Wishing you happiness in the New Year

Hello, friends and family . . . I guess you thought I forgot about you all, but I didn’t!  Really, I didn’t forget about you, but there hasn’t been much to say . . .

We have now gotten past the one year mark in this, our new journey.  It has been quite a year of changes and new realities, but we are all healing as best we can.  Lives have changed, babies born, marriages and divorces, and losses of other dear friends in this past year . . . we are not alone in our journey.   We all know that John would want us to keep on moving and enjoying this life he was denied.  I take comfort in friends and family and the words so lovingly spoken about John.  My thanks to all of you who have kept me in your hearts and thoughts.  Doc’s euology gives me particular comfort as I remember his words . . . “He wasn’t cheated out of a thing – it’s we who were cheated” . . . So, I remember that John lived a good life, he was surrounded by friends and family who loved him, he did what he wanted, when he wanted, and enjoyed life to the fullest . . . it is now up to us to carry on that legacy of joy and happiness by living life to the fullest.

So, I leave you all as I find a new life here at my beloved Jersey Shore . . . I’m meeting new friends, enjoying the comforts of my newly and lovingly restored house, and looking forward to new excitement in my life.  I am about to embark on a 3 week vacation to St. Maarten and the sun and surf will be a huge improvement over this terrible cold.  When I return I am going to find a good yoga class and maybe even get myself a personal trainer to whip me back into some semblance of my former self!  Golf lessons will be on my agenda in the Spring . . . I found my clubs and they seem to have survived Hurricane Sandy.    I have learned to laugh and enjoy life again thanks to new and old friends and I look forward to meeting more new friends and having new adventures.   I have to believe John is watching over his family as we struggle along . . . cheering us on as we have fun and lifting that one eyebrow when we stumble . . . you can picture that raised eyebrow, can’t you?!?!  See, I made you smile!

So, I say farewell to this writing as I put these past couple of years behind me.  I will always be thankful for you, my “blog friends”, for listening to our story, for your words of advice, for cheering us on, and for helping dry our tears.  By moving on with our lives, we are not forgetting this man who gave us so much, but honoring what he taught us about life, love, and laughter.

I wish for all of you a life of happiness, health, and love . . .

Linda

John’s birthday today . . . without him

It is a beautiful day here at the Jersey shore . . . the sun is shining, the lagoon is sparkling, and the air is cool and crisp.

Today would have been John’s 70th birthday . . . and a young 70 he would have been!  I am thinking of all of our birthdays together . . . and birthdays were quite a celebration at the Roberts’ house!  I won’t tell you about the first of his birthdays we spent together – but it was surely memorable!!!!  Each subsequent birthday was a joyous occasion for us . . . his last birthday was celebrated with a small dinner party with his closest friends . . . never dreaming that it would be his last . . .

The past year has certainly been one of change, of heartache, courage, and moving on . . . I have moved to the Shore house which is still not QUITE finished – but close enough for now; Andrew is struggling to keep the Coopersburg manor house going – a big job for just one person – I spent a week up there in September and it was somehow rejuvenating for me . . . Andrew welcomed me with a big Roberts hug and gave me the master bedroom suite for that visit and any other visits – I felt quite loved; all of the kids are feeling the pain of his loss, as are his many, many friends.  But, life goes on, although never quite the same. He would want us to all move on . . . to honor him by being the best we can be . . .  not with regrets or tears all of the time. I know I was better for having loved him and for having been loved by him . . . and I try to always remember that.

John fought a good battle . . . I am in awe of his courage and strength right up to the end . . . he was an amazing man in everything he did . . . and the happiest person I have ever known . . . I wish we could all be remembered as having that zest for life that he possessed.  He never complained or whined – of course, he had quite a temper when you lit the right fire under him . . . oh boy, do I know that!!  and being married to me wasn’t always a picnic. . . but I remember the joy he brought to me and to all who knew him.

The restoration project at the Shore house has kept me busy, frustrated, in tears and in laughter . . . it will a year next week since Hurricane Sandy plowed thru here leaving a path of unbelievable destruction.  The house has turned out very nicely, albeit not at all the way we would have done it were John still here . . . I have a white rug in the dining room!!!  Not ever in John’s life would I have done that!!. . . for my own peace I made it a bit more feminine and to my taste. This was the house to which we were going to retire . . . it certainly isn’t the same without him . . .

I talk to John and write him e-mails, and his pictures are all over the house – I listen to his voice mails to me . . . usually complaining that I’m not answering my cell phone!  . . . this from the man who seldom answered his cell phone . . .  I’m sure there are those who think I might be a bit daft, but I have found that these things help me thru some of the rougher days.

