My photo
Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death on November 15, 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (born 5/04) and Sydney (born 5/07)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Time Flies...

Fifteen years ago today we met, and danced for the first time...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I was named a "Top Widower Blogger"?!

To my great surprise, I received an email on July 22 that said I was named among many other great widowed bloggers as being one of the top. I honestly had no idea anyone was still reading (since it takes me so darned long to post), let alone qualify to be on this list! I'm truly honored.

You can read the announcement HERE.

Thank you SO MUCH, Julia Lawrence!!


Two weeks ago, Matt's dad was struck by lightning on the golf course. And somehow lives to talk about it. Everyone's pretty convinced that Matt had something to do with that...

Roy and three of his buddies were on the golf course in Arizona (where they live) and were at the last hole when the sky started to get really dark. They figured they would finish up the last hole before the rain started, and then bam. Roy got a direct hit right on top of his head, and it knocked down his three buddies who were standing nearby.

When his friends looked over at Roy, he was on the ground - not breathing, already turning grey, and had no pulse. His heart had stopped. They did CPR on him until the paramedics arrived, and at some point between there and the hospital, his heart stopped again. Again, he was revived.

He spent a few days in the hospital, and was anxious to go home. He suffered many burns, his hat was pretty much torn to shreds, his right eardrum ruptured, and has excruciating pain in his hands from some pretty severe nerve damage. Ginny has been keeping us updated through Facebook with his progress. His energy is extremely low, but he's starting to improve - is sleeping a bit better and eating again.

The man is 76, had a quadruple bypass fifteen years ago (when Matt and I had just started dating), and has leukemia which is managed by daily medication, and has now survived getting struck by lightning. Amazing!

Sydney said at the dinner table the other day, "If Grampa Row died from the lightning, I would be crying right now."

Then she demonstrated with her loudest ugly cry, which lightened it up for all of us!

SO much...

The kids and I have been really enjoying being back in Buffalo! When I look at my old school paper calendar from before we moved, there was hardly anything written on it. The moment we hit Buffalo soil, the calendar has something written in it for every single day! It's been busy, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm back with my lifelong best friends, and close to my family. We love our home and neighborhood, and I'm able to be close to my parents who have been having lots of health issues recently. I'm happy that I live so close to my mom that I can help her with grocery shopping, taking her to doctor appointments, etc. That part's not easy (especially with two little kids home on summer vacation), but it would be way worse if I wasn't around to help. I live close enough to my dad to take a day trip to see him and my step-mom, and set up a little impromptu clam bar for us to enjoy. 

Jacob has been involved in Little League (machine pitch) and his season just ended. His team, the Yankees, were in first place, won the playoffs, and even won the championship!! What an awesome first year experience for him! Matt and the rest of the Row boys were all in Little League, and it meant so much to me that he got involved (now that we're not moving anymore), and that he enjoyed it so much. The coaches were so wonderful and told me they were shocked at how far he had come from when he started until now. I told them I wasn't too surprised - he gets his natural ability from his daddy who played his whole life, and played well.

I had signed the kids up for day camp for one week in July, and that week came before we knew it. Jacob was doing the mountain-biking portion of the camp, and Sydney was doing the regular camp which also included archery, swimming, canoeing, and lots of other fun activities. They had SUCH a great time! I figured while they were gone during the day, it would allow me to take my mom to some doctor appointments without having to drag them with us, and to get my front yard project done.

When we moved into our house, there was virtually no landscaping in the front – just two scraggly little bushes. I had done some research about landscaping, plants that would be good for that part of the front yard, and getting prices for it all. It was way too expensive for me to hire anyone to do the work, so I was fully prepared to do the work myself. I had gone to a few different nurseries a couple of months ago to get some advice and look around, and I ended up getting some really great advice from a man (John) that worked at one of the nurseries. I decided that now that I was ready to embark on this, I would go back to him for some final planning advice and get the plants.  When I was telling him about my plans, he asked me how I was going to remove the bushes in the front. I told him I just planned to tie a rope to them and then tie the other end to the hitch on my van, and drive. He looked a bit surprised, and finally asked, “Where’s your husband?? He should be doing this!”

Of course, that leads to a conversation that neither one of us were expecting… He told me that his dad died when he was 11, and he had two little sisters (he’s now in his 60’s). He offered to draw up a plan for me for free, and told me to come back with printed pictures to help him. Wasn’t that awesome? It gets better…

I told John that I had my "bi-annual" hair appointment in ten minutes, but when I was done, I’d swing home, print the pictures and head back over.

I had my phone off while I was getting my hair cut, so when I checked my phone when I was done, I was surprised to see that I had two messages from him. I thought, “what in the world could be so important for the nursery guy to leave two messages?”

When I called him back, he told me there were two guys in my front yard, and that they were digging up the grass and weeds in that area and pulling out the bushes! Oh my goodness!!! I couldn’t believe my ears. He said he still needed the printed pictures, so to come back with those. At this point, I was pretty sure that John was the owner of the nursery.

When I got there, he asked me what I wanted to plant, and I showed him my list. He let me know which ones would be better, and which ones wouldn’t tolerate the shade and wind they might be subject to. With his help, I picked out all the plants, and I think he must have given me an employee discount or something because I was expecting the bill to be more expensive.  By this time, one of the guys had returned to the nursery from my house, loaded up the plants into the truck, and headed back to my house.

