Slices of Life - Vilas County News-Review
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Slices of Life
  • I had a bit of a eureka today.
    There are two groups of people in this world: those who have been thrust into the tsunami that is grief and those who hope to outrun the storm.
    Those of us in the eye of the hurricane struggle. We 
  • When I was pregnant, I anticipated the birth of my precious babies, but I dreaded the pain of the actual experience. Hey, I’m human.
    But I came to terms with the idea of labor pains because I understood the end game. Pregnancy, labor and the physical pain of giving birth, they all lead to a very desired outcome: a
  • Life can seem complicated sometimes because it is. There are responsibilities and deadlines. Work and home life are demanding. There are never enough hours in the day or night for that matter. Sleep deprivation and COVID-19 is real. 
    For more than a year we
  • In some ways we are all hurting and grieving. Regular readers of this column know that I’m experiencing grief as a result of the sudden and unexpected death of my husband, but grief doesn’t have to involve someone dying and leaving this Earth.
    Grief can
  • My husband left this world in November. I miss him every day, in every way. Of course I do. I had someone tell me it would be weird if I wasn’t sad right now. She was right.
  • I often receive feedback and notes from readers via email or Facebook. I love messages from people who read this column. Each one is appreciated. 
    Recently, however, I got something a little different from most. I received a handwritten letter from a kind woman named Alice, who is 96 years old and in good health. Her doctor told her it’s likely she’ll live to be
  • They say it changes you, transforms you in ways you never could have or would have imagined before.
    Deep, formidable grief; something you never could have, would have or wanted to see coming.
    At first, you don’t believe it. Your
  • It’s been five long months, but there are still so many things to do, so many goodbyes left to say. Most of them are symbolic and silent, but they are goodbyes nonetheless, between just him and me.
    Everyone else has said their goodbyes in their own way. They
  • Yesterday, I changed a light bulb. It was the overhead one at the entrance to our basement stairs. I had to use a stepping stool to reach it. That light bulb has burned out many times in the 20 years since I’ve lived in my house, but this was the first time I changed it or even contemplated the task. 
    It was one of the first times I’ve changed any light bulb. Someone else was always here
  • I wanted you and I had you. It was beyond wonderful, but you had to leave and now, I am alone. 
    It was so comfortable between us. There was never any question of tomorrow. When I called, you answered. When you texted, I texted back. We never doubted
  • If grief itself wasn’t bad enough, she often is accompanied by another formidable beast. I’ve encountered him lately and his name is guilt.
    Before I go any further, suppress your instinct to tell me I shouldn’t feel any guilt because I loved fully, madly and deeply, and went above and beyond to do whatever I could to
  • My toes are the first to come and last to go. 
    As the seasons change and the weather warms in the spring, I can’t wait to get rid of my real shoes in exchange for sandals. Weeks before the warm weather actually arrives, I
  • It isn’t often we have the opportunity to change someone’s life in a significantly positive way.
    Wrong. This opportunity is available to us on a daily basis.
    Problem is, most of us don’t realize it, but
  • A few months ago, I was attacked by something so powerful I didn’t know if I’d survive. My husband of 33 years died much too soon, much too young. I was left here, the lone survivor, except this was no reality show. It was the real deal and it sucked. It still does.
    I was left in the throes of grief; infinite, foreboding, unyieldingly cruel grief. I
  • When someone you love dearly dies here on Earth, they are gone, but they are not gone. They are here. They are everywhere and if you perceive very carefully, if you truly pay attention, they are right beside you, every step of the way.
    You will feel, hear and sense it. You
  • I’m still struggling, but I know I have to step forward on a path I wouldn’t have considered six months ago, because it didn’t exist six months ago.
    The rest of the world is business as usual. People all around me are walking on the paths of their choosing. I feel like half the time I’m desperately searching for mine. The other half I’m desperately afraid I’ll
  • We all experience different seasons in life and those seasons are accompanied by emotions; joy and sadness, and everything in between. 
