Thursday, April 17, 2008


I started thinking about my hubby's parents & how much I miss them & wish they were still here. They were our best friends for all the years the hubby & I have been together... minus the last 8 years.

We live approximately 3 blocks from the house they built on Princeton St. back in the 1950's; the home where hubby & his two brothers grew up.

The year that both of our kids were in junior high @ the same time, the hubby was doing a 2 year stint as Youth Centers President and I was doing a two year stint as PTA President @ the junior high. The DU was a cheerleader and had dozens of other things she was into. The SU was playing football & basketball and into a dozen other things. It was our busiest year ever.

It was then that Grandad was diagnosed with multiple myloma in November, then Grandmom was diagnosed with pancreatic & liver cancer 3 months later. Amidst our shock & overwhelming sadness, we tried to stay positive. We spent all the time we could with them... taking them for chemo, fixing meals for them, watching TV with them, helping out wherever we could, just sitting around talking, looking through piles of old pictures, etc. It was truly a labor of love and moments I will forever cherish. Thankfully, Hospice came in toward the end, for both of these precious people, which helped to ease their final days of pain. Sadly, they couldn't do anything for the rest of our family. It was a massively painful year for all of us and there were no bereavement classes for children or adults, available in our town at that point.

That was the single most difficult year of my life because I loved them as if they were my own parents. They were the parents I had always wanted but wasn't fortunate enough to have. Our kids both grew up within walking & bike riding distance, so they spent a lot of time @ the grandparent's house, as did all of their friends. Grandad would always take the kids & their friends back to his closet, where he measured their height, marked it & added their name on the frame of the opening to the closet. Many years later, when all the kids came to the house after his funeral, all they wanted to do was go back to look at Grandad's closet frame and go out to his workshop.

Grandad's workshop was in the backyard and was a most fascinating place. When the kids were little, he had an old bear skin rug that he mounted on a sawhorse, mounted an antelope's head on top of that, then added a saddle & strapped it down. All the kids ever wanted to do was go over there and ride the antelope, lol. On Sundays, he always made what everyone in the family referred to as *Breakfast On A Shingle*, which my kids only missed when they were deathly ill. He welcomed all relatives, no matter how distant. He also welcomed anyone from the neighborhood and always seemed to have at least two takers from one or more categories every week. He had a wonderful antique pot bellied stove upon which he concocted his *special breakfasts* and always served them on..... you guessed it!...... a shingle. It's a miracle that no one ever got a splinter. He was such a hoot and that workshop was full of oddly interesting items that probably could have killed both the kids, but oh, how they loved it. He also had an antique Pachinko Pin Ball Machine that he always let the kids play with, as well as at least a jillion other fun things to do. He had every tool known to man and you could always find one or both of the kids hammering something into something else. He had things on the walls like dirty old men heads that laughed nasty laughs when you pulled the necktie and fish that sang & talked. You can understand why they grew up in love with Grandad's workshop and the man himself.

Grandmom always had a different kind of charm. She was very much a lady but also very fragile. She lost her own mother to pneumonia when she was 2 and her only sibling, a brother, in WWII when she was only 17. Since her father was gone much of the time, she was sent to relatives to be raised. Once I knew her the damage was long past, but it was always evident in the form of her frailty. Grandad adored her & protected her from the world. She spent a lot of her time reading and she was voracious about it. We were constantly exchanging books & discussing them. She always saw to it that the children had plenty of reading materials at her house, from the time they could see. She always had fresh baked cookies and juice and welcomed all their friends as well. She made the most perfect turkey and dressing that I dare not even attempt to, since there is no way mine could ever compare to her's. This dear woman was more kind to me than any woman I've ever known and she will live in my heart until I am gone. She was a very private person, but fiercely loved her entire family. Truthfully, Grandmom & Grandad always reminded me of June & Ward Cleaver, only June wasn't quite so out-going. They just had such a beautiful marriage and I never heard a cross word in their home. That's just the way they were. They were always just fun to be around, which was the polar opposite of my own weird family.

Grandmom & Grandad's marriage was so magical and effected all the lives of those who were close to them. They met and dated while attending the University of Texas, married after graduation, and they were still in love until the end. They passed away within 7 months of one another, both at the age of 70, several months short of their 50th wedding anniversary, which was much too young. I suppose I always selfishly thought they would be around for high school & college graduations & marriages & great-grandchildren, but that wasn't meant to be. Both kids remember their grandparents VERY well and have memories that they will always cherish, I hope. I have boxes & boxes of memories, lest they ever forget.... Anyway, today I'd like to say "Cheers!" to Grandmom & Grandad who made our lives so wonderful while they were still in the world... they were one of the most romantic couples I have ever known.

