I realized when I woke up this morning that today was not only the Ides of July, but the seventh month since Terry passed. Also, that I have less than ten days left of my long summer visit with my kids and my grandson. The real ringer this week was learning of the recent sudden death of a classmate and one of my closest friends during high school. His birthday would have been tomorrow. I’m definitely fighting off some doldrums and melancholy.
I’ve had an amazing time here in the PNW since early June, celebrating my son’s second official father’s day, my daughter’s birthday and my grandson’s third birthday. This weekend we celebrate my son and daughter-in-law’s anniversary.
Most of January I’ve spent distracting myself from my grief. I’ve binge watched shows, including nearly seven seasons of SG1 and both seasons of The Mandalorian. I’ve watched endless Hallmark Christmas movies. I’ve rewatched old favorites, like Sleeping Beauty, Prince Caspian, The Rocketeer and the entire Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings extended edition movie trilogy. Not all at once. I spread them out over three weekends, ending with Return of the King Monday afternoon, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the last office closed holiday until Memorial Day.
I spent the last two years re-reading The Lord of the Rings concurrently with the corresponding volumes of The History of the Lord of the Rings also known as The History of Middle-earth (volumes six through nine). So my head and memory are fresh with respect for what Tolkien got published and also his original imaginings, vision and what you might call deleted scenes as edited by his son, Christopher, who also passed away one year ago on January 16th.
While I appreciate what Peter Jackson managed to produce, much of it is jarring to someone who knows and holds dear Tolkien’s published masterpiece. Dialogue and sometimes thoughts are transplanted into completely different characters. But I digress. Jackson’s adaptation is the best we have at this time and despite it’s flaws, it still provides a window, however slightly skewed, into Tolkien’s Legendarium. I just hope it leads people to the font of Tolkien’s epic fantasy.
Just as I was starting the movie, though, I had a visit from the TSoKC Special Eagle Delivery Service. I received a large care package from my close friends in the Withywindle Smial via our illustrious leader, full of hobbitish victuals and elvish enchantments to further distract me. A hearty ‘thank you’ will be expressed Friday evening during our regular monthly gathering.
I returned to watching Return of the King, but had to take a break when I found myself dozing off at the two hour mark, just as thing were getting interesting around Minas Tirith. I needed to return some merchandise and went in search of a French coffee press (since I have no coffee maker because I mostly drink black teas). Disappointingly two stores had no presses. Although not my first shopping choice, I knew that Starbucks would have a press so I bought one there. When I got home and was able to read the instructions (which were buried inside the press and not readily available at the shop), I learned I cannot use this press with anything but course ground coffee. So no afternoon coffee to wake me up for the second half of Return of the King.
I confess I fast forwarded through most of the Frodo-Sam-Gollum scenes, at least until close to the end when everything is converging. Those scenes are difficult enough to read and doubly hard to watch. Having very recently re-read them, I felt no need to drag my already bruised heart through that much darkness and despair.
During the Seige of Gondor, when a rock troll is pounding at one of the inner gates of Minas Tirith, Pippin and Gandalf discuss death and Gandalf replies with one of those transplanted lines which Sam actually thinks to himself (and references the much maligned Tom Bombadil):
And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
Chapter 9 “Grey Havens”, Book Six, The Lord of the Rings
On the second day of twenty twenty-one, in the early pre-dawn darkness, I read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. Having recently experienced the death of my spouse, I felt it apropos to absorb Jack’s observations to understand my own. The following are highlighted quotes that leapt off the page and resonated within me.
Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.
. . . time itself is one more name for death,
Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.
What’s wrong with the world to make it so flat, shabby, worn-out looking? Then I remember.
And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high, until you find that you are playing not for counters or for sixpences but for every penny you have in the world.
Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do over again? They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn’t Lazarus the rawer deal?
But now there’s an impassable frontierpost across it. So many roads once; now so many culs de sac.
They say, ‘The coward dies many times’; so does the beloved. Didn’t the eagle find a fresh liver to tear in Prometheus every time it dined?
Fifteen days ago, the love of my life left peacefully this mortal plane after years and years of fighting a disease that turned his own body’s defenses against itself.
My daughter was holding his hand when he slipped away. I had left a few minutes before to return home to tend to our dog, who was also sick. I had said my goodbyes and kissed him and prayed over him all night long. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the feeling that I should have stayed just a bit longer.
I’ve not had the heart to post anything on my blog for months. The last quarter of the year has been an unrelenting stressful fog of hospital visits and home health conundrums that ultimately resulted in the death of my husband of thirty-five years. I will spend many more sleepless nights second guessing myself and what if-ing myself into melancholy.
I am very grateful my daughter has remained with me in this big empty house for the last couple of weeks. She has kept me distracted and has supported me through this the bleakest and darkest winter solstice I’ve ever experienced. My next challenge will be surviving alone with my dog and a houseful cluttered with twenty years of memories when she returns home next week.
I’m going to memorialize the published obituary here and will supplement with other memories of my life with Terry over the past thirty-five years (technically, thirty-seven this past September) in future blog posts. I also plan to celebrate his life communally next November on his birthday, when I hope we will all be able to congregate safely in a post-pandemic world.
Terry Randall Moss, 62, Lansing, Kansas, loving husband and father, passed away peacefully December 15, 2020 in hospice at Providence Medical Center surrounded by his family. He was born November 14, 1958 in Wichita, Kansas to Robert William and Eula Odessa (Coleson) Moss. On May 1, 1986, he married Jon Michelle Andrea and together they raised a son, Derek Randall, and a daughter, Rachelle Gwendolynne.
