At least he’s honest

MasterBuilder and Ukrainia took off this morning for Traverse City for a few days. I leave tomorrow afternoon for California. This occurred at dinner:

John: I’m going to miss you on Thursday
Amanda: Awww… wait. Aren’t you going to miss me on Wednesday, too?
John: I’ll be too busy enjoying having the house to myself.

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Book: Eleven On Top by Janet Evanovich

The latest in my “read the books I borrowed so that I can return them and get them out of the house” quest. I’d been avoiding this one too, but this time I know why– I’d borrowed Ten Big Ones at the same time and was starting to get bored with Stephanie Plum. I understand why series writers try to avoid a lot of character development, since if there’s too much, you change the character so much that it’s no longer the same character and you lose readers. The big attraction to Stephanie Plum is the bumbling bounty hunter who is way out of her league. If you let her learn too much and get better at it… there goes the major attraction. But after a while, I got really tired of the same “jump in without thinking” bullshit, and the same two-dimensional love interest(s).

Which is why I found Eleven On Top to be such a pleasant surprise. Stephanie actually LEARNS something. She does real, honest-to-god investigating instead of stumbling into the answer, though she still manages to find herself in mortal danger and in need of rescuing by the end of the book (well, I did say earlier that you can’t change TOO much without losing the spirit of the character). She still jumps in foolishly, but there’s a small conversation between smart Stephanie and stupid Stephanie beforehand, and you get the feeling that she’s making progress. Joe stops being quite so much of a stereotype, and works a little on anger management. (Actual quote: Stephanie: “You’re pretty calm about all this.” Joe: “I’m a calm kind of guy.” Stephanie: “No, you’re not. You go nuts over this stuff. You always yell when people go after me with a sledgehammer.” [That makes sense in context, honest.] Joe: “Yeah, but in the past, you haven’t liked that.” Go, Joe!)

Grandma Mazur still rocks my world. Stephanie still loses cars at an alarming rate. Ranger is still strong, silent, mysterious, and sexy. Lula is still… well, I’m hoping that in future books the character development will extend to Lula too, though in fairness she did stop and listen to Stephanie and do what she was supposed to do once near the end of the book, so that’s progress as well. I laughed more with this book than I did with any of the prior Stephanie Plum books, and it’s restored my interest in the series.

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Courtesy of Cyrano:

Say something nice about each of the last five people you’ve “broken up with” – romantic break-ups, friendships, whatever.

This is a bit rough for me, because prior to John I hadn’t dated all that much– I’ve had more break-ups with John than with everyone else combined. And few of my friendships have had a hard break, most of them just get pushed off to the side due to time constraints and growing apart.

So, I’ll have to improvise a bit. ;-)

1st boyfriend: Sweet when he wanted to be. Good at understanding someone else’s point of view, even if he opposed it.

John: Amazing at taking care of people, especially me. (What? We broke up! Twice, even.)

Former roommate: A kind person who is willing to take on some of the more difficult people in the world (I’m calling that fight with R in the dining room at the live game a “break-up.” Hope you don’t mind.)

Mom’s step-brother: I’m sure he thought he was doing the right thing (at least most of the time).

Last boss who fired me: (Er, sort of. She made Gary do it, but she was why I got fired.) While there was some personal tension between us, on the whole, she tried to treat all employees well, and fairly. She taught me a lot about the value of non-cash benefits in the workplace.

Today

[Originally posted to a mailing list of friends]

This morning, my grandmother passed away.

She went quietly, with very little pain. The exact cause of death is unknown, but is likely to be complications from her Alzheimer’s combined with natural causes.

I discovered her this morning when I brought breakfast in to them.

If I had to boil my advice on how to deal with the death of a loved one down to a single sentence, it would probably be “Don’t be the one to find the body.”

Grandpa is coping, but is having trouble coming to terms with her death. His memory isn’t allowing him to grieve much. He’s already asked me once this evening where Grandma was, and I had to explain that she died this morning and that the funeral home had come and picked up her body. When he is able to remember, though, he’s filled with questions about what we did to deserve this. I’m not sure which is harder, losing my grandmother or watching him lose his wife (again, as his first wife died of cancer).

This death has brought with it a lot of firsts for me:

Obviously, I’ve never been the one to find the body before. In fact, I’ve never even seen a dead body that wasn’t cleaned up and in a casket– ie, outside of the funeral.

I’ve never dealt with a death in a home– prior generations have died in hospitals. I didn’t realize that after the EMS people and the police came out, there would be a period of time in which her body was left in the house– the sheriff’s office releases the body to a funeral home, who comes and picks it up. Since we chose a funeral home in Rochester, and they were already out getting someone else, Grandma stayed in the house nearly an hour after everyone else had left.

I didn’t realize that the funeral home people drove minivans– somehow, I don’t find it comforting that I could easily put a dead body in the back of my car.

Tomorrow morning I am supposed to have decided what Grandma will wear for eternity. I had a hard enough time deciding what she would wear for a single day. I know that it’s something that has to be done if you’re going to have a funeral– the housecoat she was wearing is hardly appropriate. When my great-grandmother died, she left a letter stating which dress to use, which jewelry to use, and which lipstick to use. Up until today I didn’t realize just how thoughtful that letter was. (Perhaps I shall have to write one for myself, just in case. I hope that styles change a couple dozen times before it has to be used, but I don’t want to put John through any more than he has to go through).

Tomorrow afternoon starts the phone calls. My mother has already offered to call most of the family and a half-dozen of the friends she and Grandma shared, leaving me with one aunt and a myriad of people I don’t know very well. Today, John called only my mother and my uncle. (I tried, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say that Grandma was gone. I had a hard enough time when I called John and 911 this morning– the closest I could come was “I think she might be dead” even though she was cold to the touch and her fingernails were blue). I suppose I could/should have called more people today, but it seems so pointless to call and say “She’s dead, I’ll call again when we know what the arrangements are.”

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