Categories
Family Giving Support Grief/Dispair

THE REAL DEFINITION OF WINNING

LArry Ahrens

WSN: Coffee and Conversation with Larry Ahrens

One unsavory reality of losing your wife is dealing with the estate details, relatives, and lawyers. What this process does is smack you in your grieving face one more time with cold reality. Your wife is gone, and now we’re taking inventory and putting a value on things.

Here’s the disclaimer with my column today. My situation is unique. It probably doesn’t reflect your situation. But the purpose of this story is to help you find the “win” when you may have lost by any other standard.

Let me set the stage. When I met my wife over 25 years ago, she lived in a beautiful home nestled in the foothills of our city. When our relationship got serious, I sold my house and moved in with her. The house was always hers. I knew that from the beginning. The house was left to her one and only son. I knew that from the start.

When she passed, I moved out of the house. Number one, I didn’t want to live there anymore. The house WAS her. Everything in the house was about her and our life together. I didn’t want to stay there anymore. My wonderful friends helped me take care of her clothing and personal possessions. We arranged an estate sale for the rest of the household items, followed by the home being sold.

Fast forward now to the probate process. This is where it gets very cold and calculating. Lawyers are now involved. Values are assigned to the property. Dollar signs are attached to things. What’s that sofa worth? Who did it belong to? What was her property, your property, and what was your joint property? You’re forced to participate in this exercise even if you don’t want to.

Her son, whom I have admired and loved, turned very hostile towards me in this process. Hostile as in ugly hostile. We’re wrapping up the probate negotiations now. And on paper and in a financial sense, I lost, and he won. Sure, I’m getting some dollars out of this. He’s getting far more, so he believes he won.

At the same time, did I really lose? I was lucky enough to be married to a spectacular woman that loved me as much as I loved her. We got to live in a lovely home where we entertained our friends, welcomed our family, and spent magical holiday times together. The house was very much our sanctuary and our blessed abode. As I look back, it was a marvelous 25 years with her in a warm, loving home. It was a chapter in my life that I’ll never forget.

To me, her son may have gained financially. But he really lost on the most important things – family, memories and just being a decent person. By any measure, that’s a big loss when you get right down to it.

_______________________________________________

Larry Ahrens is a radio (KDAZ 96.9 FM) and television (KCHF-TV) personality in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his show, “Coffee and Conversation,” is broadcast-ed. Larry’s articles appear every other Thursday, right here, on WSN-MO. You can send private messages to him on Facebook.

Categories
Dating/Relationships Moving Forward

TWO BEERS AND A PUPPY

LArry Ahrens

WSN: Coffee and Conversation with Larry Ahrens

This week’s Coffee & Conversation is a little different. I cannot write about grief right now. Eight months in and lately I’ve been feeling more loss for my wife – not less. The COVID thing drags on. So, let us talk about something else. Here is something you can apply in your life right now.

I ran across this interesting book by Esquire senior editor Ross McCammon. The book is “Works Well with Others: An Outsider’s Guide to Shaking Hands, Shutting Up, Handling Jerks, and Other Crucial Skills in Business That No One Ever Teaches You.” Great title, huh?

In the book McCammon came up with a simple, easy test to help you evaluate how you feel about someone. Do I trust this person? Maybe this person is fun and interesting in some situations but not all. This test can apply in business or personal relationships. It works for both. You give them the “Two Beers and a Puppy” test.

When you encounter people McCammon recommends a simple test in which you ask yourself two questions: “Would I have two beers with this person?” and “Would I allow this person to look after my puppy over a weekend?”

“Some people are yes and yes, and those are the best people in your life,” McCammon said. “Hopefully, you were raised by people like that. Hopefully, those are your friends. And then there’s the no and no people — those are the assholes.” Yes-beer, no-puppy people “are to be cautiously trusted,” he writes in the book, while no-beer, yes-puppy people “are no fun but they make the world a better place — for puppies, especially.”

He says about the yes and yes people: “These people are wonderful people, and your life and work are better for having them in your life. Seek them out. Collaborate with them. Enjoy their company.”

I have a couple of take-away’s from this test. The answers you get from this test are guaranteed to be revealing. It might even lead you to seeing a relationship in a different way. Secondly, if someone isn’t hitting high marks, it doesn’t necessarily mean you stop investing in the relationship. Maybe an investment is exactly what the relationship needs. It is a step toward increasing the number of people in your life and work who you like and trust. That is certainly worthwhile.

