Friday, March 10, 2023

Slowly But Unsurely

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, kathy, anniversary, death, grief

In the movie "The Jerk," Steve Martin's character Navin Johnson begins a new life by standing in front of the family shack and holding his thumb out for a ride. Hours later, standing in the dark, he's in the same place when a truck finally stops for him.

"How far are you going?!" he eagerly asks.
"To the end of the fence," the tobacco-chewing local says.
"OKAY!" says Navin as he loads in his luggage, travels 10 feet to the end of the fence, gets out, thanks the bemused driver, and raises his thumb once more.

I'm sharing this because I feel like I'm having a Navin Johnson moment. Sunday marks the first anniversary of Kathy's death and, when it comes to making progress on my "grief journey," I've gotten no farther than the end of the fence.

Not for lack of trying. My not-busy-enough life these days includes a variety of self-help tools and activities. All of which have some value, but most of which lack the social interaction that I suspect would offer the most healing. In other words, countering death with more life.

Despite my puckish sense of humor and my rakish good looks (Santa Claus looks rakish, right?) I simply don't have a big community of friends to spend time with. I'm trying to find activities that will change that, but I'm an old introvert and deathly shy. I recently got a one-year membership to the local Seniors Center and I'm sure it's a fine place, but looking at their activity calendar I found potential adventures like "bingo day" and "scrabble day", and I'd like to be doing something a bit more vital than that. Although if liquor can be smuggled in there's at least a potential for some fun.

Some folks have said, "you're a writer and you're funny - why not write a book on grief?" And the answer is pretty much the same as why I'm not writing books on losing weight, making an Internet fortune, or picking up women: because I suck at all of those things.

About the closest thing to wisdom I'd have to offer again references a joke. A blond goes to the doctor and says that she's in terrible pain. He asks "what hurts," and she winces in pain as she touches her ankle, her hip, her chin, her knee, and her elbow. "Ah," says the doctor, "you have a broken finger."

To me, grief is that broken finger. It's just one thing, but it seems to make everything hurt. And just as the blond should try using her other hand for a while, so too is it important for me to interact with the world by exploring it with something other than my grief. But it's hard and is a slow skill to learn.

What has helped me is my ongoing connection to Kathy. I keep her picture next to my computer and throughout the day I'll look to her and get a quick pick-me-up hit of love and understanding. A tangible feeling that although we're not together in the same way as before, we're still together. I can't explain it but I'm grateful for it.

Daughter J and I have no specific plans to commemorate this anniversary, though it's possible we'll do some much-needed housecleaning and maybe plant some flowers. Those are things that Kathy would not only approve of, but she would point out "well, you didn't have to wait until now!"

And on that day, I'll also make a toast to all of you (using the "good stuff"), who have done so much to sustain me throughout this first year. Your friendship, honesty, patience, and support mean more to me than you can know.

At least we were flashy dressers


Alec Horne said...

She looks like someone I know.

Vince Dandini said...

Your thoughtful commentary tells me you're making progress though it may not seem that way to you. Hang in there.

Mrywidow said...

As a fellow introvert, I totally get your reticence in going to that "activity center"... Do they have anything else to do over there besides bingo and other thrilling activities along those lines? Like maybe shooting some pool, or a poker tournament, etc. You know, stuff where you can mix with a few of the guys there. Start slow.

I was widowed, too. The first year is the hardest. The first anniversary of loss is one of memories and a good cry. Planting a tree in Kathy's honor and looking thru old photos can be a good way to remember good times. And a stiff drink of that "good stuff" will help, too.

We'll be thinking of you, Stilt. Blessings to both you and your daughter.

Mike aka Proof said...

At least you're not a songwriter or a poet. Why?
It could be verse! (I'll see myself out.)

HankJ said...

We love you man!

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

Remember, you have us. :)

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

@HankJ: You're still not getting his Clan MacGregor (I refuse to think anybody would actually WANT Bud Lite)... ;D

Dan said...

Our prayers are still with you and yours.

Maoz said...

Shuffleboard! Maybe they have shuffleboard at that Senior Center? That oughta do it for ya!

As for your (and Santa's) rakish good looks... I gotta wonder about that expression. I mean, to me it sounds like the person underwent an old Roman-Empire style torture, being raked over by giant iron combs. No wonder the rake-ee finds it hard to pick up a woman after that. Just sayin'....

Don't forget, Stilt, we love ya! {No, 3M, I'm not after his stash of Clan M'} Big, big virtual hugs to you and Daughter J!

Anonymous said...

Shine your brilliance onto the Seniors Center, Stilt! Just bring a flask of Clan.

Quinn said...

I am 84, married. My husband is 90 and has been dealing with long covid this past year and and a half. We were both trained as psychotherapists. I really relate to your horror of the activities of the "senior citizen" center. I think something similar of retirement homes. I do not want to end up in one. I have 4 daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren. I live in Idaho. Most of them live in Washington. Red vs. Blue. Don't see them often. I keep myself busy shoveling snow, splitting wood, stacking it on the porch, cooking, cleaning (not thoroughly enough). My hobby is making stained glass windows and using glass scraps to make mosaics. Two years ago I trained to swim the Long Bridge Race in Sandpoint, Idaho. It is 1.76 miles long. Even though I could swim two miles in the Kroc pool, I was only able to swim a half mile in the race. I was not used to a current. I hadn't known it until then that I was a old woman. But I relate to what you said about not having friends. I understand that. I have my husband. He is a good friend. I am not looking forward to him being out of my life. You lost your good friend and partner and are dealing with the aftermath. It is good you can write about it and share how difficult it is. I have been reading your blog for a long time and have enjoyed it. I especially liked the political commentary. Quinn

Mike said...

Keep grinding got this.

MrJimbo59 said...

Take this from someone who knows - the grief will fade over time, but the memories and love will never go away. As an aside, I’ve just retired and moved from Australia to a lovely town (Pereto) in Italy. The door will be open any time you want, just let me know when so I can stock up on the essentials (Scotch, Bourbon, Vodka)
My prayers to you and your Daughter.

