Two thousand and thirteen was memorable, to say the least. I will do my best to summarize the year in some paragraphs, enhanced by some favorite photos. (Click the image if you want to enlarge.) In the words of Rod Stewart, “Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It…” January started with wondering if my dad would be able to make the cross-country flight from San Diego to Orlando to accept the biggest award of his coaching career. He rallied.
A severe respiratory infection, combined with his age, did a number on him. Ralph did make the trip, but within a week after his return he was dramatically weaker. I wrote about the trip, of course, on my Orlando blog post.
One of my favorite photos from our Orlando trip reminds me of Hanna and her gramps watching the fireworks at Epcot.
I spent the month of February in San Diego with one goal: to make sure my dad, more weak and ill at that point, could stay in the home that he loved.
I am grateful beyond words for the chance to be with my dad during that time to have very honest conversations about family, life, and end of life. He lived a good life, he was appreciative for his good and full life, he knew he was loved by his family and friends, and he didn’t want his kids and grandkids to worry. Ralph learned more and more – from phone calls, letters, and emails – that he was a mentor and an example of an honorable person to many former athletes, friends, and acquaintances. For the most part, he felt fine; however, his body was shutting down. We lost him in May. We are all thankful to hospice. Karen took 10 of Ralph’s shirts to Sharp Hospice in San Diego and hospice volunteers made 10 memory bears for our family. Karen and I surprised our families with the bears shortly before Thanksgiving. What a cool thing they do for families!
A trip to Great Falls, MT, to celebrate my dad’s life was in early June. It was overwhelmingly positive, heartwarming, and rewarding in so many ways. A family reunion of sorts was joyful and fun. How Ralph would have enjoyed that! Having my kids by my side meant the absolute world to me. I miss him terribly, but not everyone gets to have their dad for so long. It’s been 20 years since our mom passed away.
How Ralph would love this group photo!
A Las Vegas wedding on July 27th was just what our sad hearts needed. Ralph adored his grandkids, there was no doubt about that, and he was happy last spring when Jordan and Becky told him they were engaged. We spent a few days in Vegas celebrating and witnessing our first born becoming a husband! Jordan and his bride, Becky, had a small chapel wedding with parents and some close family and friends in attendance. Their wedding reception at an Italian restaurant off the strip was probably Gary’s and my best memory. Hmmm, a favorite photo? Yeah, I made a Snapfish book of faves!
Gary and I planned a trip to Los Angeles to see Jordan and Becky in October, but when we booked the trip we didn’t know they would be moving to Phoenix, nor did they! We made the trip and helped them pack and move to Phoenix. Gary did much more than I because I had to get back to work. He drove the U-Haul to Phoenix and spent a few days with them. We did take a day to drive to Santa Barbara during the trip. What a great city. I can’t believe in all of my visits to CA that I never went to Santa Barbara.
Hanna’s boyfriend took some photos for us the day after Thanksgiving so we’d have some pix for our Christmas card. We have this little tradition going on of taking our Christmas picture in our neighbor’s back yard because 1) they have a super yard and we don’t (we rent a patio home); 2) they always leave town for Thanksgiving.
I turned 60 last week. That’s right, 60… sounds much older than 59. Gary’s gift to me for the last three years is to send me away to be with Hanna for a weekend. The last two years we’ve stayed in Raleigh and did Christmas shopping. This year we drove across the state to Asheville. We stayed with my penpal from 4th grade, Janean, and her husband Bernie. They are perfect hosts and their mountain home overlooking Asheville is splendid. We packed lots of fun into our weekend and it was fun for Hanna to be around Janean and Bernie, who she had not seen since she was 9 years old!
Life is good for us (and our dog, Remy) in North Carolina. Retirement agrees with Gary and I’ll be able to retire from the NC State Employee system and East Carolina University in March, 2015. We are narrowing down our choices of where to buy our retirement home. It will be in one of the Carolina’s, probably N.C., closer to the mountains. We have lots of fun on our weekend and day trips, and Gary takes very good care of me so that I can be a productive 8-5 employee at ECU! We feel very fortunate to have the life that we do. Neither of us would have imagined 10 years ago that we’d be in N.C.
Jordan and Becky are happy and their move to Phoenix is bringing good things to their lives. Jordan is a writer for Netflix and gets to work from his home office in Phoenix. Our daughter-in-law is President of her own company, a subsidiary of a family business. We are very proud of her and we enjoy hearing about her role as an entrepreneur.
Hanna changed companies in November, and is still a pediatric Speech and Language Pathology Assistant. She loves what she does. Hanna is also in love, so life in Raleigh is wonderful for her. We’re glad her beau, Mike, is in her life (and ours).
Gary and I have adult children, but they will always be our kids. The two pix below remind us of that. We got a kick out of these when we saw them!