Looking Forward

This will probably be my last blog entry of 2006. It’s time to look forward to 2007.

2006 has been a very difficult and bittersweet year. Certainly, my father’s death in October was the low point of the year (and my life). Grief is a terrible companion; it’s like an open wound that just doesn’t go away. It is painful. The only antibiotic that works to heal it is time.

I can now sometimes go for days without breaking down; something I couldn’t do even a few weeks ago. But I find that I am only one thought away from tears at any given moment. Yesterday we went to WalMart to pickup some copies of photos of my grandson Jackson Reverdy Orrell. Everything was going well, until we started to pick out frames.

Imagine that – something as simple as photo frames – can trigger tears.

When I reworked the photo of my father that I sent out to everyone, I made some smaller ones. Some were wallet size and another was about a 3″ x 4″ odd size. I really liked that smaller size. It was larger than a wallet, but not that large.

While picking out frames I remember that size and started looking for a proper frame. I thought I had the right size picked out (I was wrong) and showed it to Nora. She said, “You don’t have any photos for that frame.” I couldn’t get a word out; I just choked up. She instantly saw what was happening and asked if I was alright, knowing what I was thinking about.

Later yesterday, I was watching some of President Gerald Ford’s funeral on TV. One of the speakers mentioned that the President brought ‘grace and dignity’ to the Oval Office. ‘Grace & Dignity’ were words I used throughout my father’s eulogy. I switched channels.

I still think of my father constantly. Even when I look at my lovely grandson Jackson, I think of my father. I’m so proud to be a grandfather and have a wonderful son & daughter. (I refer to Sara as my daughter, not my daughter -in – law. I couldn’t love any daughter more than I love Sara.) I cried when I held my grandson for the first time on last Saturday and again on Christmas Day. I’m just so happy that he and Sara are healthy. When I hold him, I think about how proud my father would have been to be here and hold him. It brings tears to my eyes. I want to be the same type of grandfather to Jackson as my father was to my son.

While I don’t want to forget my father, I’d like the memories of his last few months to fade away. Those painful memories are imbedded in my head. Just as everyone can close their eyes and clearly see the planes flying into the World Trade Center towers, I can clearly see every detail of my father’s suffering during his final months, weeks, and especially days.

In times, I suppose, these memories will lessen and be replaced by images of my grandson. I hope so.

As I look forward to 2007, I look forward to various changes in my life, some of which have already been put into action.

In August, I was diagnosed with borderline diabeties. Nora and I instantly changed our diets and we both worked hard at a new eating routine and lifestyle. Everything was going well until after my father’s death. Then we sort of fell off the wagon and haven’t been as loyal to fighting the diabeties. I went for a blood test the end of November, thinking my test results would be much better than the previous test. Sadly, some numbers improved, but others were worse. This was a huge disappointment. We are now working to get back on track. I’m not on any medication for diabeties, but I don’t want to start. My chorlestoral levels were also mixed, with some numbers improving and others getting slightly worse. I’m now on Lipitor and hope that helps. Yes, health issues are a concern and something that must be addressed. I’ve lost two friends from my industry this past year. One was 51 and the other was 58.

I have made other changes to my lifestyle over the past few months. I’ve learned to relax more. I’ve stopped all of my ‘special’ projects. These projects usually involved tremendous efforts to do something in areas that I enjoyed – genealogy, horror reading and writing, political satire and social commentary, chess problems, etc.

I’ve stopped the chess problems. While I still do a website for StrateGems.org, a chess problem organization, I just don’t get involved in solving chess problems anymore.

I’ve stopped reading and writing horror. My book, Siamese Sister, is on hold. I only have to complete the final draft, but have no desire to do so. I’ve lost interest in reading and writing horror, as I have with the chess problems.

I also would spend quite a bit of time searching for editiorial cartoons, posted daily to this blog. I would also write quite a few political and social commentary pieces. I would download and listen to various conservative talk radio programs (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage). I no longer do any of this. I am still very conservative, but just don’t feel like reading or writing in this area.

My interest in genealogy remains an important aspect of my life. While I haven’t been able to work on the genealogy, it still holds a high interest. It, along with bible study, are the two things that I want to pursue. I’ve even lost interest in following ice hockey.

My time is spent reflecting on my life, my family, and what I really need to do. Certainly, keeping my promise to my Dad of taking care of my Mom is the most important thing. I need to watch out for her health and be right there for her. I enjoy doing that. It is not a burden. I can not take the place of my father, in this respect, but I can help. Nora is totally committed in this area also.

Now, with the birth of Jackson, my interests and committments are readjusted. I want to be there for Sara and Reb, whenever they need anything. Certainly, I want to see my grandson, but I need to be there for them, to help them out where needed, if I can.

‘Family’ is my number one priority from here on out, not just for 2007. If there is time for bible study and genealogy, that is fine. If there isn’t, then there just isn’t. Family should have always have been my number one committment my entire life. Sadly, at times, it wasn’t. That has changed.

As 2007 is about to begin, I look forward to the New Year. I look forward to spending more time with my mother, wife, son, daughter, and grandson. They are certainly the most important thing in my life. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful loving wife. She has held the family together over the past six months.

I will enjoy bible study and genealogy as time permits, but it will never be put ahead of family.

We will probably sell the West Virginia home this year and pay off the home in Baltimore. We’ll be in better shape financially after that. We’ll be able to take my Mother on vacations with us and see more of this country and the world. We haven’t been able to do any of that in the past five years due to two mortgages, etc. It will take a few weeks to remove personal items from WV. We will probably put the home up for sale in late March.

I’m still undecided about formal bible study. While I want to go to bible college, I haven’t quite decided which course or courses I will be taking. I’m also looking into Family Radio’s School of the Bible, and might study with them. I just don’t have all of their details yet to make that decision. If it comes within the next week or so, there is the possibility I’ll study with them and not bible college. I just don’t know. I do know that I will study the bible this year, either with a structured program or independently. That is for sure.

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