Tag Archives: Rosalie

Just him

Tidying up files today I found this quote from Rosalie, written up by Ashley in January of this year:

A friend stopped by this afternoon to give Rosalie a memory box to keep special things that remind her of Zach. After she left, I asked R some questions thinking I would write down her answers for the box.
“What do you remember about Uncle Zach?”
“Bad news bananas!!!” (Smiles and giggles )
“What was your favorite memory, or something that you remember, about Uncle Zach?”
“Just him.”
“Your favorite part was just all of him?”
“Yeah. Just him.”

Museum of Flight

Or, as the sign in front say, ‘Museum of Fligh . . .’

Really, it was a nice museum. Yesterday was the day all four of us would have together and going to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle was the chosen activity. When we walked in to the main hall, we were greeted by the sight of dozens of aircraft, some on the floor and some hanging from the ceiling. An SR-71 Blackbird dominated the whole scene.

I thought it looked great, but at that moment realized we were there with a 4 year old. OK, almost 5 but still very young. But at that moment, we saw right in front of us a nice young man inviting us to the kid’s project table. They were going to demonstrate how to build a catapult in just a couple of minutes. Rosalie listened attentively to the presentation using a tablet and stood patiently in line to get her materials but was less interested in the details of actually building it. It was actually a simple little trebuchet built with popsicle sticks and rubber bands. Given the task of decorating the sticks, however, Rosalie came to life.

After it was built, she stood in line for some puff balls to launch and chose two small purple ones. Once explained the technique of launching, she took over and entertained us by launching her purple puff balls for us to try to catch.We walked around the hall. She sat in the SR-71 cockpit with Ashley:She found the kids play area and tested the wind tunnel machine:

Checked out the view from inside a light plane cockpit:

Tried the hurricane simulator with Mom:

Then we had lunch. After lunch was the Hall of Heroes, which is a review of the two World Wars with an emphasis on American planes and flyers. Then we walked across the skybridge to the pavilion which contained, among other things, an Air Force One, Boeing 727, 737, 747, 787, a Concorde, a B-29, a B-17, a B-47 and some others I don’t remember. In other words, lots of planes. We were able to go through most of the commercial airliners and AF One.

About 15 minutes into the ride home, this was the scene in the back seat.

Back at home she perked up. Momma made some chocolate chip cookies for an early birthday party with Gramps. I had found a nice jigsaw puzzle at the Museum store for her so we set to work on that after singing happy birthday.

Hmmm, can’t find the picture. Maybe tomorrow. I got up this morning and drove across the state to Spokane. I am now safely ensconced in a bedroom at Peter and Nanci’s. We took a nice drive this afternoon out Palouse HIghway. The fields, some of which were newly planted with winter wheat, were lit up nicely by the setting sun. About half the sky was clear, while the other half was turning all kinds of colors.

Rosalie and me day 2

The only rough spot we had was last night at bed time, she had trouble because she missed her “Mommy and Daddy.’ All I could do was validate her feelings but repeat that they weren’t here and weren’t going to be here until tomorrow (today).

The last few days, she’s been up pretty early. As soon as she hears some noises downstairs, there she is! Although I had some trouble sleeping – I didn’t want to take a pill as the only adult in the house – I slept a reasonable amount and was still up a little after 6. About 7:15, I went back upstairs to check on her. I thought for sure she’d be playing in her room, but she was still conked. I laid down in my bedroom next door and she came in about 7:45.

Because Emma came over yesterday, my plan for going to the grocery store didn’t pan out. In retrospect, I could have gone while she was next door but I didn’t think of it until later. We were out of milk, which meant breakfast was dicey as both of us are cereal people. So, at 7:45 I suggested that we go out for breakfast. That perked her up!

Due to more confusion on my part, we missed the more traditional cafes in favor of the bakery. Actually, once she got a look at the bakery she wouldn’t go back to the cafe. I was able to get a slice of quiche for myself and limit her to a croissant with a glass of milk. She did notice the ham pieces in my quiche and eat a bunch of them.

At the grocery store, she insisted we take a cart so she could ride hanging onto the front. Besides milk, we stocked up on red pears, avocados and tomatoes. Back at home, we finally had our bowls of cereal for the morning.

