Monday, June 30, 2008

Goodbye to the Old, Hello to the New

This past Friday and Saturday, I said goodbye to two very good friends.

I sold both my motorcycle and Jane's in just two days. On Wednesday, I posted them both on CraigsList, and by 6pm that night, I already had several calls of interest. I had to skip showing the bikes on Thursday, due to Jane's burial service, but I had 5 look-sees scheduled on Friday.

The first lookers at Jane's bike on Friday morning bought her bike. I was really pleased to sell her bike to them because I knew [it] was going to a good home. It turns out that the father of the girl who bought the bike is an associate editor at the Albany Democrat Herald newspaper. He writes an online blog, and graciously mentioned Jane in an article. (Scroll to "Off and Rolling")

On Friday afternoon, I met with the buyer of my bike, we went to his credit union, signed the papers, got my check and I rode him back to his home and said goodbye to the 1100 Shadow Sabre. Selling the bikes represented something of a loss again for me; but also a new beginning. Jane and I had so many great times riding together on those two bikes.

It felt like the timing was right, and I was ready to move on to that point. As a means of soothing the pain of parting with those two memories, I decided to create some new [ones]. Fred's Honda shop here in town had a new, 2006 model year 1800 VTX-R. With the huge discount on the older model VTX, and the money I got for the two bikes, it was a no-brainer. (I know, many of you think I have no brains just for riding a motorcycle in the first place).

Anyway, I'd like you to meet my new-found buddy:

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Laid to Rest

Today, we buried Jane's urn with her ashes at the Oaklawn Memorial Park, in Corvallis.

I spent a fair amount of time preparing for Jane's memorial service a couple of weeks ago, but being the occasional procrastinator that I am, I did not plan much in the way of the burial service. So this morning, about 4 hours before we were to conduct the service, I started thinking, "Shouldn't somebody say something?" What about this, and that?

So, I picked up the phone and called a friend who recently lost her husband to ask her what they did at his burial service. I got her answering machine at both her home and cell phone. I broke down and cried; heavily. So I called Pastor Shawn at church, and asked him if he would do the service at the last minute, and he graciously said, "yes, I'd be honored." He asked me some questions, and all I could get out was a sob or a cracked-voice, "OK".

By the time my family arrived at my home to accompany me to the cemetery, I had regained some composure, and was starting to take the lead on some things. When we arrived, there was a blue-top canopy setup over the grave site, and a few chairs for me and the kids. We quickly talked through the order of service, and then began.

The words that were spoken by Pastor Shawn were traditional burial service text, but they were comforting and wonderful. After a few brief words, Shawn opened up a time for comments, and nobody could speak. So, next it was my turn to take the urn with Jane's ashes, and begin to pass it from one person to the next. My dad held it first, and then passed it to Elaine. Elaine held it for a moment and then said, "Jane, you loved to fish . . ." and then she couldn't get the rest out. She passed it to Pam, and Pam sobbed, "I miss you so much" We were all in tears by then.

From Pam to Robin, who prayed silently, and Tim who did the same. Each person, in their turn had an opportunity to hold the last earthly remains of my beloved wife. I then received the urn from my daughter, Amy, and passed it to Shawn while I knelt next to the grave. Shawn passed me the urn one more time, and I gently laid it in the bottom of the grave.

At that point, our good friend, Logan, played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, while people placed items into the grave with the urn. It was all very moving and beautiful. Upon completion of that, we each took turns placing shovels of dirt into the grave.

The day was beautiful; one that Jane would surely have appreciated. I am thankful that we had the chance to participate as a family in one more important ritual, and bring another step in this process to closure. Thank you to all who were there in presence, and in spirit.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

True Words

"The rest of those who have gone before us cannot steady the unrest of those to follow."
-William Forrester

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Monday, June 23, 2008

I Fall to Pieces

Well friends, I have had a few "good" days this past week, but today is not so [good].

