Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Real Thing

I read a tribute to Mike today from one of Emily's best and oldest friends, Jody Callahan, that he wrote on his blog.  I saw it on FB and read the first line, but I couldn't go any further until later on today.  It made me cry, as I thought it would, but it also made me laugh, and that's saying a whole lot lately.  Jody has a way with words, and he shares our sorrow in an amazing way.

I try to think of things every day that might make me feel better, but they all come with a price tag - remembering enjoying them in happier days.

Last weekend, Saturday, I believe, we had such a beautiful day, yellow and red leaves already, a brisk cool wind blowing, low clouds threatening rain - and my sweet 3-year old to spend the afternoon with me.  She doesn't understand yet about her PopPop.  She knows he's not around and hasn't been for some time, but she has faith that she will see him again.  I'm going to take her approach too.

We walked from her house to the apartment as usual, and even though my heart was so heavy, I let myself be in the moment and enjoy her sweetness and joy.

I spent awhile Sunday afternoon sitting on the balcony with a little sunshine and cinnamon coffee reading a book sent by my friend Roz who has been there with encouragement all during the hospital stay and since.  I'm having a hard time reading very much at a time, but I'm sure I'll read and re-read this book.

On Monday morning, I had to make a very sad visit to the library to take Mike's books back and make sure he didn't have anything checked out I had forgotten to take back.  While I was there, I did get this:

And will start doing the Sunday crossword puzzle.  I'm sure he would have smirked derisively if I had told him I would tackle that, but I'll do my best to carry on the tradition.

Better than comfort food is an armload of quilting books.

I know they will be just glanced at and returned and that I'll never make anything in them, but I will take any little bit of pleasure I can right now.  

It's going to take deliberately finding peace and joy again for our family.  We'll have to look for it because if we just sit there and take it, we will be overcome with sadness and grief.   I have faith we can do it.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's Going to Get Better

Everyone who has ever lost anyone they loved says this, so it must be true.  I hope I will come back and read this one day, and I won't remember how much it hurts.

I have several hours a day when life goes on like normal.  I can enjoy reading emails or cards from people and even enjoy getting paperwork in order.  I enjoyed a good visit from Emily yesterday afternoon and 30 minutes at the park today with all 3 girls.

I enjoy it, but then I need to come home.  Distraction works only for a little while.

Staying around people or staying somewhere else doesn't help right now.  When this grief comes, it just washed over me, and I feel like nothing will ever be right in my world again.  It is just as strong in a crowd of people as it is all by myself.  Even though I KNOW I won't feel this way forever, it's hard to convince myself otherwise.

Just now I was doing okay.  After seeing an email about a birthday freebie from Starbucks and a link to other freebies, I thought I would entertain myself by thinking about what I could do next week when that unwelcome birthday comes around.  The list didn't impress me, and I didn't want anything on it, mostly ice cream and desserts, but then staring me right in the face was a Nothing Bundt Cakes coupon.  Besides being a cute name, it brought back a memory so sharp it took my breath away.  Just a small thing but something I remembered.

One day last spring, Emily and I went into Target while Mike waited in the car with his crossword puzzle.  Target was not his kind of store until he found out he could sit in there and drink coffee and wait for us, but he hadn't discovered that yet.  When we came out, there was a little bundtlet, or whatever they're called, waiting for us, one for each of us.  They were cute and good, and while I'm sure we thanked him and gushed over them, I couldn't possibly know what pain that little act would cause me months later.

It was just like him to sit there in the car and see the store, which he had commented on many times before, loving the play on words, and decide he would do something for us.  Just like he always did - doing something for someone else.  It never occurred to him to get himself one.  He just wanted us to have one.

It's so scary and so lonely to realize that I will not have that again - someone who just spent time thinking about what I liked and what he could do for me.   And not just me - anyone he cared for.  It leaves a big ache in my heart, and I know it sounds selfish, but I got used to that, and it's hard to know it's gone.  I will smile when these memories come one day, and I will look back at the way I feel today and forget that feeling.  Maybe.

So many people have helped me this past week, and I am going to dwell on that tomorrow, but right now I'm going to make a pot of coffee, even if it is 5:00 p.m., and find a mindless comedy on Netflix to watch, preferably something old with Doris Day or Maggie Smith.

And thank God for the 55 years of happiness I did have.   I just didn't realize how happy I was until it was taken away.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Keeping It Going

Lots of things have kept me from keeping up with this blog/journal through the years.  It's hard sometimes to just make up my mind and take the time to do it.  I hate that if Graysen and Katherine read this one day, there will be gaps in our lives.  I write down simply the things that happen in our day-by-day lives, as boring as they might be at the time.

