while I was still awake. I had the high beams on almost all the way home, as there was very little traffic out and the fog had cleared away.

I’ve looked each time I pass the meadow where we used to see the deer, but I haven’t seen them. Of course, I’m probably not going by at the right time of day, and tonight if they were out, it was too dark to see anything.

When I got home, and brought the bags into the back room, I realized that i missed the town meeting tonight – we never missed a town meeting, nor an election. But I totally forgot. I had read the town warrant online, and didn’t see anything that could involve a long discussion, so I don’t feel too badly about forgetting it.

Tomorrow I’ll bring the April donation over to Perley for the school lunch program. And I’ll drop off the tax bill at the town offices, because I forgot to mail it when I took the other bills to the mailbox in the square last week. And I’ll try to remember to go to the Mind Mapping meeting.

Time to head off to sleep now, so tomorrow won’t be as short as today was. Time is going by quickly – it seems I hardly get anything done before a day ends. But, I guess that’s a good thing. I would want it to go slowly if you were still with me. I don’t mind losing these days without you.

Today was a busy day, with many visitors inside and out. A crew of hard working men came to clear some of the winter debris and old worn out lawn chairs today, and they will be back tomorrow to do more. Rick and I had talked about having this crew come in this spring during out planning last fall, when he knew that he would not be able to do heavy yard work with his shoulder surgery, so I didn’t feel guilty bringing them in to do this.

When it is all cleared out, I’ll ask Robto come over and show me how to run the lawn mower. Rick would have been able to do that one handed, but I’ll learn how to do it now. Another chore that Rick always handled for us, and even for our neighbors for many years.

A friend dropped in today to pick up some fabric for a new project, and we had a nice chat. Another friend came in to water her plants, old and new, in the greenhouse, and helped me decide how to rearrange a few pieces of furniture in the living room to accomodate a BEAUTIFUL piece of art created by one of our librarians in town for the Books in Bloom event this past weekend. I didn’t win the raffle for this arrangement (even though i put my full fourteen tickets into the jar for this one.) Another of my quilting artist friends actually won it, but generously gave it to me!

And a new student (adult) came to begin learning to sew a quilt … we had only an hour, but she picked up quickly for her first time using a sewing machine!

Then I went to another quilting friend’s home for dinner and a visit and had a very pleasant evening with them. I’m home now, and have been catching up with some emails, but just looked at the clock and realized it’s very late and i haven’t yet put the trash out front (another thing Rick always handled … so many things that I’m now learning to remember to do. I’ll have to do that now.

I’ll post a picture here of the original arrangement that now decorates our living room …  Michelle did this to portray the book titled WATERSHIP DOWN, which is one of my favorite stories about rabbits …and the song I’m posting is one that sounds like you singing about all that you always did for us… I miss you for many reasons, Rick, but mostly for the wonderful company we shared together …. I was so blessed to be with you ‘for the rest of our lives.”

5/4/2017

I’ve had four months, long,winter months, since my husband’s death, and I didn’t want even four days. I still wrestle with the why of Rick’s being taken from me, from us. I allow myself to continue to want his return, or at least to expect to be able to join him wherever he is now, and sooner rather than later. I don’t have a suicidal wish … I have a wish to have our togetherness restored as it was, for it was a wonderful togetherness and we did nothing to deserve losing it. The metaphor of grief as a fading tsunami of waves does not ring true with me, for it belies my belief that our separation was not in our destiny … we were meant to be together, for to not be together is, in truth, to not be at all.

I cannot foresee myself going forward without you by my side, Rick. I know you never intended to leave so abruptly, and I have no purposeful intention to do the same now to those still here beside me who loved and love us. But I am staggered at the thought of living on without you … There seems little purpose in doing so I am using these long months of days to get everything in order here at home and in our shops … and I am not nearly done with that, and will continue it for as long as I have still here. But at best it feels like a penance for somehow having lost you…the heaven on earth we had experienced during these brief years of retirement has now become my purgatory, and all in my belief system tells me that I have to earn my way out of it, and so I will continue to do as much as I can for as many as I can. These words echo in my ears … ” ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these … done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

There is no escaping the truth … I am lost without you, Rick. You were always there for me, and I did my best to be there for you, and don’t know what to do without you to care for and be cared for by … I am trying to find my way out of this purgatory, back to the peace and loving goodness that you and I shared, with each other and with as many others as we met along this happily ever after road. I’m trying not to lose my way, but it is a challenge. Stay with me in spirit … I am afraid of not finding you along the way.

“There are places I remember … all my life, though some have changed… some are gone, and some remain…”

The elementary school buildings I attended in the middle of the twentieth century are all gone now, or converted to condos in Southie … even the brand new catholic high school that opened the year our old one was condemned … now also gone.