I started to clean out and rearrange my office the other day, and I have a huge mess in the addition room. So I started to go through some of Jane's stuff; her closet, dresser, jewelry case, etc. Everything I look at, everything I touch of hers, causes me to "fall to pieces." I will find one thing, decide it can go, and then I either toss it, or put it in the "memories" box for now. At this rate, it will take me forever to get things sorted out.

Everyone says to take it slow, and I'm certainly doing that.

I looked up the words to the Patsy Cline song, "I Fall to Pieces" and it certainly resonates with me today.

I fall to pieces
Each time I see you again
I fall to pieces
How can I be just your friend

You want me to act like we've never kissed
You want me to forget, pretend we've never met
And I've tried and I've tried but I haven't yet
You walk by, and I fall to pieces

I fall to pieces
Each time someone speaks your name
I fall to pieces
Time only adds to the flame

You tell me to find someone else to love
Someone who'll love me, too, the way you used to do
But each time I go out with someone new
You walk by and I fall to pieces

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Slight Change in Plans

The day for Jane's burial service has changed.

We are planning to have a burial service at the Oaklawn Cemetery in Corvallis on Thursday, June 26th at 1:00pm. Anyone who is interested in participating may join us at that time.

I don't anticipate changing it again, but please be sure to check back here at Doug's Blog, just in case something changes between now and then.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Objects in the Mirror

I went for a motorcycle ride this afternoon with my (and Jane's) buddy Melinda. It's the first ride I've taken since Jane passed away a little over 2 weeks ago.

If you have read all (or most) of my blog, you may recall a post in which I told Jane, "I don't know what I'll do when you're not in my mirror." Well, today I experienced that feeling. You know how many late-model autos have inscriptions in the passenger's side mirror? Something like, "Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear." Well, here's my version of a photo I took of my Jane riding behind me a year or so back.

By the way, I have neglected to THANK everyone who thoroughly cleaned our home and did the yard work while we were away in San Jose last week. So, THANK YOU! I took some photos, at Terry's request, just so she could see what our home looks like when it's actually uncluttered and clean. This is what we walked in the front door to see:

And the back yard, mowed, trimmed, and sidewalk EDGED! Fantastic ! ! !

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Home Again - Corvallis

We've been home a couple of days now; back from California. We held a second memorial service for Jane's family at the Holy Family Catholic Church in San Jose. It was a very nice service, arranged by Jane's nephew, Jeff. He led worship with a team of men, Jane's sisters read some scriptures from the Gospels, said a few words, and we watched the memorial slide video that I made. Not a dry eye in the house (including mine again).

We arrived home on Sunday afternoon (Father's Day), unloaded the van, and started watching a movie. Sometime during the movie, Matt and I heard something hitting the bay window in our addition room. We got up to investigate, and observed a Blue Jay jumping up from the ground and hitting the window . . . over, and over, and over again.

How weird! Not to read anything supernatural into this, but that has never happened before at our home. For the last two days, this same Blue Jay has been attacking our window; not a clue why, either.

So today, Pam was over and he went at it again. She couldn't believe it either. So, I came up with an idea to put an end to it, before he put an end to himself. I went to the bedroom, grabbed one of Jane's soft-stuffed cat dolls, and put it on top of the window fan in the bay window.

Problem solved!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Home Again

We arrived at Jane's dad's house this afternoon. I was anticipating this with no small amount of anxiety. But first, a short story . . .

My family on my dad's side lives in Wisconsin (mostly) and Minnesota. My grandparents (dad's folks) lived in the same home for the first 40+ years of my life (all my life). I took Jane back there for a visit about 15 years ago when Amy was just an infant.

I remember driving to their town of Footville, Wisconsin (pop: 605), through the country back roads from Janesville (coincidence, eh?). Anyway, as we approached their home, coming down that same old familiar street that had not changed in 40+ years, tears began to run down my face.

(photo is not really their home)

You see, as a kid growing up, my immediate family moved about every 3-4 years, cause dad worked for IBM (aka: I've Been Moved). So my grandparent's house, and my cousin's farm in northern Wisconsin are two places that have never changed. Places that I can still return to, and feel as if I were a little boy again.