Then it was upstairs for play school. She put her witch fairy costume on and tried several hats on me while preparing first breakfast, then packing snack and lunch for me to take to school. She was the Momma and the teacher. Eventually there was tickling. Then we came back downstairs for some coloring and letters and more puzzles. We were doing the USA puzzle for the second time when Ashley came home. That still lies incomplete as lunch was more interesting. Then Mommy enforced a real rest time and I was relieved.

I’m pretty pleased that I didn’t resort to the TV solution during my 24+ hours in charge. Jeremy and Ashley had told me the codes and what channels were ok. Rosalie makes it easier to leave it off as it’s not a priority for her. She didn’t ask me once to turn it on.

Rosalie and me

Jeremy and Ashley left this morning for a little over 24 hours together on Bainbridge Island to celebrate their 10th anniversary. I’m staying home with Rosalie. This morning after some warm up exercises in coloring and puzzle making, I got her out to the Reptile Zoo in Monroe, about a half hour from here.

It was very nice. Unpretentious, but with a wide variety of reptiles including an albino alligator and a two-headed turtle that they feature in their advertising. They brought out a boa and let all the kids hold it and feel it move.

We came home for lunch and not long after that, the neighbor girl, Emma, came over. Grandpa faded from the picture at light speed. Except for fixing the Ply-Doh extruder, I was invisible. Well, they did enjoy serving me delicacies cooked up with the Play-Doh. Then they went over to Emma’s and I’ve been sitting here in the empty house for an hour reading TalkBass.

The sun came out while we were at the Reptile Zoo and the afternoon was bright but cool. We might have hit 50 degrees, but the sun went down at 4:30 and now it’s getting dark. I’ll go get Rosalie in a minute . . .

Washington

<Edited Nov 7 to add pictures.> The end of day two of my trip to Washington. It’s been pretty eventful so far. Yesterday when I got to the luggage carrel at Sea-Tac and looked out the window, I saw fat flakes of snow gently falling down. Going through the door to the outside was a shock to this Bay Area boy. Cold, cold, cold!

But Ashley was right there within a couple of minutes and the car was nice and warm. I was in such a hurry to get in the car that I didn’t think of sitting in my usual spot next to Rosalie in the back. That meant I couldn’t really see her unless I twisted myself completely around. That’s not practical at my advanced age but we talked and had fun grabbing shoes. I commented that she can really reach the seat in front much more easily than before. She’s very tall for an almost 5 year old. Ashley said there were two things on Rosalie’s agenda for Grandpa: puzzles, and tickling. We can do that!

After lunch, we did puzzles for a while at first but tickling did ensue eventually.

About 5, we headed out for Jeremy’s Fire Academy graduation. It was held in a hotel in Issaquah. There were all the usual graduation accoutrements: bagpipers, a color guard, a chaplain and lengthy speeches. Various awards were given to high achievers. Each graduate had a family member come up to pin the badge on him or her. (There were two woman graduates out of 21 total.)

When Jeremy’s name was called, Ashley went up with Rosalie. Jeremy, who had been stern all evening, picked up Rosalie with a huge smile on his face and held her while Ashley pinned him. Then they all turned to the audience and got their picture taken. Rosalie was somewhat distracted in Daddy’s arms but the instant she realized her picture was being taken, she turned on a huge smile. That generated a laugh from the audience.

After the pinning was complete, three of the graduates made presentations. One was Jeremy, who spoke of his time in the Atlanta Fire Department and the illness of Atlanta firefighter Frank Martinez. Frank reached out to Jeremy in November 2015 when Jeremy needed people to cover shifts while he was with us all in Louisiana. Frank was very sick at that time and couldn’t do the work, but did it in a gesture of solidarity. Jeremy drew the comparison with that solidarity and the group he was graduating into. He also commented that Frank almost certainly got cancer from poisonous substance exposure on the job and his goal was to reduce those exposures among firefighters.

Rosalie was sitting in my lap at that point and tears rolled down my face during his talk. I wanted to just hug Rosalie instead of wiping my face.

Afterwards, many more pictures were taken and we met some of Jeremy’s academy colleagues before heading out for a late dinner.

Today was very quiet. It was chilly and foggy early in the morning but by around 10 it was lifting and by lunchtime the sun was shining.These are out the back door window:

Jeremy slept in and Rosalie and I played with dolls, did puzzles, colored in her coloring book, read books . . . and tickled. After lunch, we went for a bike ride around the neighborhood. The temperature was around 45 but no wind. It was very pleasant in the sunshine. Several houses had the remains of snowmen still extant.

