August 26, 2017

Following up on my 2015 Annual Report, I was back at it again in 2016. Using the Reporter App, I asked myself a series of questions twice a day and then compiled all of the raw data to summarize my year in numbers. Typically my questions are centered around my goals for the year, which usually revolves around friendship, travel, books and staying active. Sometimes I'm interested in the little details, which this year included the sleeping habits of my children. All in all, after two years and thousands of data points, I enjoy the habit and the constant reminders of what is important to me.

March 28, 2016

Grandpa Grubb is dead. He was my grandfather, my mothers father, my grandmothers husband. I feel their loss more acutely, imagining what it must feel like to see your Father laid bare, to see your husband stripped of existence. How lonely that could feel, how vulnerable to be moving through the day without such a backbone. I imagine the profound absence to be unexplainable, the mysterious connection between a parent and child, a husband and wife. For even when you leave the home and set off into a new life, a new family, a new home, for those fortunate to have a Mother and Father, they are still somehow a force, a presence, for better or for worse, they carry us in some capacity. And then suddenly they are gone and the need and obligation and duty are cut off. 

I wasn't very close to him, both in proximity or in emotion. My memory of my summers under his roof do not serve me well. Did we converse over dinner? What was our interaction like on his farm? What we did we talk about on the numerous road trips around Pennsylvania and beyond? It is hard to remember all but a small handful of conversations we had or a single moment where we were alone together. 

I have found the beauty lies in the realization that he was simply there, around the table, on the farm, in the car, steady and unwavering, as present and purposeful as he was in his work and community. He was there in the airport when I arrived by myself as a six year old. After driving twelve hours  in his Dodge minivan, he was there to pick me up and take me back for an August at the farm. When my Father and I hitchhiked through Pennsylvania on our way to New York City, he was there to drop us off at a truck stop a few miles down the road. 

I cannot remember much about my Grandpa before Parkinson's and age crept up on him. One visit he was walking and talking and the next he was in a home and everything had changed and when visits from across the country are sporadic, it felt like it all happened in a single week. 

And now he is here, in a casket, looking young again in a suit. I move my hands over his hands, hold his face and rub his chest and I remember what a cold body feels like. 

The last time I saw him was almost three years ago. I told him that he was a good man, mostly because I felt it and also because that sounded like something I would want to be told in my last years with the living. 

You are a good man Grandpa. 

And you know what he said to me, through tears and eighty-five years of life showing on his face? 

I've tried to be. 

I've though about these words over and over again, dwelling on such a heartfelt response, letting them sink in, and I find them so incredibly beautiful and genuine and remarkable. For what else more can we ask of ourselves, at the end of our lives, that we tried to be good? 

Rest in peace, Leroy Benjamin Grubb. 

March 25, 2016

Five years doesn't seem possible. Her mark is indelible. There isn't much to say, I suppose, after five years. What else is there to think about, to feel? 

I used to see the redemption in her death, the changes in me, in my family, how she breathed so much beauty and complexity into our lives. How I'm a better person, more whole in some way, more in tune with the society of the suffering that surrounds me on all sides. I'm not so sure anymore, not as certain. 

I think, it is what it is.

What else can you say about it? These days I no longer take anything away from her death except that she died. 

Sweet daughter of mine, how I wish you were her. 

January 8, 2016

So...each night before nodding off to interrupted sleep, I answered a series of questions about my day. The questions I chose for 2015 mostly fell in line with my goals for the year, which included the some micro and macro questions about travel, friends, food, hobbies and working out. By answering the same questions every day, I was able to compile all of the data at the end of year for some real nerdy evaluation and reflection. The Reporter App made these nightly question and answer "reports" quick and manageable, as well as compiling all of the data as I went along.

The black dots show where we camped and visited in 2015:

December 29, 2015

It's 11:36pm, Christmas Eve. Our home is without heat and the thermostat in the hallway registers 56 degrees. It has been the coldest winter I can remember since moving here in 2005, with nightly temperatures dipping down into the high 30's, which I know is almost laughable for those living in four season climates. But space heaters can only take you so far when its 37 degrees out and you have breezes coming in through the windows and the only thing between the dirt on the ground and your feet are 3/8" thick floorboards. I need to insulate the attic, etc. 

Kari is moving between the couch and toilet, hurling in only the way she can, quietly and without fanfare. There is something extraordinary about her experience with the stomach flu and hearing and watching her is simultaneously gory and breathtaking. The way she faces it head on, without fear, the way she delicately and methodically takes care of herself, the way she settles into the moment, even one as miserable as this. I lie in bed, listening to the gory details and breathe a sigh of relief that I found such a woman.  

Leo has joined in on the flu party and after changing the sheets and pillowcases and all articles of clothing, we are now laying together with a small bowl between us. He pukes and I mostly catch it and I rinse the bowl and he falls asleep and I drift in and out until it all starts over again. By the time the sun starts to make its Christmas rise, the spectacle is over and we are exhausted. 


It has been a great year. One of the most satisfying years of my adult life.