The houses that our parents’ bought and treasured … after my parents had both passed, theirs was torn down and replaced with a modular home … and the house that Rick’s father built shovel and hammer … it exists now as a modernized two and a half story structure. Neither of them hold any remaining memories to be shared.

My childhood friends were lost when we left the city mid-high school. Rick’s childhood friends were lost when he left Salem mid-elementary school.

By the time we married, we both had made friends here in town, he for a decade full time and a decade half time, and me in that quick half-decade while finishing high school and attending college. Many of those friends still remain, and as we remained here in town, we’d acquired many more friends together, especially in the past decade … our happily ever after years ~ which, sadly, ended suddenly.

Because now Rick himself is gone … and his passing has left the largest hole in my life … in the life we lived together as a couple … three-quarters of our lives on earth … fifty years of our sixty-six. How can I expect myself to continue being myself when such a large part of my life no longer exists on earth?

” … some are dead and some are living … in my life I’ve loved them all … though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before, I know I’ll often stop and think about them … in my life I love you more.”

May 6 2017

“Buy them all. We can make more.”

That was the slogan Rick chose for his roadside sign for Wooden Toy and Gift. I read it each time I bring the open flag and sign out, and my eyes fill, thinking of all the things he planned to continue to make through the next two decades. This winter, summer and fall was just going to be a hiatus while his shoulder healed from surgery.

I haven’t gone upstairs in the shop yet to see what might be on his scroll saw table. I know he had begun sorting and filing (which he could do one handed) the many scroll saw patterns he’d bought from the artist half way across the world. He had bought enough of the baltic birch plywood to make quite a few plaques again once his arm was functioning normally. We were both approaching this, our fourth year with the quilt shop in the front of the barn and his Wooden Toy and Gift in the new back of the barn, and his workshop tucked upstairs with skylights and new walls, lights, ceiling fan and air conditioner. Our happily ever after was blossoming nicely, and we were so sure our businesses would see a profit by our fifth year together.

When we first opened the quilt and fabric shop, it was to make it easier for locals to buy threads and fabrics and notions without driving down a highway to a ‘big box’ store. But it was also to bring a new group of customers into our lives … and Rick’s woodworking talents changed to blend into the new atmosphere in the shop. He began making plaques that spoke to quilters and crafters and others who could appreciate hand made work. Slowly, people began to find us, and as steadily, we began to find more ways to find people.

When Rick died suddenly, I as suddenly cancelled all pending fabric orders, as I had no idea whether I could continue running the shop without him at my side. We had planned to be closed for January and February as no one would be comfortable in the poorly heated shop … a new furnace to improve that was going to have to wait until we began to show a profit, and we thought that might be in our fifth year. But when March came, it wasn’t easy to re-open the shop. Spring itself was hesitant; Mother Nature seemed to be telling me it wasn’t time yet … we were suddenly having winter snows after a very mild February. I tried three times, and each time we had another snow storm. So I decided to wait until April.

Of course, April 1st was a true Fools Day, and we had another heavy wet snow. I nearly gave up the idea of the shop then; how could I expect customers to return after so many disappointing cancellations? And April continued to challenge an opening … when the snows stopped, the rains began, and continued and continued … well into the first week of May. And this first week of the third month of trying to be open, there were no customers to be seen in our shiny new well rinsed driveway.

Still, I invited the landscape crew to come in and clear out the winter debris, and they did a wonderful job … far better than a one handed Rick and a tired Terry could have done on their own. I decorated the dogwood tree out front with plastic Easter eggs to show some optimism that Spring would eventually arrive. I guess I’ll take them down this coming week, between rain storms in the forecast.

I haven’t given up yet; I even accepted a call from one of the fabric salesmen. Jesu came to visit and brought enticing sales from Quilting Treasures, and I’ve again ordered more fabric than I have room for … but if I focus on clearing more space in Rick’s former Wooden Toy and Gift space in the new back of the barn, I am sure I will find a way to store and display the many bolts that will be delivered by the end of next week.

I am trying so hard to remain positive, for I believe that is what Rick would want me to be … he would have helped me cope with the vagaries of Mother Nature … he wouldn’t have let me give up. Next month, in just three more weeks, it will be June. I will repost the original shop hours and return to a longer work week with more open days and some evening hours … for the evenings won’t be as dark and bleak in June as they have been so far in May … or will they?

We’ll see how well I handle that change, next. The good news in all this darkness is that the Japanese Red Maple out front appears to be coming back to life after looking like it had died last summer … and the lilacs and antique azalea in front of the dogwood are also showing blossoms … it’s nice that something appreciates all the rain.

For nearly seventeen thousand nights, I closed my eyes and slept beside you, secure in the knowledge that everything, everything would be alright when I opened my eyes the next morning. I knew that you would be there when I woke, Rick… you would often be the one to wake me, with that gentle touch on the shoulder, and a kiss on the forehead … ‘Wake up, it’s time to start the day.’