    We aren’t always in control of how our seasons unfold. We may find ourselves in a season we never would have chosen. Sometimes, life is hard. 
    But even in the toughest times, I
  • I woke up this morning to a message no one ever wants to receive.
    It was from a dear friend, roommate from college and bridesmaid at my wedding.
    Her husband was in a car accident and died. I
  • We have something that seems just out of reach, just beyond our grasp. Whatever it is, you’ve got this.
    To the 4-year-old who wants to ride a bike like her 6-year-old sister, but despite being in training with Dad running behind for the last two weeks, every night after work, the training wheels remain and
  • We’re a big fantasy football family; have been since we started our league in 2014. My daughter and I never paid much attention to the NFL prior to this, but when the guys in your life love football, you find it in your heart to love football or at least to participate in the family fantasy football league.
    Draft day is in early September. We
  • I’ve written about grief before. I know that. Thing is, there are infinite facets of grief to talk and write about; just like the infinity of grief. 
    No one wants to go through grief and for sure no one wants to go through it alone, but grief is a lonely process. You can be in a room full of people and feel alone because
  • You can’t plan the way life unfolds. Oh, sure, you might think you have an idea, but you never know what tomorrow will bring. The wind blows in a different direction and suddenly, you are living a truth you never planned. You are face to face with something you never let yourself imagine. You find yourself dealing with a loss so great it is
  • It’s been nearly two months and I still keep his phone charged. I check it each morning. We didn’t share the same thumbprint, but I knew his password, as he did mine. It was like that between us. We shared almost everything.
    I know taking his phone off the account would save me money, but
  • Today, a strange man approached me. Well, he wasn’t actually strange as in green ears and three arms. He was just strange to me. In other words, I didn’t know the guy.
    But there he was, walking straight in my direction, giving obvious eye contact, in aisle 12 at the grocery store like
  • Experts say that fitness isn’t about diet or exercise. It is about health. Our goal should not be a number on the scale or a certain size jeans. We should seek a body and lifestyle that are healthy.
    What experts don’t say out loud is that
  • Grief is scary. It is uncomfortable and unpredictable. Being with a person who is grieving is all those things. It might be easy, sometimes, to stay away and keep your distance. Surely the grieving person has lots to do and many other people ringing her doorbell and calling her cell phone. Right?
    Probably not. Before
  • Lately, people have been telling me I’m strong. They admire my strength. They don’t know how they’d do it if they were in my shoes. “You’re so strong,” they say, often with admiration.
    Except I’m
  • Imagine if you would, without warning and quite against your free will, you find yourself traveling to another dimension. It is a dimension of sight, sound and mind. It lies between the pit of our fears and the summit of our knowledge. It came quietly and is invisible, yet deadly. It knows nothing of the norms of regular society, but
  • “Do not be dismayed at goodbyes. A goodbye must happen before you can meet again. And meeting again, whether it’s after days or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” —Richard Bach

    My husband and I were one of “those” couples. We
  • “Love is a friendship that has caught fire.” —Ann Landers

    We met when we were 15 years old in driver’s training class. He caught my eye and I his. We’ve been best friends ever since. Somewhere along the way, best friendship turned into something more and
  • This column is dedicated to friends: old, new, new who will one day be old, family you’d choose as friends, best friends, casual, Facebook, editor friends I’ve never met, peripheral, understanding, people you casually encounter who may not be friends yet, but feel like they are; you all are golden.
    I learned this recently out of necessity. I
  • “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” 

    —Walter Scott

    They say the only things we can count on in life are

  • It’s funny how you don’t give something a second, third, fourth or 10th thought until it becomes suddenly a first thought; like a pinky finger.
    Let’s be honest. No one gives a whole lot of brain time to their pinky finger; left, right or maybe both. Pinky fingers don’t generally register on the radar. No one ever says “Give them the
  • Hide-and-seek has changed at our house, as many things change when you progress from being 2 to nearly 2 1⁄2. That is the case of our granddaughter.