Anonymous said...

I’ve been there and done that. I lost my wife after 49 years, 11 months and 14 days of marriage. It took about 4 years for me to make a huge change. I sold the farm (60 acres and a house we built) and moved back to where I went to high school.

Did that make me forget? No, I dream I am with her every night! But I have met my high school sweetheart who is a widow of a 50 year marriage and have managed to forge a life that is not great but at least no longer drifting and troublesome and sad all the time.

Change your life, no guarantee but it helped me.

Bobo the Hobo said...

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year, Stilt.

Congrats on joining the senior center. You can probably liven things up using vodka by creating a senior’s “special cocktail” like “Metamucil Sunrise” and watch the antics. I know watching that would cheer me up.

jimbro said...

May God bless you good sir. At my age I'll never have the multi-decade long marriages you and others mention but I've grown quite fond of my wife over the years we've spent together and unfortunate stories such as yours remind me to STFU and appreciate what I have in front of me.

Art said...

Took me 5 years to return to a socially acceptable version of myself. You do not need to hurry. I would say only stay connected to people who love you.

Anonymous said...

Stay strong, my internet friend. If you lived close by, I’d put you to work getting the yard ready for spring and then we’d have a beer.

Bobo the Hobo said...

Hey, Stilt! How about another senior cocktail called “I Can’t Believe It’s Mot Bedtime”?

Bobo the Hobo said...

“Not” not “mot”. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Anonymous said...

There is no easy answer to grief. There is no easy way to move forward from a long life of shared memories but at least you made it to the end of the fence. Time will come when you start making new memories and feeling complete. She is with you wherever you go, sharing even those times that seem so lonely. Never give up.
God bless.
Watch the movie Up.

Anonymous said...

My Grief day is coming. March 27. It will be 3 years. I did not think I'd survive but I have survived. Grief, it is still there. Tuesday when I left to go to my volunteer job (we build handicap ramps), as I walked out there was a beautiful cardinal waiting by my car. I just started crying again. She had come back for a brief visit. While I am happy, I do not think I'll loose this feeling for her. The love bond is very strong. At 82, I keep on keeping on and you will do the same. We need your humor and your daughter needs you.

DWB said...

So good to finally have a picture to relate to. I reference Quinn's comment and thankful that I have not had to go down your path yet. Everyone, as you well know, has different likes/dislikes & needs. If you would choose to join a charitable group that does things, it might help re-direct your focus. i.e. Rotarians, masonic groups, veterans groups, Civitans, Lions, etc. After you know people in the group that you are working with, it feels good to get together with friends who have a common interest to help other people with their problems that your group is best suited to help with.

DWB said...

He is not you, but he writes today along a parallel issue. I have no idea if you know of him, but every day he has a story with an uplift at the end. I hope that this is a help.

Fish Out of Water said...

Speaking of planting something, how about planting a fruit bearing tree or bush to commemorate/celebrate your wife? And as the tree/bush matures and bears fruit, you are in a sense getting something back.

As to senior centers, I can understand your abhorrence. The activities seem to be someone's, badly outdated idea of what a senior is capable of.

Me? One hobby of sorts of mine is taking my metal detector out to see what I might find. No, I haven't found any lost Confederate gold (yet😏), but it does get me out of the house.

michaels loehrer said...

Have you ever considered getting a pooch for a best friend. There are no ones better.

Anonymous said...

Grief is not for sissies, Stilton. God bless you and yours.

Wayne in Indiana

jhsilcox said...

It's a long journey that you will never completely complete.

Murphy(AZ) said...

Stilton, you already have written (are writing) your book. Everything you've posted about this journey is the continuing of Stilton and Kathy. Write it like a journal or diary, add some other thoughts along the way, and find a publisher. I don't know of anyone who's follower your posts who wouldn't buy your book.

Gorgon Zola said...

Kathy is a looker. She obviously picked you for your sense of humor! (This somehow wound up on a different post!?)

Bruce Bleu said...

Stilt, Maoz brought up your reference to "Santa's good looks"... I envisioned Santa's rotund physique and thought about how I was told, in my 50's, how I needed to "get in shape". I told him, "HEY, 'round' IS a shape"!
Quinn, 84 years old, still shoveling snow and splitting wood" What a "studdette"!
Bobo the Hobo, Have you ever heard of the mixed drink called a "Phillips Screwdriver"? It's vodka and Milk of Magnesia!

Becky LW said...

Grief is not a thing to simply get over. It is a process and sometimes it takes a long time and sometimes it never really ends it just gets to a place where you can live with it.

Losing someone you truly cherish is not an event that you can simply leave in your past. The presence of this person in your life and then, their loss, was and still is so intertwined in your character that is a part of you and always will be. This is normal. To not feel this way would be more troubling in my opinion.

Honestly, I suggest you not try to get past this but try to learn to live with it. It is not possible to replace Kathy nor should you try. You should try to find purpose for your life and then do as you can to serve that.

Find the good in every day.

Try to interact with others within your comfort zone and build them up and make a difference.

In the process you will be rebuilding yourself and while never replacing Kathy, you will find a reason to carry on and that is what living with a loss is all about.

Roger Myers said...

Stilton writes:
" I simply don't have a big community of friends to spend time with."

Your community of friends is larger than most people on the Planet Earth. As you battle up the hill with the weight of loss on your shoulders, we get a boost in our own tortuous journey every time we log on to Stilton's Place.

Roger Myers

Kathe Houston said...

