Stuck at the top of your Ferris Wheel?

The journey of loss in life is universal — spinning like a Ferris wheel.  Sometimes you get stuck at the top!   My grief began with a terminally ill relationship and ended in the loss of my 30 year career.  A friend told me to “pull the plug”.  I did. The funeral was this winter.   I was alone at the funeral.

Bertram's Blog

I haven’t been writing much about grief lately. It’s been thirty-two months — 977 days — since my life mate/soul mate died. In that time, many others have suffered grievous losses, and to continue mentioning my grief seems like all I’m doing is whining. Still, this is my loss, and what other people experience, no matter how horrific, doesn’t lessen my sorrow. I don’t have the same sort of raw pain that I did at the beginning, of course, nor do I have the gut-wrenching angst that so often bedeviled me during those first months, but I do experience bouts of sadness and yearning.

My emotions are on a slow Ferris wheel ride, usually sliding down into sadness on Saturdays, the day he died — a day that apparently is etched in my very psyche — and then a gradual climb to hope and possibility on Monday and Tuesday.

Even when…

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2 Seconds or Less

2 Seconds or Less

The blessings received from being a teacher continue to delight me as I learn about the avenues of study and careers my students pursued. The banner at the top of the page shows the company that a former student formed while in college.

We sat together for a 45-minute a week oboe lesson while she studied music — and life.  Ally was an advanced student and enjoyed music so much that her parents invested in an upgrade Rigoutat oboe to improve her playing. Her family was from Texas and found me through their teacher and the internet.

Ally moved with her mother, father, 2 younger sisters. The entire family relocated for her father’s job at the nearby nuclear power plant. Within a short time after their move, her father was killed in car accident just miles from her home on one of the curvy back roads of Pennsylvania. I only had the chance to meet her father one time before he passed away.

Ally barely became acclimated to the new state, town, school, friends —  she became fatherless! Those were dark days for Ally. The next year she had the opportunity to meet my kind, considerate father. Ally was hired to operate the coffeehouse while my mother and I worked on a new picture book project. My father would talk about tuba and marching band with her. I was happy to share my father. Ally was a great team member and fit so well into the roll of barista. She lightened up the room with her smile and bubbly personality.

Eventually Ally stopped taking lessons but continued to work in the coffeehouse. Within one year after Ally met my father, he died from complications from hip surgery. The following week, Ally took the time to comfort me as we were cleaning the coffeehouse at the end of the evening.

An absentee spouse had already been calculating an exit plan. He had acquired all my earned income as well as the benefits of my generous family in order to raise “your-mother-in-law”  as he referred to HIS mother who died 2007.  I wasn’t needed anymore . . . my paternal protection passed away. I was alone though my mother visited monthly. If it weren’t for my sensitive students and coffeehouse Phamily, I would never had made it through the next 2 years.

Ally’s new company: 2 Seconds or Less says it all.  Life IS short. We can make the most of our life selfishly pursuing our own pleasures — OR we can create an environment of joy and hope for the people we meet along the way — because they could be gone in 2 Seconds or Less.

If you are searching for a cause to support, perhaps you will consider helping with Ally’s new organization.  “. . . we hate that people all over the world are needlessly dying for lack of food. We want to change that, and so we live to make a difference in the lives of the hungry.”

No Grasp of Grief

3:00 am strikes with a sudden response I couldn’t have expected.  As I sit in the den of my childhood home, I look to the date on the computer monitor with the realization that is was just 3 short years since my fine father suddenly parted from this world and my life.    Earlier that evening in 2009, I was assured by my oldest brother that dad was doing better.  I trusted him and postposned my planned evening visit.  6 hours later, my brother called to inform me the nurse said “your father is not responsive.”    Though I had made sure to see dad 3 times during the time of his hospitalization, there is no way I was prepared for this moment.   I had a bag already packed for an overnight stay.


My “unresponsive” spouse barely made a reaction to the call that obviously had me in fear of the outcome.   I picture the dark, unfinished attic room where I was being housed in the marital home for 5 years.   The isolation from my family was certainly beginning to become more distinct in this moment of decision.   I left the home alone — as was often the case — if I wanted to see my family other than on major holidays.    It was nothing like the weekly or monthly visits I bestowed upon the mother of the selfish spouse each time his mother was taken to the hospital.  Year after year — no less than ten years of continual comfort to “your mother-in-law” as he referred to his mother.


Supporting, caring, calming — this is what I needed.  Comfort for ME, this time.  And there was NOTHING.  This pretend spouse, was treated  like a son.   My father chatted with him freely.   Shared with him consistently.  Asked about him regularly.   My kind, thoughtful, ever considerate father had parted this world — and the person I married abandoned me emotionally.   He didn’t show ONE time to the hospital – the first time my father was ever hospitalized his entire 82 years.   The louse-a-spouse went through the motions of attending the funeral services.  Then never asked me once “Are you OK?”  “How are you feeling?”  — NO — instead he began treating me with disdain, saying “get a job” (I worked 7 days a week), critiscizing, me, my family and worse of all — questioning the character of my impeccibly pure and honest father!

Unleashed: battering of me emotionally, mentally, sexually — even worse after the death of my father.  I regularly aided with the care of “your mother-in-law” for 15 years till her death in 2007.   When I needed to be supportive of my mother (82) who was widowed after 58 years with her husband — 62 total years — she was locked out of my household bathroom!


One year ago, I had to evacuate my home, business, town . . . My grief became darker as I experienced the death of no less than 6 businesses I founded and sucessfully operated with the help of 4 part-time employees.

Cancer Awareness Month (Oct) recognizes the disease and the loss felt by patients. Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Oct) barely makes mention the multitudes of victims who have lived with and survived the in-house bullying that causes scars not able to be seen on an X-ray or cell sampling.

I will go visit my father’s gravesite  — with my mom.    Here she stands behind her husband’s headstone — my dear, departed dad.