    My how time flies.
    According to
  • It’s good to have the necessities when traveling. For some families that might mean Doritos® and a good cheese dip or maybe carrots and low-fat ranch.
    When my family travels, we carry one staple with us: the blue toiletries bag. It holds everything we need for any toiletry-type situation and then some; toothbrushes, toothpaste, brush, comb, hair spray, gel, deodorant, lotion, Q-tips®, nail file, eye drops, tweezers, shaver, wet wipes, cologne and
  • When it comes to driving, I’ve allowed my husband to take control of the wheel. Sitting in the passenger seat is much easier than differentiating the brake from the gas pedal or driving between the lines. I figure I’ve gotten the better end of that deal, but with driving comes directions.
    When you’re driving, you are the person in charge of directions. You must know where you are going, and when to
  • I barely remember not being a mom. Even more so, I barely remember my first six months as a mom. I blame it on two things: shock and sleep deprivation, not necessarily in that order.
    Parenthood is
  • I wear a mask out in public because that is what we are asked to do. Experts tell us that masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 and I usually follow the advice of experts. They often know more than I do.
    I have my opinions on masks, but
  • We’ve been on lockdown (or semi-lockdown) for nearly six months. It’s been interesting.
    I attempt to see my life as the glass is half-full. What have these months of quarantine given me? Time, time to learn new things or get back to the things I already knew, but
  • “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” —Franklin Roosevelt
    Fear is in the air. It is in every breath we take, fills our lungs, dictates our actions. We dodge an invisible enemy, knowing it is out there, but never sure quite where or when it might hit and this
  • Dedicated to all the innocent Karens in the world.
    None of us chooses our own name, at least not the original one. You might be John, Steve, Julie or Lisa, but not by choice. Most likely your name came by the choice of
  • I’ve never paid attention to politics, until recently.
    When I was first eligible to vote at age 18 and even 19, I was too busy having fun. My teenage brain didn’t perceive politics as fun so I didn’t vote. I’m embarrassed to admit that now, but
  • The year 2020; wow, in hindsight, who could have seen this coming?
    I thought we’d been through it all: a pandemic, the lockdown, the economy suffering because of the lockdown and pandemic, family members losing jobs, my
  • I’m not sure of the exact definition of middle age. I guess it depends on how long you plan to live. I’m not ready to publicly admit to middle “agedness” as I plan to live forever, but I am beginning to get a feel for some of the changes that happen during the “f-word” decades.
    Like the rest of us from
  • We are living in unprecedented times; tough times. A virus, and the murder of a man and too many others like him has torn our nation apart. We as a people, in some regards, have torn ourselves apart. It is beyond sad for our country and us as individuals.
    We are a nation divided and honestly, I’m
  • My life is good. I can’t complain, nor should I.
    Still, lately, it’s felt like I am going through the motions: doing my daily tasks, completing my daily routine under a dark and ominous cloud.
    Summer has
  • COVID-19 has changed many things for so many of us. I haven’t been able to see my dad, who’s in a nursing home, for four months. My daughter is quarantining for two weeks before the birth of her baby so we can’t see her family. My son lost his job. We are in a state of uncertains and unknowns about our
  • As weird as it may sound, this is a question I’ve pondered lately. I’m willing to take a bet that very few reading this have thought about walleye being in heaven, but you aren’t the daughter of my dad.
    For those not familiar with walleye, they are
  • My husband and I agree on many things. We share a lot of the same opinions and have even been known to finish each other’s sentence or have the same thought at the same time.
    Still, there are 
  • It was carried home the last day of school with all the careful energy a 6-year-old could muster. It didn’t look like much at first glance: a basic yellow plastic cup filled to the brim with smooth black dirt.