Love to you Stilton and Daughter J

Everything you wrote is absolutely true and the lack of human companionship or friends really has been almost impossible for me. Although I may not seem like it to others, I am really pretty shy and meeting up with others around my age at the fitness centers to do Silver Sneakers exercises like turn your thumbs in a circle one way and then another made me think REALLY???? when I first started last Aug here. I've found that many small movements really do have an impact maybe better for me physically than killing myself swimming two miles and blowing my knees and shoulders out. It is still just hard to manage my way into anything other than small talk and finally now a few laughs before exercise starts but once it is over, everyone has a life and away they go and I'm sitting here alone again.
Jack is ALWAYS present and prodding me mentally to GET ON WITH IT KATHE! but it is just now not the same as you said. I still give him my snarky answers and I still see and feel him rolling his eyes at me (with absolute LOVE - that NO ONE would understand except the two of us) and I've grateful that he's still around.
LOVE TO YOU ALWAYS and yea I get told to write a book etc. and that's not happening. I'm a full time job to myself and the cats just to exist! And scared out of my gourd right now as I've just got to get out of the townhouse with no insulation and I can hear the families and little kids stomping and screaming and having a life which I don't. Not their fault or mine but it is truly unbearable and I have no idea where to go or how to pull it off again and will I end up in the same situation where ever I land?

Plant a flower for me if you get that far. I'd love to be a thought or even a weed in your garden.


Kathe Houston

Phil said...

Remember, Stilt, that time wounds all heels. Uh, something like that.

Hang in there. Your writing is still fantastic and that must help a bit.

Oh, you might suggest beer pong be added to the senior center's list of activities. (Your group could use Clan MacGregor!)

Anonymous said...

I offer no advice, haven't suffered through your situation.
I can say that your strength is admirable, more admirable than your outstanding sense of humor. You're doing good and will do better.
Prayers for you and your family. Thanks for allowing us onboard your journey, my friend.

Freedom 4 Michigan said...

Well my friend, all I can say is that it does dull down over time but never goes away. Just try to focus on all the good stuff and let the bad stuff go. That helps keep you (or it did me) sane.

Good to see your posts coming again, kinda missed them.

Stay strong, muddle along, stay with the Clan McGregor, and always remember that you have US... all of US to "help".

Peace, my friend.

TrickyRicky said...

Our next door neighbor lost his wife last year. They were high school sweethearts and had been married for somewhere around 60 years. His most poignant recent comment was that he is having trouble understanding his purpose in life....Hang in there and be thankful that you have your multitude of talent, inquiring mind and loving daughter. Remember also that we, your internet family love you as well.

Doc Claussen said...

Hang in there bud. We're here for you.

Anonymous said...

Grief is the price for love. April 19 will be 4 years for me. My religion and my government said my marriage was over. Nobody asked me. I still have the same feelings for her as I did falling in love with her. Keep trying Stilton. You have to

redneckprof said...

I'm adding you to my prayer list. Your websites give me great pleasure. I'm very sorry for your loss.

mamafrog said...

First one is the worst, for sure. Year I mean, btw. First year after hubs I had to ask the kids to do something because I didn't want to sit at home that day. We had a lovely lunch and day with my kids and grandkids and that really helped. I agree with Kathy, clean the house and plant flowers (or something), it will make the day much easier. And maybe takeout and a movie, too.

Mesquite Country said...

Just so you know: grief is like a freaking river; it just keeps on going. Sometimes it is easier to ride; other times it is like taking the rapids. Be grateful you had someone to love who loved you back. Not everyone has that blessing. Still, my prayer for you and daughter J is that God may give you peace of mind. Plant the flowers; clean the house; work on something physical that makes you tired so you can enjoy being still once in a while. Get a couple of chickens, an old dog, a grumpy cat, walk outside and appreciate the Texas air. Life goes on and you two are still part of it--well, the three of you actually, because she will always be part of you. Blessings.

DougM said...

I'm not a grieving sort, so can't offer any useful advice.
Just know that your humor and wisdom are addictive to some of us and missed during the downtimes.
Reckon it's a Johnny Optimsm kind of thing.

Handy said...


Brian said...

Very well written.

Sometimes all we can do is sit with the pain, grief, and loss. WE are aware of it. We have known it's possibility. We have loved deeply and we feel a deep loss. That is ok. A simple distraction, perhaps helping others who need help. Feeling useful. Finding something to look forward to. Constructive distractions. You'll get past the end of the fence, it's ok if it takes more time than you think it should.

Mike said...

Hi Stilton,

Every day one of my personal prayer intentions is for “healing and mercy for the Jarlsburg family”. I lost my soulmate, Susan, on 5/5/21, after 5 years of mutual redemptive suffering (that’s the best spin I can give it). I was going through the anger stage of grieving a few days after she passed, and I might benefit from going to confession to cleanse my soul. There were 6 people in line in front of me, but apparently they were all newly-repentant serial killers, because I waited 30 minutes to get absolved. While I was waiting, a question popped into my head: “Do you believe that God’s plan was, is, and always will be perfect?”

If you answer yes, and that is THE right answer, then you have to accept that His plan isn’t your plan, but He still has a part for you to play. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that is, but we’ll sort it out…

I was very excited when Weird Uncle Joe made Juneteenth a national holiday. It gives me hope that he’ll make Cinco de Mayo one, too; then everybody will get to party hard on Susan’s feast day!


John the Econ said...

I really wish I had something salient to offer you, but I'm afraid that any book on grief I might write wouldn't be any better than your's.

I thing I might suggest is not to commemorate her passing, but take other opportunities to commemorate her life. When my father-in-law died, my sisters-in-law started commemorating what Mrs. Econ called "Dead Dad Day", which we considered unnecessarily morose. We choose to celebrate the highlights of our dear-departed's lives instead of commemorating our losses.

Either way, you remain in my prayers to find a renewed sense of purpose in life. Nothing will or can replace Kathy. But there are other things out there to discover and enjoy. I don't think that Kathy wants you to remain miserable for Kathy's sake.

Russ said...

Your journey will be slow. Savor the memories. They will provide comfort. After losing my wife of 39 years I paused my life for a time to reflect and honor her. I still do. There is no 'recovery time' or 'time to move on.' Only time to move forward in appreciation for all that we had. Journey safely. Enjoy the ride. It won't end, but it will get much better.

Popular Wolf said...

God bless you, sir, and thanks for what you do.

Anonymous said...

