Category: memories


Today is the first day of 2011 and though I have neglected this blog for some time, I keep it going because I never know when the mood will strike me to post something non-work, non-silly thing-related.

In 2010, it was a nice year, until the end when I lost my beloved grandfather. I don’t know if I can properly convey how much I love my Grampa and how horrible it is without him in my life now. Many people have told me how lucky I am to have had him as part of my life for so long. Many people’s grandparents died before they had a chance to get to know them.

I know I’m lucky. He once drove all night with my beloved Aunt to rescue my daughter and me from an evil ex-husband and his wicked family. He used to drive a little train for the kiddies at the local zoo and loved it. He loved nothing more than bragging on his family to anyone who’d listen. When he hugged you you could feel it down to your bones – those are the best kinds of hugs. If you wore glasses he’d smudge them all up hugging you. I loved teasing him about that.

He always had a million things in his front shirt pocket. Combs, pens, glasses case. When I was younger, I used to love taking one of his combs and fiddle with his ‘bohunk swirl’ he always had in his hair. He always called us grandkids and great-grandkids his ‘Sweet-horts’ and he always let us know how proud he was of anything we did. He’d listen to you blather on and never made you feel like he was just waiting for his turn to talk, or talked over you or made you feel like you were boring him. He was always reading a book – something picked up in the grocery checkout line or from Goodwill. He just loved to be reading.

The night he died… well, I’m not going to write about that. It was awful and I’m not sure I want that night to be my most vivid memory of him. I am glad that Shannon and I were with him, but I am angry at myself as well. I wish he could have pulled through like he always did and was able to celebrate Christmas with us. I love you Grampa and I miss you so much.

But though the year did not end well, the rest of it was all right. We got to spend time up in Montana with my dad and his lovely wife. It was gorgeous up there in October – we got lucky with the weather. I got to know Great Falls a bit better and show some cool pictures. AND I got to experience Wi-fi at 30,000 feet. Thanks Delta! 🙂

My sister and her hubby came to Nebraska, courtesy of my Gran and so we spent time with them at the first Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island. That was great until I was overcome by some weird virus that made me so incredibly dizzy that I made quite a spectacle of myself at work. I was rescued, once again, by my Grampa who drove me to the ER and sat with me in the room for hours and helped me get home after. I spent a week feeling like I was constantly room-spinny drunk and it was one of the most awful feelings in the world.

Things at work have been fine. The classic battles of new media vs. old media rage on. I’ve had some days when I lost some of my love for my work, but that’s probably normal.

My daughter is flourishing and becoming more and more independent and strong. I couldn’t ask for more, even if sometimes it hurts a little to let her grow up. She’s a redhead now and she looks awesome 🙂 This year she suffered through her first breakup and it was pretty rough on her, but I’m amazed at how she handles herself. I’ve got a keeper, that’s for sure 🙂 She’ll finish her sophomore year at college this Spring and she’s talking about grad school which makes me insanely happy. In April, we’ll be off to see the Cirque du Soleil. Her first time, my third. I can’t wait!

What’s left… love life? I am still with Ernie. Just over two years now which is hard to believe, but very cool. It’s really nice, being loved. Warm and fuzzy-like 🙂

There was a lot more to 2010 (I’m a blonde now, for one thing), and a lot that was very much like 2009. Many days are pretty much ‘Get up, go to work, come home, watch telly or futz around the Internet, go to bed.’ I have developed a real interest in cooking thanks to the Food Network. I got sucked into several shows and now find myself collecting pots and pans and mixers and processors. I’ve learned how to make a nice risotto and hell, I’ve even fried chicken 🙂 You can keep up with my cooking machinations at Mmmm Good.

Even though this blog is neglected a bit, it doesn’t mean I’m not busy elsewhere on the Tubes. There’s my pro blog, my posterous, I like taking pix with Instagram, and of course, I’m on Twitter and Facebook.

So… resolutions for 2011? No. All I ever hope for every year is happiness and that no one I love dies. Didn’t quite make it through 2010 unfortunately on that second one and I’m afraid I’ll be a bit maudlin about losing Grampa for a while yet. But I hope 2011 is a good year for everyone I know and love, and for anyone who stumbles onto this neglected little blog.

A little nostalgic

I thought today might be a little rough. It’s the anniversary of the day my mom died. Logically I know that reminding myself of that isn’t the best way to ‘move on’ but it was a pretty horrible day and I don’t know that I’ll ever get over it really.

But instead of being a melancholy eejit all day, I had someone wonderful spend time with me and keep me quite cheerful and happy. It was lovely and I’m totally grateful to you for that honey. I told you that on Twitter, but I’m saying it here too. Thank you for being so awesome.

