THE WRITE PLACE…

…to build a community. Share Patti Hall's journey …


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Birthdays; Cherished Memories Revisited

Paul swinging in the sunshine. PHALL PHOTO 2008

Paul swinging in the sunshine.
PHALL PHOTO 2008

I originally posted this just after I started my blog, and again in 2013, but I wanted re-post it in honor of Paul’s birth date this year. Paul loved celebration, surprises and family. I remember this last birthday before he was diagnosed with leukemia. We lined our merged five grand daughters up on the couch and took pictures. We so loved our little girlies :>)

Paul is/was a Leo and loved being in the lime light on his special day, okay, on any day. He was very quiet about his pride of place, but if you knew him well, loved him, you could see the glow of it in his bright blue eyes and that smile…

I gave him this 3-D NASCAR card that he kept next to his chair for months; he’d never seen anything like it and I think he loved it better than his actual gift. He loved getting gifts, but that was nothing compared to how he loved finding the perfect thing for someone special. He was very into the drama of giving gifts.

We went out to eat with friends 3 times a week and one of the places was at the local casino. While waiting in line, you pass the gift shop. We’d often have our friends hold our place in line, while we looked in the display cases. I’d oooh and ah over the pretty, shiny things, then we’d move back into the line waiting to get in for dinner.

That Christmas, I had a lot of gifts in all sorts of shapes and sizes. By the time all the gifts were opened, I saw what he had done. He used his casino points and bought me every piece of jewelry I had made noise about at the gift shop during the past year! Crazy guy. Thankfully, he also bought me a jewelry armoir to put it all in.

Enjoy…

A Piece of Our Story in Poetry

This is a piece of our story; the man I knew. This was written for his birthday, 11 months before cancer entered our lives.

20 Aug 2007

Paul teased me about writing a book for him, instead I wrote this poem for his 60th birthday.

Book of Paul…

He is everything wonderful that I ever needed,

handsomely wrapped up in one big tender man.

His rolling laughter leads to coughing fits;

spitting up water and vitamins,

and then falling off the bed!

A prankster to his core,

full of special surprises for all.

A memory-maker, his camera always within reach,

he records the Kodak moments of our lives.

His cards & gifts & little notes come from the heart,

and always meet their target.

He loves easily and deeply…

his children, grandchildren, his friends & me!

He would love to be a millionaire,

but he lives well, and is generous with what he has.

His tastes and beliefs are “traditional”,

yet he has an open mind and can embrace the non-traditional,

except food, of course!

He loves Taco Time, NASCAR, animal shows,

Funniest Videos, Cops and bad sci-fi movies.

Every day he says and does funny or special things for me,

he can calm me with only a look, or a touch.

He wants us together, no matter what,

and turns every errand into a “date”.

He acts crabby sometimes,

but just below the surface is a joke or a prank or a smile.

He notices the little things,

and always says “thank you”.

For a T-shirt and jeans guy,

he sure is a clothes horse!

He gives hugs and touches often,

he sings seriously and dances with a laugh.

Happy Birthday… With All My Love,

Patti

Sorry about the quality of this photo. I snapped it on my way out the door. This is Paul’s part of a little alter I have in my beach cave, for all those we’ve lost the last few years.

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Memoir Monday 4

beach

On my beach 2013

Part 2

Nature Heals: A Non-Scientific Study

A 5-year, blinded by multiple deaths of loved ones, study.

After Paul died (Aug 2009) I spent my few waking hours out on the back deck of our home. From my lofty vantage point, I soaked up the panorama of our own overgrown lawn and gardens and the wild acreage surrounding them. Beyond all the love and support of our circle of family and friends, nature itself helped bring me back to life. In Memoir Monday 3 I wrote about my experiences with nature immediately after Paul’s death. If you missed it, you can catch up here: Memoir Monday 3  http://wp.me/p3i5jo-wA

 

When our home and property was stripped in the name of “estate business” and I no longer felt the essence of Paul within those walls, I ran away to the beach. I’ve told that part of the story before. Once again, nature brought me back to life.

Excerpts from the beach cave, February-March 2010:

I think about the cool agates I found earlier in the day and the beautiful sunset I watched from the beach. Ahhh, this is the life.

