28 September 2015

Some days you're the dog...

It's that time again for our annual GBGRR annual picnic this past Sunday.  Despite the gloomy weather and sudden downpour, the outing was huge success.  Not quite as many dogs as I have seen in the past, but there were more than a few Goldens running amok.  Good food, lots of really neat raffle prizes (didn't win any again), lots of wet dogs and no conflicts/fights.  I've been doing this gig for about 5 years now and am still amazed on how well everyone (dog & human) get along.  

With all of the mayhem and activity, I lost track of Grayson & Claire a few times (many Goldens do look very much alike), but, like a kid on a playground, they eventually found me.  

A few shots of the carnage...

Of course, my two kids were totally exhausted when we got home.  Wet, tired and happy, they pretty much crashed for the rest of the day.  

20 September 2015

Closing things out

The last few weeks have been quite full/melancholy.  I am not sure if it good or bad with being busy, but it has kept us from dwelling on her passing.  I am most saddened for my wife.  She has been holding up well, but this has been a very long and sad journey for her over the past few years.  First her dad fell ill several years ago and passed away 2 years ago after a long battle with Alzheimer's.  Earlier this year, we lost her mom due to the same illness.  Finally her sister passed recently.  She has a lot on her plate of late and I am trying to take some of the burden off of her shoulders.  We are in a kind of void right now - sort of grief/guilty phase.  Sad to have lost her sister at this age, but glad she is no longer suffering.  Will take a while for things to right themselves again.  

In the interim, we've been working on multiple fronts to take care of things for Julie.  Arranging a memorial service, working with the funeral home, drafting up an obituary, posting updated on Facebook.  Momma and I argued about the FB posting but I felt we needed to do it so that her friends would know and could post their comments.  A few were surprised with the news since Julie did not really want her condition and prognosis shared with many.  While I am not a big FB fan, a few friends were starting to mention about missing her and I felt it was our responsibility to post something in her honor.  The obituary took a bit of editing before we posted it but it finally hit the paper before Labor Day.  I wanted to write more about her career and love of cats but when we got the price for the simple obit, we were a wee bit floored.  The cost of a simple obit was running almost $6.00 per word, hyphen, comma and period.  And that's per day.  I read some of the obits in today's paper that are running 4-5 columns and cannot help but think that run somebody close to $3,000.  I told my wife that, when I go, all she needed to put in the paper is "Agg Died".  I am not sure how Julie would feel about paying this much money for a short synopsis of her life but I felt that we owed it to her.  And her friends really appreciated it.  

We did arrange for a memorial service right after Labor Day.  She did not want people to interrupt their plans/vacations and since Julie wasn't very religious, we chose a Methodist church next to the Medical Center where a number of her friends/coworkers could attend.  Very nice service, reception, a much larger turnout than we had expected.  I had spent the week prior combing through pictures at her house and what I had taken over the years to craft a slide show of her over the years.  I even stole a few pictures from friends that had posted to Facebook in her memory.  I got the idea from a previous memorial service and people really seemed to enjoy it.  A few shots from the slide show:

We are spending time over at her house going through the records, sorting things out, making calls, feeding the cats (anybody want one?), emptying litter boxes.  Julie had a love for animals in her life and she was passionate about her cats.  My wife came from a cat family but I have slowly brought her over to the dark side and the world of dogs.  Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against cats, but I am just not really a cat person anymore.  I am not sure how well my two furbabies would take to a feline guest.  While I feel fairly sure that Claire, old softy she is, wouldn't have too many issues with a cat (heck, she loves anybody), Grayson kinda has a personality that doesn't mix well with felines.  He's had a few close calls with neighborhood cats but I have kept him on a tight leash whenever one is around.  In my opinion, if he ever did try to go MMA with the local calico yard cat, my money's on the cat.  I'll regale you with my cat history later.  

On many of the walks I had with Julie, one of her concerns was with her cats.  What would happen to them, who would take care of them.  We had a solution in one of her friends volunteered to take all of them, but that friend died unexpectedly last year from brain cancer.  I told Julie that, because of the dogs, I could not commit to taking the cats, but I did promise her that we would do everything humanly possible to find them good homes.  They were not going to be neglected or turned over the the shelter and we would work the back channels to find homes for all of them.  Initially, she wanted to turn them over to the Animal Life-Care Center up at A&M that takes care of pets when their owners pass away.   Sort of a pet sanctuary.  Beautiful state of the art facility with the best care.  The problem is that they were very, very pricey.  A quick estimate of how much it would run for her cats came out to be more than the cost of her house.  So, in the meanwhile, the cats have the run of the house while we work on finding homes/servants for them.  

I wound up giving her Camry to my son.  I have been taking care of it for a while so I know it is in good shape and a good replacement for our old '93 he currently drives in Austin.  Ice cold A/C, new battery & tires, a working radio, and only 77k miles.   The car even came with Lojack but I don't think Julie ever activated it.  The only problem is that we cannot find the title so I am going to have to work through the state to have a new one printed and then have it transferred over to him.  Actually, I will have it transferred to me and then I will transfer it to him.  Turns out that in Texas, you can transfer a title to a family member (aka bother in law) for only $45 and save on paying the taxes on the sale.  Unfortunately, junior being her nephew does not fall in that category, so we will have to juggle the title a bit to make it work. 

Progress is slow, but we are moving forward.