As I travel this road to recovery I am reminded that many, many have traveled this road before me . . . to those of you who have suffered a loss, know that I think of you often and understand, so much better, your pain. . . I have such admiration for those who have gotten thru pain and suffering with grace, and try to always remember them, and I know some losses were some much worse than my own . . . I try always to remember the 30 wonderful (usually) years we had together and am so thankful that I had that love in my life, knowing that some never know that kind of love and joy . . . I am reminded of our good times and our bad times . . . and boy, some of those bad times were real doozies! . . . but we had the strength of our love to get us thru those tough times and that strength sent us thru to the good, very good times!  We worked very hard to have a strong and loving marriage, and it paid off . . . we had a great life together and I will always miss that . . .

So, I wish you all well and hope that you will think of John today, his birthday, and maybe raise a glass in his memory – I will have some champagne in his honor, remembering our first summers together when we tried every kind of champagne he could get his hands on  . . . he would arrive at the shore to see me (well, actually to go fishing . . . I just happened to be an added interest) with a case of champagne and we would spend the weekend in a happy mix of fishing, champagne, and love  . . .

I will always love him and what we shared . . .

Love, laughter, tears, and happy  memories  . . .

Linda

Happy Fourth of July!

Hello, Friends . . . as we all celebrate this holiday with picnics, parades, and fireworks, I am also noting that today marks 6 months since John lost his battle with leukemia. It has been a very difficult six months, with lots of changes, lots of tears, lots of memories, and also a little laughter. In circumstances such as these, you find out who your true and loyal friends are . . . my thanks to you I consider true and loyal friends, who have helped me cope with all of these changes. I still wait for John to burst thru the door . . . even tho I know that will never happen again. Sometimes it fees like forever and sometimes like only yesterday that he left us . . .I miss him every minute of every day . . .

Andrew is the new Lord of the Manor (or mausoleum),having taken over the beautiful old house in Coopersburg. I know it is a huge burden on his young shoulders, but I have faith that he will do just fine and make more improvements with time. His father and I had complete faith that he could do this, otherwise John would not have placed this burden on him. I hope someday, in the not too distant future, he will find a good (and patient) woman to share this burden with him and fill the house once again with love and laughter and a couple of children!

I have finally made the difficult move to the storm-damaged house at the shore. I moved over Father’s Day weekend – not the best time logistically nor emotionally – but it was done with a minimum of stress and the usual amount of tears. The work on the shore house is almost complete and is beautiful! Our contractor, Ron, and his family have been such a blessing to me! and I don’t know what I would have done without their help and their love! I have happily adopted them into my family and my kids are happy to have them join us!!! As I may have mentioned before, the house is somewhat different – more of a permanent house now than a vacation house . . . I have made it more feminine – but I think John would love it (he always did love the way I created a warm and inviting living space for us) – other than the queen size bed and some of the splurges . . . but I am so pleased with it! Of course, right now I really, really enjoy the central air conditioning that was not available in Coopersburg.

John’s ashes sit on the top of my entertainment center in the living room . . . right above his beloved TV (maybe I should move him to the fireplace mantle so he can watch TV . . . but I have control of the remote so he probably wouldn’t be happy with that!). The old tackle box that is his resting place seems right at home there. His pictures are all around and I talk to him often. Since I stopped writing this blog I have been sending him e-mails – yeh, I know he couldn’t figure out how to do e-mails in life, but it makes me feel his presence to be able to write to him. Okay, so maybe I have lost a few more marbles . . .

On June 8th Jimmy ran his first annual fishing tournament and I was honored to present 2 cash prizes in John’s memory – Fluke awards, of course! I will continue to do that every year in his memory!! And the fishing tournament was a big success raising money for the Tuckerton Seaport Museum and the RFA.

John had a favorite produce market down here at the shore where he bought bags and bags of the biggest and best plums he ever saw or tasted!! He said they were the best food he ever put in his mouth. I have talked to the owner and I will be purchasing bags and bags of the same plums to be placed on the counter of the market offering everyone a plum in John’s honor. Since I don’t care for plums (or any fruit, for that matter) I thought this might be a good way to keep his memory alive. Ray, owner of the market, recognized me as soon as I walked in and knew I was there about the plums . . . he was,of course, distressed to hear of John’s passing and was happy to honor him this way. So, when you bite into a big juicy plum remember John . . .

Baby Amir is getting sooooo big . . . at 18 months weighs over 35 pounds! He reminds me of his Poppy – big boy with curly hair, rather large feet, and a million dollar smile! He definitely brings sunshine into the house when he visits, just as John did! Kate and Mahdi are doing a wonderful job with him!

