Olivia Hayward

My good friend, Olivia Hayward, has agreed to write a few blog posts for us. I have known Olivia for a number of years. I mentioned to her that I was working on learning some tools in therapy to conquer the issues that I face in the work place. She shared with me that she too was recently in therapy and had just learned that her issues were derivative of being a daughter of a narcissistic mother. She was willing to share with us her journey as she starts to understand this phenomena and how to move forwards.

I am so excited to hear from Olivia and am grateful to her for her willingness to share her thoughts and feelings! Welcome to Once Upon A Wren, Olivia!

Olive Hayward Monogram

A Poor Management Decision or What?

When this happened, I felt great shame and humiliation.

I took a step way outside the box when I applied for another position at work. Gladys had decided to leave the company. She did the job of two people so there were two positions open. I didn’t have the qualifications to review contracts, but I did have the ability to make sure all the documentation was in place and set up projects and new customers. I got the job and they employed a part-time lawyer to review the contracts.

My boss told me that this job was my baby. As time progressed, my job evolved into more than just setting up projects and customers and I became a glorified coordinator. All contracts were sent to me. If they were outside of our written contract format, I sent them out for review to the lawyer. Otherwise I sent them for signature from both the client and from the signer in our company; found out who was going to run the project; made sure that the credit check had been done on new customers; ensured that we had all the legal documents in place including the purchase orders and continued to follow up on these things until we had them all in hand.

I closed projects out in a timely manner; followed the ‘exception to the rule’ protocol; identified situations where work had started without the proper paperwork; helped set up a way to track the amount used on a blanket purchase order as well as identify situations where work started without a purchase order or where the purchase order had been exceeded. I started to develop a way where we could track our bid estimate on a project against the actual results so that the engineers could see how accurate their bids were and make the required adjustments in future bids.

I made all this visible to management and operations via a Sharepoint list. Management liked it. I worked closely with Sales, Operations, and the Finance Department. I received bonuses and a lot of praise for my work.

Then a year and a half later, my boss called me up. “I wanted to tell you, before someone else told you, Gladys is coming back. They are firing the lawyer and she will be reviewing the contracts. The CFO didn’t want her to come as she had left the company twice, but our boss wanted her to come back because the lawyer isn’t able to look at the operational impact of the contract and so she has to do it and the turn around time is too slow”.

My heart instantly lurched into my stomach. Gladys and I are very different. I am very detailed orientated; Gladys liked to cut corners to get things done on time and hated to have to do anything extra. She also didn’t make the sales people accountable and would move ahead without the proper paperwork in place. I knew this because I had often found myself in a position where a work order had to be invoiced without any pricing in place. Gladys also hated SharePoint.

When I took on the job, I was given instructions to create different processes and to gatepost certain things. This I did. In developing the new processes, I found out from all the departments what their needs were. To do this, I set up meetings to discuss their requirements and develop processes that would worked for everyone and with which my managers approved of. Everyone seemed really happy or so I thought.

My boss said that he would have no trouble saying something to Gladys if she didn’t follow the processes and would keep her in check even though she was going to work directly with his boss and not him. I was really nervous about the situation but thought that if my boss would keep Gladys in line, then it would be manageable.

Gladys was going to start just after Christmas. I tried to forget about the changes that were going to happen over the Christmas period. I was on vacation over Christmas and tried to keep busy so that I didn’t have time to think.

All too soon, I had to return to work and face this new dynamic.

It did not start off well.

Gladys didn’t want to know about the new processes. She started doing the work that I did and I had no paper trail to know what was going on. By the end of the week, I was told that she was going to be my boss. Her boss said that we would make a good team.

It had taken me a long time to get the confidence of my colleagues. Gladys had been well liked. I didn’t do things the same way as Gladys did. I was firm in keeping the processes as I had been requested to do. The processes kept people accountable.

Gladys started to run me down in emails to colleagues saying that I didn’t know what I was doing. She wouldn’t follow the processes. She told me that Sharepoint sucked.

