very sweet family raising money to move to Guatemala to be full time missionaries.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
I thought I blogged about my spring tri experience. I better get it down while I still remember it.
Last year at Easter my sister in law asked me to do a 5K run through the woods for the Children's Advocacy center. I laughed because I have never ran in my life. I was told in high school (by the track coach) that I didn't have a runners body (big boobs and about 25lbs over weight) so I assumed that meant that I "could not" run. I fully was under the assumption that I could not run so I never attempted it (though what I wanted to do in high school was run the 2 mile).
I did agree to do the run (figuring I could walk it) since it was for charity. As it worked out, we were out of town the day of the run so our other sister in law (Liz) ran it instead (she also had never ran and never thought she could). She did run it and finished, she says "it wasn't pretty but she did it". It inspired her.
Liz started looking up other local 5K races and stumbled upon a sprint triathlon that was to take place early August (2011). This race was a quarter mile swim, 15 mile bike ride, and a 5K run and was in New Glarus, Wisconsin. This one especially appealed to her because of the New Glarus Brewery. She asked me if I wanted to do it and I laughed. I told her "I can't run" and she said "you can do ANYthing for two hours", claiming that the longest times were around 2 hours and she pointed out some photos of finishers, who were quite large. She said "if that person can do it, WE can do it". Their were other heavy people in a few other photos and I started to think, "no kidding, MAYbe I really can do it".
I mentioned it to our other sister in law (Kathy) and she was all about it. She got me excited and we told Liz we would do it. Gabriel came in and told me that he was going to do it too. I laughed and asked him if he should see a doctor first (I have been working out with a personal trainer for 3 years and he had not done any physical exercise for..well...ever). I said "great, i'm glad you're going to do it. Seriously, can you swim?" he answered "nope". He figured he would just work it out.
We made a plan to start training June 5th. I walked Magda to her girl scout meeting at the church about 3 blocks away and decided I would run back home. THREE blocks and I was DYING. After half a block I sounded like Darth Vader but I made it all the way home.
The training schedule said to run 20 minutes, so I set my ipod and ran - once I hit 10 minutes, I turned around and ran home so my total time was 20 minutes. I did this for about 5 days then switched to running 2 miles. Once I could 2 miles pretty easily, I upped it a little at a time. Finally after about 5 weeks, I had Gab plan me a 5K route. I set out and did it without stopping at all. I was very excited. I thought about that coach who 25 years ago told me I didn't have a runners body and thought "screw him". If he had encouraged me then, who knows what might have happened.
During this whole time, I also started riding my bike. The first time Kathy and I decided to ride to Humiston Woods. We knew it was 16 miles from my driveway to the woods and back. We checked the time and set out. The ride out was pretty easy, more worried about getting ran over because the roads were busy. Coming home was harder because of the wind and by the time we got home our legs were a little like rubber. It took about an hour and 2o minutes. We felt pretty good about that but knew we wanted our bike time down to under one hour.
We started riding in the country where there was no traffic. There was one good hill also. We would do the 10 mile ride a few times a week and we felt pretty confident with the bike portion.
Swimming...we needed to time ourselves at the swim because we had to have a time for registering for the race. Gab and I went to the Elks and I swam first. My time was 13 minutes (can't remember exactly). Gab got in and panicked and had to get out of the pool. He said he would try again next time. Same thing happened the next time we swam. My time got better and he could never get past the first lap without feeling like he was going to vomit. I asked him again "are you sure you want to do this? seriously, how are you going to get through the swim?". He said his plan was to "drown in the first event and then he didnt' need to worry about the bike or run".
I added bricks. I rode 10 miles on the bike and then immediately ran a mile. My feet felt like bricks but I ran through and knew it would take about half a mile to work it out. I was prepared (i thought).
Finding something to wear. Big boobied women are s.o.l. when it comes to athletics. Performance swim suits don't come big enough so I had to wear a lycra sports bra under my swim suit.
The weekend of the tri came (too fast) and I prayed for a severe thunderstorm that morning. We did get a thunderstorm but it came (and went) too early and by the time the race was to start, it had cleared up. We headed to the park and all the other athletes were there and they all looked totally buff and fit. I looked around the park for the other out of shape runners and said to Liz "um, where are all the freaking fat people Liz?". She looked around and pointed at us and said "right here". We realized that WE were the ones people would look at in photos and think "well if SHE can do it, then I can do it". I was terrified but had come too far to not go through with it. I put my bike in the staging area, got my ankle timer and number and lined up in my swim group. Gab was in the first group (slowest times went first). We had just guessed on his time (20 min.) since he had never actually completed a run. Luckily they put him the lane next to the wall, he got through by walking, hanging on the edge, and doggy paddle. He kept going though and was out and on the bike within 18 minutes.
