Sunday, December 09, 2012

4 years on December 17th

I am not sure who will mark the occassion of the passing of Joe Coburn on December 17th, 2008.  But I for one am taking time to remember him today.  This is Michael his oldest son with a few comments thoughts and links.  I just approved a bunch of old comments that were on the blog waiting for approval.  Many were for little blue pills or casino gambling online, but a few were meaningful including one from a guy who had come into possession of the one and only "Soundtracks, Take One" album.  He found the blog after googling them and expressed interest in wanting a copy.  My sister Cassie recently posted some clips on Youtube:








So now we have preserved some memories of Joe Coburn my dad as we approach the 4th anniversary of his death.  Since it is the Christmas season, here is a version of Oh Holy Night that my brother Kevin and Dad did a year before he died.



On a happy note, my mother, Mary Anne Coburn-Cope, that's right she is remarried to Ron Cope and the two of the are very happy.  They both lost their spouses and lived in the same neighborhood and now they have each other.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I'm not really here now :)

Catch me on my NEW blog site: http://www.scubadiversnowbird.blogspot.com/
(this blog will remain here)


-Mary Anne

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16, 2009

Dear Friends,
Even thogh the death certificate says the 17th, Joe really died late one year ago today. The nurse just couldn't get here before midnight. Today has been hard day for me. I went down in his workshop yesterday to get something and was reminded how he spent each year at this time making something out of wood for family and friends and grandchildren. I straightened up a few things in there and sometime when Michael was here over Thanksgiving he vacuumed up all the wood shavings. I didn't notice it until yesterday.

I went to the hardware store today to get light bulbs and a furnace filter and some extension cords and was reminded that these were usually Joe's trips. He loved the hardware stores and knew the cashier at Ace by name. He also knew what aisle everything was in unlike me.

I just finished rereading the blog for the last few days of his life and he was such a brave man right up to the end. Karen and I were talking the other day and we commented that we didn't always appreciate all his qualities while he was alive but we sure miss them now.

Christmas was always his favorite time of year because he loved giving. If you want to hear his favorite Christmas carol sung by Joe and our son Kevin, just scroll down the side of the blog to "O Holy Night". They did this 6 months after he was diagnosed in 2006. I don't think at that time we knew if he would make it another Christmas.

I have been sustained this year through by siblings, long time friends and my small groups from church. I also continue to go to my grief group at Wellness House which is wonderful.

I know one year is not the end and I am so thankful for all the blessings this year has brought me. Being able to care for others who are ill has been very fulfilling. God has shown me he isn't finished with me yet and is allowing me to use my gifts in a different way.

May the peace of Christ be in your hearts as it is in mine during this time.

God bless.
Mary Anne

Sunday, November 29, 2009

thanksgiving Weekend November 29th, 2009

Hi Family and Friends,
Well, the weekend is over and it was a fine one. Mike and Heidi and kids got in Wednesday afternoon and I took the kids bowling and to dinner while Mike and Heidi met their friends for dinner.

By the way, Michael added that picture of me with the medals. that was from several years ago at the Senior Olympics. Michael did get me swimming twice this weekend at the clubhouse but it surely didn't make up for all I ate this weekend.
Thanksgiving was here and we spent a lot of time going through old slides that Joe took from 1964 through 1973. It was great remembering all those times when the kids were young (and so were we). We laughed at all the styles back then in hair and clothes. I taught the grand kids Rummikub and they seemed to enjoy it.

Friday night was the pizza party hosted by Kevin and Tracy for 50 of us in towners of the Murphy clan. Then Saturday we had our annual Mother Daughter luncheon with 22 of us attending. Probably our biggest group but still not all of us. We were missing Karen, Cath, Molly, Katie, Bonnie, Michelle and Meghan, Mary Anne, Lisa and Brianna and anyone else I may have forgotten.

I realized that as my baby brother turned 61 this year that the six Murphy children are all in their sixties for about 11 months. Amazing.

Saturday night we played Texas Hold Em (or however you spell it) with the adults at my house with Kevin being the big winner, Kirk second and Marianne third./ We finished out the weekend by Tracy, Marianne and I going to the New Moon movie.

The kids helped me get some chores done around the house this weekend and even brought my Christmas Tree up. It is prelit so all I have to do is decorate it.

This Thanksgiving I was especially thankful that I had part of my family here with me and that family ties and memories are so strong. We saw lots of old pictures of Joe and laughed a lot. God has blessed us in so many ways. We are almost at a year without Joe but I think about him all the time and think about how he would react to so many things that happen.

Hope you all had a great weekend and I pray that God will bless you in the weeks that come as we head to Christmas.

Take care,
Mary Anne

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18, 2009


Hi Friends,
Yesterday was 11 months but whose counting. I am more aware of this time of the year from last year when Joe was in his final days. I read the blog from them and realize how precious those last few months were. We were thrilled when Joe was coherent and could talk to us. I remember how every time I stood him up to take him to the bathroom I got a hug from him. And in the morning i would crawl into the hospital bed with him and cuddle. I hope that is not too much information but those are the things I want to remember about this time last year. Overall I am doing well. Grateful for the grief group I am in that meets twice a month.

I finally got back to swimming this morning after a six month hiatus. I just couldn't get myself motivated and the practice times conflicted with my work times but I am committed to make it work.
I think I went to Vegas with my sisters for four days since I blogged and we had a great time eating and shopping and we saw Terry Fator the ventriloquist at the Mirage which was wonderful. Then I went to Phoenix and spent the weekend with Karen and Mark. We had a great time with no agenda, just time together.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Everyone will be in except Karen and Mark who will come for Christmas. I am on Jury duty this week, so no work, but is it boring sitting in the assembly room for 8 hours a day. I read, talk and take naps. I thought I would be able to use my cell phone but no cell phones with cameras are allowed. Can't bring my computer either. Oh well, I'm doing my civic duty. Hope I don't get called at the end of the week and have it go into next week.

I am enjoying leading a bible study this fall and we are studying James which is short but has some great stuff in it. Lots of good verses to memorize.

That's it from my end. Hope you are all well and have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Take care and God bless.
Mary Anne

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18, 2009

Hi Friends,
I have now added a picture from the Tree Dedication. I will also add a link on the side if you want to see a video of it. Also, I found out that if you sign up as a follower, it will notify you by email when I post something if you are interested. Might make it easier.

Have a great fall day!

Take care and God bless.
Mary Anne

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dedication of Tree


Hi Friends,
This past Sunday the 11th of October we dedicated a tree that was planted behind our house on the golf course. It is traditional that when one of the guys from the Legends Golf League dies, they take up a collection to plant a tree on the golf course in memory of that person.
We had a celebration on Sunday with about 40 people. Earl Ferguson, our pastor led the dedication and finished with the poem by Joyce Kilmer about Trees. It was a clear bright sunny day although a little cool. Three of our four kids were able to make it. Mark and Karen were in town so Mark could run the Chicago Marathon that day (which he did and qualified for the Boston) so we had most of the family here. As it turns out, Michael came into town last night and I will have dinner with him tonight with my sisters. It was a nice closure and the tree is a sunset autumn blaze maple. I took a few pictures and will have my kids help me put them on the blog.

Lucky is also dong fabulous. He now has a shock collar and after only a week, he knows he is not supposed to bark at the front window and I don't even have to zap him each time. It has made life a lot quieter around here. Now I can take him on walks without worrying he will attack someone or me. He is good with golf carts now too.

Next week is our sister getaway to Las Vegas for four days. Then I will spend the weekend in Phoenix with Karen and Mark before coming home. We only saw them for a few hours Sunday and that wasn't enough.

For those of you who know Ed, our neighbor, he is doing much better. They haven't totally ruled out cancer but they haven't found it yet either.

I am doing well and still going to grief group. I read a wonderful book for widows called "Widow to Widow" and it really helped. I may have written that last month but it still has an impact on me.
Hope all of you in the Midwest are enjoying the fall colors. I just love driving around seeing the different hues and marveling how God can put so many colors together and nothing ever clashes.

God is good - all the time.