But there is nothing harder than starting back today.  I feel like only family and a few close friends read this blog and already know the details, but there are people who visit from other blogs so I need to say what I'm able to.  Because this is life unfortunately, and we are in the middle of it.

After being with him during his 2-year bout with cancer and 1-month stay in ICU, we lost our husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend.  Mike.  It is still not real to me.

We are kind of immersed in our grieving period right now, but I want to post the obituary and vow to come back and spend at least one day a week writing things about Mike and our life together and his full and interesting life so his little granddaughters will know and remember him.

Mike did not care for Facebook at all but loved being on the blog.  When I would write something, he would always tell me what a good "web log" I had posted.

I've already received by email and on FB so many stories, funny things he's said and done, and just statements of love and friendship.  As I get these, I will post some of them here too over time.


On September 12, 2016, Michael Gordon Windham ended his life's journey at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle WA, at the age of 70.  Mike, also known as El Tigre to his international friends, was born August 19, 1946, in Andalusia, Alabama, to the late Eleanor Stone Windham and Roy M. Windham.  He graduated from Andalusia High School and went on to attend Auburn University where he graduated in 1968 with a degree in textile management.  His 43-year career in textiles began at Riegel Textile Company in Trion, GA, and ended when he retired from American Cotton Growers in Littlefield, TX, in 2011.  He also worked at Thomaston Mills, Burlington Industries, and Denim North America.   Over the course of his employment, Mike enjoyed his job, especially the creative aspects and travel and embraced his time in Central America where he made lifelong friends and copious amounts of "pretty good denim."           

Everything he did, he did with integrity, intelligence, creativity, and diligence.  He believed in doing things the right way, which afforded brilliant and meaningful results, from his work in denim to his art and photography, and he downplayed them all.  He was the most dependable person most of us will ever meet.  He loved his family and friends above all else and managed to find goodness in everyone he met.  He truly enjoyed people, connecting with them, and sharing experiences.  If you were lucky enough to be adopted into his ever-growing family to become an "honorary Windham," you would find yourself the recipient of all sorts of treasures, from Priester's pecans to his very own ginger cookies to complimentary Delta blankets.

Mike was a baker, collector, photographer, teacher, manager, father, husband, and adoring grandfather.  He loved Sunday New York Times crossword puzzles, salt-water fishing, music and literature, and was a fierce Jeopardy contender.  He had a wicked sense of humor and loved to make others laugh. His grandchildren were a constant source of wonder and amazement to him.  His was a life well-lived, and he was a model of selflessness and sacrifice to those he loved.

Those left behind to cherish his memory include his best friend and wife of 49 years, Becky Ray Windham of Snoqualmie, WA; son and daughter-in-law Gray and Stephanie Windham of Griffin, GA; daughter Elise Windham of Lubbock, TX, daughter and son-in-law Emily Windham and Ryan Bindert of Snoqualmie, WA; granddaughters Graysen and Katherine Bindert of Snoqualmie, WA; brother and sister-in-law Alan and Kathy Windham of Andalusia, AL; mother-in-law Charlotte Ray of Andalusia, AL.  He also leaves behind other aunts, uncles, and cousins.

A memorial service will be planned for family and friends at a later date. 

Any donations may be made to the Andalusia Public Library, your hometown library, or the charity of your choice.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Saturday Morning in July

Such a beautiful day but a little too chilly to linger long.  I'll try it again in an hour or so.

I stole the peach from Mike's birthday gift from Debby.  What a treat, and our place smells like a Georgia summer.

 If we needed a taste test, this girl was willing to try it and totally approved.  I only got 2 bites from the one we shared.

Mike, Emily, and Graysen are off for a little visit to the clinic where Graysen will play, and Mike will be at Emily's mercy.  

Now!  I get a rare couple of hours alone.  I'm not sure how I will waste it.  Writing this will take most of it unless I can find a stopping place.

Cleaning up, I see sweet memories of yesterday's fun.

Graysen rediscovered this doggie doctor kit on a shelf in her closet and has thoroughly enjoyed it.  Katherine tries to get her hands on it too when she can and hangs that stethoscope around her neck like she knows what to do with it.

We had an semi-annual apartment inspection yesterday.  We had no idea what that meant - what they would inspect or where they would look - so the whole apartment got a much-needed cleaning.  That meant I had to clear up most of my quilting explosion in the dining room and sewing room, but that needed to be done anyway.  So I've decided to take on some less fun but necessary sewing projects today.  (It turns out the inspection was a brief visit by the maintenance man and the apartment manager to check the smoke detectors and windows.  Quick and pleasant, but I feel cheated.  I wanted someone to look in my closets and check the bathrooms!)

Anyway, this is my first project.

The kangaroo backpack from Australia has been much loved and used and was showing signs of wear.

