Sunday, February 28, 2010


March 1 is/was Ralph's birthday. This year would have been the beginning of a new decade for him. I wish he could be here to celebrate.

He would have loved all the new technology--IPhones, IPads, Windows 7, faster, smaller, fancier cameras. Would he be into texting, twittering, friending? I doubt it, but he would have known the ins and outs of every software program and every new gimmick.

He would have loved to talk about 2008's never-ending Presidential campaign and to complain about the do-nothing Congress of today. The stock market crash wouldn't have fazed him; he was an optimistic guy.

He would be relieved to know that The Monster, his scary enormous philodendron that takes up half the patio, is still around. I have kept my promise not to murder it. He'd be happy that Tiki, his cat, is as playful as ever. Every night around 9:00 she and Toby, my cat, chase each other around the house, jump in and out of the bathtub and then curl up on the bed next to each other.

How he would love to see Gabriella, our granddaughter. Eleven years old now, she'll be starting middle school in September. The last time he saw her was a few weeks before he died. Children weren't allowed on the bone marrow transplant floor, but his wonderful doctor arranged for a special wheelchair so Ralph could go downstairs to the lobby and see Gabriella one last time. On the way back to his room, he said, "I hope she won't forget me." She hasn't and I'm sure she never will.

Most of all, he'd be proud of me and that I'm getting along on my own. Often stumbling along the way, I think I'm better than we both expected. I miss him every day. I wish we could celebrate this birthday together. Since we can't, I'll light a birthday candle and think of him and know, somehow, he's thinking of me, too. Love never fails.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quote for the Week

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Alfred Souza

Comfort Food

Do you have a comfort food?

Mine is Hagen Daz coffee ice cream. I zip to the store to buy a pint (or preferably a quart) if I'm sad, angry, sick, disappointed, or just plain grumpy. Last summer I was at Walgreens, searching the freezer, when a clerk told me they were discontinuing Hagen Daz coffee. I rushed home and fired off an e-mail to Hagen Daz, pleading with them not to destroy my comfort mainstay, and found, to my relief, that it was only being discontinued by Walgreens, not the entire universe. Sigh of relief.

My next favorite comfort food is French toast with jam, usually if I'm sick.

When Ralph was hospitalized, I indulged myself in daily smoothies, usually accompanied by a large cookie, either chocolate chip or peanut butter. A year later, I returned to M.D. Anderson Hospital for an appointment with my G-I specialist, who had moved there from another hospital but was still seeing his former, non-cancer patients. I hated being in that building but decided to treat myself to a smoothie to relieve my stress. God, it was awful. So sweet I ended up tossing most of it into the trash. How did I consume one every day? I guess I needed the sugar high at the time.

One food I don't eat, alas, is chocolate. It gives me migraine so the most I can do is imagine it.

How do people choose comfort foods? To remind them of childhood? To load up on carbs? To give them a way to focus, even for a few minutes, on something besides their troubles? Whatever the reason, everyone seems to have one. What's yours?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quote for the Week

If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.
Henry Ford

Valenrtine's Day

On Valentine's Day I think of Ralph and grieve that he isn't here to share the day that celebrates love and lovers. I am alone and yet I have memories to cherish.

Our first date was on Valentine's weekend, and Ralph arrived bearing a card...with my name misspelled: Thema. He would never have made it past round one in a spelling bee and for many years he called Gayle, our office manager, to check on spellings of words he was using in proposals.

Somewhere near the end of our time together, he totally forgot about Valentine's Day. I had placed a Valentine on his plate at breakfast, and he didn't have one for me. I glared at him. After breakfast he disappeared. A few minutes later he returned and handed me a Valentine he'd rushed to the drug store and bought. "Doesn't count," I told him. He never forgot again.

On our final Valentine's Day together, he gave me a card with the quotation above from First Corinthians. I framed it and keep it on my desk to remember that love doesn't vanish with the physical body. It remains, endures, comforts.

To all of you who are spending this Valentine's Day alone, my wish that you celebrate by remembering the love you shared, the love that will never disappear.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quote for the Week

It Takes Time to Heal
Ted Hibbard

It takes time to heal.
Build a bridge
from now to tomorrow.
Sink the piers
deep into the Earth
Pour in concrete
day by day
a little at a time
and let it set.

It takes time to heal.
It may feel very awkward
as if you're making empty promises
as if you're simply spanning empty space.

But someday, somehow, somewhere
you'll find yourself
upon a brand new shore
glancing back at the bridge
which you alone have built.

It takes time to heal.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Read This

Just found this referenced on Check out and search for the health report on bereavement and grief on 14/01/2002. Very interesting interview that makes so much sense about grief. I'd love to hear your comments.

And This

Check out this lovely, heartwrenching article by Michelle Buchanan at Twelve Years Later: How Widowhood Really Feels.

Thoughts About a Quote


"Sometimes it isn't what you do but what you don't do that makes you who you are." Author Unknown

This quote intrigued me, and I've been thinking about it all week. What is it that we don't do that defines us? Not the big things. None of us deliberately lie, cheat, or steal. I asked myself what I don't do and came up with a list:

1. I don't do outdoorsy stuff. I love nature but I'd love it more if it were indoors instead of outdoors.

2. I don't like large, noisy groups unless I have a specific purpose there; i.e., I'm the speaker for a group. Hence I feel uncomfortable at big parties where I don't know many people. I'm shy; however, I did meet my husband at a noisy party so I guess that makes me partly shy.

3. I don't watch much TV. I quit when I needed time for writing and now watch mainly news, sports, The Daily Show and Project Runway.

4. I don't drive on the highway because I get sleepy. Therefore I used to take the bus to visit my parents in Austin, began reading romance novels to pass the time, and became a romance novelist.

5. I don't do arts or crafts. I'm just not good at it. The only time I played hooky in elementary school was when the art teacher said the next day we had to draw something besides a house and a tree.

6. I don't cry. I used to cry over anything but I guess I used up all my tears when Ralph was ill and the first year after he died.

I'm not sure any of the above really define me but they are quirks that, perhaps, add up. I'm sure there's a bigger philosophical meaning here. Certainly it's food for thought.

Anyone care to comment? I'd love to hear what others think.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quote for the Week

Expect to have hope rekindled.
Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways.
The dry seasons in life do not last.
The spring rain will come again.
Sarah Breauthnach, author of Simple Abundance

Going Solo in the Kitchen

I like to cook, and that hasn't changed during my four years of widowhood. Friends seem surprised when I say I've tried a new recipe. "You cook?" they say, the same way they might say, "You fly?" My standard answer is, "Of course, I cook. I eat, don't I?"

Cooking for one doesn't seem much different than cooking for two. You end up with leftovers and you can eat them the next night.

Here's a recipe I tried and liked because it's delicious and so quick:
Broiled Salmon with Mustard Dill Sauce (This is the whole recipe, but I usually cut it in half)
1 1/2 lb salmon
1 c. plain low-fat yogurt
2 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. dried dill weed
Place salmon on broiler and brush with sauce. Broil 8 to 10 minutes, brushing with more sauce as needed. Turn steaks over, brush other side with sauce, broil 8 more minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.

I browsed "cooking for one" on Amazon and found a number of cookbooks. Most of the reviews rated them 3 stars. Personally, I prefer receipes from the newspaper or magazines so I don't have to invest in cookbooks that may only have a few dishes I like.

If you're really desperate, however, I came upon an article on Wikihow called "How to Survive without Cooking." Wouldn't work for me.

See you in seven In the meantime, if you'd like to post a favorite easy recipe, that would be great.

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