Find as many “two beers and a puppy” friends as you can, and better yet, strive to be one yourself.

__________________________________________________________________

Larry Ahrens is a radio (KDAZ 96.9 FM) and television (KCHF-TV) personality in Albuquerque, New Mexico where his show, “Coffee and Conversation” is broadcast-ed. Larry’s articles appears every other Thursday, right here, on WSN-MO. You can send private messages to him on Facebook.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing

WHY DO I FEEL SO STUPID?

LArry Ahrens

WSN: Coffee and Conversation with Larry Ahrens

This grieving process is very devious. You can feel hopeful and blessed one day. And empty and sad the next. Every man in this forum knows what I’m talking about.But nobody told me that grieving would also make you feel kind of dumb.

I didn’t see this coming. I’ve been around electronics my whole life. I got my ham radio license when I was 10 years old and I built my own ham radio set-up in my bedroom – much to the chagrin of my younger brother who shared the same room.

I’ve been operating my own audio studio for many years. I work in broadcasting. Dammit – know what I’m doing!

A few weeks ago, I upgraded my studio computer. The old one was fading fast and I needed more computer power to do my work. True to form, my procrastination in this grieving process kicked in and the new computer sat in the box for almost a week.

Finally, I decided to stop using the new computer as a doorstop, open it up and get everything installed. That meant dismantling the old studio connections and setting everything up new. That’s when it hit me. Grieving makes you procrastinate, it makes you soft, it makes you unmotivated. And it makes you stupid.

For the life of me, I couldn’t reconfigure my own studio without looking up help on YouTube. I struggled with it. I was having real difficulty figuring out what wire went where. Truly this is something I used to do with great speed and skill.

This isn’t about age or losing cognition. It really is part of grieving the loss of my wife.

She was my inspiration. She was my muse. Life with her seemed so easy and natural. It was almost as if nothing could be wrong or go wrong. When you feel that way your innate skills and expertise are at a fine-tuned edge. You can accomplish anything – or so it seems when she is present in your life.

The studio is hooked up and it works very well. But it didn’t have the same satisfaction or feeling of accomplishment as it would have if she was here. There’s a shallowness now to what used to be so meaningful.

It’s going to be OK. But for now, I’m a bit off my game because she’s gone. Hey, I like that. A “bit off my game” sounds better than stupid. So, let’s go with that.

____________________________________________

Larry Ahrens is a radio (KDAZ 96.9 FM) and television (KCHF-TV) personality in Albuquerque, New Mexico where his show, “Coffee and Conversation” is broadcast-ed. Larry’s articles appears every other Thursday, right here, on WSN-MO. You can send private messages to him on Facebook.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Moving Forward

NAVIGATING THE NEW NORMAL

LArry Ahrens

WSN: Coffee and Conversation with Larry Ahrens

Full disclosure. I cannot stand the term “the new normal”. I was quite happy with my old normal, thank you very much.

As widower’s we were forced to deal with the new normal when our wives passed away. There is just no getting around it. We have been forced into a new normal against our wishes and many of us are still trying to find out what that looks like.

My wife Susan passed away in March right at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic and the subsequent lock-downs. To this day I still haven’t had a funeral for her or a memorial. Only 5 people were allowed at her burial. I see what is going on in the country and yes it makes me angry that protesters can gather by the thousands, but I’m not allowed give my wife a proper sendoff. But that’s a case to make at another time.

For me and many other widowers both the loss of our partner and the pandemic have forced us to deal with many changes. Conquering fear of what may be coming is at the top of the list.

Writer and theologian C.S. Lewis said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

Many of you are aware that C. S. Lewis could have been a star member of this widower’s support group. He wrote two books about grief after the passing of his wife Joy.

In his book “A Grief Observed” he gives us a glimpse of what our new normal has the potential to be for us. Lewis admits that grief is, “like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.”

We know the image Lewis is casting. Happiness almost feels a little haunted, a bit out of our grasp. But time evaporates some of the tears. And a new normal for our lives begins to take form.

Lewis wrote “Nothing will shake a man — or at any rate a man like me — out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.”

This is a beautiful and a very honest record of how even the strongest man can lose all sense of meaning in the passing of his wife, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.

