Papa Don


How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard

— Winnie the Pooh

My heart is aching, yet I feel at peace. It was a beautiful April morning, when grandpa took his last breath. It was a day that he would have loved; a warm day full of sunshine. I had 1 grandpa who I only met once, which made it impossible to have a relationship with him. But ever since I met the Mindemann family, I was shown so much love and grandpa’s love made up for my lack of having a grandpa

I’m lucky to have had 18 years to get to know this wonderful man who called me his granddaughter. He had a wealth of knowledge. He was a steamfitter by trade but there was nothing that grandpa didn’t know. He brought me into this family with open arms and offered up plenty of things to for me to learn from him. He loved being a teacher. From teaching me a rousing game of spoons to understanding the fundamentals of electricity, his patience in explaining the details showed no bounds.

When I think of grandpa, I think of how much he loved seeing us and the kids. The first time I met grandma and grandpa, my car dripped oil on their cement driveway. I felt terrible! Grandpa didn’t seem to care at all about the stain. Instead, he began to teach me about oil filters and how to read the oil stick properly. He quickly tightened up my oil filter and my problem was solved. Little did I know that this was the first of many things he would teach me.

He had 2 great grandkids: Madelyn and Asher. He nicknamed Madelyn,  Esmerelda. It was how he endlessly teased her in order to get Madelyn to come out of her shell around him. Well, that and candy. Whenever we would come over with the kids, he would get outside and find something for them to do. They’d walk around the grass with him or he would throw out the basketballs and lower the hoop so Madelyn and Asher would be able to make a shot. They’d chalk up the entire driveway with rainbows, hearts and letters and once they accidentally stained it for a few days. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t mind. They just love seeing them happy. Grandpa would dig around in his shed to see if there’s a bike or a motorized little car that the kids were big enough to ride in. He would make sure the kids had fun. Even if that meant that he’d turn on the hose for them to spray each other, and everyone else, with. He loved listening to their laughter. You can tell it made him happy. One of the last things he said to me was “I’m happy that you’re happy. Thats what makes me happy.”

He was always bringing over a tool or saw of some sort for Dave. He loved teaching us what he knew about them all. I still don’t think I hold a wrench correctly 😁. I could hear him tell me that I’m holding it wrong and I need to flip it. Sometimes I’m a slow learner, but he would just tell me again. I don’t think that Dave would have such a love of building if it wasn’t for grandpa always bring over these tools and teaching him what he could make with them. Grandpa was always found tinkering in his garage making something. From flag poles and basketball hoops to wagons and pulleys, he could make anything. I know he was so proud of Dave and that he was so happy that he was able to pass some of his loves to him.

Grandpa was such a great storyteller. He was so enthusiastic. He’d lean over the table and have a huge smile on his face as he set the scene for you. He could recall every detail of the day in which his story took place. There were stories about being  overseas in the army, playing golf or horseshoes with friends or about jobs he had. There were times I had no clue what he was talking about since a lot of them pertained to working as a steamfitter, but you couldn’t help but listen to his enthusiasm and try to pick up the rest of the story after all the technical info passed.

I was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with grandpa the week before he died. I was able to hold his hand and tell him numerous time that I loved him. Even if he was barely awake, he would quickly respond with “I love you so very much”. He would tell me how much he loved my smile and that he’s thankful that I came to visit. I tried so hard to not cry in front of him, but that was impossible. He was an amazing man. One that I will think of often and miss terribly.

I give you this one thought to keep – 
I am with you still – I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the sweet uplifting rush,
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone – 
I am with you still in each new dawn



I’m not going to lie and tell you that the week leading up to my birthday was full of fun and excitement. It wasn’t. It was far from. It was a week full of reviewing my life. Trying to figure out when the last time my life felt full. Because this past week, I’ve realized that I am a shell of a person. A shell that has missing so many pieces. Pieces that have been left somewhere or taken or given. I’m fragmented. Not whole. Empty. I know I’m supposed to be a wife, mother, sister, daughter, nurse, etc. But, I was struggling. I felt like I was barely hanging on. I couldn’t be good at any of those things until I found those pieces and put them back where they belonged. 