Sara is working hard on her storm-damaged house. Damned Hurricane Sandy! Her gardens are magnificent – since she can’t do much inside she has concentrated on the outside and all of her hard work shows!! Her kitchen cabinets were installed on Monday, she and her friends and contractor have been painting – you should see the colors!!!!, her pool is no longer a minnow pool . . . more on that later, and she hope to be in by the end of the month.

And, you all remember the minnow trapping story? Well, it seems that Hurricane Sandy wiped out the minnow population (other that the large amount of minnows trapped in Sara’s pool) and the fishermen are in a panic. Poor John would be beside himself, but I’m sure he would have figured something out!!! Sara put a minnow trap in her pool and was able to give a nice amount to her dad . . . sadly for fishermen and happily for Sara, the pool is now being returned to swimming pool status! This year, of course, I don’t have any fresh fish . . . a first in a very long time. Of course, I also don’t have lures, fishing rods, tackle, nor a fishy smell all over the house . . . I really miss it all!! Well, maybe not the fish smell so much.

And, speaking of smells, I swear I keep smelling cigarettes even when there is no one around!!! Cigarettes and whistling always pull me up short . . . I guess they always will. I did move John’s car to the side of the house where I don’t keep seeing it. So many things remind me of him . . . but that is no surprise to anyone!

So, I send you all my love and thoughts . . . I may return to this blog from time to time as I truly miss writing it . . . enjoy your summer and keep in touch!

Love, laughter, tears, and hope . . . Linda

And, so the story ends . . .

Image

Every story has a beginning and an end – or it should – and now this story is ending. It began nearly 30 years ago as a chance encounter and continued for all those years. It was a bumpy ride for all, but John and I not only survived, but thrived and grew our love into something very, very special – a love sometimes never known by some, but I think always wished for. Now my life goes on without him, and without so many other things that disappeared with his loss.
But this story was about John and about John and me fighting the final demon together . . . and now there is no more story since the main character is gone.
So, I ride off into the sunset to try to heal . . . I will lick my wounds, pick myself up, and start this new life alone but for my children and dear friends who have been there for me for so long.
I hope that through our writing of this story you will all have learned a few things about life and love. More importantly, I hope we have been able to share with you a few things we learned along the way about living life to the fullest, as John did.
So, I repeat . . . love, honor, and cherish your spouse; raise your children with respect and dignity that they might continue that legacy in their lifetime; respect boundaries of others; enjoy life to the very best of your ability – you never know how long you have and you never know when your last day may be; be happy and know that life is just as good as you make it; never presume to know what another is going thru in life – they might just need a kind word or some encouragement to make their day brighter; alway follow the Golden Rule – it really is quite simple and so many people forget it; do not use others for your own purposes; treat everyone with kindness and respect; be your very best and give your very best; and always remember to laugh, sing, and dance – they are such good medicine for all; embrace the sunshine in your life and hold it dear to get you thru the cloudy days.   For those of you who are thinking I should practice what I preach  (oh, yeh,  I know you’re out there), I tell you that I am trying to be better person . . . but I’m still a work in progress, as we all are . . . it isn’t always easy, but I am trying  . . . Remember this dear man who was my husband and try to live the way he did – enjoy every day, never let a moment or opportunity pass, sing in the rain, love to the fullest extent of your ability, share the joy!
So, to those I will never see again except by chance meeting, it has been nice sharing with you our love story; to those whose love and warmth will carry me thru this next stage of life I say thank-you, thank-you for your continuing love and support.  Keep my martini chilled ’cause I’ll be in my new life as a Jersey girl very soon and I look forward to sharing my old memories and creating new memories with you. To those who have held me while I cried, who have encouraged me to relearn the process of living, who have emcouraged me to put one foot in front of the other, and who have taught me how to dance and live and trust again and, hopefully, love agan, a profound thank-you.
I will forever miss his smiling face and his laughter; I still expect him to call to say “I love you”; when I hear someone whistling I am immediately brought to attention, and then the tears start; but I will go on and will forever tell people of our love . . .
Good-bye, friends and foes . . . may you always live as blessed a life as we did. . . Linda

Kate’s eulogy and other miscellaney . . .

Greetings, Friends:  It has been snowing and raining all day here in PA . . . the snow was really beautiful this morning, but the mixture of snow and rain, mostly rain, is kind of ugly!  Days like this are good for curling up under a blanket and reading a good book (Fifty Shades of Gray?!?!).  I really wish I were at the shore house now as I have a gas fireplace there, and that would do so much to dispel some of this gloom.