She and I were duplicating the work and it was annoying the departments. I lost my authority as everyone paid more attention to what she said than following the processes.

She called me up and asked me to talk to her about the friction that I was feeling. As I started to explain the processes, she talked over me and yelled at me to shut up. ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’ She yelled.

I realized that this was not going to work. She was now in charge of my baby. I was being put back into a position of being ‘just a processor’; to take orders. I rang her boss up and said that this was not going to work. She said that she was aware that there was a problem going on and had an idea about another position for me. She just had to get permission from the CFO and HR before offering it to me.

She received permission and I was offered a job as the Sales Tax Accountant. She asked me to attack the job with my usual enthusiasm. I can’t say that I was very motivated. I was humiliated by the whole situation. I was embarrassed. I was grieving a job that I had enjoyed so much and had put so much effort into. I wondered what I had done wrong. I knew of no other way to handle the situation. I had felt powerless.

I was now in a corner. I was being trained to do sales tax by a bully who was very controlling, wouldn’t answer my questions, wanted me to do things by rote rather than by understanding, put me down all the time, criticized me, talked down to me and demoralized me. I was now on a team that was reactive rather than proactive and didn’t want new ideas or any contribution to improve processes. I was also in a situation where I was micro managed.

I totally understood why the company needed Gladys’ expertise. However, bringing Gladys back totally ruined my career. I was surprised that they created a new position for me. The whole situation left me very confused for over a year.

I am finally over my grief. I keep my head down. Do my job. Don’t interact much with anyone. My writing now provides the creative outlet that I had in my previous jobs.

However, I still wonder, as I did throughout the grieving process, whether the whole idea to bring Gladys back again and the way it was handled, was a poor decision by management or what?

What are your thoughts?

(First Published in Roaming Brit on 23rd May, 2018)

‘Making Waves’ by Luke Martin-Jones

There was a distinct chill in the air, lots of glum faces; a rumbling of discontent throughout the school, as pupils digested the latest attempt to reshape our place of learning, conforming to more traditional ideals. It was a few days earlier that each of us were given a letter to hand to our parents announcing the introduction of a new school uniform in keeping with the schools new name and status within the community in which it served. In was 1983, I was in my second year of senior school, at a time when Britain was suffering the spectre of recession. Money was in short supply, unemployment was high and the cost of living out of control. The last thing families needed was another bill to contend with; the price of our new identity would not come cheap. Understandably disaffection was bubbling to the surface, as pupils decided to take matters into their own hands.

It was late afternoon, double Science, probably one of my least liked subjects. Looking around the room, there seemed to be a lot of absences, the class was rather sparse and lackluster; the few of us who were there had thoughts elsewhere. As I glanced out of the window onto the playground below, I could see a group of students milling about, talking, shaking their heads, arms raised in consternation. Even I felt anxious and I didn’t know why. There was an atmosphere of revolution and insurrection; rebellion was in the air.

I could hear whispers behind my back, two classmates talking about joining the growing throng outside. One tapped me on the shoulder, ‘are you coming?’ they said. Confused I asked what they meant; I was oblivious to events unraveling around me. ‘We are going on strike; there’s a protest on the all weather pitch, everyone will be there!’ they exclaimed, encouraging me to join them and make our voices heard. I understood that there could have been a demonstration about the new rules being introduced at the school, but really brushed them aside as ‘just talk.’ I was surprised that my friends were taking matters into their own hands and a little apprehensive about what would happen to those of us who took part!

Briefly I thought about what I should do; looking out the window, I could see more and more classmates joining ‘pupil power’ in action. I turned back to face my peers, nodding my head in agreement. As our Science Teacher continued his lesson on photosynthesis, I duly packed my brown adidas bag and abruptly left the room, all three of us heading downstairs. ‘What do you think you are doing? Come back here now!’ I heard Mr Roche shout as we left the room; running quickly down the stairs and outside into the busy thoroughfare below, we joined everyone else in our campaign for justice!

