Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Shanti shanti for my little brother.

Tomorrow will make it two years since my little brother has passed away. The day I found out, it was like someone put a glass beaker over me, and I was using up all the oxygen fast. I couldn't raise my arms to embrace him, though I felt I could, but I couldn't raise my arms. It was mind boggling that I would never hear his voice, talk with him in the early morning, or get his cards for Christmas or birthdays, or get one of his big bear hugs. I mean, how can you prepare yourself for something that is so sudden? You can't. It hasn't been easy losing the brother and friend that I was supposed to grow old with and share a home. It sometimes seemed we were on the same path both professionally and spiritually. Even after his passing, I still feel his presence in my life. There are the obvious ways: he calls me still every so rarely, though I can't hear anything on the other line, no matter how hard I try. There is also the visits in my dreams. Sometimes I feel like he wants me to join him, but I say "I'm not ready yet", and I'm left alone. I also ask him to keep an eye on us. Olivia and I. And I know he does. So little brother, thank you for the time we spent together on Earth. Though we aren't physically together, spiritually we have never been apart. Love you so much! And, to quote you, shanti shanti! (Peace, Peace)

Monday, January 25, 2016

OMG I can't believe it has been so long since I"ve written! I plan on being a little more prolific this year. Yikes! So, since April a quick "Papa Patrick in Review"! Summer was pretty much used up raising a litter of beautiful goldendoodle pups. At the end of summer, as a little preschool vacation, Olivia and I went to a water resort in the Wisconsin Dells. Honestly, we had such a good time! It was a little chilly, but we still had a great time! Then, my little one started FOURTH grade! Yikes, can't believe it! She is growing up so fast. And I am proud of all her accomplishments. New Years Eve was spent taking care of mom/grandma in Wisconsin. She was hit by a car in October and has been slowly gaining strength ever since. God bless that lady! Olivia and I did our traditional "burning ceremony" (just ask if you don't know!), and to our delight, my mom wrote up her list too and Olivia and I burnt it along with ours at midnight. Grieving still goes on for me in regards to my brother. Signs are everywhere that he is still with me, and I believe it. He was such a big personality in our family, and is sorely missed. Well that's about it for now- stay tuned for more in 2016!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

It's interesting to me, how one's life, after it has passed, is replaced and somewhat reduced to memories, boxes of books, diaries, and flashes of momentos in received cards, notes, photographs. Today I drove up to Milwaukee to pick up my brothers art work. My moms building had been sold, and after 31 years of memory making (birthdays, graduations, Christmases, parties) she had to find a new place. It seems as though she is holding it together pretty well and getting excited about a new home. It was
sad for me to walk around the apartment for one last time, seeing many things already packed into labelled boxes, and just allowing myself to feel and remember. My brother really didn't do anything small scale. There were many large pieces, some not finished, that are four feet by eight feet. At times I couldn't hold it together and cried quietly. His art amazed me. So unique. So incredibly John. Not only did I pick up his art, but also his books and diaries. My brother was amazing. His diaries are chock full of pictures, notes, letters, sketches. Looking through one especially made me stop. It appears to be a notebook, plain page, of homework assignments, with the teachers notes taped or sticky noted on the sides. The whole book is pure art. It is also has sketches, photocopied pictures, and poetry. Looking at the notebook, I see where and how he got some ideas for his art. It all came together in that book! I miss my wickedly talented brother so immensely. His was a very special life, one cut way too short. His box of books, diaries and some of his art I now am custodian of.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