Following is a paraphrase of what John’s daughter, Kate, said at John’s service:

Dad’s Eulogy

A large number of people have already come up to me to tell me their best “John Roberts story”, so I echo Andrew’s sentiment and ask that you put it to paper, whatever comes into your head about our dad, so that we can relate to the young grandchildren what their grandfather was really like.  I feel comforted knowing that my dad lived a really full life.  Not many regrets. He did regret missing the opportunity to spend more time with his own father, a Lt. Col, in the military who died when the plane he was flying went down in Korea.  I know he admired his own father greatly, but he died when my dad was only 10 years old.

My dad was an outdoorsman and he loved the perfect storm and survivor type stories.  One of the things he always dreamed of doing was kind of a dare:  he wanted to be dropped out of an airplane over Alaska with only the clothes on his back and a pack of matchsticks.  It was a challenge to him . . . he wanted to see if he could make his own way out on his wits alone. 

My dad imparted a lot of wisdom . . . and I realized he was an adviser to many.

He also told me one time his own measure of a true friend.  I was asking him who he considered to be in his inner circle – his true friends.  It was only a handful of people . . .

Most people here know that my dad was never shy about expressing his opinion.  And yet . . . you may not know that he was pretty open-minded.  When I announced I was marrying my husband Mahdi, who is from Morocco – with very different culture, religion and customs – my dad was the first to say “are you sure about this?”  But I can honestly say that later on, my dad was one of the first to come to me and say, “you know, I REALLY like Mahdi a lot.”  And later, “I really LOVE Mahdi, he’s a really great guy.”  The two of them would sit around having political debates, and Mahdi become my dad’s fishing buddy of late. 

I am so pleased that my dad lived to see me have a child.  Baby Amir is now 11 months.  My dad often said to me over the past year “you don’t know how lucky you are . . . you have such a joyful baby.”

                I would like to read a poem  . . . W. H. Auden, Funeral Blues:

                Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

                Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

                Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

                Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

                 Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

                Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,

                Put crepe bows around the white necks of the public doves,

                Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

                He was my North, my South, my East and West,

                My working week and my Sunday rest,

                My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

                I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

                The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;

                Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

                Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

                For nothing now can ever come to any good.

As we all continue thru this journey, I am sure you can all imagine how much we miss this man . . . husband, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, colleague, mentor, and any number of  other roles he played for each and every one of us . . . but our lives go on and we can only hope that our daily lives honor him in every way possible.  He taught us all so much . . he changed me from a shy insecure wallflower into a self-assured woman (who is certainly no longer shy!) and to each of his children he imparted wisdom, knowledge, and power to suceed in life.  You, his friends and extended family can fill in your own blanks – what did he teach you about life?  Care to share?

I continue to travel back and forth between the PA home in the country that John loved so much and the beautiful house we bought at the NJ Shore . . . things are getting done at the Shore house and transfers are under way to get the PA Country house in Andrew’s name (mortgage included!).  After a lot of teeth gnashing and 3 ungodly awful visits to the MJ DMV I finally have both names titled and registered in my name alone in NJ and my car even passed inspection (I had forgotten how easy inspection was in NJ!); will take the Land Cruiser down the next time I go and see if that will pass inspection.

My house is coming along, slowly but surely.  All of the electrical had to be re-wired after Hurricane Sandy and that has taken more than 3 weeks . . . we now await the township electrical inspector and then we can move on to the next step. 

I finally “bit the bullet” and ordered a new tub – and I SPLURGED!  I bought myself a wonderful big soaking tub.  I promise not to do too many more splurges . . . maybe only a couple more.  One splurge will be the built in master closet and then I’m gonna have to behave myself.  The pool pump and heater will have to be replaced and that is another biggie . . . but not considered a splurge since I need the pool and I need the pool very warm!!!

I now also have to have the backyard regraded and stoned after the huge project of the new bulkhead finished in September . . . that bulkhead really saved us more extensive damage, so I am sure it was money well spent.

Now that I regaled you with my stories of splurges, frustrations with DMV, and another eulogy, I will go see what I can pull together for my dinner . . . but first, a martini! 

Til next time, Linda

 

March Madness is not the same this year!

Aside

Hello, dear friends!  more decisions have been made regarding the restoration of our Shore house – I finally picked out bathroom tiles!!  Another big step for the gray/blonde on overload!  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but do you have any idea how many tile samples there are?!?!  Now to purchase the tub and design the new shower in the newly reconfigured master bathroom . . . baby steps, for sure.