Stilt, my heart is heavy for you, old friend. I’ve always said that I want to go before my wife does as I’m not sure I’d have the willpower to carry on.
I’ve suggested this to you before but I’m going to say it again. You should consider joining your local YMCA and getting some regular exercise. Our psychological health is closely correlated to our physiological health. As you probably already know, exercise creates endorphins which help boost your mood and self-esteem. Start slow and steady. Don’t be intimidated by others that are stronger or in better shape. They all had to start at the beginning too. Being around others while you’re exercising helps motivate you too. Soon you’ll notice your body getting stronger and your mind will follow. Twice now I’ve been thru debilitating injuries that took years to recover from and both times it was regular exercise that got me back in the game. I urge you to try it, Stilt.

jayjay said...

Grief never ends...but it changes. It's a passage,not a place to stay. grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. it is the price of love. Stay strong and know that your Kathy lives on in your heart and your memories.

Unknown said...

GOD bless you both DJ

Lee The Voice said...

Soooo. The elusive Dr. Jarlsberg comes out of hiding and shows his face.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- So many wonderful, heartfelt comments. I would do no one any favor by breaking into song, but you do "lift me up" and I'm grateful. I'll try to post some personalized responses soon, but for now I wanted to address a few things generally.

I want to be fair to our local senior center, which is actually a great facility. It has a gym with exercise machines, pool tables, a library, a cafeteria with inexpensive meals, various classes and events, and yes - bingo, scrabble, and poker. And to be clear, I've got nothing against simple games because their real point is socializing. It's just difficult for me to make that leap since I don't know anyone yet. But "yet" is the word I'm trying to focus on.

Part of my failure to get out into the world has been because of Covid fears, but I'm trying to push past that now because Covid is simply a fact of life now. There's only one way to be sure of avoiding this manmade plague (yeah, I'm looking at YOU, Fauci) and that's to avoid contact with others. And frankly, I just can't do that anymore.

Regarding grief, I know that it's not something one gets over, nor is there a timetable. "It gets better" is the gold standard I'm shooting for.

I'm actively looking for volunteering opportunities and can surely find some if I'm not too picky (and if the organizations aren't too picky).

And I'm happiest and the most "me" when I have projects to work on and I'm writing. So I need to think about ways to goose up my blog output. I'm still not big on getting into the minutiae of politics as my thoughts on those things runs toward "a pox on all their houses" and "we need more heads on pikes." But those may indeed be sentiments that could benefit from popularization.

And humor continues to be my friend and helps to sustain me, even when I'm laughing at myself (I've got a lot of material to work with in that area). I'm doing my best to keep a nice firm grip on that particular lifesaver.

And of course, I have this genuinely wonderful online community of friends at Stilton's Place! You dear folks never ever let me down. So I may act like a mope sometimes, but I know I'm a lucky mope and I thank you!

PROCON said...

Alas, you still have all of us who love you and care about you from afar, thanks for all you do, Stilt.

Mandeville Pops said...

Love the photo - y'all looked so happy then - can't imagine me going through what you're going through. Hang tight and move forward against the tide.

JohnF said...

Nice picture!
I too am very introverted and shy and after 4 years still struggle at times. Was watching The Last of Us and lost it when they played Linda Ronstadt's Long Long Time (beautiful voice but maybe avoid this song? btw - had to fast forward through all the gay man sex scenes in the 3rd episode so maybe another reason to avoid it) Thinking you should also avoid the senior center like the plague. The last thing i want to do is hang out with old people! Like the volunteer suggestions above but haven't done it myself. Might go coach more volleyball after i retire. Currently working on de-trashing the house in an effort to sell and move out of (too blue) NOVA, but that is an extremely painful process.
Anyways, keep pushing forward, one day at a time...

Shelly said...

Well, well, it appears you are a rakish dude after all with a winning smile. I think you would be the most popular man with all the ladies at the senior senator. I've thought about going there myself but I stay pretty busy with my kids and grandkids. My heart aches for your grief. I can't even imagine it. As someone said above, it will never go away but the intense pain will subside. You can't force it and I hope you don't. What you went through with Kathy's horrific treatment probably made it worse for you. Don't give up!

Anonymous said...

I haven't looked at all the previous comments, but I want to tell you that I have prayed for you. And I prayed for Kathy during her illness and especially during her hospitalization. I do wish I could tell you it will get better. I lost my Sue to cancer just over three years ago, and it will get easier - not better. You just get more accustomed to being alone and waiting to be be reunited. DO get out there and meet other people. Hermits are lonely twice over! All my best and I will continue to follow you through Stilton's Place.

Anonymous said...

Polish-up your standup comedy and take it on the road to the senior center. I bet they’d enjoy some good clean comedy & humor and it would brighten their day. Maybe find another comedian at the center and put on an after lunch, before nap time show.
Love your humor!!


Unknown said...

Prayers go out to you Stilton. DB

Julian said...

I do understand so much of what you are going through, and wish I had some great wisdom to help. But I don't. If you can be around people- yes, even if it is a Bingo game!!! - that might help you start developing some social connections, not necessarily lifelong BFFs but just people you see on a somewhat regular basis. Even having regular meals at a Waffle House or sitting in on a reading club meeting, or anything!!! It will make a difference, really. And I LOVE that picture of the two of you, your beautiful bride has a smile that warms the heart right away. And I never before noticed how much you DO resemble Steve Martin, I mean, except for him being white and all... ;o) Praying for you my dear friend. God bless you and your precious daughter.

Julian said...

PS - Busking naked, with a ukulele, on a street corner will also introduce you to lots of new people.

Sam said...

I don't have any advice but I do want to share that I hope you find more peace and comfort as time passes, and that you find a group somewhere that can help you occupy your thoughts with other things. I've not lost a spouse but still have much experience with loss of my own and of those around me. It just sucks. I've followed you for a few years and I'm sure there are many others like me who don't communicate with you but who feel for you and wish you the best in finding good things. Bless you.

ringgo1 said...

