Jim’s Cow

Hey. Its December 1 again. Its been a year since I posted or really wrote. I started the below long ago and never went back to it until now.
I have gotten a couple responses about how I deal with grief since that seems to be my main (only) subject. Here’s a story…
A couple weeks after my last post we were getting pictures taking of the newborn Junior and the family. When Junior one was born, I got some pictures with a cow my dad had in his cars and around the house for years. It is one of the few things I still have 19 years and 15ish residences later, that he owned. It was nice for him to be remembered that way.
The morning of the pictures I woke up and realized I wanted the deuce to recreate that photo. So, I looked where I thought it was and it wasn’t there. So, I looked in my underwear drawer and then all my clothes drawers, and the closets….and this is where the grief took over.
I needed to help pick up the house so it looks nice in photos but instead I was demolishing boxes of things in the house and then the memory boxes in the garage. The lost cow took over my head. I needed that cow. It symbolized my dad. I wanted my boys to play with it like they would him.
I started literally turning boxes over on the ground. Just dumping them. Just dumping then kicking the contents around. Tubs of electronics. By this time, I was sobbing. Like a complete snotty, ugly cry. I spent 30-45 minutes looking and just left a path of destruction in the rooms we weren’t going to be photographed.
I never found it. But needed to get ready to be photogenic. So, I took a shower and finished the ugly cries and moved on.
I forgot about it a couple days later.
Then while digging through old bills and mail and some “memories” it was in the middle. Just chillin’
The ideas of forever loss flooded me. And I sighed. I was glad it was back but sad my second kid won’t know grandpa Jim. And again the insane grief was back, and I sat in it wondering if it would ever actually be better or just more buried.
Now it’s been 20 years. More without than with. And still something that makes me turn off TV shows or divert conversations like I did then.

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Filed under Death, Freewrite, Grieving, Junior, Transparency

19

It’s been as many years without as with now. I feel like I have moved on in some ways and in others I still wake up wondering how he would help.  Wondering how much knowledge I missed getting from him.  How much I wouldn’t have failed at if I was still attempting to listen to his guidance…that no longer exists.  

As I prepare for another kiddo I once again grieve the fact he will never hold him. I once again am reminded how he would be the greatest cheerleader and helper as the day nears quickly. That he would be the fixer needed.  

This year has been filled with a lot of what ifs though.  What if I wasn’t this old and unskilled mostly.  And the one person I feel could often relate would be him. What if that accident didnt happen.  Or if he was paralyzed instead of killed.  What if blah blah blah. 

My doctor says I shouldn’t think that way on the new drugs. But I wonder a lot and play out the what ifs to long distances. 

A month or so ago I realized this was basically half way.  Basically half my life without him. The real halfway is sometime next summer. But it made me wonder if I need to keep going with the grieving. With the feeling of loss.  And the past couple weeks make me realize I need to continue to be aware.  

The little moments when junior asks about my dad and whose tummy I was in.  And who my Dada is and why I don’t have a dad like him and why I am sad when he asks too many questions.  Or when I witness cars crash and have a ton of emotions. Or when friends speak of fighting with their fathers and all I think is “at least you have a dad”.  

That this is going to continue to be something I fight with and cry about and am tired of for life. Dad’s death will always be a large part of my story.  If not a climax at least one of them. 

Because it was sudden. And I was in the middle of figuring out life on my own and become respectful of him again. I was becoming an adult and not finished yet. We were talking after teenage years of fighting.  So it wasn’t perfect and I’m not perfect with my boy(s). But the older I get the more I realize that relationship can never be replaced by another friendship.  Or another male role model. It just won’t be the same. Which makes it harder.  

And it makes me realize I won’t ever forget this day. And probably shouldn’t. 

Miss you JimMeeks. 

This is not a post asking for help.  It is my yearly ritual to acknowledge and process my dad’s death.  

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Filed under Death, Freewrite, Grieving, Junior, Overthinking, unfinished thoughts

Fireside Chats

 

Lately I have heard from a lot of acquaintances and friends about marriage issues.  Mostly on social media but a couple at lunches and dinners and phone calls.  Some are actually separated or heading for divorce, others are just really struggling.