    His kindergarten teacher pulled me aside and pointed to the cup. “We
  • Readers of this column will attest to the fact that I like words. Heck, you might even use the word love here. I love playing with words, learning about their origins, words that are my friends or, at least, they seem like friends and lengthy words that stretch their syllables to great lengths. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is
  • Children have their own unique view of the world. From the time they start to talk until about age 8, they’re seeing things from a 3- or 4-foot perspective, while the rest of the population (aka grown-ups) are operating from a 5- or 6-foot point of view. This can result in misunderstandings, misconceptions, mistakes and
  • Bald eagles are majestic creatures with wingspans to match of 6 to 8 feet. They are the national bird of the United States. They therefore inherently demand and deserve our respect. 
    Bald eagles used to be in short supply. In the late 20th century, they were
  • We are living in a serious world. Many of us thought it couldn’t get worse than COVID and then, all heck broke loose. I’m not going to write about this seriousness. Others have already explained things much more eloquently than I ever could.
    Instead, I’m shooting for
  • “At first, I was afraid. I was petrified,” sang Gloria Gaynor in “I Will Survive.”
    We are all staying home as much as possible, wearing our masks, doing our own due diligence because gosh darn, it’s the right thing to do. Quarantine has become a way of life and for one very specific, important reason:
  • It felt “normal” and good, if even for a moment.
    We had individual videotaped graduations this week. Each 2020 graduate had his or her scheduled five minutes on stage, walking the walk and ending it with a
  • I’m as stir-crazy as anyone over this COVID-19 situation. There are lots of moments and days when I find it hard to look on the bright side. The dark side is so ominous and tempting because of the uncertainties and unknowns. The glass is half empty.
    Still, there are certain upsides to the Stay At Home directive that COVID-19 has brought. They are
  • One day she was here and the next, she was gone.
    We’d been taking care of our granddaughter during the weekdays since September. Although getting up early in the morning to care for her was a bit of a yawn, our dear granddaughter was
  • Mother’s Day is fast approaching again.
    Last year, I had one of my best ever. I had a new granddaughter to hold and love. All my children who are grown or nearly so were on hand to help celebrate. I give thanks for them nearly every day. I am
  • We are all social distancing. Hugs from a friend have been put on hold. Personal interaction is kept to a minimum. Masks have become fashion statements and gloves a necessity. We go out only when we are out of milk, eggs or toilet paper. We fear the touch of human contact.
    Well, not really, but
  • Fact No. 1: Because of a “stay at home” directive, we aren’t supposed to venture out into public unless we are essential or in need of essential items like milk or eggs. Sometimes the shelves are bare.
    Fact No. 2: Many of us have had
  • First, we all measured this situation by days then, by weeks and now, the days string together and I’m not always sure if it is Tuesday or Wednesday. By now, we are seasoned pandemic participants. We know how to kill a month by staying inside and following the rules; cross that one off the bucket list.
    As the days morph into weeks and
  • It isn’t supposed to be like this, but life is hardly ever predictable or fair.
    All of us are sacrificing at some level. The current nationwide and worldwide situation is touching each of us in a truly personal way. I don’t want to dismiss or make light of anyone’s circumstance, but as the mom of a high school senior, I
  • As of this writing, at least 251 million people in at least 30 states, 81 countries, 15 cities and one U.S. territory are living the reality of a stay at home directive. A month ago, hardly any of us had contemplated the concept of a stay at home directive. I’d never even heard the term. Now I’m living it.
    Most of us got a few days’ notice before being asked to
  • My dad left school after the eighth grade to help out on the family farm. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing all of his five brothers did the same and his seven sisters as well. Graduating from high school wasn’t a given in those days, especially if your dad needed help on the farm.
    I’ve been going through some of his belongings as
  • My husband and I have the privilege of taking care of our granddaughter during the week when my daughter and son-in-law are at work. Of course, I think she is the cutest baby in the whole wide world, but I usually keep those thoughts to myself.
    Scandinavians like me dislike