The beach was a comedy of errors today, with lots of treasures found. It started out cloudy with sun breaks, and yes, very windy. I had on my layers, rolled up the cuffs of my pants, grabbed a wad of tissues for the runny nose, and was off. Just yesterday I figured out to roll up my pants, instead of having them drag in the sand and soak me to my calves. All vestiges of vanity were left in the truck; I looked ridiculous, with a smile. I found 2 awesome pieces of driftwood right off the bat. Along with a half-dollar sized yellow agate, I seemed to be on a rock hunt today. So many beauties, mostly green, but I got some interesting layered ones and a big maroon rock with white streaks in it.

Weekends get busy here, and I usually don’t go down to the beach if there are tons of people, but I just needed to today. They were all wimpy tourists, and pretty soon I had the whole stretch practically to myself. A couple of women were griping about “slim pickings today”. I’m not sure what they were looking for, maybe twenty-dollar bills? I was finding a little of everything, including a teeny tiny sand dollar. You know me; I was having a freaking blast. Kid in a candy store kind of fun. Like that. Pretty soon I look up and I am alone on the entire beach, some dark clouds are hanging over me, but I keep doing what I do. I sneak down to the get a peak at the good stuff when the tide goes out, grab a shell or rock, and then race back to safety when the waves come back to try and get me. This is good good exercise. I also laugh at myself a lot and thank the waves and the ocean when they bring me a goody—out loud. You know, just being my own crazy self.

In the middle of my dance with the waves a little hail started falling. I look up to judge how far away my truck is (a long way) and keep on hunting. It has briefly hailed on me the last several days, no big deal. Next the rain came, in seconds it was pouring. No, I didn’t bring a damn umbrella down to the beach. I have a perfectly good hood on my coat…that was soaked through and dripping in my eyes within minutes. Of course, as it goes when you hang out with Murphy, the wind kicked up. The big meaty front parts of my legs are numb from wind and ice cold rain. My hands are now too wet, but I attempt to put my gloves on, no such luck, I shove them back in my pockets. With all this water from the ocean, water from the sky, well, now I have to pee so bad I’m almost in tears. By the way, I am STILL looking at the goodies on the sand, and even picking up a few. I am a diehard. The rain stopped by the time I wearily climbed the huge sandy bank and reached the bathrooms. Standing under the eaves of the building is about 7 wimpy tourists. I said, “You chickens!” One smarmy lady replied, “No, we just know when to come in out of the rain.”

So, I finally figured out to roll up my pant legs, but it is a moot point, since I am soaked from top to toes anyway. GRRRR. Now, fully warm (I finally changed my propane tank), I’m gonna curl up with a hot cup of coffee and my library books about agates, shells, seaweed, whales and other beach-living necessities. Home schooling at its best! (The common sense is supposed to come naturally.) Huh.

Each death that followed over the course of the next several years, plunged me back into darkness. Nature revived me again and again. I am held gently in the arms of solitude and nature. So many times I had no words to express my feelings of pain, guilt and loss. Instead, I’d reach for my camera to witness, record and share every angle of beauty that I could find.

My heart was lifted by this witnessing and sharing, and I felt like I could breathe again, that I could take the next step towards living.

And you responded with kind words about what you saw and enjoyed in my photos and words. You got it. These responses also helped/help bring me back to life.

Witnessing and photographing nature and other amazing and wondrous things is my sedative, my meditation, my prayer. I am reminded that, through all the pain of grief, beauty, joy and wonder still exists for me to witness and share.

Peace,

Patti


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Memoir Monday 3

Wild Yellow Flag Iris with ivy-covered ghost cabin in background. Phall Photo 2014

Wild Yellow Flag Iris with ivy-covered ghost cabin in background. Phall Photo 2014

Nature Heals: A Non-Scientific Study, Part 1

A 5-year, blinded by multiple deaths of loved ones, study.

After Paul died (Aug 2009) I spent my few waking hours out on the back deck of our home. From my lofty vantage point, I soaked up the panorama of our own overgrown lawn and gardens and the wild acreage surrounding them. Beyond all the love and support of our circle of family and friends, nature itself helped bring me back to life.