Rosalie experimented with the icy remains of the snow in the puddle in front of the house. Later we went to a local park where we walked across the Tolt River on a footbridge, admired the Cascades lit up by the setting sun, and played in the play area. Rosalie made ice cream from the bits of grass and wood chips there.

Tonight we all had dinner together and made our plans for the next three days. Ashley had a new living room light delivered today and it had a fantastic box for imaginative girls. Who could that be?

Dia

The Dia de los Muertos concert was today. The art has been in the Davies lobby for about three weeks. As usual, I find the exhibits moving. The same artist that did The Tear last year did something similar. It is a basin with water in it and a pump that circulates the water gently. Visitors are invited to place the name of their loved one on a piece of paper and put it in the water. The ink dissolves in the water meaning . . . something. I walked past this work every day and I could not put Zach’s name in the water.

Many of the concertgoers today were painted in the Dia style. That is to say, they had faces painted in stylized skulls. I couldn’t feel it. I felt plenty of loss. Sarah played the concert, as she did last year, and, like last year, I was able to have a semi-private moment with her. No words were spoken, but we were both thinking of Zach and sharing our grief.

Later, I shared some moments with some of the ushers I’ve become friendly with. I also saw, and spoke to, Martha, who curated the whole lobbies installation. She knows about Zach and gave me a big hug. She told me it was fine that I didn’t put his name in the water. I told her about my shrine in my apartment.

I got to spend yesterday with Mom and Dad and coming in to work today it was hard to get back into work mode. Eventually, I got squared away. Now it is past midnight and I will be getting on a plane at 9 to go visit Rosalie and her Mom and Dad. Yay!

dates

Yesterday the weather was cooler, but I stayed indoors most of the day. I wrote a couple of posts, one of which had to do with the bereavement group, The Compassionate Friends, that meets the first Tuesday of every month in Santa Clara.

I said it didn’t ‘hold appeal’ for me. One of the reasons is that they have a kind of a ceremony they do at the start of every meeting. They light candles and recite first the birth dates and then the death dates of those now gone for that month. When I stopped going to my original bereavement support group early this year, I felt that there was too much emphasis on sorrow and not enough on looking forward. I told my Rosalie story to them . . .

( I just went and looked. I was sure I had posted my Rosalie story but I can’t find it. Essentially, it’s the fact that she knows about Zach and what happened but she doesn’t let it interfere with the business of living life to the fullest.)

. . . and it didn’t seem to have any effect. Well, why should it? Perhaps I should have given it more time, Perhaps grieving is different for everyone and that’s not their style.

At The Compassionate Friends, I found a group that fit my mindset a little better. Their stories were all stark, like mine, of lives ended before their potential could be reached.

But the dates thing has bugged me. So far, neither of Zach’s dates have come up but I’ve found myself wondering what I would do when they did. Would I skip those months? I know early on, anniversaries were important to me. Now, the loss of Zach has all settled into a kind of dull ache that flares up every so often. Plenty of things remind me of Zach without adding reminders of his death date.

On the other hand, there was a moment last spring at the Compassionate Friends when I thought I could see myself as a kind of elder who could support those whose grief was fresher. Looking ahead to my schedule for the rest of the year, all the first Tuesday evenings are impacted one way or another. I don’t think I’m invested enough to make a heroic effort to get down there. Pace Virginia and Don.

All the bereavement support groups meetings will stay on my schedule so it’s possible I will go to another one this fall.

more on goals

My follow up session with Linda was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon so I’ve been trying to focus on the idea of ‘goals’ again. All in all I feel pretty good about how the summer went: Jeremy’s move and the Germany trip. The last two weeks I’ve worked a standard 8-5 M-F schedule which is draining in a way but I felt I handled it pretty well.

Now that I’m back, it’s the turn of the other two principals at Davies to get holidays. Arno is leaving Tuesday for his usual driving trip to the Midwest. He’ll be gone five weeks. Jim, after shocking us all last year by cutting his schedule down to a ‘normal’ 40 hour week, announced he’ll be taking the month of October off completely. There are others who can and will step up to help with the shift coverage, but at the moment, it looks like the bulk of it will fall to me.

So I decided my ‘price’ will be a couple of weeks off in November. I will always want to visit Jeremy and Ashley and Rosalie but I also have an unfulfilled promise to visit Peter and Nanci in Spokane. And I like to stop in on my cousins Dan and Nettie also in Spokane.