I don’t remember the exact number who took part that day, though it was quite a few. Chanting and cursing we made our way through the school and onto the playground beyond, refusing to move until the powers that be, retracted the requirement for compulsory school uniforms. A sit down protest on the edge of school created waves, as teachers tried to encourage us to return to class. Of course as time went on and stomachs began to groan, pupils started to leave anyway. In truth when I look back to this time, I was carried along with the sea of emotion surrounding this stance. I really didn’t care if I had to wear a shirt and tie or not, in fact it was the best thing for the school, but when you become part of a crowd you tend to follow the course, losing all sense of reality, forgetting just what the initial action was about in the first place. As children, fickle to the core, a few hours off last thing in the afternoon, became our overriding ambition.

The school uniform remained, those of us who took part were given detention and we had our day in the local rag but the reasons for our discontent didn’t go away. Changing the identity of anything, whether school, person or brand, can only be done with the support and influence of all of those impacted. In future pupils and parents were consulted every step of the way. New rules were implemented without the frustration and anger that surfaced that day.

(First Published in Roaming Brit on 16th May, 2018)

The Bread and all its Terror

This is a little more painful to write about. Fast forward one more year. I am now a third year senior at Fareham Park Comprehensive School which now has some newer buildings. The dance and drama studio is built. The music rooms are ready to go. The gym is built. We have an all weather pitch, a track, tennis courts and many more facilities for physical education. We have a building for art, woodwork, metal work, sewing and home economics. A far cry from the one building and a couple of modular classrooms that we had two years earlier.

Now that we have a home economics room, we have cooking on the schedule. This is definitely not fun for me.

The time that stands out most is the day that we made bread. I have little recall of anything else so I assume this is the one time that we cooked and the rest was book work, but I could be very wrong there.

A prelude to the bread story are the images of crowded hallways and stairwells where all the students of the school were changing classrooms, using the toilets, getting stuff out of their lockers. The stairs in particular were a source of consternation. Those girls would wait for me at the top of the stairs, As soon as I started on my way down, they would home in behind me and start to push me down, all the time laughing their heads off. It was hard to keep upright and not slip. I hated it. I had no idea what to do to help myself and to get out of the situation. It may only seem like a little thing, but I felt helpless. There were no teachers around.

These girls were in my tutor group and they were also in my cooking class. Cooking became a big nightmare. There the girls would use wooden spoons to hit me when the teacher wasn’t around. They would laugh in a mocking way. Any type of reaction exasperated the issue. I felt stymied. Powerless.

So it was in this atmosphere that we had to make bread.

There are just a few things that I remember about this bread-making activity. I remember the mixing bowl. I remember the yeast. This wasn’t dry yeast. This was fresh yeast. I remember that it looked dark and grey and pretty gross. We had to add it to our flour and use our hands to mix the dough mixture together. Then we had to knead it until the yeast was all absorbed.

As I write this with an adult’s perspective, something feels off about that yeast. So I read around and now understand that fresh yeast should look firm and moist, cream-colored and cool to the touch. If it is crumbly, dryish and dark in places it is stale. Apparently to use it, it must be added to liquid and mixed into the dough straight away. Here is what I also found on the internet concerning fresh yeast and the processes to activate it:

https://m.wikihow.com/Activate-Fresh-Yeast

In this article it demonstrated that yeast needs to be broken up into smaller parts. I was told to put my yeast and water straight into the bowl. I don’t remember it frothing up. The teacher was hurrying us along. I was taking longer than the others – not a natural cook, I’m afraid. I was kneading away. The yeast was not becoming absorbed into the dough.

I think the teacher was pretty frustrated with me. She didn’t listen to my explanation that the yeast was not amalgamating with the dough but she did come and help knead the dough and got it in the pan.

At last the lesson was over. What a relief. My bread looked really pretty. Despite the events of the day and the ongoing bullying, I was pretty chuffed with my success at cooking this bread.

