1 Year Later

4 of Sheila’s 5 Grandkids

It’s the 4th of July 2017 and we’re about to head out for a party at Gina’s house in Cedartown GA. Gina has a ranch, replete with horses, goats, ducks, dogs, cats and other assorted animals. I think this is a pretty big affair, lots of friends along with the usual family clan. Oh, Gina is Sheila’s younger sister … sorry, sometimes I forget that not everyone knows my whole life story …

The Rhoden girls … Linda, Sheila, Gina

Sheila is making a cake for the party, it’s sort of a test balloon for our wedding in September. Sheila really wants to make our own wedding cake rather than paying someone outrageous coin for a cake (Sheila is practical and energetic, willing to make the cake and save some nickles whereas I would just laze out and pay someone too much), plus she makes pretty good cakes. Sheila baked the first test version for my birthday a few weeks ago and I LOVED that one, but she’s trying a few different ideas before settling. It’s a good thing we have family right here … we can off-load some of this cake without having to eat the whole thing (Sheila can tolerate a little extra weight since she’s skinny bones, but I sure as heck don’t need to put on a lot of weight) (It took me a full year to lose that last 100 pounds) (But dang, that cake is awfully good!!!)

While on the subject of baking, when did THIS happen??
Not even trying to hide the fact that they are ripping us off

Four pounds? Really?It’s bad enough that coffee is now 12 or 13 oz., do we really need to get hosed for 1 pound of sugar? I feel violated, and I’m not even baking the cake … but I do use sugar when making ice cream & gelato, so I have a right to gripe. (I’m quite proficient at ice cream and gelato preparation) 

So, while Sheila is cake-making, I’m sitting here typing and watching YouTube (Live at Darryl’s House, good series) (This one has Jason Mraz, a fav of Sheila’s) (I do like Darryl Hall). Watching the players on the show makes me think of how cool it has been to be hosting rehearsals here at the house, just a bunch of musicians playing music for themselves and not worrying about whether anyone is walking out of the club, or if it’s too loud, or too soft. If someone blows a note or skips a beat, our not-Live-At-Darryl’s-House players just laugh it off and run through it again. A bunch of good guys, all retired, not stressing, enjoying playing … like a mini “Live at Darryl’s House” in a way.

Not Live @ Darryl’s House 

Of course, while sitting here typing and listening to music (while Sheila does all of the work baking), I’m sipping on some seltzer, coolio raspberry flavor, and proceed to spill it all over the new carpet … I’m just lucky it was seltzer and not some funky dark staining color. Madison came to the rescue and slurped up most of the mess, so overall no big damage done. (Yes, I fessed up to Sheila, she was outwardly fine with it) (Probably doing the silent scream in the inside, though). Bella just looked at me with the disdain only smart dogs can pull off …

Bella’s “You’re an idiot” look

Today is actually 1 year ago that Sheila and I “met”. Actually, our first interchange was yesterday, July 3rd, but our first real 1-to-1 interaction was on July 4th, just a simple what-are-you-doing-for-the-holiday thing (Sheila with Shauna & fam, me at niece Gretchen & Sarah’s house). It was a tough holiday for both of us, first time being alone without our respective spouses in a social environment. We commiserated later that night about how the day went and wrote a bit about the sadness of it all. But inside, I knew something rather wonderful was happening, I just didn’t realize it was going to completely change my life.

And here we are, 1 year later, living together, engaged to be married and both happier than we ever thought possible.  For a whole lot of you that follow this blog I know it may seem like I have a tendency to drone on and on about Sheila, but she has literally saved my life in  every possible way. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without her, but it sure as heck wouldn’t be this.

I started writing this blog just about a year ago, too. My original intent was to tell others who were in my position (recently widowed after a long period of illness) how I was coping with everything. As my relationship with Sheila expanded, the blog was a way to let others know that life after loss doesn’t have to be terminal in its own way, that we can find happiness and continue to live … we just need to keep our eyes open and our hearts available for the possibility of additional love.

Finding a new love doesn’t in any way diminish all of those feelings you have for your departed partner. If anything, it frees you to explore a whole new set of feelings that may have been repressed, or lost, or forgotten as the cause that ended the life of your sig other took over every emotion you had. I know, in my case, I was so bogged down in the slow countdown to the end that those thoughts and emotions of the eventuality of it all took priority over feelings of joy, love, happiness and expectation. And while the loss was devastating, the feeling of renewal after meeting Sheila was incredible.

We both were very careful as the relationship developed, making sure the feelings that arose were not merely a reaction to the losses we both experienced. Neither one of us was looking for a temporary solution or momentary gratification … quite the opposite, in fact. I fully expected to be alone for the rest of my life, as did Sheila. I certainly didn’t expect to retire, move to Georgia and become engaged, that’s for sure!

I write this blog as a sign of hope, a real-life example of the good things that can happen if you are willing to open yourself up again. As I’ve said many times over, if it can happen to me it can happen to anyone!

The party was a huge success, as was the cake! Carmon, Gina’s sig other, cooked more pork butt than all of us could ever eat, even though we stuffed ourselves way past the point of sensibility. The weather could have cooperated more, but despite some rain it was a great day!

5 of the 7 smoked pork butts
Pulled and ready to eat!
The chef’s
Gratuitous goat pic for my brothers
Happy 4th of July!

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