There is where we eventually find our new normal and our renewed life.

_____________________________________________

Larry Ahrens is a radio (KDAZ 96.9 FM) and television (KCHF-TV) personality in Albuquerque, New Mexico where his show, “Coffee and Conversation” is broadcast-ed. Larry’s articles appears every other Thursday, right here, on WSN-MO. You can send private messages to him on Facebook.

Image may contain: 1 person, suit and closeup

Categories
Grief/Dispair Loneliness Uncategorized

I Miss Us

LArry Ahrens

It’s another Wednesday night in the summer. I’m just bored. Too hot to be outside here in the desert Southwest. I’m not hungry for dinner. TV isn’t interesting, and I’m pacing the floor.
I can pretty much assume that most of you still talk to your late wife. I do every day. So tonight, I went over to her photo and took out a little of my boredom on her. Not that I’m blaming her for my doldrums. Not at all. But I just verbally expressed to her that if she were here, I wouldn’t be bored. I don’t ever remember feeling the slightest bit lost or bored when we were together.
Then I blurted out in a raised voice, “I miss us!”
At once, it occurred to me that the phrase “I miss us” probably has a lot written and expressed about it. Sure enough, a quick
Google search takes me into a whole world of “I miss us” memes, affirmations, poems, and the like.
There’s also a heartfelt song by Kenny Loggins called “I Miss Us,” and I suggest you listen to it. Just have a few Kleenex at hand. I found one graphic that reads:
Someone asked me if I missed you.
I didn’t answer.
I just closed my eyes and walked away.
And I whisper: So much.
I wish I had written that. It’s so raw, deep, and emotional in just four simple lines.
Just saying the words “I miss us” out loud has already relieved my lonely evening. It feels good to declare it and express it. It feels good to see that many words have been devoted to what I’m feeling tonight. Suddenly I don’t feel as alone, which leads me to make this point; If you’re still talking with your wife – congratulations. You’re quite normal. Dare I say you’re quite perfect in the way you express your grief for her. Poets and songwriters can undoubtedly help us find the words that show what we’re going through. But the simple words “I miss us,” said by you and me, convey just as much meaning and purpose as anything else.
I feel much better now. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go talk with Susan and tell her that she inspired me again – just like she always did when she was here with me


Larry Ahrens is a radio (KDAZ 96.9 FM) and television (KCHF-TV) personality in Albuquerque, New Mexico where his show, “Coffee and Conversation” is broadcast-ed. Larry’s articles appears every other Thursday, right here, on WSN-MO. You can send private messages to him on Facebook.
To hear Kenny Loggins song, “I Miss Us,” go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSEuH281kZE

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Grief/Dispair Loneliness

THE ALONE MOMENT

LArry Ahrens

It first hit me in the grocery store.

After Susan’s many months of illness, I was consumed with the day-to-day of the situation. Then she passed.

A few weeks after the dust settled, I’m pushing the shopping cart in the supermarket, and it finally struck me that I’m shopping for me and me alone. That’s what I’ve started calling the “alone moment” when you realize it’s just you now.

The “alone moment” can occur often, and I’ve come to expect those moments as part of the grieving process. They are constant little jabs to remind you that the life you had is over.

What we’re all left with is fighting through the “alone moments” and confronting the new life we now lead. I see in this forum that many are uncomfortable with the feeling of loneliness. Here are some things I’m doing to push back on this emotion.

Your Family and Friends Are Rooting For You

You may not realize it, but everybody that loves you is outwardly or secretly rooting for you to find happiness and fulfillment. The people that love you are watching you. Not in a judgmental way, but they are hoping to see you come through it all at some point. People who genuinely care about you also know that this will take time.

I’ve learned that you can’t underestimate this kind of love and support.

Put Something On The Calendar

My late wife was a travel agent. One of the many things she always said was, “Let’s always have a trip on our calendar.” It’s SO true! Once you’ve planned some kind of trip or scheduled an event, it lifts you. Half the fun of planning a vacation is in the planning.

Looking At All Your Options

Being alone is not the option we wanted. But it’s now the option that we have.

In Fred Colby’s book “Widower To Widower” he writes, “My belief is that, for us to move forward, we need to know that we do not have to leave anyone behind.” That’s excellent advice. I’m always going to carry my wife’s love and memory with me as I go forward doing things that I want to do.