Take care and God bless.
Mary Anne

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17, 2009

Hi Friends,
Today is 9 monthssince Joe died. Doesn't seem possible. I went to a remembrance event at Wellness house this past weekend and 8 of our grief group were there as well as others. It was a nice time Sunday afternoon. Some tears were shed but it was good.

Friday I went on a bike ride with Tracy, our daughter in law along the Fox River from Geneva to St. Charles and then back to Batavia. we had lunch outside at Mill Race Inn and the weather was beautiful. Many years ago, Joe and Karen did this same ride. No Joe was never a biker but he just wanted to do this and it brought back great memories.

I am now in Ohio sitting with Michael and Heidi's kids. Today was my first day getting them off to school on my own. Heidi left for Switzerland yesterday to join Mike. We did fine although I ma not used to getting up at 6 which is 5 Chicago time. I went to bed with the kids last night. Their cat Moo didn't come in before we went to bed so at 2 A.M. I got up and he was at the door. Guess he will learn i go to bed earlier than the P's. I have a lot of driving to do after school but I love my Garman and can find my way around with that.

Lucky my Maltese is with Cassie and wouldn't you know, he got sick right after I left. Cas took him to the vet and they think he has gastroenteritis so they gave him a bolus of fluid and antibiotic. He wouldn't eat or drink anything so now Cas has to feed him rice and chicken for a week.

Our good friend Ed (of Ed and Jayne) is in the hospital with pancreatitis and is really sick. Please pray for him. It is hard being away at this time. They were so supportive of me when Joe was sick.

I hope to spend the daytime getting some exercise with walking and bike riding. I sure need it.
it is nice to have someone to cook for for the next two weeks. We will see what I can come up with that the kids will like.

That's about it for now. I am slowly adjusting to single life and am so thankful for my family,church and my friends during this time. I am doing a lot of reading. Currently I am reading "A Proper Pursuit" by Lyn Austin. She came and spoke at our women's breakfast and she is a Christian author. This book is based in Chicago so that is neat.

Enough rambling. have a great day. Take care and God Bless.

Mary Anne

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 30, 2009


Hi friends,

Yesterday would have been our 45th wedding anniversary. Joe and I went together for 4 years before we got married so we really had 48 years together. It was a little hard but I got calls from all the kids and my siblings acknowledging the day so that was helpful. I was gone all day til 8 at night. I had a client for my job in the morning and then Cas and I went to see Postgrad and then to dinner. I also got to see her new kitten, Tristan, who is very loveable and I don't seem to be allergic so that is good. We had a good time just doing some errands before the show and sitting having a coffee in Starbucks. I couldn't drink coffee for about 8-9 years because it bothered my stomach but I started trying it last winter and it seems Ok. I like being able to drink it again and particularly enjoyed iced coffee this summer.



I am still going to grief group at Wellness house and have committed to another four months. It is the same group of people so we are forming a bond and getting to know each other. Last week I shared a picture of Joe and a little more about him and it was very nice. I reread the last year of the blog and came across the poem I wrote near the end of Joe's journey. It still has good meaning even now and I am going to reprint it here. It is from Saturday November 5th, 2008.


Set Your Eyes on Him

In the middle of the night when your mind turns to fright,
Set your eyes on Him.
In the middle of the night, when there's no one else in sight,
Set your eyes on Him.
For when He is in your midst, and you feel the love within,
Then the fear that Satan brings has vanished in thin air.
I know He is around me, I can feel his presence near.
And now that I have named it, I can sleep without the fear.
Oh Jesus, how I love you, and need you by my side.
Through the troubled days ahead, in your words I will abide.
For I know You love me also, and will not abandon me.
And when the trial is over, many blessings I will see.
So stay with me my Saviour, my comfort and my guide.
Until my darling Joseph, is standing at your side.

All I have to change is one word in the last sentence and it works for me now. Instead of "Until I just say "since' my darling Joseph is standing at your side.
I feel God has guided me to a ministry that lets me use my gift of mercy and also provides a small income for me. I love helping other people and it gives me purpose in my life and a feeling of satisfaction as I spend time with my clients and hear their stories.

I have posted a picture of me with my friends (L to R) Pat, Jayne and Joanne as we played in the Rally for the Cure Golf Outing here at Carillon in August. It was a beautiful day and we had lots of fun. It was a scramble so no pressure. (Click on Picture to enlarge...I mean really large).

We have had so much rain I haven't had a good chance to use my new bike much but hopefully as fall approaches I will get out more.

As Michael said, i will be spending the last two weeks of September sitting with his children while they tour some of Europe. Heidi , his wife, is heading for her two year anniversary of carcinoid cancer so that's a good reason for a trip. She is doing well and as I may have said, she did a 84 mile bike ride in Boston in August to raise funds for this kind of cancer.

That's about it for me here. My life has become very busy with working part time. Our two small groups will be starting back up this next month and it will be good to get together with these folks again.

Take care and God Bless. By the way, my email has changed to maryanne80@att.net. I have updated teh link located down the side of these posts.

Mary Anne

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New bike


Well, Mom got herself a new bike and is ready to ride. She used to be on a racing tri bike with shoes and speedplay clip in pedals, but now practicality has overtaken the need for speed. Since she is not racing anymore, this new comfort bike will be the perfect solution. My bet is she still beats all her fellow riders. Looking forward to Mom coming to Ohio to watch the kids and pets and run the household while Heidi and I get a vacation which will turn out to be longer than our honeymoon was 17 years ago. Looking forward to Provence and Tuscany. Thanks Mom.

Michael

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29,2009

whoops, I made a mistake. Monday was Karen and Mark's 7 month anniversary. Joe died ten days before that on the 17th of December. Two of my kids caught my mistake. I knew that a week ago. I just got mixed up. Chauk one up for your mind not functioning exactly right. I am in Ohio now for the long weekend. Just took a great nap and now will teach the kids how to play hand and foot. Take care and God bless. Mary Anne

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 28,2009

Hi friends,
Yesterday was seven months since Joe died. I haven't written much lately but I am doing well. I continue to go to the grief group at Wellness House which is very helpful.

I also now have a job with Comfort Keepers and it is keeping me busy but I enjoy it a lot. I have a regular client four mornings a week which gets me up and out of the house.

I just finished a wonderful weekend with most of our kids in town for a few days. Karen came for 5 days and her friends Kelli joined us for the weekend. Michael and his three kids came while Heidi was away with girlfriends. Cassie was here with just Matthew as Kirk and Andrew had gone on a fishing trip. Kev and Tracy were away at church camp but Tracy played golf with us on Thursday before she left. Karen and I played several times and it was great weather. We had some good girl time and some good family time.

Tomorrow I leave to sit for Mike and Heidi again for 5 days while Heidi and her Dad ride in the Pan Mass Challenge in Boston. This is to raise money for Carcinoid Cancer with the Dana Farber Institute. Heidi has this cancer diagnosed a year and a half ago. This year they will ride 80 miles (last year was 50 and Heidi's brother did it with her as well as Michael) This year Michael will be the sherpa.

I have had great success with the gardens in back but terrible problems with algae in the pond. The frogs don't seem to mind but I can't seem to get ahead of it.

I am slowly adjusting to being the only human in the house but I love having the company of Lucky, my faithful dog. Even though he still tries to bully the golf carts, his other behavior is good. I have found scrabble on facebook and enjoy playing with several different people, all of whom are beating me but it is good challenge for my mind.

Thanks for being there and know that I think of you friends often even tho I don't talk as often as I should or want to. Life just gets busy. Any of you who knew Joe and I, know we always had full schedules and that part hasn't changed much. I still miss Joe a lot and think so often of sayings that he used. The other day when I was on the golf course, I thought "now why didn't I let Joe tell me what I was doing wrong ( in golf) while he was here." Yesterday the garbage disposal stopped working. I got out the wrench and turned it and no problem but it wouldn't turn on. When I was telling a friend about it I suddenly thought, "Oh I shouold check the reset button". That was what it was. I am so glad I didn't call a repair man for that!

Enough ramblings. I leave tomorrow morning and have to finish packing.

Take care and God bless all of you.

