The Fall At Highlands Road

The local shopping area for my parents are the shops at Highland Road. Many of the shops have changed since I was a child. The Post Office used to be on the corner of Fareham Park road opposite the local pub. Neither of them are then now. The Post Office is now ensconced in the local Co-op at the top of Gudgeheath Lane adjacent to Highland’s Road.

Right near the old Post Office was the local bus stop. Between the bus stop and the Post Office is the zebra crossing. Over the years, things have developed in this area of Highlands Road and traffic has increased. There are now two zebra crossings along Highlands Road with a third going from the shops across Gudgeheath Lane.

It is an easy five minute walk from my parents’ house to the local shopping area. When my mum and dad were working, my mum would shop at the local supermarket. As parking wasn’t my mum’s favourite thing, she would pull her little shopping trolley around the road. This was the same shopping trolley in which I took the laundry around to the launderette at Highland’s Road every Thursday evening. One dustbin bag of dirty clothes in the shopping trolley and one dustbin bag of dirty clothes perched on the top of the shopping trolley.

My parents have lived in their house since January 1968. For years they had their favourite newspapers delivered from the newsagents around the road. When they both retired, they decided to save the delivery fee and go to the shop directly to get them.

So travel now with me back to April 2015 when Fareham County Council was making repairs near the zebra crossing adjacent to the bus stop on Highland Road. At the end of the day the Council workers repairing the road were to cordon off their working area for the safety of the general public.

However, in April of 2015, the repairmen did not cordon off their repairs very well. In fact, they left their work in a hazardous state. So much so, that when my Dad was coming back from getting his newspaper early one morning and began to cross the zebra crossing, he tripped and fell over the uneven road.

Although my Dad was an agile man, he was slow to get up from his fall. He had gone down hard and, in the fall, had hit his head and was a little dazed.

A very kind man, helped him get up and walked him up Fareham Park Road. (I don’t know who this man was but thank-you so much for helping my Dad). The kind gentleman left my Dad at Coppice Way, where he was able to make his way home. After letting himself in the house through the back door, he made his way up to my mother who was still in bed.

“Min,” he said to my mother, “Min, I had a little bit of a scrape.” My mother woke up and looked at my Dad. Blood was pouring down his face. In shock, she shot up out of the bed. She rushed to get dressed in record time and took my Dad down to the emergency room at the hospital. It was later that day, when my father, sore and with his cuts starting to scab over, was discharged from Queen Alexander Hospital.

Now my Dad is quite the stoic Englishman. He rarely complains about pain and suffers quietly through the flu and other illnesses. He silently got through the day with his face bruised and scabbed up. The next day, he spent time lifting things in and out of the boot of his car.

Two nights after his fall at Highlands Road, my Dad got up in the middle of the night to go to the loo. When he came back into the bedroom, he tried to lay back down in bed, but he couldn’t and was crying out in great pain. My mum woke up and, after realizing that my Dad was not okay, call 999. The paramedics quickly arrived at the house and in a chair took my Dad down the stairs into the ambulance and rushed him to the hospital.

In the Emergency Room at Queen Alexandria Hospital, the doctors took X-rays of my Dad and found out that he had broken his neck. They quickly admitted him into the hospital and assigned him to an orthopedic ward. He was put into a neck brace. My father was very lucky that he could still walk especially after lifting all those heavy things in and out of the boot of his car.

Well, one would think the story would end there; his neck would mend and life would move forwards as normal. Unfortunately, my Dad’s story did not go that way.

Honest Arrogance: Accepting and Rejecting This Limitation – by Claire Roberts

“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change” -Frank Lloyd Wright, Michigan Daily, 1998

After figuring out that my mother was a narcissist, I felt immediate peace. I had been surviving in a battle for so long. I was relieved to know that there was a real problem, an identifiable diagnosis, and a possible solution. However, since the weeks and months that have passed since my discovery, I still feel like I am back in the quagmire. Setting boundaries has been hard, but very effective. Knowing always what to do next doesn’t come so easy. But living with the limitations that will always be present is still very excruciating. I had hoped that the original diagnosis would be a panacea to the problem. Yet, there is still a void and many limitations on our relationship.

Again, the biggest problem that I am faced with is accepting the limitations of my mother, and frankly, myself. In asking the question of living with someone else’s limitations, don’t you have to fully and objectively audit yourself? Where are my blind spots?