Excerpts from my first few emails in late August to early September 2009 to our family and friends:

I’m watching the deer on the hill & the chickadees are singing their evening lullaby. There are many things I should be doing, but I will probably go back to bed. I did finally turn the soaker hoses off…after 3 days!

I woke up to a longggg, LOUD roll of thunder this morn. The pounding rain on the roof woke me several times last night, still pouring now. Bring on the ARK!

Oliver (my cat) is curled up next to me on the porch swing, dreaming of the good old days when he could get around better and we still had Paul and Jake (our dog) with us. I know what Oliver’s dreaming, cause that’s what I’m dreaming…

Earlier I described a gloomy, rainy day. Now, however, the sun has come out, the rain stopped, and a mist rises from the grassy field on the hill. I’ve been watching a fledgling red-tail hawk learn to fly. He’s resting on a high, thick fir tree branch, his wings drooping at his sides. Trying to balance his heavy wings, he follows the branch towards the center of the big tree; I think it is siesta time.
A light breeze just came from the south and swept away all of the dark clouds, leaving some bright white ones on the horizon, pushing the others to the north. The porch chimes are singing and one of the ducks on the pond is yakking. People, this is amazing! I’m listening to all sorts of birds singing about the sun coming out after nature’s shower.
I keep wanting to turn around and knock on the window to get Paul to come out and see these wonders; he never failed to show his enthusiasm for my discoveries. He never told me to wait a minute. He would put down whatever he was doing and mosey on out to see what I had found. He usually grabbed the camera too. Now, that makes me cry–how could we lose someone that special?
 
Pretty crazy weather day. That same breeze just filled the sky with more dark clouds and I’ll be damned if it isn’t raining again! Yesterday I finally planted the thyme, moss, and ornamental grass that have been sitting by the side of the house in their original store pots since May. I salvaged most of them and planted them in a big round bowl-shaped pot and sat it in the tall pot with dead things in it on the back porch. Another new rose bloomed in the temp perennial garden. This one is a large, fluffy pink one. I cut it yesterday and added it to a vase with a pink and light lavender gladiola. Collected and stored seeds from a cool Canterbury bell-like flower yesterday; one was light lavender, the other a deep purple. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more dry spells to collect more seeds, she says, as it pours buckets of rain on her garden… “What wild hopes lie here.” author unk.
Part 2, excerpts from beach cave notes and conclusion of my tongue-in-cheek “study” will be posted on June 23rd.

Thank you,

Patti

 

The Memoir Monday feature will be posted every other Monday.


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Memoir Monday 2

20140522_104711

The Memoir Monday feature will be posted every other Monday. Sometimes very late in the day 🙂

Sometimes I send out an almost empty blog post, maybe a nice photo…actually, I have never sent out an almost empty blog post. I’m a writer. I write.

However, it is almost 9:30 at night in the Pacific Northwest of the United States…even if I were to get it out by 10, you are probably in bed then and won’t read it until Tuesday.

Here’s where I’m at. I have more memoir notes to post, and I even cut and pasted some in at first. Then, I get that ugly feeling that nothing I say is going to move you or entertain you. I have spent most of the day, on and off, at this desk. It hasn’t helped. Every start is a false start. I scanned for interesting memoir news and found some interesting bits. Then I erased them. I have a handful of online friends who are about to, or have published memoirs. I could add links to their books or sites. I can’t.

Here’s what I’ve learned today. Have scheduled posts ready at least three days in advance. What if you wake up and other things are weighing so heavily on your mind, that the scheduled post is just frozen inside you? You bomb.

I bombed, but I will be back to try Memoir Monday again in two weeks. Meanwhile, I hope you had a good Memorial weekend.

Patti

The picture is from WWI, part of a collection that my aunt was selling at the swap meet.

 

 


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Memoir Monday 1

The Memoir Monday feature will be posted every other Monday.

This memoir writing is tough stuff. Many of my online friends are from a circle of published or soon-to-publish memoir writers. Most are based on hard subjects; illness and injury, death by disease or suicide, and abuse or neglect. You have to wonder why these memoirs are so widely read. At first glance those subjects are sad or depressing.