May 7, 2016

For almost seven thousand four hundred nights, I slept without you at my side …Those were the twenty years and three months of nights before we were married, when I woke in my parents’ house, sometimes by an alarm clock, sometimes by the sounds of others rising to greet the morning. Most of those nights found me sleeping in ‘the girls’ room’ in South Boston … some were upstairs in my cousin Miriam’s room, and some were in my sister Kay’s living room where I stayed for that last semester of parochial school in the city.

But now, I’ve spent one hundred and thirty-three nights on my own … no longer a daughter, nor a niece, nor a younger sister living in, and suddenly no longer a wife. The birds are beginning to awaken me now, and the morning hours are lighter than during those first two months of dark winter… the light coming through my window is tinged with the green reflecting off the new Spring leaves on the Linden. Each new day, I wonder who I will be…

Often my first morning thought is of you, Rick, and I start my day with a few Hail Mary’s, asking Her intercession on your behalf, to assure that you are comfortable in your new setting … and sometimes with a request of Mary to let you know that you are in my thoughts all the time.

I dress and go downstairs, with Pretty Kitty at my side; she walks faster than I, but pauses at the top and then the bottom of the steps to be sure I am coming along … she’ll pause at her empty food dish and then return to my side with a quiet ‘mew’ to remind me that she’s hungry. I fill her dish and make my own breakfast, and the day begins on auto pilot.

And in every room, in every space, I watch in my peripheral vision to see whether I can catch a glimpse of your spirit, or a shadow of your face. If I drive somewhere, at every intersection I thank you for your helping me pull out into traffic. When I remember to bring the mail into the house I stop to sort it at the trash can, dropping the junk mail in before it lands on the table. You taught me to do that, Rick, and while I didn’t always do it then, I do now. When I put the dishes into the dishwasher I remember to use two different detergents as you did to eliminate the spots. And I smile as I imagine you smiling, seeing me follow these simple patterns.

Today I drove to Plymouth and helped friends clear out some excess fabric. tomorrow I’ll join the quilters in making quilts for our veterans. Tuesday I’ll consolidate fabrics to make room for more bolts arriving this week. Wednesday I’ll try to clear more clutter out of the office space of the shop without adding it to your spaces. All of this will depend, of course, on the temperature in the barn. But I will give it my best. I am determined to restore order in the back of the barn so that the space can be productive again. I’ll use it as a showplace for your wood art … and a place to display some of the quilters’ art, too. It’s a beautiful space that you designed and helped build, and I’ll honor that as much as I can. I know Trish will help me with some of that. Rob, too.

And when I can finally join you, whenever that is, I know I’ll be able to do so in good conscience, having left all in the good condition that you worked so hard to make it. I promise. I love you, Rick. You made the world a more beautiful place when you were here. This song is for you…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5pwTDnCGjg

 

Today was town election day, Rick. I went to vote after the quilting meeting at the senior center. Sadly, the gymnasium was nearly empty, and I heard later that the number of voters was very low.

Of course, they were missing your vote … rarely would you have missed a local election. This one held no contests, other than a write-in here and there. I don’t know the actual final tally, as I would have if I were still working the polls, but those days are behind me.

I still know quite a few who are working the polls, and said hello to most of them as i entered and then left. One of our young explorers (now a grown man and full firefighter/medic) was there on duty with the ambulance (maybe they do that as a precaution … so many elders in town?) He gave me a big hug, and offered to do anything I might need done … so very kind.

But this morning, before I went to quilting, the shop phone rang, and I answered it even though the shop is normally closed today. A voice that sounded like an elderly woman asked hesitantly if this was the number where she could reach the woodworker who made the rocking wooden motorcycle. My eyes filled as I told her, sadly, that you had died this winter. She apologized for calling, and I thanked her for thinking of you. I cried for more than half an hour after we hung up the phone.

And later in the day, after the quilting group, after voting, I came home tired and found our friend Mary working in the greenhouse, and we had tea together. Soon after that, a new customer found her way to the back door and asked if I would be opening the shop today … and of course I did … she was from Denver here visiting for her son’s graduation. When she left the shop, she said that she felt that she’d been led here by something … I told her that many customers had a similar feeling … must be happy spirits in this old barn.

Three more women came in just before she left, and for a moment there was a strong feeling of happiness and warmth, and I know that you were there with me as they read some of your scroll plaques and admired your cut scissors.

For a day that began with such a strong sense of loss, it ended with warm happiness and a feeling that good things will continue to happen in the shop. I will cherish those moments when they happen … the many times that new people find the shop and wonder how they came to be here … who feel they have been led here by some sense of goodness waiting … When I would hear such things before, I always felt it was your positive, strong presence, happy in your work and happy in your love …

The feeling is still in the shop … and I will continue to believe that you still have a presence there with me, Rick. Thank you for that. I love you, always.