Mary Anne

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Perennials for Dad


Our neighbors here in Hudson, Ohio presented us with a lovely gift certificate to a local garden center upon my dad's death. It was so thoughtful and it inspired us to put in a memorial garden in our front yard with a nice bench and a fringe tree, dwarf magnolia and many perennials all around. Those were things dad really liked. The bed is below a large black walnut tree which Dad always commented about when he visited. He said we should be careful because the wood is so prized that when you are vacation someone could come and cut it down for the value of the lumber. It came out very nice.

Monday, June 01, 2009

May 31, 2009

Hi Friends,
Life goes on and I received two emails from people I didn't know who read this blog that wanted to talk about some things so I guess this is worthwhile.

I have been sitting with this elderly lady three times and it feels really good. It is nice to be doing for someone else and to have someone to eat with and prepare meals for. Do you find that sometimes you just can't find the right words so you don't end the sentence in a preposition? Hope no one is reading this for the literary content.

I have hired our grandson Matthew who is 16 to mulch and weed the perennial gardens and around the house. He has been here twice and it really looks nice. The fish pond is finally getting clearer and I am about ready to buy some cheap goldfish. Right now it is a frog pond but the grandkids love that. They smelled so bad when they came in for dinner on Memorial day we had to have them change clothes to eat. Of course I dont' have anything that fits a 9 and 11 year old so they wore some of my old workout shorts and shirts. Andrew came to the table without changing his shirt and when I asked him why, he said " there were sparkels on the shirt. I picked it because it said Nike but didn't see the "sparkles" How funny.

Now that i am single, Michael, our son in Ohio,is going to put my free time to good use. I will be going there the end of June for a week to sit while they have a little getaway and then again the beginning of August while Heidi does the Pan Mass challenge. That is a bike ride put on to raise funds for the Dana Farber institute for Cancer and Heidi's group will ride for Carcinoid Cancer which she has. She will do 80 miles this year. Last year she did 50 - good for her. Her Dad will be riding with her this year and he is 77. Really good for him!!

I'll bet you are wondering how Lucky is doing with his training. Well, when someone else comes over he knows they are dominant and he does really well, but he is still having trouble accepting me as his leader when the golf carts go by. We have switched collars but the improvement is slow. It is like watching a two years old push the boundaries. But I still love him and he is great company.

That's about it from here. Grief groups are going well. Ons stops for the sumer but the other one will go through the summer. It is great to have people to share with who are experiencing the same thing at about the same timeline.

Take care and God Bless.
Mary Anne

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 13, 2009

Hi Friends,
Since I last wrote I have started both of my golf leagues but got rained out today.

I have spent some time in the garden lately. Cassie shopped with me and bought and planted flowers with me but then I continued for several days after she left. I now appreciate why Joe loved the gardens so much and always liked to look at the flowers after he planted them. I look out every morning to see how they are doing. I particularly like the rose bush Cas and I picked out and it has a wonderful scent. I am feeling much more emotion as spring hits that I think I was either holding back of stuffing with food.

I went to my first grief support group at Wellness House tonight and it was so good to be with people who have gone through the same thing and all with spouses that lost their lives to cancer. I felt free to cry and sympathize with others and felt like I belonged. I even met a friend who was in another support group there with me which was special.

I will start sitting with the elderly lady this Friday. Please pray that Lucky will behave and not bark too much because I will be staying overnight and he has to come with me. I have the trainer coming again tomorrow so I hope she has some good tips for me. My two small groups really see an improvement in his behavior when they are here as he greets them etc. but let a dog walk by the house or a golf cart pass by and he goes berserk. I still love him but I want him to know he doesn't have to protect me from either of these things.

I am still coaching my swim club here at Carillon three times a week and have a few new ladies and some snow birds that have come back so the pool is full. I love helping people learn how to build endurance and enjoy swimming as I do. I will be started a 5 week course of the Bible 101 series doing the New Testament. I love learning more about the word and it keeps me going to it often if not every day. Life is still good and my friends and family are so faithful, I couldn't be more blessed.

Take care and God bless you also.
Mary Anne
\

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

May 6, 2009

Hi Friends,
I have just come back from playing 9 holes of gold with the couples league that Joe and I used to belong to. Now I am playing with Doris, another recent widow who used to play with her husband. It was different being out there without Joe but that first is over now. I am still waiting to get our golf cart fixed. It only goes backwards so that doesn't work very well.

I had Sunday dinner for Cas, Kirk and the kids on Sunday. After dinner they were all out fishing and everyone caught one except Andrew who truly loves to fish. We haven't had a Sunday dinner in a very long time and it was nice. I had Marianne and Cas for dinner on Saturday as they were headed to a concert in Joliet so it was on the way.

By the way if you want to email me my email address has changed. It is now maryanne80@att.net. Joe's is no longer active.

I did attend the grief group here at Carillon last Friday and it was good to be there. There are so many changes just in my vocabulary to get used to.

It is now planting time or almost and the man that used to help us with it from the golf course is no longer going to be doing it so I have asked our grandson Matthew to help me with it. I was never into the flowers but Joe loved them. I loved looking at them but not all the work. I bought some of the flowers this week and there are a lot of perrenials in there now but I have to be careful not to pull them thinking they are weeds. And then there is the pond. Currently it has no fish but I have to get it cleaned up before I can add goldfish. We don't dare add coy because the blue heron love to fish there.

Our family has stayed well this spring and Marianne our oldest granddaughter is finishing her first year of college this week at NIU. She will be working in Colorado at a dude ranch that her other grandparents work at so she will be gone all summer.

The in-town Coburns will be gong to Feed My Starving Children this month to pack food for the poor in Haiti and other countries. We have been going quarterly with our small groups from church and it is a wonderful experience. If you want to know more about it the website is www.feedmystarvingchildren.org . The facility is located in Aurora.

Anyway that is what is going on in my life. I am still coaching swimmers here at Carillon three mornings a week and we have a few newcomers which is always fun. I swim myself about three times a week with my Masters team.

As far as Lucky is concerned he is going to have another visit from the dog whisperer type person next week to work on the barking at the golf carts which are very numerous this time of year. The weather has been beautiful the last few days and you just want to be out in it.

Enjoy spring and enjoy each other. Take care and God Bless.
Mary Anne

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 26, 2009

It has been a busy few weeks with Easter and then my State Masters Swim Meet this past weekend.  - Oh well it is already Saturday of the next weekend but you know what I mean. Anyway, after only three weeks of training for me, our team managed to come in first only 11 points ahead of Evanston so we were surprised and happy.  I did well in my age group getting 8 firsts and one second - however my times were way off last year.  I'm counting this as my off year.
 
The kids are keeping me so busy I have a hard time getting my naps in.  I was able to see Andrew in his dress rehearsal for the talent show  and I will spend Tuesday evenings with Kev, Tracy and her family.  Our Thursday night small group has started up again  and it is good to share with them again after so long away.
 
Lucky is doing well on part of his dog training - the sleeping in his own bed and the feeding schedule but he is terrible at barking at the people with dogs passing by and the golf carts.  He really needs good walks to tire him out.
In my spare time I am playing scrabble on face book with a few different people and it is really fun. I am losing all the games I am playing but it keeps my mind active and I come up with a good word now and then.
 
Emotionally, I am doing OK but feeling the loneliness of not having Joe around more and more.  We used to love to sit on the deck together in the afternoon and just talk and now that the weather is nicer I will miss having him there even more.  I hope to start with a grief group at Wellness House in May.  I went there while Joe was alive in support groups for people with metastatic disease and it was really good.
 
Until I write again,  Take care and God bless.
 
Mary Anne

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter Weekend





Well howdy! Michael posting here just to say that we had a very nice weekend with everyone in town at "Mom's" house. It definitely takes some getting used to the changes because of Dad being gone. For starters, even though this was not the first trip back since Dad died, the wedding was, it was the first one without a distraction and with 4 months having passed. It hit us hard the void of Dad not being there. You couldn't just imagine that he was in the other room watching the Masters Golf tournament which is where he might have been. He was missing and missed. Mom is doing great and I think we all are moving on with our lives and this new stage. We did take time to spread his ashes and say something about Dad we missed or appreciated. It was great to be together, and I hope and think it makes us appreciate our family even more.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

April 9, 2009

Hi Friends,
Well I made the switch. For those of you that are on my email contact list you will get an email telling you but my new email is maryanne80@att.net. This will save me quite a bit of money each month from my previous user so be sure and change it in your contact list. I will still get emails from comcast for 30 days but then it is kaput.