It will soon be 4 years since my "child bride", Ingrid z"l died. She was 14 years younger than I, and I never imagined she would go first. I found her stone-cold body on the floor of the shower in the master bath (heart attack). I miss her every day, and expect I always will until I join her in the World to Come. This song reminds me:

Prayers and blessings to you, meyn fraynd.

mamafrog said...

@Julian -- Here I am, just reading along and enjoying the lovely sentiments, and then I hit "Busking naked with a ukulele" and absolutely spit diet pop out my nose! Scared mom and some of the cats! And now my eyes are watering from trying to hold in sniggers!! I do not know what you are on dude but I seriously need some, lol.

Stevarooni said...

Grief takes as long as it takes. The important part is that at the end, you still love the one you lost. Not without pain, but with more joy than pain.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Alec Horne- Beauty is like that!

@Vince Dandini- I think I must be making at least some progress. It's not fast and it's not enough, but as long as I'm trending in the right direction I'll take it.

@Mrywidow- The senior center actually has a number of things going on and I'll need to give it a fair chance. I'll probably do the things you describe on Sunday. And if there are tears involved, I'll make a point of scooting the good scotch out of the way so as not to dilute it (grin).

@Mike aka Proof- And if I were a Yiddish poet, "it could be voice." (I'll see myself out right behind you)

@HankJ- Thank you!

@M. Mitchell Marmel- I never forget that and I never take it for granted!

@Dan- Prayers are very much appreciated. And the fact that I'm still here a year later suggests they may be working.

@Maoz- Shuffleboard?! Now you're talking! Or perhaps I could just shuffle, bored. And I don't know where "rakish" comes from and agree that it doesn't sound particularly flattering.

@Anonymous- Maybe I should convince myself that at the senior center I'm just volunteering to cheer up really old people. And spike their drinks.

@Quinn- Thank you for the insightful comments. And look at you doing all kinds of active things! I'll need to go into training to try to keep up with you! I'm delighted that you and your husband are still together and hope that continues to be the case for a long, long time.

As far as this blog goes, I'm hoping to steer it back toward more humor and entertainment because we ALL enjoy that more. I've never intended for this to become a "grief" blog but have certainly benefitted from sharing with everyone here and getting so much support.

@Mike- I will continue to grind to the best of my abilities. (That vaguely makes me sound like an over-the-hill stripper...)

@MrJimbo59- I'm sorry you speak from experience about grief, but I value your opinion all the more for it. And moving from Australia to Italy sounds like a big change - all the flora and fauna won't be trying to kill you!

@Anonymous- My real sympathy for your loss and my genuine happiness that you've found new life. I don't have any high school sweethearts to reconnect with as Kathy was the first and only girl I ever dated - I knew I had a keeper right away.

@Bobo the Hobo- I had to laugh at your drink suggestion because I once added tequila to orange metamucil and called it a "Tequila Moonrise." Because mooning would be occurring soon afterward.

@jimbro- Yes, appreciate every day and every little thing. Trust me, you're hitting Life's jackpot every day.

@Art- I don't think there's ever been a socially acceptable version of myself, though I could sort of fool folks when I was with Kathy. And you're right that I'm not going to move to anyone's timetable other than my own.

Julian said...

@MamaFrog- glad you had a moment of jollity and a bubbly nasal douche, as we all need both from time to time, but my apologies to your Mama and Purrbabies. I am told that I have never been quite right since my old Welsh nany often shared copious quantities of her health drink with me in my toddling years, some oddly burny fluid she called "Wot-ka' which hlpd us to dance and giggle and fall suddenly into a deep sleep. Cheers.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Anonymous- Doing yard work in return for some shared beer sounds great. Maybe I'll make up some flyers and put them on my neighbors' doors...

@Bobo the Hobo- I spent too much time trying to figure out the Mott's apple juice connection before seeing your next note that it was a typo!

@Anonymous- Yes, Kathy is still with me in some important ways and that helps sustain me. I think I'll wait awhile before trying the movie "Up" again. The "time passes" romance montage that begins the movie pretty much broke me even when Kathy was healthy.

@Anonymous- My condolences for your loss and my thanks for your advice. And you're building handicap ramps at 82? You make me feel like a slacker! I need to start making myself useful (and making this blog more fun to read again).

@DWB- Good suggestions about the various groups. I don't know anything about them so should do a bit of digging. Despite my extreme introversion, once I get to know people I warm up and clown around. Which is why almost no one who knows me in real life believes that I'm an introvert. And thanks for the Sean Dietrich link - I've added my name to his email list!

@Fish Out of Water- I like the idea of a fruit-bearing tree or bush. I'll have to do some homework to see what can thrive in my neck of the woods.

As I've mentioned in a couple of other places, I was truthfully reporting my feelings at the senior center but not giving the facility a fair shake. In part because I still have some PTSD associated with spending Kathy's last days in the Alzheimer's wing of an old folks home.

And if you're a metal detecting kind of person, have you ever seen the British comedy "The Detectorists"? It's quietly delightful.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@michaels loehrer- I'm fortunate to have Daughter J's dog, Ladybug, living here with me and she's a huge help. I think it's a given that I will have a dog in my life as long as I'm able to. They are magic.

@Wayne in Indiana- Thank you.

@jhsilcox- You're absolutely right. It's not a journey that one can complete, nor something that one can get "over." It's more about integrating the loss along with the love and accepting it as the substance of life.

@Murphy(AZ)- I'll try to write more books, but probably not any serious memoir. Though an un-serious memoir might actually be enjoyable for people to read. And on a barely related note, I've promised myself to try to give a marketing push to the book of Kathyisms, "The Skin of a Hen's Teeth," to see if I can move more copies or get some interest. I just like the idea of people laughing with Kathy.

@Gorgon Zola- Kathy was clearly out of my league, which is why I had to pursue her for quite a while. What I lack in looks, I make up for in tenacity.

@Bruce Bleu- I look way more like Santa now than I did in that picture. And I've got a pretty nice Santa Claus suit, too. I'm planning on shooting some projection-worthy video of "Santa" waving out a window and giving it away online in December so I can become part of peoples' decorations.