Well, today that same feeling came over me when we pulled up in front of Jane's dad's home. In the 22+ years that Jane and I have been together, her dad's home has been the one constant in our lives, in terms of an earthly home.

So, as I pulled up and parked under the Sweet Gum tree, and walked into "grandpa's" home; and saw him sitting in his same-old chair, tears rolled down my cheeks again. I wanted to tell him how sorry I was that I did not bring Jane back to him this time. I felt as if I had failed; not taken good enough care of her to bring her back to him. I know that it's not true; but that's how I felt.

We sat and just looked at each other for a few moments, "That's too bad about Jane" he said. "Yeah, it is." I replied.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Hey, Guess Who Was . . . Oh, Never Mind

Thank you so much to everyone who attended Jane's memorial service today (either in the body or spirit). I know that many of you were unable to attend, and that's OK. I know your thoughts and prayers were with us.

Me and the kids went to dinner with the rest of the family later this afternoon, and while I was driving home, I though, wait till I get home and say to Jane, "guess who was there today?"

What a strange feeling that was. We shared everything with one another, and I would so much like to tell her about all the faces that I saw; many of which I have not seen for so long. I hope somehow she was able to see how wonderful the celebration was.

We are going to California tomorrow to celebrate Jane's life with her family on Thursday. I probably will not be blogging for a few days, so for those faithful readers out there, you can take a few days off. I will fill you in on how our trip to California was when we return.

Thank you all for the many wonderful cards, letters, and contributions. We count ourselves extremely fortunate to be part of such a loving family of friends and neighbors.

It is my prayer that each of you will have found a measure of healing and closure today; I know that we did. Jane is not the type of person anyone would ever get over, so let's all make a pact to NOT get over her, but to remember her fondly in all things.

Thanks again, my loving family.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Rough Seas

Isn't this supposed to be getting better? I feel like a ship being tossed about on a mad sea, no land in sight, not even the horizon of the sea itself. Nothing but wave after wave of turbulent, foaming, crashing, power.

The last couple of days have been the most difficult yet. Conversations with those who have taken the journey ahead of me have helped tremendously, but this is a journey that each of us must ultimately go through on our own. I don't mean that friends don't help, they do, and at times I feel that the Lord is near, and shares my pain; sometimes I don't.

Sometimes I feel as though I want to crawl into my bed, curl up and sleep forever. But my practical side usually wins, and I get up, get doing the things I need to do, and put one foot in front of the other. To steal a line from the movie "The Gladiator", Russell Crowe's armor-bearer said, "Some of the time I do what I want to do, the rest of the time I do what I have to."

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Fuzzy Pink Socks

My sister and brother in law took me out to the movies last night. I had been wanting to see "IRONMAN" for awhile now, and I was not disappointed. I guess it's the job of family and friends to help distract me for awhile; get me out of the house and thinking on other things.

It worked for awhile. But when I got home late last night, I took some clothes out of the washer, put them in the dryer, and loaded the washer again. Pajamas, t-shirts, some towels . . . a pair of fuzzy pink socks. The ones that Jane wore her last couple of days here. They're nice and fuzzy, which helped to keep her increasingly cold feet stay warm.

I picked up those socks and held them to my chest for a little while. I probably won't have the need to wash them and fold them again. I got my pajamas on, and went to bed; and I laid there thinking, "she's really gone," and "I want her back, Lord." Not to be.

When I awoke this morning, a similar feeling was there. I don't have to tip-toe around the house when I get up early anymore (nobody to wake but the kids, and they sleep through anything). So I made some coffee, sat down to read the online newspaper, and re-read Jane's obituary again.

I often wondered why the paper left the obituaries running for so long (online at least). I think maybe it's partly for the left-behinds as a reminder that their loved-ones are not on vacation, or visiting mother, or friends; but really, truly gone. Nothing like seeing the name in print to cinch it.