“Processing or grieving is different than merely describing or telling your story. In order to grieve first you have to stop denying reality and begin accepting the truth.  Accept that your mother lacks the capacity to offer the love and nurturing you need” ( Dr. Stephanie King: Acceptance, The First Step Toward Healing for Children of Narcissitic Mothers, www.drstephaniekingpsy.com, July 19, 2016).

Is my mom secretly writing a blog about me? What am I good for? What am I especially good at? (Sorry, I know I am not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but it just sounds better).

I have learned that my mother’s specialty is criticism. Her power comes from domineering. She is kind, considerate, and compassionate, especially if someone is watching. She is horrible at listening.

“Often the narcissist parent will mock the child, as they are having feelings, or interrupt the child as they’re speaking, so the child never gets a word in edgewise, they can never feel heard, they can never feel seen” (Victoria Lorient-Fabish, Visualization Works Narcisstic Parent: Collateral Damage Aug 8, 2010 Moving Beyond the Childhood).

She is untrustworthy, and she uses guilt to manipulate. Yet, if you were to ever confront her, challenge her, or provoke her … watch out! That’s one beast I would rather not fight.

Now to me. What am I good at? I am good, or at least better, at listening than my mother. I consider trust to be the currency of any relationship. My worst fear is that someone would lose confidence in me or feel like I betrayed their trust. I feel that the only way to manipulate is really through persuasion and long suffering, constantly pointing out my counterpart’s agency and their free use of it. If I am offered criticism (constructive or otherwise) I try to really do my due diligence and see if there is truth to that person’s claim. I try to ask for feedback or for other’s opinions on how I can do better, or succeed faster. Sadly, I have found most people’s honest, frank evaluation of me to be less hurtful than my own mother’s. If service is rendered by me, I wish it to be secret, or anonymous, so that it can be accepted for merely what it is instead of other people’s perception of my service. I guess in honestly evaluating another’s weakness and limitations, I have to be willing to learn from their mistakes and avoid them at all costs. (Paraphrased by Brain Tracy, No Excuses: Relationship chapter).

One of the biggest turning points in accepting the limitations of a narcissistic mother is realizing that I will never receive nurturing from her in the way that I would like to have it. I do and can receive it from other family members and friends. But I will never receive it from my mom. This is both healing and hurtful. Since I can’t be truly nurtured from my own mother, I have realized that my own mother daughter interactions are really more like a quilt—patch-work to be exact. There are holes, rips, tears, and batting flying out of my motherhood blanket. I have done my best through the years to find the right pieces of eclectic mothering through pseudo mother mentors. Patching in the pieces, sewing memories, examples, and principles I would like to have one day with my own daughter.

Here are some of them:

Grace Kelly- Gosh I love her. Or at least what I think I know of her. She was always so glamorous and made everything so simple and yet elegant. She is quoted as saying that a dress should be short enough to show you’re a woman, but long enough to show you’re a lady. Where were you when I was growing up??? I really could have used your example of classiness and elegance. A true Lady. Or as my Scottish heritage would call her, “A Classy Lassie.”

My Best Friend-. She and I share so much. She is some sort of a genius, so I always depend on her for intellectual stimulus and great conversation. She provides an honest counterpoint to my most vexing issues. And she somehow knows when to be silent and listen. Most of the time, she somehow manages to do all of these traits simultaneously. It’s like she knows my mind, heart, soul, and spirit. She gives me confidence in every place where it is broken. She’s a real friend. Probably will never find one like her here or in the hereafter, she’s just that good.

The last professor I had in graduate school– He was truly a brilliant man. I am so thankful our paths crossed. He wrote on one of my papers that I should go to law school or pursue a PhD. I have saved that paper and memorized the scribbled note. He didn’t always agree with my work or my writing, but when and where I did something worthy, he praised it. Again, probably one of the first times I had a relationship with someone who was consistent and objective. If I gave him a crap paper, he’d call me out on it citing, “you can do much better.” Other times he said I should go to the next level, he even invited me into his seminar class with other doctorate students to present paper at a seminar. I hope someday I will get to make him proud with a law degree or a Phd. But for now, his words mean so much to me because of their authenticity and their honesty. It made it safe to revel in, and even enjoy praise when it came. I truly felt nurtured, praised, and like I made progress.

My 6th grade basketball coach– She happened to be my Latin teacher and I can still conjugate some Latin verbs, to this very day, due to her positive influence. The thing I most remember about her was she ran down the court, her infant in one arm, and she jumped up, caught the basketball with the other hand to complete a layup. I remember at the time thinking, WOW!!! Can I be you when I grow up? She taught me that it’s ok to be you, even through motherhood. And it’s ok to be both athletic and a woman, there should never be shame in being both. Her quote was always, “Confidence is the Key!” before any game you would find her shouting it.