Why do we read them? I have always read memoirs and biographies. Sometimes I’m drawn in by pure curiosity, other times the author is covering an experience that I have had, or someone close has had. I want to know how they got through it. I want a blatant or even a subtle message of hope. Yes, hope.

The author lived to write about it, so maybe they have a secret of survival to share with me. Maybe they write so well, with that just-right stroke of humor, that I will be whisked away on their magic carpet for a few hours. I hold onto the hope that the author not only survives, but thrives after their crisis. Hope. I read memoirs for hope.

Hope may also be the reason that I keep hitting delays in my own memoir. August will be five years since Paul’s death. The memoir keeps pulling me back to the hard memories, when I am beginning to see the light of happy memories of Paul, in my everyday life. Yet…we both truly wanted to share our journey with others. We wanted to offer help along the way, for others in a health crisis, and we wanted to offer hope.

That is why I took on Memoir Mondays. I need to get this show on the road! I want to share this part of the journey with my community. I would love some feedback. I plan on exploring the topic of memoir, as well as some resource links for others who are writing memoirs. I’ll review some memoirs and announce it when my friends publish their memoirs. There is a large community of memoir writers online, so this won’t all be new information, but it will be what I think is interesting, and what I think you might enjoy.

In the mean time, here is some of the writing from within my own thick “Memoir” file.

 

A little background: My husband, Paul, spent a year in and out of hospitals, and in short-term housing near the main hospital, while fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia and the Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) that he got as a result of a bone marrow transplant. During that year, I kept family and friends updated by way of an online patient journal on Care Pages. The following excerpts are from the memoir I’m writing, and were written during a few days of the last hospital stay:

June 13, 2009 Last night we had our best sleep in a long time. That’s good, but really, we’re funnier when we go sleepless in Seattle. Since yesterday, Paul has a bit of medication-caused edema in his belly and arms. He is still taking walks around the hallway loop, 10-40 minutes a day. He’s trying to do his exercises, but his belly argues with too much movement.

The biopsies from Tuesday’s procedure showed that Paul has adeno virus in his stomach now. They have added two more drugs to fight it, and more fluids before and after the new antiviral. It’s a toss up which is worse, the virus or the treatment. The other drug protects him from the damage the antiviral causes. What a viscous circle. They continue to try and balance his glucose, but it keeps dropping low , then spiking high. They began a new plan today and it has stayed pretty even so far. Through it all, Paul pushes on to do everything he can to get better.

Wishing we were there,

Patti & Paul

June 14, 2009 (warning–talk of needles) Paul is doing better today. His cramping belly has let up a lot. This was ATG day, when they pre-medicate him, which sends him off to a pretty deep sleep. This eve he had his weekly x-ray. We walked earlier, and will walk again later.
Tomorrow is ECP day, when he is hooked up to a machine in his room for 3 1/2 hrs. I can’t remember if I told you all about it or not, but they put a large needle in a vein, then strap his arm to a small board to keep it immobile and straight. They take blood out, separate it, take one layer and treat it with a photosensitive drug, then pass the treated portion under UV lights, then the machine puts it all back inside Paul’s vein. I have read some encouraging studies about this therapy, and we are hopeful that it can help clear out the GVHD.
Everything they are doing will take time, so we are settled in for the long haul. We’re up for it, though. Whatever it takes to get us back home and Paul healed.
Husky stadium is outside our window, so we have been watching the flurry of graduation taking place this weekend. It is surreal to watch all these young people celebrating starting out their lives full of hope, from a hospital room window, where we fight for Paul’s life.
Paul says to tell you all, “Hi!” and thanks for all the support.
Paul & Patti

More background. Paul passed away in our bed at home on August 9, 2009. Less than a month later, I started back with my emails to friends and family, while I tunneled through grief and estate issues.

Sept 2, 2009 BLOG BLOG BLOG BLOG—It’s all about me! (I really know it isn’t)

Just tonight, I realized that I miss doing the updates about Paul’s health and our daily lives as fighters-for-his-life in a foreign land (hospital in Seattle). I thought that I could continue in a private journal, although the feedback is disappointing :>) So now I will write about me fighting for my mental life in this foreign land of Paul Is Gone. I will share the journey with you, because it is a habit that I still need.