At home, I was so excited as we were going to eat my bread as an accompaniment to our dinner that evening. I eagerly watched as my mum cut into the loaf.

“Eww! Yuck!” My Mum exclaimed as she cut the loaf in half.

My heart sank. “What’s wrong?” I mumbled.

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“Look!” She said. She turned around from the kitchen cabinet where she was cutting, holding the two halves of the bread in her hands. I looked. Inside each half of the loaf there sat a dark gray piece of yeast. My mum started to laugh. I let her know how I had trouble mixing that yeast into the dough and how the teacher had helped me. I then laughed with my mum although my insides were empty.

When I could, I left the room and went upstairs to my bedroom where I closed the door and cried.

My daughter is a master bread maker. She makes the most gorgeous and succulent bread. Her favourite receipe is found at https://weareeating.blogspot.com/2008/01/whole-wheat-bread.html?m=0

Here is the receipe that my friend gave me a few years back. I usually use this one when I make bread now:

Bread

Ingredients:

10 cups whole white wheat flour;
2/3 cup honey;
6 cups of water;
2 tbsp yeast (dried!);
2 tbsp salt:
3/4 cup oil;
2-3 tsp gluten;
2 tsp lecithin.

Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup ground flax seed substituted for 1 cup whole wheat flour.

Method:

I usually use a bread maker these days. I adapt the quantities of the ingredients accordingly (I do like to add the ground flax also) and follow the instructions of my bread maker.

(First published in Roaming Brit on 15th May, 2018)

Osmond Mania and What It Taught Me.

‘Top of the Pops’ was always on the television in our house each Thursday evening. My parents really enjoyed it, especially my dad. Early in the 1970’s, the Osmond’s became very popular with the English girls. New reports showed huge crowds of girls screaming and getting hysterical over the Osmond’s when they toured Britain. I never quite understood the hysteria and the need to touch the pop stars, but it was interesting to observe and wonder about.

My Dad would always call us down to watch the Osmonds whenever they were on – whether it was ‘Top of the Pops’ or the ‘Andy Williams Show’. My little sister was very taken with them and received a couple of their books one Christmas. Of course, I wouldn’t say that I liked them and tried to keep my feelings to myself. Mine was more a fascination of how they related to each other and their close family relationships.

So once my sister’s books went into the bookcase, I was able to ‘borrow’ them. One of my favourite things to do when I was a young girl was to read so I was able to read these books fairly quickly. Two things stick out in my mind from these books. First was that Donny Osmond liked to make things. He made a bed that he could raise up to the ceiling when he didn’t want it in the way and then he could bring it down when he needed to sleep in it. I have often thought of that bed and how cool that would have been! I tried to get my head around how he would be allowed to do something so major like that in his bedroom.

The second thing was something they said about their beliefs. They said that they img_0070believed they lived before they came to earth. In this earlier life, they were spirits, children of God. In this life they reached a plateau. When I read this, I really didn’t knew what a plateau was and imagined these spirit people stuck on ledges up a mountain. Yes, I know, such an odd picture. I can quite see why I came up with these pictures in my head because England has lovely green rolling hills and I had never heard of a plateau, mind seeing one. img_0067My experiences in Utah and Arizona have shown me what mountains are like and what Mesas are like. People in America love the outdoors and love to go hiking. Such a contrast from my sheltered suburban life ….

When I saw the word ‘plateau’ in the book, I automatically imagined something physical rather than relating to the word as a verb. I thought people sitting on ledges was such a img_0069weird concept. Although I didn’t fully understand what I had been reading, for some reason, this picture stuck in my head acting like a weird symbol, reminding me of living a pre-earth life. If you read my earlier blog – The Story With A Twist – you may remember that the story my school teacher read to us introduced me to the concept of living before we came to earth and being able to choose whether we accept our lives before we embarked upon them.