Penny and Sonny Wren– These two are proof that guardian angels truly exist. They have offered to watch my kids (something my own mother detests) they have offered to help me, they have supported me, they have buoyed me up when I swear I about to go under. They have prayed for me, counseled me, and encouraged me. These people have no blood relation to me, and yet they have treated me with kindness I have never known. We became better friends through our mutual sorrows, and if that’s the only reason I was meant to have those sorrows, it has totally been worth it to have their friendship. I would pay that price any day to have them in my life in any form or association. They have helped me make a better quilt for myself, and they have not only patched up the holes, they are the very seams that run throughout.

All of these mentors and nurturers have helped me complete a better way for myself and my daughter to interact. They have shown me that is a better way. This new found hope has inspired me to do better than the pattern I was given. Hopefully I can be as honest with myself, as I had once wished my own mother could have been with herself.

Diabetes! By Luke Martin-Jones.

I was about five or six years old when I realised Mum wasn’t like everyone else. She was a type I Diabetic and had been so since her early childhood. The story was, she was sat toasting crumpets on the fire in my Grandmothers parlour, when flames jumped out of the grate in front of her face, sending my Mother into a state of shock; from that moment on Mum became diabetic. Like most family stories, I really couldn’t tell you if it was true or not; rather like urban myths, they take hold and become the accepted story of how something happened. The reality of my Mum’s situation was really about her good fortune, being born when she was. She was one of the first people to be given insulin, without which she wouldn’t be here today. As Mum copes with the effects of long term diabetes, I am reminded of a childhood, spent with a lady who fought hard to keep herself strong in the face of illness and the challenges around monitoring her condition.

It was Monday morning, a school day, approaching 7 am. Mum was calling from the bottom of the stairs, trying to get me up for another day. I was never good at waking early at the best of times, let alone at the beginning of the week. Having to go to a school that I hated; suffering yet more bullying, that by now had become commonplace, was a part of my youth, I would rather forget. Laying in bed, I sighed, stretched my arms into life and reluctantly fell out of bed, slowly walking towards the bathroom!

I had had a bath the night before; Sunday was always bath day! After a quick strip wash at the sink I cleaned my teeth and brushed my mass of 70s hair, a huge birds nest on top of my head that made me look fatter than I already was; yes I was a fat kid; yet another reason to get bullied. At nine years old, I had already become impervious to the actions of others, staying very much away from the fray, keeping myself to myself, ignoring the haters. I stamped down the stairs, turned right at the bottom and headed into the kitchen.

The kitchen was a hive of activity. Mother was busy cooking breakfast for my brother and I, as well as Dad, who was due home from his night shift. She had already been up since 6 am and was due to work at the local Co-op after everyone was fed and watered ‘Sit down at the table you two, breakfast wont be long!’ she exclaimed, a little more distracted than usual. Mum hadn’t had her morning injection yet, something she had to do three times a day, before eating and was feeling a little queasy. At the time, we didn’t really know what was going on with her health, just that she had to inject herself each day, a process I never witnessed fully, turning my head away, not wanting to see the needle pierce the skin.

With breakfast on the table and Dad’s food left simmering on the stove, Mum finally sat down. She looked tired as she lent back on the kitchen chair. From her bag she took out her hypodermic needle and reached over towards the fridge, where her insulin was stored, producing a small vile of the clear liquid, that kept her alive. She pierced the rubber top of the bottle with the needle, pulling back the head of the syringe, allowing the liquid to pour inside, finally flicking the glass tube with her fingers, removing the air bubbles inside. ‘Turn away if you want to, I know how much you hate it,’ Mum said gently, smiling, eye brow raised; we both looked towards the wall.

Peeping behind my hand, I managed to see Mum lift the bottom of her blouse, exposing a her stomach. She had been injecting for so many years that this was the only place she could now use to insert the needle. ‘All done, you can look now,’ Mum announced, as she placed the syringe into her bag away from our tiny inquisitive hands.

This was a typical morning, a procedure I witnessed throughout my childhood. Mum never had it easy, but always coped remarkably well; she never complained and just accepted her lot. Spending a lifetime on insulin has taken its toll, Mum isn’t as well as she used to be, wheelchair bound and suffering from a double leg amputation. She remains stoical in the face of adversity, not wanting to accept help from others. The time is coming however, when the children at the breakfast table, will have to take on the responsibility that Mother afforded to us.

