Monday, February 22, 2010

Thoughts related to my friend Catherine Yander Precht who died on 2/14/2010

My old best friend from when I was in the sixth grade died this past Sunday, Valentine's Day 2010.  She has two young children, was separated from her spouse, her mom is still alive as is her 2 brothers (Joseph and Anthony)  and sister Jaime.  This is what I remember about Catherine.

Catherine moved into our apartment complex in Eatontown, NJ when we were both in the sixth grade.   We became fast friends.  We were in the same class with Miss Cassagrande (who I met again about five years ago in Manasquan, NJ ...she was working in this upscale deli on Main Street)  We both liked this boy in our class named Jason Roebuck.  She had the guts to actually place a love note in his desk!  And I was so grateful she was my neighbor!!  Her little sister Jaime was so tiny and cute.  I remember her brother Joseph.  Her youngest brother didn't come along until they had moved again back to NY.  Her step-dad worked with horses or Blue Ridge farms or something like that and sang lots of songs very loudly.  They were Billy Joel songs mostly.  Her mom had medium length blonde hair and was busy with the three kids (when they lived in NJ before the fourth came along) and drove her husband to/from work.  Catherine said her biological father was killed in a boating accident and her mom married her step father who was her biological father's best friend. 

Catherine moved back to NY I think right after sixth grade.  I missed her so much!  We wrote letters back and forth.  Her letters always had these words written on them: "Mr. Mailman Do Your Duty, Send This Letter To Laurie The Beauty."  And I would write the same thing back to her using her name!

Once Catherine was allowed to come and spend a week (or some amount of time) with us in the summertime.  My mom and I and Bill (my brother) drove to a stop on the Garden State Parkway to meet her and her Mom.  Catherine and I were so excited to be able to see each other again!!  We giggled and laughed so hard on the way back to our house that we almost peed our pants!  I remember wondering if we could make it home!  One thing upsetting that happenned during the week she was visiting was when her step dad Joe called and played a prank on us.  I can't recall exactly what transpired, but we must have hung up or something and then he called back and we still didn't know it was him and I tried to act "cool" and said "F.U. Joe!" and hung up.  When her step dad called back, oh boy was he mad!!  Catherine was almost not allowed to finish her stay with us because of that.  I felt so ashamed and terrible and apologized up and down.  I didn't normally talk like that.  Of course he shouldn't have been playing pranks on us in the first place though!! 

I remember once when Catherine stayed over at my Grandma's with me, she said "I gotta make!" Grandma found out that that meant she had to pee - every family has a differnt way of teaching their kids to say they have to pee! (In Hawaii it's make "shee shee" which I find interesting.) I also remember Catherine being the first person to say she felt growing pains in her legs when we had sleepovers. Now Katie gets them and I think of Catherine saying that when we were kids.

I visited Catherine in Lindenhurst NY when she had her "sweet sixteen" birthday party.  I remember she liked this fellow who was at her party.  I visited her there again once when I was in college I think.  Catherine came to my wedding and caught the flowers the second time they were thrown in that traditional way the bride throws them to see who the next person to be wed will be.  (The first person who caught them threw them on the floor..don't know why, but I didn't like that.  Thought it was disrespectful.  But probably was some issue going on in her life I guess.  Still, not right.)  Spoke to Catherine on and off over the years.  The last time I spoke to her she told me about her mom, siblings and husband and kids and her catering business.    Here's the last email I got from her in response to me or Jim sending out an email about Kanoa's birth: "Congrats to you and your husband so happy for you. (snip...private stuff) ...but I am strong and will be ok. xoxooxo"  Catherine was very strong of a person.  Feeling guilt here.....I wonder if I ever responded as I was so busy with the new baby.  Perhaps we spoke.  I wish I could remember things better, but I know I don't remember Lots of things.  I know it is not because I am a bad person or anything, it is just who I am.  Even important things.  Don't ask me why.  It just is.  I can fret about it and lament over all the memories I can't recall, or be grateful I can remember what I am able to remember (which is still lots of things) and just enjoy those memories and live more in the moment.  Living in the moment is the latest big thing people seem to be trying to do.  I just try to be happy.  And if it makes me happy thinking about the past, I do that.  Hey, whatever floats your boat, ya know?!  But the goal of living in the moment is really about enjoying and appreciating what you have NOW, not lamenting or worrying about the past or future or what if scenarios.  It doesn't mean (to me) that it is necessarily bad to think back at things and look at photos and wonder.  As a matter of fact, looking back and thinking on things that are important can help one appreciate the "now" and make better choices at the present and in the future.  And Jim so enjoys the old movies and pictures we have.   So do I, but I think he likes them even more!!  So glad he finds such joy in them!  I love him so much and appreciate all those times we had together!  (And I wish I could truly remember being at those lighthouses better!  Sometimes I forget being at some of them!  But sometimes I remember such obscure things like what I or he ate at a certain brewpub or restaurant on our trip of a lifetime!  Boy am I glad we did that at such a young age!  And I do hope we can do it again!  Wish we were able to do it right now, but this is not yet a good time financially and because of having too young kids to do/see what we wish and they'd not like traveling so much yet.  We will choose to wait.) 

Catherine told me about her two beautiful, young children and what they liked to do and a little about their lives down in NC.  Here is a picture from 2007 of her son Nicholas (who looks so similar to her ...the face) and Kaya (who reminds me of her little sister Jaime). 

A few weeks ago I had tried looking up Catherine on Facebook because I just joined in September and although I hardly get on there, I sometimes try to find old friends or people I admire.  I couldn't find her.  (Turns out she uses Catherine Marie Yander Precht...ahhh....that's why!)  I should have tried going through Joyce's friends to find her.  Didn't think of that till just today (2/20/2010). 

So Joyce found me on Facebook last Monday or Tuesday and then sent me an email on Tues or Wednesday to call her.  I finally got a chance on Thursday to call.  I didn't expect this kind of news.  All I could immediately think was that I hope she didn't suffer (Joyce said Catherine died on Sunday morning of a blood clot that came loose in her leg and affected her heart.  Thinks she had an hour or so from having this occur to actually dying.) and that if she had to go, that at least it was fast.  No one would want to suffer.  Death seems scary to me still.  And yet there are times when I wonder if it is not as scary as people fear it to be.  Sometimes I think that we go into another place...dimension....don't know exactly.  But that it is right and natural and okay.  And then I think how much I want to be here to stay here and enjoy and appreciate what I do have.  I have lost a schoolmate in the 7th grade, had another schoolmate get shot in college and become a quadriplegic (, have friends who have lost their spouses, know of unschooling families who have lost a spouse and child and in another family a mom, have had friends who have had miscarriages, and now my old best friend is gone.  And I have also lost many relatives.  Most of them were older, but not all.  I feel so bad for her family.  For her kids most of all.  For her grieving mother and her young sister and George.  I would like to write more, but my kids are needing me.  I feel resentful that they want my attention as this feels so important to me to write.  And yet I should be so grateful that I am alive and wanted and needed by them and loved by my family.  So, I will end this letter by saying that I appreciated being close to Catherine when we were and that I am grateful we were able to keep in touch a little these past busy years .  I will think fondly of my memories and the times we had together!!  I will pray for Catherine's family and wish that they get through this difficult time as best they can.  I wish love to surround them and comfort them.

2/21/2010 - Spoke to Dad this afternoon and told him about Catherine.  He said that he remembered one day when he, she and I painted the shed in the back of his house white and she got paint on her sneaker and he helped her clean it off. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Enjoy Yourself ! It's later than you think

2/21/2010 – Want to write about seizing each moment NOW! Because Catherine died last Sunday and because I think we all forget just how precious each moment is and how fast life really goes….or can go as in the case of a shorter life/unexpected death. And you just never know. And then it ultimately doesn’t matter as we all would do well to appreciate more now what we have and think more on what really matters in life.

Wolf was singing a song yesterday with these lyrics, “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.” Searched the sentence in quotes and found this (below) on this site ( Jim said that this wasn’t the group that sang the song he was thinking of though. Here are the lyrics below.

In the name of fun I have taken the liberty to apply a few of the lyrics to our RV culture.

Enjoy this old tune - Words & Music by Carl Sigman & Herb Magidson and Recorded by Guy Lombardo, 1950
Enjoy Yourself ! It's later than you think.

Please find the lyrics below.

You work and work for years and years, you're always on the go

You never take a minute off, too busy makin' dough

Someday, you say, you'll go fulltime (*have your fun) when you're a millionaire

Imagine all the fun you'll have in your old rockin' chair

Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think!

Enjoy yourself. While you're still in the pink!

The years go by, As quickly as a wink.

Enjoy yourself. Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think.

You're gonna take that RV (*ocean) trip, no matter, come what may

You've got your reservations made, but you just can't get away

Next year, for sure, you'll go fulltime (*see the world), you'll really get around

But how far can you travel when you're six-feet under ground?

Your heart of hearts, your dream of dreams, your ravishing brunet

She's left you and she's now become somebody else's pet.

Lay down that gun don't try my friend to reach the great beyond

You'll have more fun by camping with (*reaching for) a redhead or a blond.

Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think!

Enjoy yourself. While you're still in the pink!

The years go by, As quickly as a wink.

Enjoy yourself. Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think.

You never go to campgrounds (*nightclubs) and you just don't care to hike (*dance).

You don't have time for silly things like campfires (*moonlight) and a bike (*romance).

You only think of dollar bills tied neatly in a stack

But when you kiss a dollar bill it doesn't kiss you back.

Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think!

Enjoy yourself. While you're still in the pink!

The years go by, As quickly as a wink.

Enjoy yourself. Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think.

Oh, here is the ska music that Jim was thinking of:
Well now…..this one sounds more like it. I have heard this before (but don’t know exactly who sang the version I heard). Oh, Jim likes “A Message To You Rudy” by the Specials too.  I do too….that is ska music to me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February Happennings 2010

2/4/2010 - Kanoa wearing Kana's Dora shirt.  Comfy for him.

2/4/2010- Me and Kanoa

2/4/2010 - Kana makes her own quesadilla.

2/6/2010 - Katie's artwork in progress. This is part of the project she and Karen are working on. 

2/9/2010 - Li makes the "female" symbol out of legos.

2/9/2010 - Kana makes a store.

2/9/2010 - Was Kanoa just watching?  (Or maybe he was making poop?  He sometimes goes off to the side and has that "look"...)

2/9/2010 - Katie making food in the kitchen. 

2/9/2010 - Table with a couple of games and mug on it.  Just a typical day.  Sometimes now I find I am leaving things out overnight and the kids resume playing whatever it was the next morning or doing more art or craft projects.  Sometimes I prefer to clean it up at night and then take it out again the next day.  Depends on my mood and what the kids want too.  If they really want something left out, that's usually what we do.  Even tents have been up and added onto for days (even over a week) at a time.  This is big for me who used to like to clean everything up as soon as possible.  I guess I am chilling out a bit and realizing it is okay and even fun and good to have a lived in house with bits of fun leftover.  It really is good! :)

2/9/2010 - Makana's artwork.  She made a load of paintings on paper plates and then began painting on  construction paper too.  Here are many samples of her artwork followed by a picture of her with all of her pieces of art.

2/9/2010 - Li has been practicing balancing on a ball for a couple of weeks now.  He is really good at it. 

2/10/2010 - This is one of Li's lego buildings.  They are separate pieces put in front of each other which creates depth. 

2/11/2010 - Here's a potato clock we made.  Li also used the things that came in the package his own way.

2/13/2010 - Li's lego structure was changed to reach up very high.

2/16/2010 - Kanoa enjoyed watching the cat that lives across the street come right up to our window as if he wanted to be pet or tell us something.  This cat is usually very skiddish, so I was so excited when we all got to see him up close at his own initiative!  This was Kanoa's first time I think seeing a cat besides in books or at a pet store.  Cool!  We put out milk for the cat in case he was thirsty and might come back.  I hope it doesn't freeze! 

2/16/2010 - Katie watched Kanoa for a bit while I checked email.  She made him a little tent and took videos of him playing which she plans to upload to facebook.  I am so glad he is so loved!

  2/16/2010 - Kanoa staring at and playing with the Christmas Bear that sings "I'm All Shook Up."  We all still love that one Mom!  I know it was for Jim, but we all play it all the time!   

2/18/2010 - Here is Kana with Azure's "Polka Dot Puppy" (Azure, Kana's best friend, let Kana borrow it - we've had it for a couple wks I think now. We wrote a story about Polka Dot Puppy and mailed it to Azure (it's fun getting mail!!) and took this photo to remember having the puppy be our guest for a while! :)

2/25/2010 - Katie and Kanoa checking out a frog book.  Kanoa loves to sit with someone up high on the couch - bet he feels big - and he loves reading too (ie. looking at pics) 

2/28/2010 - I usually was the one to be cool about the boys wearing "girl" clothes.  Why not try on the dress even if you are a boy...who cares!  It IS fun to watch the dress poof out when you spin!  This time around (having baby Kanoa, our second boy), *Jim* noticed that Kanoa seemed to be trying to put on Makana's pink heart dress.  Kanoa kept pressing it to his body as if he was trying to somehow put it on.  Jim asked him if that is what he was trying to do and offerred to help.  Kanoa wore the soft dress all morning.  Kanoa loves soft things - like the soft fleece blanket we sleep with (he sort of snuggles it at night along with nursing and snuggling into me). 

A little history - A few months before Kanoa was born, we got a dresser for the new baby to be.  I had found and washed and put away baby things in it.  Kana said she wanted to use the middle drawer...sort of share it with Kanoa.  Fine with me.  So that is how it goes.  Kana has her clothes in the middle drawer and also shares Jim and my dresser (has two drawers - one for pants and one for least that is how it is now).  When I do laundry, Kanoa loves to open Kana's middle drawer and either put clothes in it or take clothes out.  (Kana and I laugh at him!)  Once he saw her heart dress in there (she bought this dress with her own money at Reny's), he kept taking it around with him - this went on for a while.  He must have really liked it.  And Kana didn't mind - she said it was okay.  Once he peed on it and we had to wash it...she was even okay with that.  She is pretty easy going with regard to things baby's might do (thank goodness!!).   Anyway, that is how Kanoa got the dress the morning that Jim was home and saw that Kanoa wanted to put it on. 

Here is one more photo of Kanoa and Jim from that morning.

Valentine's Day

On this past Valentine's Day morning, everyone was being so kind to each other. Li wanted to go downstairs, but wanted someone to come with him. Kana volunteered. Li helped her get set up on the computer. Katie said she'd watch Kanoa while I showered. Afterwards I was doing laundry and Li came up and asked if there was anything he could do. I thought about it and asked if he wouldn't mind taking down the next load of laundry that needed to be done. He said sure. Then he looked back at me and said, "Hey! Today is Valentine's Day, isn't it?!" And silly me had wondered in the back of my mind if everyone was being so kind because it was Valentine's Day. But everyone was being kind because they are kind. Kind of nice. Very nice!

A happy goodnight quote

Last night Katie and I were the last two people awake. She said she felt so happy and her feeling reminded her of a quote from Anne of Green Gables: "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world."