This was something that, as a child, I thought about a lot. For my fifteenth birthday, my boyfriend, out of the blue, bought me the Osmond’s cassette – ‘The Plan’. He didn’t know that I was fascinated by the Osmonds because of their family culture and because of these thoughts from the books that I had read. It was a nice surprise as we usually listened to Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd.

I have to say that my very favourite song on this album (that was on cassette) was ‘In The Beginning”. I just loved the words (the melody was pretty good too 😉 )

“Before the beginning we were living
Oh, so far away from here
And we called it home but didn’t stay
We knew that we could leave one day and cry
Before the beginning we were willing
To lay aside whom we had been
And take a chance to slip away
Or make it back to home one day, what for
Ever since we came to be
With the plan we’ve learned to see
We alone would guide our destiny
In the beginning we’d be living
As we would be, he once was
To look at him, to look at me
And think some day like him I’ll be, what more
Ever since we came to be
With the plan we learned to see
We control infinity, what more
What more“

Here is the link to the song on YouTube as I can tell you are dying to listen to it 😉 !

‘In The Beginning’ by the Osmonds

I don’t think it was by chance that I heard ‘The Story With A Twist’ and was given this music to listen to. I was being prepared for something greater that was to come into my life and radically change it. More on that on another day …..

The Tale of the Cauliflower Who Couldn’t.

This is the tale of the cauliflower who couldn’t.

There were two hundred children in my year at senior school. As I have mentioned before, due to the school being built up around us, for cooking lessons we travelled to Fareham Technical College. As there were so many of us, I only remember having two cooking lessons there – probably one in the first year and one in the second year.

The day that we were being taught to cook cauliflower cheese was the day that my cooking skills rose to the highest level they would ever obtain. We were in a different room than the one where we made our fruit crumbles and I wasn’t with anyone that I knew. I remember the room being much lighter, however, my anxiety in this situation was not very light.

I was relieved when the cauliflower was in the saucepan. One thing down, one to go. I began the rue sauce. My heart was pounding as I began the process. I could follow directions, what was so hard about this? Was it because I didn’t know what the end product looked like? Was it because it was one of my first exposures to doing this myself? Was it because I was in a strange and unfamiliar place? I was relieved when the rue sauce was thick. I added the cheese and it melted.

However, I was stuck. My cauliflower had not cooked. Everyone had their cauliflower cheese in the oven. Mine was still simmering away in the saucepan. I poked it with the knife. Still hard. The teacher came over and poked it with the knife. “Give it another five or ten minutes,” she said.

The others were taking their cauliflower cheeses out of the oven and letting them cool before we went home. Mine was still boiling happily away in the saucepan. I poked it with the knife. Still hard. The teacher came over and poked it with a knife. “You’ll have to finish this off when you get home. Drain it off. Put it in your casserole dish. Put the cheese sauce over the top. Wash up.”

For some reason, this cooking exploit felt like a colossal failure. I felt like my faux pas had been exposed in public. The tale does not end here. When I got home, I explained about the ‘cauliflower who couldn’t’ to my mother. She said, “Well, we will finish cooking it in the oven’. On went the oven. An hour later, she took out the cauliflower cheese. She poked her knife into it! Yep, you’ve guessed it – hard as a rock!

To this day, I do not know why the cauliflower couldn’t, wouldn’t cook. Maybe this experience is why I tend to always overcook cauliflower now? It is now a standard joke in the family as are my mad cooking skills! However, it is good to have something to laugh about, right?

Cauliflower Cheese

Ingredients:

A Cauliflower;
1 oz Margarine;
1 oz Flour;
1/2 Pint of Milk;
2 – 4 oz Grated Cheese;
Salt & Pepper;
1 tbsp Breadcrumbs.

Method:

1. Take off any part of the leaves that are withered. Wash cauliflower. (I personally now, cut the cauliflower into smaller florets);

2. Put the cauliflower into some slightly salted water, bring to the boil until tender (Hopefully, yours won’t take as long as mine did!);

Meanwhile make the Cheese Sauce as follows:

1. In a saucepan, melt the margarine. Add flour. Stir together until sandy. Cook gently for 1 minute.

2. Take the saucepan off the heat and gradually add milk, stirring all the while.

3. Put the saucepan back on the heat. Stirring continually, bring the sauce up to the boil. Turn the heat down a little and cook until sauce is a thick consistency.