I went to the doc today because a sore throat kept me up all night. I just have some infection in my throat and sinuses. With a few antibiotics I’ll be on the mend. I feel like hell, okay? I’m only up now, because Mark (family friend, lives close) signaled with his gate bell, that he was dropping off provisions, along with a mocha from my Aunt Judee. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I got up to see if no news was still good news—yes, it is! That means no evil attacks about the estate today. Someone spread the “rumor” that there was going to be a sale here this Saturday. Friends and family think the rumor was spread just to worry me, ahhhh, success for whoever started it!

I feel like such a scholar; I added “Judee” and “ahhhh” to the dictionary! There’s just something empowering about adding words to a dictionary… my personal dictionary on my computer…but STILL!

Finally, I changed the auto insurance to only cover my truck. One more thing done. Oh, that would be two, as I also called to get paperwork started for a small pension.

From the long, wide deck overlooking the back yard and acreage; A little after 8 P.M., and here comes that moon, right on time. That was my entertainment last night; watching as Jupiter chases the moon up the hill and over the tree tops. Much better than My Name Is Earl—sorry, Paul, but anything is better than Earl. I just realized that the moon actually rises in front of, and then above Jupiter. When the moon finally takes the lead, Jupiter resumes the chase across the sky. That’s way better than that episode when Earl got stuck in jail. I do not miss television. I would watch unlimited hours to have Paul back.

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Thanks for being here,

Patti


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Transitions

The greenhouse and garden, Eagle River, AK PHALL PHOTO 2014

The greenhouse and garden, Eagle River, AK
PHALL PHOTO 2014

Almost SIX weeks, and you know what I’m talking about. But I don’t want to make a big deal about it. Well, okay, I do want to make a big deal about it. Just give me a paragraph or three and then I’ll shut up about it. At least for today. More than anything, I feel that giving up cigarettes (and the caffeine addiction) has given me more freedom. The biggest freedom, is the freedom to go after a healthier life style.

No matter how many times that I have attempted to quit in the past, I always remained a slave to cigarettes. Even if I went as long as eight months without one single drag off one single cigarette, I was still chained to the addiction. I thought about the lack of them, more than I thought about anything else. Secretly (and probably outwardly) the drama was intense. It went on almost every waking moment that I didn’t smoke. “Should I? Could I? I can’t. I won’t! Damn, I’m weak. Man, I’m strong. I can’t go one more minute. If I can make it one more hour, I can go to sleep.” The internal drama was intense, as I’m sure the external was. Poor family.

This time no one suffered; not me and not my parents. That’s how I knew that the addiction was broken. For awhile, I waited for the other shoe to drop. As hours, days and then weeks passed (6 of them!), I kept waiting for that slam/slap on the shoulder and a rousting voice saying, “Fooled ya! You are about to have the worst withdrawals in the history of cigarette/caffeine withdrawals!” It never came. One of my reasons for diet and exercise, was to head off any shoe-dropping slam/slap on the shoulder. If it came, I’d be ready with a healthy routine and a new excitement for living without the chains of addiction. So far, so good.

It may very well be an illusion, or even a delusion, but I honestly think that I’m out of the woods, and that the damn shoe could never be thrown THIS far out! (Knock on wood, or whatever superstition will keep that big bad shoe away.)

On the home front. Mom goes to her first Physical Therapy session today. She has been moving less and I’m hoping that they will pick up the slack and get her into a good routine to further her recovery from the hip replacement. Dad is still fighting a painful-sounding cough. Hopefully, this last batch of meds will help him.

The best thing about the Olympics these past few weeks, has been watching mom and dad enjoy them together. Whether, mom was laying with her feet in dad’s lap, or sitting up and holding hands with him, I had the best seat in the house. They cheered and gasped in awe together at the inspiring wins, losses and injuries, while I just smiled at the two of them.

The low carb diet is going well. Really. Today will be day 5 of my crazy idea of joining a gym…wait, that was mom’s crazy idea. I’m a little sore, but it has been fun. I kind of earned another free pass by story-telling. Yep, the membership woman loved the story of Kevin and I, so much, that she promised more free passes for my future visits. Cool.

