Thinking of you today…


We love you and miss you.

We love you and miss you.

2 years…Seems Like Yesterday


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Next Sunday July 5th will be the second anniversary of my father’s death. Having lost my mother only 6 months ago, makes it even more difficult this year. Just when I thought I had mended my heart over dad….mom passes away.

Everywhere I go in town brings up memories of my parents. Favorite restaurants and frequently visited stores, all make me think of them. Driving past their home around the corner gets me thinking of all the good times we had in the swimming pool. BBQing poolside and too many cocktails on the patio with friends and family to recall. As well as the final days of dad’s life. I wonder what mom and dad are doing up in heaven? I think about it everyday. Do they watch me? Can they see the direction of my life? I hope….

Tattoos Misunderstood Art Form


I wanted to honor the memory of my parents in a very different way. Something out of the box for me and out of my comfort zone. Something other than the same “beige” idea. These past months, I have been able to come to understand myself better.  I need much more than “beige” in my life to inspire me.

I received my first tattoo ever yesterday. The Irish four leaf clover representing, Faith-Hope-Love-Luck along with the words Mom and Dad.

Walking into the tattoo shop, I had my own preconceived ideas of the tattoo artists. I left with a very different mind-set. Tattoo artists are very talented artists. I sat there looking through the different books amazed at some of the artistry.

Most of all, I was amazed at how nice all the artists were in the shop. While walking into the shop, the first artist I noticed was a guy who had his entire face “tatted”. Now that I’ve got the lingo down. My first thought was-oh my, what did I get myself into here.

While talking with the tattoo artist (while his past was very colorful) he was bright, articulate , personable and very kind. I’m sure it’s not the first time he’s received the same type of “judgement”.

Tattoos are very misunderstood. I understand now that tattoos are a way to express emotion, which perhaps can’t be verbalized.

The entire experience taught me a very good lesson. I was able to walk out with the tattoo I wanted to honor the memory of my parents. In addition, learned a lesson on pre-judgement.

  

Last photos….memories for life




We were very lucky as a family to be able to share Christmas 2015 with my mother and our immediate family members. Little did we know it would be our last; we would have mom’s funeral 30 days later. We cherish the last family photos taken the night of Christmas Eve with my mother. 



Tribute to you Mother


Room for Two In Heaven


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On January 16th we lost our mother a short 18 months after my father. We were not expecting her to pass…as a family we were caught off guard. My mother did an admirable job of trying to continue on with her life after my dad died. Although, her heart ached for him everyday. On Monday we will say our final goodbye to our mom. Dad awaits her in heaven with loving arms. Room for two in heaven.

Merry Chistmas Dear Papa…Love You!


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59 Years of Marriage, A True Partner


59 Years of Marriage, A True Partner

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This November 9th would have been my parent’s 59th Wedding Anniversary.

Without the presence of my father, our family has awkwardly made it thru different family gatherings, holidays and anniversaries.

I am proud of my entire family of the progress we have made in each of these areas.

I was recently asked “has it gotten better for your family?” I don’t ever think it gets better, I think it’s just tolerable.
Definition

tol·er·a·ble
Adjective
Able to be endured.

Toasting You In Heaven


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Toasting you in heaven today dear sweet dad. I know you are at peace with angels by your side. Love you and miss you so.

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Anniversary


Anniversary

an·ni·ver·sa·ries
The annually recurring date of a past event, especially one of historical, national, or personal importance:

Hard to believe on July 5th it will be the 1 year anniversary of my father’s passing. People always say “It seems like yesterday.” Well I have to tell you these past few weeks leading up to the anniversary date feels like deja vu. The emotional events all come streaming back to your mind so vivid and clear.

Last weekend was Father’s Day and we made a trip to Orange County to visit dad’s grave. My two siblings were able to visit the grave earlier in the week to pay their respects. My sister sent over a text with a lovely photo attached showing the flowers she placed on his grave. The next day my brother sent a text from his visit. While viewing his text an unexpected roar of laughter came from my mother and myself. My brother had placed sports items on the grave that my dad loved so much. My dad loved sports! He particularly loved basketball, baseball and golf. My father was a talented basketball player in his younger days. He was honored to have played on the Mt. Carmel Catholic High School CIF Championship Basketball Team.