@Readers- That's all the steam I have for right now, but tomorrow I'll pick up where I left off and reply to everyone else!

mamafrog said...

@Julian -- Welsh nanny? Grandmother or caretaker of juveniles? Either way it explains soooo much now, lol. My dad's mom was Scots/Irish, more or less, who married into a bunch of stodgy Germans. Livened things up and I think they finally came to love her, Grandad certainly did and us grandkids adored her. Still miss her and him even after all these years. Grandad was the...uhm..."different one" in his family. He had a wacky sense of humor, some of his stories (I'm rolling my eyes here even though you can't see it). Hubs had Welsh ancestry somewhere up the tree even though they were mostly Scots/Irish too. The man could sing, lovely voice and perfect pitch!

Dan said...

I'll have to do some homework to see what can thrive in my neck of the woods.

Well, that neck of the woods is kinda dry, so you might want to try growing prunes, raisins, and dried peaches.

Hyzenthlay said...

You ARE rakish, and you were flashy dressers.

I'm sure everyone here had the same thought -- "Has it been a year?" In some ways it doesn't seem that long, in others it seems longer. And I'm sure everyone here also sends you a hug across the miles. That's the only kind of hug we introverts are good at accepting!

Anonymous said...

Hi first time commenter, long time reader. I had a really bad stroke several years ago and was reading your blog while recovering. Your story of Kathy broke my heart but it helped me out of my own troubles by reminding me that other people had it worse and needed comfort. Your political jokes helped me realize that I wasn’t the only one who was completely exasperated with what was going on ( I live in DeBlasio/ Cuomo/ Hochulstan). I’m praying for you and the suggestion that I would suggest is travel a bit. You don’t have to go around the world but travel to another state, or city, short trips for a change and force yourself out of one discomfort zone into another. Go fishing or to Church or to museums or hike in the forest, anywhere that you can see beauty and feel closer to God. Things take time. Cliche I know but true. Know this you have touched and helped a lot of us. Keep going
Johnny Optimism. Your in our prayers.

Drew458 said...

Looking for something social to do, to meet new people, have some fun, have an opportunity for a beer? Go bowling. Go twice a week, learn how to do it at least marginally well (130 average). Then join a league. A decent league will have at least a dozen teams of 4, so that's 48 new people you'll spend time with week after week, year after year if you stick it out. Join 2 leagues and that's about 100 new people in your life. They may not all become your lifetime besties, but you'll at least have bowling to talk about. There's a reason bowling centers are humorously called redneck country clubs. This is a nice thing if you suffer from liberal overload in your daily life. Sure, some of the folks are jerks; just like anywhere else. Most aren't. Some are pretty dim; just like anywhere else. Most aren't. They come from all walks of life.

Learning to be an effective and consistent bowler (>180 average) is a lot harder than you might think. Keeps the brain and the body working. Tons of How To videos online, and any decent center will gladly give you the basic lessons for free.

Anonymous said...

You are doing all the right things. Stuff takes time.

Mark Trahan said...

Go to church.

Murphy(AZ) said...

Stilton: I know nothing will ever replace your Kathy, but maybe I can offer some suggestions.

About cleaning house. It's a good idea. take out the garbage on a regular basis. Sweep and vacuum BEFORE you can see a visible path in the dust. On days when the weather is nice (I hear that happens on occasion even in Texas,) open some windows and let the outside in, even if you have allergies. It's medicine for the spirit.

About the yard. If you have room for a lawn, even a small one, plant one. It will help keep the weeds down, and finding someone who will maintain it for you, if needed, should be easy where you live. Plant flowers, yes, for color, aroma, and memories. Again, they are medicine for the soul just by being there. But don't underestimate weeds, either. Take some time to admire the weeds in other people's yards. Dandelions, for instance, have beautiful yellow flowers that attract bees as a food source, and the green leaves can be used in salads.

About Life. Do not deny yourself something because you used to enjoy it as a couple with Kathy. She would want you to remember and enjoy, not become a monk.

Adding excitement to your days. Yes, the senior center might be just the thing for you. I'd bet you'll find a number of like-minded people there to interact with, especially if you were to begin daily Karin Jean-Pierre drinking games.

Remember always that you are not alone. Just look at the responses you've received to this one post. Lots of people have shared your experience with great loss of their own. Others someday will. We are all taking something from this, and whether we know it or not, we are growing because of it.

Rod said...

Hey Stilton: For a short break from the main theme; I just want to wish you the best of luck this year with the stupid time change to DST. I got up not long ago, got some coffee and dammit, it's 7AM. But the "connected" machines say it's 8AM and I'm running late. This is bullshit. It's just one of the several reasons I never was a dairy farmer.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- I'm back (missed a day). This is Sunday evening and so far I've done quite well today. All of you likely have something to do with that.

@Unknown- You're speaking truth. I have no intention of "getting past" this, I just want to improve my skills for living with loss, and the ways you suggest make sense.

@Roger Myers- Very true! I am genuinely blessed to have so many friends right here.

@Kathe Houston- Our nearby YMCA has some good exercise classes for oldsters and I'm going to be looking into that. Rotating thumbs sounds about like my level of fitness. (grin). As is your case with Jack, I get instructions from Kathy regularly (and not subtly) - and I appreciate them.

I didn't find flowers to plant today, but got out in the yard and started raking up thousands of acorns. Although I'm not sure that playing with my nuts was the appropriate way to commemorate the day...

@Phil- Writing is indeed a pleasure for me, so I have to keep it up. It makes me feel like "me" again.

@Anonymous- Thanks for the kind words. And thank you - and everyone - for being part of this journey. I enjoy being snarky, but it also means a lot to me when I can simply be open and honest with everyone here.

@Freedom 4 Michigan- I offer my sympathies for your loss and extend thanks for your advice.

@TrickyRicky- Your neighbor is spot on. If you're half of an "us" for that long, there's no real "you" left when life steals your spouse. You have to rediscover and reinvent a new person to be - and that's hard. I do try to practice gratitude for what I still have, though, and that helps.