Speaking of awesome, he also took a walk down Nostalgia Ave today and twitpic’d a bunch of freaking adorable pics of him as a little boy that I’m still going, ‘Awwwww’ over. It put me in the mood to do the same. Luckily, I had to clean out our laundry room tonight (because I bought a washer and dryer – woohoo!! but that means one less storage spot for all my crap hehe) and found a few pics I figured I’d share.

They are: two pics of my beautiful mother from when she was in high school. Junior and Senior pix I believe; one of me with two of my cousins – I was 2 apparently, but man, totally thought I was older; and one photo booth strip of the kidlet and me. She looks about 3 in it so would have been ’93 or ’94.

Growing up

My little girl has a boyfriend.

I’m still waiting for that to sink in. She’s really quite tired of me grilling her about him but I have no basis of comparison for dealing with this. I never had a boyfriend in high school. Which makes me sound like quite the loser, hehe. On the contrary, I was liked well enough and once the braces and glasses came off I wasn’t too dorky-looking. But either people thought I was Meechie’s girlfriend (my best friend; we were joined at the hip) and didn’t know he was actually gay, or they just weren’t interested in the girl with multi-colored hair in Docs and leather.

My high school experience is so vastly different from my daughter’s. I often find myself floundering on how to react to situations with her. Like her new boyfriend. They’ve only been going out for a week, but have had one formal date (complete with gown and everything) and then tonight she spent the evening at his house watching Repo! and playing Guitar Hero.

I spent the evening hoping she wouldn’t have sex.

Because, you know, I told her not to.

I have to tread carefully here. Sure I joke with her about the not having sex and telling her I’ll be checking for hickies when she gets home, but I don’t want to put a damper on her first boyfriend either. I mean I don’t want her to look back one day and not remember him but instead remember me constantly grilling her about him and telling her not to have sex. Your first boyfriend is special, and hopefully she’ll have nice memories of him one day.

I’m also starting to really feel as if a change has happened with her when I wasn’t looking. It’s been so gradual that I didn’t even notice that she’s not really a kidlet anymore, but a young woman. She’s beautiful and smart, level-headed and so excited for her future. She’s nothing like I was at her age. I coloured my hair every week, wore a lot of black, rebelled like crazy and all I cared about was hanging out with my friends at Denny’s. I lacked something that she has in spades.

Soon she’s going to head off to college. Something I still thought of as years away is literally just months away now and if I let myself think about it too much, it stings. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tie the apron strings tighter or anything. Of course I will let go and hope that I’ve done enough for her to let her make it on her own just fine. But I dread it. I can’t help it. My tiny apartment will seem so empty and huge without her around all the time.

To anyone reading this with very young children – ohhh cherish every single moment, good and bad. Capture as much as you can on video or photos. Blog about them. Because it’s over all too quickly and this little person you’ve had in your life for 18 years will grow up and move away one day and you won’t know what hit you. I hope you have a significant other of some kind – be it best friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, or husband/wife to lean on when the time comes to let them out into the wild. You’re going to need it.

Aunt Judy

For the past couple of days I’ve been working on this site for the paper. It’s the sort of “home” for the year-long (and a bit) series of cancer stories written by people in our community. It’s been a beautiful series, and photographer Scott Kingsley and columnist George Ayoub put a lot of work into it.

And then they gave me their “babies” to make them look nice online. Not a problem. Except in the process of building the site, I discovered I was going to have to actually read the stories. It’s probably horrible of me to admit I never read the stories when they appeared in print, and horrible to admit I hoped I could just cut and paste the stories up without having to delve into them. There’s a reason for that though. I knew that I’d have a difficult time getting through them.

Two things I’m afraid of: death and cancer. And because I’m one of ‘those’ women who cries at sad things, I just end up avoiding stuff like these stories. I admire and whoop for joy at anyone who beats cancer. I’ve walked in Relay for Life. I donate to breast cancer awareness organizations. But I get weepy. Which is exactly what happened when I found I had to format the stories online which required me to actually read them. So for the past two days I’ve added about 27 stories – all of them great – most of which made me cry.

And this is a very long way of saying that cancer scares me because I watched my brave and beloved Aunt battle it for over 15 years. Man she was awesome. The coolest Aunt a kid could have and I’m not just saying that. In the pic below, that’s Judy on the left with my mom when they traveled to England together.

Judy was the one who took me on my dream trip to NYC when I was 16. We roadtripped together from Grand Island to Niagara Falls to New York City, and then along the coast and into Boston and New England in general. It was awesome.

At Niagara, I convinced her to do the helicopter trip over the falls in a chopper. She was terrified, but she did it, though the pilot probably still has her fingernail marks around his knee, hehe. She took me to my first aquarium in Boston. She rode the subway in NYC. The best story from the trip though has to be the cab ride she and I took.

