Happy Birthday in Heaven

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Sweetheart.                                             
The kids and I are doing okay.

It was a really big deal that first year...but I sold our house! I did it, honey...I got what you'd always hoped for; and walked away with 18 years worth of memories in my heart as well! I couldn't stay there anymore without you, babe. The new family loved the deck and garden wall you built, and wanted the den shelves, your big desk and the outdoor furniture!
Guess what else? Treg and Cara left Ventura! Quit their jobs, put the girls and pets in the Volvo and road tripped across the country seeing all kinds of amazing places. We're all back home in Michigan now...back where our story began. They found jobs they love; jobs with benefits, great pay...and yes...another company car! They have a darling house in Vicksburg and I found a cozy condo in Portage that's perfect for me. I sub at the nearby school; you know I love being with kids and he challenge of new things.

The Littles are growing up, Grandpa.  13 and 10 now...all doing really well in school. JC Elementary has been named a National School of Excellence the past few years. I've worked there and can vouch for the amazing staff and enriching environment in that building!
They are happy to have their other grandparents nearby to help out and to spoil them like you and I did for so many years! Drew is maturing...he'll begin eighth grade this fall! His athletic ability just keeps maturing too...and not far behind is Laney! Lane is a hustler and anticipates every move just like Drew. You would love watching the boys together now...brothers teaching and leaning on each other. It's more Paige and the boys now, rather than Drew and the twins. Paige is still a sweetheart, but can be feisty and bossy like our Pumpkin's growing-up-days!

Tracy and John gave me their blessing when I decided to make the move; and twice have taken the week of Thanksgiving off to drive up here so I could have everyone together. Right on cue, the skies sent several inches of perfect snow each time they arrived!
We hadn't all been together since summer 2011 at the lake house...that grand strand of lawn and beach front where all five played chase on the grass and splashed all day in another Crooked Lake, improving their swimming, driving the boat, learning to fish! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for planning that vacation, sweetheart.The impact it had on our lives was tremendous.

McKenzie excelled in German all the way through high school and speaks it fluently, a nod to your ancestry, sweetheart. She loved the art program at Valley but guess what? She's inherited your writing gene and has written her first book...a published author! Now she takes classes in novel writing..even though she has two more books about to be released. I am blessed this delightful young woman wants to live with me most of the time...remember how close we always were? Kayleigh is a bright, beautiful high school junior and ready to get her driver's license. She continues to play the viola and is gifted in music. Her plan is to pursue both music and cosmetology after graduation. Best of all is her sweet, caring soul...she's our Sonshine boy's mini-me; half sensitive, half sass!

The kids are doing fine. Happy and healthy and making memories of their own. Tracy and John have taken their kids to Disneyworld twice now! Treg and Cara and the girls are embracing all winter has to offer; ice skating, snowmen, boots and parkas! Makes you smile watching how smoothly they've moved from barefoot on the beach to cornfields and wooded acres behind their rural house!

I am doing okay too. Still working on the eating/cooking thing. I eat healthy, farm to table mostly. Little work, good results...but lazy anyway you look at it, I know. I've attempted your Famous Spaghetti and Chili recipes a few times...but not the same without your magic touch.
My California beach bike is here now and I use the nearby trails, but riding's not the same without you and your three-wheeler. I ride anyway because it feels good...the wind always connects me with your voice and smile, sweetheart.

One last thing, Jimbo. I've seen many Gazette folks since you left and I love hearing the old stories; hearing them miss you like I do. My condo is just down the road from George! He's been a great help; recommending a realtor to us, as well as dentists and doctors in the area. He's invited Treg....who still calls him Coach...to play poker with the guys, and he'll be by someday to fix the old sailboat riggings. This year is KVCC's 50th Anniversary, and Tom is in charge of pulling it all together as he does so well. I messed up by not keeping the bound edition....so sorry. You kept everything from way back to the way back....and I always wanted to get rid of things. Well, I did. The move made me do it. Even Tom said, "Jesus, Joan" if it makes you feel any better!

We've been welcomed back in the family folds too.....first in Detroit with the Carswell/Bickley clan; then with all the Michigan Stommens coming together at Jake's house in Mattawan! Mike and Phil and Jeff....oh man, I lost it. Those three little boys at our wedding all grown up reminded me of how you looked and talked and loved life....I cried.

Miss you so much, miss you at night.  Miss having coffee with you when daylight comes. Miss you growing along with me, miss you loving me.
Thank you for growing me up. I never acted like it, but it shows now I think. Thank you for equipping me to carry on; for building the foundation that made us us. And now, my darling...thank you for watching over and keeping the kids safe and healthy.

Paige says you are "a writer in the sky"....oh how God appreciates having you and your way with words!

                                    Love you forever


  1. Joan,
    In many ways, I could have written this letter. My darling husband, James, died unexpectedly Christmas Day, five years ago. This January 31st, I sold our house, the one we worked on together. The one where everywhere I looked, I saw him. I also got what James had hoped for if we sold it.

    Unfortunately, I also lost my whole family that day. James's son, newly returned from Iraq, with problems galore, thought Dad would fix everything, and when he died, the son went off the reservation. I haven't heard from him since. Rightfully so, the son feared he'd helped cause his father's heart problem that day, and in order to make sure he never ran the risk of having it confirmed, he projected his anger about his life and the loss of his Dad onto me. Until then, the son and I had been close... since he was nine.

    I'm happy you have family and grandchildren to support you and in whom you see your Jimbo. My family and my life are my dogs and 1010ParkPlace.com, a site for women of a certain age. I continue to miss James... I waited all my life for that man. He saved me in so many ways.
    My best to you,

    1. I am so sorry for your loss, Brenda. Your words brought me tears and I left you a Facebook message because I had so much to say to you. I wish you peace and joy as you move forward...all that you share on 1010 Park Place is so very valuable to our circles of midlife women..your purpose and passion show! Thank you for reading and understanding...sending hugs to your heart. ♥♥♥

  2. Ahh Joan, yours are the first digital words that I read this morning. You fill my heart with tears, yet in a strange, comforting way. Love really does carry us.

  3. You are so right, Adela. The kids and I are comforted with memories and being back in his hometown also helps. Thanks for reading and commenting. What a nice surprise finding you have two wonderful blogs to enjoy!