SPPRRRRIIIINNNNGGGGG is almost here! I feel it in the air! Well, at least it has been over 50 degrees :) I'm coming up with new plans for the back garden (the "urban farm"), and I'm excited! Olivia and I have been busy planting veggie and flower seeds inside, and I've been brushing up on best egg laying breeds for chickens. Chicago seems to have lifted the "6 only" rule as far as the number of chickens one can own. I don't think I'll go over 6, as it is just Olivia and I eating eggs, and even with just 6 working girls, I'll still have some extra to share! I am building a new chicken coop, one that will be a little easier for me to get in and out of. We've kinda outgrown the cedar playhouse (thought it was so CUTE!!), and am now going to build something I can actually stand up in! I'm really excited about that! They will also have a larger outdoor run to be in when I'm not home to let them free range. The whole right side will be for growing food! I get really excited about this! Stay tuned! I'll post some pics when I get them!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Well, a year has come and gone since the passing of my little brother John. And you know what? It still is hard. There are times when I would give anything to call him and tell him silly things like "it's snowing the HUGE globe snowflakes you like!"or "did you watch this years AHS? I didn't. Couldn't get past the clowns". I know there is no time limit to grief. And life goes on. New life happens. The rest of us are still here. We try and move forward, those of us who really knew him know it isn't always easy. So many things that stir up memories. Time for a pause. Ok, time to pick up and go again... and repeat. The life of a soul never really dies. It's energy that keeps on going, moving forward, transforming into something else. And I think I see that energy in the snowflakes. Feel it in the cold he liked. In the colors of autumn. In a silly laugh I hear. All around me, my brother.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The eve of a New Year. Time for reflection of the past year. 2014 will go down as probably the most unbalanced of my life! February brought the miracle of birth, with our dog Gracie giving birth to 11 wonderful, beautiful puppies. That was an amazing experience that I was fortunate to share with her. She woke me up to tell me "it's time!". Not even a week later I got a call from the Ft. Lauderdale police telling me my brother had passed away. He was younger than I, and I thought it was a bad joke for about two minutes on the phone with the officer. It very quickly escalated and I knew, sadly, it was no joke. I'm not sure if the pain of missing someone you were so close to ever goes away, or ever subdues. The memories I have with John have been seared into every inch of my brain, and he is such a big part of who and why I am the man I am today. Protective, yes. Looking out for him when I could. My family lost another member, too. My Uncle Tom. What an amazing person he was, too! A gentle man. I remember staying with my sister Liz at TomnNancy's (they were one name!) after my parents divorced and we moved back to the Midwest. They treated us like their own. I am forever thankful for those two hearts! My extended family (family too) also lost a big person, too- "Aunt Marsha". She was quirky in a good way. She talked sooo fast! She also did the business' payroll and book keeping. It wasn't all sadness. I had a great year in the garden. My chickens produced enough eggs to share. I gave away some tomatoes. I learned about composting! Tonight at midnight Olivia and I will continue our tradition of writing down two lists and burning them. I believe in some traditions it is called a fire puja. On our first list, we write down the negative things in our life: things that hold us back, negative emotions, whatever we want. The second list is what our aspirations are for the new year. The negative list gets burned first. It is a great moment! The second list then gets burned, and when that one is lit, it is lit with hope and faith. Try it! So yes, reflect on your year but none of us have the luxury to dwell in it. Great the first morning of 2015 with a positive thought, and let that positive energy be your way in 2015! Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I am in awe of my daughter. She is young, but darn it if she doesn't do selfless things that put a big 'ol smile on my face and joy in my heart. Today she opened her presents from Grandma and her two aunts. She got some good gifts, and also some cash (that's what she asked for!). She was telling me the things she wanted to buy; a horse set from Whole Foods, $5 to play games at the theater, and the rest to get some other toys. After we drove Grandma and Aunt Midge to the train station, we drove to the theater to catch an early show of "Annie". Traffic was heavy, but we weren't in a rush. I was seeing drivers getting frustrated that it went down to one lane from two, people cutting themselves off, head shakes, the whole 9 yards as Christmas music was playing on the radio. Then on the median, Olivia spotted a homeless man with a sign, asking for money. She said, "dad, I want to give this man some of my money". I asked if she was sure, she said yes. So we rolled down her window, the homeless man came up to the car, and I saw a little hand give the man one of her $5 bills. He seemed so happy! He said thank you so much, I heard a little "you're welcome" from the back seat, and the man just smiled and was so thankful. As we inched forward, I asked her why she wanted to give that man some of her Christmas money, that I was just curious as to why. She said "He's homeless. It looks like he could use some money." My heart melted. I almost cried. But most of all, I wish I could have just jumped into the back seat and gave her a hug! I said I'm sure the man could use the $5 to get something to eat, and that what she did was amazing. She showed me the true meaning of Christmas :)