Oh how we laughed when we saw all the items strategically placed around his marker. There was even a golf hat from St. Andrews in Scotland placed on the site. We always harped on dad to cover his little head from the sun. My brother signed the hat with a personal sentiment. My brother polished his grave (along with other family members buried in the same location).

Mom and I were to visit the grave on the next day, which was Father’s Day. We thought of bringing flowers however, my sister had covered that for us. My brother had covered the sports…or so we thought! There was one missing item to be added to the grave. A USC honorable mention! My nephew Ryan was placekicker for USC during the championship years of Bush, Palmer, Leinart. Oh dad loved this time. We attended all the local games here in Los Angeles and dad yelled from his living room chair on the away games. So mom and I came up with one item to be added to his grave. Again, strategically placed at the top of his marker is a photo of his grandson Ryan Killeen in motion kicking! FIGHT ON USC!

Mom and I walked away smiling! I looked over at mom and said ” you know dad’s actual anniversary is on 4th of July weekend, how can we top this?” Mom said, ” you just wait!” Love you and miss you dad.

The Face of A Veteran.


416009-0The American Veteran...Treat With Respect

Navy photo of my beloved Father. He was a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and a United States Naval Veteran of Korean War. ALL Veteran’s are to be treated with respect and dignity while in life and in death.

Black & Whites….


Black and White….

I love old black and white photos. Nothing better! The hallway in my house is lined with old black and white family photos going back to the 1800’s. These old photos tell a far better story (in my opinion) then colored photos of today. When I look at these black and white photos, I’m transported back in time. These photos are some of my favorite of my parents. I really don’t have to write much about these photos. I think they tell the story of simple times, joy and love. Enjoy!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Change…Good or Bad?


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Change…Good or Bad?

Noun-the act or instance of making or becoming different. 

February will be 7 months since my Dad’s passing. So much has changed for our family. My Mom’s life has of course the most dramatic change. Watching my Mom go through all the changes to her life, made me seriously ask the question “Is change good or bad”?

Due to my Dad’s passing and all the sudden changes that come with the loss of a long time spouse of 58 years; Mom has experienced so many “firsts”. First time sleeping alone in a house. First time eating alone in a restaurant. First time attending a social event alone. First time experiencing the holidays alone. First time cooking for “one” person.

Watching my Mom navigate through all of these “firsts” has been like watching a new puppy learning to walk. So proud! In reality, they really are NOT “firsts” for my Mom.  Of course, over my Mom’s 84 years she has experienced all of the above mentioned “firsts” as young woman maturing. However, after such a long marriage; they surely do feel like true “firsts. Mom has handled all of this with grace and dignity. While Mom has good days and bad days…change seems to be making her and even stronger person. Not everyone can accept, handle or adapt to change. Some just manage…Mom is blossoming into an even stronger human being. Wonderful to watch!

 

 

 

Thanksgiving- The expression of gratitude.


Thanksgiving- The expression of gratitude.

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Thanksgiving will be a tough day for my family this year. Missing the patriarch of our family will leave a void of monumental proportions. We as a family have decided to move forward with our traditional Thanksgiving feast in spite of the absences of my dear papa.

I have many feelings regarding the upcoming day:

You CANNOT recreate past memories, you can only remember the old ones with fondness.

You CAN create new memories.

Miss the person deeply who is not present; however do not mourn their absence in constant pain.

Give thanks for having the memories of the person.

We will raise a glass and toast you dear papa on Thanksgiving Day.

We will Live, Love and laugh.

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FALL IN THE DESERT…start of season.


FALL IN THE DESERT…start of season.

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Fall in the California desert. Fall means season has started and all the snowbirds are returning. The scalping of the lawns begins. The start of 9 months of near picture perfect weather-we do not talk about those ugly summer months of triple digit temperatures- fall turns into winter and let the games begin!

My papa loved it here in paradise, especially the start of season. Sitting outside on the patio with our cocktails watching the golfers begin the season. Welcome back parties to all the seasonal residents, Oktoberfest, hiking, social events, twilight golf and the splendor of all the desert offers.