Rick, you would be so proud of me tonight … I took a Singer Model 66 Red Eye out of its cabinet, took all the removable parts off ~ but I did NOT remove ‘that screw which must never be removed … not THAT brave. I soaked all the shiny parts in evaporust, and tweezered an enormous amount of lint out of the throat plate, feed dogs, and bobbin area, then dared to open the face and tweezered another large quantity of lint there.

Then I used SMO and PB Blaster to clean the underside and top … the back of this one was so dusty the decals were nearly invisible – but once cleaned they are beautiful, as usual! This particular Red Eye Model 66 dates to 1921, and has the back clamping foot like my Model 27 does … I’ve only seen the two of them like that … but of course, there were 50,000 batched the day this one was, so there must be plenty more out there.

I’ll have to order a bobbin cover plate as it is, of course, missing, as so many are because people try to put it back on backwards and get frustrated and leave it off and then eventually lose it. Glad Cindy Peters always has replacement plates in stock!

I put it all back together again and will take it out to the shop in the morning to screw it back into its five drawer cabinet. The cabinet has a lot of scratches, but I’ll clean and polish it as that’s the best that can be done before she comes to collect it on Friday.

While I was clearing a path to get this one out to the front of the shop for pick up, I also moved another one out … the one that Vinnie brought over just before Thanksgiving, I think. It is also a Model 66, but dates to 1953. I plugged it in, and it runs so smoothly and quietly it must have had good care. I think I will take that one over to the senior center and retrieve the little 99 that suddenly stopped running when it was donated there. I have to figure out what went wrong with its motor, or just take it off and put a hand crank on it for them.

It’s almost midnight, so I’m heading upstairs now. I felt you with me tonight as I attacked that sewing machine … the wheel and treadle are moving so smoothly now, and it is so shiny and pretty. Thanks for the courage and skill you gave me, Rick. I wish you were here with me to finish all these things that we planned to do together. We had so much fun with these old machines … I’ll be sorry to see them gradually go to new homes, but I’m glad I’m able to send them out running well.

Oh – and this morning I figured out how to re-assemble Fiona’s bobbin hook … I’m SURE you were beside me when I finally had that A-HA moment! Here’s a song for both of us – feeling good about all that you and I learned together

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-bD0ZG5_2w

 

May 11 2017 ·

I was surrounded by friends throughout the day today, Rick. Betty and Bill came over this morning and gave their energy and sense of order and helped me restore your Wooden Toy and Gift showroom. And Karen dropped in this morning to say hello and to ask for something she needed for the land court case with her neighbor. I thought I could find it, but of course, I didn’t. She went on to work, and I called Trish and she talked with me while I looked for it and when with Trish’s help ‘from a distance’ I found the paper Karen needed I brought it over and talked with Ruth for a bit.

Lynne came by next, to bring me the painting of York River that I had bid on. She gave me a free frame with it so that it will match the Canadian Couple painting. Then Bev came by to pick up another quilt of valor for a local veteran that Betty had left with me. Bev and I had a nice chat about all the fabric we have and how to best use it all. After she left, I put the Singer Red Eye back in its cabinet, and when the hinges seemed not to fit, I did what I thought you would do … I lifted it and dropped it gently back in place once or twice, and the hinges were finally nested nicely in their round holes. You taught me not to give up, Rick. And though there were no customers in the shop today, it was a very satisfying day out there … for friends are the most important part of the Quilters’ Quarters.

And then I came into the house for a cup of coffee and turned on Facebook, and found several comments on yesterday’s post; comments always make me feel connected to friends who may not be nearby but who share thoughts and love.

I was thinking about you and the thought came to mind that you are not so alone there, either. I was thinking of the children of Sandy Hook, and that you must be enjoying their company, and they yours. Their very own toymaker! I’m sure they appreciate you … it is so important to me that you are still appreciated, wherever you are.

I keep looking for reasons for your sudden departure from our world, and that recent image is the most satisfying. I went to youtube to find a song that would link you to my thoughts of you in Heaven with others all around … and this is what I found:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT4vGIWCwTU

 5/12/2017

Every morning I heard you say
I love you.
Every evening I heard you say
I love you.

Every time you left the house
to run an errand
to go food shopping
to buy more wood
or work in the shop
I heard you say those words
I love you, too.

Every morning I say aloud
I love you
Every night I say again
I love you.

Every time I leave the house
to run an errand
to go food shopping
to put out the open sign
or later close the shop
I realize that I miss those words
I love you, too.

But every day I say again
I love you
And every night I pray you’ll hear
I love you.
Always.

Rod Stewart sings this song so quietly, just as you always said to me, so quietly, I love you. I miss you so much .,.. I miss your voice, your smile, your hugs, your strength.
I love you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scUVvlebSgk

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