When it was my turn to get in the water, the other people in my lane looked all athletic and skinny. A young girl was right in front of me (there were 3 people per lane - i think, maybe 4, i'm forgetting now). Anyway, we swam down one side of the rope then swam back the other. A few head bangs but I swim with my face up so I could see. I totally lapped the skinny young girl and felt awesome about that. My swim was 12 minutes.
Jumped out of the pool and ran/walked to the bikes. Dried off a bit, shoes on, tee shirt on, helmet on. Grab bike and walk it to the street, jump on bike and take off. I seriously UNDERestimated how long it would take my heart rate to come down from the vigorous swim. The bike ride went around the corner and immediately started going UPHILL. It basically never stopped going up hill, it was INSANE. The one part of the whole race I was not worried about was the bike ride and here it was killing me. I seriously almost started crying at one point. At the top of every hill I expected some relief but was met with another series of hills, mostly going up. As bikes would speed past me, I felt like I was crawling. The young skinny girl who I had lapped passed me pretty quickly into it. Ah well. Just when I started thinking I couldn't do it, an athlete would come up on me and encourage me "good job" and "keep going" and "you're doing awesome" REALLY helped keep me going. I thought "i have been out here for HOURS" (definitely taking a watch next year). I wished I had my cell phone so I could call Gab and see if there was ever an end to this bike ride. The people along the route would yell to me "this is the last hill, then it's all downhill from there" and I would be like "YEAH" then I would get to the top and see four more hills and think "those fucking liars". All I kept thinking was "well at least I know I'm not totally last since Kathy hasn't passed me yet" and then I hear "SHANNON!" and thinkg "oh damn". The very last mile of the ride, Kathy caught me and we rode in together.
Hang the bikes back up, helmets off, bandana on. Start running. OMG. I was prepared for my feet to feel like bricks for a little bit but this was something totally different. My feet didn't feel like bricks but my thighs were quivering and shaky. Because all the hills worked totally different muscle groups. I ran for about half a mile and then took three small steps and that was a huge mistake. Kathy kept going like a champ. I completed the 5K doing some run, some walk but I kept going. I honestly thought Gab, Liz, and everyone else had finished so far ahead of me that I pretty much gave up and just was going through the motions. As I headed out, some runners were heading back in (the 5K route was straight out one side of the road and then turn around and head back the other side). I see Gab coming back and he's going strong. I think "damn, they aren't even finished yet, WHY did I slow down so much?". About half way through I see Liz coming back, I yell "I fucking hate you Liz vincent" (only half joking because she convinced me to do this). Some very kind people had set up a table with water half way through and that was very much appreciated. As I approached the end, Gab had come back and was running with me encouraging me to keep going. I crossed the finish line and was SO glad it was over.
I got my medal, we took some pictures. I could barely walk at this point and we had to walk back to the hotel (just a few blocks) and clean up and pack and get checked out. Definitely next time we'll stay two nights so we aren't in such a rush after the race. We missed the big awards, etc. and the free beer was all gone by the time we got back so we just headed to the brewery. I was driving to Lake Tomahawk after that so I wasn't able to ease my pain with beer either (another reason I will be staying a second night).
For the first couple of hours after the race I said there was "no way I would do that again" but by the next day we were all talking about "next year" and we realized what we were saying. Soooo, as it turns out I am a runner. Not a very good one, but who cares. I finished and I wasn't even last (5th from last) and a whole bunch of people dropped out altogether so I feel pretty good about that.
