Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘mortality

In Memoriam: My Aunt Laurice Dies at 85

with 14 comments

Folks, I’m going to put a temporary moratorium on book promotional posts, as something far more important happened today.

My Aunt Laurice, my father’s oldest sister, died today at age 85 in her sleep. This was not expected in the least; she was waiting for one of my cousins to take her to physical therapy, and apparently had nodded off in a chair (according to what my father told me).

There are worse ways to go than in your own home, quietly and peacefully. But I still feel terrible about this. My Aunt was a very kindhearted woman, and perfectly epitomized the phrase “the salt of the Earth.” She truly cared about people, loved music (sang in an all-women’s choir called Opus 2000, originally known as the Sweet Adelines), played the piano, taught kindergarten…loved family gatherings.

And I haven’t even touched the surface of the memories I have regarding Aunt Laurice. Because in retrospect, I was fortunate; I grew up in Racine, and my aunt lived here also…so I got to know her very, very well.

What I can say right now is that I truly admired my aunt. She was an intelligent woman who loved her family and believed in the Golden Rule. She was married for nearly sixty-two years, which is a testament to her belief in the power of love and family. She loved kids, all kids…she read widely, loved deeply, and appreciated life as much as she possibly could.

While I mourn her death, I am doing my best to remember to celebrate her life. Because it was remarkable…it was a tapestry that in its way will never end, so long as we remember her.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 16, 2017 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Remembrance

Tagged with , ,

Musings on September…and Mortality

with 7 comments

Folks, it’s no secret that I do not like September.

Why? Well, the main reason is that my husband Michael died during this month. So when the weather turns to fall (or at least the calendar does; in Wisconsin, we’re still in summertime mode for whatever reason), I start having trouble with all sorts of things.

You see, it’s hard to create when you’re fighting against grief. Because grieving takes energy. A surprising amount of it, actually…and even though I try hard to set that all aside, sometimes I just can’t.

Mind, I know my husband Michael would not want it to be this way. He was all about laughter, and joyfulness, and creativity…this isn’t the legacy he’d want, for me to feel terrible during the month of September.

Even so, I feel what I feel. Trying to change that doesn’t do any good.

So what do I do when grief gets to be too much? Usually, I read something amusing or divert myself with sports documentaries. (I’m quite partial to ESPN’s “30 for 30” series.)

Sometimes, though, I just have to experience the mourning. I don’t like doing this, but by accepting these awful feelings, I can better put them aside. (I learned this trick from Michael, who was a Zen Buddhist. He felt it made no sense to deny how you truly feel about anything. But if you accept the feelings, whatever they are, and then tell yourself, “I’ve heard them” or “I’ve felt them,” then it’s a little easier to set it aside. I’m not sure why this works, exactly, but it does.)

What’s frustrating is when I run into someone who says, “Barb, it’s been eleven years. Why in the Hell can’t you get past this?”

I know it’s been nearly eleven years. Yet some days, it feels like yesterday; on others, it feels like forever.

Michael was by far the most important person in my life, and I miss him every day. He saw me for what I was, loved every part of me (even the parts of myself I have a hard time loving), helped me create the Elfyverse, cheered me on while I wrote an earlier draft (or two) of CHANGING FACES…he was my biggest cheerleader, my biggest partisan, and my best friend, along with being the only man I’ve ever met who truly understood me.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to “get over” his loss. Because it truly is an incalculable loss, and I am well aware that it is. And I refuse to deny this truth, because if I did, I’d be a much different — and far lesser — person.

Besides, I don’t think you ever “get past” someone you loved deeply. I think all you can do is go on; you don’t “move on,” exactly — you go on, with the memories you have and the experiences you’ve had, and you do your best to build on them.

I know Michael would want me to continue to fight it out with CHANGING FACES, and he’d probably say in the end, no one will be able to tell just where I’ve struggled, and why.

So even though September, in general, is a bad month, I’m going to continue to do my best.