Is this a goal worthy of discussion? Honestly, I don’t know how Linda would respond to this. I emailed her the other day that I was cancelling the session since I had been scheduled for work at that time. She hasn’t responded. The bereavement group that seemed so promising a few months ago doesn’t hold appeal.

Since I’ve been back I’ve had one day where I had a lot of time to do things and I didn’t and I felt bad about it. All the old thoughts about how I should use my time better and what those uses should be came and went. Then the next day I went to work.

I feel good that I’ve been posting pretty regularly since I got back. I feel good about being in the Skyline band again. (At the request of Zack I’m playing bass this semester.) I feel good that I have a handle on how much work I have in the weeks ahead. It’s more than I would like but if the payoff is two weeks off in November I’ll take it. Jeremy tried unsuccessfully to call me this week two times when I said I was available so I felt bad about that. Then we had a nice Skype session Friday night so I felt better. He’s having a tough time getting a decent job. Ashley is very happy with her new teaching setup but that cuts both ways with Jeremy. I don’t have a magic wand to make it all great. That would cut both ways too, I guess.

quotidian

It’s a real word. I’m sure of it. But I’m not going to look it up. I want to riff on it based on what I think it means.

It’s what my life has been the last nearly two weeks. In a way, though, it’s been longer. My trip with Jeremy was fraught with meaning but it was really just quotidian for me. I mean, I planned it, and I did it. No muss no fuss.

Visiting with Rosalie shouldn’t have been quotidian but it kind of was. Jeremy was away and we did some stuff. It was nice but it never seemed unordinary.

When I got back, I took¬† the CueStation class for three days, then spent an afternoon and evening in Santa Clara (after going to the dentist to have a broken crown fixed), then I had a long day (15 hours) at work, then I drove Rose and her sister Leigh and Gavino’s other grandmother to Pollock Pines for his birthday party. Then the next day I did laundry, then went back down to Santa Clara where I hung with Tim and his family. Then it was Monday and Tony Bennett at Davies. That was another long day. Tuesday I met Tim’s family along with Julian at Davies where I showed them around the whole building. Then I did another Tony Bennett show followed by a load out. Wednesday I went to Alameda for a haircut, followed by lunch with Leti and Hal, followed by dinner out with Rose for her birthday. Today I was back to work at 8 and just got home at 10:45. Tomorrow I get my permanent crown at the dentist and go back to work in the evening.

So there hasn’t been much time for reflection. Tonight the featured artist was a woman named Rhiannon Giddens. A classically trained singer from North Carolina, she became interested in the folk music of the area she grew up in after graduating from Oberlin. She has a band and some Grammy’s so I suppose I should have heard of her but I hadn’t. She sang Summertime and a Kurt Weill song that were sort of ordinary. there was a gospel number before intermission that was cool but in the second half she sang a song she wrote about a slave woman who was sold but her child was not, so they were separated.

I found myself weeping in the darkness of the light booth. Then she sang a song about the four little girls killed in the Birmingham church and I wept some more. Where did that come from? My life was moving along more or less under control and suddenly these couple of songs unhinged me completely. Loss of a child, of course. I’m quite sensitive to that for obvious reasons, but the sight of this young woman standing up there delivering this message almost defiantly was moving in and of itself. Seeing Sarah in the orchestra behind her made it even more intense.

I suppose, compared to a year and a half ago, I’m ‘better’ at handling this. I was able to remember that I could be heard through the glass if I got too loud. I was able to get it together enough to bring up the bow light at the end of each number. By the end of the show I was back to my quotidian life.

After tomorrow I have some days off. I will try to write more here and work on my new jigsaw puzzle. I did get one started the other day. It’s a scene from Yosemite Valley.

the second week

Jeremy and Ashley had rented a nice house in North Bend months ago as a place to land in Washington. It was there for them when they flew out on June 20th and they were still there on Thursday afternoon the 29th when I pulled that ungainly rig up in front of it. Jane had flown up earlier in the week and Joe and the boys had driven up. They were all there. Before long, Rosalie had me out across the street to the little park there. Actually, it wasn’t so little. It had a group picnic area and two play areas next to a rather large pond surrounded by trees. Here’s Rosalie beseeching the ducks to come back and play:

Here’s the merry-go-round:

Jane and her family left Friday for points south and home. We got in the car and headed north to Duvall, where we met with the landlord at the new house. They signed a two year lease. The neighborhood was very nice. The houses were newish, about 1980’s vintage, but many of the (presumably) original trees had been saved so there were tall firs and cedars all around. All the houses were well kept up.

