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 washes 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.