When I think of fall, I immediately think of Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin. Of course, Halloween is all about fall. The smell of burning leaves, even though we do not burn leaves here in Southern California-not a good idea, can you say October fire season! Carving pumpkins and roasting the pumpkin seeds. As kids, we waited for October to arrive. We carved the pumpkin and then roasted them in the oven with my Mom by our side supervising. The smell of scented candles in my house; pumpkin being my favorite scent for fall. Chilly fall mornings and perfect weather in the evenings.

This weekend was the first time in 4 years I brought out the fall decorations in my home. With me spending so much time at my parent’s house these past years, due to Papa’s illness, I never really saw the point of decorating my house. I knew my mom would bring her fall decorations out, so at least I was able to enjoy hers.

In missing my Papa, I thought to myself, he would have loved me following through with my fall decorations this year. You can never have enough candles. Papa always would laugh when I went around the house every night lighting candles. He used to say, “I think your candle crazy.”  Therefore, here is to you my dear Papa. The smell of pumpkin candles are for you.

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Good Grief…


Good Grief…

Definition: deep sorrow, esp. that caused by someone’s death

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Is grief good? I have not figured out the answer to that million dollar question… as of yet. It’s been approximately 1 1/2 months since the passing of my Papa. The grief is STILL palpable and seems as though it will never end or at least lesson.

Everyone grieves in their own way. Some outwardly weep daily, some feel anger, while others become introverted with their feelings of loss and may not express grief in public or with others. No one way is the correct way to express grief. No one person has the exclusivity on grief. All ways of grieving need to be recognized.

The question of the day; will the grief really ever end. Or will a band-aide just cover up the deep wound? I’m not sure at this point. I have been told by others who have experienced a loss of a loved one “it will get better, missing them will always be there.” To me, that does not sound like much of a trade-off!

Yesterday the marker (headstone) was placed on my dear papa’s grave. Knowing it was being placed made it all too real and final…as if the funeral did not do THAT! Next weekend I will go visit Papa for the first time. Hoping to find some peaceful closure.

So is grief good? Intellectually, I understand the body must release all the intense emotion in some form. My heart however, tells me something very different. Is the saying “time heals all wounds” true? Not sure…

The loss of a loved one is truly heartbreaking, Anyone have any words of wisdom? Anyone?

Heaven Has A Hell Of A Guy!


Heaven Has A Hell Of A Guy!

July 5th I lost my beloved father to stage 4 Bladder Cancer. He was such a tenacious fighter. This December would have been 4 years of battling this horrific cancer. He did it with such grace and dignity. He passed at home with family all around him surrounded by things that made him happy. While preparing for his upcoming services, I had the task of calling his long time business associates, friends and family. At first I dreaded this daunting task.

By the end of the 100th call, I found that I was in such a better place. The conversations I had with his business associates were so amazing. I heard over and over that they never met a kinder, upstanding, loyal, smart and classy man. I must have heard the phrase ” he was a hell of a guy” 50 times or more. I found myself laughing about stories they were telling me on the phone. People were actually honored and looking forward to being part of his send off to Heaven.

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Even though it is a great and tragic loss for our family, friends and his business associates, Heaven has received a hell of guy!  Will see you in heaven. Save me a seat next to you and we can have a vodka on the rocks and  listen to Louie Armstrong’s record, “”What a Wonderful World over and over and over like old times. Love you forever Papa.

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Love Heals…


Love Heals..

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It is true what they say… love heals. Meet Angora the newest member of my family. Angora is a mix of Yellow Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever. I adopted her 1 week ago from an organization in Oceanside, California called Canine Companion’s for Independence.

Angora was being trained as part of the companion program to assist people with all types of disabilities-excluding the blind. Angora was released from the program for a minor issue. She is sensitive to fireworks and car backfiring noise. I had been placed on the adoption list for dogs who do not make the program and need to become a family pet.

The call could not of come at a better time for me. It had been since March that I lost my beloved Abigail. My heart needed repair very badly. I got the call and was advised I needed to come meet her in Oceanside (2 hour drive) as soon as I could possibly get down to the organization. I jumped in my car and picked up my sister and we were down there in two hours flat!