And while the beautiful Hannah and I are relatively new to this thing called marriage, I’ve (we’ve) been at the struggling point and come up with something that works really well.  It is six questions we ask once a week or so. We call them our fireside chats because they started around a fire.  And there are a couple rules…no getting defensive or interrupting. No technology or distractions.

Also we ask them knowing what they are and let the other person finish before responding.  Knowing the questions stops us from feeling blindsided.

I’ll tell why they came about in a minute but first:

The Questions

  • What did I do to offend?

This can be simple like “you didn’t do the dishes when you said you would”, or something bigger like “you lost a paycheck gambling”.

  • How did I show you love?

Again simple can be “you cleaned the bathroom” to “you canceled plans to spend a whole day with me” to “you bought me chocolate and a new BMW”.

  • How can I show you more love?

Simple can be cooking dinner more to making time and buying flowers.

  • Where is the trust?

We found that a lot of couples lose trust in each other and stop believing what they say even when they do talk.  In our story, I broke the trust substantially and so needed to work to regain it.  By asking this I had to confront the fact I had broken it and needed to work hard to rebuild it.

  • How are we?

We weren’t always good.  We didn’t always like each other completely so needed to confess that.  But after some time of checking in, we have been “good” or “solid” since.

  • Did you tell the whole truth?

I pulled this one from various accountability groups I had been in.  It surprisingly helps.

The Story

A couple years ago now, I broke trust with Hannah by letting my stress about money turn into a gambling problem.  For over two months I played video poker/ slots around Portland, going from losing my personal spending cash we had budgeted to maxing out the cash advance on my credit card. An account she didn’t ever check or really know about.   The whole time keeping the mounting debt to myself.  By the end it was two months of my wages.  I had become lost in the greed and stopped counting about half way to the max. Thinking that if I won big it would all come back, instead of realizing it had become basically insurmountable.

When I finally realized what happened, I was scared.  I thought this was one of those things that could end a relationship.  But I told the beautiful Hannah in writing because that is what I do.  She wasn’t happy.

She wanted me to seek counseling, all my plastic cards and regular check ins.  We fought over little things a lot.  And we fight dirty so my loss of money was always the final thing yelled.  I would just walk away not knowing how to get over it. After a few weeks of “nothing” working she wanted couple’s counseling.  We went to one session I didn’t like because we were spending money we didn’t have and I was being attacked.  Afterwards we went to dinner where we really talked.  The dinner cost about half of what the counselor did.  At that dinner I wrote five of the questions out and we tried them a couple nights later…knowing what the other would ask we had time to prepare answers.

We did it every Friday or Saturday night for months.  And it helped us rebuild trust because we had a place to complain without judgement and to hear where the other person was at.  Eventually we would ask what we did to offend in the middle of dinner because the other was silently fuming.  Or I would get flowers because I hadn’t done anything to show love in a while but complained about being tired from husbanding a lot.

Five years in to this marriage, I think we are better than ever.  And it is because we communicate.

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I would love to hear if they work for you or how you decide to slightly change them.  Also I have tried various times to monetize this because we are still broke.  So if you use them and feel like donating, tips are accepted. 

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Marriage, The Jesus Way, Transparency

New Beginnings

Five years ago today my life changed drastically.   That old life is now unrecognizable.   I was horribly hung over after passing out at 7 pm the night before on the couch of a house made empty by roommates out of state with their families.  I was still drunk that morning probably.  I was literally sick to my stomach.  I had been eating grease while I picked up items for this big event.  I was exhausted and stressed out.  I was confused about the future and lonely as I looked at another Christmas alone.

I walked into a gym that was empty besides a couple tables for the worship bands to eat some dinner in one of the corners.  It needed to be set up to feed 300 people the next day, but also made nice as not to continue to feel stale and cold.  In my head we were throwing a party.  In reality, we were providing a needed meal in a warm building were half the people didn’t care what it looked like and the other half would judge me.