2012. practice on more hills or take spin class. get a better swim suit/sports bra, wear a watch/pedometer
Sunday, July 24, 2011
yesterday i had a booth at our downtown festival. it was extremely hot (near 100 degrees) and no one was in the shopping mood - the people who did come out were basically trying to get from their cars to anywhere with air conditioning fast so they weren't even stopping to look at our hand made goods. I was feeling crabby and complaining that we'd barely recoup our booth fee.
at about 2pm, i figured i should eat something as i was getting sick - it was just so freaking hot - the last thing you want to do is eat. Right next to our booth was a group making rib-eye sandwiches so i bought one of those and sat down next to rhiannon and started to eat it. she was telling me a story and i have NO idea what she was talking about because the first bite of rib-eye contained a great deal of grizzle and it had lodged in my throat.
she kept talking, oblivious that i was beginning to panic as i realized i was actually for real choking and could not dislodge this piece of meat from my throat. i looked at her panicked but she must have thought i was just interested in her story because she kept talking. I tried to cough, tried to swallow, tried taking a drink of my soda. when I took the drink it all just pooled in my mouth and i stood up fast thinking "I need to find someone to help me RIGHT NOW". I looked toward the sidewalk at a little old couple and thought "no, they won't be able to do heimlich" and Rhiannon wasn't catching on that i was choking (yes, i should have done the international symbol for choking by wrapping my hands around my neck but i really thought the gasping sound and pointing at my throat would have done it). My thought was "i am going to walk back over in front of those guys selling the sandwiches, they'll be strong enough to help me or at least call someone". At that point I tried really hard to take a breath and the sounds was awful but the panic was definitely setting in. The old couple FINALLY looked at me and said "is she choking?" and Rhiannon said "what? are you choking?!" At this point i'm doubled over in our little booth area and she stands up and gives me a good whack on my back, at the same time I am able to cough the piece out. It was actually two pieces of meat connected by grizzle so I thought I had chewed the first piece well and swallowed without realizing it was connected to the other piece (gross i know - it was my own fault for taking too big of a bite).
i of course threw the whole sandwich away and was shaking and had a moment where i almost started crying because i was so freaking relieved and scared and emotional. Then we started laughing at the absurdity of it and how Rhiannon was just talking. (I told her I had NO idea what she had been saying the past five minutes and we laughed some more). Gab showed up about ten minutes after it was over and of course he told me i should have done the hands on throat thing and Rhiannon agreed (I said she probably would have thought I meant "kill me now" in referring to her story being boring or something).
After that I really didn't care if I sold anything because I was so relieved to be breathing. The day could have gone MUCH worse. I had stress dreams about it last night and while I was on my run this morning it played through in my mind again, i just needed to get it out.
My new Mantra: Take small bites. Chew thoroughly. Be Happy to be Breathing.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
just stopping by to check things out in blogworld.
i have been very busy with my new crafting business. Zombie Food officially launched in January and though right now it's available locally and through it's facebook fansite (zombiefood crafts) (via messaging special orders), it has taken off. check it out if you are so inclined. paypal and shipping to anywhere.
i am planning to create an etsy page in the near future also.
i have a partner in crafting crime with zombie food, rhiannon. she is sewing up the cutest toddler dresses out of old tee shirts. she also makes cuff bracelets from old quilt tops and hand made tutus. sweeet.
this week a cold turned wicked sinus infection knocked me out of the loop for several days. ugh. i finally went to the doctor and told him "i'm way too healthy to feel this bad" so i got a shot (seriously, a shot in my butt - can't recall the last time i got a shot at the doctor's). also some antibiotics (really hate having to take them).
starting to gear up and get plans going for the annual summer party. Video Games this year. i have heard a few people's costume plans and already can't wait for this group to get together in one place.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
So NYR Organic has launched. It has been a bit more difficult to get parties booked (more so than with Body Shop), I really think the economy has played a large part but the real problem is that the month of October was spent pulling myself out of the sadness. I am ready to get the ball rolling and really do believe in the product, the company, and the mission so I hope to build the business one organic skin care customer at a time.
My best sellers are:
1. Melissa Hand Cream: pricey at $17 a tube but deeeeelicious and really performs. Cocoa Seed butter and lemon balm (and lots of other yummy organic plant oils), the lemon balm really comes through and the scent is so invigorating. One tiny pea size amount more than does the job.
2. Frankincense Toning Body Cream: i LOVE the scent of Frankincense but I know it's not for everyone. It's a warm, woody scent like cedar or patchouli. This is a very rich body cream that provides great moisture and strengthens skin.
3. Lemon & Coriander Deodorant: Aluminum Free. Because we now know that aluminum deodorant can cause breast cancer, more and more women are looking for a natural, aluminum free version.
It has been very hard for me to decide which product is my true favorite. I use the Wild Rose Beauty Balm every day but I also use the Chamomile Creamy Cleanser every night to wash with. It is so gentle for my very sensitive skin, I love it. If I had to choose one over the other, I would say Wild Rose is my "desert island" product. I can just use it in so many ways.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
the closer we got to home to harder it was. gab had already told the kids that grandpa had died and i had no idea how they would be. both of my kids are and have always been extremely close to him. Magda used to call him "boyfriend" and he called her "girlfriend" and he would give her the moon.