Saturday was moving day. Jeremy took the truck, I took the Forester, still loaded with things from Georgia, and Ashley followed in the Murano after doing last minute clean up at the rental house in North Bend.

We got the truck situated in front of the house with the trailer off by around 10:30. Most of the unloading was done by 1:30 and the truck was off the lawn by 2:30. Rosalie had had a chance the day before to select which bedroom would be hers. It didn’t take long on Saturday for her to establish herself there.

Her new bed came not long after I took this picture. It went where the yellow bear is sitting.

Here are some earlier and later pictures of the inside of the truck:

That evening we went out to dinner in Carnation, which is the next town south of Duvall.

The next day, Sunday, I had volunteered to take the truck back to Yakima. Jeremy had done this as it was about $1,000 cheaper than dropping it somewhere closer in the Seattle area. That was another 145 miles in the truck and the same in the Forester coming home. 7:15 am to 2 pm.

Here’s a last look at the combo at the rest stop outside of Yakima. Mt Rainier is in the background. I thought I had Mt. Adams too but I couldn’t see the phone viewfinder very well in the bright sun light. It’s either just out of the frame or behind the sign, honest!

Jeremy and Ashley had lots of shopping to do so I said I would stay with Rosalie after I got back until they were done. They had to go to Monroe and Redmond and some other places with big box stores. After a nap and a snack with Rosalie, I got to play tea party and dress up for about three hours. They finally got home about 7:30!

Monday we didn’t do much except work on putting the house in order. I got in touch with my friends from Bellingham, Teresa and Susan. I wasn’t willing to go that far, but Susan had a spot in Oso, only about an hour from Duvall, that she went to on weekends in the summer. It floods every winter but there’s a spot for her Airstream 100 feet or so from the Stillaguamish River. In the end, Teresa couldn’t make it so I sat with Susan by the river for a couple of hours in the afternoon and chatted while the dogs occasionally chased toys into the river. Before going to Susan’s place, I had gone up to the site of the mountain collapse and paid my respects to the lost lives. The county has purchased the land and will eventually make a memorial park there. Now there are just 43 newly planted trees in rows by the road.

When I returned, much had been done in contacting the neighbors. We got invited to a 4th of July barbeque. Rosalie had discovered that the girl next door was just a few months older than her. They weren’t instant pals but it didn’t take long before they were chasing around together.

Tuesday all Rosalie could talk about was wearing her new swimsuit to the party and going in the pool. Finally the hour arrived and we went over. It was very nice and we met lots of new neighbors. Jeremy had to leave early as he was going to Portland for a basketball referees workshop. Before he left, we went home and lit a couple of sparklers. Rosalie wasn’t sure about them at first.

That night the explosions started well before dark, around 9:30, and continued without letup – literally with out so much as 15 or 20 seconds silence – until at least 11 pm, when my sleeping pills took hold. At least two different skyrocket shows could be seen out the back window of the house that were no more than a couple of hundred yards away.

Wednesday I went into Carnation to do laundry. The washer and dryer that Ashley and Jeremy had bought on Sunday wasn’t going to be delivered until the following Sunday and I was out of clean underwear. (It did come today and Ashley was on her 4th load when I talked to them earlier tonight.) Rosalie played a lot with Emma, the girl next door.

Thursday, Ashley took me to Snoqualmie Falls, about a half hour up the valley from Duvall. It’s a pretty falls but also a hydroelectric power generating facility. We waked the trail to the bottom and checked it out from there as well.

Friday we went to McCormick Park, which is a little city park right off the main drag in Duvall and right on the river. This was maybe ten minutes from their house. There was a nice sandy beach to play on. Rosalie made mud pies (or something) and dabbled in the water looking at the little marine animals. Afterward we had lunch in a little cafe and got a library card at the library across the street. Rosalie took out three books.

Saturday morning, Ashley took me to Sea-Tac and I came home. I had originally intended to come home on Amtrak or a bus but it would have been 24 to 26 hours en route vs 2 1/2 and the cost was comparable. In the end, it was about 12 hours short of two weeks. It was great!