Versatile Blogger Award.

A big thank-you to Luke Martin-Jones for nominating and confirming me as a winner for the Versatile Blogger Award. I would like to thank him for his encouragement to write, his support in reading my blog and for taking time to acknowledge my writing as a source of inspiration for him.

As part of the awards process, I am required to include 7 interesting facts about me and nominate a further fifteen bloggers to join the growing list of winners.

7 Interesting facts about Penelope Wren

1. I love to write! I wrote a lot as a child and a teenager. I have stacks of journals that I’ve written over the years.

2. I love to learn. My degree is in sociology and education; but I also love psychology.

3. My most favourite job was as a software programmer for the Inland Revenue in England.

4. I have been married coming up twelve years this August.

5. I listen to talk radio most of the time. When I listen to music, I tend to cry a lot and if it isn’t classical music, then I get depressed.

6. I love to watch Star Trek!

7. I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.

15 Blogger nominations for Versatile Blogger of the year!

1.  Roaming Brit .
2.  Mum, The Intern.
3.  Defining Yellow .
4.  MakeItUltra .
5.  Bowl of Oates .
6.  Elizabeth V Taylor .
7.  Cristian Mihai .
8.  Crafty Book Hunter .
9.  Maniparna .
10. One Day At A Time .
11. Boy With A Hat .
12. Building the Love Shack .
13. Deliberately Better .
14. Being Aware .
15. Metaphysical Reflections .

A Father’s Tribute To His Son

My husband gave a magnificent tribute to his son, Lohr, at his funeral. He spent a lot of time that week, writing down what he wanted to say. He wanted to write it down, not only to consolidate his thoughts, but also to have something to lean on should he find himself overcome with grief at the time of delivery. I saved a copy of the talk and my husband gave me permission to share it with you.

As you can see from his talk below, my husband is a deep thinker, very wise, and has great love for people especially those who are close to him.

Sonny:

“I was a very imperfect father for Lohr, but I loved being his Dad. I could get very frustrated and annoyed with him but at the same time, he would tell you, that he got very frustrated and annoyed with me. But the path of love is a thorny path. As the scriptures say, “Love hopeth all things, is patient, and endureth all things” and so both of us had to endure a lot of stuff!

Anyone who truly took the time to get to know Lohr would know how truly sensitive, intelligent, creative, and how wonderful his sense of humor was. He also liked to raise a little hell, maybe a lot of hell! But his friends would know that more than me, being his dad, but I found out sooner or later.

I just can’t help loving him. His sweetness was always before my eyes. I just saw so much goodness in him and yet so much sadness. Lohr always had such a struggle to fit in. Lohr’s death is such a hard, hard thing to get my head around. Lohr, to me, was the iron man surviving the toughest of times. He is my hero.

Lohr lost his battle with depression just like anyone would lose their battle with cancer. But because of how our society perceives mental health issues, he had even a harder battle to wage.

Think about it. People who have cancer are in and out of hospitals, trying to get whatever treatment they can, even experimental treatment, and take medicines that make them deadly sick. They are supported, honoured, and treated as heroes for their courage and tenacity as they battle their disease. While people who battle depression with the same courage and tenacity are seen by many as hopeless members of our society.

I can never imagine the pain that Lohr must have felt to be able to do what he did. Again, people with diseases battle the pain that takes away their dignity and quality of life! Imagine yourself being so young with the stigmas attached to mental illness, battling just to be accepted as ‘normal’.

I remember how he would express to me, whilst working at Eddingtons, that his medication would make his hands shake and when he tried to serve a patron with his shaking hands he was given a look that made him feel like a freak. I told him that I loved him; God loved him; and to hell with the world! It is not easy to say ‘to hell with the world!’ because the world has such a grip upon all of us. It defines how we should look; how much we should weigh; how smart we should be; how rich we should be; how we should feel; and what we should think.

I have come to the conclusion that there are three things that give us a chance of loosening that grip:

  1. A kind word;
  2. A loving touch;
  3. A smile of affirmation that says I care who you are and you have the power within to decide how to define yourself. Yes, smiles that validate the goodness, the sacredness and the beauty that lies within all of us.

I believe with all my heart that God knew Lohr’s pain even better than Lohr. And that the heavens wept for him.