My first night as pack leader was tough. Lucky whined and barked for about two hours on and off wanting to be on the bed with me but I will endure. Just waiting for the first of the out of towners to arrive in about 45 minutes. That would be Michael and Heidi and kids. Karen and Mark get here tomorrow.

Have a lovely Easter. We had a presentation at the clubhouse tonight put on by our church members called. "Is it I Lord" having each of the 12 Apostles give a narrative of how they met Jesus and the impact he had on their lives. It finished with a depiction of them at the Last Supper like the picture and they held that pose for one full minute. It was very moving. It was a great start to this special Holy weekend.

I wish you all a blessed time with family and friends. Take care. Mary Anne

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

April 8, 2009

Hi Friends,
Obviously I am back home and it is harder being here than in Bonaire but I am quite busy with taxes UGH!, swimming to get ready for the state meet and physical therapy for my shoulder. It is an old injury but I am trying to rehabilitate it to avoid surgery.

Speaking of rehabilitation - are you familiar with Caesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer? Well we actually have a guy right here in Naperville that does the same thing. Hearing about him I thought I would try it because Lucky has gotten so aggressive with other dogs when we go on walks and the golf carts going by has always been a problem.

Well, as I suspected, I have let him become the leader of the pack (not just since Joe died either). So I have strict things I am to do with him to let him know I am the leader. When this man took the leash, Lucky knew who was boss and although he tried his insane barking, he did not get away with it and after just a couple times, we were able to walk by Jayne's Carrie blue terrier without Lucky going nuts. He is no longer allowed to sleep on the bed, he has to eat after I do and I have to pick the food up after 15 minutes. He gets no petting unless he does something for it like sit or lay down. He has to walk at a heel all the time because otherwise he thinks he is the leader and is hunting for me. Oh my, so many things to change. But Sandy was very positive in that he thought Lucky could turn around very quickly. That is if I do. So that is my focus. Of course i have all the kids coming in for Easter tomorrow so that will be interesting to say the least. Michael is bringing his Bichon, Jewel, and at least they get along.

The golf cart issue is going to be more difficult but if i can take command, that should fall into place after the other things.

I love being back in my home church. I sang with the worship team last Sunday and that was great. I'm back in my bible study and our evening small group will start back up after Easter so the calendar is filling up. Evenings at home are quiet but my friends try to keep me busy.

I am switching my Internet service tomorrow so I may have to have a new email address. Be on the watch for the change.
I am trying to decide whether to close this blog now. I will talk it over with the kids but I am doing well and I do have a facebook page if anyone wants to know what I am doing. I may switch to that. I want to print out this blog so I can have it to read but the main purpose was to keep you all informed about Joe and we know he is doing fine. So am I. I couldn't have done it without the Lord and all your prayers but I have a lot of peace. Thanks for being our friends. I hope I can support you in the way you supported me.
Take care and God bless.
Mary Anne

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Pat's March 17, 2009

Hi friends,
Well I am back from Florida and had a great time visiting with my sister and their husbands. My sister Ron's son Johnny was with us also and it was great to spend some adult time with him also. We played games, did a little shopping, a lot of sitting by the pool, reading and napping. I grew up in a family where my Mom napped every day so I started doing that while I was in college. I managed to keep it up even while working full time by taking my nap around 8 at night watching TV with Joe. I would often miss the last 15 minutes of a show but now with recorders, it isn't important.
I came back from Florida with what I thought was a cold but it cleared so quickly when I got back here I think it was an allergic reaction to the pollen of the trees. I snorkeled the first two days but now I know I can clear my ears so I am going diving tomorrow. We only have a few days left to dive as we leave a week from tomorrow and we have to wash and dry all the gear so we can pack it away. Lucky did great staying with Ed and Jayne while I was gone and it appears (as I suspected) that it is the owner who needs training, not the dog. I will look into that when I get home. He is great except he barks when anyone comes in because he wants to be picked up. When Joe was sick I just did it to keep him quiet and now he expects it.
Today is three months since Joe died. I found out yesterday that Karen and Mark are going to be able to come in for Easter so the whole family will be together again for the first time since the funeral and wedding.

I have tried swimming the last two days and my left shoulder is still giving me problems. I can have one more shot and then have to look at other options. I am disappointed because I love swimming. I will still enter the state meet in April but don't expect to do well, just help the team get some points.

Ed and Jayne are coming for dinner and then we are off to Bible study at the pastor's house.
I have had a good time on Bonaire with no schedule except to dive and see friends and it has been a good hiatus for me. I am adjusting to being without Joe but I know it will take a long time. I so love the emails from all you friends. It keeps me in touch and let's me know what is going on in your lives. I hope to see many of you in IL. very soon and I thank you for warming up the weather there for us.
Love to you all and God bless. Mary Anne

Thursday, March 05, 2009

March 5, 2009

Hi Friends,
Well life goes on and this Saturday I leave for Florida to spend a week with my sisters. I am looking forward to that.

I have been doing aboout 6 dives a week, doing a lot of reading and visiting with friends. We had a dive this week where we saw our first green moray of the year and several other species that were unusual. Life is quiet on Bonaire and I like it that way after the year we had.

I have been back to the animal shelter twice and it is fun to watch the puppies grow each week. Several have been adopted already and you can really see the personalities developing already.

That's about it for me. Hope you are all looking forward to spring. Although the economy looks really dismal right now, worrying about it won't help so I try to just live one day at a time and be intentional about my spending.

Take care and God bless.
Mary Anne

Friday, February 20, 2009

What the pictures are about

February 20, 2009
Hi Friends.
My daughter Cassie put these pictures up for me so here is what they are about. Last Sunday T.C. gave me a ride on her motorcycle and we drove to Rincon, a small town that used to be the capital. The children's parade for the Carnival was there . We left before the parade started but had a drink with friends and then rode home. She went nice and slow so I wasn't afraid. That is only the second time I have been on a motorcycle. It's not really my thing but I wasn't afraid and it is a whole different feeling than riding in the car.

Then this week on Thursday T.C. and I went to volunteer at the Animal shelter. They had 10 puppies there as well as about 30-40 other dogs. They need people to play with them and socialize them so they will be more adoptable. I will go again next week and Ed and Jayne are coming with me. The good thing is that no matter how attached we get, we can't bring one home like we could in the states so it is safe.
Our friends from Germany, Roland and Renata, leave for home on Tuesday but other friends from Holland come in the beginning of March.
Today on our dive we saw a goliath fish which is a very large grouper. That was exciting and unusual on Bonaire. We haven't seen on of these for about 5 years.
That is about it for me. I keep in touch with the kids with skype which works really well and only costs me .02 cents a minute.
Bye for now. Take care and God Bless. Mary Anne

Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 14th, 2009


Hi Friends,
Happy Valentines Day! I am enjoying the warm weather down here. I have been diving about 15 times and no matter how many dives you have had, you always see somthing new. Not on every dive but occasionally. This week we saw a group of scrawled file fish (about 18) together with a school of blue tangs feasting on an algae garden. You normally see one of two of them together but not a group. There was also a large blue parrot with them and they weren't paying any attention to us. We just hung there and watched for a few minutes.
I have spent most evening with friends. Our friend from Germany, Roland, celebrated his 70th birthday this week and 22 of us went to dinner. That was great fun. I have taught my friend, T.C. hand and foot and Mexican train Dominoes so we can play with Ed and Jayne and Bob and Diane. She is leaving the island for good on the 21st. She is American but has lived here for about 18 years.
Lucky and I walk each morning and evening and he is doing well chasing the lizards but not barking at them. He has adjusted to our routine down here which almost always includes an afternoon nap. The weather is always 80 with warm breezes blowing. We get occasional rain but it doesn't last long.
I belong to a small group down here that Joe started about three years ago and there are now about 12 people in it. It meets on Tuesday nights in the Pastor's backyard. It is a different group of people than I dive with and it is nice to touch base on a spiritual level with people from the island. We also have church on Sunday in English at the International Bible Church of Bonaire. Small church but really nice people.
I have really enjoyed having the internet and skype in my condo this year. I can keep up with family and friends so much easier, I don't feel so distant.
That's about it for now. Have a great day. Tell someone you love them today and God bless you.
Mary Anne

Thursday, February 05, 2009

February 5, 2009

Hi Friends,


I made it to Bonaire with no complications.  Lucky was a wonderful traveler and I had one lady who wanted to take him home with her in San Juan.  We were met by Ed and Jayne and staff from Buddy who helped transport the luggage.  Lucky was right at home from the beginning.