4. Take the saucepan off the heat. Add seasoning to taste. Add 3/4 of the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted.

Assembly:

1. Drain the cauliflower and put into a casserole dish.

2. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower.

3. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and add the breadcrumbs.

4. Put in the oven (395 F, 200 C, Gas Mark 7) for about 20 minutes or under the grill and cook until cheese is bubbling and starts to turn a little brown.

(First published in Roaming Brit on 8th May, 2018)

What He Left Behind ….

On March 11th, 2010, I was sitting in the back of our car. The car was parked in a car park near Ridgedale in Minnesota. I was listening to the anguished cries of my step-son’s mother as she yelled down the phone at the coroner’s office.

“You will not touch my son!” She exclaimed. “He is my son and I don’t give you permission! When can I see him?” Not satisfied with the reply, she got angrier and angrier, completely engulfed in her distress and grief.

Eventually, she hung up. She gave my husband my cell phone. “You call them,” she cried. “Don’t let them touch him!”. My husband was gentle with her, reaching beyond his own grief, to comfort her and help her with her pain. “They have to. It’s the law.” He said gently. “I’ll find out when we can see him”.

He dialed the number on the cell phone. “Hi, this is Sonny Wren, Lohr’s dad. Yes, he was brought in last night. When will we be able to see him? Yes, I understand. You need to know the undertaker we want to use? Okay, I will get back to you on that as soon as possible.”

Lohr’s mum grabbed the phone. “You will not cut up my son!” She cried. “I forbid it!” She slammed the phone shut.

My heart ached for them. I would feel the same way about my child. I reached out to touch their shoulders. “I know that this is hard for you. We need to find an undertaker so that you can see Lohr as soon as possible.” I said. ‘Do you have any preferences?’

Lohr’s mum thrust a piece of paper into my hand. “A friend recommended this one”, she said.

“Okay,” I said. “Sonny, I can make this call if you want me to, but they may not speak to me. Do you feel up to making it?” My husband, through his tears, nodded his head. I read out the number on the paper as my husband spoke with the coroner’s office. After he had finished, I called the undertakers to find out where they were located and asked them to call me when my step-son’s body arrived.

Lohr’s mum, Annette, was engaged with my husband, turning her grief onto other subjects where she got angry about how people with homosexuality were treated. As my husband listened, I wondered if the coroner received phone calls with parents and other loved ones like the one he had received from Annette on a daily basis. How hard for them to be dealing with the anger of heartache and despair of people in grief.

My husband had woken me up at 11 p.m the night before. “Penelope, wake up. Lohr is dead”. I shot up from the bed.

“What? What did you say?”

“Lohr is dead. The police have just left”.

I pulled my husband into my arms. “I’m so so sorry, honey.” My husband broke down and wailed. I held him for a long time.

“How long were the police here? Why didn’t you wake me up?” I asked after awhile.

“They were here for about an hour?” He said. “I told them to contact Lohr’s mum. They are going there now.”

“Are you up to calling her?” I asked. He nodded. “I will in a minute. Let’s give them time to get there and then I’ll call”.

“Do you know what happened?” I asked.

“He jumped. He finally did it and jumped”.

Lohr had attempted suicide several times before. He had tried pills and he had often wandered to the top of the car park at the Mall of America in Minnesota. When he had felt like he was going to jump before, he would call his Aunt and she would talk him down. He had done this several times. This time, his Aunt was unavailable as she had had a stroke and suffered from aphasia. Lohr had been visibly shaken by his aunt’s downward spiral of health. She was like another mother to him.