Romans 8:38-39:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I know that even the dark demon of depression has not separated me from the love of my son. For those of you here who have loved ones near and dear to you that have been battling depression, please treat them as heroes.

I testify that Christ is the tender shepherd and through the power of His atoning sacrifice He will soothe and heal all of Lohr’s pains.

I love Lohr so very much but I know that my Heavenly Father loves him more. And even though it is hard to trust his care to another, I know that he is now in a place of eternal kind words, loving touches and smiles of affirmation which communicate to him how much he is loved and how free he is to decide for himself who he is.

I am so honoured to have the privilege of being Lohr’s earthly father. I know that he loved his family and friends so very deeply. He was, and is, and always will be my beautiful, beautiful Lohr.

Love You,

Dad”

Swimming! By Luke Martin-Jones

It was Wednesday afternoon, not my most favourite day of the week, Wednesdays were swimming days and in truth it was the last thing I wanted to do. I had tried playing hooky before and been caught out; hauled up in front of the class I was given a good dressing down and told to ‘buck my ideas up’ if I wanted to complete the compulsory course of lessons, designed to make us water aware, submerging undignified in a pool of filthy water, used by everyone else and all the germs that bred in it. I wasn’t fond of Wednesdays at all, in all respects, not just the swimming but the whole darn process.

As a teenager I was an early developer and objected strongly to spending time in changing rooms and showers with those I went to school with. I mean, who actually thought it was a great idea, to throw a group of adolescent boys together, during puberty, showering together in front of a PE Teacher; it really wasn’t for me! At thirteen years old, I was well aware of my sexuality, the signs were always there. If I was sure of who I was, then others were aware too. Once over the embarrassment of changing in front of ones peers, it was time to begin the lessons.

It was cold, as I tiptoed out of the locker rooms and into the swimming arena. The pool was alive with the screams of children. In the distance I heard the sound of a whistle being blown, by a lifeguard perched at the far end of the pool. It was time for the first group of kids to leave and us to begin our lessons.

Situated at the shallow end, were floats, arm bands and other strange looking contraptions, designed to keep us afloat, as we all strived for the same thing, learning to swim. Most of us were well versed in the procedures employed by Mrs Hanson, a formidable looking lady, dark permed hair and what I can only describe as craggy features, heavily wrinkled face, sporting an almost burnt orange tan. Dressed in blue tracksuit bottoms and a white T shirt, she was tall, thin and a force to be reckoned with; she scared the living daylights out of me. Her approach to teaching can only be described as ‘sink or swim,’ her lack of empathy was typical of the time. There were no allowances for failure; you did as you were told, or else.

There was just me at the shallow end, everyone else had already migrated to the deep side of the pool. For the life of me, I just couldn’t swim, it really wasn’t in me and with a coach like Mrs Hanson, it was highly unlikely to happen anytime soon. I stood in the middle, still holding onto the side with my right hand, when Mrs H, told me to let go of the edge and slowly swim towards her hands, stretched out before me. I hesitated, panicked and shook my head in protest. She asked again, firmly, with a scowl on her face. After thinking for what seemed like an age, I threw myself forwards and swam towards her hands.

I was nearly there and could almost feel the end of her nails. Everything was a blur, my eyes were soaked in water, my mouth and nose also, I could barely breath; flapping my hands with terror, I really thought I would make it. Then she took her hands away, quickly without warning; I sunk like a brick. Shouting for help I gasped for air, trying to get to the surface, finally lifted out by the lifeguard, who placed me at the side of the pool. Coughing, spluttering with my heart pounding, I finally came back to life; battered, bruised with loss of dignity and pride, I gingerly left the pool, never to return again.

In the end I was awarded a certificate like everyone else, not for the metres I had swam but for endeavour, for trying hard; a piece of paper, that I still have to this very day, a momento of a time I would rather forget. That final lesson was so traumatic for me, that I never learnt to swim again. I am content enough to realise I tried my best, leaving a mark on my life that I can write about today!

The Burial at Oakland Cemetery

In America, people usually have the funeral services within a week of their loved one passing. In England there is a much longer gap between the two events. I don’t know why, so if anyone can enlighten me, I would be very interested. In America, there is a regular embalming process.

Lohr passed away on a Monday night in March 2010 and we held the funeral services and the burial on the Friday. (See ‘What He Left Behind’ for further details). That week was a very busy time; so busy that one didn’t have time to think too much and to grieve.