I will do my check out dive this afternoon (to make sure I have the right weights etc) and Ed and Jayne will go along.  They are on their 9th dive and loving it.  I have about 10 diving friends down here right now so no lack of people to dive with.  When we leave we put our personal stuff in an owners closet and I am still unpacking that but the condo looks like home now.  Even tho it is smaller than home, it still feels big without Joe.  As I said to the kids, I miss his dynamic presence when he walked into a room.  I have some of his barbershop songs on my MP3 player and I love hearing his voice. I am trying to take each day as it comes and not worry about the future.  I know God knows His plans and that's enough for me.  Take care and God bless.   


Mary Anne

Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30, 2009

Hi Friends,
Well, I made the leap and changed the name of the blog. You will still be able to view the past posts and get to the site the same way but I felt I needed to take this next step. My trip to Phoenix for the AZ. reception for Karen and Mark was wonderful. Although it wasn't warm to them at 65, it felt good to me coming from Chicago. Now I am in the process of trying to gather tax info, which was always Joe's job, and do all the errands necessary to get ready to go to Bonaire again next Tuesday. Lucky will come with me this time and he is spending some time in his traveling bag to get ready. He loves it when he see it come out. We took video of scattering Joe's ashes and it is linked.

I am doing well. I went to a couple grief sessions at Wellness house this past month and will check out other options when I return from Bonaire. But the one thing the facilitator said will stick with me. Where I am is OK and try to live in the moment and not worry about next week or next month. Our daughter Cassie said the same thing. Everywhere I go I run into people who knew Joe. Today I was at the hardware store, one of Joe's favorite places and the checkout girl said, "You are Joe's wife, he was such a great guy". It reminded me that Joe always stopped to talk to the sales people and made them feel special. I miss him a lot but my life is still really busy sorting through things and getting paperwork in order. We had lots of friends who have been very supportive to me and I know we will remain friends.

I will write from Bonaire but probably not as often. Unless of course you want to hear about all the fish I will see diving - boring for those who don't' dive but that is the focus of the day usually. Lucky and I will go for long walks on the beach road and we will both get needed exercise. He gained a half pound (up to 7.5) and I'm not telling how much I gained in the last three months. I am definitely a stress eater.

Enough meanderings - love to all of you and God Bless you in this winter season. Mary Anne

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20,2009

Hi my dear friends,
It has been along time since I have written on the blog. My kids have been helping out in between and I love the pictures Michael added from the scattering of the ashes. I came home from Bonaire with a chest infection that is clearing up now. In a day or so I will be going to Arizona for Karen and Mark's Arizona wedding reception. I think the reality of the fact that Joe is not coming back is beginning to sink in. It has been a month now, a span of time widows and kids can count each day because it is never forgotten. I miss Joe terribly. I miss being able to tell him the little things that aren't important enough to call someone about but just thoughts to pass along to someone you live with. I missed telling him the things I saw on the dives in Bonaire. I miss rolling over in bed and finding it empty.

I went to my first grief support group at Wellness House today and met someone who attended something that Joe and I attended together in August. It was a good place to start to sort things out.

I will shortly close this website or rename it as it is no longer about Joe and his cancer . It will still be available to read but just won't be as active. Thank you all for being on this journey with us. Your cards and notes have been wonderful and Joe would be happy to know he touched so many lives. Some of you gave cash contributions to the family and I took these to our church in Bonaire who are trying to build a church. Joe was active in helping them while we were down there and actually started a small group down there which is still going strong. The other donations went to Joliet Hospice and our church, Community Christian Church which meets at Carillon where we live.

As I watched our new President get sworn in today, I thought of all the changes that have taken place in our lifetimes. I know all of you, my friends, will have to go through this in some way and I hope to be there to support you as you have supported me. Thanks you and God bless you. Mary Anne

Monday, January 12, 2009



I have been reading e-mails and having phone calls with my Mom and sister Cassie from Bonaire over the past week and it sounds like a great trip. These moments captured here show when friends, Augusto, Wendy and T.C. took Cassie, Kirk and Mom out on a boat to spread Dad's ashes in front of my parents winter home at Buddy Dive in Bonaire. They also spread some at a few of my Dad's favorite dive sites. It doesn't get much better for a final resting place I guess. Dad would have preferred a cloudless blue sky but I am sure the temperature was nice. Reality is I bet he would not have wanted them fussing about him but I know he appreciates the gesture. He was very comfortable talking about these types of things before and after he knew he had cancer. They all took a turn spreading the ashes and then they saved some for a little ceremony back in Plainfield. I guess they are running into some people who had not heard, but for the most part people have kept up through the blog. When I got the e-mail from Mom with these pictures in it, I teared up for the first time in a couple weeks. It felt good. Makes it real that I miss Dad. I also missed him on New Years Eve when I called and woke my mother at 10:30 p.m. central time to wish them Happy New Year and realized I could not ask to talk to Dad. I wished him separately.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bonaire Bound


I have talked with Cassie and Mom and they arrived safely to Bonaire by Tues/Wed of this week. But not without incident. Kirk got his video camera stolen by the baggage handlers. How frustrating. Hopefully there will be compensation from American Eagle for this issue. Note to travelers, do not separate your self from your camera or video camera or I-Pod during travel at all costs. This was a situation where they had to put their hand luggage into the baggage area since it was a small commuter plane. Dad's ashes traveled along with mom and will reach their final resting place at the bottom of the ocean along Bonaire's incredible coral reefs and diverse aquatic sealife that Dad so enjoyed. His photos will be with us forever. So far it sounds like it is not been so emotional being back in Bonaire without Dad, but those moments surely will come. I watched the Patrick Swayze interview last night and I guess I am so out of touch and certainly don't read the gossip celebrity magazines (rags) that I did not know he had Pancreatic Cancer. While he did not look great, I was so impressed by his relationship with his wife of 33 years and his committment to living life as best he can. His movie "Ghost" seems so appropo and the clips they showed were moving. I wanted to share this blog with he and his wife so that they both can see that what they are inevitabley going to face at some point can be a beautiful and celebratory process and not some terrible death march. I do sense that they are both making the most of their situation.


Happy New Year to all.

Friday, January 02, 2009

January 2, 2009

Hi Friends,
Well Christmas is over, the kids came over and helped me take down the tree and decorations and the house is back in somewhat order. I am going to Bonaire on Tuesday with our oldest daughter Cassdie and her husband Kirk for a week. The first time there will be the hardest but we know there are already dive friends there and lots of island people that are our friends. I have been busy with paperwork sending people death notices etc. and family is calling all the time to see how I am. I don't think it has sunk in yet that Joe is gone forever but the house sure seems empty with just Lucky and me. Trying to adjust to the word widow is even hard. Joe and I loved to play hand and foot and tonight I played with Cas and Kirk and their son and that was fun.

I decided not to write a Christmas letter this year. Everyone who has been reading the blog knows what has been going on in our life so it would be redundant but we had a great year and had many blessings along the way. Although I still catch myself wanting to tell Joe things or ask him where something is, we didn't leave any important things unsaid. Well... unless you call turning the furnace off tonight thinking I was turning off the humidifier!!!. Cas was all wrapped up in the afghan and said "what is the temp in here anyway?" When I checked, it was 69. Just little things like that. Good for a laugh for sure. Love to you all and take care and God bless. Happy New Year. Mary Anne

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wedding Day!

Skreeeeeeech!!