Was she gorgeous or what?----->

I met my husband for the first time in grade school; second grade, to be exact. As annoying as he was, I was crazy about him from the start. In fifth grade, my family moved to Oklahoma, so I didn't think I'd ever see him again. In 9th grade, we moved to Aspen, where I attended Aspen High School for one year, then my mother sent me to Catholic boarding school (Ursuline Academy in the Ozarks of Missouri) until I graduated in 1970. She sent me to boarding school because I'd been caught ditching school to go skiing. More than once. Some parents would have recognized my awesome potential olympic quality passion & skills. That was not my mother. She just told me I was an idiot and that she hoped I liked raising children, cleaning house, and cooking because that was all I was ever going to be able to do. My brother had ditched to go ski as well, but was not sent away to school. I loved skiing and still do, but I made some wrong choices, so my punishment was exile.

Many years later I returned to Texas and happened to meet the hubby again, at a party during Christmas holidays. When he said his name, my head literally started reeling. I knew right then that we would marry, and we did, almost a year later. My in-laws became instant friends and confidantes and I adored them. I think the one thing I most liked about them was that they told me (once their son & I were engaged) that they would never interfere in our marriage nor offer any unsolicited advice. They never broke their word, but were always happy to advise if I asked. How cool is that?

I hate cancer and what it does to families and its victims. It's the scourge of the earth and I've lost so many people I loved to this fucking horrible disease. I want to lash out and hurt it but of course I can't. I want to kick the living daylights out of cancer, but alas, I cannot, which makes it even more frustrating. It makes you feel so helpless watching those you love wither away to nothing, then die a horrible, painful death.

I was on the local board for the American Cancer Society for many years and chaired the Cancer Drive for several years in the early 1980's. Later, I was Auction Chairman 2 years in a row, for "Round-Up", which is the huge party/charity/fundraiser that eventually replaced the Cancer Drive. I still raise money every year for the American Cancer Society in hopes that at some point in time, they will, at last, find a cure for the many cancers that exist in this world. Sometimes it's difficult to stay positive, but I persevere. Cancer ripped away the people we love and I won't stop trying to raise money until they either find a cure or I die, whichever happens to come first.


Katie Ryan said...

Great post. And it really hit home, as my best friend of 20 years, her mother is dying in a cancer hospital in Birmingham right now. They will take her off the vent this morning to see if she can breathe on her own. We are praying that she does.
Your in-laws sound fabulous. I'm sorry you miss them so much. I know my family would feel the same way about my parents, as my kids have never even seen my husband's parents.
Have a good day.

Katie Ryan said...

By the way, I met my husband in elementary school, too!

krysta said...

My grandpa died of cancer. It is a horrible way to see people die. I hope you kick it's ass for everybody who has had someone pass away.

Beautiful post.

imbeingheldhostage said...

This was a really beautiful post and a lovely tribute to them-- How great is it that their story has touched someone all the way over in England? I never know what to expect when I come to your blog-- a tasty-sounding recipe, a glimpse into your past, or like today, a touching post-- but I'm always glad I came!

Snooty Primadona said...

I'm sorry I have to post about hating cancer, but some days I just get so pissed off about it. At least I always feel better after venting.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely tribute to your inlaws... and how lucky your children were to have such awesome memories...

Cancer does blow.

david mcmahon said...

I was blessed with great in-laws as well.

I hear you loud and clear on this topic and all that it encompasses.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. You moved me with that one. I couldn't stop reading. What a beautiful story. They truly touched your heart because I can hear them in your words. Impressive story but the closet meausuring was really special.

Snooty Primadona said...

Okay people, then let's get out there & kick some serious cancer butt!!!

Mental P Mama said...

Beautiful post...when my mother was getting her chemo, I made her chant at her "f*cking cancer cells" sadly, they won. Way too soon. How blessed you were to have such beautiful in-laws.

Snooty Primadona said...

I am SO SICK of the cancer winning. I just don't know what else to do besides raise money. I'm so sorry about your mother, MP. It's just so awful and I'm so sick of cancer taking those we love.

Tess Kincaid said...

This was a great post, and although it was a sad topic, I got to know you a little better on my very first visit. Thanks for stopping by my place and having a little chuckle! Nice to meet you, Snooty and I'll be popping in again soon.

Maggie May said...

I'd like to kick it to Hell too! Came over from David's.
A sad post but very good.

Kat said...

What a fabulous post.
I am so sick of cancer I could puke. I don't even want to hear the word anymore.
My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma two years ago. She was end stage with the rapid growing type B, and she is doing well. I hope she kicks the CRAP our of cancer!
Over from David's.

Daryl said...

I am a cancer survivor ... thank you for this wonderful post and for all you are doing!

David sent me


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