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Constant Forward Motion


There’s a saying that my ultrarunning coach, Dante had said was important to remember. “Constant Forward Motion”, also known as “CFM”. 

It’s closing in on four years since your passing. I’m uncertain if you’ve been able to take it all in Norman. So, here goes…

So, after the funeral our minivan was about to hit the dirt too. Noises erupted in her that day after your funeral. Thank God you purchased your last new car just months before that. Stick shift alrighty, I knew you not only meant that for you, but for me as well. You knew the kids wouldn’t try to drive that sucker. LOL.

The next day, I called our mechanic who suggested to get a used Toyota Corolla for our oldest. Randy looked it up for me. He misses you too, by the way. It was a good deal for certain. And two days after your funeral we put money down on a used Corolla, a sweet car for Sarah. I knew you’d begin to get alarmed as Sarah increased her workload for the summer to as much as fifty-five hours a week between two jobs. She worked as much as forty hours a week during her senior year of high school. She needed that Honey. We both went back to work the day after your funeral. Our youngest stayed home, did summer homework, babysat the pets and got creative aside from her gaming.

Ken, our electrician came over to put in three new light fixtures with ceiling fans. I know. I know. You were a 1956 vintage kind of guy. But really, this is more energy efficient. And I had him put in a bathroom fan downstairs too. Ken is now about eighty or so. He gets a helper if he’s got to climb past two ladder steps. One day he reminisced about when your family lived on Farview and your Dad would pull out and sometimes Ken and his family would hear car screeches. LOL. And when you were born, he remembers that. You guys were somewhere around fourteen years apart, I’d figure.

Then 2020 Christmas early morning arrived with a drip at quarter past one in the morning above our upstairs bathroom ceiling. Kids were sleeping, I’d just finished wrapping. I think you heard me. I whispered, “Enough Norman! Its not funny.” I scurried downstairs to grab some rags, praying as I did. I got back upstairs in seconds to the upstairs bathroom—And the drip was no more. However, I called the contractor we’d used for the roofing, windows, vents, downstairs showers, walkway, and other things over nearly the past quarter century. He’d arrived the day after Christmas. They evidently had a vent not turned the correct way or something to that nature. House was fine, after they fixed it. I had them replace the ceiling, I had them put in a ceiling fan with separate switch, too they put in crown molding. Looks nice. Within a year of that I fired them, when they didn’t get back to me as I’d tallied up the times they’d screwed up on us when you were alive. ‘Off with their heads. No more money for you!’ That was because the head guy got verbally nasty with me. Too, I fired our tree guys. Neither Paul nor John were running the show anymore. You know me, I don’t argue I just put the hammer down and say, “Okay then. Have a nice day.” That’s how I fire people. Then I hang up the phone, then I get angry alone for a few seconds and realize that people will just take advantage of whomever, whenever they can. Yes, crazy lesson we learn nearly repeatedly. Oh well.

Anyway, then I got brave and two months later I stripped the wallpaper off the upstairs bathroom walls. I took our little one ‘the artist’ with me to the paint store and she helped me pick out the color for the bathroom. I did ninety percent of the job myself. I stripped all the paper off the walls. Spackled, then hand-sanded the walls. I did three coats of primer. Then I painted with this light sea foam green with a hue of blue to pick up the 1956-bathroom tile and tub colors. I did two coats, and our little one did the touch up and third coat of paint.  Looks fab Honey!

I had two trees taken down, and the big oak stump de-stumped. They were supposed to go down eight to ten inches per the contract. They didn’t, I had them rectify it eighteen months later when I had the seventy-five-foot swamp maple taken down and de-stumped, which that was supposed to be six to eight inches down into the ground de-stumped. I found out they hadn’t completed the work from the oak in January 2021 (before first snow) and then the one in August 2022. Unreal. Took emails and four phone calls, three re-inspections by them, they’d agreed with me. Took an extra four weeks for them to come and finish the job. Which they went two inches down, about that. Then two, thirty-four-year-old macho guys complained that their robotic equipment couldn’t go down that far due to the rocks. So, I said, “Okay then…” And days later I got my sixty years young one hundred- and four-pound body and hand tools and dug out thirty feet and down eighteen inches on the swamp maple area and two feet on the oak tree areas and finished the job. Swamp maple area was a bear. That section took twenty hours in four days. The oak area was easier than the swamp maple area, finished it in like eight hours or so. Got another 400 beautiful rocks. So yeah, they’re fired too. LOL. ‘You want something done right. You do it yourself.’ Quite an old saying.

And in the middle of this, four of our seven grandnieces lost their dad right after you passed. So, I helped our niece for a little over eight months, two days a week with their remote schooling, which was still in effect due to COVID. Oh yeah, and they got this vaccine for that thing in 2021. Me, none too thrilled with that. Another story for another time.

Our little one, I was able to get her tennis lessons midway through her sophomore tennis season, a couple months after you’d passed. Trust me, it was inexpensive. Even though I stopped doing therapy on people a month after you’d passed. I still go to school regularly for it and I kept my license. However, I closed the business aspect of it by end 2021. I started a new business in September 2022.