He would sit on the floor with jude and play cars with him, always taking the one jude wanted and then laughing when jude would yell at him for cheating. He also was teaching Jude how to use tools and because of Grandpa Jude could identify all the screwdrivers and different tools in Grandpa's box.
We picked mom up in lexington and she rode the rest of the way home with us. When we got to town she wanted to see the kids, I was not sure if that was the best idea but complied. As soon as she walked in the house, Magda ran into her arms and they collapsed on the couch holding each other and sobbing. No words at all. Jude rounded the corner and said "aw man, when dad told me about grandpa dying, i didn't cry one bit".
A few minutes later he said "hey wait, when my dinosaur breaks again, who is gonna fix it?" he knew grandpa was the great fixer and was realizing how HIS life would be affected. He continued to rattle off things that would have to be thrown away because Grandpa couldn't fix them anymore.
I looked at my front door with Mel's tools still sitting near it and cried silently. The first few weeks it was a sad reminder and now more than a month out, it comforts me and makes me think of that day he had everyone standing around looking at it and we all laughed about how "many senior citizens does it take to install a front door?"
Jude never did cry about Grandpa dying but the following Monday he cried about EVERYthing else. He cried about me choosing out the wrong shirt for him, he cried because I made his toast wrong, he cried when i took him to school, he cried because his stomach hurt..Easier to deal with those issues than what was really upsetting him I suppose. Magda on the other hand, went head first into her sadness, sobbed uncontrollably and released it. By Monday she was ready for school and some normal kid stuff.
I think I took more of Jude's approach, I'm not much of a head first into my emotions type of woman. I admire those who can do that.
so here we are over a month later, heading into the official Holiday season (and his birthday would have been this month). still sad but not quite as "fogged" over as i have been. the Earth keeps on spinning.
2009 has taken:
2. aunt ruth
3. Grandma Blanche
4. Jill Bane (local young woman who fought cancer for 9 months)
5. Sammy Sartoris (good friend's little brother 17 yrs old)
6. Jeff Roberts (gab's good friend and rolltender only 33 yrs)
7. Hunter Gerdes (10 year old local boy who fought lukemia for 9 months)
8. Kathleen McLean (brother in law's mum)
9. Farrah Fawcett
10. Patrick Swayze
11. Michael Jackson
12. Bea Arthur
13. Billy Mays
14. David Carradine (Bill)
15. ed mcmahon
16. dj am
17. dom deluise
18. John Hughes
19. Natasha Richardson
My brother was driving down to be with mom on Friday, 9/11. She was mad that he was not attending Grandma Blanche's services but we didn't want her to be alone down there. Mel's sister and daughter had driven back Wednesday to help take care of her services so my cousin (kelly) drove over from Tennessee to sit with mom for a few days.
I was planning to drive down on Sunday and spend a few days. I really thought that it would come down to helping mom make the decision to take him off life support so I didn't know how long that would go on.
I woke up Friday morning and had a sense of urgency. I needed to hit the road "right now". I called my cousin (karen) who said she would ride with me (the sister of the cousin who was already there) and made arrangements with Gab and his parents to help with the kids. I was in Indiana at the time for a training so I actually had to drive two hours home, repack my backpack and hit the road. It took just around 8 hours to get there. I arrived at about 6pm.
at the ICU, you can only be at certain times and for only half hour increments. I went right in at 6 and told Mel I was there and we missed him and the kids wanted him to come home. He was so frail and had tubes coming out everywhere, he would have HATED that. He had a male nurse named Forrest and he talked just like Forrest Gump but he was very sincere and caring. When our time was up, I told Mel "we have to go now, we'll be back in two hours".
we went to eat and at 8:00pm we went back in. His monitors were all over the place like his blood pressure was not stable at all. The doctor came in and told us that he was "very ill" that any ONE thing he had going wrong with him would put him in the ICU but he had several very serious things happening at once. He did not feel there was anything left to do. At 8:30 I had to leave so I held his hand and told him we couldn't come back tonight but we would see him first thing in the morning. I went to the waiting room where my brother was sleeping and my cousin was on her cell phone. My mom stayed (they let spouses spend an extra 15 minutes). Within moments of sitting down we heard over the intercom "Code Blue: Level 4" and seconds after that my mother comes running out screaming and sobbing for us to "come quick". My brother jumped up and I ran out (no shoes) and she tried to get back into the ICU but the nurses held her back and told her she could not be back there. She just cried and screamed at them that she was supposed to go get her kids, they ushered us into a family room near the door.