There were a few people milling around, and it turns out that the small attendance made people leave.  A father and couple teenagers started setting up tables with me.  A single woman started helping us.  After about 20 minutes the tables were set up and the family left.  The single woman and I spent about 3 hours working to make the tables not stale and to add Christmas lights and brightness to the massive gym, to make it small.  We also spent about 3 hours talking.  How we didn’t like traveling at Christmas.  How we didn’t have living fathers.  How our families were far away from Portland but actually close together.  Our jobs and hobbies.  How we liked being in Portland now.  Where we had been and where we wanted to go.

It was longer than planned so I offered to drive her home.  Something I had done literally hundreds of times before as my dad made me a protector of women to an often negative extent.  When I dropped her off, something was different than those times before though.  There was an awkward moment.

The awkward moments continued the next day as we saw each other and chatted a little as I ran around being in charge of chaos of a community Christmas dinner that comingled housed with unhoused friends.  By the end of the meal, I was wiped and had plans to sit in front of my computer and finish binge watching something I am sure.  But there was another awkward moment when she wrote out and handed me her phone number and an address to come hang out with her friend’s family.

Somehow I knew I needed to go. Even though I only met her less than 24 hours before I figured I should make an appearance.  So I did.  I grabbed a couple 22s from my cases of beer and went to a house, that apparently generally didn’t drink, and where I barely knew one person.  I awkwardly walked around saying hi and got another plate of Christmas dinner since I didn’t eat at the first.  And went and planted myself near this girl that intrigued me.  She played games with her friends and we made small talk about what we had planned for the week and how much time free she had.

I left after about an hour because I needed quiet not craziness and couldn’t fake it anymore.  I wished her well, told her Merry Christmas and said thanks to the random family that just set up a couple without knowing it.

That night there were quite a few texts from my dark, cold, quiet basement bedroom.  By the end of them, I had a real date with a real girl.

Within a week, I would start spending everyday with that single lady. Within a month we were pretty sure we weren’t going to be single long. Within 8 months we were wed and in a tiny apartment.  In 2 years we were no longer drinking much or going out to eat but just sitting around with each other.  In 3 years we had a child, a house and a family car.

Now it has been five years since I drank or partied like I did the day before I met the beautiful Hannah.  And tomorrow it will be five years since the best Christmas ever.

And I wouldn’t switch back to that old life for anything.

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Junior, Marriage, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People

18

Dad

 

It has been 18 years since I lost Dad.  Which is just a stupid long time for it still to hurt and for me to need trigger warnings on multiple shows and online videos still.  But long enough to forget stories and memories.  His voice no longer just comes to me when I think of him.  But will eventually when I think long enough.  Too long to see his posts online somewhere, or pictures, or voice mails.

Being an adult is still difficult without that fatherly figure to help me with relationship issues, work issues, or to show me how to stop the fireplace from smoking up the whole house. Or why the lights over the dining table won’t stop burning out. Or how to build a vegetable garden that is too big to keep up with.  I might have that under control.  I’d love to be able to chat about his stay at home years and how he stayed sane.

But instead, for the last 18 years, I have been winging it.  I have looked for other father figures, but none are the same.  None will do when I was already “raised” when he suddenly passed.

I have made it another year though.  I have figured out how to be a dad myself with a talking, complaining, questioning son.   I have lost track of the times I have thought about how he would like to hear Junior is getting revenge on me by do what I probably did at his age or older.

It doesn’t make it easier to be constantly reminded of the loss in that, or the fact I have multiple friends in the midst of similar shocking losses right now and it brings up the “too soon”, “too young”, “too sudden” thoughts.   But it is part of my story.

And with each passing year, I try to identify with it being part of the story, not the climax, or piviotal moment just a section of the story.  But it is a large part, and I am trying to find something else to make the pivotal moment.

And this year, Junior is old enough to know who pictures are, so he is beginning to meet Grandpa Jim, if only in the couple pictures I have.  And the couple stories that have stuck.  And the silly things he said that are now coming out of my mouth.  Which brings up a whole ‘nother bucket of turds in trying to teach a little boy without real Grandpops what they should be.  And that is the hardest to stomach some days.

Miss you Dad. Every day.

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Death, Freewrite, Grieving, Junior, Marriage, Transparency