Lately, I’ve felt that all I’ve done is give. If I don’t give, they take. My entire job as a nurse is to give. I give of myself at someone’s worst hour. Then after 12 1/2 hours of giving, I need to come home and give more. My children are the biggest offenders, obviously. They take until I’m completely empty. Then, they take some more and I have nothing left for even myself. I just can’t. I yell, I cry.  I go from bad mom to worst mom. The next day, I put on a smile and hope for a better day. But everyday is the same. Nothing changes. I needed it to change… I needed to be whole. I wanted to run away to find it. Preferably, I hoped I could find it with my toes in the sand on the ocean. But, I’d take anything. I just needed to be away from the constant giving and taking. 

Then last night, I went out with a great friend and after a couple of drinks, some great food, and a much needed heart to heart, I woke up today feeling renewed. I was ready for a fresh year. 37 was going to be great because was going to make it wonderful (right after I had my coffee, of course).

It also helped to start my day with a funny Snapchat from Dave and the kids while I slept in until 9am, along with a massage and pedicure😁. 

 But also, the massive amounts of love I received via phone calls, texts, or Facebook. You all rock! Somehow most of those missing pieces found their way back to me today. I’ve felt more whole today than I have in a long time. 

Granted after walking into the home to some wonderful surprises:

the kids decided to become hellions and fight and cause an enormous amount of frustration. But Dave…. he took as much as he could so that I didn’t have to give out more of myself for just one day. One day so that I could feel more whole and have a day where I felt appreciated and loved. It was so needed and I felt so grateful for him and all he does for me. 

I’m really not 36, but Dave says that it’s better to be under than over. Precisely. 

My in-laws called to wish me a happy birthday right after a frustrating conversation with Madelyn about how she needs to communicate more. I let it all out to my MIL. I told her all of my feelings lately. At times during the retelling of the evening, I wanted to cry, but she laughed. That laughter helped so much. After that phone call, I felt better. Why cry, when you can just laugh. The frustrations melt away so much quicker. 

So, 37…. I’ll be ok. Sure 40 is around the corner. But, I’m going to make sure that the rest of my 30’s are going to be a hell of a good time. 

Real Family Pictures

Family pictures. It sounds like such an easy process. Everyone stands in a particular spot, smiles and the camera captures the essence of that family. At least, thats what you end up seeing after the editing is complete and pictures are sent out on cards, put in a frame to hang on a wall or posted online for all to see and comment on.

We’ve been wanting to get family pictures taken for months now, but we couldn’t find the time to get it done. As the leaves continued to change colors and fall to the ground, we decided to grab our camera and tripod and head to a park with the kids after school to try and snap a few pictures with a pretty fall scene in the background.


Right away, we had some problems with cooperation. “Please stand over there and smile” was just too much to ask.

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Soon, there were tears because Madelyn wanted to take pictures by the picnic tables NOW, which were by the parking lot. Nowhere near where we currently were. I told her that we would do that on our way back to the car. Apparently, that wasn’t a good enough answer.

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Thankfully, Dave’s a good sport.


We finally have Madelyn smiling again, which means Asher has to not cooperate.


Just when we have everyone smiling, we turn out blurry and I didn’t notice because Madelyn grabbed the camera and Dave was already heading out toward the lake.


On our last attempt to take a nice picture of just the kids, Asher wasn’t very interested in getting hugged and kissed by Madelyn…

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So, his elbow accidentally landed on her nose.


He clearly didn’t care.


As you can see, this was not a stressful experience in the least! We ended up with a couple of OK pictures. Maybe some snow will start to fall in the next few weeks and we can try again soon.  I’d like to think that we’ll get some more cooperation, but I highly doubt it. But then again, maybe my kids will surprise me. I mind as well have low expectations and be pleasantly surprised instead of the other way around, right?

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