@Doc Claussen- I know you are and it means a lot to me.

@Anonymous- My condolences for your loss, and you just nailed something that honks me off every time it happens: I'll be filling out a form and it asks if I'm married or single. If there can be 57 different selections for gender on a form, is it too much to ask for a "married but widowed" checkbox? Because I'm with you - my marriage isn't over and never will be.

@redneckprof- I appreciate the prayers and am glad you enjoy my (usually) goofy offerings.

@mamafrog- I've kept reasonably busy today and it has helped. I didn't have flowers to plant, but brought potting soil over to daughter J's apartment and helped her plant some herbs in pots, then did a dab of yardwork here at home. I may try to watch a movie tonight, although that can be a challenge for me too. In the past year, I've only watched two movies on my own...but maybe I'll roll the dice on a third one.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Mesquite Country- Fine advice, eloquently expressed. Although I'll probably skip the chickens since bobcats are frequent visitors in my neighborhood.

@DougM- I've always been a Johnny Optimism kind of guy (though lacking his actual optimism) and losing Kathy only reinforced it. So I will continue to use humor to balm my wounds as much as possible - and it gives me a lot of pleasure to share it with others. I've even got a grief-free blog post coming up tomorrow!

@Handy- Remarkably, I'm no longer flailing and punching myself all night long! That craziness slowly ebbed over the course of a year or two and now I'm down to almost nothing most nights. It was never diagnosed or treated and will remain a mystery. And one that I hope never comes back!

@Brian- Wise and appreciate words.

@Mike- I'm so sorry for your loss (and the five years of suffering you and Susan shared). And you shouldn't have to wait 30 minutes for absolution. Suggest to your church that they add a Quick Check lane for "8 sins or less."

I don't personally have the benefits of Faith, though certainly respect it in others. And I certainly hope that there's a grand plan behind everything.

@John the Econ- You're right that Kathy wouldn't want me to be miserable and that's one of the reasons I continue to make the effort to live as she would want me to. And pardon me for chuckling at the notion of "Dead Dad Day" but it's inherently funny. As would be the line of Hallmark greeting cards...

@Russ- I'm only now sneaking up on the point where I can get comfort rather than pain from memories. One positive thing about hitting the one-year mark is that I now know with certainty that Kathy won't fade from my heart, memory, or "self" no matter what.

@Popular Wolf- Thank you!

@Anonymous- Great advice and as I mentioned above, I'm planning on jumpstarting something with the YMCA. Kathy and I used to take exercise classes there (she was a star, I was a beached whale) and it's a really nice facility. Covid has slowed my re-integration with such places but I've decided to try to ignore Fauci's Folly and the horse it rode in on. Plus, if I get back to exercise at the YMCA I can buy myself a new leotard!

@jayjay- It's funny how truth makes itself easy to recognize sometimes. Thank you for sharing some.

@Unknown- Thank you!

@Lee the Voice- I showed what WAS my face. Add about 10 years, 50 pounds, a cotton-candy nimbus of white hair and a beard and you've got me. Picture Santa Claus after getting some bad drugs.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@PROCON- That genuinely means a lot to me.

@Mandeville Pops- That picture was taken at a Mardi Gras event at a local New Orleans-style restaurant. Good times.

@JohnF- I'm sorry for your loss and fully expect to "still struggle at times" for the rest of my life. And I know what you mean about Linda Ronstadt's song and others like it. I can be devastated by the wrong song at the wrong time so I have to be very careful when playing music. Regarding the senior center, I have nothing against old people (like me!) but I don't want to spend time with those who ACT like old people. So I'll try to find out if anything more spirited happens at the center.

@Shelly- I'm definitely not going to try forcing changes in my feelings, although I do try to challenge myself just a bit so I don't get too mired. And yes, on top of everything else I definitely have some PTSD associated with the hospital/hospice experience. I'll be addressing that in therapy at a future point.

@Anonymous- My heart goes out to you and your loss. "Easier - not better" will work fine for me and I'm trying to do what I can to get there. And you're right about the hermit's way not being a good one. I've been one for too long and really must change. Somehow.

@Bobo- Where in the world did you get the idea that I'd do "clean" comedy? Although actually, I kept everything clean in my online stand-up comedy class. It's not likely that I'll try to do some comedy in front of human beings, but it's not impossible either. I may yet start some online video nonsense. If I do, you'll hear about it first right here!

@Unknown- Prayers gratefully accepted and I thank you.

@Julian- Even now I'm filling out an Amazon order for a ukelele, a tip jar, and a 5-gallon drum of sunscreen!

@Sam- Thank you. Nobody actually has to comment here to still be a full-fledged member of the Jarlsberg extended family. We're all here by choice and that makes for a very nice bond.

@ringgo1- I'm so sorry about Ingrid and the circumstances. I've heard some people debate whether it's better for our loved ones to go quickly or slowly and I'm pretty sure that there's no answer. Both options suck. And like you, I never thought Kathy would go first. She ate right, exercised, and did everything right while I was a heart attack waiting to happen. Which is something else I need to work on.

@mamafrog- Before I commit to trying it, I need to research whether "busking naked with a ukelele" is considered a misdemeanor or a felony around here.

@Stevarooni- That's what I'm counting on. Thanks.

@Julian- That Welsh nanny sounds like someone I'd like to party with!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@mamafrog- My father's biological father (he never bothered marrying Grandma and skipped town) was from County Cork, Ireland. And I'm not sure if that side of my family was nuts even before that, but it certainly didn't get saner after he added to the genetic roulette wheel.

@Dan- Plus, it gets so hot around here in the summer that breadfruit turns into toastfruit. True fact!

@Hyzenthlay- It really is baffling to me that it's been a year. As you observe, it simultaneously feels like a month and an eternity. My sense of time in general was blown out of the water when I lost Kathy and I'm not sure when or if it will come back. And thanks for the introverts' virtual hug - they count!