Yesterday was a happy happy day. My sister, Karen, walked down aisle (the length of my parents' home) with my brother, Michael, humbly standing in for my father, to marry Mark Ashbrook. She was absolutely the most beautiful bride I have ever seen. Mark was dashing as well and they wrote beautiful vows to each other. I felt like it made my wedding look like we just said "wanna?" "sure!". My mother was so happy and got choked up a few times. I'm not sure about her, but I was thinking how proud and happy my dad was watching it all and it was a shame not to see his face, but we all knew what it looked like. He waited so long for this day and it was just lovely. My daughter, Marianne, remarked in the car on the way to the reception, "No WAY does she look 40. She looked about 23. She looked beautiful!" Karen might be quick to point out that she is NOT 40 (yet).

At the reception, Mark, Kevin, Kirk, Michael and Matthew got up and sang "Happy Together" to Karen. They did a gorgeous acapella/barbershop harmony style and it blew my sister away. They had worked on it separately over the last month and instead of a bachelor party, they rehearsed it. Our very experienced DJ said he'd never seen anything like it. Ingenius idea, Mark!!

Here are a few of my pictures that captured a small part of the day.
I have to say, after the very eventful past few months, it feels like I can hear the brakes starting to squeel on this rollercoaster ride. Hopefully the dips will not be so low, but unfortunately, the heights of yesterday don't come around every day either.
Thanks for all your prayers and support through those dips and enjoying the high points with all of us.
Cassie

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 22, 2008

To all our Dear Friends,
It is impossible to express in words the caring and support you have all given me and the family during this difficult time. I have never felt so wrapped in love and prayer as I have this past week.

The service Saturday was such a testimony to how Joe loved and it just filled me with gratitude that we had him for so long. Our house is filled with flowers and food(lots of food) and it is just a constant reminder that I am not alone.

I made my first call for help yesterday at the grocery store to Carnevales' to ask what kind of spumante Joe got at Christmas. He had a much better memory than me. So many times each day I want to ask him things, or tell him things. That is the hardest part right now.

Michael's family went back home for a few days to celebrate Christmas and repack to come back for the wedding. They will be here for Christmas dinner. We will celebrate our usual Christmas on the 23rd with Joe's favorite dish - Beef Wellington. Hope we can get it right without him. Christmas Eve I will go to Cassie and Kirk's after our Christmas Eve service and spend Christmas morning with them. Kev and Tracy will do their Christmas at home and Mark and Karen will go to Mark's Mom's and then we will all get back here for Christmas dinner. Then for most of you, you can take a deep breath but for us we have the rehearsal dinner on the 26th and the wedding on the 27th. And we will celebrate that Joe can watch from heaven with his friends and family that are there and as Karen said at the service " stand next to our Heavenly Father and admire their beautiful daughter".

Again, I thank all of you for your gifts of love, prayer, food support and contributions to our church and hospice. I will pray that God will bless each of you in a special way this Christmas for sharing His love with us in a very tangible way. Take care and God bless. Mary Anne

Hebrews 6:10 "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work or the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shoutin Time in Heaven


It is Michael now back in Ohio after two very full days in Plainfield. We had a beautiful ceremony celebrating my Dad's life and the impact he had on others. Thanks to all who reached out to us to let us know how he impacted your life. When you spend 41 years around someone you tend to take their gifts for granted. You know all their jokes etc. All of you helped bring those gifts back to life. Even though you were telling us things we already knew, it is so much sweeter coming from you. Many of you also shared directly to me how much the blog meant as well. It can be a risk to put it all out there but I know that the reward is in the sharing of feelings we all have.


The standing room only service had the right amount of respect, humor and celebration that dad would have wanted. My brother Kevin really gave us a gift when in addition to his beautiful guitar and singing on "All the Way My Saviour Leads Me" he threw in some measures from Dad's most requested "Freight Train" played fingerstyle on Kevin's guitar. One other moment from the service was when "Shoutin Time in Heaven" was played by the Hoppers (recording obviously). This was a long standing request from my dad that he had made before he was given his cancer diagnosis. I could hear the room collectively start to sob on this particular number.


Now this blog which all of us have come to know as a place to commune electronically, will grow quieter...but not silent. There is more to tell.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Coburn, Joseph A.


reprinted from the Chicago Tribune, Thursday December 18th, 2008



Joseph "Joe" A. Coburn, age 68, Wednesday Dec. 17, 2008 late of Plainfield, formerly of Woodridge. Beloved husband of Mary Anne Coburn; loving father of Cassie (Kirk) Moore, Michael (Heidi) Coburn, Karen Coburn, Kevin (Tracy) Coburn; cherished grandfather of eight; dear step brother of Robert, Ralph and Richard Bartholomew. Preceded in death by his parents Victor and Irene Coburn. Visitation Friday 4 to 9 p.m. at the Anderson Memorial Chapel, 606 Townshall Dr. in Romeoville. Funeral Saturday, Dec 20, 2008 10 a.m. at the funeral home chapel. Service concludes at the funeral home. Friends who wish may make donations to Community Christian Church or Joliet Area Community Hospice, 250 Water Stone Circle, Joliet, IL 60431.
The family welcomes comments here or at the Chicago Tribune Guest Book.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Home at Last

Dear Friends.

Joe finished his journey on earth and went to be with the Lord last night about 11. Cassie and I were both with him and were able to hold him at the end. We will miss him terribly but we know he is free now.

The visitation will be Friday from 4-9 P.M. and funeral will be Saturday at 10 A.M.
Both will be held at Anderson Memorial Chapel, 606 Townhall Drive, Romeoville,60446.

Should friends desire, contributions can be made to Community Christian Church (http://www.communitychristian.org/locations/carillon/)
or Joliet Area Community Hospice.
( http://www.joliethospice.org/donations.shtml)

Our prayer requests now are that the out of town children can make it in without weather related problems as the forecast is not very good. How do I thank all of you for your prayers and support? Just know that I ask God to bless you in a special way this Christmas for reaching out to us in our time of need. Take care and God bless. Mary Anne

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December 16, 2008

Dear Friends,
Hospice was just here and time is drawing near. His vital signs are dropping. I was reading the Psalms to Joe this morning and several verses really seemed appropriate.

Psalm 61 , vs 1-3
Hear my cry, O Lord;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.

And Psalm 63 , vs 1

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the santuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because youre love is better than life, my lips will glorify you
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

We both got a good night sleep last night thanks to the increase in medicine. Please pray for comfort in the next hours. Take care and God bless. Mary Anne

Monday, December 15, 2008

December 15, 2008


Dear Friends,
Hospice was here today and Joe's vital signs remain the same as Friday although he is visibly weaker and less present to us each day. We have increased the medicine to keep him comfortable. Thanks for your phone calls. If I don't pick up it is because I forgot to bring my cell phone in the bedroom or I'm trying to nap. Last night was an awake night so I think I'll turn in early tonight if possible. There is not much else to tell today. We are 12 days from the wedding. Karen and Mark will be in a week from Wednesday if not sooner. Plans are finalizing nicely. Good thing I am not responsible for much. Take care and God bless. Mary Anne

Sunday, December 14, 2008

International House of Prayer (click here)


Hi Friends,
I thought you might want to know about the International House of Prayer. Karen's best friend,Kelli, who will be her maid of honor works with them in Kansas City. She is also the one Karen was a missionary with in Russia and with the Navigators in Colorado. Anyway, last year on our way to Phoenix for alternative treatments, we stopped at IHOP (nice initials huh?) and spent some time with Kelli and in the prayer room and the healing room. The organization has 24 hour prayers and worship 7 days a week. When I am having a tough time or just anytime I want to be filled I go to the website and let the words fill me. You can click on International House of Prayer (title) to see what it is about.
Not much changed overnight. Joe is comfortable but not really aware of his surroundings. I decided this morning that maybe God is trying to teach me patience and trust. The kids and my siblings are constantly there by phone as well as our friends. I am so thankful for all our friends and for the blog to be able to keep in touch with all of you. When I feel up to it, it will be my job to write the Christmas letter this year and I think I will just post it on the blog. All who read this blog are involved in our life some way and I treasure the friendships. Although Joe was the flamboyant one in our relationship I was right behind him in living life fully and I learned a lot from him in how to let the child out to play.
Have a blessed quiet day in this busy season and know that I am thanking God for your friendships and support in this journey. God Bless. Mary Anne