Having said that, what I’m about to share sounds counter-intuitive. One of the things I enjoyed doing when I met Susan was aviation. I had picked up my pilot’s license a couple of years before I met her. But I gave it up for love. She was genuinely concerned about me flying and one day looked at me with those big green eyes and asked me to give it up for her.

Without going into all the details, there are several things now that I would like to do and experience. Breaking 90 on the golf course is one. You probably have deep down inside a few things you want to try.

Once you find yourself considering all of your options in this new life, then I promise you will feel less lonely and more like seeing the real you again.

__________________________________________

Look for Larry’s column every other Thursday. You can write Larry at larry@gostudio34.com.

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing Uncategorized

Love, Roses and Marilyn Monroe

LArry Ahrens

One of my wife’s favorite books near the end of her life was “Joe and Marilyn” by C. David Heymann. Susan was fascinated by the tumultuous love story between Marilyn Monroe and baseball star Joe DiMaggio. We would often sit out on our patio sipping wine while Susan read several sections of the book to me.

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were only married for nine months. Joe was very obsessive about her and was by all accounts a very jealous man. The story goes that when Marilyn was filming the movie “The Seven Year Itch,” he was opposed to her shooting that iconic scene where her white dress billowed up over her head while she stood on the subway grate.

Yet through it, all Joe became the one steady influence in her very crazy life. Soon after the divorce, when she got sick once, he was the one next to her at the hospital. They had gotten close again towards the end of her life, and he was the stableman by her side. He wanted to marry her again, but she died an untimely death.

But the one thing my wife Susan loved was the true romantic story behind roses and Marilyn’s life and death. Marilyn was found dead in her house, and there was no family to call their own but him. Joe flew from New York to LA, identified her body, and had a small, private funeral for her. He even designed the headstone. He was inconsolable at the funeral.

Joe was never going to see her again, but he fulfilled a promise. Many years ago, Marilyn had told him that she wanted roses sent to her every week. Joe did so when he honored that promise. From Marilyn’s death in 1962 until he died in 1999, he would send fresh roses to her grave a few times a week. She had said, “Six fresh long-stemmed red roses, three times a week … forever.”

To which my wife said, “Go ahead and send me roses now while I’m alive!” Then she would break into a huge smile, and we would laugh and have more wine.

Through the remaining two years of her life, I did bring her roses many times. I just brought six red roses to her grave yesterday.

For Joe, Marilyn was the love of his life, and till his dying breath, he kept her preserved in his heart. People can only hope that they find a love like that at least once in their life. I am so lucky that I found that kind of love as well.

Joe and Marilyn. Larry and Susan. Our love transcends life and death.

______________________________________________

Larry articles can be found every other Thursday here on WSN-MO. You can send private messages him on Facebook.

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair Healing Memory

Saying Thank You

LArry Ahrens

Quarantine allowed us to take some time off from worrying about our appearances. However, to some people, it was a daunting task. One of the good things to come out of this forced time-out is that many people started to understand the value of such workers as hairdressers, nail technicians, masseurs, waiters, and so many others.

Recently, a letter written by “a grateful customer” who thanked a hairdresser for the way she treated his wife during a haircut went viral. The man revealed that his wife was living with dementia, and the way Sara, her hairdresser, treated her was touching. I think it will touch you as well.

Here is the letter: ________________

June 27, 2020

Dear Sara,

I have waited a long time to pass this on to you.

My wife and I came in for haircuts shortly before Christmas of last year.

My wife was suffering from dementia, and you treated her as if you had been working with dementia patients all your life. You let us sit next to each other, and when it came time for her cut, you turned her chair towards me so I could watch her expression as you cut her hair.

It turned out even better than I thought it would. Sadly, she died in March. And that haircut was one of the last, best moments of her life. She felt so pretty. She visited the mirror in her bathroom several times during the day and would come out beaming.

To see her so happy was priceless.

Looking back, it was likely one of the dozens of haircuts you gave that day. But one which revitalized a woman’s sense of self and her singular beauty. I hope you always realize the power of your profession.

It’s so easy to take things like that for granted.

Sincerely,

A grateful customer

___________________________________________

To the world, we are just one person, but to that one person, we are the world.

It’s OK. I am crying too.

Larry

____________________________________________

Larry articles can be found every other Thursday here on WSN-MO. You can send private messages him on Facebook.