Lohr had been admitted to the hospital about a month earlier. He was severelyimg_0054 depressed. After a week there, he was unable to get out of bed. As he was over eighteen we couldn’t consult with the hospital staff about his treatment. This was the worst that I had ever seen him. I sat by his bed and just stroked his hair. After visiting with him, I went to speak with the staff and said “He’s really, really depressed. I haven’t seen him this bad before. Whatever meds you have him on are not working. I’m very concerned.” I felt like I was talking into thin air. Of course, they knew he was depressed. His dad and I were so frustrated that we didn’t know what was going on.

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Lohr was discharged from the hospital at the end of the following week. I was surprised that they released him so early. He had been committed again, so it is not like he had a choice in the matter. Lohr lived in a half-way home as he was on probation from his several attempts at suicide. This was a measure to try and keep him safe. Lohr had suffered from bipolar since he was about ten years old. He also had a suspected diagnosis of schizophrenia.

I was brought back to the present as Lohr’s mother accelerated in her barrage of words. She was highly distressed. She also was bipolar and had not taken her meds and was roaring away in a torrent of understandable mania as she grappled with this unfathomable loss. I could see my husband waning under the onslaught.

“I know you guys aren’t up to this right now,” I interrupted, “but why don’t we go to the undertakers and assess what we need to do there – choose a coffin, decide on clothes, etc. Then everything will be ready for when Lohr arrives.”

Doing something practical seem to help them to move on through this moment. Annette left the car and went back to her car. I got out the back and slid into the driver’s seat. We found the mortuary and went inside. I introduced us to the staff and they put us in a room where we could talk. The lady who was helping us went through the procedures and the choices of service, coffins, etc. She then left us to decide. Sonny and Annette were distraught and unable to focus for longer than a few minutes.

Annette said that she would sell one of her paintings to pay for the coffin and the funeral services at the mortuary. I asked them gently if they would prefer to have the service at our church or whether they would prefer it at the mortuary. Annette expressed a strong desire to have the funeral at the mortuary and Sonny was okay with her request. “But I want him to wear white”, he said. Annette conceded to his wishes. I will order the trousers and shirt tonight, I said. I can hem them as well. I will just need a pair of Lohr’s trousers to get the right length. They very quickly decided on a nice but moderately priced coffin. My husband decided that Lohr would be buried near his dad in St. Paul.

I managed to get them to plan out the services – what hymns they wanted and who would speak. They both wanted to speak and would have our Bishop speak. We worked out the obituary for the mortuary to get out in the paper and online. It took awhile as their grief worked against their focus.

img_0056We had just finished, when the undertaker came in to tell us that Lohr had arrived. They said it might be better to see him later when they had time to work with him, but both Annette and Sonny wanted to see him as soon as they could. Annette wanted to go in first and alone. About forty minutes later, she left and went home, after letting Sonny know that she had his blood-stained clothes.

Sonny wanted me to come in with him. I was nervous; I didn’t know what shape he would be in. I hoped that I would know how to support my husband as he got his first taste of the physical reality of the situation.

We walked in. My husband made an audible gasp. I held his hand as he went over to his son and rubbed his back as the tears flowed down his face. He caressed his son’s chest and wept. He spoke to his son and wept some more. One of Lohr’s eyes was not completely shut and I hoped my husband didn’t notice and feel more pain. I gave my husband some space. After a long while, he indicated to me that he was ready to go. He kissed his son and we left the room. I let the staff know that we were leaving and thanked them for their kindness. We would be back tomorrow.

When we arrived back at our house, there was a meal for us on our doorstep. Our Bishop came over later that night and talked with my husband and I. He gave him a blessing. I let the Bishop know the details of the service on Friday and he said that he would take care of the programme and let the members of our congregation know. He said that he would arrange for a meal for our immediate family after the service and the burial.

My husband soon fell asleep as he stared at the television that night. I got a blanket and covered him up. I went into the bedroom and got ready for bed. I climbed into bed. The events of the day caught up with me and, now that I was alone and didn’t have to be strong for anyone, I laid down and sobbed.