I did spend a week at the Shore not too long ago, with the pups.  Pups were very excited to arrive at the Shore house – I think they expected Daddy to be there.  They were quite dismayed that he wasn’t there AND that the house was nothing like it was the last time they were there!  But we all survived.  And then we got back to the PA house and they were even more confused!  It took our poor “fat-boy” Tucker a whole week before he would once again sleep upstairs at night – every night that first week back in PA he slept in the foyer by the front door – he must have been waiting for John to come home.  One night I convinced him to come upstairs and he cried until I let him go back to the foyer.   Poor little thing.  It doesn’t help that Tucker is not very bright!

I now have almost weekly doctor appointments as my two cataract surgeries get closer.  I do like my doctors, but not enough to see them so often!!! First surgery is April 2 followed by doctor appointment at 7:45 AM the next day and second surgery is April 16, again with following day check-up at 7:45 AM.  I guess my doctor didn’t get the memo that I DON’T DO MORNINGS!!  Andrew will be my driver for these days and I’m sure he is just delighted with that!

So, I thought a funny story might be in order instead of anything gloomy and with that in mind, here is a note I received from an old friend of John’s, Bill Fenza – a lawyer John started working with right out of law school:

“Dear Linda:

                First I read the obituary today and then I read your email.  Nothing I can say can ever approximate all the thoughts and memories or express the depth of my feelings.  I was convinced that John would live forever and that he would not permit any higher power to take him away.  Someone should file an appeal.

                Herewith some memories, those that I can share in public:

                John was our newest and youngest attorney at GAC, but he made an immediate impression.  On his first company annual meeting in Miami he got off the plane to retrieve his baggage.  For some reason all of our bags were outside on the tarmac, but the biggest individual pile belonged to Senior Vice President Alex Vaughey.  Alex was a prima donna and considered himself untouchable because he maintained liaison with all of the banks that funded the company.  Seeing young John pick up his own bags, Alex said “John, would you take my bags to the limousine?”  Alex had a huge pile, including golf clubs, for both he and his wife.  John hesitated, looked and then said, “Carry your own f******g bags.” 

     At the office, during the early days of the computer era, we had a new, huge computer located on our floor.  I hadn’t the foggiest idea as to how it worked or what it could do, but the same Alex treated it like it was his personal toy and filled it with all kinds of date and correspondence for his bankers.  One morning there was hell to pay because Alex was screaming that someone had interfered with his programming and much of the information was lost.  On my own I determined that John had broken the code and was using the computer for his own purposes, none of which had anything to do with John’s legal duties.  I never told Alex.  It helps to understand that Alex thought of himself as a god and he was treated like one.  When he retired, the company threw a huge party in a New York hotel that became  a “This Is Your Life” extravaganza complete with Ralph Edwards himself, television cameras, and family friends  flown in from all over the country.)

                My favorite John Roberts story has to do with a legal department pool party at my then house on Old South Pike.  First of all, John volunteered to procure live lobsters from the Jersey shore.  I protested that this was unreasonable, but John was not to be deterred.  He got up at an ungodly hour and drove to the shore, bought a whole mess of lobsters and got back in time for the party.  But upon his arrival he could not wait to tell us about an amazing incident.  ‘It was early in the morning, not yet light, and foggy.  On the Schuylkill Expressway I see coming toward me a huge elephant, his big ears flapping.  He ran right past me, I kid you not.’   None of us believed him.  But sure enough the next day’s Inquirer carried a story about an escaped elephant being transported to the Philadelphia Zoo and captured on the Expressway. 

                At the same party, as the hours wore on, John became boozier and boozier and somehow lost or removed his swimming trunks.  Amid all the hubbub the Salisbury Police finally knocked at the door because the neighbors had complained about the noise.  John was quick to answer the door and assure the officer that he would tame the unruly crowd.  I was behind him, trying my level best to control myself, because the officer never noticed that all John was wearing was an Ocean City Beach Patrol sweatshirt and a pith helmet.

Bill Fenza, Esquire”

And that was our boy!!  Always keeping us off-guard.  I should note that I was NOT at that party – that was well before my appearance into this family!

So, next time I will share more serious stories . . . but I am trying my best to keep up-beat . . . the days have gotten longer and the tears more frequent as I try to start this new life without John . . . I keep waiting for it to get easier, but that certainly hasn’t happened yet.  I meet friends for lunch, dinner, and/or drinks and do fine . . . until I have to come back home to an empty house. And, while I always kidded about “March Madness” and the non-stop basketball games (and the lack of attention from my b-ball fanatic), March is just not the same this year.  I wonder how his beloved Villanova is doing this year, but can’t bring myself to look . . .

Sok, until next time . . . love, laughter, and still a lot of tears . . . Linda