I have a few errands to run today, and a couple of visits with folks, so I'll stay occupied, and have my mind off Jane most of the time. But I am afraid that one day will come when I don't think about her, or cry at least once that day, and I'm afraid of that. I suppose it's only natural.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Look Up (Now)

On Tuesday, just hours after Jane had passed, my family gathered to grieve together. After the mortuary came and took her body away, we decided to go have something to eat.

My daughter Amy ordered a Jones Cream soda, and as we were sitting there talking, her eyes widened, and she said, "Dad, you won't believe this."

She handed me the bottle cap, and on the inside of the cap were inscribed the words, "Look up (Now)."

Sometimes it's the little things in life that make you pause and appreciate the moment. We all looked up for a moment, and remembered.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Providing Help

Many of you have sent us emails, cards, letters, and called asking if there is anything you can do to help. You have all helped so much already, and we will continue to need help from time to time.

I thank each and every one of you for the outpouring of God's grace through you to the Easton family in this most trying time. It is very difficult for me to answer your offers of help, so if you are so inclined, please contact the Northwest Hills Community Church, and they will place your name on a volunteers / helpers list. (541-758-7688). When we have a specific need, I will contact the lead volunteer, and you may receive a call for assistance.

We could not have done this without your collective effort, your prayers, and your kind and loving words of encouragement.

I was hoping (I don't know why) that I would be well on the path to recovery and adjustment by now; after all, it's been two days. But I find myself being slammed at unexpected times and unanticipated ways throughout the day. As Bill Cosby said in one of his stand-up routines, "The pain was exquisite." And it is.

Thank you again my brothers and sisters; friends.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Memorial Service

The Easton family wishes to extend an invitation to a Celebration of Life Memorial at 1 p.m. on Monday, June 9, 2008, at the Northwest Hills Community Church, 3300 NW Walnut Blvd., Corvallis, OR.

Arrangements are by McHenry Funeral Home, Corvallis, OR. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy and support take the form of contributions to the Jane Easton Memorial Fund which can be brought to the memorial service, or sent to the OSU Federal Credit Union, 1980 NW 9th Street, Corvallis, OR.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Goodbye Dear Friend

At 12:55pm today, Jane passed away.

Her sister Terry and I were at her side as she drew her last, shallow breaths, and left our presence for the Presence.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Words Cannot Express

There are no words tonight. None. Just gripping, smothering, suffocating, heart-wrenching sorrow.

The end is near, I feel it. Maybe only a day or three and the most. Waiting for something to happen that cannot stop, wondering how I'll survive. How will I make it? How will we make it?

Time will tell.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

How Do I Pray?

I was asked recently by a dear friend, "How do you pray for Jane?"

I am at a loss for words when it comes to prayer these days. Mostly I just pray for peace; for Jane, for me, for our household (family). I was praying as I was lying awake this morning, wondering if God was leaving her here until we fully released her. But then it came to me, and I said, "God, you have loaned Jane to us, and you will take her back in your own good timing, regardless of how tightly we might hold onto her. So I acknowledge that, and again release her to Your care."

It is baffling to the hospice nurses and me regarding how she has survived so long on so little (no food and very little water). If you know much about Jane, you will know that she is slow and deliberate about everything.

It took me 1-1/2 years to get her to walk down the aisle with me. I knew she was the one in the first 3 months, but she needed time, and a demonstration of faithfulness, character, and commitment before she was willing to give herself to me. I could tell you of many other decisions, both large and small, that I learned to wait patiently on Jane to help me make.

I think maybe this is again one of those times. She has a strong heart (physical) and a strong constitution (Spiritual), and she's not going to go easily, even if God is beckoning her. I believe that God has demonstrated through me His patience with Jane. He taught me how to love her slowly, easily, and as best I was able, unconditionally.

He is not going to rush Jane into anything, and I know when the time comes, she will run to His arms willingly, happily, completely.

(Drawing courtesy of a young neighborhood girl)

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