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December 13, 2008


Hi Friends,
Another quiet day. Cassie was with me this morning and my friend Jeannie stopped over this afternoon. Joe has been sleeping all day and seems much more comfortable. It was a very blustery sort of day out today and I was glad I didn't have to go anywhere. The usual hubbub at this time of year has just passed me right by. In a way I'm glad but it feels funny not to shop and wrap and count to make sure everyone has the same amount, etc. We decided not to exchange with the kids this year and just give to the grandchildren. I didn't realize how many Christmas CD's we had until I started sorting through them to play them for Joe. Earlier in the week he would smile when one came on he liked but now there is no response. I know he can still hear so I think the music is soothing. Joe loved music and singing among other things and this is the only one I can bring into the room right now. We continue to pray for his journey on earth to be finished. Take care and God bless. Mary Anne

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday December 12, 2008

Hi Friends,
Thanks to those of you who email me rather than comment on the blog. It took me awhile to figure out the blog and some of you want your comments to be private. I love them wherever they are. I cherish your thoughts and your prayers. My sister Trish was with me most of the day. The hospice nurse and aide were here also. the nurse said his blood pressure is falling some and his pulse is rising a little. Those are both expected signs of changes. Joe is no longer able to drink from a straw or communicate. We put a pain patch on him today that will work for three days. He isn't having any specific pain but just seems uncomfortable any time we move him. I promised to keep him comfortable and hospice is very good at helping me make decisions about medications. I pray with him each day and ask Jesus to take him if it is time and tell Joe is it OK to go. He is no longer aware of time or asking what day it is so I think that is good.
On a lighter note, Lucky our dog seems completely recovered from whatever was hurting him. I wonder if maybe the injections he got in his neck hit a nerve that went to his shoulder and now that is OK. He is still on an antibiotic for his sore throat but he never leaves Joe's bed except to go out.
I know many of your are busy with shopping and parties and I appreciate you taking time to check in with the blog each day and pray for us. I am mostly at peace except for a meltdown once or twice a day. Take care and God Bless. Mary Anne

Phone Calls


Hi All,
Karen writing here. I told Mom last night I would update the blog and then forgot...sorry. Things are pretty much the same in Chicago. Mom is doing well and has had enough folks around helping that she's been able to get out when she needs to. Dad is resting comfortably and sleeping most of the time. And Lucky, the faithful maltese is doing much better.

(click photo for larger view)

I've been back in Phoenix a week now working hard to get ready for moving, the wedding, the holidays etc. It was really hard coming back, but then after a day or so, I adjusted. There's so much to do it was easy to jump in. But yesterday as I was running errands, the thought struck me...I'll never have another phone conversation with Dad again. That may sound odd - why a phone call? Why not a hug? Or a dinner? Or a Christmas? Well, I've been in a different city from my folks for over 10 years now. Typically I would talk to my Mom on the phone and if she wasn't home, Dad would answer. Besides seeing Dad in person this was the only time I'd really talk to him on the phone. He wasn't much of a phone talker. But 2 1/2 years ago when Dad was diagnosed, he called me and told me "it's bad news honey, it's cancer."

In the days that followed there was so much going on that I began calling every morning on my way to work. Sometimes I had a specific question or wanted to know a test result. Other times I had a bible verse or something I wanted to share. Sometimes, honestly, I wasn't sure what the heck we would talk about. But one thing I knew... I didn't want another day to pass without talking to my dad. I didn't know how many days we would have and I didn't want to miss any. Well it became a wonderful habit. As soon as I got in my car to go to work, I would call. So...that's why yesterday it dawned on me that I would never call Dad again. I haven't had the daily reminder of a job. Those were precious times on the phone.

This was one of the gifts that Dad's cancer brought me. Through it, my dad and I grew closer. But like my brother Michael has said - don't wait for something like that before you reach out to the ones around you say I love you, you matter to me, I want to be involved in your life. You will never regret it. Thanks for all your prayers for our family. Reading the comments is always so uplifting.
Love to you all,
Karen

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December 10, 2008

Hi Friends,
Joe and I had another peaceful day. The hospice nurse was here today as well as the aide to give Joe care. He tries to pull himself together to communicate when they come but it is very difficult now. Something happened to Lucky today and I took him to the vet but no difinitive answer. He just got reallly lethargic and had tremors most of the day. All the vet could find was a sore throat so he is on an antibiotic but tonight we realized that he has a really sore spot behind his left shoulder so I will take him back tomorrow and have an x-ray done. I think the tremors were from pain. Lucky is laying on the bed with his head on a pillow. I had to bring his food into him to eat as he doesn't want to move. Do you think I am spoiling him?
Joe asked today how many days til the wedding. I asked him if he was trying to hang on til then and he said no. His vital signs are stable but we lose a little ground each day. Thanks for all your words of support. God bless. Mary Anne

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A 5K for the ages

All is quiet from Plainfield as I spoke to my Mom today. But I have a story and favorite picture to share.
In August of 2001, some of the family had discovered running. You could say we were hooked. Well that was enough, those of us who were hooked dragged the rest of the group into a 5 K together as a family. In this photo, the runners are on the left and the dragees are on the right. Far right you will see my dad who reminded me everytime since that one 5 K that doing the race, messed up his knee. Well I highly doubted it, but it was not as if he was about to launch a running career. He did continue to exercise as best he could right up until the cancer was really sapping all of his energy. And I said on the phone, "just go out and do a little walk". He said, "Nothing is impossible for the one that does not have to do it". This was the last time I pushed dad to exercise as he had really done what he could. I am still glad we dragged the whole family into the 5K. My mother did so well in her age group (as always) that she won a free poster size enlargement. This was the photo she chose to posterize and it now hangs in the basement of my parents house and I think I will have to fight my siblings for it because that was a 5K for the ages!

Autumn Leaves


Hi Friends,
I'm sure many of you remember the song "September Song" where it says,
"The autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I'll spend with you These precious days I'll spend with you "
- Well, that is where we are now. Joe has not eaten anything in a week. He is only drinking about a glass of liquid a day. His meds are liquid and very small amounts so he hardly has to swallow. The toxins in his body have taken away most chance of him saying something coherent and it just agitates him to try. I am giving him ativan for the agitation routinely now and he had a much better night sleep because of it.
I am writing early to let you know our electric will be off for several hours today so the regular phone won't work. Don't worry. It should be back on by two this afternoon. They are doing some work in the neighborhood.
Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments on the blog. They lift me up to hear how many of you loved Joe and what he meant in your life. It will be hard to let him go but my prayer is that God will take him soon. What is left here now is not the man we all knew. Cas and I both got a hug last night (and had a good cry too). Don't worry about me. I know this will be hard but I have Jesus to walk beside me in spirit and in those who love me here on earth. I will post if there are any changes. I got to talk to my pen pal,Janette, in Scotland last night and that was special. We have been friends since we were 11 so that is a lot of years. She and her husband came to America to visit us about a month before Joe got diagnosed.
Again, thank you to all who visit here. Take care and God Bless. Mary Anne

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hi Friends,
Sorry I forgot to post yesterday. It was another quiet day. I stayed home with Joe and didn't go to church but they brought communion to us. Joe is not coherent most of the time but he knew he was getting communion. Last night our son-in-law Kirk stayed with Joe and Cas and I went to see Mame at Drury Lane with friends. It was hard leaving Joe but good to have a little break and be distracted for awhile. I put the Statler Brothers CD on yesterday and Joe was naming the songs as they came on but it is no longer possible to have a conversation with him. My sister Ron is coming over today and I talked to my brother from Colorado yesterday. My siblings have been so supportive on the phone checking in each day and it is hard to know what to say. I don't know how much longer Joe can hang on with no solid nourishment and very little fluids.
When the time comes, I will post on the blog what the arrangements are as I know I won't be able to call everyone that would want to know so please keep checking the blog. I hope that doesn't seem to impersonal but I don't want to leave anyone out.
Please pray for peace in these final days and comfort for Joe. He has been a terrific patient not complaining about his situation and thanking everyone for the little things they do. Hospice comes today so I will update if there is anything new. God bless. Mary Anne

Saturday, December 06, 2008

December 6, 2008

Hi Friends,
Maybe its time for another poem I wrote the last week of October in the middle of the night.