A woman came into the room with us who was with another family in ICU and she identified herself as a pastor and offered to pray with us. As she prayed my mom sobbed how "she can't live without him" and "where was Jesus when I asked him to make Mel better?" She does not even remember this portion of the event at all.
A doctor came into the room and kneeled down to us. She said "we got a heartbeat" and my mom jumped with hope. "But...to be frank...it's the medicine keep him alive at this point and when the medicine gets through his system he will likely code again". They escorted us in to his room again.
Mel's two sisters and one daughter were driving down (they had waited until after Grandma Blanche's services to hit the road) so they were about an hour away at this point. We hoped they could make it in time to say their good byes.
We were in the room maybe five minutes when he coded again. Again we were led to the family room. Forrest came in and said "he is likely going to die now, do you want to be in the room when it happens?" and we followed him back to Mel's room. There were about 6 other people in the room. A large man performing CPR on his fragile body and a doctor pushing medicine into a mainline at his neck. Other people reading off stats and doing counts. It was chaos. My brother held my mom and I turned my back and looked at the wall because watching his body jumping up and and down was more than I could stand. My mom cried to him "don't leave me" and the doctor kept looking at her for permission to stop. My mom just wanted him to live.
I thought, okay, I am in a fucking movie and his ghost is floating somewhere in this room. He is watching all this unfold and I should see something. I concentrated on the ceiling and tried and tried to see ..something...but nothing.
Finally my brother who is very stoic and restrained cries and says firmly "MOM, tell them to stop" she replies "i just want him back" and Bryan says "HE'S HAD ENOUGH, WE'VE ALL HAD ENOUGH" so she whimpers "i don't want him to suffer anymore" and the doctor stopped pushing meds and the guy stopped performing cpr and everyone stepped back and we all just watched the monitors go to zero an flat line. I was still looking so close for some sign...a shadow, fuzzy shape, glow of light, nothing. Just a yellowing frail body with tubes sticking out.
My mom threw herself on his body and sobbed. Mel's sisters and daughter arrived about half an hour later. It took mom a couple of hours to be able to leave his body and go to the hotel but we did get her some xanax and made her take two. No one slept much that night and the 8 hour drive home the next day was a blur. Mom rode with Bryan, and Sandy and her boyfriend drove mom's car back. Family friends Donna and Richard had driven Judy and Debbie and I was with Karen in my truck. Convoy. We stopped at a great family buffet for dinner and we all felt "mel would have loved this, the food was good but he would have loved having so many family together even more".
it was a Wednesday and mom asked the kids and I over for dinner. She and Mel were leaving for southern il for her eldest sister's funeral the next day and then another sister (and her husband) were riding with them to Tunica, Mississippi for a three day weekend.
Mel came out and didn't look like he felt very well. I mentioned this to him and we talked a bit about it. He was sure he'd be fine, he has been unhealthy for years having survived pretty much every major health scare you can think of ( congestive heart failure, colon cancer, open heart surgery, hip replacement, very large hernia, diabetic coma....we called him "bionic grandpa"). When his breathing got labored like that, he would take a water pill (?) and get the fluid off his heart and he would be better.
We ate dinner and when we went to leave the kids gave them both hugs and kisses (as they always do) and Mel took my hand and said "I haven't given up on your door, I'll be over next week when we get back". And off we went.
They attended my Aunt Ruth's funeral and headed to Tunica. According to mom and Aunt Wanda, Mel still was in pain and they told him that they could postpone the trip and head home. He insisted on going on down. He thought when he got to the hotel he would put his oxygen on and feel better. On Friday afternoon, my mom called 911 and the EMTs came and took all his vitals, his blood pressure was fine and they thought if he just took his pill to get the water off his heart he would feel better. He didn't want to go to the hospital (because he was worried about money) so the EMTs left. My mom called Gabriel to ask him which pill was the right one because mel just put all his pills in one bottle mixed up. grrrrrr. I feel a little angry at the EMTs who should have been more insistent on convincing him to go to the hospital for tests. According to mom and my aunt, they were pretty casual and gave them all a feeling that he was totally fine. It becomes very apparent that we start to blame everyone and everything and do the whole "what if" scenario over and over. What if I had insisted he stay home that Wednesday night when clearly I saw that he was not doing well?