He told me that he was paying the guys to do all this work for me. They made a beautiful shaped spot in the front, filled it in with three yards of bed soil, planted the plants, fertilized them, put in mulch, and even gave me the proper watering hose to maintain them with! The one guy doing the work said in the 26 years he had been working with John, he never did anything like that before. I’ve been getting a lot of those kinds of comments the last few years (“In the blah blah blah years I’ve been doing so and so, I’ve never seen yada yada yada”), but this time it was for something great!!

My sincerest gratitude for such a hugely generous gesture…. He said no thanks were necessary, but somehow even the edible arrangement doesn’t seem enough. Now I just have to keep these things alive…. =P

My mom has been so appreciative of all I've been doing for her, and she said that she wished there was something she could do to make it up to me. I told her that I'm glad I'm here for her, and that I'm getting rewarded in other ways, too... God is good. 

California 2013

Soon after the school year ended, the kids and I took our annual trip to California to visit family and go to Camp Widow. This was the fifth anniversary of Camp Widow, and Soaring Spirits went all out for the milestone. I even was asked to lead a workshop entitled, “Hindsight is 20/20 – Lessons We’ve Learned the Hard Way.” I still giggle when I think about the many reasons why Michele Neff Hernandez chose me for that one!

We flew into San Diego the Tuesday before and I am THRILLED to report that there was nothing to report from that trip out. The flights were uneventful for once – no drama of any kind!  We hung out with Ginny and Roy (Matt’s parents) who drove from Arizona, and we all stayed at Matt’s brother Greg’s house. It’s always fun getting together with the Rows!

Since my workshop was one of the first ones taking place early Friday morning, I decided it probably would be best to get to the hotel Thursday night, and after seeing posts on Facebook from my widda peeps all beginning to arrive, I was even more anxious to get there. My buddies Candice and Jodi let me bunk with them in their hotel room – bless them! Much better than trying to commute first thing Friday morning from my brother-in-law’s, and WAY more fun!

The workshop was a group discussion about some of the things we’ve learned during our widow journey that we’ve gained some life lessons from. Of course, I had plenty of humorous examples to provide to get the ball rolling, and it ended up more like a stand-up comedy routine. It made me feel good to make these hurting people laugh, but no one was willing to embarrass themselves quite as much as I did and disclose some of their not-so-shining moments (by the way, there are no mistakes – just opportunities for growth). Slowly, some of them started opening up a bit. Laughter, tears, camaraderie– exactly what Camp is all about. I just hope the people in the group got half as much out of it as I did. I’m really excited to be leading another workshop next year - TBA!

That weekend (which I was able to extend to Monday, thanks to my awesome in-laws taking care of the kids) was (and is always) so therapeutic. I used that opportunity to really connect with a lot of people – friends I haven’t seen in a long time, made new friends, offered support and love, and just relax. I ate a TON of ceviche at the hotel- just couldn’t get enough of it, and I’m still craving it! I may have found a recipe for that particular kind, so I’m going to have to try it out very soon. I haven’t had much of a chance to breathe since we got back from California, let alone make ceviche – I’ll get to that in a bit…

The day after getting back from Camp, the kids and I took a road trip up to LA and met my brother, Paul and Elise, Claire and Sammy at the beach (poor Henry was sick and couldn’t go). It was scorching hot the whole time we were in CA, and a perfect time to hit the beach! The kids and I stayed with my brother that night, hung out most of the next day with him, then headed back to San Diego. Celebrated the 4th of July, then had a 50th birthday celebration for my brother-in-law Greg. More family came out for the occasion, including my brother and his son, Daniel.

Swam at the neighbor’s pool a bunch and the kids got to play with their cousins and the neighbor’s kids, and just had a blast.

Got a call from my sister while we were away that my mom had fallen and broke her wrist…

Between my mom’s health problems, her broken wrist, and all the issues and surgeries my dad (who lives in Syracuse) has had with his eyes (three eye surgeries in a matter of about two months), my brother decided that he was coming out so he could give our parents some hugs.

The same day the kids and I got back into Buffalo, my brother arrived in Syracuse.

Got up the next morning looking so forward to a cup of my own coffee, and when I opened up the fridge to get my French vanilla cream, discovered that the refrigerator was dark, warm and stinky. It must have bit the dust about a week before we returned (we were gone for two).

I needed to do some grocery shopping for my mom since between her wrist and cataracts, hasn’t been able to drive. I also needed to find a new refrigerator for us. Boy did I hate having to throw out all that food…

The next day, the kids and I packed it up again for an overnight trip to Syracuse to visit with my dad, his wife, my sister and brother, and then we brought Bryan back to Buffalo with us. The day we returned, Jacob had a double-header, so while he was at the diamonds with the kids, I grocery shopped for us. I was really hoping to be done before the end of the last game… They won both!! Championships were next!!

Had an impromptu party with friends/neighbors, my brother, and my nephew Michael even drove out from Rochester for it. We manage to squeeze a whole lot out of a short period of time. 

It was a crazy few weeks, to say the least!