END OF LIFE
When the end of life seems really near,
And the rustle of wings sound in your ear,
When the battle on earth is over and done,
Then Jesus will say "You won, We won"

Then I'll say go, my darling, go
To your glorious heaven above,
Join your parents and faithful friends,
Because I'll go on feeling your love.

Not much change today, a little restlessness, a little discomfort, both controlled by medication. The house is so quiet except for Lucky barking at the dogs walking by. I taped a bunch of Christmas movies, pretty sappy, but they pass the time and I can be in the room with Joe without them bothering him. I am a fan of Law & Order and CSI but I don't want him dreaming about crime scenes. At the suggestion of our daughter in law Tracy I read the 84th Psalm to Joe and it is so appropriate for this time in life. Very comforting. God Bless. Mary Anne

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hi Friends,
Today was a quiet day for Joe. He slept all day after sleeping all night. When he wakes up for a few minutes,he is so confused he can't get out the words he wants so it is pretty frustrating. The pain in his groin which bothered him for the last several days on and off seems to be gone and it was controlled with pain medication. I think our time with the real Joe is gone now and we just have to wait for the journey to end. Our pastor Earl was here this afternoon and said a prayer with Joe but he had a hard time staying awake even for that. Cas and Kev were here with me this afternoon but there is not much physical care. They really are here to support me which I very much appreciate. My swim team brought over a huge fruit and vegetable basket for me today so I am all set to eat healthy. Karen has me set up taking about 8 supplements a day. That should keep me healthy. Lucky, our little Maltese spends all day on Joe's hospital bed with him getting off only to eat and go out. He will be two years old on Sunday.
The hospice nurse was here today and his vital signs are staying pretty stable. He had a strong body before this cancer hit him.There is not much else to say. Please pray that the journey ends soon for him and in peace. God bless. Mary Anne

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Good Morning


It's Thursday morning and today I am heading back to Phoenix. It has been a wonderful three weeks with my family and especially with my Dad. It is difficult leaving not knowing if Dad will still be with us when I return for the wedding. In a lot of ways, I've already lost the Dad I knew my whole life... the jovial, life of the party, joke-telling, great conversationalist. But the Dad I've experienced in the last three weeks has been so beautiful. I am thinking of his face when he thought I was leaving and I told him I was staying through Thanksgiving. He lit up with such a genuine smile. The next thing he said was "and then what? You gonna update your resume?" Little did he know he was right. I lost my job later that week and will be looking for a new one when I get to Phoenix. Another precious memory was all of us standing around his bedside with him directing us as we sang Barbershop Tags. So fun to see a slice of old Dad back - picky about our timing and our dynamics. But it's all the little things too, feeding him coffee cake and having him thank me when I'm done. Trying really hard to understand what he's saying and having him thank me for being patient. I wouldn't trade these last three weeks for anything in the world. And while it is extrememly difficult to think that he probably won't be here when I come back, the knowledge that he will be waiting for me when I finally go home to Jesus is a beautiful hope. He gets more beautiful to me each day even as he loses weight.

About 6 weeks ago, when Dad learned he would be going on hospice and probably seeing Bonaire for the last time, he said he hated thinking about putting us through this. I told him that a long time ago through the death of a dear friend in Atlanta, I learned something about grief. Grief is not a tradegy. Grief has this bittersweetness to it that allows us to get in touch with the impact of a life on ours. Grief pulls us together in community with those who have also been touched. There is a sweetness in grief when our hope rests in eternity with Jesus. I am so grateful that around Dad these last three weeks I have really felt that. There has been so much peace in the midst of it all.

Since I will be leaving today, Mom will be by herself for the day. She's asked me to let you know that that is her preference as she really hasn't had much alone time with Dad. If she doesn't answer the phone, everything is probably fine, she'll just give you a call later.

Thank you to all of you who have been such an amazing support during this time. I don't think I've cooked one meal since I have gotten here because of all the meals people have brought. Please continue to pray for the peace of the Lord to surround Mom and Dad and for us to trust in the Lord's perfect timing of Dad's homecoming and my wedding.

Thanks,
Karen

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Its the plumber...




From Ohio, I understand that it is still about the same for how Dad is doing. Just a quick note on a random act of kindness bestowed on our family yesterday. Kevin and I replaced the dishwasher last week and did it just the way my dad would be so proud of. We took the time to break out more tile from the floor to ensure all was level. We even wore safety glasses (his) while doing this dangerous job. We messed up the threads on one of the copper elbows which required a trip to Ace Hardware (dad's favorite store). We then got it in and running perfectly. Perfectly is a relative term. The dishwasher did run fine. Underneath the sink where we had to turn the brass shut-off valve off for the water for the first time in say 8 years developed a leak which required a tray to collect the water. Every few days you take a towel and mop up the water. Close enough right? So we called in the expert Little Walt's Plumbing . Our plumber arrived as promised and made two tightenings and fixed the problem. When Mom went to pay him HE REFUSED PAYMENT. He said I could not charge you for that. Well, if that is not a random act of kindness, I don't know what is. So I just thought that it deserved some recognition. My dad would probably say he paid for that service call 10 times over through the years of plumbing projects gone wrong, but the truth is, I think we just got a "free lunch".

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Blanket of Peace


Hi Friends,
Well, I guess it is back to me blogging since Michael has gone back home. Karen is still here with me until Thursday. We can only go one day at a time and see what happens. I went to church with Karen and Mark yesterdy while Mike was still here and the message was about hope. And our hope is that we can keep Joe comfortable and at home. He is eating small meals about once a day when he feels like it. He has periods of confusion where he can't get the right words out and that is hard for him. Today we prayed that as the snowfall outside is a visual reminder of peace, peace would come and be a blanket over Joe.

The song we sang in church keeps running through my mind(the young people call it a worm I think) but the words are:
My life is in You Lord
My strength is in You Lord
My hope is in You, Lord
In You, it's in You

These words and thoughts and God's grace through your prayers are giving us the strength we need each day. Thank you for being with us in this time.
God Bless,
Mary Anne

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leaving again


Michael here. I have been lucky enough to be here since Tuesday the 18th. Heidi, the kids and I leave today for Ohio. I consider this all bonus time with my family. I told my dad that I did not mind saying goodbye 2 times and he said he had the count up to 5 or 6 times! I think we have cleaned out every room, looked at every picture in the house, replaced a dishwasher, created a leak, used every tool in the wood shop I could figure out how to work, broke a computer fixed it then broke the other. Don't worry, Mom still has internet!

This is an unpredictable journey. My dad is still having lucid moments, still sleeping a lot, still getting a bit confused on what day it is and still not in any real pain other than a bit of back pain from laying in a hospital bed for 2 weeks. I asked him how he slept last night and he said considering my current state, not bad. Thanks for reading, commenting and supporting us as a family during this. I know it will be much harder to be away than to be here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sleepy day Posted on Friday night...late.

I was home with Dad most of the day while the girls went to the bridal shower for Karen. It was a very quiet day with the two little white dogs he likes sleeping on the bed with him until his nurse came, the cleaning lady came and finally his nurse's assistant came. Each one of those produced a cacophony of yippy barking and running across dad and off the bed. He survived those and slept until late tonight. Then he had an awake period. His nurse says he has a strong will. He told his nurse today that what is happening to him in the grand scheme of things is really not too bad considering all the worse things going on out there in the world. This is our new normal. It is taking some getting used to. We were lucky to have had a very real dad tonight directing us singing barbershop tags (song endings), demanding perfection. What might have irritated us as kids our youth learning these songs was quite fun. He made us re-start the song 3 times ...too fast, too loud, build slower etc. It was great. At one point, we told him that he had never taught us that before...he said I have not taught you everything. When these moments happen, you cherish it, wonder if it is the last and then say goodnight. Goodnight.