I don’t recall where we were headed, but the driver was of Eastern descent. Indian perhaps? Anyway, it’s the middle of summer, very hot, we’d been walking all over the place, and he kept asking my Aunt, “You have rash?” over and over again, and she kept getting more and more offended. It turns out he was saying, ‘You have RUSH’. meaning he was asking if we were in a hurry because he needed to stop for gas. I about fell over laughing so hard.

But Judy was full of awesome. She was there when I graduated from high school. And it was around this time that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She battled and did the chemo thing, but it never quite went away. A few years after I graduated, my family left California and moved back here to Nebraska to help her out.

When I left my husband, which is not a story I really want to go into publicly except to say it was a horrible weekend, but Judy and my Grampa drove over 7 hours from Grand Island to Castle Rock, CO to come and rescue us. She didn’t hesitate to jump in the car and come help us. And she was there for me and my daughter while I went through divorce.

When the cancer started getting aggressive, she made monthly trips to a big cancer center in Oklahoma for treatment, but it was spreading into her bones. She lost her hair, and went through all that wretched stuff cancer and the treatments required for it do to you. But she never lost her spirit.

She made Christmases extra awesome, especially for the kids. She’d hire a Santa to come and pass out gifts on Christmas eve, host all the family dinners and cook like crazy. We have a family cookbook full of recipes from well, family, but friends as well, and Judy’s stuff was always a hit.

She spoiled my daughter rotten 🙂 Shannon spent a lot of time with Aunt Judy as she grew up and I’m so glad they were close.

She was the one who broke the news to me about my dad the night he died. And she was there for us all the morning my mother died. One echoing statement I clearly remember from that blurry day was her whispering, “It should have been me.” She was feeling guilty that she was suffering from cancer and yet my healthy mom died before her. I remember that so vividly, and it kills me to remember that.

The following year after mom died, Judy’s cancer seemed to speed up and consume her. She passed away on October 9th, 2002, just shy of her 58th birthday.

I don’t want to talk about what she was like at the end. I don’t want to remember her that way. I prefer to remember her as she was in that photo up there – laughing, happy, and having a great time because that’s what she was always like. She rocked, bigtime 🙂


When I came home from my job at a meat-packing plant (ugh, don’t ask, it was a long time ago) on this day, December 21st, I got a call from my aunt telling me that my dad had been taken to hospital. He’d collapsed at home. She told me to stay home and wait for news.

So I waited. And waited. I cleaned things. I remember installing some kind of shelf in the kitchen. I paced. Then a knock on the door. I opened it to find my Aunt standing there. She’d been crying. The first thing she said was, “We lost him.” He was 45 years-old.

I haven’t thought about that day in years. He passed away on December 21, 1992. And the passage of time has indeed done its healing thing. I think about him a lot though. He was my dad all too briefly. My mom fell in love with him when he moved in next door to us when I was seven. So, technically, my mom married the boy next door 🙂 He was awesome too. A great father, funny guy, passionate about oldies music, devoted to his family and even though he was my stepfather, I never referred to him as such until I had to start explaining how I was related to him after I met my equally awesome and cool biological father. It gets complicated 🙂

I changed my name from Gleason, which is my birth name, to Romanski – his name – when I was 10 as a birthday gift for him and I’m damn proud to still be a Romanski, if only in name and not by heritage.

Anyway, I wanted to remember him today by telling one of my favourite stories about him – of which there are many 🙂

When we lived in Council Bluffs, IA for a time, my parents had joined a bowling league. Sometimes my sister and I would go with them and watch or play in the arcade etc. while the adults bowled. But on one particular occasion, I was home babysitting Kelly and enjoying having total control of the TV 🙂 I was just about to make some popcorn and enjoy an evening of MTV when the door opened and i walked my parents way too early.

Puzzled, I asked what they were doing home. As I said this dad had scurried off to their bedroom while my mother was doing her best to to break out laughing. I remember grinning and asking again why they were home so early. Then my dad came out, looking sheepish, and said that he had torn his jeans.

I asked if he fell or something.

“No. Hehehe. I was about to bowl, and as I took a step I heard a *RRRRIIIIP* and then felt a breeze where there should be no breeze.”

I stifled a giggle. He went on to explain that his jeans were perhaps a touch too tight, and that when he took the big Bowler’s step, they split at the seem, exposing his tighty-whiteys to the entire league. but the best part of the story is what he did next. He did not try and slink away in shame. Oh no, not my dad 🙂 After freezing for a moment, probably trying to decide how best to proceed, in typical ‘that’s my dad’ fashion, he turned around and faced everyone in the league, and did a little jig.

Everyone laughed and my mom was giggling all the way home. I love this story 🙂

That’s my dad.