Michael wouldn’t want it any other way.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 16, 2015 at 7:18 am

Long-time Member of Brewers Grounds Crew Dies During Sunday’s Game

leave a comment »

Folks, this is a terribly sad story . . . one I wish I didn’t have to pass on.

During the start of yesterday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Miller Park’s grounds crew lead, Jeff Adcock, died in the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen of an apparent heart attack.  Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful; he was transported to Froedtert Hospital in West Allis, where he was pronounced dead.  Adcock was only fifty-one years old, and had worked for the Milwaukee Brewers organization since the age of eighteen.

This link from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel will give you more about this sad story, but here’s perhaps the most important quote:

“We are all saddened by the news of Jeff’s passing,” said Bob Quinn, Brewers executive vice president. “He was a part of our organization for many years, and was a fixture during games in our bullpen area. Jeff developed many friendships with our uniformed staff, and he will be missed by all of us. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Well said, Mr. Quinn.

As you might expect, the Brewers organization and the Brewers players (the bullpen personnel in particular) are taking the loss of Mr. Adcock particularly hard.  Here’s a link to that story, and a relevant quote from pitcher John Axford:

“He was in the bullpen all the time,” said closer John Axford. “Everyone had a good time down there with him. We had special handshakes with him. We liked to see his attempt at basketball moves. He was always there to open the door for you when you come in the game.

“He always wore these gigantic Chuck Taylors (basketball shoes). This year, he wasn’t wearing them, though. So Kam (Loe) bought him so new shoes and he wore them.”

Now, why did this happen?  Perhaps we’ll never know, but pitcher Tim Dillard has a good observation:

“None of us knew what really happened,” said Dillard. “The paramedics got there quick. We were just talking to him and he collapsed. You wonder if there was something you could have done but that’s just human nature. There was nothing we could do. It’s very sad.”

That it is, Mr. Dillard.  That it is.

Here’s a few more words from the second article (with one name inserted by me):

The grounds crew workers will wear a “JA” patch on their uniforms for the remainder of the season. The Brewers relievers also took a huge flower arrangement down to the bullpen before the game Monday night against Miami with a ribbon inscribed “In Memory of Jeff Adcock.

“He was an awesome guy to be around,” said (pitcher Kameron) Loe. “He did anything we needed him to do. He loved his job. He loved being down there. We’ll definitely miss him. When somebody passes away so suddenly like that, you can’t believe it.

“We all loved him down there. Our hearts and prayers definitely go out to their family. I’m sure they’re stunned. Nobody saw it coming. It’s an extremely hard thing to swallow.”

That it is, Mr. Loe.  And I wish I had some answers for you as to why these things happen, but I don’t.  The best I can do is give you the following advice, for whatever it’s worth: cherish the life of your fallen friend.  Honor his memory.  Remember the good times, and even remember the bad times (if he ever shared any), because that’s how you can best remember your friend as he was — as the good person he undoubtedly was, the one who shared so much with you, the one who knew you well and wanted to make you laugh.

Remember him as he was.  But do remember him, because the longer you can remember — and remember as accurately as possible — at least a part of your friend has lived on within you.

I have great sympathy for everyone who knew Jeff Adcock, including the Brewers players and coaches, the grounds crew staff, and every member of the Brewers organization who ever came into contact with him.  A loss that’s this sudden, for no apparent reason, is one that’s very tough to bear, and I hope that remembering your friend as he was — alive, happy, and glad to be doing a job he enjoyed — will help somehow to lighten your grief.

And finally — if there is a positive afterlife (which I strongly believe there is), I truly hope Mr. Adcock is there, is at peace, and is getting reacquainted with all of those friends and family members who may have passed on before him.  Because sooner or later, he will reunite with his friends again, in that place, and ’tis said that all the grief we feel now will be transmuted on that day to pure joy.  I know that doesn’t help anyone who mourns Mr. Adcock now — it doesn’t help me much, when it comes to mourning my friend Jeff or my wonderful husband Michael — but as it’s the only source of potential comfort in this situation, I can’t help but proffer it in the hopes that it may somehow help someone.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm