Sunday, August 21, 2016

From Katie's 2nd-grade journal (rediscovered today)

Translated: I had a problem about my Dad. He had a tumor. When he went to the hospital, the doctors tried to take it out. They could not. So he got special care. One day my cousins and my aunt were at my house and my Dad died. 

Though the topic is tragic, I am so thankful for this record of what Katie remembers about Steve, three years after his death. Her abbreviated version reveals what mattered most to her at he time: her dad, the people who cared for him and the love that surrounded him and all of us when he died. 

This is always a rough season for me. August 2009 was when Steve felt the very worst. He was in pain, he had lost all mobility, his independence was gone.

But he was loved beyond measure. And he was approaching peace about his waning days. 

The rest of Katie's second-grade journal offers joyful memories -- parasailing in Florida, seeing The Lion King on Broadway, riding a train on the Sharkarosa field trip, reading at the library. Steve didn't get to experience these moments with his KT, but it's the life he wanted for her and for Coop and for me. 

Monday, August 8, 2016


Something I miss about Steve right now: 1993.

Well, I miss talking to him about 1993.

I graduated from the University of North Texas in May that year. I was barely 21, barely 100 pounds. I somehow graduated in four years, while working two or three jobs each semester. I had no debt (save a balance on the Discover Card that I signed up for freshman year and used to help pay for books and gas and food when I came up short some weeks). Life at home for me was strained at best.

I was a very tired 21-year-old.

My first "real" job was at the Bryan-College Station Eagle. I was first a copy editor and then the food editor on the lifestyles desk. I started at $7.25 an hour and eventually moved up to $7.50 an hour.

I lived with Steve, who was renting a duplex in Brenham, where he worked as an assistant practice manager at a medical office.

He worked days, and I worked nights on the copy desk. I worked weekends. He worked Monday through Friday. 

On the weekends, he would often drive to Bryan to have dinner with me. During the week, he would often come home for lunch.

He tried to teach me how to drive a standard transmission on his little blue Pontiac Sunbird. (I never could get the hang of it.) 

We learned to grocery shop together. (I remember Karo syrup was difficult to find, and a sweet older woman helped us locate the aisle.) We learned to cook together. (We burned a chocolate pecan pie, for which we had procured that elusive Karo.)

During the day, after Steve had gone to work and before I left for the 45-minute drive to Bryan, I would read (memorably my first reading of East of Eden), listen to music (Joe Jackson, 10,000 Maniacs, Elvis Costello), write long letters to friends. And I would nap. I had four years of sleep to catch up on.

I don't know what I would have done without Steve in the last half of 1993 -- and all the years following. 

It's been almost seven years without him. Cooper, Katie and I find joy every day. We've adapted. We've learned how to operate as a family with only one adult at home. All three of us make sacrifices for one another. It's been a long, long time since all three of us were feeling lowly at the same time.

I don't dwell on our loss.

But there are moments -- when I see that copy of East of Eden on my desk, when I hear "These Are Days," when I notice bottles of Karo on a grocery shelf -- when I think of 1993. And I wish that the two of us could reminisce and that I could thank him one more time for his strength, stability and generosity.