Somewhere around midnight, Mel was in so much pain (his legs were hurting at this point) he told my mom he needed to go to the hospital. We got the call and Gab answered it, we were asleep so he was pissy. Plus he was still mad about Mel and Mom turning the EMTS away at noon when they were there. Honestly Mel has been in the hospital so many times and my mom always made it sound like he was going to die each time that this time we thought it was the same situation. After all, he survives EVERYTHING. He was in so much pain and his blood pressure was too low to give him any pain medication so they put him on a ventilator and in a twilight coma to alleviate pain. His blood pressure was almost non-existent like 60 over 40 or something crazy low.
So here is my mom living in a waiting room 8 hours away from home. My aunt and uncle were making trips back and forth to the hotel (which I must mention the hotel was awesome and gave them rooms for free for the duration of their stay since they stayed a few extra days to be with mom). Over the next few days his condition got worse. His kidneys started shutting down, he developed blood clots, and they thought maybe he experienced a stroke. They did dialysis to try to reboot the kidneys to no avail. His blood pressure never stabilized and his oxygen was floating somewhere around 70% even with 100% O2 flow. They talked about "making a decision".
My aunt had to come home to start her latest round of chemo (yes, when it rains it pours) so Mel's daughter and his sister drove down on Tuesday. My brother and I were planning to stagger our visits to mom had someone with her at all times. I couldn't spend too much time because of the kids and gab's work schedule.
On Wednesday the phone rang at about 3:30 am. Before I picked up, I just prayed "don't say it, don't say it, don't say it". It was my mom and she was crying and she choked out "Grandma Blanche just died". So, Mel's mother passed away and he never even knew it. I hate to say it but I was relieved. I thought, whatever energy or strength she had left (she was 93) she would float down there and give it to him. Her services were on Friday, September 11th.
2009 has taken a LOT of wonderful people from us, it's been rough. both celebrities and friends and family.
i just spent a good amount of time reading over my posts from the past several years and laughing about all the funny stories my kids told. i documented local disasters, accidents, and sad things too. i have decided to post the ordeal of my dad's death here (rather than facebook) since not many people read this blog anymore. it's more for me but feel free to read if you want.
Mel Sykes Jr. was my step dad but for the past 28 years he was much more a dad than my biological father (who I don't hate but don't have a very close relationship with either). Mel could have written a book about how to be a great step dad. I was a pre-teen when my mom and Mel got married so I was at the height of my puberty dramatic girl self. I was a total brat. Mel never ever at anytime acted like he was sorry that I was part of the package. He stuck with me and with love and patience he won me over.
It was after I got married and had kids that my relationship with my mom and Mel really grew. I spent a lot of time with them and they both helped me so much with both babies. We spent many Saturday mornings in the summer driving to garage sales. Mel loved to ride with me and the kids to Bloomington to Menards or Sam's Club (he loved to ride the scooter around with Jude and eat all the samples).
Mel was much more than just smart, he was wise. I relied on his opinion and really miss that the most. Many times over the last month, I have thought "oh, I need to ask Mel what he thinks about that" only to remember that I cannot have that conversation with him. I would get the Pantagraph on Sundays and do the first few (easy) answers of the crossword puzzle. Then I would give it to him, he would work the puzzle and leave a few for me to finish (usually the ones that involved a celebrity or song title). It was a joke that I would "have" to finish his puzzles. I have never known anyone as flat out smart and wise as he.
the door project:
A few paragraphs does not even come close to doing justice to the effect Mel had on my life. He loved doing projects, he would measure about 50 times and it would drive me crazy (because I would just eyeball something). He had to have everything perfect and I appreciated that when he did something, I knew it would be done right. The last project he was working on for me was a new front door. True to form, he took about 10 days just to get the door in place. He had to take out the original door, measure, measure, measure, put the door back on because it was late. Then repeat the process several days in a row. He leveled out the floor around the door, put in new insulation and jams and at last the new door was in. Now, to tackle the hardware. LOL, he had my uncle, my mom, and my aunt all standing around looking at it for an hour before he actually installed it. The lock was not working "smooth" so he spent another full day working on that. At last, perfect. He left all his tools sitting in front of the door until he could finish the molding and trim around the door. He was going on vacation and would finish it when he got back.