I ordered this after seeing this picture of Prince William's a few years ago.  

It's pretty small but so precious, and she loves it.  I'm not sure she will ever let Katherine have it.

I knew I had some glue and remembered when we moved in I had put up this shoe bag and stashed lots of stuff in it.

Interesting.  There are things I had forgotten about.  I'll have to come back and organize it and see what's there.  I think there are a few empty pockets too.

These are the four choices I had.

I really wanted the Glue-Baste to work, but I saw the word temporary and decided to try something permanent to hopefully avoid sewing.

Spraying was sticky and messy and probably not the best choice, but right now, after having trimmed the raw edges, it looks pretty good.  If it doesn't stick, I will just sew it down.

One down.

Another annoying hanger one:  Graysen's tea party cloth, aka cross-stitch bread cloth.  

I finished it at the Cancer Center last week, but Emily accidentally took it back to her office and just now remembered to bring it back.  I lack only 20 or so stitches, so I'm going to get another cup of coffee and get that wiped out.  We're needing to have a tea party soon.

Graysen has watched me work on it and likes to do her sewing alongside me.

She loves my sewing room.  Although I promised myself I wouldn't let her in there, she is so happy just playing with buttons and scraps of cloth that I let her spend some time there.  She loves the sewing machine but seems to be content with waiting until she's 7 to use it.  If then!  I may be too nervous to do that.  She knows the things she can't touch, like scissors and machines, and is good about reminding me that she knows.

Katherine, on the other hand, is not allowed in there and stands at the door and stomps her foot and cries for the thread rack.  Looks delicious to her, I imagine, and all kinds of ways to scatter and throw the spools.

Next on the agenda:  Another old quilt, a lap quilt.

I made this many years ago in one of the most fun classes I've taken.  It was at Kudzu Quilt Shop in Montgomery - which is no longer - and taught by one of the employees, Paula.  It was called Divide and Conquer from the book of the same name.

I would never have bought this book based on the picture of it.  It looks too much like a bulls-eye and just not pretty.

But once I saw the shop display quilt and heard what fun it was, I decided to try it.

Paula's detailed instructions to go with it.

It was so easy and so much fun, I'm surprised I haven't made another one - but then I haven't set the world on fire making any quilts.

It's made from 2-1/2" strips and placed on a piece of batting and a square of backing.  One you get all the strips sewn down, your block is sewn and quilted and only needs to be trimmed to a 12-1/2" square (my favorite part).  When all the blocks are done, you attach them with bias tape.  That part is fun too.  And then your quilt is finished without any sandwiching of batting or struggling with quilting a whole quilt.

Since it was pink and pastel, I figured neither daughter would want it, but surprisingly Emily liked it enough to carry home, and she and Ryan both ended up loving it - except for complaining that it wasn't big enough to wrap up in.  

It has been used and washed and been through lots of wear with 2 babies, and some of the seams are coming loose, especially the binding.  That part is sewn on by hand, so I'm not surprised.  Some of the other spots won't be so easy to repair, so I might just do some decorative stitches on top of them and hope for the best.

I still love everything about it, the fabric, the pattern, the easiness of it, and the fact that someone else gets pleasure from it.  I'm not usually into florals, but Paula gave me a lot of guidance in picking the right combinations, and it worked great.

And there's that old green quilt with the binding and repairs to do.  Probably won't get to that today.

My machine is waiting, and the cool breeze will be welcome when I get back.

To these:

I'm taking too much time thinking about quilting instead of doing it, but here are a few pictures of our outing yesterday.  Katherine is really becoming a little park person, and Graysen is so ready for her to be a play friend instead of a baby.  I'm willing to wait and savor these baby moments.

 I identified a Southern voice at the park yesterday when I heard someone counting for their great-grandchild - wowun, two, three, fowur!  We bonded and told our stories.  She's from Knoxville and is visiting her family near us.  She plans to come back a lot, so maybe we'll meet again.  I asked the other mother if she had heard that many ya'll's being thrown back and forth lately.  She seemed to enjoy it.  People are just so friendly and nice here.  

We were walking earlier this week when I noticed someone filling up a bag with blackberries.  We stopped to discuss the taste and the availability, and she says she gets enough along the roadways and paths every summer to freeze and use for smoothies even when they aren't the sweetest.  Turns out she and her family are from New Orleans, and I think she said it was her husband who graduated from Spring Hill College in Mobile.  We agreed that some of the natives probably think they're poison, and that's why they leave them to us.  I recommended an alley I had walked down that morning where the bushes were overflowing with berries.  I've been told there are "no snakes" up here, and I kind of halfway believe it - bad snakes anyway.  But I do believe bears like berries, so my guard is always up.