Upon arriving the organization gave me a detailed background of her life and history. After briefing me I was asked ” do you want to meet her?” I watched with anticipation for the staff to bring her down the hall. I heard my sister say “Oh my God you are going to love her.” One glance at Angora and I was sold! She drove home in the car with us like she had been in that vehicle 10 thousand times before and with such excitement in her eyes.

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Abigail will never be replaced. However, Angora is love…and love heals.

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Stairway to Heaven…


Stairway to Heaven...

Stairway To Heaven…

It has been a little over 2 months since I lost my beloved pet and family member Abigail. I have now received her ashes back and she proudly sits on my fireplace mantel in a cedar box.

Since her passing I have good days and bad days. I miss her everyday and think of her at least once a day. I miss the routine of getting up and taking care of her doggie needs. I miss hearing her bark when the doorbell rings. I miss having her snuggling next to me in bed and hearing her start to snore. I miss her big wet kisses. I even miss her begging for my food. When having dinner at my parent’s house I catch myself before I say to my mom “save that meat for Abigail she will love it later this week for her special dinner.”

Some days I find myself tearing up just thinking about my loyal companion. On those low days the only thing that pulls me out of the funk is to know Abigail is in heaven. I know without doubt I did the right thing by putting her down. Not allowing her to suffer 1 more minute. I know she took the “Stairway to Heaven.”

While I was working through my grief of my beloved pet, I wondered if I could do the same selfless act for a family member or friend. I know many of you may not feel a pets life is in the same category as a human life. However, I feel a life is a life. Both feel pain, love and joy.

Could I make the right decision when the time came to let a loved one go? Could I release them from their pain? Euthanasia is not legal, but if it were… would I be able to honor the wishes of a loved one? I never thought I would be able to euthanize my beloved family pet. Seeing Abigail suffer was far worse then putting her down.

 

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If euthanasia were ever to become legal, could I do the same if ever asked by a human being? It’s a haunting question and one I will probably never get the answer to in my lifetime. What I do know is keeping someone alive for selfish reasons (whether a animal or human) is not fair to those who are suffering.

I never question myself and my decision to put Abigail down. I know she is in a far better place and I will see her in the future on my Stairway to Heaven.

Paws and Reflect.


Paws and Reflect.

Last week I lost a family member. I had to make the horrible and sudden decision to put my 14 year old Lhasa Apso down. Abigail was my faithful companion for the last 10 years (4 earlier years with my sister). She was my furry baby, my child, my best friend. Abigail was non-judgemental and showed me unconditional love…she loved me for me!

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Since her passing on March 26th, I’v had time to paws and reflect. As a single person with no children, we tend to replace such voids with the love of an animal(s). She became my child and I treated her with respect and with the best care possible. While it was the most devastating choice to put her down, I knew it was the right choice (contemplating the hard choice) while late into the early morning hours at the VCA Emergency Room. Her sudden seizures had debilitated her so badly; her quality of life was poor at best. Since putting her down, I have had even more time to silently paws and reflect.

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Those who are not animal lovers (dogs in particular) are truly missing out in my opinion. The kindness and selflessness an animal brings out in an owner is truly a remarkable thing. Just like a child; animals are a huge responsibility. Dogs (unlike cats) depend on you for everything. Being a cat owner as well, I can tell you cats are very self-sufficient. I always tell non-dog owners the attention and time needed for a dog is crazy…but well worth the return on time and investment of the animal.

Merry Christmas...woof...meow!

Abigail was a retired Animal Therapy dog with two local agencies. She spread her love at senior homes, hospitals, hospice, schools and kids reading programs. She wagged her tail proudly while she was wearing her animal therapy dog vest. She loved walks, polo games, coffee shops, hot dogs, belly rubs and loved sitting in the sun on cool spring mornings and sitting by the warm fire on chilly nights. She waited for me at the hall door and waited for me to give her the sign for bed. She gave kisses for NO reason. I know there must be a very special place in heaven for her. I am just now finding her hidden rawhide around the house. I miss her so very much… my heart actually aches. I will soon receive her ashes back. My decision of what to do with her ashes will not be taken likely by me. She gave her all to me and I will do the same for her. Mommy loves you always Miss Abigail. see you in heaven!

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