I did take our oldest out west to look at colleges during COVID. Yeah, you would’ve bemoaned that. But Honey, I had to. It was where she belonged. Yes, I was the ‘bad cop’ of the parenting. However, this I would’ve sided with her on. She hadn’t realized that till I told her after her freshman year out west and said that to her. As I’d told her how proud you’d be of her.

Yes, you and I would have had the arguments over this. My allowing our oldest to go to college out west. But if you’d allowed it, you would have so reveled in it. Honestly, you would have. Because my responses would’ve been, “But your cousins are nearby…” I would’ve pulled on that string repeatedly. We had no arguments, and she was shocked that I willingly during crisis, no vaccines took her out west and looked at some colleges. And then gave her her choice. Same with the car too. She was stunned. But she did contribute thousands to buying the used car. I didn’t have to ask her. She pretty much did it willingly.

The senior prom Sarah looked incredible. Just amazing. And a guy asked her to prom. The guy you would have not thought of, but you would’ve been so appreciative of who had asked her to the prom. The two shyest kids in the class went to the prom together. It was so nice. Truly it was. Oh. She got Valedictorian to boot. Your friend Mickey helped her and our youngest with their college preparations and selections too. He’s a grandad now. And recently, he’d just done quite the cool hike too.

When Sarah got home after her first year at college, a few things had changed. I redid our kitchen. Took me a week, fifty-two hours in all. Took all the drawers and cabinets apart. The freakin’ 189 pieces of copper were vintage. Looked untouched. I shined the copper screws and such. Yes, kept them in order for the fourteen doors and three drawers I took apart. Hand sanded, three layers of primer and two to three coats of paint. We had a draught then in 2022. That kind of helped the primer and paint dry faster. Too, I got rid of the forty-year-old second fridge we had in the garage. Did a lot of recycling as well. Got a smaller de-humidifier. The old one died right after you’d passed. All good.

Too, I cut down and de-stumped ten trees back then. Recently, a thirty-foot oak tree. Yes, using hand tools. As well I went back to school in 2021. I took two semesters of classes, ten in all. One in advanced algebra at John Hopkins (brutal), five in Chinese all from Peking University (quite brutal too), one journalism, one screenwriting out of University of Michigan, a 260-hour Google Data Analytics course and eight months of piano lessons, from your guitar teacher Kevin.

I took out the five, forty-five-year-old hemlocks, the four, thirty-year old azaleas,  and the two, fifteen-year-old Korean Lilac shrubs between end summer 2020 and beginning summer 2022. And revamped the front shrub area. Tony gave me a couple red maples from his home down  the shore and one survived. It’s cute, you’d like it. Took the four little Alberta spruce Christmas trees I bought and decorated in the front of the deck area. Added three forsythias to the rock garden area on the front side of the house. I think I’ve put in about thirty-two new shrubs so far.

And my vegetable garden I made pretty much in memory of you. It’s called a ‘Peace Garden’ Honey. Its filled with Lavender. Just added two more blueberry shrubs and two grapevines too.

After falling off the ladder three times cleaning the gutters. By March 2022 I decided even though wearing your angelic red raincoat all three times, I was unscathed. A freakin’ bunch of miracles. The Norman Red Raincoat somehow armored me. LOL. I hired a company to put in leaf filters. Worth it. Yes, you and I would have argued over that move. But it was a good one. And I got a thirty percent discount because I was in the military.

I redid all the door sweeps. I sanded, primed, and painted the outside back door and the step that leads in and out to the deck. I had Matt from across the street check it before I ventured on that little project. I’m currently working on our lawn.

Since your passing I’ve written ten more screenplays and four more books. I’ve won a contest for one of my books, won a screenplay contest and Zoomed with Robert McCullough. He wrote “Jag”, Honey. Got two Honorable Mentions on another two screenplays.

Our little one, graduated last year, Salutatorian. She got twenty-three awards at end of her senior year. She received scholarship funds from the university she picked, along with funds from the awards. And she will finish a year early. Whoa! She’s much closer to home than our oldest. She still helps me trim the pets nails. And can she cook. She grills amazingly. She went to prom. She too, looked amazing.  She met a nice boy from school this past September. His family are fun people. You’d enjoy them. Our oldest got an internship out west for this summer. We shipped her car out to her last September.

Last year, I did service for the country through Conservation, NY/NJ Trail Conference, with AmeriCorps. It was full-time for twelve weeks. It was in the woods with young people building and refurbishing trails for hikers in NY and NJ. You would have loved it. I learned so much. The people were so fun. The job was perfect for me. And I ended up adding hiking to my running regime miles.

Nibbles, Aspen, and Cocoa Bean are now geriatric pets. 95, 81, 132 years old in people age. Trust me although they’re spoiled by me, they miss you too. I do make certain they have a good bunny box. I freshen it up with premade box parts I get from a bunny online store.

Well, I’m certain I left out a few things, but I think you’ve witnessed me digging. I’m now revamping that back space we used to dump extra leaves in December when the town would stop picking up for the winter. It’s looking better every day. We shall stay in CFM.---Jody-Lynn Reicher


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