Tuesday morning, we were woken up early with a telephone call. The caller was asking if we would be willing to donate Lohr’s organs. This call deeply distressed my husband. If the organs were going to be donated, we had to be asked as soon as possible, but with Lohr’s death being such a shock, the call made my husband extremely angry. He had been up most of the night sobbing until he fell asleep exhausted. Then was woken up early by this call.

We spent the first few days finding a plot to bury Lohr. My husband’s father was buried in Oakland Cemetery and he wanted his son to be buried near his dad. We were able to find a plot about eight yards away from his dad underneath a beautiful tree. Oakland Cemetery is the resting place of over 50,000 people of all walks of life and is historically significant in Minnesota.

I drove my husband to the cemetery on the Wednesday after his son died. My husband was in great emotional pain and distress. On the way, I felt Lohr’s presence very near. He was very concerned that his mother and father were in so much pain. I felt him whisper ‘Tell my dad that I love him’. I hesitated to tell my husband. I’m sure he would think I was nuts. But the feeling persisted. I let my husband know, but on recalling these events to him a couple of months ago, he did not absorbed the information at the time.

We spent a lot of time at the mortuary. Sonny went to visit Lohr as often as he could that week before he was buried. The morticians did a great job of getting Lohr ready. He wore a white shirt and the white trousers that I had hemmed. The mortician had closed the eye that had been slightly open. He looked very peaceful. It seemed surreal that he had died.

Each evening we came home to find food on our doorstep. One day we found this tiny vase with a single pink carnation in it. That meant so very much to me. I still have the vase and it fills me with great love every time I see it.

My son, who lived at home then, looked after himself for the days that we were busy. He got himself off to school and got his homework done. He didn’t have to cook as our church family had provided food everyday in abundance. He, at least, was eating it and my husband was eating a little. My daughter and grandson flew in from Connecticut for the funeral.

All too soon, the day of the funeral arrived. Funerals to me are the hardest part of the whole grieving process because it is so public and I am a very private person especially with regards to my emotions.

We had the funeral services at the funeral home. We had two rooms. We used one room for the viewing and we used the other room for the service. Initially it was going to be a closed casket service, but Sonny and Annette changed their minds on that decision during the week.

My husband was speaking at his son’s funeral as well as Annette, Lohr’s mother. I was holding up well, supporting them, taking care of all the communications with everyone including the morticians, and the little details. I did okay until the movie with the music was put on.

Some kind friend of Annette’s had produced a short movie of about four minutes or so. The movie showed photos of Lohr growing up and a two or three short videos of him.

When Lohr was little, my husband would sing John Lennon’s song, ‘Beautiful Boy’, to him when he went to sleep. The movie played John Lennon’s recording of this song throughout it’s duration.

The movie was put on in the viewing room on a repeat cycle. I was pleased that it was put on later in the proceedings because I started to loose it a bit at that point. Music does that to me.

We had a lot of guests come to the funeral. A few of Annette’s family came and most of Sonny’s family were there. Sonny’s work colleagues came from St. Paul. I was working in downtown Minneapolis at the time and was surprised when my team turned up. A lot of Lohr’s friends came to say goodbye.

When the music went on, I had to leave being the hostess to our guests and walk out to compose myself in the foyer.

My husband did really well when he spoke at Lohr’s funeral. Annette had a harder time but she got through it. It was an honourable service. As soon as Annette had finished her talk, she left with her therapist. She was very distraught.

As the service concluded, my husband said goodbye to the mourners. The morticians closed the casket and the took Lohr out to the car. We travelled from Plymouth to Oakland Cemetery, in St.Paul.  It was March and we were in Minnesota. The snow was deep on the ground. I had changed out of my dress shoes and into my boots. When we got to the cemetery, they had cleared the frozen snow from around the grave and the grounds leading up to the grave.

This for me was the most harrowing part of the proceedings. Watching my husband carrying the coffin of his son from the hearse to the graveside. My husband’s friend walked me to the graveside and stood with me whilst Sonny escorted his son. The tears began to race down my face (just as they are doing now as I write this). My tissue did nothing to stem them. My heart ached so much for my husband and for all that was happening at that moment.

My husband is the most gutsy man that I know. As a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, he dedicated his son’s grave after some short words from the Bishop. Then the mourners left. My husband took a few minutes and then we went back to the car to attend a small meal put on by the ladies at the church for our immediate family.

As I drove away, I saw them lowering the coffin into the ground in the rear mirror. It was all I could do to see through the haze of tears. My heart was fit to burst.