Terry was a very talented musician and loved playing guitar with his bandmates. He also greatly enjoyed motocross, kart and F1 racing. He was outspoken and charming, which made him a great friend and businessman. He excelled in sales, customer service, management and owned and operated his own business. Terry adopted many rescued Rottweilers throughout his lifetime. Those close to him knew he was quite the story teller and always wore his heart on his sleeve. He was fiercely passionate in his love and support for his family.
Terry was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Jon Michelle (Lansing, Kansas); his two children: Derek Randall (Royna) and Rachelle Gwendolynne (both of Auburn, Washington); one grandson, Senna Randall; his sister Bonnie (Moss) Kopper (Murdock, Kansas); and several nieces, nephews and cousins. A memorial service will be held at a later time due to the current pandemic. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a local food bank or Feeding America (https://www.feedingamerica.org/) or to the Lonely Instruments for Needy Kids Program (https://senseneymusic.com/link-program/)
The coolest place in the house during July and August is definitely the basement. But the basement needs organizing and updating. We ordered a small chest freezer for delivery in early August, but that necessitated finding a suitable location to install it in. So for several evenings this past week, I rummaged around in large totes full of double weave judi gis, children’s bedding and other miscellany. And that was just the nook in the laundry room where an old refrigerator came with the house when we purchased it in February 1999.
Once we got that nook cleaned out completely, we realized we needed to paint it the same color as what’s behind the washer and dryer. Terry also measured it and determined there would not be enough clearance around it for the chest freezer so I had to pivot 180 degrees and review the contents of some utility shelves we installed a decade ago. Which led me to pulling off heavy cardboard boxes from top shelves and reviewing their contents.
The first one I pulled down was full of items belonging to my son. I found several computer video games from 1995 through 2005, parts of an remote controlled car (in the very bottom of the box), an old Sony PlayStation console, a game cartridge (not for the PlayStation), a box of Magic cards, some movies (DVD and VHS) and music CDs. I took photos of everything and sent the album link to my kids asking what to keep and ship, sell, donate or trash. The first comment I got back was from my son who simply stated “I’ll take all of it.”
Terry and I continued our trek down memory lane by playing Chinese Checkers, BackGammon and continuing to play, every other day, two rounds of Yahtzee. For the latter, I’m gathering stats and tracking averages for us. Over the first dozen games, Terry took the lead, winning seven. Terry tends to do better on the top half of the scored card while I tend to throw more Yahtzees.
I don’t fret too much because I’ll always have Boggle. Did I mention my best Boggle word of our half dozen games? Quandary.
To make the Chinese Checkers game more interesting, Terry and I played three colors each. In the game shown above, Terry is Red, White and Blue while I am Yellow, Green and Purple/Black (I can’t tell which color the plastic marbles are). We got quite jammed up in the middle of the board so our initial game took over two hours and probably closer to three hours to finish. Terry was the first to get a color home.
A couple of days later, we tried again but this time we alternated colors so we were less likely to setup one color to the advantage of our other colors. Again it took a couple of hours to complete and we actually stopped mid-way through and finished the following day.
We played a coupe of Backgammon games and split the difference. I need to find a better board though. The one I have is a magnetic travel version and it’s too small and unwieldy for our gaming enjoyment. I’ve been searching for vintage versions from the 80s on Ebay but haven’t quite find one I like enough to bid on or buy now.
We’ve avoided playing Pandemic for a couple of months. We seem to prefer the simpler (i.e. less moving parts and complexities) of these classic family games. It encourages us to interact and engage. Much better than lounging on the couch passively consuming a movie or television series.
May first is our wedding anniversary. This past Friday was our thirty-fourth. I took a day off from working at home and turned it into a three day weekend.
Before Terry went upstairs for a nap shortly after noon, he warned me to answer the door if the door bell rang. Since I had no where else to be, I stayed in the living room, watching obscure dramas I stumbled across via the Tubi channel on our Roku. As foretold by Terry, sometime around two or three o’clock the doorbell rang and I receive a beautiful bouquet from a local flower shop with a note that brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.
Next year, our thirty-fifth, we hope to spend a weekend in a remote location, preferably a dark sky site, so we can enjoy some star gazing and some peace and quiet. I’m hoping for a Flint Hills cabin or camping site myself. But we’ll see. We have a year to plan.
My new desk arrived this morning, earlier than I expected. I returned to the spare bedroom yesterday evening to continue my decluttering and organizing. I spent way too much time on a box full of old print photos all over twenty five years old.
None of the photos I found were taken before we moved back north from the Wichita area to the Kansas City area. Once we relocated, I switched from taking photos to taking video in VHS-C format, at least for the next ten or fifteen years, until both our kids were in college. So all the sports, concerts and family vacations are locked up on video tape that I haven’t converted to a more current digital media format.
I selected a dozen photos from the dozens I sifted through and snapped quick digital versions of them using my smartphone. I can scan these with our multifunction printer device once I get my new office setup this weekend. But for the purposes of this post, I felt this method would suffice.
Sunday afternoon, once my Texas offspring recuperated from the long drive and boundless energy of the eighteen month old grandson, Derek suggested we play a game. He had brought several with him from home, a few with short play times (as little as five or ten minutes) and more complex board games that require more setup and explanation. I’d previously played Camel Up and Parade, neither of which I was in the mood for. 5-minute Dungeon I want to try before he heads back to Texas.
Derek suggested we play Pandemic, which I’ve been wanting to try for several years. While the grandson ran Royna ragged, Derek, Rachelle and I played two games of Pandemic. Kudos to my offspring for suffering through the first game and my steep learning curve.