@Anonymous- I'm sorry you had that stroke and I hope your recovery has been a good one! Lately I've been thinking that a bit of travel would do me good, though I barely know how. But as you suggest it doesn't have to be major trips - I just need a change of scenery and to spend some time absorbing an environment that doesn't have the view blocked by memories. You've given me a lot of good suggestions and I thank you!

@Drew458- I actually like bowling although I haven't done it in 25 years or so. And even then I wasn't exactly burning up the lanes. But I may look into leagues around here - thanks for the suggestion!

@Anonymous- Stuff DOES take time and I'm not trying to push it as long as I'm moving in the right direction.

@Mark Trahan- I'm not really a church person although I attended a church-based grief group and it was a very good experience (I asked the Pastor if she'd mind my being there and she was very welcoming).

@Murphy(AZ)- What a great comment! In order of the things you mention, I actually do a reasonably good job of cleaning the house (not de-cluttering) and look forward to some open window weather.

We have nice lawns in the front and back. A service does the one in front, I do the one in back. And I do appreciate dandelions or anything else that wants to show up with a blossom.

Regarding things I used to enjoy with Kathy, it's hard for me to do them because much of the enjoyment came from the fact that we were doing it together. So there's a learning curve for me to try to figure out how to enjoy something on my own. I haven't mastered it yet but at least know that I need to work on it. And adding some excitement is a high priority, too.

And you're quite right that I'm not alone, especially considering the friends I have here. So many others have suffered losses every bit as hard as mine and sharing our pain, memories, and growth experiences makes for strong and very real bonds. I know how lucky I am to have that.

@Rod- My clocks are in complete disagreement about what time it is, and I haven't stepped in as mediator yet. I like that tonight it got dark "later," but hated that it got "late" so much earlier. As I've said before, this is jet lag for people who can't afford to travel.

Mike aka Proof said...

"jet lag for people who can't afford to travel."
Consider THAT stolen!

The Italian Meat Sauce said...

You sir are blessed

The Italian Meat Sauce said...

2022 was a horrible year in so many ways. On January 1st I learned that my estranged older brother had passed away 10 months earlier, in February of '21. The task of dealing with his cremated remains fell on my shoulders. When we were kids everyone thought that we were twins since we were only 14 months apart. My wife(3rd) suggested that we spread his ashes on the beach at Coney Island in Brooklyn. Apparently I had mentioned that as kids we had many good times every summer at this beach. So, my wife and my daughter joined me on the ride to the funeral home on Staten Island to pick up the ashes, then it was into Brooklyn were my son met us. After finding a grassy knoll(not as big as JFK's), we spread the ashes, then hit the famous L&B Spumoni Gardens for some great Italian food. Btw, if you're planning on spreading ashes on a Big Apple beach in January, bring a shovel... that friggin sand is frozen. On November 5th I got a call from my best friend Eamon's son. Eamon had died that morning from a massive heart attack. Eamon was not only my two sons God father, he was more of a brother to me than my own brother. He was just 60 yrs old. The wake was held here in New Jersey but he was buried on his family's farm in Ireland. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss his thick Irish sense of humor. Finally in December another close friend lost his 53 year old son to lung cancer.
The grieving process for me has been bitter sweet. When I think about these three men, I'm forced to think about my own mortality, especially since two of them were much younger than me. Even though my wife is 14 years younger than I am, she's convinced that I'll outlive her. I'm 72 and I take care of myself and my health, she's 58 and afraid of doctors.
In any event, I wonder if we have a more difficult time dealing with the grief of losing a close loved one because we're reminded that our own time on this planet is extremely limited.

twocents said...

Hang in there, you still got it -- your continued assignment (for which we pay next to nothing or nothing) is entertaining us, giving us fodder and destroying the lefts pretensions. You laugh at yourself and that is good, that helps us to laugh at ourselves. Planting some flowers is good, or at least acknowledging them in my case. Life has seasons.

PS I am not a robot - I passed captcha

Anonymous said...

Before you got banned on-base, I read you every morning. You provide so much to so many. Stay strong!
Have you ever considered bagpipes? There's gotta be a band somewhere near you, and they're (we're) always looking for new recruits...

udaman said...

Tilt, I hope you read this. Most palliative care centers have a group for grief counselling. I am not a group kind of guy but I went and it helped a lot. Your mileage may vary. Give it a try.

Doug Shepherd said...

I love your blog. And, thanks for the note - and the picture of you and Kathy. So nice to put a face to the names. You are a nice looking couple. Blessings and grace to you from the God of all grace.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

The Italian Meat Sauce- Oh, man, you've been through a lot this past year and I'm so sorry. We are both at an age where death becomes uncomfortably common, and it's hard not to think about our own mortality. But those same thoughts remind me that life being wasted is a terrible choice - so I'm still trying to figure out how to get up to some mischief even though it's hard.

@twocents- I'm glad you enjoy the things I post. If I've got a purpose in life, it seems to be to bring some pleasure and levity to others when possible. Which, as assignments go, is a pretty good one.

Regarding the captcha, I wish there was a way I could turn that off. I'll look into it again!

@Anonymous- I actually love bagpipes and I suppose I've got the perfect practice space now. If you do a search on Youtube for "Bagpipe rock," you can find some awefome stuff - including a guy who plays AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" while shooting flames from one of his bagpipe's pipes!

@udaman- I benefitted from a grief group I attended and may rejoin them for their next session. And I'm not really a "group" guy either, but in this case it was a perfect fit.

@Doug Shepherd- Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous- I actually love bagpipes and I suppose I've got the perfect practice space now. If you do a search on Youtube for "Bagpipe rock," you can find some awefome stuff - including a guy who plays AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" while shooting flames from one of his bagpipe's pipes!

I know! I'm in a some of 'em! Keep up the great work Sir!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Anonymous- I'd love to hear some of your stuff! An Australian (I think) band named "Brother" is a particular favorite of mine, adding bagpipe and didgeridoo to rock. There are others but they're slipping my mind at the moment.

Linda Lee said...

We love you, Stilton