I just stepped out and took some shots of the light pastel pink and blue sunrise. It is a balmy 14 degrees this morn. I’ll share a few photos from yesterday, then I have to get ready for my next yoga class. Yikes.

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Funny, I started writing this about the transition I will soon be dealing with; from living alone in Maggie (my cave at the beach) to living with my folks for the past 2 months in Alaska, to making a new life with Kevin in the foothills of the mountains. Somehow, I never got to that…maybe next time.

Peace,

Patti

PHALL PHOTO 2014

PHALL PHOTO 2014


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Quit This, Lose That; Once A Phoenix, Always A Phoenix

phoenix

Phoenix Rising from the fire and ashes.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

This time I want to keep the pretty feathers, please. Those ashes just don’t suit me.

You’re not the only one. It’s hard not to wonder if this blogger will ever get back to writing and get published. Even I wonder. With so many changes in such a short period, it will be tough to get back to my goal of publishing books. But, hey, if I can quit smoking, lose weight and make room for romance after several years of loss and heartache…well, I think anything is possible, don’t you? Especially since, not one of those monumental things, were on my To-Do list. In fact, they were all on my To-Ignore list.

The quit-smoking thing continues to stump us all. I have no idea how it happened. I remember being a bit miffed that there was never anywhere warm for me to smoke here (at my folks’ home in Alaska). I know that Kevin and I were talking about taking walks, hikes and other recreational activities, once I got back to Washington in the spring. I’d listened to several… um, let’s just be nice and say, concerns, yes, the folks had shared some concerns about my smoking.

They’d offered up pills, patches, fake smokes, and magic potions. No, wait, no magic potions, but it did seem like nonsense that I should need to…okay, maybe not nonsense, but why should I take the long route? I had a pack left at that point and when I smoked the last cigarette from it, I smoked my last cigarette. 5 weeks ago! Weird.

I think it was the next day that I quit my addiction to coffee. And, although I do have a mocha now and then, I’m no longer drinking caffeine from morning until night. I did not grow hair on my chest or cause bodily harm to others. The folks say that I haven’t even been a grouch. I feel calm and have had no gonna-die-if-I don’t-have-some nicotine-or-caffeine moments. No headaches either. It begs to be typed, so...WTF? It had to be Leslee magic.

Caves induce fat. Before I came to take care of mom in Alaska, I’d been hanging out alone in my cave for far too long. Aside from beach walks and/or photo excursions, there hadn’t been much motion or mobility. A bike ride through the neighborhood once in a while, a few minutes on the stationary bike, sure. In addition, I might have eaten an apple fritter or two. I think I understand now (after experimenting just a little) that even good chips are bad chips.

After I quit my serious addictions of cigarettes and caffeine, evil food was standing there, staring me in the face, “Look, you have nothing else to do with those hands and that mouth, come on over here… into the kitchen…” I caught on pretty quickly and started drinking lots of water and nibbling bunny food. Dad has pretty well given up enticing me with evil things to eat, although I think he still sneaks them when I’m not around.

Tomorrow I will do the unfathomable and join a gym. Mom is making me. We’re getting our hair cut and styled too (like that will make my gym pain any better). Did I tell you that mom “did” my hair and put makeup on me the other day, to take a picture of me? Guess who it was for? Right you are! I hope body tattoos and weird piercings aren’t part of this crazy ritual. I keep telling her that we have seen each other!

Don’t worry about her, she’s just excited for us. Whatever I am on the outside, I’m still me on the inside. Mom knows that :>)

It looks like I might be home by mid-March. Not May, as planned. May is waaaayyyy too far away. Yeah, the romance thing. Mom figures that Kevin and I have talked more than most couples who have known each other for years. Hey, we have a lot of catching up to do…38 years is a long stretch. Not only that, but we’re making plans. To be together.

As far as the writing goes, this will be my next great challenge: How to finish the chapters of the memoir about the love, illness and loss of my Paul, while I’m starting a new chapter in my life? There’s a lot to think about and it’s good to know that Kevin will be there for me and that many of you will offer up your thoughts and support as well.

Thank You,

Patti, who is not a mail order bride (at least I don’t think I am…wait, maybe he ordered me from mom? She has been acting weird.)